100 Social Media Strategies for
CMOs A complete guide for Chief Marketing Officers and Marketing Heads on how to boost their social media results
The most savvy marketing and communications professionals will already have a great handle on their approach to social media but even if youâ€™re nailing most of the topics in this report, we hope you pick up one or two little gems to use to grow your brand in 2013
Use split testing to establish what works best for your audience
You’re probably already testing the results of your social campaigns, but knowing what exactly it is that you should be looking at can be difficult. Split testing, in simple terms, is a way of looking at several variations of the same content, to see which one yields the best results. So, for example, you might decide to find out what time of the day is most successful when it comes to reaching and engaging your audience. To do this, you could send out the same update at two different times, then use monitoring software to establish which one worked best. This paves the way for future updates which are much more likely to be seen and acted upon.
Align social media and SEO strategies as much as possible
Over the past 12 months, Google has made several algorithm changes that demonstrate the increasing weight that they’re giving to social signals. While many big businesses will have a social media strategy and an SEO strategy, hardly any are ensuring that they work in synergy with each other. Ensure that both teams are working together, have a shared understanding of overall aims and objectives, and are using important tools such as keywords to set goals and measure success.
Set up Google Authorship
Towards the end of 2012, savvy SEO professionals and online marketers started to sit up and pay attention to Google+. It might not have taken off yet to the extent of Facebook and Twitter, but since the release of Author Rank, it’s something that can’t be ignored. Giving users the opportunity to attribute all of their content, such as blog posts and guest articles, to their Google+ profile means that the search engine can paint a more advanced picture of just how reliable and influential an author is. It’s easy to see how this could impact search engine rankings. If you’re writing blogs as part of your social media strategy, it’s absolutely essential that setting up Google Authorship is one of your main priorities.
Use Facebook’s Custom Audiences feature to nail your targeting
Facebook’s Promoted Posts and Sponsored options offer decent choices in terms of targeting your audience, but Custom Audiences allows you take it a step further. It allows brands to upload their CRM data, which Facebook will then match with their own databases to reach those who have already connected with the brand via other channels. So if your next potential customer has dealt with you in the past, but doesn’t follow you on Facebook, they can still be reached using your next Facebook advertising campaign.
Use Google Alerts to monitor brand mentions
Though most social networks come with their own tools for monitoring mentions, a few of them are notoriously unreliable. To be sure that you don’t miss anything, set up Google Alerts for your business. This is the most reliable way to ensure that you catch all mentions and respond to them in a timely manner. As Google searches the web beyond social networks, it’ll also catch any mentions on blogs, forums and other sites, allowing you to take a more holistic approach to managing your brand online.
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Get your business on social media stock exchange Empire Avenue
If you’ve not heard of it before, Empire Avenue is a just-for-fun virtual stock exchange for businesses and individuals where they are valued entirely on their social media actions and influence. Whilst this fantasy world may not feel like a strategic move, companies such as AT&T, Xbox and Nokia are already dominating the platform. Companies using it say it’s a great way of building relationships with people who have an interest in their brand as they have bought virtual shares in it. Ecommerce businesses could extend these relationships further by offering discount vouchers and incentives to such shareholders.
Use your social accounts to break big news
Marketers know that if they want to engage an audience and have people coming back for more, their content can’t be boring and it can’t just be about them. One way to meet this need is to treat your social media channels like a newsroom for the most exciting and interesting news that matters to your target market. Of course, this means that speed is absolutely essential. Ten minutes can be the difference between your brand being a leader, and your brand simply being a follower. Ask yourself what you audience is interested in right this minute, and how you can deliver it to them.
Ensure that a clear call to action is attached to all promotional updates
It’s widely accepted that promotional posts should only make up about 20% of a brand’s social updates, with the remaining 80% being dedicated to providing quality content, building relationships and engaging the audience. But what many businesses miss out on is making the 20% count. Rather than just mentioning your latest promotion or special offer, explicitly ask your followers to do something with the information. Simple additions such as ‘buy now’, ‘sign up today’, or ‘visit our website for more information’ are much more likely to result in a sale than updates that just state the facts.
Get all of your business onboard with social – including those at the top
Recent research from IBM shows that a staggering amount of business leaders aren’t onboard with social media. Though it might be out of the traditional corporate comfort zone, buy-in from senior management is absolutely essential. It is of course easier said than done, but IBM suggested several ways in which it can be achieved. These included appointing ‘social champions’ to encourage adoption, providing education around the benefits, and creating clear guidelines to create a feeling of safety.
Put responsive design at the top of your list of priorities
The amount of people who are using their smartphones to access the internet and social networks is rising each and every day. If you want to provide the best possible experience for your followers, you should make sure that all of the content you share – including your website – will be tailored and fully functional on whichever device they’re using to view it.
Develop a social media policy that’s clear and well communicated
Content that inspires and motivates people is some of the best content that you can ever create. It’s highly shareable and makes your followers feel great, something which they’ll start to attribute to your business. Whether or not this will work will depend on the nature of your business, but when you think creatively, there are so many ways that all kinds of businesses could use this strategy. If you sell health products, the link is obvious – share stories about people who’ve reached their health goals and turned their lives around as a result. If you provide business services, share quotes from industry leaders who your audience aspire to.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that people policies are the concern of the HR department, and that you don’t need to get involved. If your business doesn’t have a policy that governs how staff use social media both in and out of the workplace, you could be setting yourself up for a PR disaster. Make it crystal clear that bringing the brand into disrepute online is unacceptable, and ensure that the policy is implemented. As the world of social media continues to grow, it’ll touch every area of a business.
