Facebook – Socialmedia.biz http://socialmedia.biz Social media business strategies blog Fri, 29 Dec 2017 08:16:17 +0000 en-US hourly 1 7 ways to generate a Facebook following for your small business http://socialmedia.biz/2016/08/04/7-ways-to-generate-a-facebook-following-for-your-small-business/ http://socialmedia.biz/2016/08/04/7-ways-to-generate-a-facebook-following-for-your-small-business/#comments Thu, 04 Aug 2016 09:32:40 +0000 http://socialmedia.biz/?p=28641 Continue reading ]]> facebook-emoticons

Post by Megan Totka
ChamberofCommerce.com

MeganTotkaSmall businesses can support their online marketing activities through a presence on Facebook, such as a Facebook page. In fact, a survey by Hubspot found that 84 percent of respondents expect small businesses to have a presence on Facebook. If you don’t have a page for your small business yet, it’s past time. Don’t underestimate the importance of a Facebook page and growing your community — you can use Facebook to promote your business on a daily basis.

Growing your business does have its challenges, especially as more and more businesses are creating pages and competing for likes. There are many ways businesses fail on social media. Instead of letting that happen, take a look at these 7 ways to generate a Facebook following and convert likes into more business.

Add photos and videos

Facebook has an easy-to-use photo and video upload function – so take advantage of it. Show off your small business, the products you sell and the services you offer. Use it to connect with your fans, too, through videos of yourself and your team and answer common questions with video how-tos.

Ask a question

Use the status updates function to get your fans talking by asking a question. Consider true/false questions or ask for advice so people have the opportunity to chance and help or give their opinion.

Keep in relevant

It’s great to focus on your small business, yet it’s smart to inject some personality to your page by posting and sharing off-topic from time to time. Focus mostly on what is happening within your business and aim to share primarily relevant content for your audience.

Promote your small business Facebook page

Include your Facebook page URL on your website, blog, business cards and even your email signature. Add it to marketing materials you distribute, too. You need to tell people about your page and encourage them to visit it if you want to grow your following.

Be consistent

Have a consistent presence on Facebook; don’t disappear for weeks. This doesn’t mean you have to be logged on and engaging your followers 24/7, it just means your fans need to know that you are there. Take the time to answer questions and participate in conversations with your community. Set a schedule for posting and don’t sway away from it.

Blog about your Facebook page

Chances are you have a small business blog. Make sure you mention your Facebook page in a blog post. Explain the benefits of liking your page and joining your community. Whether you are promoting your business at a local level or targeting people around the country, consider offering incentives for people who like your page. Good ideas are a one-time coupon or special deal unique for your followers only.

Get involved

It’s smart to like other Facebook pages that are related to your industry. Take the time to join in discussions on those pages. It will get people who are interested in your industry to notice your business and likely head to your page and like it, too.

You may have a solid marketing strategy, but it’s really important to make sure you’re an effective Facebook marketer. Facebook is home to millions of active small-business pages, so it’s smart to take some steps to ensure your page doesn’t get lost in the shuffle.

How do you get your small business Facebook page noticed?

Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources and business news. Megan has several years of experience on the topics of small business marketing, copywriting, SEO, online conversions and social media. Megan spends much of her time establishing new relationships for ChamberofCommerce.com, publishing weekly newsletters educating small business on the importance of web presence, and contributing to a number of publications on the web. Megan can be reached at megan@chamberofcommerce.com.
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Amp up your Facebook page and generate more leads with a contact form http://socialmedia.biz/2014/07/21/amp-up-your-facebook-page-and-generate-more-leads-with-a-contact-form/ Mon, 21 Jul 2014 12:04:10 +0000 http://socialmedia.biz/?p=27461 Continue reading ]]> contact-form
Contact forms are among the most powerful – and most underutilized – apps for Facebook. From the opening page of PageYourself.com.

Target audience: Marketing professionals, SEO specialists, PR pros, brand managers, businesses, nonprofits, educators, Web publishers, journalists.

Post by Andrew Lisa

Andrew-LisaIn the never-ending hunt to make my Facebook page stronger than the day before, I’ve found that one of the most powerful add-ons is also one of the most underutilized: contact forms. Facebook is still far and away the most widely used social media marketing site, and a contact form is a robust addition that makes social marketing on Facebook even friendlier to my friends list.

Contact forms for conversions and sales

As discussed in “Make Your Facebook Page Work Harder with a Contact Form,” leads can be converted into actual, real-world sales and repeat business with a well-placed, well-utilized contact form. Getting a contact form on my page was easy, but making it work for my business took a little work.

My Facebook contact form plays a different role than contact forms on my webpage, and even on my other social marketing sites. The form is located at the top near my banner. I can receive the sender’s information in my email – or anywhere I choose to have it routed.

Ask the right questions

One of the best results I’ve received is by using the contact form to inquire about my customers’ other social media pages and sites. This allows me to keep in better contact with them and to cross promote – the essence of social media.

Like any interactive widget, it is imperative to monitor your contact form with analytics. Use variant A/B testing to monitor what part of your social marketing strategy is working and what isn’t. Are leads being generated? Is your page generating responses? Are the “friends only” deals you’re offering leading to actual, real-world sales?

Apps worth considering: PageYourself, ContactUs & 123ContactForm

Contact-Us
Used correctly, contact forms can convert leads into real-world sales.

There are countless (literally, I tried counting them – I couldn’t) apps that help you build a great, functional, customizable contact form for social marketing. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • PageYourself: PageYourself is free, and it comes with a lot of a extras, such as drag-and-drop, detailed stats, CSV and mobile compatibility.
  • ContactUs: ContactUs installs in three clicks, comes with instant alerts and claims that it will be ready to launch in 10 seconds.
  • 123ContactForm: 123ContactForm contains no user redirection, it requires no coding and is fully brandable.

