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Get Noticed on Social Media

This is a guest post by Stephen Moyers of SPINX Digital Agency.

Social media is the new frontier of marketing. The relative youth of the platform means that it’s ripe with potential and exploration, but as there are few proven paths to success, pursuing it can also be a frustrating endeavor. So why use it at all?

According to a study by Shareaholic that followed 300,000 websites for over 4 months, social media referrals now account for 30% of sites’ overall traffic.

While there was no one single, effective social strategy identified in the study, clearly something is working. Or, more accurately, a combination of somethings.

Most businesses know that posting regularly across their Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts is important. And by now, the people tasked with managing those accounts understand that there are basic tactics for driving engagement and increasing sales.

Unless, of course, those tactics don’t apply to you.

The key to using social media marketing effectively is to try a variety of posts to see what sticks. Sure, generally speaking, visual content works well, as does responding to individuals through comments, tweets, etc.

But if you’re looking to expand your arsenal, shake up your strategy, or are trying to replace old, failing tactics, check out some of these creative ways to build an audience in social media.

 

1. Tailor content to the platform

Many businesses make the mistake of posting the same content on all of their social media pages. If your company just hasn’t allotted enough time to create or manage a campaign, then it’s understandable. However, this tactic probably isn’t going to get you much overall traction. In fact, it may actually be a waste of time.

Every channel has its own particular demographic that expects specific types of posts. If you want to increase engagement, make sure your Pinterest pins aren’t all duplicates of your Facebook content. The posts should reflect the medium.

Pizza Hut is well-known for its humorous and effective social media pages. While some of the content overlaps, the company does a good job of using Facebook for visual and promotional posts, and Twitter for short, funny thoughts on pizza.

 

Pizza Hut

 

2. Re-purpose old content

Evergreen content can be a goldmine for social media. If you have a blog post from a year ago that scored particularly well with users and wasn’t topical, make a few tweaks or update the context and post about it again. Or, if the subject is suddenly relevant to a current trending topic, re-post and re-frame it.

Re-purposing not only adds to your well of content, it saves time. Making a few quick changes or simply linking to it through a new Facebook post consumes a much smaller chunk of your day than writing an entirely new blog.

 

3. Try longer posts

The common wisdom about social media is to keep your posts short. This isn’t a bad idea as many successful posts typically consist of limited characters. However, each social network is different, and with the exception of Twitter, you can experiment with your post lengths to drive engagement.

Typically, B2Bs can be expected to have a little more success in this realm. Their audiences generally are more interested in information than, say, a cat video. Social networks like LinkedIn and Google Plus are ideal for auditioning long-form messages to your audience.

G+ user and consultant, Mike Alton, published a massive (at least by social media standards) post on how to create an ideal LinkedIn profile – with great success. The post earned over 100 +1’s and shares, and generated dozens of comments.

 

Google+

 

4. Throw a curveball to your audience

It’s important to keep a consistent brand voice in your social media profiles. Varying it up too much can reflect poorly on you, or even worse – confuse users and followers about who you are and what you represent.

However, the important caveat here is that, for some brands, spontaneity is an important value as well. If you post the same kind of content over and over, it becomes routine and boring. People are more apt to tune you out.

Netflix has recently become an example of how to unexpectedly vary up a social presence with great results. Rather than following the standard procedure for dealing with a customer, a service rep suddenly started communicating with a frustrated user as if they were in separate space stations.

The conversation eventually went viral on Reddit.

 

Netflix

 

5. Change up the format

Along the lines of providing unexpected content for your users, you should switch up the format once in a while. The typical structure is copy followed by a link, hashtag or image, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Indeed, people are more likely to notice if you present content in a unique way. Most networks allow you to tweak the format, and customize the look of your post.

 

Tweet

 

Does this provide more value to your users? Does the alternate format mean that the content contains greater importance than usual? No. But in the world of social media marketing when posts are more often scanned than read, making this small change can make your post more attention-grabbing.

 

6. Focus on inbound traffic

According to Hubspot, social media has a 100% higher lead-to-close rate than outbound marketing. This statistic highlights one important thing to remember: social media is a great way to drive traffic to your website.

That doesn’t mean that every single post should be self-promotional. Always look to provide value to your followers by including posts that link to other profiles / articles. However, everything you create should be relevant to your brand either indirectly, or through direct calls to action that encourage people to visit your website.

