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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.

Google Plus Graveyard

With over 500 million users, Google Plus is one of the world’s biggest social networks. That makes sense, given that Google has thrown everything it has into making the network a success.

A survey last year found the 30% of smartphone users log into Google Plus at least once per month.

Yet not everything is rosy. Stats show the network has yet to capture the popular imagination. Just 3% of social sharing takes place on Google Plus. That compares to 41% for Facebook, 30% for Twitter, and 20% for Pinterest.

As one blogger put it:

No real people in the real world are using Google+.

But is this overstating the case against Google? Is Google Plus really a social graveyard?

To us, it’s clear that Google Plus ain’t no graveyard. If your business isn’t yet using Google Plus, we recommend you sign up today.

Here are seven reasons why.

1. Google Owns the Playing Field

The main reason Google Plus isn’t a graveyard is because for most people, Google is the Internet. Whenever you want to find something online, you head to Google.

Google is also the world’s largest email provider with Gmail.

Google has used its clout to sign up half-a-billion users.

As Guy Kawasaki explains:

Google can do more than merely tilt the playing field, because it owns the playing field. For example, Google integrated Google+ into search results, and Samsung phones and tablets come with the Google+ application pre-installed… Gmail account holders automatically have a Google+ account… Google owns one of the biggest rivers of Internet traffic (search), and it can divert people to Google+ anytime it wants. For example, when Google put an arrow on its search page pointing to the button to click to join Google+, hundreds of thousands of people joined.

2. Google Plus Is an Essential SEO Tool

Google uses information from Google Plus to influence search results. So if your content is getting shared and +1’d on Google Plus, it gets a ranking boost in search.

The impact of this is huge. A study by SEO specialists Moz.com found that:

After Page Authority, a URL’s number of Google +1s is more highly correlated with search rankings than any other factor. In fact, the correlation of Google +1s beat out other well -known metrics, including linking root domains, Facebook shares, and even keyword usage.

This fact alone is reason enough to start using Google Plus right away.

(Want more proof? Design blogger Lynne Knowlton saw a 40% jump in her blog traffic after using Google Plus for just one month).

3. Google Hangouts

With Google Hangouts, high quality video conferencing is available to anyone for free.

You can us Hangouts to:

  • Meet with clients, suppliers, or business partners.
  • Create videos tutorials.
  • Spend time with your customers.
  • Create a video podcast.
  • Interview experts in your field.

And pretty much anything else you can think of using video for.

Another nice feature of Hangouts is that they live up to their name. You can use them just to simply hangout. Martin Shervington explains:

Hangouts are like a party on the porch front. You are walking by and see people are chatting away on the porch and decide to pop in and say ‘hi’.

4. Meet New Folks in Communities

While sharing on the main network of Google Plus is a little slow, Communities are thriving hubs of activity and discussion. They’re fantastic for networking and meeting new people in your niche.

Google Plus power user Andrij Harasewych writes that:

Google+ Communities are perhaps one of the best components of Google+. Yes, they may get some flak for lacking features that have been around since the first message boards, but considering the benefit, the education, the entertainment, the inspiration, and the all around satisfaction I get from my daily Google+ Community activity, I wouldn’t trade it for any other platform.

Or as Lynne Knowlton puts it:

The peeps at the G+ party are super cool. They talk about things that you love. They have similar interests. They listen. They tell their friends about you.

5. Find Influencers Fast with Ripples

Ripples are a super simple way of finding influencers in your niche. To see what I mean, it’s best to check them out for yourself. They look like this:

Google Ripples Screenshot copy

We’ve got our very own guide to finding influencers using Ripples here.

Ripples are also great for analyzing the types of content that gets shared the most. When you know what generates buzz, you can create it for yourself.

6. Shine a Spotlight on Your Local Business

If you run a local business, then Google Plus can give a massive boost to your search rankings.

Did you know that nearly a quarter of searches are local?

You’ve probably done a local search yourself on Google and seen the results show up on a map. If you want your business to show up on that map, you need a Google Plus page.

7. It’s the Dream Social Network

If the world’s greatest minds got together to design a social network, they’d probably end up with Google Plus.

Google has put a ton of thought and resources into making Plus the best network around – even if you exclude the Hangouts feature.

Professional blogger Elaina Newton explains what’s so special about Google’s network:

It’s an amalgamation of both Facebook and Twitter’s best qualities, plus new features exclusive to Google. Imagine a new social network that favors visual media, but also encourages lengthy posts that inform readers and facilitate conversations. A stream that updates constantly, is searchable by keyword, shows you trending topics and has no character limits. A network with a strong sense of community and high level of interactivity. A place where content creators, entrepreneurs and enthusiasts, ranging from professionals to amateurs, can connect, share information and build communities based on common interests.

What’s Your Take?

That’s why we love Google Plus in a nutshell.

What’s your take? Do you love Google Plus? Will it overtake Facebook one day? Or is it doomed to failure?