If your business has a physical public location, encourage customers to check in on Facebook to take dvantage of the ‘were here’ feature
In December 2012, Facebook rolled out a new ‘were here’ feature that shares how many mobile device check-ins and location shares a brand has had. This allows businesses to take social proof one step further – the number of ‘likes’ might just represent how many people enjoy a brand’s content, but this new feature shows how many people act on it and use their products or services. Try incentivising check-ins to fully take advantage of the feature. You could, for example, offer a discount for customers who check-in on their mobiles.
Think carefully before uploading business branding on Instagram
Following the recent announcement of changes to Instagram’s terms of service, any images that you upload to the site become the property of the network. It’s clear how this could cause big problems for your business, as all of your branding will technically belong to someone else as soon as it’s uploaded. If you’re using Instagram as part of your organisation’s social strategy, make sure that you don’t upload anything that you wish to retain the copyright for.
Consider if inspirational content could work for your brand
Offer social customer care
If you’re not using social media as a channel to help customers when they have a problem, you’re missing out. Whether or not you’re responding to them, conversations about how good – or otherwise – your products or services are, are already taking place on social networks. Make sure that you have a clear process map in place to deal with and escalate issues. Some brands shy away from this approach, partly because it means that they’re effectively inviting customers to publically air any grievances they might have. As long as you’re dealing with them effectively, it can actually be good for your brand. And don’t forget that customers will also share their good experiences too.
Repurpose your content
Fresh content is essential, but it doesn’t always have to be brand new to be effective. Finding different ways to present the same information will not only increase the amount of content that you have available to share, but will also ensure that your message is seen by those with different preferences. For example, you might have carried out an interview which you share as a video. This could later be turned into a blog post and an infographic. Make sure that you let the interviewee know, so they can share it with their followers again.
Never run just one Facebook ad – test, test, and test some more
You might be limited for space when it comes to writing your Facebook adverts, but don’t think that means that you can’t get creative. Instead of just running one advert and monitoring the results, offer the same deal but use different wording. By looking at the results comparatively, you’ll be able to establish the language that works best for your audience, and what’s most likely to inspire action and drive sales.
Take your monitoring further than just looking at your brand name mentions – set up searches for generic keywords in your field
If you’re only monitoring mentions of your brand name, you’re missing out on important conversations with those who are already interested in what your business does. So, for example, imagine that a fashion retailer only monitored exact matches for their brand name mentions, but failed to find out who was talking about the latest fashion trends and events happening in the industry. They’d be missing out on a huge potential chunk of customers.
Invest in Promoted Posts to ensure that your messages are reaching as many people as possible on Facebook
Changes last year on Facebook mean that if you want to be sure that you’re reaching your followers, you need to invest in Promoted Posts. These ensure that certain updates will appear in the news feeds of your fans. While this might not be necessary for every update, it certainly is for big announcements and new product launches. When you have a database of existing and potential customers, it’s worthwhile investing some of your budget into ensuring that they receive your messages.
Use Facebook Milestones to tell an interesting story about your brand
Don’t let your business blend into the background. A great way to let fans know more about what you do is to effectively use the Milestones feature on Facebook. Many brands are already using it to share their greatest achievements and highlight the initiatives that will really resonate with their audience. In the fast paced world of the internet, it’s an exciting visual way to send a message that reflects what your brand is all about.
Use the business features on foursquare to engage with customers
foursquare has a multitude of features for brands that are incredibly effective in engaging bricks and mortar visitors to your premises. Reward those who check in with specials, invite users to offer their own tips and upload exclusive foursquare-only content. And always offer an extra special treat for the mayor (the person who has checked in the most) as they’re one of your biggest real-world superfans!
Use Twitter to hold ‘tweets ups’ with key members of your business in their areas of expertise
Custom foursquare badges
They aren’t easy to acquire and they are very expensive ($75,000 for a minimum 3 month commitment) but with a big effort put into your application, companies can get their own foursquare badge. Those who use foursquare loyally love to collect all the badges. Approach the business team at foursquare for yours but make sure there is a great business case behind it, with special rewards for unlocking the badge and some sort of PR story that will help it go viral. Not a strategy for everyone but certainly for multisited businesses like supermarkets and chain stores, this can be very effective.
The fast-moving nature of Twitter makes it the perfect forum to hold discussions and invited questions from your followers. One strategy that has worked well for many businesses is promoting a hashtag that allows the audience to ask (and receive responses to) burning questions that they have in relation to your field. To make it all the more credible, ensure that the responses come from a key figure in your business who is highly regarded and respected.
Use Facebook Exchange to target customers who have recently visited your site
Facebook’s Exchange feature is still in its infancy, but it’s easy to see how early adopters can reap benefits for their businesses. It allows marketers to deliver adverts to Facebook users who have recently visited a company’s website, effectively targeting individuals who are already interested in buying their products or services. It holds strong potential when it comes to converting interest into spending and maximising return on ad investment.
Take advantage of Facebook’s new Offers feature for pages
The new Offer feature for businesses allows companies to promote special offers that can be purchased straight away, without the need to check-in at a physical location. These offers can then be redeemed in-store or online. As these posts can be turned into Sponsored Stories, there’s a high potential for users to follow their friends in taking advantage of the latest deals that a business is offering. It’s a very good way to turn Facebook fans into customers at the click of a button – something that would have previously required much more effort from the business itself. Savvy marketers will see this as ‘low hanging fruit’ that’s ripe for picking.
