January 31, 2016

Social Media Basics for Companies, Timing your posts and the importance of #hashtags.

In this series, I am not covering so much the specific minute details, data, facts and figures of social media as much as the common sense mindset you need to use the specifics tools and resources available to you now that you have decided to embrace social media as an extension of the marketing and customer service aspects of your company. This series is just a basic guideline for you to get started.

Timing

The average twitter user (public) checks their time line about once or twice every hour, but most may not have access at work, or are busy running businesses, households, lives. Most scroll through to see what they've missed, going back through dozens and dozens of tweets, till something grabs there attention. The right tweet or post actually takes a good bit of behind the scenes time and effort to be effective. Your 140 character tweet, for instance, has to catch my eye as I scroll down the page looking at 100 's of tweets at break neck speed, tell me a story and make me click your link. If you have done some of the due diligence I suggested in the last post, 'Know Your Audience', then you have some idea of the trends for when your customer, your fan or your audience is most likely to be online and surfing social media sites.

Example:
Stay at home moms, with busy households are never going to see a tweet from you at 5pm at night. It's dinner time, their husband is coming home, the household is in full swing. If your target market is Mom, and you tweet at 5pm, no matter how good the tweet or info offered, chances are high she will not see it.

Office workers: If you tweeted at 9am and Jenny logged on and checked her timeline at 10:45, her break, chances are she is not going to see your tweet. So, if she's your target, it is equally important as to what time you tweet or post, as it is to the content of that actual tweet or post. Maybe even more so, because regardless of how great your tweet content is, if no one sees it, technically, for them, it does not exist. A savvy social media manager spends hours watching and researching these trends. They know when to tweet and where. Have an international audience? 9am in London is 4am here EST, as an example. If your going to take on the role of social media manager yourself, you'll need this important info about your target audience.

If you do not have the hours each day it takes to monitor trends, research the schedules and habits of your target market to make sure your organization is getting the most from your social media, a social media manager can make a huge positive impact to your organization. Yes they cost money, but with the right manager, your exposure is maximized and the benefits far outweigh the cost.

To do it yourself, realize it's lots of calculating, research and time consuming analysis; the things that are essential in making a good social media manager effective. If you are unable to hire a social media manager, deciding to 'do it yourself,' applications like Hootsuite, for instance, are key. Hootsuite, and programs like it, allow you to schedule tweets and posts ahead of time, making sure your message is getting out there when you need it to be. It allows you to maintain a social media presence while not neglecting the necessities and responsibilities that are essential to running your business. Now this does not mean that once you've set up your tweets and posts for the day, you can forget about them. You must constantly monitor your re-tweets, mentions, shares etc., so you can respond in a timely fashion. And rest assured, managers like me are using these tools. These apps also offer great insights and interactive 'classes' to teach you the 'tricks of the trade.'

Hashtags

A hashtag is the cornerstone of a business’s conversation with the public on Twitter. Hashtags allow more than just your followers the ability to see your posts, as each hashtag becomes a timeline of it's own shared by thousands. With all platforms and networks now adopting the hashtag approach, it has become all the more important. The conversation can be consistent and meaningful only if the hashtags used by your business are consistent. Just creating any phrase with a hash tag does not get the job done. Monitoring what 'tags' are trending, what's popular and more importantly, what your readers, clients, customers and fans are interested in, keeps your company or brand's name in the eye of your targeted audience.

Every word, hashtag, mention and its placement, is important. That takes years of practice and years of marketing expertise and that is where the Social Media Manager becomes invaluable to your team. Remember, just because Suzy, the receptionist , or Mary the web designer spend the most time on twitter or facebook, it does not mean they are the right person for the job. The tried and true marketing dogmas and procedures still apply, so you or your social media manager needs to be well versed in marketing, customer service and the 'Psychology Of The Sale." But, once you've mastered the basics that we have covered in this series, you'll be well on your way to achieving social media success.

I hope these articles have helped, that you have enjoyed the series, and most importantly, that the concepts, mindsets and ideas here help you grow your social media presence and impact. Good Luck!

Till next time,

Lou

January 04, 2016

"Is the Technology of Social Media actually taking the 'social' out of Social Media Marketing?"

When I started my twitter account, for the now defunct, gourmetgirlmagazine.com, back in 2005, social media marketing was in its infancy. Truth is, it hasn't really grown up yet. While it has emerged to influence the way companies get their message across to their customers and other businesses worldwide, it now does so by expressing an "I know what I'm doing attitude, leave me alone" mentality, much like an adolescent teen.

