How do I and how should I market on social media?
Social media is unlike other advertising that is designed to provide information about a product or service. Social media is designed to establish a conversational dialog with your customers. We find that companies that have been in business a few years or longer already have marketing plans for their print, radio or television already and are clearly defined. Your social media plan should be similar for consistency but take into account the bidirectional communication you will have with your customers.
Your social media plan should take many aspects of your current marketing plan. Your current marketing plan will have logos, images and how content is to be presented clearly defined and standardized. Consistency in your branding and message is key to any successful campaign. Please do remember though that social media has the word social in it and communicating with your customers should be a key part of your strategy.
Business leadership acknowledging, accepting and setting a budget based on how you wish to market your company socially needs to be thought of, discussed, and be expected to be revised as you continue to grow and learn more about social media.
Which social media networks should I be on?
This is the one question we receive the most, as no one wishes to lose a potential customer. The key is evaluating where your customers are currently at, where you expect them to be and how you plan on marketing to them. Will you be doing it part time, having a full-time employee doing your social media or hiring a company to perform your social media strategy? If you do hire a company remember they cannot be expected to do everything. They will need information from you, especially in handling customer complaints.
We have found that many companies on their own, or instructed by others, tend to jump on every social media network. We have found this to be bad as most companies do not have the bandwidth availability or budget to handle every social media network. Establishing and securing your business name so that others with a name similar to yours, or your competition, don’t get your business name is a very wise decision. What we do is encourage companies that have done this is to put a post on all of the networks that point to their preferred social media site they will be posting to if they are not able to make the site hidden. By doing so you are directing traffic to the location(s) where you can devote your efforts to.
What are the primary purposes of each social media platform?
We have a love/hate relationship with this question as there is no single answer for every category. We have outlined what the key purposes are and it will be up to you to decide which one(s) truly fit your core business strategy both today as well as down the road.
- By far the largest social media network with over 1 billion active users
- Largest opportunity is connecting and communicating with consumers
- Users within the site share over 2.5 billion pieces of content every day
- Typical times
- Best times to post is 1pm to 4pm
- Peak time is Wednesday at 3pm
- Worst times to post is between 8pm and 8am
- Posts are short and sweet at 140 characters (aka micro blogging)
- Largest market is the United States; but not limited to the USA
- Over 5,700 tweets happen every second
- 560 million active users
- Typical times
- Best times to post is 1pm to 3pm
- Peak time is Monday through Thursday
- Worst times to post is between 8pm and 9am
- Built by Google to compete against Facebook using a methodology of circles (e.g. circle of friends, circle of family, circle of businesses, etc.)
- Not as large of a business presence as Facebook but those that do take hold and run with Google+ typically do well
- Over 400 million active users
- Focused solely on providing video content
- Indexes well for SEO as it is owned by Google
- Over 1 billion active users
- 80% of YouTube traffic comes from outside of the United States
- Over 100 hours are uploaded every minute
- Primarily for business-to-business (B2B). LinkedIn is a business side of the social media
- A great place of connecting with current and former business associates
- 79% of users are 35 and older
- 240 million active users
- Typical times
- Best times to post is 7am to 9am and 5pm to 6pm
- Peak time is Tuesday through Thursday
- Worst times to post is between 10pm and 6am
- Social site that is designed around "discovery"
- Largest opportunities are for decorations, babies, wedding, fashion and recipes
- Audience of users are 32% male and 68% female
- 70 million active users
- Typical times
- Best times to post is 2pm to 4pm and 8pm to 1am
- Peak time is Saturday morning
- Worst times to post is between 5pm and 7pm
- Social sharing of pictures and 15-second videos is the primary purpose
- Many brands use Instagram using their version of #Hashtags and posting pictures consumers can relate to
- Over 150 million active users
What about security of my customer’s data?