Add Open Graph functionality to your website, so purchases can be turned into Sponsored Stories on Facebook
Open Graph allows any action by Facebook users to be turned into a Sponsored Story. It’s another function that is yet to be used effectively by most businesses, but has great potential when it comes to promoting a brand. If, for example, you build Open Graph into your e-commerce and transaction functions, you have the possibility of creating a powerful advertising message every time someone buys something from your site. When Facebook users see that one of their friends has done business with you, they’re far more likely to engage with your brand.
Create a branded blog
Although blogs started out as the journals and musings of mostly individuals, increasing numbers of brands now attract huge followings through their blogs. Blogs are a more informal way of putting out regular content and offer search-friendly entry points into your corporate website. Blog articles can be syndicated to thirdparty websites – guest blogs – which help grow awareness for your own blog and blogs offer multi-platform social sharing which can virally spreads stories further than traditional web pages.
If your business offers an app, use Facebook’s App Install ads to increase downloads
Offering an app can be a wise business move, but standing out from the millions of others that are available can be tricky. For every Angry Birds, there are thousands of apps that struggle to collect even a couple of downloads. So if you do have an app, it’s worthwhile using Facebook’s App Install ads to promote it effectively. The ads link directly to the download page in the Apple App Store or Google Play, making it the easiest option for your followers. The targeting options are also excellent, meaning that you can choose to show the ad only to your desired demographics.
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Don’t think blogging always means the written word
Many people consider blogs as a source of text copy only and as such see it as a time-consuming way of creating content. Blogs can be filled with a plethora of media sources so why not create a 30-second talking heads video piece for your next blog post, or use a SlideShare presentation or an infographic .
Consider using Facebook’s Logout Ads
Logout Ads are currently the biggest (and indeed most expensive) advertising option that Facebook offers, and as such, has attracted big brands such as Ford, Subway and Microsoft. When users logout of Facebook, a large, premium ad fills the screen and directs users to the brand’s Facebook page or website. It requires a very large investment and can only be purchased by working directly with Facebook, but for big brands that are serious about their online presence, it can be an option worth exploring.
Test the success of using a Facebook ‘like to unlock’ plugin on your site
Thanks to a plugin that’s now available for websites, you can block your site content for users who have not yet ‘liked’ your page on Facebook. Before new visitors can read you content, they’ll be asked to follow you on the social network. This has the obvious benefit of encouraging more people to engage with your brand on Facebook and allow you to continue to build a relationship with them once they’ve left the site. Of course though, it isn’t without its flaws. Some users may simply leave the site instead, and if your target demographic doesn’t use Facebook extensively, it could turn out to do more harm than good to your sales. If you do decide to use it, make sure that you closely monitor the results over a set period of time before making it a permanent fixture.
Minimise the chance of over-posting by using Dark Page ads on Facebook
One of the key problems that face businesses when they choose to use Facebook’s advertising options is overexposure. Though the aim of the game is to reach your target audience, followers can become bored and annoyed when they see the same message too many times. Thankfully, the Dark Page option minimises the risk. Businesses can benefit from the same flexibility and targeting options, but the post itself is never displayed in the news feeds of followers – only in the side bar. Dark Page posts also allow advertisers to tailor their messages to audiences more specifically. For example, a retailer could deliver different messages depending on whether the end-user was male or female. This isn’t possible with standard ads unless the advertiser published duplicated posts.
Facebook Groups have been around for over 5 years, and are one of the oldest ways to build a community on the site. Whilst most marketers should be focusing on Pages when it comes to advertising their brand, Groups offer a brilliant way to share ideas internally within an organisation. If you have several people working on your social media strategies and execution, make sure that they’re all added to a private Facebook Group. It can turn out to be one of the best forums available for sharing documents and ideas.
Use Facebook Questions as a market research tool to gain insight from followers around new product ideas
Market research is invaluable, and the Questions feature, launched back in July 2010, provides one of the easiest tools you could ever find when it comes to gathering feedback from your customers. The tool is flexible and allows businesses to gather a wide range of quantitative and qualitative data which can be analysed in depth. If your business is planning to launch a new product line, it can be a great way to gather feedback and insight.
33. Use Facebook Groups to share ideas internally
Use Google+ to take control of local social
Not even international businesses can afford to ignore the potential of local social. If your business has local outposts, which will be the case for many retailers and restaurants, ensure that you’re creating local pages where customers can leave reviews and find out more about your business. Following the developments from the search engine last year and the increasing focus on local, it’s safe to assume that these sorts of factors will start to have a huge influence on rankings. Consider appointing (and of course training) social media champions to manage these pages on a local basis.
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Partner with complimentary businesses to run more effective social campaigns
As analytical tools now allow brands to see the crossover in fan bases that they may have with other businesses, partnering holds huge potential for organisations that can get it right. It’s the ideal opportunity to leverage another brand’s fan base, and the money saving element will also appeal with those who are trying to make their budgets go further. It goes without saying that wise choices should be made about the type of business that you’re happy to have associated with your brand.
Encourage Instagram users to share pictures of events with a designated hashtag
If you’re holding an event, ask attendees to upload pictures of their experience to Instagram using a designated hashtag. This is a great way to reach a large audience of people over a short period of time, and because the pictures are personal snaps and not official images by a photographer, they’re much more credible when it comes to influencing the audience. After the event, it’s easy to bring all of the images together. They can then be used as marketing tools for future events.
