Social Media isn’t a Megaphone. It’s a Two-Way Radio

Megaphone

Social media is the one marketing medium that allows customers and businesses to interact in an organic fashion.  However, it astonishes me just how many companies don’t take advantage of this.  Rather than engaging with their customers on social media, they use it to tell the customer what the business wants to say.  There is very little listening going on.

I would suggest that every business should use social media as a two-way radio as opposed to the megaphone that it currently is for so many companies.  When you listen as well as speak, you get the opportunity to find out what your customers want, what they need, and what they think of your business. (more…)

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How Social Media Wound Up Costing $80,000

Facebook Login

If there’s one family that’s probably not too fond of social media these days, it has to be the Snays. It was recently reported that 69-year-old Patrick Snay, the former Guillver Preparatory School head, filed an age discriminatory complaint following issues with his contract. Snay came to an agreement with the school that would ultimately wind up with him being granted an $80,000 settlement. When Snay’s daughter took to Facebook to boast, said settlement went out the window. Along with it went the aforementioned sum of money.

The fact that Snay’s daughter’s grouo of 1,200 followers saw the message was bad enough but keep in mind that many of them were in Gulliver at one point or another. One could make the argument that Snay should have been clear with his family, telling them about the confidentiality agreement that came with the settlement. If he did not properly detail it, then it would be nothing short of an oversight on his part. While $80,000 might not seem like much to some people, to others it can practically change their entire worlds.

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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. (more…)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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