Not only will inbound traffic help improve your chances of securing leads and sales, it’ll boost your SEO rank as well. Google factors social signals (i.e., clicks, shares, etc.) when determining the popularity and legitimacy of your website. It’s yet another reason to create compelling inbound traffic.

 

7. Provide structure for your replies

Asking questions or polling your audience can be an effective way to increase participation, as long as you provide some structure for people to follow. Tossing out an open-ended question might inspire people, but if you ask something like “Happy Friday! What are your plans this weekend?”, most users will just keep scrolling past your post, uninterested.

Instead, get specific about your question and your desired response. It almost becomes more of a game that way. You can try fill-in-the-blank queries, or compare 2 options, and ask people to state their preference by Liking for one, Sharing for another.

Target does a good job of utilizing this tactic with success.

 

Target

 

8. Stand out from the crowd – stay positive

For all of social media’s great potential, it’s also an open forum for jerks to criticize people and brands behind a cloak of anonymity. But at this point, negativity has almost become cliché online.

You can separate yourself from the herd and add some pleasant optimism to people’s days by only posting positive content. In fact, according to one study, brands that posted happier tweets gained more followers than those who posted only about themselves, used swear words, or employed other neutral or negative tones.

9. Turn mistakes into opportunities

At some point in your social media game, you’re probably going to make a mistake. Whether it’s a poorly worded tweet, a not entirely appropriate image, or you forget to sign out of your company account before posting to your private account, blunders are pretty much inevitable.

The good news is that there’s most likely an opportunity to be found here. Your audience is human and appreciates that no one is perfect. If possible, find the humor in the situation and make it work for you. Apologize if necessary and humble yourself with a self-deprecating joke. It will undoubtedly endear the brand to your followers.

Stephen Moyers is an active tech-savvy blogger who loves to write about online marketing, social media marketing, and various technology topics. He is currently associated with Los Angeles based SPINX Digital Agency, which provides a range of digital services like social media marketing, website design & development and many more. You can follow Stephen on Twitter @StephenMoyers.

Social Media Addict

Do you ever log onto to Twitter “for five minutes” only to find that two hours later, you’re still browsing your news feed?

Or do you find yourself constantly checking for Facebook updates on your smartphone?

Don’t panic – you’re not alone. Research shows that social media is incredibly addictive. One study has found that staying away from Twitter is harder than quitting smoking. Incredible, hey?

What Makes Social Media so Addictive?

The key to social media addiction is dopamine.

You’ve probably heard of dopamine as the pleasure hormone. This isn’t strictly true.

What dopamine actually does is encourage us to look for stuff.

As the folks at Team W explain:

From an evolutionary stand-point this is critical. The dopamine seeking system keeps us motivated to move through our world, learn, and survive. It’s not just about physical needs such as food, or sex, but also about abstract concepts. Dopamine makes us curious about ideas and fuels our searching for information.

Do you see where this is going? Dopamine makes us what to look for new stuff. Twitter and Facebook are veritable goldmines of new stuff. Your brain on Twitter is like Scrooge McDuck diving into his money vault. Everywhere you turn, your brain thinks happy days.

Well, almost. There’s one more trick that Twitter has up its sleeve, which makes it even more powerful: unpredictability. Sometimes you’ll go on Twitter and Facebook, and your mind is blown. Boom! Sometimes you’ll have a ton of notifications. Again, this sends a flood of dopamine to your brain.

Other times, it’s a slow day (or a slow five minutes). Nothing much interesting. No notifications.

This unpredictability stimulates dopamine.

And there’s one more thing… dopamine loves chasing down rabbit holes. If you have incomplete information (e.g. a 140 character tweet), you won’t feel satisfied. You’ll need more. So you’ll keep looking. Hence, you stay on Twitter for hours.

Here’s One Approach You Can Use to Break Social Media Addiction

Social media isn’t going away. For most of us, it’s integral to our lives – if not to our work, then at least to our social lives. And your brain isn’t going to stop producing dopamine anytime soon.

As the folks at Harvard Health explain, your best bet is to find other ways of making your brain happy, and fulfilling your desire for new things:

It is not enough to “just say no”—as the 1980s slogan suggested. Instead, you can protect (and heal) yourself from addiction by saying “yes” to other things. Cultivate diverse interests that provide meaning to your life.

That could mean:

  • Getting out into the real world and meeting new people.
  • Finding a job that’s meaningful and purposeful (that doesn’t necessarily mean quitting your current job – it can just mean subtle changes, or a new attitude)
  • Reading books – especially those outside your main field of interest.
  • Trying a new sport.
  • Cooking a different meal.

