Social Media Is Not for Every Business

One of the most popular questions I get from businesses (both big and small) is, “How can I optimize social media?” The answer, unfortunately, is that social media is not a one-size-fits-all approach.

Social Conversations stock artOne of the most popular questions I get from businesses (both big and small) is, “How can I optimize social media?”

The answer, unfortunately, is that social media is not a one-size-fits-all approach.

Forget the new social media channels that are cropping up every time you turn around. There are plenty of the most popular social media sites that are not worth the investment. So here’s a quick checklist that might help you decide whether or not these social media options are right for your business:

LinkedIn
If you’re in the business-to-business space, it’s critical that you and your senior team (at a minimum), have polished LinkedIn profiles. Crisp, high quality photos, succinct descriptions of your business and links to your website will help support your company’s brand image.

Having a LinkedIn company page means it’s easier to link to articles that your staff has posted and to post job openings. Plus, since many organizations are now using LinkedIn to search for a business supplier, your company page will show up in search results. Plus you can sponsor posts for a wider distribution.

If, however, you run a local dry cleaning business, you probably won’t benefit from a LinkedIn company page. Since LinkedIn a broad-reaching business networking site, your biggest determinant might be how broad an audience you’re trying to reach. If it’s geographically tiny, I’d take a pass on a company page — but still maintain a personal profile.

Facebook
With more and more advertising cropping up on Facebook newsfeeds, users are starting to become numb to advertising messages — unless, of course, you’re selling retail products that can be targeted to a specific audience. If you’re trying to build community and spread updates about your products/services, then a Facebook page is a great way to keep your enthusiasts engaged with your brand.

You must, of course, first build a base of followers — which comes by posting relevant and timely content, and encouraging shares. Own a bike shop? Post tune-up tips, updates on gear, answer Q&A’s for beginners and experienced riders alike. Encourage your followers to share tips about secret trails, pictures of their travels, etc. And, from time to time, run contests to win a free bike or accessory. But, above all, keep it current and relevant.

3 Fresh Approaches to Social Media

I was prepping for a webinar on marketing when one question caught my eye: “What are some new marketing trends that leverage social media platforms?” I did a little deeper research on the topic and came across some innovative ideas worth sharing.

The Email Idea Book - 5 Futuristic Email Tactics You Can Implement TodayEarlier this week, I was prepping to participate in a webinar on marketing and was handed a list of topics the moderator was planning to address. One specific question caught my eye: “What are some of the new marketing trends that have leveraged social media platforms?”

Like most of you, I’ve been involved in the traditional uses of social media — some were highly successful while others were deeply disappointing. But as the platforms evolve, so does the learning (from both the client and the platform), and both are looking for new ways to leverage the relationship between consumers and their apps.

I did a little deeper research on the topic and in speaking with the other panelists on the webinar, I came across some innovative new ideas I thought were worthy of sharing:

1. Snapchat Geo-targeting for CoverGirlSnapchat Ads
Adweek reported that P&G successfully used Snapchat to promote their CoverGirl limited-edition Star Wars collection of eye and face makeup. Since the products were only available at Ulta stores, P&G used Snapchat’s geo-targeting feature to offer a branded overlay/filter atop any post that was created within the specific proximity of an Ulta store. At first my reaction was “how could this possibly affect sales?” But the story went on to share that through segmentation and the isolation of key targeting variables, P&G could attribute sales to their Snapchat investment.

While P&G declined to share actual performance, they did compare same-store sales for a similarly themed Hunger Games collection (whose marketing included TV and Tumblr), and the Star Wars campaign was more cost-efficient and had more of an impact. My translation?

In trying to identify new ways to generate revenue, Snapchat has figured out how to leverage some of the data they’re already collecting. Since this app is tracks users by real-time location (as are most other apps), why not overlay that knowledge to specific retail locations in order to push a relevant message to the user? I can see lots of useful marketing applications for this intelligence.

