Social Media Strategy

The Missing “Link”

LinkedIn is one of my favourite social media platforms to use. Like many of you, I use it to conduct business development activities, discover potential new talent, and find out what some of my peers are working on. As a business owner and marketer, I also use it as a platform to target my potential clients and “tout” my expertise through the sharing of my company’s updates as well as industry-related articles.

LinkedIn has two distinct options: the LinkedIn profile page which most of us have to showcase our personal “resumes”, and the company page that is set up for your company.

While I know many business owners and marketers have an LI profile, many small businesses still do not have a company LI page. So what exactly is the difference between a profile page and a company page on LinkedIn? A LinkedIn profile is probably the most powerful tool you can use for business development as it allows you to highlight your professional experience, connect with your peers or potential clients, join industry-related groups, post your blogs or other articles, and share awards and updates.

I have seen many companies use the profile page as their company page, but LinkedIn has a distinct company page that provides your business with the opportunity to engage with followers with targeted and regular news and activities, share career opportunities, and expand your online brand presence.

If you are a business owner or marketer with a B2B business, an LI company page is a must! If you have a B2C business, it is still a good idea to have some presence on this platform, as this platform is great for SEO and for expanding your reach to influencers.

Here are some reasons I‘d recommend considering using an LI company page for your business:

1. Show How You are Unique

In the description on your company page, emphasize how you stand out from your competitors. You might want to include company news and share information about your company culture. This will help you reach potential customers and also new hires. Support the content with professional videos, or images to help you show how your company is different.

2. Improve SEO

We all hear about SEO, but did you know that Google and other search engines rank LinkedIn company pages and posts highly in the search engine results pages? Having the page and posting on it frequently will help you increase your SEO and increase site traffic.

3. Share Content

It makes sense that you need to write posts that your viewers want to see and share with others. The more you can engage your viewers, the more likely you are to expand your global reach and influence. You can also link your post back to your website for more information and to convert them into a warm business lead. It’s a good idea to create a media mix on this platform as well, so consider using different formats such as SlideShare business presentations, blog posts, infographics, webinars, podcasts and videos.

4. Measure Success

Like most social platforms, you can view analytical data about your company page to help you gain deeper insights into your page performance.

Having a LinkedIn company page will help you network and prospect to a targeted audience for quality sales leads, while establishing your business’ public image on a global scale as a reputable and trustworthy organization. In my opinion, it’s a no-brainer!

Can’t Buy Me Followers

In December, Instagram announced Selena Gomez as the most followed celebrity on the platform with 103 million followers. As a small business owner, I could only imagine having a following that large on my business’s social platforms, and what it could mean for my brand awareness. Social media, as we have been led to believe, is a numbers game.

Recently, I was alerted to the fact that websites promising fake social media followers exist. I can see the appeal. Who doesn’t want to have more followers? Having more followers generally means you have a popular account, and in turn, a popular product or service. However, using a website to generate or purchase fake followers is a faux pas in the marketing world, and here’s why:

First and foremost using a third party source to gain followers is against the code of conduct of most social media websites, whether you pay for the service or not. For example, Twitter outlines in their rules and regulations that any accounts found to have used a third party source with the intention of gaining fake followers will be shut down. One particular problem associated with these websites that promise followers is that they have access to your account and therefore can easily compromise it at any time. These websites have the ability to spam your account and your followers, which just happens to be another practice that will get you suspended from a social media channel.

Rules against these websites have been around since these fake follower generators have been, and they’re becoming especially necessary today. With all the fake news going around, social media platforms are cracking down on the amount of fake content shared on their channels, and one way to do that is by eliminating accounts that appear to have purchased followers or spread spam-related content.

To that extent, it’ not difficult to find accounts with fake followers. “Ghost Accounts” are easy to spot because they have strange names, follow a lot of people with minimal followers themselves and only post spam-related content.

As a consumer, I follow a number of brands on their social media channels. Say I go on to check out my favourite retailer’s page and I look into their followers. If I find a bunch of empty spam accounts, I’ll know they’d have likely purchased or subscribed to fake followers, and my trust in this brand will have almost diminished. While every brand aspires to have a lot of followers or likes on social media, deceiving your audience into thinking you have more than you really do positions you as untrustworthy.