I’ve improved my Facebook page tremendously with a contact form – and you can, too. Just make sure to make it friendly – it’s aimed at your “friends,” after all. Use casual language, inquire about their other social media sites and make sure to constantly monitor it through back-end analytics.

Andrew Lisa is a freelance writer who covers social media and the blogosphere. Follow him on Twitter.
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Facebook is changing — is your marketing ready? http://socialmedia.biz/2014/05/27/facebook-is-changing-is-your-marketing-ready/ Tue, 27 May 2014 12:03:46 +0000 http://socialmedia.biz/?p=27367 Continue reading ]]> social bakers

Post by Rohan Ayyar
E2M Solutions

rohanRemember the uproar when Facebook launched the Timeline in 2011? Half the world declared they hated it and were going to quit Facebook forever. Fast forward to 2014. Facebook is still the largest social media platform in the world and has nearly as many users as the population of India or China.

Anybody who has been a user has seen the platform grow and evolve, usually for the better. 2013 and now 2014 has seen a number of changes to Facebook’s layout, its algorithm and its advertising model.

Here’s a quick reality check for marketers who want to keep up on Facebook’s latest changes.

A relevant fan base becomes more important than ever

You can pester every single friend you have on your personal Facebook page to like your brand page, but that will still get you just a few hundred fans. Plus, there is no guarantee that all those people are actually interested in your product/service. They might just like your page to avoid offending you!

Create a fan base that actually matters – quality over quantity (though quantity will matter in the long run). There are many ways in which you can grow your fan base:

  • Give out a (relevant) freebie in exchange for a ‘like’ — e.g., if you own a gym or health club, you could give away a ‘Get fit in 15 Days’ plan for free
  • ‘Likes’ in order to participate in contests with some big aspirational prize
  • Facebook ads that target users who like pages similar to yours or with interests similar to yours

The rise and rise of paid ads

The latest changes to Facebook’s algorithms have resulted in more crowded news feeds than ever. A number of brands have also seen their organic reach dropping ever since the changes were implemented.

Unfortunately, as social media matures and more and more social media platforms get listed on the public markets, the pressure to show profits gets enormous. This means the days of free visibility on Facebook are numbered. In fact, just as organic reach has been dropping, Facebook has been getting creative in the different ways brands can spend money on its platform in order to get visibility. The new and improved Facebook Insights and the Facebook Ad Server are just two examples of this shift in focus.

Generating sales is one of the biggest challenges marketers continue to face when it comes to social media. The advantage Facebook advertising has over other online channels is that it enables very precise demographic targeting, which is why you’ll never run out of options here.

Auto-play videos

In March 2014, Facebook introduced Premium Video Ads. These 15-second auto play ads will play without sound as a user scrolls past them. Clicking on the video leads to a full screen ad with sound. The ads can be bought based on GRPs like television spots and delivery will be measured independently by Nielsen Online Campaign Ratings. This means you only get charged when a customer actually clicks and watches the video with full sound.

This brings the most important benefits that television had into Facebook and combines those benefits with the inherent strengths that Facebook already has. With audio visual communication possible and clear ROI measurement available, this is one boat you should not miss.

Keep your content relevant — and be interesting

Consider what you do on your personal Facebook page. You seek out the stuff that tickles your funny bone, stuff that gets your grey cells ticking or stuff that you’re passionate about. Your fans are similar in their motivations. The only way you’ll ever get any attention from your fans is if what you’re saying is one of the following:

  • Relevant
  • Interesting
  • Entertaining
  • Educational

While you’re being relevant, don’t be afraid to be fun or silly. Share inspiring images (that will likely get shared), funny videos and Pinterest style quotes with images. Facebook’s algorithms have become more and more sophisticated over the years and they pick up only posts that are relevant and deemed important by your fans.

Another change that’s happening is the importance to timing of your posts. According to Brandon McCormick, Facebook’s Communications Director, the relevance of your post to the time of day it has been posted will make a big difference in whether it shows up organically in news feeds or not. For example, a post about a great coffee-making hack will do well in the morning hours but won’t work so great around dinner time.

Use hashtags

A hashtag is like a barcode. The way a barcode scanner identifies a product with its pricing, brand name, etc. in one scan. Hashtags identify the topic you’re looking for anywhere on the platform, irrespective of where it originated, and surfaces the most important, popular and relevant content.

Hashtags on Facebook perform a similar function as they do on Twitter. They allow fans to discover content that is relevant to them. If you want people who are genuinely interested in what you’re selling to be able to see your page and your updates, make sure you use hashtags. Remember, the hashtag needs to be relevant to your business; at the same time, it shouldn’t be something like #YourBrandName.

Post regularly

Don’t worry about over-posting on Facebook. With the new changes that Facebook has brought in, a large majority of your posts will not be visible to your audience anyway. Only about 5-10% of all your fans will be exposed to an average post at any given time.

So what do you do to maximize your reach? You increase your frequency! Post every few hours to ensure you stay on top of your fans’ news feeds. If you can’t dedicate hours to post stuff on Facebook regularly on an everyday basis, schedule your posts using cool tools like HootSuite, PostCron or PostPlanner.

Make your fans feel like stars

Understand that your Facebook brand page is like a community of people who like your brand. A great way to make your fans feel good and to increase their engagement is to highlight to the entire community, the great stuff that they share with you.

When you repost your fans’ posts to your brand page, not only do you increase your visibility among that particular fan’s friends (a great way to win more fans, by the way), you’re also letting your other fans know that they too have a chance to be featured and be semi-famous.

Stoking reciprocal relationships through tagging

A smart “I scratch your back, you scratch mine” strategy, tagging can increase your reach substantially, if done correctly.

