While some businesses only use social media three times a week, others consider it mandatory to sign in and respond to customer comments on a daily basis—but how do you know which is best for your business?
Marketers like Kevin Kerner suggest that you first identify your target audience, and outline how your team’s social media efforts relate to business goals and objectives before jumping into social media. If you failed to do this, the fact that the amount of leads generated from social media and the engagement level of your followers are consistently low shouldn’t be such a surprise.
If your audience likes your brand, they are more likely to like your Facebook Fan Page or follow you on Twitter—but you need to put in the work to keep them engaged. Kevin Woods, CEO of Eloqua, suggests that social media managers focus on the reach of each social media message, wherein “reach” is not only defined by your online search terms, but by your network.
How many users like or retweet your content online?
To increase these numbers, Jo Macdermott of Dynamic Business says, “Give them a chance to get to know you, and engage with your business, by producing original, compelling content, and clearly stating your business ethos, values and the story behind your brand.”
Share, Interact, Promote
Social media influencers give your content value by sharing it. The more users discover your content and share it, the more validation your content quality receives and the more social media love you get from other respected influencers.
While identifying social influencers can be an important part of increasing credibility and interaction, it’s also important to acknowledge when a link or comment is shared by praising the source. Responding to a retweet, favorite, or share can promote the belief that you value the user’s action and increase sharing. Consider asking the user a question relevant to the link or for feedback. The best way to go about this is to write custom notes that humanize the brand and make the user feel like an actual person is on the other end of the conversation.
If you’re interested in having a community comprised of users that not only like your page, but also show an interest in your company, Jim Belosic suggests that you use crowdsourcing to “ask your community of users to offer their suggestions for how you might solve a problem or address an issue.” To promote these types of conversations, I would suggest utilizing Facebook’s polling feature to ask questions or establish a branded hashtag on Twitter. This will also help identify customers your company may be interested in following as community influencers and encourage sharing.
For more pointed tips on how to manage, create and monitor your social marketing efforts online, I would recommend you download this free ebook from Hubspot and 60 Second Marketer. Packed with 99 tips for increasing engagement and generating leads with social media, it’s a great resource for developing social media managers and small business owners seeking to get more involved with social media.
- Eloqua | Using Social Media to Generate Leads
- Social Media Examiner | 4 Ways to Boost Your Facebook Engagement with Promotions
- Heidi Cohen | 77 Ways to Share Social Media Love”
As dramatic as that sounds, the results of athletes sharing via this ever-growing social platform have mostly produced positive publicity for players who don’t experience as much mainstream coverage as football, basketball, and baseball stars, but have also produced many cautionary tales.
Athletes Take to Social Media
Social media is allowing athletes to share more intimate details about their lives and the games they play. The desire to reach past the media and PR staff has pushed tech savvy players to interact directly with fans by sharing their family lives, excitement, and personalities via social media and sports fans are loving this new level of “closeness.”
Eric Adelson suggests that sports fans place great importance in things like Twitter retweets or (@) mentions, saying, “A retweet from a sports star is the new autograph, accessible (at least in theory) to a fan who can’t get anywhere near a game.”
Although many athletes are making it look easy, promoting personal causes, recording videos, posting photos to Instagram, or working to establish one’s brand on social media can be hard when you already have a full-time job that includes intense workouts, meetings, and traveling. The International Business Times quotes Eddie Royal, a wide receiver for the San Diego Chargers, as saying, “During the season it’s hard because you have so many other things to focus on…You don’t want your team thinking you are too focused on outside stuff.”
While some athletes understand how to successfully leverage their social media presence on Facebook and Twitter, others don’t seem to remember the rule of thumb—never post on social media when you’re angry!
One recent example of negative publicity due to social media sharing wasn’t even due to an athlete, but his wife. On January 22nd, The Baltimore Sun reported that Wes Welker’s wife, Anna Burns Welker, posted a “nasty Facebook rant about Ray Lewis” after the Baltimore Ravens won (28-13) against the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship game on January 20.
Mrs. Welker promptly released an apology on Jan 22 “through a high-powered PR firm,” the overwhelmingly negative reaction to her comments regarding Ray Lewis’ Wikipedia page and murder acquittal only served to dredge up the comments made by Tom Brady’s wife, supermodel Gisele Bundchen, after last year’s Super Bowl—opening old wounds for the New England Patriots after their Super Bowl XLVII hopes were dashed.
College Athletes Beware
According to an article by Sam Laird, some universities are trying to “monitor the online behavior of student athletes through forced access to social media accounts or contracts with third-party tracking companies.”
