How Social Media Impacts (or Doesn’t Impact) ROI

Social Media Like

The more social media followers, the better — right? As is often the case, it’s not quite that simple.

A big boost in your Twitter followers might give you a warm glow inside, but it’s not going to pay the bills. Likewise, a popular post on Facebook might collect hundreds or thousands of “likes,” but it doesn’t always follow that your bottom line will receive a boost.

To ensure that your social media presence is effectively advancing your company and brand, you’ll have to hit the right notes with your customer base and navigate a minefield of dodgy shortcuts. And it’s important to understand exactly what you’re getting (and what you’re not getting) from your company’s investment in social media. [Read more...]

Localize on Social Media or Else

University of Albany

Don’t worry. This isn’t one of those “feel good” stories about how social media is all about interacting with your local community. That part’s true, but you should know that already, right?

Today, let’s go over a quick explanation of how social media algorithms, especially Facebook’s, work and why you’re actually hurting your local page’s chances of being seen by having too many people outside of your local area liking your page. It isn’t just a matter of them not being interested in your content the way that locals will. It is an algorithm play that can actually prevent locals from seeing your posts.

[Read more...]

How to Calm a Social Media Crisis

Please Remain Calm

We tend to put a lot of ourselves into our online profiles. Whether we’re talking about our personal social media profiles or marketers promoting a brand, all that sharing can sometimes lead to some unintended consequences. As a result, it pays to have a plan in place in the event that you need to defend your online reputation.

 

Why Your Online Reputation Is Important

Among executives, reputation is frequently cited as one of the top strategic risks. This comes down to a number of factors, the most important of which is the fact that bad news tends to travel much more quickly than good news. When everything’s working fine, people don’t really come out of the woodwork to say so. When something goes wrong, though, you can be sure that people will be sounding off about it. Many companies consider it essential to have in-house or outside PR and marketing agencies at the ready to handle any public image crisis.

Social media and the internet in general have also made the dissemination of information extremely fast, and turned even the most taciturn consumers into very public mouthpieces for bad news about the brands they follow. If your company should find itself in the midst of an embarrassing PR problem, here are three case studies to help you through it.

 

Case Study #1: Buffer

Buffer is a service that helps marketers to schedule their social media posts. In October of 2013, Buffer was hacked by anonymous parties, which put the personal information of their customers at risk.

So what did Buffer do? They came out swinging. The hack occurred on a Saturday, and by that same afternoon, Buffer had already communicated with customers and the media about the problem.

Instead of trying to bury the bad publicity, they chose to remain completely transparent about the situation. As a result, the response across the web was actually quite positive, with most parties praising Buffer for their quick, decisive and honest response to the crisis.

 

Case Study #2: J.C. Penney

J.C. Penny, also known as the land of perpetual sales, experienced a rather embarrassing situation last spring when a well-intentioned billboard created a rather unfortunate optical illusion.

The billboard prominently featured Michael Graves’ Bells and Whistles stainless steel teapot which, when viewed from its side, looked just a little bit like the unforgettable profile of Adolph Hitler — complete with mustache and Nazi salute.

Passersby were quick to complain about the billboard online, which brought the situation to the attention of J.C. Penney’s leadership fairly quickly. Company leadership could easily have ignored the situation or maintained that people were delusional or imagining things, but instead they took to Twitter, assuring customers good-naturedly that the likeness to Hitler was “totally unintentional.”

 

Case Study #3: Fontaine Santé

Based in Montreal, Fontaine Santé is a major food supplier for North America. In the final weeks of 2011, the company was alerted to the possibility that some of their pre-packaged salads could contain traces of Listeria monocytogenes. The salads in question had already been purchased by customers across the continent.

The situation looked particularly dire; not only was the company’s reputation on the line, but also the health of the public. As it was, the news hit social media and spread quickly. Thankfully, Fontaine Santé’s approach proved to be both quick and decisive.

The food distributor leveraged available outlets in both social and traditional media to get the word out to as many people as possible. It’s a far cry from the tight-lipped response that a company with less integrity might have come up with.

Most remarkable is the fact that Fontaine Santé managed to recall all of the contaminated salads, and no cases of illness were reported.

 

What Can We Learn From These Crises?

Each of these companies are worthy case studies in how to respond appropriately when potential PR disasters rear their heads. So what did they do right?

