September 30, 2011 § Leave a comment
Starting up a small business is no easy task, but with the help of social media, you’re able to get your name and message out into the public’s eye easier than in the past. If you’re just now entering your business into social media, there are definitely a few things you should know first. Here are some tips on how to help start an online conversation about your company, with a little help from Whirlocal.
Your company site should link to a company blog. And yes, you do have to maintain both of them! While your company website will help to promote your business, what you do, and how to contact you; your blog will help with the personal stuff. Your customers want to hear from real people, and blogging is just the way to do that. I use WordPress for my personal blog, and would suggest it to anyone starting their own. Blogging can increase your SEO and Google rankings, and getting to the top of that Google search page is very important.
Realize now that customer reviews count. A business with poor online reviews is probably losing a ton of potential new customers. You want to encourage customer reviews, especially from the customers that rave about your business; you can do this by simply asking the customer to write a review or by creating links to review your business on your company site. You want to get on sites like Google, Yelp, Yahoo and Bing; these sites get the most traffic when it comes to reviews. I would suggest emphasizing Google and Yelp. It also helps to respond to reviews, especially the ones that don’t show your company in the best light. If someone writes a bad review, responding with a solution to the problem can make that bad review not look so bad anymore. This will show potential customers that you can own up to your mistakes and are willing to listen and fix them.
Social Media is a must. Get on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and do everything you can to get your name out there- just don’t do it aimlessly. Have a social media strategy and focus on what each social media platform can do for your business, because each one is different. This may be time consuming, but if you do it right, in the end it will be well worth it.
If you want people to contact you, you have to make it easy. Make your contact information easily accessible on your website, blog and all of your social media channels. Put it where they’d have to be blind not to see it! However, being accessible isn’t all you need to do. You need to respond to people in a timely manner. Don’t let emails sit for longer then 16 hours, that’s almost too long; by then your potential customer may have already moved on. Instantaneous responses show that you care about their business and that you’re available to them whenever they need you.
These are just a few tips; building an online presence for your business won’t happen overnight. Engage with your customers in a way that makes them want to come back, and want to tell their friends and family about your services. Make what you do online interesting, be patient and most of all, be persistent.
September 14, 2011 § 4 Comments
Like facebook and Twitter, blogs should be used as a platform for interaction and conversation with your readers. Blogs shouldn’t be used to talk at your readers, but instead, talk with them. Increasing the number of comments on your blog can help to generate more views, in turn, increasing the conversations. Here are some tips on how to increase your blog comments, based off of the Social Media Examiner.
Make it easy to leave a comment. Is there a large comment link on your site, or do readers need to search for it? If your readers can’t easily submit a comment, they’re not going to. The only downside to this is if you make commenting too easy, you’ll end up getting a lot of spam comments. To prevent spam, you should check the comment settings for your blog and make sure the commenter has to include their name and email address with the comment. This will help to prevent spammers from overloading your page. You may also want to change your comment settings so that all comments need to be approved by you before they are published on your site.
Ask for comments. This may seem like a simple fix, but when you ask a reader, “What do you think?” at the end of a post, they will be more likely to respond via comments. You can also change the generic “Leave your comment here” to, “Let me hear your thoughts” or something else along those lines.
Respond to comments. This goes back to that conversation piece above. Your blog needs to be a conversation where people feel like they won’t be ignored if they do decide to tell you what they think. Responding to comments shows viewers that people are engaged on your site, which could make them more inclined to join the conversation.
Don’t be rude. It’s ok to disagree with your commenters; it’s not ok to be to mean about it. Controversy adds interest, and more people are likely to chime in and give their opinion if they see a debate going on through comments. The key is to not let it get out of hand. You, as a blogger, need to make people feel good about their comments, not put down by your response. If a commenter feels like they are being put down they probably won’t ever comment on your page again, and may not even come back to view it.
You need to engage with your readers and make them feel like they are an important part of the conversation. Without them your blog would be just you, talking to yourself… no one wants that. So, tell me what you think. How do you engage with your readers? What works for you and what doesn’t?
August 24, 2011 § Leave a comment
When you take a step back and look at the scope of the PR and Journalism professions, it becomes obvious that they’re in a far more symbiotic relationship than they realize. PRestige Agency offers some good reasons why:
The PR practitioner saves the journalist a chunk of time in the research process, often presenting ready-made stories on a platter. The journalist can’t take everything the PR rep says at face value, its always necessary to fact check. However, the time that the journalist has been saved is optimal to make the story perfect for any media channel.
