The generation of today is defined by high-speed Internet access and social media. From 12-year-old kids to 21-year-old college students, 30-something professionals, and even middle-aged CEOs, they are all going online through their desktop PCs, laptops, smartphones and tablets to log in to their Facebook and Twitter accounts. Most businesses already realize the power social media has. It can build brands in days and ruin reputations overnight. It can reach out to millions and billions of people worldwide in an instant, and it can help boost sales through that awareness. What some businesses fail to understand though is that social media is not a magic cure that will solve all their ills. It has its limits, and whatever success it can bring requires strategic thinking and long-term planning. Here are four truths to social media that businesses have to face when thinking of running a campaign: 1. Social Media in Itself is Boring Some companies think that merely having a Facebook Page or a Twitter account for their businesses is enough. Putting up contact details and information about the products and/or servicesis important, but just providing those things and nothing else will make the accounts look and feel lifeless. It’s not enough to post content regularly in a seemingly robotic fashion. Approaching social media like traditional methods of marketing will not gain any traction among customers, resulting in an empty page with little to no user interaction. An article I read on Salehoo.com regarding content strategies on Facebook can give you a rough idea on what types of posts are good for a certain social media network. You can tweak and apply these to any other social networks, as long as you mind which social site you are using! Keep in mind that social media was created to connect people through shared relationships and interests. It is important to engage fans and followers to liven up activity in your accounts. Create that personal connection. And the best ways to do that are (1) to tell your own unique stories and (2) to converse with your audience. It’s about tapping into that human desire to reach out and touch someone they can relate to. They need a reason to actually show up and express their thoughts. People don’t want to be just sold things on social media. It’s the one place where they can directly communicate with “faceless” companies, so make them feel that they are cared for. 2. Social Media is Time-Consuming As helpful as social media can be, it can also be a veritable time-sink if not handled properly. People have hundreds to thousands of contacts in their networks constantly posting new status updates, Tweets and Retweets, Shares, photos, videos and so on, all arriving in real-time. They can end up spending so much time checking each one that they forget about more important things such as doing work and being physically around their loved ones. This problem also applies to businesses looking to capitalize on the market’s addiction to social media. They can be focusing so much of their efforts and channeling most of their resources into just this one aspect of what should be a balanced marketing campaign. There’s also the personal aspect to it, as social media marketing is so hectic with its rapid pace that the people in charge may lose out on their own personal relationships and pursuits. One way to keep this from being a problem is disciplined time management. Using RSS feeds that neatly organize content which needs researching narrows down social media use to what’s important. Having a plan with clearly defined goals will also help in avoiding wasteful expenses. 3. Not Just Any Blog is Read Blogs were once mainly used as personal online journals back when the concept was in its infancy. Now, they can be highly lucrative avenues and promotional vehicles providing all sorts of valuable content. Businesses see those first two things but often fail to deliver the last and most important part. As a result, they have a blog talking about their products and services in the most mundane way with absolutely no spirit to them. If not that, they are simply spouting the same ideas hundreds of thousands of other blogs have already written about. For a blog to get a respectable amount of readers, it has to offer something of value and it has to have some twist to it that makes it stand out among similar blogs (much like how a business should be). Naturally, just one or two good posts won’t keep readers’ attentions for long. There has to be a steady stream of content published in a timely manner. Consistency is key to building authority and gaining the trust of more and more people. 4. Content Rarely Goes Viral For every viral Old Spice YouTube ad that gets tens of millions of views, there aremillions of other videos that barely get over a thousand views. Businesses have to realize that not every piece of content they create will be an Internet sensation, even if the concept surrounding it sounds great. For content to go viral, it has to be able to bring out some sort of emotional response out of people. It can be humorous (as evidenced by the Old Spice commercials), heartwarming, tear-jerkingor shocking, among others. It can also be highly informative and delivered in an easy-to-understand manner that makes people believe it’s worth passing around. It also helps to structure it in a way that it understands and communicates with its target audience. They must feel like it is talking to their needs and wants, just like how the hilarious Old Spice commercials feed into the desire of men to be suave and macho to attract women (in a fun and exaggerated manner). Sometimes, making crowd-source posts on your blog will help a lot with your content going viral. Every person you include on this interview type of content will feel very honored that you included them into something you are creating, and in turn, will share those content (since it includes them). Connecting with others this way will work wonders, as you are building connections with other people and creating something worth sharing all at the same time. Examples of this are my post on ProBlogger about what experts view content marketing is all about, or Lewt.com\'s post on the debate of pay to play vs. free to play in gaming. Conclusion There is more to social media than just registering accounts and posting links. It’s not an automatic process that instantly brings results. It’s about getting into the hearts and minds of the audience through interaction and quality content that is relevant to their interests. The users are the number one priority, and if they are treated well, they are the ones who will build the brand for the business.
