About VB's Blog

Entrepreneur, Digital Marketer, Into Everything Apple, Music Lover,Traveller, In the closet gamer, Post Grad, Truth Seeker, Social Media Consultant & Strategist. I'm a social media enthusiast - its in my blood. In no other field do I get to combine my love of people and new media technology so well as that of social media! and social media marketing, my specialty, is simply marketing that takes advantage of the emerging social awareness online. I’m passionate about helping companies and people understand how social media can help them position their brand and not only get more customers, but increase the loyalty of those who already exist. Social media marketing is soft - it's about building relationships and and leveraging them for the benefit of both consumers and producers alike. Having been in the industry for close to a decade, i have honed my expertise in providing consultancy, technology, content and design services that are critical to your online success. I bring with me strong leadership, an enthusiastic team, sound processes and a keen eye for quality and timeliness. http://www.contactme.com/4ec73984da60da0001001772

Creating Your Social Media Plan

If you enter into social media without a plan, you will fail. Period.

All the hours you spent will be wasted, you will receive no traffic bump, there will be no engagement, no one will care and you will learn nothing. Except maybe that you’re an idiot and that you should have listened to me when I told you to create a social media plan. You wouldn’t jump into a raging river without knowing how to swim, don’t create a Twitter account without knowing how to use it.

Grab a pen, I’m about to save your life.

Just because the tools of social media are free doesn’t mean they come without their own barrier to entry. The barrier is the knowledge of how to use them. Before you get started with using social media, you need to understand the tools you’ll be using. When i work with clients on their social media strategy for their business, here’s a bit of what I’m always sure to discuss with them.

Secure Your Brand

The first step of a successful (and long term) social media plan is to grab your brand everywhere you can, regardless of whether or not you plan to use it. It’s important that you have control of your identity all over the Web.  It’s always better to have the username and not use it, then need to wait and kick yourself later when someone else grabs it. Having a unified social media username is very important in establishing trust with other members (and potential press contacts) who may belong to multiple communities with you. You want them to know that you’re the same person.  Appearing as [cameraexpert] on one network and [cameras343] on another may confuse them.

To help ease the mind numbing task of username registration, we suggest using Knowem to search a large listing of social media sites. One search will tell you where your brand is still available on 120 different social media sites. (We also use their premium service to register the profiles for us since we’re too lazy busy to register all those profiles ourselves).

Set Your Metrics

Listen to me. Do NOT enter social media until you know what you want to get out of it. Period. If you don’t know what “success” is for you, then you’re not ready to start yet. It also means you should cut back on your blog reading.

Before you jump in, define success. Is it:

  1. Building buzz and conversation around a particular product?
  2. Better overall brand awareness?
  3. More traffic?
  4. Blog subscribers? Increased leads?
  5. New knowledge about your customers and how they view your brand?

 

Once you know that, the next step in your social media planning is to figure out how you’re going to measure success.. You want to identify your challenge, goals and concepts to determine how “buzz” will be quantified. Is it blog comments, conversions, links, Twitter talk, better brand recognition? If you can’t measure whether or not you’re meeting your goals, then you’re going to fail before you even start. It will limit your ability to bench mark results and render you unable to implement changes.

If you don’t take the time to figure out (a) what you want and (b) how you’re going to get it, you will fail in social media. In fact, you’ll fail in life.

Know Who You Are

I tend to believe that for most businesses, marketing is storytelling. It’s about using the tools available to you through social media to pique your customer’s interest and make them invested in who you are. The most successful companies are the ones that have gotten us interested in their story to the point where we want to share it with other people. We want to be associated with them.

Figure out your story in the market. Don’t construct a mythical tale about yourself, but do take the time to become aware of your identity. What does your company believe in? What are you known for and what do you want to be known for? If you’re “the corporate white hat SEO company” or “the blogger with an axe to grind”, you’re going to need to embrace that and bleed it. That knowledge will also be crucial in determining how you’ll talk to people, what your tone will be, how far you’ll go, and what you are (or are not) comfortable doing and sharing.