2. Ezra’s Pinterest ‘How-to’sPinterest Logo
In the summer of 2014, Pinterest unveiled its new business model called Promoted Pins. If you know anything about Pinterest, you know that it’s about ideas and inspiration — and not about promoting items that are on sale. In all my research, the best article I found was from blogger Ezra. He spells out EXACTLY how he uses Pinterest to drive revenue, and what I loved most is that he did it by using tried and true direct response marketing techniques (which are often a lost art).

By using free and useful “how to” content as his lure, he then sent readers to his website where the “how to” guide continued with supporting video — and the opportunity to place the product right in your shopping cart. Ezra reports that a small $775 in advertising spend on Pinterest netted him $41,254 in sales. That’s a 5323 percent return on investment!

3. Target Marketing on PandoraPandora_logo
Pandora, the free, personalized music streaming service, reports that only 2.4 percent of their users pay for their subscription — so that means 97.6 percent are exposed to their audio (and digital) ads. One of my fellow webinar participants shared that one of their clients successfully used Pandora to drive traffic to their clients’ tourism website — and that those results were far better than any digital advertising they had ever used.

Pandora provides a host of case studies on their website but their most recent, for Woodbury University, was fascinating. By using age, gender, HHI, geo and Hispanic targeting tools, Woodbury served ads promoting their Graduate School program to a specific target in a specific DMA. As a result, they were able to increase page views to their campus tours page by an impressive 4,000 percent.

All of these uses of social media are smart, targeted, and painstakingly planned for success. I’d love to hear about more social media innovations — what can you share?

What Social Sites Should YOU Be Using?

Most people know about mega-popular social sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. However, I get a lot of questions about other, underutilized sites that are on the tipping point of mass popularity—specifically, how these sites can be leveraged for marketing purposes.

Most people know about mega-popular social sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. However, I get a lot of questions about other, underutilized sites that are on the tipping point of mass popularity—specifically, how these sites can be leveraged for marketing purposes.

But before I go into that, I’d like to clarify the differences between various “social”-type sites:

Social bookmarking, news and tagging are sites like Digg, StumbleUpon, Reddit, Delicious and Pinterest. These websites allow users to “bookmark” things they like—content, images, videos, websites—and allow others in the community to see what’s been bookmarked and “follow,” if they wish. This is the epitome of viral marketing and community interaction. When groups of people are like-minded, it’s fun and easy to share feedback of things of common interest. For business purposes, it’s also a strong way to bond with your audience through content, news and images that are synergistic and leverage those interests for increased website traffic and more.

Social networking sites are communities like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google Plus. It’s a way for groups of people to meet and stay in touch with each other, for personal and professional purposes. People can friend, follow or fan someone based on affiliation or interest. Another new site is Quora.com, which is a social question and answer site. Users can view by category and post questions or answers on virtually any business-related topic.

Social media refers to sites like Youtube, Flicker or Tumblr, where groups of users share media content such as video, audio or pictures (photos). There’s also new sites like Spotify.com, which are social music sharing sites, where users can listen to mp3 files themselves, as well as with friends, via Facebook.

The following are some social sites that you may want to include in your online marketing mix as well as some other tactical tidbits:

  • Pinterest.com is a social community where users “pin” (think of a bulletin board) things that they like. Quite simply, it’s a virtual pin board. Users can re-pin (which promotes viral marketing) or follow someone with the same interest. Pinterest is a fun site because it focuses on the visual element. You can leverage your keyword-rich content when you add your descriptive text to your “pin.” In addition, Pinterest asks for your URL, which will be a back-link to that webpage. This will encourage search engine marketing, branding and webpage traffic. Pinterest uses graphics, images (pics) and video pictures. And that’s what will grab community members’ attention, along with well-written descriptive text.

Important Tip! For marketing purposes, you can use Pinterest to promote your business or websites related to your business, such as landing pages, squeeze pages, product pages and more. What’s important to know is that if your website, or the webpages you’re thinking of pinning are flash (dynamic) webpages, you will be unable to “pin” it, as there’s no static images on a flash page for Pinterest to “grab” for posting.

So if you’re thinking about using testing Pinterest in your social marketing plan, make sure to pick websites or modify your own webpages to be graphic-, image- or video-rich. Also, like any marketing tactics you’re testing, make sure it’s in sync with your overall marketing plan and target audience.