All these take more investment than checking social media, and so are more likely to give more long term rewards.

Over to You

What do you do to find meaning and purpose in life? If you’ve recovered from social media addiction, what helped you?

Let us know in the comments section, below.

Facebook Networking

We all know that LinkedIn is the social network for professionals. It’s the place to be if you want to connect with like-minded professionals looking to get ahead in their careers.

Yet increasingly, business related groups are appearing on Facebook – and people are putting them to good use. These days, I’m finding that a lot of my business networking happens on Facebook. I’ve used Facebook to connect with my peers around the world, and to discover potential clients.

We’d still recommend LinkedIn as the top business networking tool (and Twitter is especially powerful if you need to make connections fast). But Facebook has a lot going for it, and it’s certainly something you should consider.

Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of Facebook networking. Once we’ve done that, we’ll take a look at how you can use Facebook to connect with other professionals in your field.

Why Facebook Makes a GREAT Business Networking Tool

Most of us use Facebook as a personal tool, to stay in touch with friends and family. But that doesn’t mean we should automatically write it off as a business networking tool.

In fact, Facebook makes a GREAT business networking tool, for several reasons.

You already spend time on Facebook. American Facebook users spend an average of 40 minutes per day on the network. That’s close to ten times as much time as the average American spends exercising every day. And it’s more than we spend on any other social network.

As you’re already spending so much time on Facebook, why not use it to help achieve your business or career goals?

Facebook is built on trust. Why did Facebook succeed where other social networks failed? One reason is that they placed (and still place) a high premium on trust. You can only use your real name on Facebook. And to begin with, Facebook only let users sign up with a college email address. Every user was verified.

Also, think about what you share on Facebook. Chances are, you reveal more of yourself on Facebook compared to other social networks.

All this has created a social network with a culture of trust. And trust is a fantastic foundation for business networking.

More people use Facebook. Facebook has close to 1.5 billion active users. That compares to LinkedIn’s user count of 300 million. More people mean more opportunities for networking.

Facebook business groups are often private. This also helps to create an environment of trust, because you need an invite to join a group.

Those are the advantages of Facebook, but that doesn’t mean that everything is rosy. Here are a few of the downsides of using Facebook as a business networking tool.

Work-life balance. Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is vital if you’re to perform at your best. We all need time to rest and recuperate. Having clear dividing lines between work and leisure can help you maintain this balance. Using Facebook as a networking tool can disturb this balance – because you’ll receive notifications on business groups even when you’re home for the weekend, or on vacation.

A work-time distraction. Using Facebook as part of your work may sound like fun, but unless you’re careful with how you use it, you’ll find that hours can disappear down the Facebook black hole.

Facebook business groups are often private. We previously listed this as an advantage, which it is. But it’s also a disadvantage, because it means good business groups can be hard to find.

Now you know the pros and cons of Facebook networking, how can you get started?

How to Network with Business Professionals on Facebook

When it comes to networking on Facebook, you’ve got a couple of options:

  1. Networking using your Facebook page. This is ideal for getting the attention of influencers. We cover it in depth here.
  2. Networking using Facebook groups. I’ve found this is the best way to connect with other professionals and uncover opportunities. This is what we’ll look at in this article.

Where can you find these groups to network in?

Facebook search. Using Facebook’s search tool, you can find public and open groups. It’s the perfect way to dip your toes in the water of Facebook networking.

How can you find groups? Search for “business networking”, and Facebook will direct you straight to the top business networking group. That’s good for getting started, but what if you want to find more?

Type this into the search bar:

Find all groups named “business networking”

Then, you’ll get a list of hundreds of business networking groups – some general, some specific to a country or city, and some industry-specific. You’ll even see groups where your friends are already members.

When you’re looking for groups to join, check them out before you sign up. Look for active groups where members share useful information and advice.

Subscribe to email lists of business professionals you like. I’ve found this to be the most fruitful way of discovering hidden gems. Increasingly, small business owners and bloggers are offering access to a mastermind Facebook group if you join their email list. Some are great, some less so. It’s worth checking out as many as you can to find the gems.

Ask your friends and business contacts. The people you already know in business can help you find great Facebook groups. Ask around to see if any of your business contacts are part of a private Facebook group. Knowing someone in a group can be a way of getting yourself invited to the group.

Over to You

Do you use Facebook for networking? What do you like about Facebook as a networking tool? What have you found is the best way for uncovering Facebook groups?