In a previous blog I discussed the importance of Google Analytics. If a large majority of your followers are coming from third party sources or unlawful social media practices, the metrics will be thrown off. As a marketer, I adjust marketing plans based on the data I see from analytics, so if the numbers aren’t accurate, it’s difficult to come up with effective marketing strategies. In order to see a return on investment with social media, you need to be able to get your message across to the right people and create authentic content that will engage them. It’s hard to get engagement when your audience is 90% spam bots.

One thing I suggest to my clients when they want to generate more engagement and followers in a short amount of time is to boost content. Most social media platforms offer businesses an option to reach wider, more targeted audiences at a cost. Boosting is an authentic way to encourage people to check out your brand.

I have been working in this industry long enough to have seen the tricks that can be used to try and engage audiences and attract followers, but as a professional marketer and business owner I always want to provide my clients with honest marketing services that follow best practices. As much as we all like to see high numbers of followers on our social sites, if the followers were generated by a spambot site, then what value do they really have to your business? In marketing as in business, honesty is always the best policy.

 

 

 

 

 

The Social Media Election

If you’re anything like me, you’ve been glued to the American presidential election since it began to heat up earlier this year. This election is different from others for a number of reasons. For the first time ever, a woman is the Democratic nominee for president. Her opponent, the leader of the Republican Party, is loudly entering the political arena for the first time. Whatever the outcome is tonight, the 2016 election will be looked upon as a “social media election”.

In the 2012 American presidential election, Mitt Romney and Barack Obama were the first candidates who really used social media to gauge voter interest in their campaigns. Facebook was a reliable channel for distributing key campaign messages for both parties, and Twitter was just starting to make waves. Obama successfully generated almost 20 million more followers than Romney did on the platform, and secured the presidency in November of that year. Obama’s victory tweet after winning the election became the most retweeted piece of content on the platform up to that point.

While social media had a huge influence on the last election, nothing can top how it’s altered the current presidential race. The two candidates have been using social media for years, thus allowing voters to tap into their past posts. Take this tweet by Donald Trump, for example:

Somehow I can’t see Ronald Reagan saying something like this.

The use of social media allows presidential candidates to give minute-by-minute updates on their campaign and gives voters direct access into their professional and private lives. Donald Trump has been successful in using his Twitter account to influence his voters throughout his presidential campaign. His brash language and brutal honesty has positioned him as a “no-nonsense” candidate. While some voters find this behavior unsettling, he has appealed to the untapped demographic of American voters who want to abolish political correctness.

Hilary Clinton might not be as “honest” as Donald Trump, but she also has an impressive social media presence. Her slogan “#ImWithHer” has been shared millions of times all over social media. Due to her large celebrity fan base, Democratic social media influencers like Katy Perry and Lena Dunham continue to share supportive messages and images.

Trump relies heavily on his Twitter account while Clinton has broadened her social media presence through Snapchat, blogs and apps. While running completely different campaigns, both candidates have secured a huge social media following. Twitter and Facebook accounts are free to use, but don’t let that fool you into thinking social media hasn’t cost each campaign dearly. Donald Trump’s campaign spent $200,000 to purchase the promoted hashtag of the day, allowing it to be seen from every Twitter user in the U.S. through sponsored posts and the trending hashtags sidebar.

What has me so concerned as a marketer is that social media has provided voters with an inside look into the candidates, but it might not be the most reliable way to judge a future president. As we all know, social media is great for storytelling but that doesn’t mean it always reflects reality. One thing I have noticed throughout this entire campaign is that we’ve begun to lose sight of the actual issues at hand. Stories about Donald Trump’s latest misogynistic tweets are as much of a story as the crisis in Aleppo. While social media has played an important role in this election, it’s important to note that it is not the only factor Americans should be looking into when electing their next president.

So where do we go from here? I think it’s safe to say that neither candidate will have their own true voice on social media if they are elected President of The United States.

From a marketing standpoint, both these candidates have utilized social media to their advantage by creating consistent content marketing campaigns to appeal to their voters. However, voters in the United States need to consider that a candidate’s social media personality is likely to change once they have been elected, so they need to be confident in their candidate as a leader, not a tweeter.

Social Media is Not a Do-It-Yourself Project

Social media isn’t just about tweeting where you ate last night, posting vacation photos on Facebook  or finding a date on Tinder. It’s serious business for companies that are serious about attracting and  driving targeted customers to their website and converting leads into customers. In response to the  importance of social media in business, colleges and  universities now offer degree programs in social media – Seneca College (Certificate in Social Media), University of Florida (Masters Degree in Social Media) and Georgetown University (Certificate in Social Media Management) are just a few offering social media degrees. And there’s a rise in social media-oriented M.B.A. programs.