What all three of these companies have in common is that they responded quickly. That’s probably the most important factor in most cases: the company needs to “get ahead” of the bad news, to assure concerned parties that they’re not only aware of the problem, but actively seeking a solution.

All three companies also made a point of spreading the word as far and wide as they could: one of the keys to damage control is to avoid misinformation and misconceptions from spreading; by reporting the story on their own terms, they ensured that when the story was reported, the facts hadn’t been distorted.

Finally, the companies demonstrated that they were not only willing to pledge a solution to their respective situations, but that they were ready to follow through on their promises. They recalled the contaminated products quickly, they took down the offending billboard and they helped their customers to safeguard their at-risk personal data. Ultimately, they worked closely with their customers and found a solution.

They say you don’t really know someone until you’ve seen them under pressure. It’s probably safe to say we know each of these companies pretty well by now.

Top 10 Social Media Tips & Predictions For 2014

Zoltar

It goes without saying that social media seems to shift at a moment’s notice. This may not mean much for those who utilize Facebook, Twitter and pages of that nature for leisurely purposes but what about those who wish to expand their digital presences? What if they want to help themselves or their brand become noticed? In order for social media to be utilized well during 2014, here is a list of the top 10 men moves that should be made.

1. Expect certain networks to gain attention. A recent publication on Digital Trends went into detail about how Pinterest “Pins” have more value to online retailers than Facebook “Likes.” Considering the general scope of Facebook, Pinterest is a site to look out for. Between this and its expanding teenage demographic that seems to deviating from Facebook, it’s clear that some sites will see greater elevation in the public eye than others.

2. Do not count out social media through mobile devices. It seems as though the utilization of one networking page after another is being seen more so through smartphones and tablets as opposed to computers these days. It goes without saying that your typical laptop will offer more in the way of functionality. However, considering the fact that many people are on the move without a place to settle in for long, mobile usage is an attractive alternative that will see growth during 2014.

3. Blogging will become a greater digital monster. From a creative standpoint, blogging is ideal for talking about certain subjects, giving one’s take on the matter in a way that is as level as possible. However, from the perspective of general awareness, more and more sites have risen and it’s easy for budding writers to make their presences known. The greater a platform is in terms of its litany of well-versed writers, the better it will be.

4. There will be a prevalence of job openings in social media. If you are someone who believes that working with Facebook can’t ever result in a career down the road, you may be mistaken. From SEO specialists to community managers, it’s clear that these individuals not only understand well-known networking platforms but systems which function to distribute digital content. The year of ‘14 is looking strong on the employment front for many a social media agency.

5. Posts will retain the “less-is-more” mentality. It’s understandable if, for example, a “Game of Thrones” fan live tweets during a premiere. Apart from instances like this, it’s unwise to flood your page with messages, since those who follow you will be exposed to them. When they see nothing but messages that do not pertain to them, it is all the more reason for them to unfollow. While shorter posts are better able to earn attention, fewer posts typically entail more importance for businesses in particular.

6. Content will see more of a graphical focus. I’m sure that you have stumbled upon one .gif after another while roaming the Internet on a dedicated day, each of them played up for the sake of humor. That being said, I believe it to be a sign that with content taking a more visual approach these days, those who fail to focus on this point stand the chance of becoming irrelevant in the industry they are in. The content that is popular on Tumblr, for example, might just make all of the difference for brand awareness.

7. Video content will prove more effective in displaying brand personality. It’s easy enough to read about the successes that a company has had but what will your perception of them be unless you have been directly exposed to it? This is one of the reasons why videography is integral, as it can appeal to not only one’s visual sense but auditory sense as well. In addition, most people are simply more driven to watch a video for two minutes as opposed to reading a narrative for several more.

8. People will be more careful about what they post on social media. This may be something of a given for many but it’s surprising that adults, of all people, seem to fail at utilizing various platforms in ways that can make them look better. For instance, this past May, Australian batsman David Warner was fined more than $5,500 for his Twitter outburst against two journalists. To put it mildly, the end result was one which displayed that no one wants a “Warner moment” of their own. Not everything has to be made public.