In your next post, tag the brand page of a business that has synergies with yours. Going back to the previous example, if you run a health club, you could tag the page of a nutrition supplements company in a manner that says something nice about their product. Since you were complimentary about them, chances are they will repost your original post on their own page. This will get you instant visibility on the news feeds of their fans – a brand new audience!

A picture speaks a thousand words

Good images are hugely shareworthy and can spark social conversations like nothing else. The rise and growth of images-based social media like Instagram and Pinterest is proof of their popularity among users.

In each subsequent layout change, Facebook has made image sizes larger and given more importance to high quality pictures. According to KISSmetrics, photos get 53% more likes, 104% more comments and 84% more click-through than text-based posts.

Harness the power of images to engage more and sell better. You don’t need to necessarily have a store on Facebook to sell through Facebook (though, that is an option you can try). You can begin by posting gorgeous images of your products with pricing information and a link to your website.

Custom audiences come of age

Want to squeeze more juice out of your email database? Target them with Facebook ads.

Yes, with the option of Custom Audiences, Facebook allows you to create targeted communication for your email database subscribers on Facebook. The list of subscribers can be uploaded directly into Facebook in the form of a CSV file; you can choose to exclude your existing fans including those who overlap into your email database, and the rest of your ad roll out process remains the same as before.

With Custom Audiences, you can target them to become fans of your brand page, run promotions specifically for email subscribers, make important announcements directly via Facebook and so much more.

Wrap-up: Keeping up the pace

These are interesting times for social media platforms as well as marketers. The mediums are constantly evolving and today’s grand change might become history the day after. This makes it imperative for us as marketers to stay on our toes and track each of these changes closely, check how they affect our marketing efforts and make course corrections to stay on top of our games.

Rohan Ayyar is a serial blogger and digital strategy consultant at E2M Solutions. He also helps startups develop remarkable user experiences at OnlyDesign. You should follow him at @searchrook on Twitter.
Related

• 15 ways to increase your brand’s impact on Facebook

15 ways to increase your Facebook stature

Demystifying how Facebook’s news feeds work

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Social media may not be 100% free for much longer http://socialmedia.biz/2014/01/29/social-media-may-not-be-free-for-much-longer/ Wed, 29 Jan 2014 13:01:50 +0000 http://socialmedia.biz/?p=26824 Continue reading ]]>
Instead of paying for content distribution, look at forming meaningful relationships with your customers for free word-of-mouth advertising.

Rely on supporters’ genuine enthusiasm rather than on paid distribution

Target audience: Marketing professionals, PR pros, brand managers, businesses, nonprofits, social media managers, Web publishers.

Post by Brian Flax

BrianFlaxFacebook and Twitter are well-known social networking sites that businesses can easily use for their social media marketing campaigns. Although services like Facebook Advertising do come at a cost, most features on Facebook are provided free of charge – at least for now. It seems like every other week, we’re seeing a new IPO for a social networking site, meaning companies now have to appease investors and turn a profit, ultimately at the cost of users of the service.

In this article, we’ll take a look at social marketing sites that are moving away from offering free services and passing the cost on to business users.

Gathering Facebook Likes

Like most social media marketing experts, I use Facebook to market to my clients and create an online community for them. Although I’ve used Facebook Advertising as a way to create targeted pay-per-click ads for my clients, gathering “likes” has been a task that could be completed free of charge, at least for the most part.

Facebook is constantly looking for ways to generate additional revenue, so why not charge for “likes”? For most of 2013, Facebook had been moving away from offering businesses free newsfeed distribution to consumers who “like” the business’s page. Although the change hasn’t happened all at once, it seems like moving to a paid model for newsfeed distribution will soon become a reality.

Think about it. As a consumer on Facebook, how many advertisements or posts have we seen on our newsfeed from brands we’ve “liked”? The number has most likely declined. Instead, we’re seeing advertisements from companies that have paid to have their message distributed to our newsfeeds as a sponsored or suggested post.

What I used to be able to provide for my clients free of charge will now have to be passed on as a cost of using the service. It affects my bottom line as a social media manager and raises the cost of the products and services I can offer to businesses. In others words: Good for Facebook investors, bad for social media marketers.


Facebook offers numerous ways for business to advertise as it moves away from free content distribution.

The cost of Twitter

Just like Facebook can place relevant advertisements in consumers’ newsfeeds, Twitter acts in much the same way. As a tool for social marketing, I can pay Twitter to promote my client’s accounts as a way to attract more followers. I can choose to advertise the account in a specific geographic area, gender, or by targeting users who share an interest that’s relevant to the business I’m promoting.

Although promoted accounts can be a valuable tool for social marketing, they come at a cost. When promoting an account on Twitter, businesses are charged whenever the account gains a new follower by clicking on the promoted ad.

Twitter also allows businesses to promote individual tweets to a targeted user base. Promoted tweets can be targeted toward specific geographical areas, interests, gender, and even the type of the device the consumer uses. Both promoted accounts and tweets are valuable social marketing tools, but they come at a cost and are not included in Twitter’s free business features.

The future of content distribution

In an article published on ZDNet, writer Tom Foremski adds that even search engines are catching on to the paid distribution model, replacing organic SEO-optimized search engine results with content that has been paid for. This can easily be seen in the most recent Gmail update with the introduction of the “Social” and “Promotions” tabs, which automatically filter out emails and newsletters sent by companies and social media services.

It won’t be long before other services start charging for content distribution, as well. Other prominent social marketing sites such as LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, and Tumblr can also benefit from paid distribution, increasing company revenue and regulating the type of content each company distributes to its user base.

Now is the time that businesses should start focusing on creating meaningful relationships with their customers, rather than pushing content to “share” and “like.” When consumers are passionate about a company or brand, it’s much easier to have a message spread organically by word of mouth, rather than pay a social network for targeted distribution. I’ll be focusing my efforts in 2014 by creating meaningful relationships on social media, focusing on my audience, and looking for ways to spread content organically rather than paying for it at a premium. How about you?