Consider harnessing the power of celebrity on Twitter
When it comes to celebrity, Twitter is the place to be. Famous tweeters acquire hundreds of thousands of followers, and in many cases, these audiences are available for brands to tap into. Snickers recently ran a campaign with Katie Price and Rio Ferdinand that gained much press coverage. It’s a good option for marketers who have a budget for their social media campaigns but want to go beyond the traditional advertising options that are available. Celebrity endorsements aren’t new, but coupling them with social is an avenue that is yet to be fully realised.
Optimise your offline advertising to boost your Twitter profile
Offline advertising shouldn’t be seen as a separate entity. For maximum impact, use offline marketing such as TV adverts to encourage people to continue the conversation on social networks. Audi proved how much of a success this could be when they included the hashtag #ProgressIs in their Super Bowl advert. Twitter was flooded with mentions of the hashtag for a month afterwards, further encouraging users to think about the brand. An open-ended hashtag that allows users to add their own thoughts to the discussion is an excellent way to boost audience participation. This approach is much less intrusive that messages that simply state ‘follow us on Twitter’, and much more effective.
Invest in a Promoted Account on Twitter
Promoted Accounts are an advertising option offered by Twitter for brands who take their social media seriously and want to boost their targeted followers. Twitter promote these accounts in front of users that are likely to be interested in the business, based on their interests and the accounts that they’ve already chosen to follow. So, for example, if you own a restaurant chain, your account may be suggested to those who already follow several other food outlets or chefs who specialise in the cuisine that you serve.
Use Twitter to cultivate relationships with the media
It’s common knowledge amongst marketers that when it comes to PR and forming relationships with influential figure in the media, Twitter is the place to be. To avoid missing out on opportunities, make sure that your overall social media strategy considers how your brand can best tap into the opportunity. Using it push out press releases is just the beginning of the process. Your brand should be listening out for requests, following the latest trends and creating content that ties their business to current news, and maximising potential wherever possible. Don’t forget that you shouldn’t be looking just towards more traditional journalists and media channels. Bloggers in your field provide massive opportunities too.
When you’ve got some exciting news or a product launch, use Promoted Tweets
If you’ve got an exciting business development that you want to shout about, consider using Promoted Tweets. You can ensure that your message is seen by a greater audience that just your followers, and if executed properly, the exercise can result not just in hits to your websites and a temporary boost in sales, but interaction from users who are interested in your brand but haven’t previously engaged with you on Twitter.
Work with your HR department to develop your employer brand and create a strong talent pool for future vacancies on LinkedIn
Social media touches on all areas of a business, and for brands that really want to maximise its full potential, promotion of products and services shouldn’t be the only concern. Working in partnership with HR, marketers can deliver massive savings by utilising LinkedIn when it comes to recruitment. For it to be truly effective, businesses must go further than simply listing any vacancies they might have. By getting creative with staff videos or more inventive recruitment campaigns, overall brand awareness and popularity can be increased.
Make it easy for your customers to buy from you on
LinkedIn is traditionally all about building business connections, but this doesn’t mean that it can’t build a strong sales pipe from it. The network might not be naturally geared for e-commerce, but several apps are available to help you tap into the opportunity. Dell’s company page, for example, features a ‘Product and Service Spotlight’ feature with a direct link to ‘Learn More Now’ which takes you directly into their business clients website. It might seem like a simple move, but it’s something that even the biggest of companies are neglecting.
Add videos to your LinkedIn page to create a more personal connection
LinkedIn is seen as the grown-up version of Facebook and Twitter, where professionals go to make business connections and talk about their industry and work. Traditionally, many B2B organisations felt that they must blend into the background to a certain extent and there’s definitely the temptation to do that on LinkedIn. To really stand out though, tell a story about your business using videos that are embedded into your company’s pages using Google Presentation. As social media matures, we’re likely to see B2B companies taking a much more creative approach.
Use LinkedIn Groups to build a community amongst your followers
Give your target audience a place to discuss the issues that matter to them, in a safe and spam-free environment. LinkedIn Groups are a great way to do this, and many brands have successfully built communities of thousands of people who turn to them and their audience for advice. You’ll need to dedicate sufficient resources to make the Group a success, including a community manager.
Offer training for all senior staff members on using LinkedIn, and encourage them to use the network
Regardless of how big your organisation might be, it would be stupid to miss out on the power that individuals can have when it comes to LinkedIn. By providing training for those in senior positions within the business, you can harness all of their previous connections and open up doors that you never knew existed. Taking an afternoon out from day-to-day activities to help staff get to grips with the tools available to them in an investment that all big brands should take.
Create targeted advertising with LinkedIn Ads
Similar to Facebook, LinkedIn offers self-service adverts that can be targeted to an audience based on factors such as job title and function, industry and company size, seniority, age, gender, and LinkedIn Group memberships. If your business is B2B, this provides a massive potential for targeting the right sort of individuals that hold the power to make decisions in the companies that could be interested in your products or services.
Look further than audience size and start measuring engagement
Even the most experienced of marketers and social media managers can make the all-too-easy mistake of thinking that acquiring a larger audience is the main goal. But instead of looking at this and using your competitors as a benchmark for success, start measuring your brand’s share of voice. Ask questions such as how engaged your audience is, what leads to them to interact with the brand, and how this stacks up against your competitors. This is a big indicator when it comes to measuring how successful your campaigns are.