Determine Where to Build Satellite Communities

You want to plan your social media attack so that it’s as concentrated and as powerful as it can be. You don’t want to waste your time in communities where either no one is talking or they’re simply not interested in your kind. That means understanding two things:

  1. Your customers
  2. The communities you’re walking into

Your Customers: Put a face on them. Who are they and what are they interested in? Are they comfortable enough online to be hanging out in these communities? If so, where are they in the social media landscape? Are they on Twitter? Creating Facebook Fan pages? Answering questions on LinkedIn or Yahoo Answers? Or, God forbid, on MySpace? Wherever they are, find them.

If the bulk of your customers aren’t online, is there an opportunity to capture a secondary audience through social media – folks who may not make up a large percentage of your customer base but sit in parallel industries and could become more important?

If you don’t naturally know where people are hanging out, don’t panic. It just means you’ll need to do some research to start. Head to Twitter and search for your brand name, your competitors’ names, your keywords, industry, etc. Decide if there’s enough conversation to warrant engagement. Head to Facebook and see if there are any Fan pages dedicated to your company or industry. If there aren’t, are there a lot of people who list it as an interest and who may be interested in joining a community on that topic? Go to Yahoo Answers and see if people are asking or answering questions.

If your community is Internet-literate, they’re talking somewhere. You don’t have to invent the neighborhood, you just have to track it down and move in.

The Communities: Once you find the communities, study them. Scope them out and identify the elders, the specific caste system, their openness to newbies, how folks communicate, the type of content that is passed around, the rules for engagement, etc. You need to become an expert so that you know how to interact and don’t end up stepping on people’s toes or burning your bridges before you even start. Every community operates differently so you want to know the proper rules for each.

Create Rules for Engagement

What are you going to do when someone calls you a moron? How will you react when they tell the world that your company is deceitful and made of nothing but liars? Will you find a way to use the negative press or spaz out Kapil Sibal-style?

You won’t be able to create an exit strategy for every possible situation, but do get some ground rules down. We all got a peek at the Wall Street Journal’s official conduct rules for employees engaging in social media. The document mentions basic social media tenants like disclosing the company you work for, not discussing confidential information, refraining from disparaging the company, and not “engaging in impolite dialogue” with the wonderful folks of the Internet who will spend 20 minutes telling you you’re ugly. And so is your mother. It’s a lot easier to respond to the crazy when you have a system already documented on paper.

You also need rules for not just what you’ll say but who will be in charge of saying it and what their role is. Create these rules before you start, not after the break up.

Some things you’ll want to address are:

  • How will social media be integrated into the company’s core strategy?
  • Who from the company will engage? Will there be one voice? A team using one branded account? Personal accounts?
  • How much time will be spent on social media?
  • How long will the company “test” the different sites before evaluating their success?
  • If a serious fire breaks out, what is the proper protocol and who needs to become involved?

Engage. Genuinely.

Did you notice that “engaging in social media” is Step 6 and not Step 1? Just wanted to point that out. Carry on.

When you finally enter the social space, your job is to listen and begin forming a platform for people to openly talk and engage with you.

  • Listen to what they’re saying.
  • Listen to what they mean.
  • Listen to what’s bothering them.
  • Listen to what makes them happy.

And when you have something to help lighten their load, to be helpful or to make them smile, respond. Respond with links to your resources, to other people’s resources, to your competitors’resources. Your job in social media is to listen, to help and to get your message out only when appropriate. For every 10-15 messages where you help someone else, you get to include one that promotes yourself. That’s it. Social media isn’t about you. It’s about your customers and connecting with them so that when they have a need for X, they remember they have a friend on Twitter/Facebook/the Web who specializes in that.

If you chose to enter Twitter, use tools like the Advanced SearchTwitter Grader and Twellow to find people you should be following. If you’re on Facebook, join the groups that are relevant to you and become part of the conversation. If you’re answering questions on Flickr or LinkedIn, again, find the groups that are relevant to you and jump in finding ways to be useful and a good community member.

And then get in there. Leave comments on blogs, tweet people, leave Wall comments, etc. Engage new visitors. Go out there and talk to your community and at least pretend to have fun doing it. Be social and friendly and everything you wish you were in real life. The more excited you are about your community, the more excited they’ll be about you.

Also look for ways to take it offline and in the flesh. Organize meetups and tweetups so that people can be passionately vocal about your company togetherNo one wants to be in love alone. Give your community a way to find one another and to band together. You’ll empower them and empower yourself.

Assess Your Success.

