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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?

social media metrics

Both Twitter and Pinterest have recently launched analytics platforms to help businesses get the most out of their social marketing efforts.

Meanwhile, Facebook Insights have been available for three years (they’ve come on a long way in that time). And social media apps such as Hootsuite, Buffer and Klout all allow users to measure different aspects of their social media engagement.

As copywriters and marketers have known for over a century, stats are the best way of finding out what works, and what doesn’t.

But how can you make sure you’re making the most of your social metrics?

1. Know Where You’re Headed

For any journey, you need a map, a destination and a route.

Metrics are not the map. They don’t show you where to go. And they’re not the destination or the end goal. Rather, they help you see whether you’re taking the right path.

Before you set any goals for your social media engagement, you need to know where your business is headed. The goals you set for social media should then serve your business goals.

For example, let’s say you have a business goal of increasing revenue by 10%. To do this, you need to make more sales. And to make more sales, you need to increase traffic to your website. Boosting traffic is a goal social media can help with.

2. Get Familiar With What You Can Track on Social Media

What you can measure is usually dictated by the analytics tools you use. Some of the things you can track include:

  • Engagement. This is measured by tracking how many people reply to a post. On Facebook, these are comments and on Twitter they’re replies.
  • Volume. How much are your posts being spread? The more your updates are shared, the louder your volume. On Twitter, volume is created by retweets. On Facebook, the volume is amped up by “shares”.
  • Reach. This is the number of people who are seeing a particular post. Reach helps you put other stats into context. Getting 10 comments isn’t too impressive if you’ve got a reach of 1 million. However, 10 comments on a reach of 100 people is something to smile about.
  • Sales. How many sales are you making as a result of your social media posts? If you run an online store, Google Analytics can keep track of this for you.
  • Lead gen. If you run a service business, how many new leads are you generating each month as a result of social media? This is easy to track if you generate leads directly on social media though you’ll have to keep track of the stats for yourself.

This is just some of what it’s possible to track on social media. It’s worth getting familiar with several social analytics tools so you can see for yourself what it’s possible to measure.

3. Set Goals Based on What You Can Track and Where You’re Headed

Once you know what it’s possible to track, then you can set appropriate goals for your social media accounts.

Compare what you can track to your business goals. Which metrics are the best indicators of whether you’re achieving your business goals?

For example, if one of your business goals is to provide excellent customer service, then you might want to keep track of how long it takes you to reply to customer queries on social media.

If your aim is to boost the visibility of your brand, then you’ll need to track volume.

4. Make Your Goals SMART

SMART goals, as invented by Peter Drucker, one of the greatest business thinkers of the 20th century, are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Actionable
  • Realistic
  • Time-bound

When it comes to tracking your social metrics, it’s particularly important to make your goals measurable. You’ve already done this by setting goals based on what you can track.

It’s also important that your goals are actionable. This means you know the specific actions you need to take to achieve those goals.

This is easier for some goals than for others. Taking the customer service example we outlined in the previous step, you might have set a goal of responding to customer queries on social media within two hours. Acting on that goal is simple. You’ve got to find a way of keeping track of customer queries, and you’ve got to make sure you reply to them.

However, if your goal is to increase the number of times your posts are shared, then the actions you should take are less obvious, so it’s not a SMART goal. You could adjust this goal to be “create three pieces of content with viral potential every week.”

5. Have a “Dashboard” Where You Can View Your Stats

Measuring your stats is only useful if you remember to check-in and see how things are going. You’re much more likely to do this if you keep all your stats in one location.

All good analytics software provides a “dashboard” with a stats overview. However, this is only useful if the dashboard tracks the stats that are relevant to your goals. You may find it more helpful to create your own “dashboard” by noting down metrics in a spreadsheet.

6. Tweak as Necessary

Social media is a rapidly changing landscape. A decade ago, Twitter and Pinterest didn’t even exist. Facebook was in its early infancy.

No matter what goals you set for your social marketing, you will have to adjust them. This could be because technology changes. Or it could be because you discover that your goals are close to impossible, or that your goals aren’t as aligned with your business objectives as they could be.

Adjusting your goals – and the actions you take to achieve those goals – isn’t a sign of weakness. It doesn’t mean you’re turning back. It means you’re responsive to feedback, and you’re moving forwards.

7. Keep Experimenting!

Social media is an experiment. No one has the monopoly on the right way to do it.

It’s a good idea to see your efforts in tracking metrics as experiments. That way, you can’t go wrong, because whatever you learn is feedback for your experiment.

And the great thing about experiments is that you never know when you’ll discover something no one has ever found before.

