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.

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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 Hotels and Travel Companies Are Nailing Social Media

Apart from restaurants, there are few businesses whose fates are linked as closely to online reviews as hotels. That’s why Accorhotels’ move in late 2010 is considered so bold.

Last September, the hotel chain began featuring reviews from TripAdvisor on some of its sites. Since Accorhotels has no control of the TripAdvisor content, it’s a bit like posting every review of your restaurant — not just the favorable ones — in your window. “There’s no question TripAdvisor plays hugely in this space,” says Melissa Parrish, an interactive marketing analyst at Forrester Research who covers the travel industry. “They make or break certain kinds of hotels.”

But the hotel chain, which runs Motel 6 and Sofitel among others, was merely acknowledging the obvious: Consumers no longer get all their information about your establishment from your marketing materials. In addition to TripAdvisor, there are blogs and sites like Kayak that aggregate reviews. People thinking of trying out a hotel can also canvas their friends on Facebook or the multitudes on Twitter.

Parrish says the savviest players in the segment have figured out a way to control some of that social media chatter by using social media as a sounding board for positive experiences. A few of the noteworthy approaches are outlined below.

Harnessing Social Media Comments

Carnival benefits from a curious phenomenon specific to the travel industry — “social media bragging.” Jordan Corredera, director and general manager of Carnival Online, says that even people who never go on social media will do so when they’re on vacation, if only to rub their friends’ noses in it. That’s not the only time they go on, though. Many consumers like to hit the site before their trip to psyche themselves up for it. Typical of this sort of interaction is this comment from Carnival fan Jessica Ayala: “I cannot wait until October 29 on the Carnival Dreams.”

Carnival’s primary hub for this kind of social media activity is its Facebook Page, which at present has about 1.2 million fans. (For comparison’s sake, Disney Cruise Lines has about 600,000 fans.) Like other brands that run successful Facebook Pages, Carnival asks a lot of open-ended questions about pleasant topics. For instance, a recent status update that asked, “Carnival sails all over the place, but there must be a destination that’s your favorite. Which port would you recommend to a friend? Why?” got 479 likes and more than 700 comments. “We’re a very social brand,” says Corredera. “Given the experiential nature of a carnival cruise, the best way to deliver that is through the comments of Carnival customers.”

Carnival uses other social media channels, like Twitter and YouTube, of course, but everything goes back to Facebook. The company’s ads are tagged with a plea to visit its Facebook Page and videos that show up on the company’s YouTube channel premiere on Facebook first.

An International Approach

Not surprisingly, many brands in the travel category have footprints all over the world. Since many areas around the world lag in social media adoption, global travel brands can circumvent that challenge. Four Seasons’ approach has been to establish a social media presence for all its far-flung locales.

For instance, there is a primary Twitter feed for Four Seasons’ global brand, but the brand’s Twitter page includes a URL that lays out dozens of feeds from around the world. Creating that kind of presence isn’t easy, says Felicia Yukich, manager of social media marketing. “It means training people in Cairo how to tweet and teaching people in Bangkok how to post something on Facebook,” she says.

All that work pays off in the sense that it provides armchair travelers with a quick portal into exotic Four Seasons outposts. For example, are you curious what the Four Seasons in Beirut is like? The Twitter feed for that hotel includes a stream of photos, including the one above.

Embracing Users’ Comments

Customer reviews are a cornerstone of online retail sites like Amazon, but travel brands have been more hesitant to embrace online reviews. There’s nothing nefarious about this — who hasn’t been dissuaded from staying at a hotel or B&B because of one stinging review that, for all you know, could have been written by the proprietor’s chief competitor? Why do bad reviews carry more weight for a travel brand? Think about it: If you order a product and it doesn’t live up to the hype, you can always send it back. But book the weekend at the wrong hotel and you’ve ruined a one-time experience. Why take the chance on a place that’s been reviewed badly, even if most of the reviews are good?

Nevertheless, Dennis Schaal, North America editor for travel news publication Tnooz, says many hotels have accepted the reality that users are going to check out TripAdvisor, and seeing a TripAdvisor widget on a hotel website is no longer unusual. Schaal says the inclusion of the widget demonstrates confidence. “If you’re a lousy hotel, chances are you wouldn’t want to put your reviews on there,” he says. Seasoned travelers know that reviews on the site should be taken with a grain of salt anyway, he says. “Some of the reviews are fake, but if you disregard the over-the-top favorable ones and the really bad ones and look in the middle, you should get a good idea.”

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