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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.

unusual business social media

Social networks is a great tool for promoting your brand.

But you can do way more than that with social media.

Here are five ways to use social media you might be overlooking

1. Make a Splash in the Newspapers (Public Relations)

Want to make a splash in the media? Getting your business featured in a news story no longer means writing press releases and pushing them out to journalists.

Instead, you can just share your news on social media.

As PR expert Maggie Patterson explains:

Journalists rely on Facebook to source stories and Facebook itself actively promotes the platform as a “Rolodex” with 1 billion contacts for reporters.

Where your company may have relied on a press release in the past, you can now share your story on Facebook. It provides a low-friction way to report the facts in the case of breaking news or to provide comment on emerging issues that will help get your story to the media and your public faster.

To give the news you share extra oomph!, it’s worth building up relationships with journalists on social media. That way, you can point them to your story when you’ve got something you want them to see. Here’s our primer on finding journalists.

2. Find Out What Your Customers Think (Market Research)

To be effective in business, you need to know your customers. You need to know their likes and dislikes, their wants and needs, their pressing problems.

You also need to know how people view your brand, and get opinions on what you could do to improve your products and develop new products.

Getting this information requires market research. Just a decade ago market research was an expensive endeavor. You had to set up online surveys, or send out researchers to interview your target customers.

Social media completely changes that. As long as you know who your customers are, you can tap into their thoughts and feelings using social media.

You can use social media to:

  • Monitor what your customers are talking about, so you know their everyday concerns and passions.
  • Ask questions directly to your customers.
  • Listen to what people are saying about your brand.
  • Learn the language of your customers, so you can write better copy.

3. Keep Your Customers Happy (Customer Service)

Did you know that nearly three quarters (72%) of customers who make a complaint to a business on Twitter expect to receive a response in under 60 minutes? That’s according to research by Lithium Technologies.

If you’re not monitoring what people are saying about your brand on social media – and responding to complaints – then you’re contributing to the negative image of your brand.

As Anthony Leaper explains over on Forbes:

Irritated Customers have supportive Friends. They may have a few; they may have thousands. The dangerous fact, though, is this: it almost does not matter how many friends they really have. A single Facebook post that describes a jaw-dropping failure on the part of your company may, if stupefying enough or if told in a funny or snarky manner, be repeated, retweeted, “liked,” and “shared” innumerable times.

For an example of this, check out Ryanair’s middle gimp debacle. That’s exactly what Leaper is talking about.

By contrast, if you’re willing to help your customers online, they’ll respond in kind by recommending your brand to their friends and family.

Leaper again:

If you can discover and address an Irritated Customer’s concerns quickly and effectively, then you have a singular opportunity to convert an Irritated Customer into a Delighted Customer. Their delight, particularly if seen by many in the social media world, may move thousands of people into the column of potential customers who are now predisposed to consider your services—when they may have been on the fence before.

4. Uncover Your Business Persona (Brand Development)

Social media is all about building relationships with your customers.

That means you’ve got to be relatable.

Social media isn’t the place for corporate stuffiness. Act standoffish to your followers, and they’ll give you the cold shoulder in return.

Jeff Mancini, director of digital strategy at Interbrand, says people see brands they love in the same way they see friends.

In a Forbes interview, Mancini said:

We feel for brands similarly to the way we feel for friends. The reason we advocate brands in our lives are the reasons we advocate friends in our lives. That is, we genuinely like them.

Making friends with your customers means you must develop a brand persona. Social media is the perfect opportunity to do this. Don’t worry if you’ve not got it all sorted when you start out on social networks. You’ll discover your voice through talking with your customers.

If you need a bit of extra help developing your brand’s person, check out our 72 questions to help you uncover your brand’s persona.

5. Create a Vision Board (Strategic Planning)

Do you yawn when you hear the words “strategic planning” or “business plan”?

Developing a business strategy can be an incredibly dry process. But it doesn’t have to be.

Why not start out by creating a vision board of where you’d like to take your business?

Pinterest is the perfect tool for this. It gives you access to millions of stunning images, and allows you to group them into pinboards.

You can even create several vision pinboards, covering whatever aspects of your business you want them to. Here are some examples to get you started:

  • What you want to do for your customers
  • The types of products you want to sell
  • The mission and vision of your business
  • Your business’s ethos and values
  • The lifestyle you want to have while running your business

Over to You

What are some of the more unusual ways you use social media in your business?

must read articles social media marketing

Looking for sparkle and shine to mix into your social media strategy? Look no further. Here are seven articles by some of the best writers and researchers around. Once you’re through with these, you’ll know exactly what it takes to build a social media strategy that will shoot you to the stars.