9. Genuineness will be that much more important on social media. It is important to be yourself on any networking platform, though to a degree that you do not simply post anything that comes to mind. It’s important to have a cognitive filter so that you can come across as not only personable but professional. You will not attain a strong digital presence by one blast of outrageous content after another. Stay cautious and, before long, you’ll feel as though you truly earned your social circle.

10. Don’t forget about certain networks. Case in point, Google+ has been heavily supported by the well-known brand but how many people were going to latch onto it as well as expected? With YouTube all but requiring Google+, it expectedly earned backlash, especially with the video website’s commenting system becoming nothing more of a mess. Fortunately, YouTube appears to be making matters easier, implementing a comment system that creators will have better control over. Early into 2014, it’s a welcome start.

The One-Two Punch: Print and Social Media Marketing

One-Two Punch

In today’s world, there is a huge focus on social media and Internet marketing.  While the Internet has definitely made it possible for businesses to connect in new ways with clients and customers worldwide, the Internet has not totally replaced traditional print marketing, nor should it.

Social media marketing should not be a stand-alone tool, but instead you should have multiple different marketing channels that are available to you and that you work to seamlessly integrate.  Print marketing and social media marketing, for example, can go hand-in-hand in order to reach the most customers and potential customers.

 

How Print Marketing and Social Media Marketing Can Complement Each Other

Print marketing and social media marketing can integrate in many important ways as long as you have a clear marketing approach that you take across all of your different marketing channels.

Some of the different ways that print marketing can complement your social media marketing include the following:

  • Allow participation in contests in social media that can result in real-world prizes that someone can enjoy. For example, you could run a contest so that everyone who follows you on Twitter or who re-tweets something you post is entered to win a great promotional item from your company.  Promotional products are great advertising because when people use a product with your brand on it, this spreads the word about your brand and company to others. A social media contest to win a promotional product gives you lots of bang for your marketing buck because you generate buzz when people enter (and talk about entering) the contest AND you get the benefit of giving someone a promotional product that can be used. You can purchase such prizes from a company like Quality logo Products out of Aurora.
  • Include hashtags and an easy newsletter signup on all print media that you distribute.  Whenever you send out a direct mail marketing piece, provide a print brochure or otherwise give someone print materials about your company, you should be sure to include hashtags that can invite people to visit your social media channels and talk about the product. You can also include all of your information on websites as well as social media channels and user names (like your Twitter handle) so that people who see your print material can quickly and easily find you online.  Those who receive your print material can then visit you on social media as well.  Be sure to make your social media names representative of your company and simple and easy to remember in order to encourage more people to visit your sites.
  • Build a database of potential customers through both print and social media. When someone obtains print material from you, ask for that person’s email address to be added to your online mailing list using a service like Mail Chimp.  When you get someone’s email address, you can then contact them over the Internet and invite them to follow you on Facebook, Twitter or other social media sites.  Likewise, if you are running a contest for those who follow you on social media, consider asking for a physical address (to be kept private, of course, not publicly shared on Facebook or otherwise on social media).  When you get the physical address of a customer or potential customer, this makes it possible for you to send print material.
  • QR CodesUse QR Codes.  QR codes can integrate online and local ads by making it easy for people to access your digital information. A QR code included on print material can allow people to connect with you digitally in a very simple and easy way. For more information on generating and using QR codes, click here.
  • Include social media mentions on print material. If you send out marketing material or newsletters in print, you can include things that people have said on social media about your company. These statements act as a reference, and those receiving the print material may become curious and sign onto social media to learn more about what people are saying about your company.

These are just a few of the key ways that you can integrate print marketing and social media marketing. There are many different approaches to take and the right choice is going to depend upon your specific business model. However, you should not assume that since social media marketing seems to be the wave of the future that it is the only kind of marketing you should do.

A comprehensive marketing plan should include social media marketing, email marketing, a great company website, and print materials. You will have multiple ways to connect to clients and customers, won’t have to worry as much about losing trust because of a change in email address or because of a move, and you can offer content and information that people appreciate in multiple formats. This just makes good business sense.

The Social Media Resolution

Social Media Resolution

Let’s keep this one short and sweet. If you run a business, you fall into one of four categories:

  1. Those who are using social media and seeing mixed or minimal results
  2. Those who have used social media in the past and stopped because they saw mixed or minimal results
  3. Those who have never really bought into social media
  4. Those who are killing it on social media

It’s easy for me to say that the last option is the one that just about every business should be striving towards, but the reality is that if everyone was in category four, it would actually mean that everyone was in category one. Despite the vast nature of social media, there is still a finite amount of room on news feeds, Twitter streams, and other visible portions of social media for businesses. It’s for this reason that I am glad most fall into the first three categories – it makes my job for clients much easier.