If you’re target audience is an older crowd, then this may not be the best website, or channel, to reach them.

  • Quora.com is a great online resource community of questions and answers. If you want to reinforce yourself as an expert, you can search questions related to your area of expertise and post responses that are useful, valuable and actionable. If you have a legitimate question about any topic, you can post by category and view replies from others who may be versed in that field. Quora is a great way to create visibility for yourself. As well, it allows you to upload relevant back-links which encourage website traffic and linkbuilding.

Important Tip! It’s important to keep a steady presence on Quora. Stick to your areas of expertise (categories and topics). Make sure you have a keyword rich descriptive bio about yourself and include back-links to relevant websites. As with most all search, social and content marketing strategies—relevance and usefulness is key. All of these things help with credibility and branding. In addition, Quora’s pages are indexed by search engines and do appear in organic search engine results pages (SERPs). That, in and of itself, can expand your reach and visibility, which can lead to increased website traffic, which can then be parlayed into leads or sales.

  • Digg.com.com is one of my favorite content bookmarking sites. You can upload content “snippets” or news nuggets. The site will also pull in any images and well as back-links appearing on the same page as your content. Content can be given a “category,” so that the right readers will find it. The more popular your content (number of “digs”), the more people in the community it gets exposed to. Viral marketing and traffic generation (to the source website in the “digg”) are typical outcomes from this website. Reddit.com is a similar site, which allows users to upload a content excerpts (article, video, picture) and link to the full version. This is a great site to increase your market visibility and extend reach. It’s also a powerful platform to drive website traffic.

Important Tip! Use content that is “UVA”—useful, valuable and actionable, something newsworthy and/or interesting to your target reader. It’s very important to have a strong, eye-catching or persuasive headline that people in the community will want to read. There’s so much background noise on Digg that you want your content/headline to jump out at the reader. Also, include a back-link in the body copy you are uploading. This will help with branding, link-building and traffic generation. With Reddit, your content excerpt space is limited, so make sure to pick content that will not only resonate with the target audience, but also screams out to the reader to “click here” to read more. Then link to your full article, which should be posted on an inside page of your website.

  • Google+. Google Plus is Google’s attempt at social networking. It’s not as popular … yet … as behemoth Facebook (900 million users as of April 2012), but it’s got “teeth,” at around 90 million users. And because it’s Google, there’s some great search-friendly benefits built right in. For example, it’s indexed by Google, so your messages can get found faster. This helps with search engine visibility and website traffic.

Important Tip! For business purposes, you can share relevant information and personalize your “social” circles; thereby, targeting your message better for each group. It’s easy to share and rank (a combination of Digg and Facebook) content such as posts and messages. And there’s also a variety of sharing options like content, video, photos (similar to Pinterest, Flickr and YouTube).

With social marketing, it’s a matter of matching the content type to the most synergistic platform and audience. Social marketing may not be for every business. But I believe it’s certainly worth a strategic test. Just remember an old copywriting rule of thumb, which is “know your audience.” If you know who your target reader (prospect) is, then you can craft enticing messages and pick social platforms where those prospects are likely to congregate.

Most any social marketing site can be leveraged for marketing and business purposes. But make sure to keep your messages fun, entertaining, engaging and interactive. Because, after all, that’s what the “social” in “social marketing” is all about.

Putting Pinterest to Work for Your Brand

Pinterest is the new hot property. Overnight this visual curation powerhouse has generated more traffic to websites than Twitter, Google+, Linkedin and YouTube combined. Its clean and simple design, including pleasing graphics and neat organization, allows users to quickly and easily gain access to the content that matters to them. Marketers have taken notice and are asking themselves, “How can Pinterest help me form a deeper relationship with my customers and prospects?”

Pinterest is the new hot property. Overnight this visual curation powerhouse has generated more traffic to websites than Twitter, Google+, Linkedin and YouTube combined. Its clean and simple design, including pleasing graphics and neat organization, allows users to quickly and easily gain access to the content that matters to them. Not surprisingly, both unique visitors and time spent on site have steadily increased. Marketers have taken notice and are asking themselves, “How can Pinterest help me form a deeper relationship with my customers and prospects?”