What can social media do for your company?

Every company can benefit from social media. Here are 10 great benefits that your company can derive from a well planned and well executed social media campaign.

  1. Generates leads in a very cost effective manner
  2. Helps establish your brand & increases brand awareness
  3. Builds brand loyalty
  4. Increases website traffic
  5. An excellent platform for engaging with your customers
  6. Helps you reach a targeted audience
  7. Expands your reach
  8. Helps build relationships
  9. Delivers higher conversion rates
  10. Decreases marketing costs

 

Who is using social media for business?

According to the Social Media Examiner, 96% of marketers are using social media.

Why isn’t social media working for my company?

Unfortunately, social media is not a do-it-yourself project. It’s a specialty that requires a particular expertise and skill set. Just as you’re the expert in running your business there are professionals whose expertise is social media.

They understand the science and art behind it and the subtle nuances that can make a big difference in results. Social media requires a strategy, the content that will deliver results, and the analytics to measure those results.

It’s not as simple as just writing a tweet, hoping for the best and expecting results. If you haven’t been seeing results from your social media efforts, I strongly urge you to contact a marketing agency or a consultant to manage social media for your company. With proper expertise in place your social media campaigns will deliver results.

 

The Future of Social Media

Screen Shot 2016-06-21 at 9.10.25 AM.pngThe future of social media is a topic of endless conversation with many differing opinions. The truth is that no one knows what the future will bring, but that doesn’t stop anyone from putting in their two cents. One thing I can tell you for sure is that things will continue to change and evolve.

Social networks have been in existence for quite some time and contrary to popular belief, Facebook was not one of the first. A social networking site called Six Degrees was founded in 1997. It allowed users to create a profile and then friend other users. After that ICQ, my Space, LinkedIn (still in existence) and others came along. Facebook didn’t exist until 2004 when Mark Zuckerberg registered thefacebook.com domain and Twitter didn’t arrive on the scene until 2006. As you can see it’s really in the last 10 years that social media has exploded on the landscape and become a worldwide phenomenon.

How are we using social networks?

  1. News/current affairs
  2. Staying in touch with friends and family
  3. Reconnecting with old friends
  4. Sharing photos/videos
  5. Dating
  6. Business networking
  7. Connecting with people who share a hobby/interest
  8. Promoting products/services
  9. Filling spare time
  10. Connecting with political/public figures

Who’s using social networks?

Women and men use social media at similar rates. Young adults aged 18 – 29 are the most likely to use social media. The biggest increase in usage is among adults aged 65+. (Pew Research Center)

What will the future of social media look like?

A few trends in the future of social media are beginning to emerge.

  • Instead of enormous catch-all sites like Facebook, social media sites that are vertical specific – music, cars, films, sports (or sport specific) – have huge potential.
  • All social media sites will be responsive to mobile.
  • Shopping on social media sites will be common.
  • Businesses will encourage employees to share content.
  • Targeted social media advertising will increase.
  • Social video is the way of the future.

Social media is here to stay. As smoke signals eventually evolved into the mobile phone, I know social media will continue to evolve and to me, the future looks exciting.

 

 

Spring Cleaning – Taking Stock Of Your Social Platforms

 

imgresSpring is a great time to take stock of your marketing efforts and with the social network world changing and evolving so quickly, this might be an ideal time to take stock of the channels you are currently on as well as consider some of the emerging channels being used by businesses today.

As marketers, we need to stay on the cutting edge of social offerings as this medium continues to influence buyers online.  Be mindful of the fact that some of the original platforms have changed since they were launched, and just because Facebook reached your clients 3 years ago, does not necessarily mean it reaches them today. I’ve outlined some top level information about the key platforms to help you evaluate whether these platforms still align with your marketing activities and better focus your social media efforts. 

Facebook

Originally developed in a college dorm room, Facebook was thought to be a social network for young adults to reconnect and keep up with friends by posting statuses, pictures and general life updates.

Currently, 87% of adults aged 18-29 use Facebook, while the next highest age range is 30-49 year olds, with 73%. The percentage of adult users decreases as their age increases. More and more businesses are using Facebook to promote their brand and have a presence on this site. The ability to provide reviews and feedback is crucial for businesses as it acts as an outlet for customer interaction. Some new Facebook features include live video and instant news articles. Facebook is still trying to improve with updated services.