The same way you can’t “set and forget” an SEO campaign, you can’t dive into social media and then never look back either. You’re going to have to take a look at your on-site and off-site metrics to determine whether or not your social media efforts have been successful, and if not, what you can do to fix them. Lucky for you (!), you set your metrics early on and determined what you were looking for and how you were going to quantify it. You know how to measure social media success.

I’d give your social media efforts about 2-3 months to stabilize before you really start trying to decide if things are working for you.  If you start evaluating any earlier than that all you’ll have to go on is your number of Twitter followers or Facebook fans.  Those aren’t really the metrics you want to be looking at. They’re useful to bench mark, but you should really be looking to see if:

  • Rankings have increased based on traffic and links.
  • Social media users are actually engaging with your content and/or converting (hint: Crazy Egg is awesome for this).
  • You’ve had more success on the social voting sites?
  • You increase awareness about a product that led to sales.

Whatever you had outlined as determining “success” before, now is the time to see if you’ve gotten any closer to that goal.  If you have, congrats. Keep on doing what you’re doing. If not, figure out what’s broken and fix it. If you can’t do it yourself, you may need some social media consulting (just sayin).

 

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Get Your Entire Company On Board With Social Media

Is everyone supporting social media at your company?

Are you struggling to get the support you need?

And although there are many reasons why social media campaigns fail, far and away one of the biggest reasons for failure is the lack of top-to-bottom “buy-in” from all employees in a company.

  • In some cases, the CEO thinks the idea is frivolous.
  • In others, management has their doubts.
  • And in a large majority of companies, employees have no understanding of what social media is, what it does and how they can play a role in its success.

This, my friends, must change.

The Time for Complete Buy-In Is Now

The time has come for companies big and small to achieve complete social media buy-in from ALL employees.

The days of, “Yeah, we let the marketing department (assuming there is one) handle that stuff and we just do what we do,” must come to a close.

In fact, if I had a dollar for every head of marketing who has approached me in the last year and said, “Vikram, I just can’t seem to get anyone else in the company to buy into social media and assist me in my efforts,” I’d be a rich man.

So again, to say this is a problem would be an understatement.Whether it’s an army of 1 or 1,000, when all members of a team share the same vision of success, amazing things can happen. Look no further than the business example of Apple to see exactly what I’m talking about here.

Just as Steve Jobs helped his entire company, plus the world, to catch the Apple vision, so too must businesses small and large look to help their employees have a unified social media vision.

So that’s what this article is all about. We’re going to discuss 5 actions any company, large or small, can take to achieve this social media buy-in. And once we’re done, I can’t wait to hear your further thoughts and ideas below.

5 Ideas for Achieving Complete Social Media Buy-In From All Employees

#1: Someone Must Take the Lead

Every great project calls for a great leader. And if you want your company to dominate in social media, someone is going to have to take the reins.

No, this does not mean all responsibilities fall on one person’s shoulders; rather,the person is a coordinator, a motivator and a filter for all of the company’s core content and social media.

When it comes to true social media success, one thing is certain—if a company’s social media marketing is left up to chance and the unguided efforts of many, it will undoubtedly fail.

#2: Educate Via an Event

In so many cases, the manner in which a CMO establishes a social media campaign is incredibly lackluster and ineffective. Here are some examples of what not to do:

  • Send out a sudden mass email to all company employees asking them to write blog articles.
  • Notify staff of the company’s new Facebook page and suggest they Like it.

The reason for this is very simple: The majority of company employees, no matter the industry, do not understand the power and potential of social media. Blogs make little sense to them. Search engine optimization and its benefits are completely foreign. YouTube is something their kids do for fun. The list goes on and on.

This is why I strongly suggest that when a company decides to start a serious social media campaign—whether it’s via Facebook, Twitter, blogging, video, etc.—that they bring as many staff together as possible for a company “social media summit.”

There is a magic that can occur when a company meets together to fully lay out there social media goals and vision, as everyone can then start off on the same page.

During this summit, the first half of the event is really meant for education. This is where all employees can become familiar with types of social media, the potential power of these platforms, how content marketing works, etc.

Once employees understand how social media can impact the company by increasing sales, revenue and customer satisfaction (thus discovering the “why”), we can now move to phase 2 of this important summit.

#3: Encourage Employee Action

The next step of this summit is to implement an action plan of how each person in the company can make a difference. There are many examples of this, but I’ll just demonstrate one here.