Brian Flax is a freelance writer based in the Washington, D.C., area. He has worked with numerous clients, including FindTheBest, Demand Media and Timothy Broas. Connect with Brian on Twitter.
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Review of ‘Dot Complicated’: A guidepost for our social era http://socialmedia.biz/2013/11/04/review-of-dot-complicated/ Mon, 04 Nov 2013 12:38:05 +0000 http://socialmedia.biz/?p=26370 Continue reading ]]> Randi-Zuckerberg
Randi Zuckerberg at her book release party in San Francisco on Thursday night.

Randi Zuckerberg’s new book offers wise advice on how to balance our personal & professional lives online

Target audience: Small and mid-size businesses, entrepreneurs, marketing professionals, social media managers, college students, job seekers, Facebook users and anyone navigating the social media landscape.

JD LasicaCool your online jets, kids. You too, mom and pop. Step away from the habit of 24/7 smartphone gratification. Friend only real friends. Treat others with respect. And don’t try to carve out an Internet persona different from your real-world self.

Those are a few of the common-sense prescriptions Randi Zuckerberg offers for the legions of always-on overindulgers bingeing on a social media sugar high in her new book Dot Complicated (249 pages, HarperCollins), coming out tomorrow.

dot-complicated

Randi Z., Facebook’s former marketing chief, is profoundly bright, affable, empathetic and sweet in real life (IRL, as the kids say), and those qualities abound in her book. She also has an accompanying children’s book, “Dot,” and for the big kids there’s a cool DotComplicated website.

One part behind-the-scenes look at Facebook’s early years and one part survival guide for our connected lives, “Dot Complicated” rolls along sprightly with stories and anecdotes right from the opening scene, where Randi, a gifted storyteller, recounts the frenetic behind-the-scenes activities in preparation for President Obama’s live-streamed Facebook town hall in 2011.

Randi, the former Facebook marketing chief who now heads up Zuckerberg Media, keeps it down to earth throughout. She breaks our journey into roadside stopovers on identity, modern friendships, romance, family, career, community and where all of this is heading. (By the way, news flash: life-casting your first date? never a good idea.) In other words, it’s about how to navigate our tech-infused modern life in all its online and offline messiness.

Authentic identity means merging our online & offline selves

The heart of the author’s message centers on the theme of online identity. “In a world of authentic online identity, there is increasingly little difference between our real and our online selves,” she writes. “The two cannot be thought of separately.”

Randi has taken her share of criticism for this notion of authentic identity, but I think most of the criticism is misplaced. Facebook’s positive effect on online community today can hardly be overstated. Before Facebook, those of us who routinely revealed our real names and identities in our online forays were a distinct minority. Facebook’s lasting legacy, I think, will be the gift of authentication to the Internet — the simple idea of, Hey bucko, stand behind your words by telling us who you are.

Today, thousands of companies use Facebook’s authentication feature to put a real name to the person who just registered on your site.

The author urges companies to become social businesses by empowering employees to be good ambassadors for their firms. A 21st century company should welcome a multiplicity of voices and points of view within the workplace rather than insist on a single bland institutional identity. She also points out the rich skills that a new generation of employees is bringing to the office, particularly the social media-savvy staffer who becomes “a kind of PR representative for his or her firm.”

But “Dot Complicated” is geared less to the business community than to young professionals, parents and especially women who look to Randi as a digital role model.

Some wise counsel to new & longtime parents

Kids need love, not search-engine optimization

The book is studded with little jewels and discoveries. It’s been years since I ran the show at BabyCenter, but I had no idea about this new wrinkle that new parents face:

“It’s perfectly normal these days to hear expectant parents say things like ‘I wanted to name my chld XYZ, but the domain wasn’t available, so we chose a different name,'” she relates. Who knew that baby naming had turned into a cutthroat land grab?

Her advice: “Make sure you proactively secure your child’s digital identity as early as possible. Register e-mail addresses and a .com domain for your kid, and at least Google your baby’s name once before choosing it. … But don’t get carried away by this process. Kids need love, not search-engine optimization.”

She wisely counsels parents of teenagers to buck up — to be attentive and knowledgeable but not fearful of the Internet, which underlies much of our future, after all. “Let’s remember to stay focused on the light,” she writes.

How to balance the personal & professional online?

“In the era of smartphones, social media, and authentic identity online, it’s no longer possible to separate your personal and professional identities”
— Randi Zuckerberg

In webinars I’ve done in recent years, a question that frequently comes up is: How much of myself should I put out there in social media? What’s the dividing line between my personal life and professional life online?

The author makes a case for the proposition that there should be no dividing line. (It’s the same argument Mark Zuckerberg has articulated over the years.) She writes: “I am now convinced that the people who think we need to create a purely professional, one-dimensional brand online have got it totally wrong. … In the era of smartphones, social media, and authentic identity online, it’s no longer possible to separate your personal and professional identities.”

She calls this “360-degree identity,” where the personal and the professional blend seamlessly. Randi’s peers — at 31, she straddles the Gen X and millennial generations — grew up with social and know it’s no longer possible to compartmentalize our lives into neat drawers. And it does sound old school to think your professional life should reside on LinkedIn, your social life on Facebook and your mommy self on BabyCenter or CafeMom.

So you won’t get an argument from me there. Authentic identity is a compelling idea as a weapon against cyber-bullying, in bringing signal out of noise and in connecting our online and offline lives. Yes, there’s a place for anonymity when needed, for patients, crime victims, the marginalized, dissidents in repressive regimes and other examples — but these are the exceptions to the rule.

‘Always put yourself in other people’s shoes’

Randi also has some advice for journalists: “In a world where people can finally yell back at the television and be heard, those on the screen better be prepared to listen. … The media correspondent of the future will need to have a new kind of skill set: the ability to be a correspondent, a community manager, a curator, and a member of the audience, all at the same time.”