While many believe this to be a possible violation of the civil rights awarded by the First or Fourteenth Amendment, some believe it a necessary step in protecting reputations on a personal and university-level. As a college athlete, you represent the university and many argue that this is true if you’re wearing your jersey or not—perhaps even more so if you are an athlete attending awarded a university scholarship. This would suggest that a scholarship is a type of payment and that, like professional NFL or NBA athletes, you are susceptible to the social media policies of the university and legitimize monitoring your comments.
What do you think? If the university is “paying you” with a scholarship, does it have the right to monitor your social media activities? Share your opinion below!
This blog article first appeared on the Braathe Enterprises Virtual Project Blog.
- Twitter 2012: How athletes have used social media to become the media
- Social Media’s Undeniable Impact on College Sports
- NCSA | How Coaches Use Social Media to Evaluate Recruits
- How NFL Athletes Use Social Media To Build Their Brand, Land Endorsement Deals
Small business owners questioning the validity of social media training should consider the fact that, if used correctly, social media can generate new leads, attract new customers, and increase the sales produced by your business.
Many small business owners question the value of hosting social media training sessions for their staff because social media sites like Facebook and Twitter are often used by employees on a personal level, which suggests that they would be able to oversee the company’s accounts, but the truth of the matter is: 74 percent of small businesses don’t have an employee whose role is dedicated to public relations or social media efforts.
Although nine percent of small business owners believe that employing a public relations or social media expert to oversee all of their online accounts is beneficial, coordinating one to four group social media training sessions may be better for your budget. It would also help your current team understand how to use emerging platforms, which would allow your internal staff to become more productive and effective communicators over time.
Knowledgeable Employees Get More Done
According to Jeanne Meister, “Social media training is quickly becoming mandatory for an ever-growing range of companies.”
It is suggested that the growing acceptance of social media training sessions and programs is due to the increase of negative publicity stemming from public relations disasters caused by thoughtless tweets, YouTube videos, and insensitive Facebook posts from clients and employees who use social media to share opinions and content.
This is supported by Troy Larson‘s statement that, “One painfully obvious reason why companies are now developing and rolling out social media training programs is to avoid the social media disaster.” In his Business 2 Community article, Larson encourages the use of social media training sessions, stating that they “will show employees how leveraging social media can be a valuable business tool which can increase their performance and productivity.”
Performance isn’t the only thing that increases after a social media training session. In some cases, employees have stated that they feel empowered by the knowledge to effectively utilize social media platforms.
According to Gloria Burke, offering social media training sessions can create a team of advocates who are “equipped to represent their employer online.” Burke suggests that the training sessions cultivate an interest in engaging with the company online, and not only promote the brand and increase awareness of company values internally, but “empowers them to be more confident and effective in what they’re sharing.”
It’s commonly shared that, “anything can go viral,” but what isn’t shared as often is just how these viral campaigns can negatively affect large and small businesses. One negative campaign can cause a damaging decrease in sales, loss of community support, and result in costly government fines and public relations or advertising campaigns to repair your image. Considering the fact that most small businesses don’t budget for such hefty losses, small business owners should look into ways specialized social media training sessions can help employees understand what types of messages can later become a crisis for the company—not only as a preventive measure, but to prepare them for the small crises that may emerge in the future.
To learn more about social media services provided by YOakleyPR, please click here.
As social media continues to become an integral part of marketing and communications campaigns, it never hurts to examine successful campaigns and identify ways to incorporate new strategies into your own social media plan.
Let’s take a look at one of the most delectable chocolate brands in the world and discuss how this 189-year-old company was able to implement a ‘social first’ strategy that increased brand awareness and engagement and allowed it to reach more than one million Facebook followers.
Wondering who this emerging digital leader is? Cadbury Chocolate!
Cadbury’s “Social First” Goals:
1) Increase the follower count on the Cadbury Dairy Milk Facebook Fan Page.
2) Increase follower engagement with Cadbury Dairy Milk, thereby increasing page activity.
3) Augmenting the EdgeRank score of the Cadbury Dairy Milk Facebook Fan Page.
Why did Cadbury do it?
They noticed that they had a high number of Facebook fans but were seeing low engagement. Why does this matter? Facebook’s algorithm, EdgeRank, determines how many of your followers see your post based on three factors—one of those factors being the level of fan engagement with your Fan Page’s posts. Essentially, the value of your brand on Facebook is measured by the individuals who frequently like your posts, comment, and share them. This determines what users are more likely to see your future postings in their news feed.
How did they do it?
To promote the fact that they were building a giant chocolate thumb to celebrate reaching one million Facebook Fans and show their appreciation, Cadbury:
- Posted teaser ads on Facebook that included a countdown to the big event;
- Created an infographic sharing insider stats associated with building the giant thumb to build excitement about the event;
- Invited fans to compete for the chance to place the final piece of chocolate on the giant chocolate thumbs up.