In a recent social media summit for a company in Singapore, the CMO and I decided content marketing would be the main emphasis of their social media marketing efforts. To make this happen, we brainstormed as a group the common questions received each day from prospects and customers. Within 30 minutes and after much participation and enthusiasm from the entire group, we had well over 100 common questions.

Later on, I requested that the CMO turn each one of these questions into the title of a blog post, and assigned each article to different employees, with corresponding due dates for each.

Now that everyone in the company understood the power and importance of content marketing, each accepted his or her role in producing the assigned article. And because there were so many employees who were now willing to take part in this activity, it was easy for this company to produce multiple blog articles a week, all without putting too much burden on the shoulders of the CMO.

This example is powerful because before the summit, the CMO had been struggling for about a year to get other employees involved with the company’s social media efforts. But now that all were brought together in a manner that not only educated but also involved all parties, the reaction to “We need your help” was completely different.Talking about social media is one thing, but merging the brain power of everyone in an organization is truly special.

#4: Create a Company Social Media Newsletter

As with every movement, a great launch like a company social media summit is not enough to sustain the long-term practices necessary for social media success.

For this reason, I strongly urge all chief content and marketing officers to send out a regular newsletter to all employees explaining the results of their social media efforts.

Examples of things to include in this type of newsletter:

  • Special mentions of excellent blog articles and the employees who wrote them
  • Increase in the number of website visitors due to social media/blogging efforts
  • Leads and sales that were a direct result of social media campaigns
  • Positive customer testimonials/comments referencing blog posts, videos, etc.
  • Examples of how specific pieces of content led to a sale that otherwise likely would not have occurred
  • Question and feedback opportunities for the employees

As you can see, the amount of information that can be included in a newsletter like this is significant, but the importance of such a tool cannot be emphasized enough. Constant awareness is key to building long-term momentum with any marketing campaign, and by increasing this awareness, the process of making social media part of a company culture can then become a reality for any business.

Launching your social media campaign is only the beginning, but if everyone is going to work together on this, a newsletter of some type will be imperative going forward to keep everyone sharing the initial vision.

#5: Continue Training and Education

Nothing is developing more rapidly in this world than the Internet and social media. What was yesterday’s MySpace is today’s Facebook, so staying up to date and educated is necessary for long-term success.

Just as the newsletter helps employees to see the fruits of their labors, ongoing education with respect to social media marketing allows for continual improvements, innovations and ideas to come from staff members.

For example, because video marketing is becoming increasingly necessary going forward, it’s a great idea to train all employees in the basics of producing video. Once they have this knowledge and understand how to look for content opportunities, they can then start producing product- and service-related videos that can have a major impact on the company’s brand and web presence. And the more employees who jump in, the greater the results will be.

Just because someone on your staff might not have certain skills today to help with your social media efforts doesn’t mean they won’t excel in that area at some point with a little bit of guidance and training.

OVER TO YOU

So there are 5 suggestions for helping achieve complete social media buy-in with any organization. This being said, I know there are many other ways by which companies can establish such a social media culture.

As always, i’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments section below. Also, if you’ve tried any of the above steps in the past, what has been your experience? What did you do well and what would you have done differently?

Social Media Optimization Strategies

Social Media Optimization Strategy: Use Good Content

Optimizing Your Social Media Outlets: Social media optimization strategies have gone from personal updates from friends to powerful marketing tools for companies. But as a new and very different medium, there are certain necessary components that will optimize your social media campaign. We start with the cornerstone and what has always been a foundation for publishing:

Content drives traffic to your site through keyword searches and by tracking how many organic links there are to your page from other web pages. Content that is not interesting, does not offer value or is clearly laced with SEO content but not offering any real value no longer works. Use of keywords is extremely important but it needs to be tempered with worthwhile, readable and valuable content. Therefore, to optimize your social media content, make the investment – whether it is time in-house or hiring a social media content company – for good content.

Social Media Optimization Strategy: Update Your Content Frequently

To stay at the top of searches, it is imperative that your content stay current and up to date. Internet news and trends change on a daily basis; make sure your content is doing the same. Whether you do this through consistent article posting or a daily company blog doesn’t matter; the important piece is letting your followers and fans know that you are plugged in with what is happening in the social media world.