With that said, there definitely needs to be more in the last category and the likely reason that there aren’t is because so many fall into the second category. Whether on your own or through a vendor/guru hack, you’ve lost faith in social media. That was actually okay in 2012. It became less okay in 2013. In 2014, successful businesses will make it into category four or they’ll find it harder to keep their status as a “successful business”. Everything is migrating to include social as a major component. If you rely on organic search to drive traffic to your site, for example, you may will soon find that your traffic is dropping if it isn’t already. Google and Bing are betting high on social and they’re leaning towards social signals and page/profile quality as major components of their algorithm.

Search is just the start. This is the part that amazes me the most. There are local businesses that are spending thousands, even tens of thousands of dollars on digital advertising every month but they can’t seem to justify a couple thousand dollars to dedicate to a killer social media presence and integrated search engine optimization components. It’s the most trackable, tangible form of digital advertising and marketing – the smoke and mirrors required to try to prove value are gone (at least for some vendors/gurus). Make it real or go home – that’s what we’re faced with today.

In 2014, make it a priority to re-evaluate your position. Take a pitch or two. Read some blog posts. This isn’t about buying into a trend, though that alone should be pretty obvious. It’s about reading the writing on the wall – I see so many individuals who are active on social media, yet are unable to see the value of social media for their business. It’s not your fault. You simply haven’t been shown the real deal.

Find the real deal about social media. Your business success may depend on it.

Criminals Use Social Media Too

Criminal

The Internet has transformed crime. Many criminals today use the Internet to commit crimes such as cyber stalking and identity theft. Many people post a lot of personal information on their Twitter and Facebook accounts. Privacy is often not respected when people surf online.

Now, criminals can hack into Facebook and Twitter accounts and retrieve personal information about people. More than 80% of crimes that are committed online involve the usage of social media websites. Privacy concerns have been aired for several years regarding this issue but people still post personal photos, birth dates, email addresses and other information on their profile and news pages. This information can be used against people very easily.

Young children who use social media sites can become victims of sex crimes. This is why people need to protect themselves online. For example, people should never post that they will e going on vacation. If people know that a house will be unoccupied for a period of time then burglars could learn this through social media and commit a crime.

Statistics have shown that 20% of people have been a victim of online crime. This figure could increase as time goes by. More than one million people each day become victims so it is crucial for people to keep their online profiles private and only share basic information with their friends and followers. The world has changes a great deal since the personal computer was invented. People have to change their mind sets so that they do not become a victim.

Criminal Social Media Infographic

Infographic provided by instantcheckmate.com

Why Businesses Are Still Being Left Behind When it Comes to Social Networking

Left Behind

There can be no denying that social networking is something that is growing – more internet users than ever are now using social media on a daily basis. When you consider the size of social media you would assume that businesses are on the mark when it comes to social media campaigns and keeping in touch with their customers via social networking, but sadly for many their efforts still do not cut the mustard.

A Few Social Media Stats

  • When asked, over 60% of people said they would be more likely to buy from a brand they follow on a social networking website.
  • Facebook is the biggest social media website – if you added up all of its users and put them in a country to live together, it would be the third largest country in the world.
  • Within 80 days of it being released 50m people were the owner of an iPad – it took nearly 40 years for the same number of people to own a radio.
  • On YouTube the equivalent of 500 years of videos are watched every single day!

These stats show that social networking and the internet is growing – which is reason enough for companies to get on board and get involved. However, not only are more customers getting involved in social media but they’re getting more comfortable with it.

Gone are the days when a customer would write you a letter if they were unhappy with your service, now you’re likely to get an angry tweet or a long letter on Facebook. Their anger and unhappiness is the same as it always was, but now everyone else gets to hear about it too! We all know that word of mouth travels fast – so you want to be on the mark and dealing with customer complaints on social media because otherwise you could quickly find the situation growing to one that is much more serious.

Did you know that fashion brand ASOS have more followers than David Cameron?

