connecting

Common Social Media Practices for Beginners

Social media isn’t just about friending your ex on Facebook to “check up on them” anymore. Social media is the newest form of marketing, and it can be both good and bad for your business. But it can be difficult to tell if the practice is helpful to your company, or if it’s hurting it. It’s a game changer; it is changing how companies interact with their customers.  It’s become essential to have, even if you never wanted to get mixed up in it. You have to be able to respond to customers/guests/fans/etc. If you don’t respond it looks like you don’t care and that you’re not listening.

Social media also should be a part of your company, and not a stand-alone practice. The person who runs the different platforms needs to be knowledgeable about the company.  If they aren’t they won’t be properly prepared to handle compliments or criticisms through the various mediums.

Companies use several tactics and practices within the different social media outlets. As I’ve mentioned several times in the past, the Groundswell is about communication! But, you have to remember that you don’t need to speak as the company just because you’re tweeting from the company twitter handle. Speak as a person. I often tweet different companies about their products, employees, etc. Only once have I ever received a message that was obviously not a person speaking to me.

Unfortunately for all companies, there is no magic wand that you wave to suddenly have a great social media presence. But, there are a few practices that you should apply. Keep in mind it is something you work hard for. Professor Brey has told us several times that it takes 6-9 months before you can really see a result from your social media marketing.

First, you need a strategy or plan. What do you want to achieve from your presence in social media? Don’t base your goal on X amount of followers or likes. Your interactions are what are measured, not your fan base. While having high numbers might look nice to some, it doesn’t mean you have a strong presence. Just because there are 30 different kinds of websites out there, doesn’t mean you need to belong to all of them. Believe me, I’ve signed up for probably all of them and several of them just sit there. Pick a few, and be interactive on those. The end product should be a social media community.

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When you hop on to the social media bandwagon, have the manpower to run your social media sites. As wonderful as it is to have a manager or CEO who wants to be involved with the Twitter/Facebook/blog/etc. for the company, it’s not very practical. While you may not need someone full-time dedicated to running your platforms, you will need someone who can commit the time and understand how to use them to the company’s advantage.

Learn to relinquish control of your brand. I can hear all of you now, “DO WHAT WITH MY BRAND!?” Yes, relinquish control, but continue to monitor your brand. It can be terrifying, but if you have to let people talk about your company in their own way. Again, I have to mention that it’s about communication. And the communication happening through social media marketing will not always include you. If someone says they had a great time at your hotel because you always had hot coffee made, that may not be what you want to be remembered for but you have to keep in mind, you just want to be remembered for something good. If the best thing about their stay was the coffee, let them talk about it without trying to take over the conversation and steer it towards the soft pillows, the comfortable beds, or the amenities of the hotel.

There are other things you can do to help utilize social media for your brand, but if you keep these three things at the front of your mind, you’ll be off to a good start.

For some examples of social media return on investment, check out this website article and the three links listed at the bottom of the article:
http://barnraisersllc.com/2011/07/34-case-studies-prove-social-commerce-roi/

What do you think is an important tactic to use social media within a company?

If This Then That

It’s hard to find someone who doesn’t already have Twitter and/or Facebook.  Most people have at least 2 e-mail addresses.  Let’s be honest, social media can be pretty overwhelming. Especially if you’re new to it.

There's not enough time to update Twitter, my blog, Facebook, and catch up on my Google Reader!!!

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What if there was a magical way to receive a text every morning with the weather? Or if someone follows you on Twitter and you want to automatically follow them back?  That’s where If This Then That comes in.

IFTTT uses 41 different channels such as WordPress, Twitter, Flickr, and Facebook and connects them to each other using different “recipes”.  Here are just a few of the things you can do with IFTTT:

When you change your Facebook photo, IFTTT can automatically make that your Twitter photo.

Send an automatic “thank you” Tweet to those who mention or @reply you.

Have an e-mail sent to you if it’s going to rain the next day.

So, you’re probably wondering how these things will help you in the social media world. It’s simple, social media is about listening & responding. It’s carrying a conversation. That could be acknowledging a new follower on Twitter. It could be creating a bridge between Twitter and Facebook or Twitter and Google+. Or automatically posting starred blog posts in your Google Reader to Twitter. They all create a circle to help you stay connected.

If your business has a focus on visual aspects, such as floral design, you can take photos and post them to Twitter and have them sent directly to Dropbox to save for you to upload to your website or portfolio later. This is especially useful if you use your phone to take photos, so you don’t have to hook your phone up to the computer to save them to a file.

Many people might see this as unnecessary, but I believe that it helps save some time.

 

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Disclaimer:

The creators of If This Then That have no idea who I am. Nothing was given in exchange for this review. They don’t even know that I wrote this post. Unless they use Google Alerts, in which case: Hello!

To Tweet or Not to Tweet

If you were to poll a random group of people, asking them “What does the term ‘social media’ mean to you?”, you would likely end up with several different answers. Social media means something different to different types of people. To an educated scholar, social media could be seen as a tool to market a product or themself. To a 20-something college student, social media could be seen as a way to communicate with family and friends without having to talk on the phone. To a young teenager, social media could be a way for them to creep on that cute boy/girl in their math class. And to my mom, social media is a way to grow and harvest crops without ever leaving the living room. But, there has to be a connecting factor between the different platforms of social media.

Connecting & Communicating

One of those factors is connecting. Social media is used to connect people to people, businesses to people, and business to business. According to this article by Nielsen one of the top three most popular social media brands is Facebook. Facebook helps both people and businesses interact with each other. While completing an internship out-of-state, Facebook (and Twitter) helped me stay in touch with family and friends from home. Sure, I could have called them, but the hours I worked it was much easier to get on the computer while lying in bed and update my Facebook status than calling everyone I wanted to contact. It opened up a quick and easy line of communication; but, this isn’t always seen as a positive thing. Some may find that this kind of communication is killing the art of the hand written letter and the personal qualities of a phone call. I believe this to be partly true. I can’t be the only one who misses letters in the mail that helped balance out all the bills and junk mail. But, in today’s fast paced society, instant gratification is becoming a norm causing the ability to achieve immediate responses a necessity. This is causing a change in how businesses need to interact with their clientele. For example, I recently had an unpleasant experience at a chain restaurant in Germantown, TN. I grabbed a business card for the manager and wrote him an e-mail Thursday evening. I received a response Sunday afternoon, 3 days later. I found them on Twitter and saw that someone was unhappy about their food and they replied back to their tweet the same day! Instant gratification.

It's all about connecting and building relationships.

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 From Wikipedia to YouTube and from Twitter to your favorite podcasts, social media is all about connecting to people, communicating with people, and sharing content with people. There are still kinks to figure out, but we’re well on our way to changing our relationships with who we’re trying to reach.

So, dear readers, are you a fan of where social media is and where it is headed? Why or why not?