Pinterest Email Subscribers

 

This is a guest post by Sonja Jobson, founder of Success Lab.

Fans and flowers on social media networks are a beautiful thing. Platforms like Pinterest allow us to reach brand new people that we might otherwise never have been able to reach. You get to share great stuff, interact with a MASSIVE audience, and grow your brand credibility all at once.

Pretty sweet, right?

But if you stop there – if you never try to take your social media connections to the next level (we’ll talk about what the ‘next level’ is in just a minute) than you’re missing out big time.

Pinterest doesn’t allow you to communicate with your audience in the most effective way (same goes for all the other social networks you use). In fact, when you pin something to one of your Pinterest boards, only a small fraction of your followers will actually see it.

Which is exactly why you need to be working hard to transfer your network on Pinterest over to your email list.
Once you have someone on your email list, you can communicate with them in a much more effective and profitable way for 2 reasons:

  1. Email is more personal than social media, and more of your recipients will see your message when sent to an inbox verses a social stream.
  2. You own your email list. Unlike Pinterest, nobody can “shut down” your email list or change the rules.
    Today we’re going to go over the exact steps you can take to turn your Pinterest followers into email subscribers – and all you need to get started is an opt-in box for your email list, and an opt-in offer.

Step 1: Create an image for your free opt-in offer

You’re probably already aware that your opt-in offer is the content (or other type of gift) that you give people in exchange for singing up for your email list. Things like eBooks, guides, checklists, or video training series are popular.

The very first thing we need to do is create an image that represents your opt-in offer.

We’re going to use a free online tool called Canva to get the job done. We’re going to use a free eBook as our opt-in offer example, but you can use the same steps to create an image that represents any type of offer.

First, pull up Canva.com (register a free account if you don’t already have one) and select “Poster” from the template options:

Image#1

Inside the Canva editor, we’ll design our poster to look like the cover of our eBook. We can choose a background, graphic elements, and text.

For our eBook example, we’re going to pick a plain colored background, a simple graphic that supports our eBook’s topic, and create text that displays our eBook’s title and author:

Image#2

After you’re satisfied with your design, download it to your computer:

Image#3

Step 2: Create an email opt-in landing page that your Pinterest followers will love

You could put your email opt-in box on your homepage and send your Pinterest followers there to sign up – but an even better idea is to create a dedicated landing page for your email opt-in.

Having a dedicated lading page will make it easier and more enticing for your visitors to sign up, and there won’t be any distractions to get in the way.

Your email opt-in landing page can be simple: create a separate page without any of your regular website elements (like a navigation bar or side bar). Include a headline about your opt-in offer, some copy to explain the benefits it offers, and an opt-in box where people can submit their email address.

(Hint: if you want a super simple way to make highly effective landing pages, check out LeadPages.net – not an affiliate link)

Here’s a sample of a simple opt-in landing page:

Image#4

Step 3: Pin your opt-in offer image to Pinterest so traffic flows to your email list

Now it’s time to create a pin on Pinterest using our new opt-in offer image.

Head over to your Pinterest profile and click the plus sign in the upper right hand corner to create a new pin:

Image#5

Follow the instructions to upload your opt-in offer image from your computer.

Choose a board for your pin and give it an enticing description. Make sure to tell people about the benefit your free offer will give them. For example, don’t just tell people to download your free eBook about buying a car. Tell them that they can grab your free eBook which will give them all the inside secrets to help them avoid overpaying for a car or driving home a dud. See? Benefits. You can also include a link to your opt-in landing page at the end of your description, but we’ll talk about an even more important place to put that link in a minute.

Once you’ve crafted a stellar description, click “Pin It”.

Image#6

Now for the most important step: find the pin you just created and hover over it until a pencil icon appears in the top right corner:

Image#7

Click on the pencil icon and an editing box will appear. In this box, there is a field where you can enter the source of your pinned image. It is super important that you put the URL of your opt-in landing page in this box so that your followers will be able to sign up for your list.

Image#8

All done!

You’ve just created a pin that’s going to work overtime for your business. When people click on the image in your new pin, they’ll be shuttled off to your snazzy opt-in landing page and given the opportunity to join your list in exchange for your free gift.

For extra exposure, you can promote your new Pin on your other social network profiles like Facebook and Twitter. Then sit back, relax, and watch your Pinterest followers turn into email subscribers.

Your turn: what are your favorite list-building hacks? Share them with us in the comments below!

Sonja JobsonSonja Jobson helps small business owners and entrepreneurs become incredible on the internet with smart, fun, authentic marketing. Join the free Success Lab for more business building content, live Q&A parties, and access to a supportive community of entrepreneurs. 

Image credit: Twin Design / Shutterstock.com