The workplace is still roiling with the unsettled question of how far corporate HR managers should go in evaluating a job candidate’s life stream. Should job seekers ditch the college party photos and sanitize their online accounts to make a better impression? The underlying premise of “Dot Complicated” is that, once millennials take the reins at these companies, those wild frat/sorority party photos will no longer be an issue. I hope she’s right.

We’ve read dozens of stories of employees being fired or job candidates not being hired because of social media indiscretions. “Dot Complicated” could have probed some of these issues in more depth. We get the example of the corporate CFO with a personal blog and Twitter account who overshared a bit too much about company activities and was a bit too flippant in his tweets. He was fired. But the author misfires here: “The answer to this, as I’ve discussed throughout this book, is all about being true to who we really are, both online and off.” Really? Seems like he was all too true to himself.

But this is a small quibble. “Dot Complicated” brims with great stories and wise counsel about sharing, social conduct and online etiquette.

Perhaps the wisest advice comes early in the book: “In the end, the new rules of the digital world are like the old rules: they center on empathy, understanding, and common sense. Always put yourself in other people’s shoes, care about the real people on the other side of the screen, and most important, always make the effort to invest time and attention in the people you care about.”

Thank you, Randi Zuckerberg, for reminding us of this simple truth.

J.D. Lasica was, among many other things, book editor at the Sacramento Bee.

Related

Review of ‘Your Network Is Your Net Worth’ (Socialmedia.biz)

• Reviews of ‘Brand Advocates,’ ‘Attack of the Customers’ and ‘What’s the Future of Business?’ (Socialmedia.biz)

Photos of Mark Zuckerberg by JD Lasica (Flickr)

• Are you using social media to serve your needs? (Socialmedia.biz)

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Using social media to market your small business http://socialmedia.biz/2013/09/09/using-social-media-to-market-your-small-business/ Mon, 09 Sep 2013 12:01:53 +0000 http://socialmedia.biz/?p=25795 Continue reading ]]> bigstock-Media-technologies-30247733
Image by Scanrail on BigStockPhoto.com

If your brand’s not using social, you won’t be top of mind for customers

Target audience: Small businesses, marketing professionals, SEO specialists, organizations.

Guest post by Megan Totka
Chief Editor, ChamberofCommerce.com

MeganTotkaIf the idea of compacting a marketing message into 140 characters of text (including spaces!) seems a task of gargantuan proportions, you’re not alone.

Only about half of small businesses are using social media to market their brands. There’s still plenty of room for growth.

Why aren’t more small businesses going social?

The answers to this question will, of course, vary, but I’ve seen small business owners make excuses and claim they:

  • 46% of online users turn to social media when making a buying decision

    Don’t know how to get started on social media.

  • Think tweeting “what you ate for breakfast” is ridiculous.
  • Don’t have the bandwidth to handle it themselves.
  • Can’t afford to hire someone to manage social media.
  • Do not think their customers are on social sites.

It’s understandable you might not want to invest much in a marketing tool you’re not sure will bring you new customers. So here’s something to chew on: 46 percent of online users turn to social media when making a buying decision. If your brand’s not on those social sites, you won’t be in the running.

And if Twitter and Facebook just seem irrelevant to you, think again. Those mundane updates can actually tell you a lot about a potential customer.

Let’s say you sell organic muffins. Using the “tweeting your breakfast” example, that conversation about what a Twitter user had (or didn’t have) for breakfast is now conversational fodder for you, the muffin-making mogul:

@HungryinLA: Stomach’s growling. Forgot to eat breakfast.

@MuffinTinTilly: Oh no! Eat something! I’d send a muffin your way if I could!

It’s a silly situation, but it illustrates how even seemingly ridiculous topics can provide opportunities to create relationships on social media.

Getting started with social

Now that I’ve put a little fear in you and convinced you that you don’t want to be left behind, let’s look at some easy ways to start using LinkedIn, Google +, Twitter and other sites effectively.

First, manage your expectations. Don’t expect to generate millions of dollars in sales right away. Understand that these are platforms to help you brand your company. They create additional opportunity for people to interact with your brand online. The more places people find you, the more of a connection they’ll feel with you, and the closer they’ll get to becoming a customer.

Next, determine what you want to share. I always suggest a mix of the following, as sticking to just one type of social update can turn people off:

  • Pose questions.
  • Answer questions and contribute meaningfully to conversations.
  • Share content — both yours and others’.
  • Provide useful tips your audience cares about.
  • Post fun pictures or comments to break the ice.

You don’t have to be all business, all the time. Remember: You’re trying to get people to like you, and the best way to do that is by humanizing your updates, not writing them like a robot.

Follow the right people & start with keywords

The next step in using social media effectively to market your business is to follow more people — but not just any people. It’s worthless for you simply to follow everyone on Facebook or Instagram. Instead, search for keywords that relate to your business. In the organic muffins example, we could search for people using the word “organic” or even “muffin.” Follow those people, as well as any who mention your brand directly.

You can also use Twitter’s “Who to Follow” link, which makes recommendations based on who you’re already following. It gets smarter the more you use it. Another option is to look at who’s following you and follow people back, assuming they fit the demographic you’re trying to reach.

Integrate social with what you’re already doing

One of the wonderful things about social media is that it plays so well with other digital toys. If you’re using Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software, find out whether your platform can pull in customer data from Twitter. As an example, social media integration with Insightly lets you access a contact’s many social media profiles just by entering an email address. You save time having to search for his Facebook, Google+, Foursquare, Picasa, Klout, and dozens more social profiles. They’re now built into his profile in Insightly.