The answer often starts with building a connection around a shared passion aligned to your brand, be it music, sports, travel, fashion, cars, food/cooking, interior design, gardening, technology, etc. For Real Simple magazine that meant creating more than 58 boards and 2,312 pins focused on giving followers practical, creative and inspiring ideas to make life easier, which is central to the brand’s core mission. Specific boards include “Organization Inspiration,” “Weeknight Meals,” “Spring Cleaning” and more. For more inspiration, check out the 10 most followed brands as well as some of the power users with huge followings (provided by Mashable):

10 Most Followed Brands: 1. The Perfect Palette 2. Real Simple 3. The Beauty Department 4. HGTV 5. Apartment Therapy 6. Kate Spade New York 7. Better Homes and Garden 8. Whole Foods 9. West Elm 10. Mashable.

And here are some power users with huge followings: Jane Wang, Christine Martinez, Jennifer Chong, Joy Cho, Maia McDonald, Caitlin Cawley, Mike D, Daniel Bear Hunley.

Once your brand’s Pinterest mission and vision has been determined, attention turns to growth and engagement. Leverage your existing communities to grow awareness for your Pinterest presence and stress the unique value and content that can be found there. For example, Lowe’s saw a 32 percent increase in followers to its Pinterest page after it integrated a Pinterest tab into its Facebook community. In fact, some Lowe’s boards saw as much as a 60 percent increase. Additionally, Pinterest referrals back to Lowe’s Facebook page increased 57 percent, demonstrating the importance of using each community for its inherent strengths, be it breaking news, discussions or photos. More recently commerce powerhouses Amazon and eBay have added tiny Pinterest buttons to their deck of social media sharing options on individual product pages.

Next, build on this awareness by thinking creatively and forming programs that engage and accelerate growth. Apparel brand Guess used the inherent strengths of Pinterest’s visual platform to ask consumers to create inspiration boards around four spring colors and title their boards “Guess my color inspiration.” The four “favorites,” as selected by Guess’ noted style bloggers, received a pair of color-coated denim from the Guess Spring Collection.

Other retailers such as Lands’ End created a “Pin It to Win It” contest designed to encourage consumers to pin items from the retailer’s website for a chance to win Lands’ End gift cards, while Barneys asked consumers to create a Valentine’s Day wish list using at least five items sourced from Barneys’ website. In each case the brands leveraged the strengths of Pinterest’s visual platform to engage followers by encouraging them to create their own inspiration boards associated closely with the brand and its products, thus increasing buzz, visibility and followers.

While it’s important to experiment and have fun as you grow your following, you also want to gather critical insights and learnings along the way. Treat your Pinterest promotion or program just as you would any other digital marketing program. Set up goals, objectives and appropriate key performance indicators, and be sure to communicate those metrics to all involved to properly gather learnings and the overall impact and success of the effort.

For consumer product goods brand Kotex, it was all about honoring women and leveraging the power of Pinterest to reward the women who inspired it. The program included finding 50 “inspiring” women to see what they were pinning. Based on those pins, the women were sent a virtual gift. If they pinned the virtual gift, they got a real gift in the mail based on something they pinned. The result: 100 percent of the women posted something about the gift across multiple social networks (Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.), resulting in greater reach and visibility than was initially anticipated.

In addition, more than 2,284 interactions occurred overall and Kotex’s program generated more than 694,864 impressions around the 50 gifts. Lastly, the YouTube video summarizing the program has been viewed nearly 18,000 times, indicating the program has been a source of interest and inspiration to other brands and marketers alike.

Don’t forget to leverage Pinterest’s API to collect data, including activity, in order to build insights as well as preference and intent as expressed by your audience.

With meteoric-like growth, Pinterest now finds itself among the top 30 websites in the U.S. and shows no signs of slowing down. The social media platform not only offers brands an opportunity to curate and visually organize information for consumers in an appealing way, but it creates a community of real enthusiasts and advocates for your brand and shared topic of interest. Happy Pinning!