Social Media Optimization Strategy:Monitor Facebook and Twitter Every Day

Facebook and Twitter are great places to engage your audience and listen in to what is being said about your company and/or its products – but only if you actively engage every day. It is important to have someone in your organization tasked with being on these sites several times a day to check the posts and respond accordingly. Creating a Facebook or Twitter account only for purposes of shouting out direct pitches for your company will not work; neither will occasional visits. Your followers and fans have taken the time to converse with you through these outlets. Don’t make your company look uncaring by poor maintenance; optimize your presence on these accounts.

Social Media Optimization Strategy:Create Fun and Interesting Video

A great way to engage your audience online is to create a great video, it’s one of the largest returns when applying social media optimization strategies. Whether you go for pure entertainment, a useful how-to or a quick Flash or animation piece, thinking creatively will reward you well. The general guideline for length is no more than two minutes, and with all the various software tools available, you can make your video in-house for very little investment. Once you create your video, consider loading it through an entity like TubeMogul or HeySpread, which are web video distribution companies that will channel your videos through all available social media video outlets all at once. Or, you can create your own User Channel at YouTube and create an audience for that channel through your current followers and fans. Keeping things interesting is key to social media optimization and video is a great way to do just that.

Social Media Optimization Strategy:Be an Audio Star

Have some great tips but don’t want to deliver them just in writing? Record them and post the recording to your website. It can function as your own personal radio station to which followers can listen. Are you a company involved in the food industry? Record simple recipes for your fans to follow while they execute your recipe in their own kitchen. Are you a meditation specialist? Post a recording of a calming mantra for your fans to hear while on a lunch break or settling down for the night. Make sure your followers can add your recording to their song database (such as iTunes) so that you can become a part of their personal repertoire.

Optimization of your social media plans is a long-term but worthwhile and necessary investment in your company’s future. Try different approaches to apply these social media strategies and see what works with your particular audience.

100 Uses of Social Media Monitoring

Companies that are new to social media monitoring and engagement frequently wonder where to begin. This can even be a bigger challenge if nobody is talking about your company or brand. Here are a few examples, okay, well 100 examples, of things that you can listen and monitor for across the social web.

The list is divided into sub categories, so if you are looking for help in a particular category, see if it is listed below.

Brand Monitoring
1. Listen for online mentions of your brand
2. Listen for positive mentions of your brand
3. Listen for negative mentions of your brand
4. Listen for direct and indirect questions from customers
5. Discover brand advocates
6. Discover brand detractors
7. Discover influencers for your brand
8. Learn where customers are talking about your brand
9. Listen for the most popular topics about your brand
10. Monitor public perception of your company
11. Listen for mentions of executive team
12. Listen for mentions of product misuse

Competitive Intelligence
13. Discover online mentions of your top competitors
14. Discover competitors’ latest product releases
15. Discover competitors’ recent company news
16. Listen for customer comments about competitors
17. Monitor competitors’ blogs for company insight
18. Monitor competitors’ employees social profiles
19. Monitor competitors’ content for levels of customer engagement
20. Discover negative mentions of competitors and treat as opportunities

Industry Monitoring
21. Listen to mentions of your industry
22. Listen for mentions of your brand compared to your industry
23. Listen for mentions of your competitors as part of your industry
24. Monitor share of voice in your industry
25. Monitor industry trends
26. Discover industry issues
27. Monitor industry news
28. Discover industry influencers
29. Monitor perception of industry by larger business community
30. Monitor changes in social media adoption in your industry

Thought Leadership
31. Monitor changes in conversation volume around key issues
32. Discover industry posts that require comment by your company’s subject matter experts
33. Monitor spread of company thought leadership blog posts
34. Identify online opportunities to share thought leadership
35. Identify speaking opportunities for subject matter experts
36. Determine perception of company as a thought leader
37. Determine perception of company employees as thought leaders
38. Discover other industry thought leaders
39. Monitor influence of company thought leaders
40. Monitor influence of industry thought leaders

Lead Generation and Sales
41. Monitor for buying indication terms within your product category
42. Monitor for recommendation requests within your product category
43. Monitor for discussions of your product category
44. Monitor target prospect personas to confirm accuracy
45. Monitor questions and conversations about your product category
46. Discover topics for remarkable content
47. Share relevant content with prospects
48. Answer direct questions from prospects
49. Discover competitive insights
50. Expand pool of prospects