Compress your marketing message

Now let’s get back to that 140-character message. Even if you have more room to write with other social networks, it’s still a challenge to say what you need to say in such a short space. Boil down your message to its core. Take out unnecessary words. And if you’re using adjectives, cut some of those out, too. Twitter users have become accustomed to abbreviated messages, so don’t worry about conventional English.

If you’ve got far too much to say, break it down into multiple messages, spread throughout the day. Over time, you’ll get more interactions and responses from others, so stick with it! Social media is a fantastic way to connect with existing and future customers, so put in the effort to make it work.

Megan Totka is the chief editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the Web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.
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Facebook Object Debugger: A valuable tool for marketers & businesses http://socialmedia.biz/2013/08/22/facebook-object-debugger-a-valuable-tool-for-marketers-businesses/ http://socialmedia.biz/2013/08/22/facebook-object-debugger-a-valuable-tool-for-marketers-businesses/#comments Thu, 22 Aug 2013 12:02:07 +0000 http://socialmedia.biz/?p=25835 Continue reading ]]> Target audience: Marketing professionals, Web publishers, bloggers, community managers, SEO specialists, businesses, nonprofits, Facebook administrators, anyone with a Facebook page.

Chris AbrahamIf you’re a blogger, content marketer, community manager, website admin, online writer, site owner, or online editor, I am sure you’ve had the experience of your share on Facebook breaking.

And by breaking I mean it just shows up as a source URL without the article’s Title, Description, or a lovely selection of pulled images — sort of like this:

brokenURL

Well, there are several ways of fixing this, one of which is to take that source URL and run it through a URL-shortening service such as Bit.lyTinyURL, or rnnr in order to reboot Facebook’s site and page inspection. Or, you can harness the fearsome power of Facebook’s very own Facebook Object Debugger, part of the Facebook Developers toolkit. Did you know about this?:

debug

It’s truly a panacea, for several reasons: First, it reboots the cached metadata, thumbnails, page title, and description — which is really what you want. And if that’s really what you want, then you’re done — you can stop reading now, bookmark this and go try it out now — go thee to fix you your blog post preview (and, you’re welcome).

First, there’s proof that metadata isn’t just interesting to the NSA, and metadata andmetatags are still important to the proper description of not only sites but all your discrete pages as well (from my site, chrisabraham.com)

openGraph

Then, you can see what Facebook has been able to extract from your page or your site — this helps you sort out whether your blog or site is properly tagged, named, and structured in such a way that Facebook can automagically grok what you’re up to — here’s another example from my site:

objectProperties

Warning: Proceed if you’re OK with geekery

The rest of the info is very geeky but it can sort you out if your site is doing some strange thing such as an unexpected canonical redirect — it allows you to know how your site is responding (with a response code of 200) and if your featured URL and the real URL match up (useful but not something most people need to know, unless Facebook throws you an error).

scrape Info

And, finally, the Facebook Graph rabbit-hole — go ahead and click through one or both of the URLs and you’ll see that the Internet is just HTML, code, scripts, CSS, and metadata — and aren’t you lucky that Firefox, IE, Chrome, and Safari do such a nice job of making all that rude text pretty?

uRLs

Good luck and may all of your blog posts render beautifully on Facebook!

Related

Control which image Facebook uses to represent your site (Socialmedia.biz)

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How I shamelessly abuse social media to my advantage http://socialmedia.biz/2013/08/12/how-i-use-social-media-to-my-advantage/ http://socialmedia.biz/2013/08/12/how-i-use-social-media-to-my-advantage/#comments Mon, 12 Aug 2013 12:02:44 +0000 http://socialmedia.biz/?p=25717 Continue reading ]]> facebook-press

How spending a few dollars on Facebook can turn you into an influencer

Guest post by Dennis Yu
CEO, BlitzMetrics

dennis-yuIam a member of the public, and thus a member of the press. So when I get terrible service, should I complain? The levers of power have been tipping toward the public, thanks to social media:

• A hotel treats me wrong (it’s happened to you, too), so I write about it.

• My best friend had a problem with his Toyota, blogged about it, and ran a Facebook ad for $20, targeting executives of Toyota in Japan.

• A cruise line screws up its Fourth of July cruise, so this author writes an exposé on Business Insider.

• An airline accidentally kills a woman’s golden retriever, so she uses her blog and Facebook account to warn others about neglect.

We resort to this only when we’ve exhausted our regular channels. Complaining on social media should be a last resort, since it’s basically jumping the line. When you’re a journalist, blogger, or an influential person in other ways, you wield a megaphone. Even if you’re not one of those, running Facebook ads gives you that same power for a few dollars.

Rent the megaphone

Megaphone-300x235A lot of people will file a complaint or go to the Better Business Bureau when this happens. Try that and let me know how it works a few weeks later, counting up how much time and money you spent chasing wild geese. Then run Facebook ads with workplace targeting (targeting folks who work at the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, or wherever folks need to see your message). Target executives at the offending company by following these easy steps.

Because you’re targeting just a few dozen or a few hundred people, it can be done for a few dollars and in a few minutes. The next day, the general manager of the dealer calls to profusely apologize. Folks in Japan at Toyota HQ have seen the ad and are asking what happened.

Of course, as members of media, you and I have to be careful not to abuse our status. Yet with Facebook ads targeted by workplace, any consumer now has this lethal weapon.

We’re all the press now

Sure, you can get a message into Mark Zuckerberg’s mailbox for $100. But why not target employees at Facebook for far less and reach a couple of thousand people, too?

  • We attended a mobile hackathon, wrote a post about it, and targeted Facebook mobile engineers. Matt Kelly and James Pearce noticed it and liked it.
  • An intern decided to “play a trick on his boss” and ran ads targeting me. See what happened.
  • B2B firms target the press to get more coverage and show up in the Facebook newsfeed.

