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Social Media Navigation

When it comes to social media and the business marketer, it is a wide landscape to navigate.  Just participating on everything because you are not sure which networks are the right fit is not strategic.  Social networks have the benefit of both engagement and search engine optimization (SEO) if the right message is in front of the right group.

To begin, the short list we are talking about includes:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • YouTube
  • Google+
  • Snapchat
  • Pinterest
  • Instagram

 

Snapchat, Pinterest and Instagram

For my industry and its demographics, Snapchat, Pinterest and Instagram are not currently on my list.  Anyone who knows me or my articles is aware that ‘know your audience’ is one of my most prevalent mottos.  Understanding that our ‘audience’ is not on these three networks takes the pressure off focusing on them at this time.  That could and probably will change, of course.

 

Google+

While you may not think your target audience is actively using Google+, and they probably are not ‘actively’, they are using Google.  Being on Google+ increases your chances of showing up in Google search results, and to be found.  Everyone knows that Google is the world’s largest search engine company and is integrated into every Google product and service.  That is the most important piece you need to know, in my opinion.  Be there.

Google+ is their community or social layer.  What to do there?  There are three components to focus on for the content you are already creating: 1) blog post options, 2) video-conferencing and 3) community-based forums. You are already investing in creating content so consider this another place to go to use multiple ways to share it with an interested audience.

Google+ posts are indexed by search engines, the inbound links can impact your search engine results page ranking.  The effort with this platform will strengthen your brand and engagement in your industry.

 

YouTube

YouTube is a Google subsidiary.  In addition to building off the importance of that relationship as detailed in the Google+ section above,  potential significant increases in your search engine rank, video (when done right) can boost conversions and sales by building trust and emotional connections.

Video is the most powerful way to make emotional connections. In addition to your traditional content, video shares personality, sense of humor, tone of voice, and facial expressions creating a feeling of relationship and engagement with your staff before having one.  By putting a face to a name, you invite your audience in to your business. People like buying from people.

Video has a special appeal to mobile users and if you can entice them (in the split second you have in their scrolling to make an impression) you can not only impact your engagement with a different audience segment but create advocates for your business through their likes, comments and shares.  Getting shared is huge.  Positive emotions toward a company positively impacts purchasing decisions.  Famous quote we use is: “People share emotions, not facts”.  That type of advocacy makes a difference.

Optimizing a video gets that initial win (watch and engagement) as well as improved general SEO.  The quick checklist includes:

  • Include short, interesting titles and descriptions.
  • Linking back to your website
  • Linking to specific products and services solutions
  • Explain the next step for the viewer to take
  • Include action items

Demonstrations are sought after by customers who need an immediate solution or information.  Many watch video demos after business hours because they did not have the bandwidth to get to it during office time.  So, having that ‘expert’ from your company available when they are, is critical.

Some purchasers do not have the time to read and compare long product descriptions. Video marketing allows them to view the product in action while hearing the comparisons…… hopefully you have done some of their work for them and included that research.

Video makes it much easier for the audience to engage in what you are communicating to them than written form of the same information.

YouTube allows users to upload, view, rate, share, add to favorites, report, comment, and subscribe.  These are actions that all marketers should be up to speed on – not just their basic definitions but what part of the strategy they play a part in.

Some additional words that marketers should be sure they understand as a part of their strategic plans include Playback, Uploading, Live streaming, Format Options, 3D Video Options, and 360° Videos.

Bottom line is that YouTube has benefits for businesses that complement the other platforms and communication channels marketers are using.  From demonstrating products, expertise and personality to creating community and solving customers’ problems.

 

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a key social network to reach professionals allowing you to make connections based on your career but actually connect outside of business through personal email credentials.  Many people use the platform to ensure connections regardless of where they relocate for work.  Regardless of different personal objectives, it does allow people and businesses to build relationships, establish thought leadership, generate leads, improve branding and build business audience through communities.

When LinkedIn first started, most companies felt pressured to have a company page to describe their business, brand, and basically have a HR landing page there.

Though it is still a great ancillary site to your website, it has also grown to be a critical place to establish industry expertise and drive business results with a wider audience than most companies own.  By posting content and raising brand awareness, you can drive traffic to your website and promote your solutions to that growing audience.  LinkedIn has a sharing button that allows you to share content in your updates and communities.

What separates LinkedIn from other social media platforms, for businesses, is the model to connect with existing relationships and grow your brand through ‘word-of-mouth’.   It becomes about who you know and more importantly who they know.

Every company should empower their employees to connect with their company LinkedIn Page.  By adding them as followers you connect to each of their professional networks and when they, in turn, add the corporate page to their personal profiles, they can easily share company updates.

The marketer’s job on LinkedIn is to 1) post valuable content and 2) reply to comments.  Having a consistent schedule for when you post will keep you visible and relevant.  Additionally, the marketing arm of a company should encourage their technical people to join them in commenting on other posts.  Engagement occurs with relationships and emotions and only promoting your own content will not achieve that.  Engage, my friends.