The social campaign culminated with the completion of the giant chocolate thumbs up sign featured in the YouTube video above- awesome right?! And, what made it even better was that they involved their fans throughout the process. Fans were invited to give suggestions on how the thumb’s shape should look and Cadbury was able to increase engagement by replying to each comment in real-time. It also didn’t hurt that they gave “Superfan Denise”, the winner of the Facebook contest, the opportunity to place the last piece of chocolate, a very prominent shout out and six seconds of video time. Overall, this campaign produced 40,000 Facebook followers and saw Cadbury’s fan engagement reach 350,000 people.
Wondering how can you do the same?
No one is saying that you need to mold a giant chocolate thumb to spark user engagement, but here are a few takeaways from Cadbury’s Social Media Strategy:
- Get your Facebook fans excited about an upcoming product launch by posting teaser videos or photos.
- Crowdsource the name of an upcoming event or fundraiser by holding a contest and offering a prize to the fan who gives the best name.
- Host fan of the week (or month) contests depending on your schedule contests where you reward fans who engage with your content frequently and are your “brand advocates”.
- Be interactive by playing games with your fans, asking them questions and getting their opinions on topics. When they do respond, be sure to reply back.
Just remember, pick one new thing to develop and test before adding another. Building fan engagement takes time. If you’d like to read more about Cadbury’s Social First strategy, check out this great synopsis.
- 11 Ways to Improve Facebook Engagement
- 10 Facebook Apps for Fan Engagement and Building Community
- 3 Ways to Supercharge Fan Engagement on Facebook
Social media has fast become a public relations tool that businesses (large or small) should be aware of and actually utilizing. As small business owners consider taking advantage of new social channels, they should also consider adding a social media editorial calendar to their PR strategy.
You may think to yourself, “OK. I have a Facebook Fan Page and a company Twitter account…now what?”
Now, you have to become an active contributor or risk your fans abandoning you for livelier, more interesting users that answer their questions and don’t sound like a robot. That being said, engaging in social media takes time, and, as any small business owner will tell you, time is something for which you can only wish for more.
When it comes to small businesses, whose focus is day-to-day operations, finding the time to regularly contribute to various social profiles can be intimidating and become haphazard. In these cases, a social media editorial calendar (also known as: a content calendar or social media posting calendar) can be especially useful.
Editorial calendars aren’t just for magazine editors anymore. With a new focus on content development and storytelling, public relations managers and social media strategists have given this old tool a new twist by using it to maintain online presences and track campaign progress against business goals.
3 Reasons You Should Use an Editorial Calendar
- To Plan ahead: Think about upcoming events you have over the next several months and start to think about ways you could promote them on social media.
- Keep on track with your posts: Facebook’s algorithm and Edge Rank punish profiles that don’t actively communicate meaningful content with their fans consistently. In order to reduce the risk that you’ll get on the naughty list, use this method to make sure your posting is spread out and consistent.
- Gives you a way to measure your progress: this is a great vehicle for you to use if you want to look at your progress in terms of gaining followers, what type of posts people commented on more and to start seeing trends in your social media posting.
Although using an editorial calendar can help keep your social media presence organized, one should be aware that an editorial calendar is NOT a replacement for an active online presence. It is a tool that will help you create an effective posting schedule and engage in online conversations with your audiences, but it will not make up for the “robotic” tone if you don’t humanize your posts.
Even if you follow an editorial calendar and schedule posts (which I do recommend) be sure you are actively checking your profiles and replying to fans who write messages to you.
Social media is about relationship building, not self-promotion.
Are you ready to get started using an editorial calendar? Try downloading this free ebook: How to Create an Editorial Calendar that Rocks.
Taylor Swift released “Red,” her fourth studio album, on October 22, 2012 and sold 1.2 million copies in the first week. According to NPR, that’s the highest first-week sales total in a decade.
Swift’s public relations team should receive an award for the work they have done this past year in promoting the “Red” album. From major media interviews to subtle things like having her wear red events, they have surely done an A+ job keeping Swift’s name on television, in print media, and buzzing on social networks this year.
On the day her album released in stores, Taylor Swift was being featured as a two-day guest on Good Morning America. GMA is arguably one of the most-watched morning shows in the United States and, according to them, this is the first time a guest has stayed on the show for two whole days to promote a new release. Perez Hilton applauded the mini-concert that accompanied the news show as an enthusiastic and lively preview for the album. I tip my hat to her PR team’s ability to insert a red microphone, and highlight some of her more devoted fans—like the young lady who manually bedazzled a heart (front and back) just to grab her attention. Kudos to her and the fact that they featured her out of the entire crowd twice. That’s a dedicated fan.