An army of advocates

Jim Williams of Influitive shared this with us: “Xactly‘s advocate marketing program generated hundreds of recommendations, follows and shares on LinkedIn, and a single advocate challenge resulted in nearly a hundred new Facebook fans and Twitter followers.”

Customers are already talking about the companies that they love or hate online, but advocate marketing programs allow marketers to better organize those customers, tying their activity to sales and marketing initiatives and results.

Have a grudge or complaint? Would you spend $5 to scratch this itch?

Dennis Yu is CEO and founder of BlitzMetrics. He is an internationally recognized lecturer in Facebook marketing and has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, LA Times, National Public Radio, TechCrunch, Fox News and CBS Evening News. He has held leadership positions at Yahoo! and American Airlines. Besides being a Facebook data and ad geek, you can find him eating chicken wings or playing Ultimate Frisbee in a city near you. Reach him by email or visit him on Facebook, Twitter or his blog.
Related

How to run an effective Facebook campaign for $5 (Socialmedia.biz)

• The danger of buying Facebook fans (Socialmedia.biz)

‘Brand Advocates’: How to enlist armies of loyalists (Socialmedia.biz)

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Using social media to enhance your brand’s reputation http://socialmedia.biz/2013/04/24/using-social-media-to-enhance-your-brand-reputation/ Wed, 24 Apr 2013 12:02:41 +0000 http://socialmedia.biz/?p=24778 Continue reading ]]> reputation

Maintain your social profiles for better search results

Guest post by Cara Aley

caraaleyWith your company focused on its business goals and set up on social channels, it’s critically important that your online business reputation be one that is polished and positive. As you’re likely to be in the market for new customers, clients, partners or investors, it’s important that when they run a Google search on your business or startup, not only are you properly search engine optimized but that meaningful and positive results appear.

Social media as a marketing strategy is an important method for ensuring that this happens, and should be prioritized as much as or more than any other marketing strategy. I’ll explain why.

Understand SEO

Social media profiles are critical for search engine optimization (SEO). You know what SEO is. (See Socialmedia.biz’s series on online reputation.) Now it’s time to start building those social media profiles in order to improve your SEO.

Because social media sites are highly search engine optimized, your profile on those sites will be as well — especially as you maintain your profile and have something to say. Join Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, and LinkedIn to start, and use them! Promote them on your website so that people can follow you on these different social media sites. And then make sure you’re adding content to them that is of interest to your demographic.

If you have any negative links about you that appear in search results, the links for your social media sites will likely supersede them and help to push them to the second page of search results. Given that 90 percent of people never make it past page 1 of search results, according to NeverShoutNever.com, that’s good news!

caraaleygoogle

Note that my social media profiles are all at the top of my search results (of which there are many), because social media sites are so well optimized.

Facebook

Reach your target demographic by marketing on Facebook. When I ran my social impact apparel business, I marketed my products on Facebook and targeted women in the age range of 25 to 50 who were fans of Tom’s Shoes. With close to 2 million fans on Facebook, Tom’s Shoes is an audience I knew would be interested in my product, and indeed, this helped me to boost revenue. You can also market to investment or donor communities via Facebook.

One reason it’s important to advertise on Facebook is that it’s the quickest way to build your list of fans, to whom you can then continue to market your offering. Fans share with their friends what you are doing, adding more fans! And fans buy! According to a Forrester study, Facebook fans are much more likely to purchase, consider, and recommend the brands that they engage with on Facebook than non-fans. So do focus on marketing on this site – it’s reasonably priced and well worth the time.

Blog

Create a blog that has more in-depth content on it. Do you have a blog yet? If not, this is an important aspect of your social media marketing. Not only is it important from an SEO standpoint if you engage in the process properly, but it keeps your audience coming back for more.

Leverage Pinterest to draw traffic to your blog by sharing your blog posts there, as well as across Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Get the word out about yourself!

Write on a consistent basis so that they know they can come to find juicy information on things like what your business is up to and how you are helping people (providing statistics is always very useful!). Use your social media icons within the blog so that people can share your blog posts. Leverage Pinterest to draw traffic to your blog by sharing your blog posts there, as well as across Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. In other words, get the word out about yourself! You also want to be sure that you are using your keywords in your blog posts and throughout your website, as this is critical for SEO.

Generate content people want to both share and keeping coming back for. On all of the social media sites and blogs on which you create content, focus on creating shareable content. Make sure your fans are excited to come back to your blog to read the latest installment. Did you find an article that relates to what you do that is shocking or interesting? Do you have an amazing profile about the work you have done and someone whom you’ve impacted positively? Did you just raise a major round of funding? Share this information with your community.

And don’t be afraid to ask them to share your posts with others. The more shares you get, the more likely potential new fans you will draw to your brand, and the best search engine optimized your post will be. Fans love to feel as though they are helping to spread the awareness of a business that is creating impact.

Consider guest blogging. Now that you have your own blog, request from other bloggers in your domain that you guest blog on their site. You can exchange opportunities with them. This does a few things – first, it allows you to share your message with a whole new readership and be seen as an expert in your sector. Then, in linking back to your own blog, it helps that new readership to find your blog and become fans. Finally, as those new fans share your blog posts, your blog and brand become even better search engine optimized.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Social media makes it so easy for your fans to tell others about the great work you are doing!

Any business or social enterprise that is not leveraging social media and the incredible viral effect it can have on an impact brand is missing a massive marketing opportunity. Don’t let the prospect of engaging in social media scare you or turn you off – it’s quite easy to get started on all of these sites, and every little bit you do counts. Your demographic is very likely on these sites, so don’t let them down by not being there and not allowing them to help you spread the good word about your brand and help you to improve your brand’s reputation.