As a 'veteran' of marketing, or the 'parent' in this case, in some instances, I have been looked at like a dinosaur by today's twenty something, newly graduated, much more 'knowledgeable' social media marketing managers. Why? Because I believe that just because the delivery platform has changed, the process of connecting, one on one with your customer, prospect or audience has not.
The new breed points to algorithms, analytics platforms and trends, insisting that, without these, you just don't know who your audience is, or what they want, therefore you can't possibly get the right message out. They have convinced CEOs, marketing managers and small business owners that without all the latest technological gimmicks and analysis programs, they can't possibly mount a successful and effective social media strategy. This is simply a fallacy!

When I started tweeting, most of today's 'guru's and experts were teens, worried about their homework. I learned as I went along, applying age old marketing and 'people skill' maxims and dogmas, learned from a 20+ year career in sales and marketing, and it gained me a following of some of the most influential and 'important' influencers, media organizations, celebrities and social media experts online. One tweet, post, or interaction at a time. Some ask, why do these folks follow you? My answer: I took the time to reach out and interact with quality content, consistent attention to detail and making a personal connection, with either brand or individual, one at a time, which is actually what 'social media' is all about.

The problem is most companies are looking for instant gratification, immediate big numbers and immediate impact from their campaigns, so social media marketers have changed the way they apply social media to meet that demand. It is also why many companies are looking for new social media people and revamping their approach. Is your company going somewhere that you need to see result, NOW, or all will be lost, or are you dedicated to your business for the long haul, hoping to be around and successful for years to come? Social media is the same. It's a marathon, not a sprint race.

You must have someone in place to be the voice of your company that has a background rooted in marketing and some version of customer service. A twenty something recent grad may have the technology down, but do you really want to trust your company's voice and online image to someone with little or no people skills and a few computer programs? I'll put up tried and true people knowledge, years of  'closing deals and relationships with people and businesses' against the newly graduated 'degreed' expert with absolutely no 'customer service or actual face to face people time' mentality any day. The best marketers are those that study human nature and what motivates people to act. What good is all the data, if once collected, you don't know what to do with it. Nothing will ever replace the experience of face to face interaction and the experience of years of actually doing the job.

Young social media managers, will point to the technology, numbers of followers, number of  'click throughs,' and all the platforms and analytic tools your company must have, etc.. Why? With little or no actual marketing, sales or customer service background, they need these programs to point out flaws, trends, problems or opportunities within a given campaign. A seasoned marketing pro has the instincts and experience and the analytics, which are used simply to confirm what they believe is the problem or opportunity. I'll point to quality of followers and people who don't merely 'click through,' but place the order, make the connection, or recommend the product, person or service to their friends. If I get 30 people to 'click through' by my personal, SOCIAL interaction with them, and 10 buy or act, vs, 100 'click throughs' for the same 10 to buy or act, I have saved the company resources, time and effort. In today's tight economic climate, companies need a razor sharp pinpointed, economical approach rather that a blunt, time and money consuming campaign. (see my article on Know Your Audience)

When I look across the board at some recent campaigns, yes even for the major brands we all know and love, I see more failure than success and I believe the reason why is simple: People don't want to be algorithimed, beta tested, or analyzed. The want to be talked to. They want to be treated like an individual, even if they are part of a group. Yes, that is counter intuitive, but it is the truth nonetheless. The general public, while wanting to be included 'in the group' wants to be recognized for their individual contribution to that group. They are looking for individual service and attention and when they don't get it, getting canned responses or, automated response tweets (re; the Dominoes debacle) it goes viral. When a crisis hits, your social media platform can actually be the management tool to handle and fix customer inquiries or turn that crisis around. No platform, app or analytic program can address these issues directly. And, a twenty something recent grad, with only classroom theory, can never replace a marketing veteran with years of experience who also has the technological tools of the trade.

The definition of 'social' is: a. marked by or passed in pleasant companionship with friends or associates b. or relating to human society, the interaction of the individual and the group, or the welfare of human beings as members of society.

Now all that said, your Social Media Manager MUST be well versed in, owned and earned content, new algorithms for brands, Google's new SEO parameter's, and all the other tools available and needed to track paid ad campaigns, customer engagement, etc.. But, just knowing the how, without knowing the why, or without having the business or customer service acumen to react properly and tailor your brand's message for maximum effect to each segment of your target audience, could waste years of your company's time,resources and reputation.

Till next time,

Lou