If you visit her on the Official Taylor Swift YouTube channel, you would find 11 one-minute previews of songs off the “Red” album, but it takes a sharp eye to notice that none of the previews are from the singles that are already dominating the airwaves. If fans want to hear more of the album, the option to download the track or complete album on iTunes is available, but a teaser is all you’ll get unless you’re looking for one of the official music videos they released previously or the RED Tour Announcement that has already received over 262,000 views.
It seems like almost everyone on her team has signed a “Red album credo” that says, “Everything must include RED!” The LA Times said that Taylor Swift has “raised the bar with her savvy ‘Red’ marketing campaign” and suggests that her team’s marketing blitz from retail stores to restaurants has made and kept sales successful.
Did you know that you could get a copy of the “Red” album at Papa John’s if you bought a large pizza? You get a large, a pizza box that features Taylor Swift on the cover and a copy of her latest album all for $22?! You can also find a deluxe version of the album which features not 16, but 22 tracks available at Target (a dash of red again!) for just $16.99!
My favorite track off the “Red” album is “I Knew You Were Trouble” because I value Taylor Swift’s ability to admit that it isn’t always the boy that should be flailed for breaking her heart, but that young ladies should be able to admit they knew he was a bad boy the moment they met him. Feel free to check it out below.
As more companies make the shift from traditional communication channels to new online and social mediums, there has been a noticeable increase in interest in public relations and social media activities from small businesses.
Although these new communication platforms hold numerous opportunities for small organization growth, many small businesses remain hesitant to engage in social media.
For my KSU master’s Public Relations Theory and Practice course, I presented a multi-genre research paper that addressed the uncertainties of smaller organizations, and highlighted the benefits of social media to those considering adding these activities to an existing or upcoming public relations strategy.
If you have an interest in reading the full research paper, please click here.
Below, you can find a complimentary SlideShare presentation that summarizes the paper and highlights quotes from some of the leading public relations and social media strategists in America.
I would like to extend a special “thank you” to Melinda Emerson (@SmallBizLady), Gini Dietrich (@GiniDietrich) and Professor Andrea Weckerle (@AWeckerle) for their assistance with this research and encourage you to follow them on Twitter if you have a vested interest in social media strategy.
Before you add social media to your public relations strategy or launch a social media campaign, you should address whether or not your company is prepared for the expectations that come with managing a social media presence.
William Benoit and Augustine Pang previously published an article on Crisis Communications and Image Repair Discourse that is GREAT for those looking to gain a better understanding of crisis communications, and I suggest it to anyone with access to scholarly articles.
Image / Brand Management
Benoit describes a company’s image, or reputation, as “a very important asset” that is based on the subjective impressions that people have of that company. Pinsdorf says that threats to a company’s image are omnipresent and that “public relations crises are no longer a matter of if, but when.”
According to a study conducted by Edison Research, consumers have great expectations for companies online. Part of the challenge is that “24% of American Internet users expect a company to respond within 30 minutes, regardless of when the contact was made.”
Be it in the middle of the night, on the weekends, or during regular 9-5 business hours, your consumers will complain about your brand — are you prepared to respond to their concerns? Most small businesses don’t have a public relations or social media manager dedicated to monitoring their online activity, so how can you deal with social media complaints while operating on a budget?
Dealing with Complaints
Melinda Emerson, one of America’s leading small business experts, suggests that companies “create Google Alerts for the company name, products, and top three industry competitors” to ensure that the brand is in aware of conversations online. You can also use mobile apps like Hootsuite to get notifications instantly.
Now that you’re aware of the issue, be sure to address it early! Read the complaint carefully to ensure that you understand the issue, and take some time to understand the user making the complaint. Simply by taking a step back to understand the user’s issue makes them feel valued.
Tailor your response using behavioral and personal information that can be found right there on their social media profile. Emerson suggests that you also pay attention to what platform the complaint was made on. She says that “different platforms require different conversations. A Facebook user doesn’t want you to talk to them like you’re on Twitter.” So leave the hashtags on the appropriate platform and make sure that you sound like a person and not a robotic/automated message.
Business Vibes suggests that you “remain open and transparent, if there genuinely is a complaint to answer, then find a solution that not only fixes the problem in the future, but also makes the customer happy.”
If you enjoyed this post, don’t forget to share your social media management tips below and help your fellow PR pros out!
- Jay Baer | 42 Percent of Consumers Complaining in Social Media Expect 60 Minute Response Time
- Business Vibes | Use Social Media to Turn Complaints into Kudos
- 12 Principles for Responding to Negative Online Comments
- William Benoit & Augustine Pang – Crisis Communications and Image Repair Discourse