Invest in a natural language processing tool to measure sentiment
Sentiment is the measure of how your business is perceived on social networks. Whilst it can be difficult to deal with due to the fact that it deals with feelings and opinions (including sarcasm!) rather than hard and fast facts, it’s something that can’t be ignored. By making a investment in a natural language processing tool, you’ll quickly and painlessly be able to establish what proportion of your brand mentions are positive or negative. Industry leaders Radian6 and Sysomos have useful video walkthroughs on their websites to demonstrate how their platforms work.
Record your Google Hangouts and upload them to YouTube to act as a permanent marketing tool
Until recently, marketers using YouTube could only point users in the direction of their other content on the network by using annotations. Now that the In-Video Programming feature has been added, it provides a much more visually appealing way for brands to advertise other videos on the site. Make sure that you’re also taking advantage of the new branding function, which adds a logo to video content. It’s a helpful way to remind viewers where the content has come from, especially if it’s shared on another site or a use stumbles across it by accident.
Google Hangouts allow marketers to have virtual meetings with up to 9 other people, and broadcast them live to a larger audience. It’s a fantastic way to hold press conferences, company announcements, webinars and other events, and many businesses are already reaping the benefits. To take it a step further though, make sure that you upload any suitable content to your YouTube channel. Thanks to Google’s quick and easy features, this can be done automatically and without any fuss.
Use In-Video Programming on YouTube to promote your other content
Use the Interactive Transcript feature on YouTube so your viewers don’t miss important calls to action
Most YouTube users don’t watch videos in their entirety. This can be bad news for marketers, as important prompts and calls to action are often at the very end of their video content. Make sure that you have this option enabled on your channel, and where possible, remind viewers that they can use it to find the information that they’re specifically looking for. If you’re offering a really great deal or some industry insight that they won’t want to miss, viewers will be able to see this and won’t accidently skip past it.
Treat Pinterest like an online brochure, displaying items that link directly to pages for purchasing
Recent research shows that 21% of Pinterest users have gone on to purchase an item after seeing it on the network. In other words, they’re ready and able to buy your products. To help them further along the sales funnel, make sure that you treat your Pinterest account like you would any other brochure. All of your items should be on there, it should be updated whenever new lines are added, and it should be crystal clear how a purchase can be made.
Share behind-the-scenes photos on Instagram to give customers an insight into your business
Instagram lends itself more to social sharing, which is one of the main differences from Pinterest, which is like an online shop-window for consumers. Rather than focusing solely on your products, build a relationship with Instagram followers by personalising your brand and giving them an insight into how things work behind the scenes. This could include snaps of the production line, or the support offices.
Report your latest company news with snaps on Instagram
They say that a picture paints a thousand words, and when it comes to the latest happenings in your company, an image on Instagram can be the best way to break the news. If your business is a restaurant, use the network to post snaps of the daily specials. If you’re organising a big conference, give an insight to what’s going on with a running photograph commentary. It’s much more likely to grab the attention of your customers.
Start using customer retention as a social metric, rather than just acquisition of new customers
Many businesses use the number of new customers that are coming from their social media channels as an indicator of success. Whilst this is of course an important factor to consider, it doesn’t paint the full picture. Marketing experts should be looking at customer retention instead. If you’ve acquired 500 new customers over the course of a month, but you’ve lost 600, this is obviously a problem. There could be elements of your social media campaign that are turning your existing and potential customers off.
Use social media metrics that reflect overall business goals – not just vanity measures
It can be easy to get caught up with looking at the number of followers you have, the amount of traffic that you’re driving to your website, or the amount of people who are responding to your status updates. While this information is, to a certain degree, very important, it should never be the only thing that you measure. These are essentially ‘vanity measures’ that look at how popular your business appears to the outside world, but fails to get under the skin of how this is really having an impact on the business and its overall objectives. The metrics that you should be prioritising are revenue, sales, growth, and customer retention.
Look out for brand ambassadors and use them effectively to spread the word about your business
Almost every big business will already have brand ambassadors that are saying good things about their products or services on social networks, but it’s only those with particularly savvy marketing professionals that are valuing their worth and maximising what they can do for the business. Start by identifying these superfans and thanking them for their input, but don’t just leave it there. Create a database of their details, and when you’re launching a new product, offer these people a free sample. If you can build your brand ambassador database to include bloggers or influential social media figures, even better. It’s low cost but highly effective. In many cases, consumers will be much more likely to make a purchase if it has been recommended on an impartial blog, rather than a paid advert.
If you sell products such as clothing or accessories, get creative with Instagram to show off the possibilities
If your business uses Instagram, it’s the perfect opportunity to add another element to your marketing. Your website is the place to show professional images of your products, but Instagram can be used to show just how versatile they are. Take photos of staff wearing the latest ranges, encourage followers to send their own, and you’ve suddenly created more proof around just how great your items really are.
Let your audience contribute to brand design with Instagram
For your next marketing campaign, consider getting your audience involved. Asking users to upload pictures of them using your products is not only a cost-free option, but it also encourages your audience to get involved with the brand and feel like they’re really a part of it. If customers can contribute to your next marketing campaign, it can create a real buzz around your brand.
Take your social media metrics offline with focus groups
Just because your social media tactics take place online, measuring the success doesn’t have to be limited to computer-based metrics. Inviting a proportion of your audience into your office to get a real insight into what they think of your brand and what they want from you in the future can be a great way to distill information that you’d otherwise miss out on. After all, when you’re limited to 140 characters on Twitter, it can be difficult to build up solid data that can be used to make important decisions. You could find that this approach brings in fresh ideas that your internal teams had never even touched on.