Cara Aley is a freelance writer who covers a wide variety of topics from Facebook marketing strategies to online reputation management for Reputation.com. She can be reached via Twitter at @caraalely.
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Related on Socialmediabiz

• Win the online reputation land war

• Own your online reputation with help from your friends

• How to optimize your Facebook fan page SEO

• 15 ways to increase traffic to your blog

• How inbound marketing benefits businesses

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Why Facebook should stop charging to increase the reach of page posts http://socialmedia.biz/2013/03/25/why-facebook-should-stop-charging-to-increase-the-reach-of-page-posts/ http://socialmedia.biz/2013/03/25/why-facebook-should-stop-charging-to-increase-the-reach-of-page-posts/#comments Mon, 25 Mar 2013 12:11:20 +0000 http://socialmedia.biz/?p=24462 Continue reading ]]> Facebook-likes-645x250
Photo courtesy of Justin Sullivan via Getty Images

Reevaluating Facebook’s monetization strategy

Ayelet NoffFacebook pages are increasingly becoming an invaluable part of companies’ day-to-day marketing activities, but during last year’s Facebook Marketing Conference, Facebook announced to businesses that their page updates were seen by an average of only 16 percent of their fans through the news feed.

This caused quite a shock among companies. They weren’t entirely sure how Facebook’s news feed algorithm, EdgeRank, really worked or how much visibility they were actually getting but they were positive that it was higher than 16 percent.

Also beginning last year, Facebook introduced a way for page administrators to pay to promote posts to a wider audience.

Despite allegations that Facebook is now trying to force page owners to pay for reach by using promoted posts — see the flood of complaints from small business owners — the company has been aggressively fighting such reports. Facebook argues that the reason for the limit is not a shakedown but to avoid spam and make sure that Facebook’s news feed provides people with more of the content that they want to receive rather than content supplied by certain spammy brand pages.

So pages are now competing for a smaller share of users’ news feeds, and in order to gain significant exposure, they needed to invest money into promoting themselves. This all translates into spending a substantial budget on advertising.

Now it’s completely understandable that as a public company Facebook needs to make money for its shareholders, and advertising is the most direct path to revenue. While the company’s stock has rebounded in recent weeks, limiting the exposure of pages to such a low percentage of their members is, to my mind, a mistake.

Retention of fans has been a key part of Facebook’s appeal

Nike FB

Once a TV ad campaign is done, it’s done. But Facebook has always enabled brands to continue connecting with fans for free.

Let’s think for a moment: Why are brands and marketers on Facebook to begin with? Yes, there are over a billion people on Facebook and it’s an amazing platform to reach the masses. Yet at the same time, TV is still one of the most popular media platforms in the world, and while Facebook is the most visited site on the Web, other sites still get a lot of traffic, too. Google advertising is everywhere, and hundreds of millions of newspapers are sold every day. The truth is that Facebook’s value as a marketing tool is due not only to size or penetration but its most valuable asset: retention.

Unlike any other advertising tool, Facebook always gave brands the power to connect with audiences that responded to their advertising efforts, for free, even after the campaign was over. This was truly unique. Once a TV ad campaign is done, it’s done, and the only way to connect to that audience again is to buy more ad time and spend more money. This retention of fans is why Facebook has always been so appealing to marketers: It enabled them to forge a long-term connection with their community and not a quick one-off type of relationship.

Facebook’s other options for increasing revenue

Once Facebook started chewing away at the freemium part of that model, it lost that unique edge over other marketing tools. I’ve heard from a few different companies that they felt “cheated” by the world’s largest social network, as they had worked so hard to grow a substantial, lively community and now Facebook was substantially limiting the number of members they could actually reach with their content.

To me, decreasing the exposure of pages in order to gain more money from advertising seems almost too obvious of a path when Facebook has so many other ways it could monetize. I’ve always expected Facebook to be a pioneer in its tactics and I expect the same in this case. What if Facebook increased page reach and added some other, more creative monetization tactics to the mix?

What are some other ways Facebook could make money?

  1. Business page fees: Regardless of the exact amount of reach, businesses are gaining a great deal of value from Facebook pages. Facebook could ask for a small subscription fee from businesses to maintain a page on its platform. This will put marketers at ease, since they know that for a set fee, they can reach and connect with most of their audience.
  2. Increase of friendship limit: I know many people (including myself) who would pay a small monthly fee to be able to connect to more than 5,000 friends. Again, Facebook would be monetizing its user base, but not in a “must have” sort of way but rather in an optional way for receiving a premium feature.
  3. Phone calls:  Just like Skype, Facebook could let users call their friends’ cell phones even when they’re not online for a small fee, using Facebook Messenger’s VoIP functionality.
  4. Facebook Offers: A few companies have complained about the fact that unlike other online coupon systems, Facebook Offers doesn’t require the customer to do anything other than click them, thus reducing conversion and ultimately revenue. If Facebook restructures its Offers to work more like other online coupons, it can make it a better sales tool and also take a little off the top. Beyond this being an obvious revenue channel, Facebook can also bring in a great deal more ad revenue from advertisers that want to use a more sales-oriented approach.
  5. Real-time insights: Currently one annoying aspect in managing Facebook pages is that Page Insights take two days to update. For a small fee Facebook could create “Premium Pages” that receive insights in real time — an invaluable tool for any big brand, especially during a campaign (either on or off Facebook).

There are many ways that Facebook could monetize itself without chasing away marketers and brands. It would seem that keeping page reach higher while adding other forms of monetization to the mix would be more in line with Facebook’s values of keeping us all connected to the people and brands that we like and enjoy.

Facebook proclaims on its home page: “Sign up. It’s free and always will be.” However, to continue being a free platform for users, Facebook must find ways to survive. We shouldn’t be angry about the need of this enormous ecosystem to sustain itself. We should be happy to have a platform that enables us to communicate, engage and develop together as a human race more effectively and regularly than ever before. I expect there’s some sort of price to be paid for that. The question is how much are we willing to pay, and for what?

Related articles on Socialmedia.biz
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