The last three online marketing mistakes your company may be guilty of are all customer focused. That should clue you in to the biggest marketing mistake, one plenty of companies large and small make every day. Without your customers, you don’t even exist; forgetting about them is tantamount to forgetting your company’s address. So check out tips 3, 4 and 5 and learn how your online advertising can become a successful ad venture. For tips 1 and 2, check out Part 1 3. …Not Providing Extra Service for Your Customers One of the things that customers look for in a business are the freebies included before/during/after receiving a certain product or service. The pitfall for some companies is that they don’t care about their customers after the purchase is done. It’s like business owners have this “We provided what you want, you got it, and we got our money. We’re even” mentality. This mindset might just lose you a possible brand advocate. Bro Tip: Learn what your market might want as an extra from your business. Selling gardening tools? Offer a free e-book on how to better take care of a garden. Are you offering a marketing service? Offer a free 1 hour consultation if they decide to take your service. Take this for example: a well-known company that offers business cards printing services, UPrinting.com, provides free templates for customers that want to avail themselves of their printing service. They also have a free design tool on their website that they established to help would-be customers in designing their very own cards on the site itself. If a customer wants to change something, they could just upload their design on the website, tweak it then place an order and they are good to go. 4. …Not Giving Adequate Information to Customers No matter how well established a company is or how long it has been on the market, there will be potential customers or clients who will have questions regarding what it is they do. This is especially true for those service-related businesses. Giving a late response, a vague answer or not responding at all thinking that “Eh, I know what I’m doing, they can just sit back, take it slow and let the good times roll” is NOT a good thing. Failing to provide a response or genuine customer service is a sure-fire way to lose your clients without your contracts ever reaching your first month. They chose you to get into a partnership with them. They are paying you. You should at least answer their questions. Bro Tip: Cater to their questions as quickly, precisely and friendly as you can. You must always put talking with your clients first before anything else. Getting them in the know with whatever you are doing not only puts them in a secure spot that you are doing something worth their money, but you are also making them feel comfortable working with you longer. Being nice to your clients regarding their questions is a good way to rack up other clients as well; you never know if those happy clients will bring in future customers via referrals. 5. …Not Meeting Up to the Expectations of Your Customers This is one of the deadliest things that your company can do. Failure to comply with whatever product/service you are offering will eventually lead to the downfall of your company. Word travels fast in the business industry. You may try to run from it but facts will eventually catch up to you. Some companies take their clients for granted, providing little work in exchange for their customers’ money. Bro Tip: Align goals perfectly with your customer if you are in a service-based industry. Know what your client expects and carefully relay to them what you can do, and do it with maximum efficiency. In product-based businesses, provide disclaimers for what your products cannot do (like that famous line in commercials “batteries not included”). Don’t keep your customers in the dark about your product sizes too; provide images or videos of your products with specifications so your buyers know what they would be getting. If you want to be known, to have more customers or to rise from a small business to a multilevel enterprise, then start with the not-so-small things that matter a lot. If you have more to share, please feel free to comment.
The financial sector has only belatedly jumped onto the social media bandwagon. However, as more companies all over the world craft solid online presences, and in an era where social networking sites are already primary sources of information, financial companies don’t want to get left behind. Thankfully, the US Financial Industry Regulatory Authority released Regulatory Notice 10-06 in 2009, which allows financial companies to utilize social media within a set of rules. Contrary to popular belief, social media is not limited to the younger generation. Let’s take a look at the numbers: According to the February 2012 report by Pew Internet & American Life Project, 80% of American adults (aged 18 to 65+) use the Internet. What’s more is that 64% of these adults are using various social networking sites (e.g. Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.). Talk about tapping into a potential client base! If you deliver quality services, who knows how far one good recommendation from a satisfied customer will go? For financial companies out there, here are four epic social media strategies you can use to your advantage: 1. The Facebook Timeline As of December 2011, Facebook boasted 845 million active users. Imagine the grand scale of complaints Zuckerberg and his team received when they announced the mandatory Timeline change. Despite all naysayers, however, the new Facebook Timeline is bound to change ALL personal and business-related pages. You might as well make good use of it. Financial companies can benefit from the Facebook Timeline through: Better promotion for the company by highlighting cover and profile photos, as well as the “About” section. Timeline also allows readers to browse through significant company milestones. More active engagement with readers, as the new Timeline now allows private messaging, and tracking for company-related comments. More control over the content you wish to highlight by pinning interesting contents on top of the page, changing post dates or increasing photo sizes. 