Oh, and if you still want more, we’ve actually linked to over 25 articles and Twitter accounts. So you’re getting a banquet for the price of a value meal.

Now let’s get started…

Social Media Supremacy: 10 Experts Reveal Their Strategies (ViperChill)

Author: Glen Allsopp

What makes it unique?: The level of research and diverse range of opinions from experts.

Our favorite quote:

Be consistent, stick with it for the long-haul, write for a specific audience, always try to improve the quality of your content and have a plan – know what your goals are and constantly evaluate your progress towards them. Do all these things and blogging will be really rewarding for you.

Glen Allsopp of ViperChill is renowned for investing hours researching and writing in-depth articles. This post on social marketing doesn’t disappoint. It’s from 2010, so the advice on Facebook is a little outdated. The tips on Twitter, blogging, and forums are excellent.

See also: 9,000 Uniques in One Day: A Viral Marketing Case Study.

The Art of Writing Great Google+ Posts (Copyblogger)

Author: Demian Farnworth

What makes it unique?: This article brings a copywriter’s approach to using social media.

Our favorite quote: This is a copywriter’s perspective on what works with Google Plus.

A good opening will get your post read. A bad opening will get your post ignored.

Farnworth has studied what it takes to get your Google Plus posts read and to build a following. His formula is sound marketing applied to Google Plus. Follow the lessons learned, and you’ll improve all your marketing.

Also take a look at: Demian Farnworth shares his content strategy and more – like why he digs vacuums.

A Minimalist’s Guide to Using Twitter Simply, Productively, and Funly (ZenHabits)

Author: Leo Babauta

What makes it unique?: You’ll see how Babauta applies his minimalist approach to the chaos of Twitter.

Our favorite quote:

Twitter is like a river … you can step into it at any point and feel the water, bathe in it, frolic if you like … and then get out. And go back in at any time, at any point. But, you don’t have to try to consume the entire river — it’s impossible and frankly a waste of time in my eyes.

Although written in 2008 before Twitter entered the mainstream, Babauta’s advice still applies today. It’s also an example of Babauta’s excellent vision, as he expected Twitter would replace RSS feeds, which it largely has done.

You might also like: Leo Babauta’s Great Twitter Experiment.

Social Media and Storytelling Part 1: Why Storytelling? (HootSuite)

Author: Cameron Uganec

What makes it unique?: This article doesn’t just tell you why stories matter; it shows you – with examples of great stories.

Our favorite quote:

As storytellers we need to answer these questions. Who is the hero? What is the plot? What is the setting? And, a scary thing for some marketers, what’s the conflict? If you’re telling a story, there’s always a conflict. It’s not always unicorns and rainbows and the hyperbole that lazy marketers often resort to.

Cameron Uganec rightly points out that we can no longer “push” marketing messages out to a captive audience. Instead, we have to “pull” an audience in using a great story.

Check out part 3 of Cameron’s six-part series to find out the psychology behind why people share stories.

The Ideal Length of Everything Online, Backed by Research (buffer)

Author: Kevan Lee

What makes it unique?: The depth of research and the graphics illustrating every point.

Our favorite quote:

Solid research exists to show the value of writing, tweeting, and posting at certain lengths.

You want the have the most possible impact online, right? Taking that as a given, what’s the ideal length of a Tweet, a Facebook update, a headline, an email subject line, and a video presentation? Kevan Lee has scouted out the research and reveals all in this article.

Want to know how Buffer dug up all this juicy goodness? Then check out their post How We Research: A Look Inside the Buffer Blog Process.

17 Twitter Marketing Tips From the Pros (Social Media Examiner)

Author: Cindy King

What makes it unique?: Not everyone interviewed for this article is a social media big gun, so the tips are relevant whatever the size of your Twitter following.

Our favorite quote:

One way to get more efficient about using Twitter and other tools is to sit down with someone younger than you and ask him or her for a front-lines tutorial.

Cindy King reached out to 17 of Twitter’s pro users to find out their top Twitter tips. In every one of the tips, you’ll learn something about how you can improve your Twitter presence.

See also: 10 Social Media Tips to Enhance Your Marketing, From the Pros.

How Coca-Cola uses Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+ (Econsultancy)

Author: David Moth

What makes it unique?: This is a deep dive into how a specific brand uses social media.

Our favorite quote:

Coca-Cola is one of those instantly recognizable brands that would rake in fans and followers without even trying, so it’s to its credit that it has active accounts across the social web.

Find out the pros and cons of Coca-Cola’s approach to using the four big players in the world of social networking. Of course, few businesses have Coke’s marketing budget, but we can all learn from their example.

For more ideas for your social strategy, Econsultancy has similar studies on Red Bull, Walmart, Cadbury, McDonald’s, Microsoft, Starbucks and Nike.