Customer Service
51. Identify customer service issues as they emerge
52. Monitor volume of conversation around customer service issues
53. Respond to customer service issues in real-time
54. Determine if customers are willing to take issues offline
55. Gather customer feedback to share with other teams
56. Build relationships with customers
57. Answer customer questions
58. Respond to positive feedback
59. Share helpful company information
60. Monitor ongoing customers concerns

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
61. Discover relevant industry keywords
62. Monitor selected keywords for content ideas
63. Discover influencers using selected keywords
64. Determine which keywords are performing best
65. Determine which keywords are not performing
66. Monitor spread of content to determine better titles
67. Connect with people in industry to enhance social search
68. Discover relevant blogs to consider asking for backlinks
69. Monitor SEO influencers to keep up with search engine changes
70. Monitor search engine social profiles to keep up with changes

Crisis Communication
71. Monitor community news sites around facilities
72. Listen actively to conversations around the crisis
73. Establish a baseline for potential threats
74. Establish a baseline for potential failures
75. Find sites that are critical of your brand
76. Find people that are critical of your brand
77. Look for channels to use for crisis outreach
78. Determine potential issues before they escalate
79. Determine the volume of critical conversations
80. Determine sentiment level changes which could indicate a crisis

Product Development
81. Listen for comments on current products
82. Listen for comments on competitors’ products
83. Discover new uses for existing products
84. Discover opportunities for product offerings
85. Solicit product feedback and monitor comments
86. Conduct beta testing
87. Monitor new industry opportunities
88. Listen for potential new product features
89. Understand how customers are using your product
90. Identify points of difference about your product

Advertising and Marketing Effectiveness
91. Track advertising-specific keyword usage
92. Listen for social response to advertising messages
93. Gauge sentiment toward advertising campaigns
94. Monitor conversations from trade shows
95. Monitor unique URLs on your ads
96. Monitor unique phone numbers on your ads
97. Find sites relevant to your brand for online advertising
98. Learn the language of prospects
99. Monitor campaign or brand specific hashtags
100. Solicit user generated content and monitor results

How to Get Started with Social Media Marketing in 2012

If you haven’t taken the plunge into the world of social media marketing yet, then you need to make it a top priority in 2012. Every additional minute you spend on social media activities can only help your business, and every minute you’re not active in social media is a missed opportunity that your competitors are happy to take.

Think of it this way: Fewer people are using resources like the Yellow Pages to find businesses, products, and services. Instead, they look to their favorite search engines or social media sites for information and recommendations from their friends.

Here are some ways to get started with social media marketing in 2012. Use these ideas to capitalize on the shift in the way companies communicate and market to their customers.

Social media marketing can be extremely overwhelming, but once you dive in, you’ll realize it’s not as intimidating as it seems. Get started by experimenting with popular platforms like blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Create personal accounts that aren’t affiliated with your business and learn how the networks function before you create your business profiles. In other words, get beyond the initial learning curve before you debut your business’ social media presence.

This step is particularly important for small business owners who don’t have the budget or manpower to devote to social media marketing activities. If you don’t enjoy the medium you’re using to promote your business via the social web, you won’t be motivated to keep your content fresh.

Consider Your Resources

Do you have employees who can help you with your social media marketing activities? If not, do you have a budget to contract external vendors to help you create content and participate in social media? Your answers to these questions are critical to helping you develop realistic social media marketing goals.

It’s easy to get caught in the trap of thinking your business needs to be represented and active on every social media site. If you don’t have the resources to create quality content and conversations on each social media site, then this type of strategy is likely to set you up for failure.

Successful social media marketing relies on quality content and conversations that are updated frequently and are highly relevant to the target audience. Therefore, it might make more sense for you to focus your efforts on a single destination such as a Facebook Page or Twitter account rather than trying to be all things to all people.

Find Your Audience

Here’s one way social media is different from Field of Dreams: if you build it, they won’t always come. First, you need to find your audience on the sites where they’re already spending time.

Conduct Google searches with the keywords you think your target audience is using when they look for your products and services online. Follow the links and look for social destinations where you can join the conversations already happening between your target audience members. It’s important to build your reputation and relationships before you introduce your products and services.

Create Useful and Meaningful Content

All your social media efforts will be in vain if you’re not creating content that’s useful and meaningful to your target audience. Furthermore, your content should be trustworthy and transparent, not filled with self-promotional messages. No one will follow you, listen to you, share your content, or talk to you if the only content you publish is about yourself.