On the flip side, the journalist helps PR publicize the message in the most helpful medium for coverage. Unfortunately, not everyone always wants to chat with a PR rep. A savvy journalist is a good friend to have in times like these.
Youtube recently showcased a funny portrayal of the media nemesis’s. Spoofed from the Mac/PC commercials, the practitioner and the journalist are coached by a counselor to mend a battered friendship. Even though the video pokes fun at both the PR and journalism professions, it also shows that both are necessary for the other to exist. Journalism- the ying. PR- the yang.
Communication is always key in any relationship. The practitioner needs to understand a journalist’s deadlines, contacting news sources well in advance and always with patience. A journalist needs to be open-minded, acknowledging that a good story can come from anywhere. In fact, the PR rep on the phone may be the ticket to the newest, hottest story out. Youtube was smart to showcase this issue with humor, an ingredient that’s lacking in today’s relationship recipe. It’s only with clear channels of communication and a few well-timed giggles, that the media world will continue on in harmony.
August 19, 2011 § Leave a comment
I recently came across a fun find, which opened my eyes to a market of possibility in the social media world– Mediafeedia. Two months ago, Mediafeedia opened a social media management platform for businessowners. Unlike some of the other social media managing dashboards like Hootsuite and Tweetdeck, Mediafeedia focuses solely on Facebook, recognizing the negative repercussions of utilizing the same social media campaign across every networking platform. Because each social media platform has its own strengths and weaknesses, concentrating solely on Facebook allows Mediafeedia to accentuate its strengths and downplay its weaknesses.
At this stage in the networking world, businesses need to engage with their customers online, not just weekly or monthly, but every day. With more then 500 million users logging on daily, Facebook is the place to be for businesses to advertise and communicate with customers. Sometimes advertising your business on Facebook can be overwhelming, especially for those business owners who own multiple businesses, but Mediafeedia has provided a platform that makes it much easier to manage all of those accounts.
Not only can you manage multiple accounts, but you can also schedule status updates for those accounts with pictures and links, not just days or weeks, but years in advance. This avoids confusion between pages, and helps to ensure your posts are published in a timely manner.
At Abraham Harrison we know the importance of multi-tasking and praise the powers that be, to the tools that help us do so. It’s Websites and softwares like Mediafeedia’s that cut hours off monitoring. It’s evident every day how necessary engaging on social media sites is, and no one is a stranger to the power that Zuckerberg and his Facebook updates seem to have over us. Maybe that was Mediafeedia’s thought process; Spend more time on our Website, spend less time on Facebook.
June 18, 2011 § Leave a comment
Summary of the Campaign:
Skinnygirl Margarita uses both Facebook and Twitter to promote the cocktail. The Twitter page “@skinnygirlmarg” has nearly 20,000 followers; however, the Facebook page “Skinny Girl Margarita” has only a little more than 700 likes. Although the cocktail’s Facebook page does not have very many likes, Bethenny Frankel’s official page (the creator of the drink) has over 500,000 likes. She uses her official page to promote the drink as well as other products of hers and her television show. The Skinnygirl Margarita Twitter page is generally used to promote both bottle signings and other Skinnygirl events. Some tweets also show photos and other various information about Bethenny and her as a product. The Skinny Girl Margarita Facebook page appears to be recently created, possibly around the beginning of this May and the Twitter page looks like it was created mid April with the first tweet on April 12th of this year. The Facebook page is used as a platform for Skinnygirl fans to talk to the brand; the posts by Skinnygirl do not appear to have a specific focus except promotion.
What issues are at stake for Skinnygirl Margarita?
By creating a Facebook and Twitter page Bethenny’s fans expect her to engage in conversations with them. They ask for retweets and ask questions about the brand as well as where it can be found. If these questions are not answered then her fans may feel as if she does not care about them, which in the end could result in declining support. (Engage, Brian Solis) On the Facebook page, I can see many questions posted on the wall that were not answered. There is a small amount of engagement, some posts were commented on; however, about 80% of the posts have no comments and unanswered questions. The Twitter page seems to engage its audience more than the Facebook page by retweeting positive comments about the brand. Another issue at stake could be transparency. Neither the Twitter nor the Facebook page discloses who manages the page, which could be a problem. People could be assuming that Bethenny manages the pages because she is the creator and face of the product and this may not be the case. (Tactical Transparency, Shel Holtz)
Pros and Cons of Skinnygirl Margarita’s decision:
The use of Twitter and Facebook is actively raising awareness of the brand. Most of the comments and conversation about the brand is positive, which could help to increase sales because people tend to believe other people’s testimonials before believing the brand.