ASOS are a brand that is renowned for their social media efforts. If you see their Twitter you’ll notice that they always reply to customers promptly – often with fun and witty replies, which help to keep customers interested! They have a specific twitter account which is designed to deal with customer issues and problems and they’re always quick and efficient when it comes to dealing with any tweets that customers send.

The fact that a fashion brand has more followers than the UK’s Prime Minister is a pretty big deal. It goes to show that they are on the money when it comes to dealing with social media & that their hard work has paid off. With so many followers on one account, their influence on Twitter is massive!

Companies are Still Being Left Behind

While companies like ASOS are coming on leaps and bounds with their social networking there are still companies that are being left behind. The problem with this is that we live in a social media generation – people are used to being able to get in touch with companies immediately and expect quick replies, companies not doing this are doing themselves an injustice and will get left behind if they’re not careful.

Making Use of Different Social Media Platforms

Generally the two main social media websites are Facebook and Twitter, but that doesn’t mean they are all you should use! Instagram is growing at a rate of knots and more Snapchat messages (350 million WOW!) are sent daily than anything else. There are different social networking websites out there to make use of – Pinterest is good if you have a crafting business and LinkedIn is great for interacting with other business owners and getting on board with local people.

The Mistake Many Businesses Make

The biggest mistake you can make is trying to have all of your eggs in one basket. If you’re going to be on a social networking website then you need to do it well. One of the worst things you can do is start up a social media profile on a website, do a couple of updates and then never coming back to it. Just because you have forgotten that you have an Instagram account (for example) that doesn’t mean that your customers will have. It is far better for them not to find you on Instagram than them finding a profile you have left behind – because this will give them the impression that you do not care.

So to Conclude

So, we now know how massive social media is. The influence that social media has over people is huge and as a business, if you are not tapping into this then you are missing out massively! Instead you need to make sure that you are doing what you can to be involved in it – and not leaving your customers wondering why you do not care.

Moving forward you need to make sure you have a clean-up of social media accounts that you already have. If you tried a social media website and didn’t like it – find it again and delete the account. It is far better for your customers not to be able to find you on a website rather than finding a social media profile that has been made redundant.

You then need to think about the type of social network you want to be on and how you can get involved. Whether this is setting up a page on Facebook or getting involved in tweeting on Twitter you’ll find loads of ways to get involved and hints and tips on how to make the website work for you and your needs.

Communicating with your customers is key – so make sure that once you are on social networking websites you use this to reply to your customers and interact with them when you can – you’ll notice it makes a massive difference!

Are You Using Facebook Ads to Generate New Sales Leads for Your Business?

Facebook Ads

You should be. It’s easy.

This article will discuss optimizing your Facebook Ads for capturing leads. I’ll give you ten best practices on optimizing your ads for engagement, and then focus on lead capturing strategies – and why Facebook Ads’ targeting tools are changing the way we’re generating leads online.

Let’s get started.

 

Optimizing your Facebook Ad for Engagement

Let’s get this over with so we can get to the good stuff. If you’re not already implementing these ten strategies below, do it now, and watch your Facebook Ad click-through-rates increase.

Image best practices:

  • Pictures of people (specifically a smiling, wholesome woman) generate more engagement than anything else
  • Pictures of animals and babies take 2nd and 3rd
  • Odd-looking or humorous images cause Facebook users to do a double-take, increasing their chance of reading your headline or body copy text
  • Avoid complex images. Keep it simple and devoid of text

Headline Best Practice:

  • The word ‘free’ and dollar values work to grab the eye of Facebook users
  • Focus on attracting the eye, let your body copy convince the user to click

Color and Detail Best Practice:

  • Avoid blues and whites as they’ll cause your ad to blend into the existing Facebook color scheme
  • Use red, green and orange: bright colors that attract the eye. Red encourages click-through as it makes the heart beat faster (giving the illusion that time is passing faster than it is). This encourages people to act impulsively
  • Don’t be afraid of borders. If your ad’s landing page image is blue, keep the same image, but throw a colorful border around it
  • Details, like borders, shadows (even increasing the green and yellow gamma on your image) have proven to increase click-through-rates. Sometimes it’s the little things that make the biggest difference.

 

Lead Capture with a Contest or Landing Page

Okay, on to the fun stuff.