Instead, your content should be entertaining and interesting. Acknowledge your followers and share their content, too. Remember, social media marketing is a form of “pull marketing” where your audience “pulls” the information they want from you. This is opposed to traditional “push marketing” where advertisers push messages to consumers in the hopes that someone will notice them. Don’t interrupt online activities — enhance them.

Streamline and Integrate Your Efforts

Leverage the many free or affordable tools that are available to help you streamline and integrate your social media marketing efforts. For example, you can use our own social media management applications like Hootsuite  to publish updates to multiple social media profiles, to find new audience members, and to monitor your online reputation.

Also, integrate your online and offline marketing efforts by cross-promoting your social media profiles on your blog, website, email signatures, signage, business cards, ads, and so on.

People like to consume content and interact with businesses in different ways. Therefore, your ultimate social media marketing goal should be to surround consumers with your branded content so they can self-select how they want to interact with your brand and business. By cross-promoting and integrating your varied marketing efforts, you can connect with the largest audience of interested consumers to successfully build your business in 2012 and beyond.

 Happy New Year !

How to use Twitter for your Business

There are several posts about uses of Twitter all across several blogs and websites. I wanted to provide a few more real life examples in varying business (and personal) scenarios that could be incorporated by any company, business or organization.

The below mentioned examples are broken down into 4 sections:

  • Problem that needs to be solved
  • A possible solution using Twitter
  • The Benefits
  • Similar Applications

Food on Wheels

  • The Problem –A “Food on Wheels” van travelling between office buildings during lunch hour in a neighborhood had trouble letting its customers know that they were around in the area
  • The Solution –The owners created a Twitter account, encouraged customers to follow them –On a regular basis they now Tweet current location, a link to the day’s Menu with a roadmap and timetable for the day
  • The Benefits – Improved Customer Service, Potentially Increased Revenues, Lesser Food Wastage
  • Similar Applications
    • A farmer bringing in produce from a remote farm into a city and parking the truck in specific locations can Tweet their current location for retailers to pick up. This will help easier distribution for the farmer.
    • A mobile medical unit travelling remote areas
    • A mobile library services travelling remote areas

Restaurant – Reduce waste

  • The Problem – A restaurant was dumping food each night due to the inability of being able to guess the amount of food to cook each day and in some instances lack of clientele
  • The Solution
    • Created a Twitter account and encouraged its patrons to follow them
    • Every evening around 8PM about an hour prior to closing, the Restaurant tweets deals for the first 99 (number changes depending on leftovers) customers who would walk in with a copy of the tweet and the code word for the day!
  • The Benefits – Improved Customer Service, Potentially Increased Revenues, Lesser Food Wastage
  • Similar Applications
    • Leftover food after large events can be handed to NGOs feeding the hungry
    • Farmers can tweet and invite people to harvest for themselves in their farms
    • Large grocery chains can sell excess “perishable” inventory on special deals

Local Public Bus Route Plan

  • The Problem –A local bus company wanting to help customers by letting them know their current location
  • The Solution
    • Each Bus Route would have a Twitter account
    • Passengers wishing to track multiple buses on this route would follow the Twitter account
    • Drivers tweet just prior to departing from a bus stop and announce number of minutes to the next two stops
    • Passengers wanting to board the bus at these stops are able to plan accordingly –Others picking up passengers from these bus stops can also plan accordingly
    • Any delays due to traffic are also tweeted out by the Driver “on the run” helping everyone plan better
  • The Benefits – Improved Customer Service, Potentially Increased Revenues
  • Similar Applications
    • Airlines tweeting when flights are ready to board
    • Other public and private transport company’s that need to keep passengers informed

Math Homework Help

  • The Problem: –A Math website receives 100s of Homework Help questions from via email each day. Responses to the queries are automated for the most part, however some queries get a response only after 12-24 hours
  • The Solution:
    • Have the users follow you on Twitter
    • Tweet their questions and let followers respond to these questions
  • The Benefits – Improved Customer Service, Potentially Increased Revenues
  • Similar Applications
    • Queries on how to use a product not answered in FAQ
    • Customer support and Helpdesk queries

I hope these examples help you think about your own business scenarios and make use of a great tool like Twitter effectively.

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