It appears that the Skinnygirl Margarita twitter page has a recent focus, to let its fans know where Bethenny is for bottle signings and other events. However, this was not the main focus when the page was first created. Various information about Skinnygirl, Bethenny and her show were being posted. One of the main trends is retweets of fans who promote the cocktail. One of the issues at stake for the twitter page is that fans may be overwhelmed with all the different information about Bethenny, her TV show and her various other products. This can blur the line for what the page is actually promoting. Although the main focus is, of course, the margarita, cross promotion is done on the page. However, anyone else following Bethenny’s or any of her other pages knows that she cross promote her products through all of them therefore her fans may be use to it.
On the Skinnygirl Margarita Facebook page they are only engaging some of their customers. By only responding to some people the people who are not responded to may feel left out, which could result in declining support for her product. The Skinnygirl Margarita Facebook and Twitter pages are not being transparent with who manages the pages. There is no disclosure saying who is representing the brand on that page.
My recommendations to continue the campaign is to engage with their audience more. When someone posts a question on their Facebook wall answer it and when someone says something good about the brand like it. They also should disclose who is managing the pages in the about me sections. That way they are being both transparent and engaging, which in the long run will help the brand gain even more support.
June 18, 2011 § Leave a comment
Six years ago, Intuit, a tax preparation software company, created an interactive feedback community called Inner Circle. The site was created to engage their customers and provide a platform where they could give comments and feedback about products and services. In the beginning, Intuit asked its customers for feedback via the customer community program on TurboTax, which was basically an email. It was apparent there was a more effective way to get customer feedback; it took almost a year, but Intuit finally got The Inner Circle up and running. It featured a host of social channels for customers to interact with including a blog, user forums, an idea exchange center, and poll and survey questions. Intuit has many customers that are willing to give feedback on its products and services and they found an effective and interactive way to obtain the information. They listen and monitor the site making changes to their products and services as they see fit.
Issues at Stake for Intuit:
One of the issues at stake for Intuit is the amount of customer response they would have received. They could have put a lot of time and money into creating the site and then received little or no customer response and feedback. Luckily, this was not the case and they received a lot of customer feedback. However, an issue with receiving lot of customer feedback could be that there would be many negative responses. A site with mostly negative responses could give the impression that purchasing the products or services is a negative experience and could steer potential customers away from their products. However, Intuit used listening and monitoring to ensure that the site not only had negative but positive comments and concerns as well. They also made sure that any negative feedback that is posted is addressed properly to ensure the problems are solved and that they have happy customers.
Intuit used P.O.S.T. They found out how their customers (people) were using social media and created an objective, which was listening and monitoring customer feedback to improve their products and services. They then created a strategy to develop an interactive social media site dedicated to customer feedback to meet their objective, and used online technology to develop the site.
Pros and Cons of Intuits decision:
There were many positive aspects to Intuit’s campaign. They created a successful platform where customers felt comfortable sharing their feedback and it allowed Inuit to actively listen and monitor for customer feedback. For the campaign to be a success Intuit needs to do more than just listen to the suggestions, they need to implement the good ones. This is something they have begun doing. Intuit has taken 35 of the requests from their site and has implemented them within their products and services. They also share those changes and improvements with their customers via blog posts and webinar. They have created a balance that works for serving the needs of not only the external community but the internal company as well.
One of the negative aspects of the campaign was the claims that the member mix was not a true representative of the larger Turbo Tax customer base. Because the site allowed both external customers and internal company employees to give feedback on the site some customers believed that the majority of people participating were Intuit employees and not true customers. However, as the online community grew the claims slowly dwindled down, until there were no more complaints about the issue. Intuit has also created customer survey questions on the site to ensure they are reaching the right customers with the right information. This has also helped the issue.
My recommendation for revisiting the campaign:
The campaign itself was a success. The only recommendation I would have is to make sure they get their customers the information they need. Creating general information to address everyone is not a way to connect with its customers individually. They need to make sure they are addressing each of their customers concerns and that they are creating a personal and practical relationship with each of them.