Integrate your Facebook Ad with a corresponding contest or landing page to generate qualified leads. Use the ad to get them interested (with an awesome value proposition, CTA, and image) and a solid landing page (with USP, image and list of benefits) focused on the email generating call-to-action.

Contests

Contests are a fantastic way to generate qualified, valuable leads, provided you optimize them intelligently and offer the right prize.

Choosing a prize is about finding the happy medium between putting your business out of… business, and offering something nobody wants.

I recommend gift cards. No, they’re not the sexiest thing ever, but they work. A gift card allows you to promote your business as a whole. Anyone interested in any of your products will engage – and only people interested in your products.

Yes you’ll get results with a cash prize or an iPad, but I strongly recommend not doing this. You will, of course, generate a bunch of leads, but how long do you think they’ll stay subscribed to your email list after the contest is over?

A gift card ensures the people who enter your contest are actually interested in what you’re selling. Ask yourself, do you want 1000 leads who have a 2% chance of converting, or 500 leads who have a 10% chance of converting? (For those who hate math, the answer is 500…)

Landing Pages

Traffic Facebook users to a landing page optimized for lead generation. This means offering a reward for the lead, like an ebook or a white paper.

Ebooks are a great way to generate leads. Your business is probably already generating content (you should be, if you’re not). Compile this content, whether it’s a blog article, case studies, or a how-to-guide on balancing your own checkbook, and email-gate it.

Email-gating is simply requiring a visitor to your landing page to provide an email address before getting access to your awesome content. Your landing page should be built around selling this content.

Remember, you’ll get better click-through if your unique selling proposition (USP), value proposition, and image are the same in your landing page as they are in your Facebook Ad.

A/B Test both Facebook Ad and landing page to see what strategies work best for your target audience.

 

Targeting an Audience of Awesome Leads

Facebook Ad targeting is what makes Facebook Ads worth doing – it’s what makes the ROI make sense for small businesses. Facebook Ads can be targeted with a previously-unheard-of specificity. I’m talking targeting an ad at Facebook users who have just sold a used truck. Or targeting not only people in a relationship, but people at different stages of their relationship, or who have just gotten engaged, or who are doing long distance.

Target your Facebook Ad intelligently and you could be seeing a CTR of .1% or higher. Don’t target it and don’t be surprised when you’re getting .02.

For lead generation, we don’t want to target Facebook users by their car-history. Instead…

Target by lookalike audience

  • Import a contact list of current customers, leads, or previous contest entries from your CRM or database
  • Create a lookalike audience, in which the characteristics of your original list are matched with Facebook users who have never met your business
  • Target your Facebook Ad at this audience of people similar to those you know are interested in your product, service, or offers

Targeting by lookalike audience not only increases Facebook Ad CTR (as its made up of people very much like your existing customers) it also gives you a valuable, qualified list of leads more likely to convert in the future.

 

Target by Precise and Broad Category Interest

If you’ve already gone the lookalike audience route, or are looking to change up the details of your business leads (going from small business to middle, or CEO to marketing manager, for instance), target by Precise or Broad Category Interest.

Let’s say you’re using an email-gated ebook (on A/B Testing) for lead generation.

 

Targeting Facebook users by Precise Interest could look like this:

Specific Interests

Provided you’re targeting all english-speaking countries, and your spend budget is set at a maximum of $20 dollars/day, you can expect around 50 qualified clicks. If your landing page is optimized (let’s say at a 20% conversion rate – which is reasonable if you A/B test well and put some time into it) you can expect at least 10 qualified leads each day.

Let’s say you’re using a contest (giving $250 in maternity and baby supplies to new mothers) to generate new leads.

 

Targeting Facebook users by Broad Category Interest could look like this:

Broad Interest

You could also target women with a 0-3 year old baby. This means your ad is only seen by your target audience. The leads you’ve generated (perhaps for an upcoming push into the maternity sector) are perfect for an email marketing and lead nurturing campaign in the coming months.

And once you’ve generated this list of leads, do a lookalike audience on it and start all over again.

 

Conclusion

Hopefully you have a better idea of how to use Facebook Ads to generate leads online. Targeting well ensures your leads are the kind you want. Compare the rate we worked out above with what a lot of lead generating companies charge, and see if this isn’t awesome.

Have you had success, or frustrations, with Facebook Ads? Start the conversation below.