Although Facebook originated from a personal sharing outlet, it has now evolved into a site for businesses and individuals. There are advertising opportunities, and even a source for breaking news.   

LinkedIn

Established as a business-focused social networking site whose main purpose is to allow professionals to network, LinkedIn has grown to be much more than that.

With the majority of users being between the age of 30-49, it serves as a professional social networking website, and is now the number one site for business development. The second largest group of users is 50-64 year olds. The target for LinkedIn is clearly a much older age range than Facebook. There are LinkedIn Groups, LI Pulse, (which is a daily news feed powered by the professional world) and it also has advertising and strong recruitment capabilities.

There are lead generation tools, advertising opportunities, and various other fee-for-service business opportunities worth investigating for your business development activities.

Twitter 

Today it was announced that posting pictures on twitter would no longer count as 25 characters like it did previously. This shows how social media platforms are constantly changing, as pictures have increasingly become more common on Twitter. Twitter is known as a micro-blogging platform. The majority of users are adults 18-29, with the second largest group being in the 30-49 age range.

As a more conversational and timely platform, Twitter requires a serious commitment to tweet at least twice a day, ideally more.  Businesses can get lost in Twitterverse or have very limited engagement without this type of commitment.  Remember to have social media protocol here because if a potential client tweets at you, you need to ensure you have the ability to respond instantly.

Instagram

Originally a personal image sharing platform, Instagram is evolving to cater more to business- driven objectives with Instagram ads and other features.  With over 150 million users, 90% of these users are under the age of 35, but the 30-49 demographic is starting to catch up. If your audience skews younger, and your product/service can best be displayed visually, then this might be the platform for your business.

Instagram, like Twitter, is an instantaneous feed that’s updated often, so you’ll need to be active on a regular and planned basis for your content to be noticed.

While the above social media platforms are considered the most popular, Snapchat and Pinterest are also frequently used social media platforms and continue to grow.

Evidently, each platform has a specific audience and purpose it serves. As it seems most platforms are gearing to suit business purposes, I advise you to consider all the platforms out there and make sure you know which one is right for your business.

Be mindful of evolving channels, changing demographics, and your customer needs, because as each social media channel evolves, so too must your marketing efforts.

Social Media – Are Your Lights On?

Social-Media11There really is no other medium quite like it! Social media has the unique ability to not only reach thousands of customers instantaneously, but also to influence their buying decisions. It is a marketer’s dream: an inexpensive medium to leverage when creating brand awareness, influencing opportunities, and online marketing campaigns.

It seems there are new social media channels popping up every day, and although they may be tempting, before you add the latest one to your marketing arsenal, I’ve outlined below a few social media guidelines worth considering when evaluating your social media approach to help you decide which new shiny social media platform is right for your marketing objectives.

  1. Do Your Homework

One rule of thumb I tell my clients is to do your research; make sure your audience is listening. If your audience is not on the platform you’ve chosen, then how will you measure results against your marketing objectives? One way to conduct research for social media could be to actually ask your customers in an online poll or quick web survey. By finding out which channels your customers are on, you can narrow down your choices and easily make a decision about which channels you should put your efforts towards.

  1. Who is the Platform For?

Many businesses believe that having a presence on many channels can bring them the most exposure for their brand, but each platform targets different demographics and opportunities. Take a look at the platform, read what people are saying about it, check out the content and get a flavour for the postings, look at the advertising opportunities, and then decide if it’s right for your customers.

  1. Be Strategic and Consistent

As with all marketing, social media needs to be implemented strategically and then implemented consistently. You’ll need to create a plan, schedule, and “voice” to be successful. No one will follow a brand that is in their face one second and then disappears for the next month.

  1. Do You Have Enough Bandwidth?

Once you’ve decided on which new platform(s) you’d like to add, consider your resources. Some of you may already have a presence on many channels, so consider the extra work involved. It’s better to have a strong presence on a few channels that matter to your customers, than spreading yourself too thin and getting a weak performance on several.

There is no doubt about it, social media is a great marketing tool for business, but you’ll need to be clear about choosing the right platforms, scheduling the content and remaining consistent online. If your social media platform has not been active for as long as a week, to a potential customer it could feel like you have turned off the lights and locked the doors!