There is a lot of talk about security and for good reason. There are many big businesses that just assumed that security was there and no one would touch or have an interest in their information. We know this is not true. Whether you are storing confidential information like credit cards, social security numbers, birthdays, email addresses or other information that can identify your customers you must be cognizant that you are being trusted with a valuable asset of your customers; their information. Every aspect you do should be diligent in protecting and securing the information. Don’t assume it is secure. Ask questions so that you know it is.
While on the conversation of security don’t forget to secure your social media sites. You may have multiple administrators and editors on your sites. Are they current employees? Are they still authorized to be posting and speaking for your company? If not, remove them so that they cannot hijack or speak for your company if they are not supposed to be. This will not only help your company but protect the person as well. Your administrators should be kept to an absolute minimum.
Do I need a schedule for posting?
A dedicated schedule is always great as it provides consistency and a larger sense of urgency to people. If your organization is larger having a scheduled posting schedule that provides consistency across all locations and departments is key to providing a solid and consistent plan.
What time(s) should I be posting to my social network(s)?
There is no predefined time for everyone. Your fans and followers of your social media sites will determine what the best times are. A posting for a new press release may be different than when you post of a new product, service or new hire. Posts by department may also play a factor if you have multiple departments posting on the same site. Make certain to spread your posts out so that you don’t flood and over communicate with your customers.
If you are a production or services company and have an urgent update don’t wait for "the best time to post". Post the information right away to benefit your customer and be responsive to their needs.
Keep track of when you post, what the response is (positive and negative) for each posting. This will help you determine the best times for each type of post.
How do I know I am being successful on social media?
Success is always a tough one to gauge. Many of the social media sites have analytics to show you how many people are visiting your site, liking your site and reading your posts. Using these tools you can see which articles mean the most to your current fan base. You need to measure how much time (effort) you are spending on your social media and figure out what your return on investment (ROI) is.
What do I do if I lost or can’t access a previously created social media site?
We run into this all the time. The first is to try and recover using the email account the site was created with. This requires that you know which account the site was recovered with. If you have an idea that it was done with a previous employee you can start asking around and gain access this way. If you are unsuccessful to recover your social media account using these methods you can also go through the process of recovering your account through the sites recovery mechanism. For many it will be sending a post card with an authentication code to your location. This is the same process that you would have gone through when you started setting up your local search engine accounts. If you haven’t set up your search engine accounts yet this is another matter we will be covering for you and have some articles already posted in our blog.
What happens if I get a negative comment on my social media page?
As we said earlier social media allows for this two way communication and is key to the success of social media. The key we use is to address the information that someone presented in a serious and professional manner. The person may have posted negatively to you about a problem or concern of theirs but they did post it. One could argue they could have picked up a phone or emailed you directly but, to them, they felt this was the best course of action. We have worked with many companies turning these negative comments into positive experiences.
If you do have a very disgruntled customer and they have a concern we always encourage that you post that you will be contacting them to get more details and help them solve their problem. This not only allows you to hear in the person’s voice the problem but allows you to address their concerns in a professional and personalized business manner.
One item we do recommend is to never admit to guilt of the problem as that can lead to others stating they had the same problem even if they didn’t have that problem to try and garner discount or other discounted products or services from you.
What am I missing that I haven’t already asked?
Social media is definitely very important for your business. The key is to not forget the other aspects of your company. This being print, radio and the other aspects of your marketing plan as they can be very effective in getting your brand in front of your customers.
Your current website should be your ultimate marketing and sales tool. We always have said that your website should be treated as an employee and should tie in all of your marketing campaigns to a central location. On your website you can have a newsletter signup, blog posts which are tied from your social media sites to draw people into your website which has been defined by you to showcase your company in the best possible light.
Our final note goes not only for your social media strategy but your website and other marketing methodologies. Do not let your content become stale. Fresh and relevant content will keep people informed and coming back for more. If you post in what we call the shotgun approach of not maintaining your brand for weeks, months or years you cannot expect your brand to grow.