Measure which stage in the sales funnel creates the biggest buzz online, and take action accordingly
Consider when exactly in the sales funnel it is that your audience start talking about you online. Is it when they’re first thinking about making a purchase and want to gather opinion, is it when they’ve received the item and they’re sharing their experiences, or is it somewhere in-between? Once you’ve gathered the data, use sentiment testing tools to find out what exactly people are saying at the various stages, and what their concerns are. Splitting up the sales process in this way will teach you a lot about your brand and how it’s perceived, and is a great place to start when it comes to improving customer experience.
Assess sentiment before you start a new social campaign
Too many businesses make the mistake of only starting to measure the success of their social campaigns once they’re underway. But if you really want to know how successful your campaigns are, you should find out what your audience is saying before you even start trying to boost your brand awareness. It’s only when you have the information that comes from social listening, that you can make informed decisions around what elements of your online marketing are working and where you can make improvements.
Consider how your social campaigns are impacting upon internal staff morale and motivation
It’s not just your potential and existing customers that are potentially being impacted upon by your social media campaigns. In any big organisation, marketing initiatives will also change the views of your staff. If you’re really doing it well, you could find that internal productivity, morale and motivation could improve. Make sure that you have metrics to establish whether this is the case. It’s likely that you’ll already have the tools in place – for example, your annual staff survey – but you may need to tweak them slightly to gather the data that you need.
Find the latest burning topics in your industry with Quora, and formulate responses for your audience
Quora is the ultimate place for finding out what people are asking about your area of expertise. If you know what they’re asking, it puts you in a great position for making sure that you’re answering their questions. When your business is so embroiled in a topic, it can be difficult to take a step back and consider what the general public, and indeed your customer base, wants to know. By keeping up to date with the latest trends on Quora, you can build an excellent source of ideas for quality content for your social accounts and blogs. This is also a brilliant way to boost your search engine rankings. If people are asking the questions on Quora, you can be sure that they’re searching Google for the answers. Providing the answers is a sure-fire way to drive traffic to your site.
Monitor your business’s reputation on Quora and respond to direct questions
Set up a Google Alert for the term ‘Quora yourcompanyname’ to ensure that when someone asks a question about your business, you can be first there to provide an accurate response. Not only will users be impressed that you’re on the ball and care about them, but you can make sure that they receive information that’s timely and correct. You might also want to set up an alert for your competitors, to see what users are saying about them.
Use social statuses as a way to test your website content for maximum conversions
As any marketer knows, your website should be a continuous work in progress, and you should be constantly seeking out new ways to convert visitors into paying customers. Using social media can be a brilliant and almost immediate way to test out how differing content works for your audience. Set up two pages that use separate approaches for generating sales, and send out two messages on your social media channels, preferably on the same day and time but in a different week, and see which is the most successful. This sort of approach takes out the guessing work and gives a quick and easy indicator of the content style that you should be aiming for.
Gain market research insight from Quora
Any tool that allows you to gather market insight is one that you should be paying attention to, and Quora is the ideal candidate. Not only is there a wealth of information available literally at your fingertips, but you can also ask your own specific questions and find out what people are saying about your competitors. When you’re carrying out an information gathering exercise, it should definitely be something that you carefully consider.
Educate your audience with YouTube videos
Uploading your TV adverts simply won’t cut it when it comes to YouTube. Users want value, and if you want them to engage with your brand, you need to find a way to provide it. One approach that has been successfully taken by several businesses is educating viewers about your products or services, and helping them to use them more effectively. For example, imagine that you sell kitchen products. By creating content that features an experienced chef using the products to create impressive meals, you’ll attract an audience of people who love food and getting creative in the kitchen. Once they see how your range can be used, they’re much more likely to make a purchase.
Entertain your audience with YouTube videos
Guerilla marketing can be a bit risky and it certainly isn’t suitable for every business, but for many, it has resulted is massive success. The best example of this is Blendtec, a Utah based company selling industrial strength blenders. Their series of videos on YouTube, titled ‘Will It Blend?’ generated over 5 million viewers as they set about trying to blend everyday items such as iPhones and golf balls. Despite being a small company, they received press coverage from all over the world and a huge increase in sales. Big companies that can execute a similar but unique approach with entertaining content could find that their rewards are even bigger.
Cut down expenses by using budget recording equipment to create YouTube videos – amazingly, you’ll get better results
Many businesses make the mistake of investing hundreds of thousands of pounds into high-tech recording equipment to make videos for YouTube. While that sort of investment is essential if you’re making professional adverts for TV, it’s not the best route for YouTube. The nature of many of the videos on the site means that they give a more personal insight into a brand or a business. When you’re focusing on this strategy, a camcorder for a couple of hundred pounds will be your best option. Coupled with this, the fact that all videos are 320 x 400 pixels means that no one will ever see the benefit of all the money you might have invested.
Run an initiative asking happy customers to upload testimonial videos
There is no marketing tool as effective as a customer testimonial. If someone thinks your brand is great and shouts about it, it’ll bring in much more custom than expensive advertising ever could. YouTube provides the perfect opportunity to tap into that. By running an initiative that asks happy customers to upload a video that records their experiences, you’re creating a network full of brand ambassadors.