 

Twitter

For those who do not use Twitter in their personal world, it can seem vague in their business world.  Marketers know they need to use it and get that it is a powerful platform but the real values are not so easily defined.

The four real basics for using Twitter (much like many other social media platforms) are:

  1. Increase brand awareness
  2. Promote your blog content, videos, presentations, etc.
  3. Boost your website SEO
  4. Drive website traffic

But the real value and differentiators of Twitter are four other areas you will want to call out on a marketing planner:

There is no cost to market on Twitter:  Take a few minutes write a post and with one click, it can reach all of your followers who are online.  There are no costs to use Twitter or to tweet.  The easy tool keeps your latest information, solutions and experiences in front of your customers while being indexed by Google and improving search engine optimization.  No hit on your budget.

Source to gather information on competition:  Twitter allows you to easily see what competitors are posting and marketing in streams.  Additionally, it gives direct access to your customer’s comments, feedback and complaints as discussed publicly with competitors.  Using Twitter Search, you can find information on specific topics… great resource.

Strategy to gain visibility beyond your own followers: Hashtags, words or phrases that group hundreds of tweets together, are searchable and make your content visible to users beyond your own followers.   It is an art and you do not want overuse hashtags as readers will be less likely to interact if they view your posts to be spam.  As your own resource, you can easily see what content and news from others are published.

Solution to stand out with custom content: Video, direct messages and live tweeting offer ways to stand out.  Videos are useful for those marketers who need to push out product demonstrations or technical tutorials. Direct messages allow a private conversation with a customer for Q&A, technical support, etc.  Live tweeting is becoming a more popular option for timely news and events with individual hashtags to connect the conversations.

In my own experience, there are two things I have incorporated in my Twitter planning that have been extremely helpful.  The first was adding a Twitter widget on our website.  Not only did this allows us to customize what content we wanted visible but made following our tweets, for customers new to Twitter, much easier and intuitive.  The second was setting up a Hootsuite to manage our tweets for multiple authors and experts.  Both our Twitter and Hootsuite mobile apps are now set up with all our user accounts in one place.

 

Facebook

If you are a business on Facebook, 2018 is bringing big changes.  The Facebook news feed algorithm will prioritize content from “friends, family and groups” and that will decrease posts from businesses. As Facebook tries to get back to its roots of “encouraging meaningful interactions between people”, it makes it a much more strategic effort for marketers to remain visible and relevant on this platform.

There are ways to re-strategize your Facebook plans and work with the new algorithm.

  1. Remember what Facebook is for most people. It is the personal side to their world.  For some it is local community, sports connections, friends, school organizations and children’s networks.  And for many it is where you connect with the ‘news’ you need and want in concert with those personal posts.  For many, they want to keep up with the personal relations they have in their work life so finding that balance of letting them see the resources and content you have to help them with the personal engagement of your staff is a bit of an art.
  2. Continue posting quality content that will prompt comments. Facebook evaluates their interaction goals by comments so the more comments you can secure, the better you will ‘rank’.  Including questions in the titles and posts is the easiest way to engage but certainly, writing about topics that there are different opinions on will help your efforts.  Be subtle, not obvious.  Do not ask for comments in the post.
  3. Ask customers to follow your Facebook Page. Educate your audience about the “See First” option in their news feed preferences.

Facebook, in my personal life, is about connecting with the people in my daily life, those I am physically distant from that I want to maintain a consistent connection, and get the information I need at the same time.  It is efficiency.  I do like to be able to see a PTO update, weather alert, what my girlfriend’s hilarious morning challenge was, what the engineer I am working with in California was doing over the weekend before we talk that week and what events I might need reminders for all in a three second scroll while I dish out breakfast at 6am.  Being connected to people I work with, internally and externally, enhances the business experience.

Marketing business on Facebook is an art of appropriate sharing.  There are fun facts about employees, moral building moments at your company, and personal commitments to charities and volunteerism that can strengthen the relationships we are trying to build and maintain.  It is still relevant and important to be there…..just a little different, strategically, about how to remain visible there.

 

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Additional resources from the FOC team include:

 

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Kathleen Skelton

About Kathleen Skelton

Kathleen Skelton, Director of Strategic Marketing's experience includes management positions at Lightwave, KMI Research, PennWell Publishing, Beacon Communications, and Security Innovations, Inc. As a strategic marketing director, she utilizes her expertise in business development, online strategy, marketing planning, digital best practices, standard operating procedures development, and database design, management and training. Kathleen has global business and marketing experience. Outside of FOC, Kathleen is passionate about her volunteer work for several organizations and works with youth groups teaching business strategy for various community projects. In her volunteer work, Kathleen is committed to developing tomorrow's leaders through exciting, strategy-focused business education. This mission guides all of her work outside of the corporate office. Kathleen graduated from Curry College with a BA in Communications and Education and minors in English and Psychology. Kathleen resides outside of Boston, MA with her husband and four children. Follow @KATHLEENSKELTON