2. Pinterest Although Pinterest was only launched in August 2010, it was already listed by Time Magazine as one of the “50 Best Websites of 2011.” Now with over 10 million users, a recent study by Internet Marketing Inc. showed that Pinterest’s growth momentum is even better than that of Facebook and Twitter at the same point in their respective histories. Being a more visually-centered social site, you can take advantage of Pinterest by: Using the “re-pin” function, which is the Pinterest equivalent of Facebook shares and Twitter retweets. In fact, over 80% of overall pins are re-pins rather than brand new content. If you want your name to go viral, this is one of the ways. Using web user-friendly materials, as the site banks on netizens’ short-attention spans. Through the use of images and videos, companies can share their events, products and other pertinent information. Make images of your products known. If you are, let’s say, a known e-commerce portal that sells design checks unlimited, you would want to post images of your items in Pinterest. This might prove very useful, since once a good design gets shared and re-pinned by other people, you have instant backlinks leading to your site; not to mention free advertising by random people! Enhancing your company’s branding. This platform can provide users a way to get to know the identity of your company. Considering how fast its user base is growing, Pinterest can generate much traffic to your site with every user click. 3. Google+ Blogging By February 2012, Google+ has reached more than 100 million users. PlusBlogging allows Google+ users to tap the marketing potentials of blogging, which include a 55% increase in your site’s traffic through search engines and shares as well as a 63% increase in the effectiveness of online marketing just by establishing a good following in social sites. Those are a whole bunch of numbers your company can enjoy. Through Google+, you can use PlusBlogging to: Grow the number of your followers by adding more people in your Google circle. Increase the amount of traffic in your website through the links posted in your Google+ page. Increase the reach of your company’s branding by using the features of Google+, such as blogging, comments, mentions and reshares. 4. Twitter As of March 2012, Twitter already has 140 million users. Although you may be limited to 140 characters per tweet, you can still greatly utilize the microblogging site through: Relationship building/prospecting, as Twitter allows you to interact with the big names in the financial industry. You can use this platform to exchange ideas, be part of the online financial community or gather important information. Market research by receiving feedback from users, whether negative or positive. Using mentions (@username) and hashtags (words or phrases with the pound [#] sign), you can monitor what people are saying about your company. Branding, as the new Twitter design now plays up the profile section more than the old design. Financial companies such as Wells Fargo, Chase Community Giving, Charles Schwab and a lot more have already made good use of social media. If you want to make your online campaigns successful, these four strategies can greatly help you.
For an online business venture, there is no limit to your creativity in what you can do, just as there is an absolutely large barrier on what you must not do if you wish to expand. Many businesses today still do a lot of things that might probably shift them on the bad end of the pole. It might be their marketing strategies, online branding or value proposition. Whatever it may be, there are business owners who fail to capture the willingness of their customers’ to buy or avail of their product or service. Some of the worst things your company is prone to do are: 1. …Not Focusing on Your Branding Many small online businesses want to target specific keywords, thinking that they get most of the market if they rank on them. However, they fail to realize that focusing on your keywords and letting your branding go is a definite NO when it comes to online marketing. Sure, keywords are important, but think about this: Isn’t it better when people don’t need to search for a keyword anymore and just go straight for your website, because they know that your brand provides what they are looking for? Bro Tip: When targeting keywords, use long tail keyword phrases with your brand included. If you are, let’s say, a company that provides car rentals, instead of just focusing on the keyword “cheap car rentals,” try making it “putyourcompanynamehere.com’s cheap car rentals” and incorporate it on a sentence that makes sense to readers. That way, you hit two birds with one stone: you got your keyword, and the reader knows it’s from your company. 2. …Not Showing a Sensible Website to Your Would-Be and Existing Customers Let’s face it: nobody likes to stay on a crappy website, even if you provide a service that is worthwhile. A site’s dwell time (time spent, bounce rate, page views) affects ranking a lot, and not providing a user-friendly/user-engaging website is a major letdown, no matter what amazing thing you offer. So if you want to lose current customers or scare off new ones, then please continue focusing solely on ads, having a poor web design and having an overall confusing website. Bro Tip: For your web design, use colors that attract your target audience, and make it a point that your color scheme is soothing for your audience’s eyes. KISSmetrics provided an excellent infographic on color schemes affecting purchase. Content-wise, make content that is actually worth reading. People appreciate snippets of descriptions on your product pages, or an easy explanation of what your service is. Also, do proper internal linking on your pages. Put your categories in place, link one page to another with related content. Chew on these two marketing don’ts and come back tomorrow for tips 3, 4 and 5!