Turn your YouTube channel into a hub for customer service
If the nature of your business means that you tend to deal with a lot of questions from customers about how to use your products or services, make things easier by uploading tutorials to YouTube that cover the most frequently asked questions and give clear and easy to follow solutions. For products that some people may avoid buying due to their complexity, such as technology and gadgets, sales could potentially increase if your customers know that they have access to round-the-clock support and guidance. Furthermore, such an approach could cut down the costs of call centres that currently provide the service.
Live-stream coverage of sought-after events to YouTube
YouTube isn’t just the place to talk about events after they’ve happened. If your business is hosting a prolific event or you’ll be attending something that will be of interest to those in your industry, consider creating a live-stream. For example, a fashion retailer might decide to send a representative to a fashion show and provide live updates throughout the day covering the latest trends and emerging news. This will create a big buzz on the day, and will be available for anyone who missed it at a later date.
Reach out to prolific YouTube users and ask them to showcase your products
YouTube is full of internet celebrities who have raised to fame through their video content. Many channels exist, for example, that provide make-up and beauty tutorials that help people achieve the latest looks and learn the tricks of the trade. If these people exist in your field, consider creating a partnership with them and asking them to showcase your products in their videos. Seeing your products being used in the flesh is a great way for potential customers to be convinced of the benefits.
Invest in a YouTube Takeover for your brand
A YouTube Takeover is possibly one of the biggest advertisements you could invest in, and the potential audience is huge. The ad will usually last for 24 hours, and during this time, all visitors will see your content when they visit the site’s homepage. In most cases, the page will load as usual, but will then be ‘taken over’ by creative and interactive content that reflects the brand. TV series Primeval took this approach a step further when they integrated a game into the page that required viewers to fight off dinosaurs.
78. Target adverts on YouTube towards those who are already on your marketing list
Thanks to sophisticated software from YouTube, you can submit your marketing list and ensure that your advertisements on the network are targeted towards individuals that you’ve already done business with in the past, as those that have already expressed an interest in your brand. From here, you can even use demographic factors to target your message even further.
Run adverts alongside trusted third-party content on YouTube
Even if you haven’t created your own content yet for YouTube, you can still take advantage of the content of others and run advertisements for your brand alongside popular videos. YouTube has thousands of trusted content partners, meaning that there’s content from all fields that you can choose to run your adverts alongside. This sort of approach may cause concern for marketers who are worried about associating their brand with third-party creators, but the system is heavily vetted by YouTube, which runs regular checks to ensure that they are uploading appropriate content.
Promote your YouTube videos for specific search terms on the site
Thanks to YouTube’s sophisticated keyword tool, you can target your adverts towards those users who fall into your target audience. So for example, if you’re a fashion retailer, you could choose to appear in searches when users look for ‘London Fashion Week’ footage. If you can identify the subjects that really resonate with your customers, you can provide them with quality video content exactly when they want it.
Localise your Pinterest page
We’ve already mentioned that a mistake that big businesses are making is underestimating the power of local. The same rule applies when it comes to Pinterest. If your business has multiple locations, organise your boards so that you pay attention to all of your outposts. So if you have a restaurant chain, post pictures for all branches and highlight the various specials or little differences that make the place special. This approach is most likely to result in local followers and local customers.
Your main concern might be the social profile of your business, but never neglect your own personal brand. Positioning yourself as an expert in your field through blogging, social updates and building connections will not only benefit your business, but will also help you to continue to progress your own career.
Create a dedicated landing page for traffic from YouTube
The aim of the game when it comes to social content is always to drive more traffic to your own website, so you can generate more sales. When it comes to traffic from YouTube, try creating a separate landing page that contains more of your videos or simply content and products that are directly related to the videos that they were watching. Tailoring the content to your audience’s needs means that you’re much more likely to keep them engaged.
Spend some time focusing on your personal brand
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84. Use measurement tools that can identify trends over longer periods of time, thus telling you what content works best for your brand
Follower numbers and engagement will go through peaks and troughs over time, so you should use longer-term measurement tools that identify trends and can help to pinpoint how your actions have an impact on your audience. Once you’ve collected the data, you can use it to identify the content and campaigns that really resonated with your followers, providing you with plenty of direction and inspiration for where you should take your brand in the future.
When using paid search, always ensure that the landing page has clear links to your social media accounts
Paid search can be a highly effective tool, but it works even better when it’s integrated with social media. If you’re driving traffic to your site from a search engine, it’s possible that your audience is just browsing. As soon as they leave your page, the likelihood of them becoming a customer drops significantly. By ensuring your landing page has clear links to your social accounts, with calls to action and incentives to click through wherever possible, you’re forging a way to continue the relationship and keep your brand at the forefront of the customer’s mind. Once they are ready to make a purchase, they’re much more likely to come back to you.
Develop a content strategy that tests the effectiveness of all types of media with your audience
Research shows that images have a much higher response rate than plain text updates. Essentially, the same message shared via a picture, text, a link to a blog or video could all have hugely different result. Though you can find statistics that will tell you the success rates of the various types of media, they won’t necessarily reflect your target audience. In order to make informed decisions about what works for your existing and potential customers, make sure that your content takes several different forms, and test their effectiveness over a prolonged period.
Think of your brand as a publisher
Get your legal experts involved with the copyright aspect of your content
The area of content marketing is a new one to most marketing experts, and the implications of copyright laws are yet to be fully realised. Though you probably have experience of image sourcing and creative commons licensing, content is a whole new ball game, and one which could prove to be troublesome if you don’t familiarise yourself with the issues. To ensure your company’s content is covered and you aren’t putting your brand in jeopardy, look towards the legal experts in your business for guidance. It may be the case that the best course of action is to clearly state your rules for sharing on your website.
‘Content is king’ is a phrase that you’ve undoubtedly heard recently. And if you’re serious about marketing, it’s something that you should be acting upon. As the most cutting-edge businesses push out high quality content, the lines between brands and publishers are fading. In other words, if you want to succeed, you need to develop a content strategy that puts your business at the forefront of its industry and provides valuable insight and thought leadership. This could take many forms, but it could include the creation of ebooks, webinars and more.
Have a crisis management plan in place – before the situation occurs
Even if your brand’s social sentiment is extremely positive at the moment, never get complacent and assume that you won’t have to deal with a crisis. Some of the world’s biggest businesses have run into problems when using social media, and if not dealt with correctly, the whole image of the brand could be in jeopardy. Always have a plan in place that stipulates how serious issues will be dealt with, with clear lines of responsibility and accountability.
Resist the urge to pander for meaningless engagement
‘Engagement’ is one of social media’s buzzwords, and there’s no questioning that it should be top of your agenda. The error that so many marketers are making though is that they’re mistaking any engagement for good engagement. Take a look at your brand’s recent social updates and ask whether they really relate to what your business does. Even though you shouldn’t be ‘hard selling’ all of the time, there should always be a clear link to your area of expertise and the matters that truly resonate with your target audience. If this isn’t happening, any engagement that happens will be meaningless.
Keep up to speed with Google’s guidelines when it comes to content
2012 was the year when Google’s Panda and Penguin algorithm updates started to create waves on the internet. If one lesson can be learned from them, it’s that Google is taking high quality content seriously, and will continue to penalise sites that aren’t adhering to their guidelines. On a basic level, you should ensure that your business is dedicating appropriate resources to developing content that isn’t just there for the search engines, but engages real-life visitors and makes them want to come back for more. Dedicate a small amount of time each month to keeping up with industry updates and news.
Allow your employees to get involved with your brand’s social media
Sometimes, your most loyal brand evangelists are your employees. They’re also immediately accessible and in most cases, happy to do what they can to help the business develop. Rather than just letting them engage in their spare time, let them get involved behind the scenes. This could be in the form of creating images, sharing their experiences or contributing ideas for future campaigns.
Incorporate social media success into key marketing staff’s KPIs
It’s important that you create a culture that supports the notion that social media should deliver results. For key members of staff who are responsible for the various elements of your campaigns, ensure that you link their performance objectives to social media results. It sends the message that your business takes social ROI very seriously and encourages a target driven approach. As with all performance objectives, those that you set and agree with your team should be SMART – specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time bound.
Curate content from across the Tumblr network to create a go-to resource in your niche
Creating your own content is of course very important, but a strategy that taps into the content of others can be equally successful. The fast-moving nature of Tumblr means that it lends itself excellently to content curation. When browsing the site, it takes just one click to ‘reblog’ an image or text snippet and add it to your own page (with appropriate attribution to the original source). By doing this, you can create a resource for those interested in your niche that becomes highly respected.
Use text snippets and memes of relevant quotes and insights on Tumblr to attract followers
Pictures tend to be the most popular media on Tumblr, but there are a few businesses who are getting creative with words, and are reaping the benefits. Snippets of relevant quotes and insights from your industry are easy to digest and are highly shared by users. If you can create a site that’s the place to go for industry knowledge for those who are in a hurry, you could be on to a winner.
Spill your social campaign into real life
A social campaign that spills out of your users computers or smartphones and into the real world is one that is guaranteed to be memorable. In 2011, pet food brand GranataPet received worldwide press coverage after it created a billboard that dispensed a free sample once a passer-by had checked in on Foursquare. This is far more effective than a traditional free gift exercise, as it requires participants to spread the word to their friends and creates a real buzz.
Create a game on your social profiles to add an element of fun
So many people turn to social networks as a way to take time out of their day and enjoy a little bit of escapism. If you can create a popular and addictive game that’s integrated into your social accounts, it’s a great way to attract visitors and have them engage with your brand. Addictive games mean they’ll come back again and again increasing traffic to your social channels and giving you more opportunities to share marketing messages. The best solutions are games that are easy to understand and are linked to the company’s products or overall ethos.
Coordinate your corporate and social responsibility initiatives using social networks
A national disaster should absolutely never be used as an opportunity to boost your brand, as several businesses found after they received media backlash when they tried to cash in on Hurricane Sandy. Not only can it damage a brand, but it is of course also highly immoral. However, if you’re planning a CSR initiative to help people in times of crisis, social media can be an excellent tool for publicising your campaigns and organising them so those in need can be identified and helped.
Take your market research a step further by finding out what your competitors’ customers want, and getting in there first
The intelligence and customer feedback available to your competitors was, until recently, something that you could only dream about having access to. But thanks to social media, you can collect so much useful information about what their customers are saying about their products and services, and the changes that they want to see. If you take a proactive approach to collecting this sort of data, it provides a fantastic tool for planning your next moves and providing your target customers with what they want. Never forget that your monitoring and measuring activities should extend to your competitors, and not just your own brand.
Use social to quickly identify problem areas and take action accordingly
Businesses previously had to rely on tools such as mystery shopping to gain an insight into what their customers were saying on a day-to-day basis about their brand, and the quality of the service that they were receiving. Now that this information is available in real-time from such a broad group, collect it and take action immediately. If a particular branch of your store is receiving a lot of complaints, don’t just sit on the information. Getting responsive with the data is just as important as collecting it.