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Social media

Chris Reimer talks about turning a spark into a blaze

11/02/11 by Chris Reimer of RizzoTees and Falk Harrison.

Social media starts small fires of awareness. But what’s the gas? What’s the accelerant you have to pour on that small fire to make it grow out of control? Find out when Chris Reimer, VP of Social Media at Falk Harrison, presents at Get Digital 2. He will take you step-by-step through a case study that illustrates a successful social media campaign, showing you what to do and when to do it.

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Jenn Cloud on setting sail with new communication

11/02/11 by Jenn Cloud of Vantage Credit Union.

There’s a metric ton of hype about social media right now and we’ve all heard it: we NEED to be on social media or our businesses will CAPSIZE! CRASH AND BURN! There will be calamity and riots and mutiny if we don’t get on board and FAST!

But is it really marketing’s silver bullet? Before you abandon ye ole’ traditional media ship completely, let’s explore some of the ways the two approaches actually work best when they work TOGETHER. Pulling from big brand studies all the way down to personal experience and that of my new employer, Vantage Credit Union, who has hired me in a very unique role. Our own strategy is built on a harmony of old, new and sometimes just flat crazy marketing as we bravely set sail to find new communication frontiers and reach our neighbors right where they already are, online or off!

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An excerpt from “And then there’s this”

Something I wish every person that sits behind the steering wheel of a brand would really, REALLY think about. It’s so apparent to us and so disheartening when it’s not apparent to them.

“Think about just this wrinkle: through the Internet, our microcultures all now have watercoolers of their own, and the social pressure within those cultures to rally around common cultural products can be far greater than in the old, offline world. Also: our microcultures, being available online to membership by everyone at all times, can become magnets for huge followings – at which point, arguably, they are not so “micro” anymore.”

Page 55. Bill Wasik wrote the book. Published by Viking.

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Why your website needs to be social, and how to do it

Why social media integration is important to your website

Online media today is about two-way dialogue between your and your audience. Period. Think about how your own personal Facebook page works. You post something and when your audience sees it, they have the option to comment, like or share that post with others. People are already used to this sort of activity. As of July, 2011, there were 750 million active Facebook users in the world. So if that many people are already familiar with interaction like this online, don’t you think it might be worth taking advantage of it on your organization’s website?

On the flip side, when a website resembles a brochure (about us, services, contact, boring, boring, etc.), the dialogue is one-way. You’re talking TO your audience, but not letting them talk to you. That’s the opposite of how people interact in today’s digital world. So…

What you can do to make your website social

Allow commenting on your blog (and maybe some other pages too). Then respond.

This scares the hell of a lot of people. What if my competitors decide to throw me under the bus? What if spammers invade? What if someone posts a link to a porn site? Come on, people. Reward doesn’t come without at least a bit of risk. Plus, any good content management system is going to allow you to moderate comments. Set your Allow commenting on your websitepreferences so comments must be approved before going live. Or don’t, and just pay attention to what’s being said. You’re bound to experience some negative sentiment through blog comments at some point, but addressing these comments in the public eye demonstrates a sense of honesty and transparency that many people appreciate seeing in a company.

One more important note on commenting: RESPOND. When you commit to allowing comments on your blog, take the time to respond to those who have posted something. If you ignore those who are engaging with you, what’s the point of this exercise in the first place?

Include social sharing buttons

Social sharing buttonsA simple click of a Like, Tweet or +1 button by a website visitor can distribute a link to your page or blog post all across that person’s social networks. Free services like AddThis and ShareThis make it very easy to implement. Total no-brainer. Do it.

Add a Tweet stream

If you’re an active Twitter user, consider adding a stream of your Tweets or relevant hashtags (like what we did in the right column of this page) into pages on your site. Twitter has an API that makes this really easy. Or even better, if you have access to a good developer (shameless plug for all star developer Dan Rashid of Gorilla 76), you can visually integrate the stream with the type styles on your site.

So, what’s the benefit of pulling in those Tweets? It gives the visitor a chance to engage with you in a social network where you’re already active. It adds relevant content to the page on which it appears (especially if you’re pulling in hashtag feeds for topics that are represented on that page of your site). And it demonstrates that you’re ready and willing to participate in conversation with your audience.

Give something of value away for free

Everyone loves free stuff, right? Give your audience free content like coupons or downloadable white papers. Put a form on your site and offer a free half hour webinar at lunch some day on a topic that demonstrates your expertise. Send monthly eblasts with tips, deals or resources. And in exchange for giving away this free stuff, ask for their name and email address. Make it easy to start this dialogue. Before you know it, you’ll have a captive audience that keeps returning to your site and a healthy stack of new business leads.

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Social Media Strategizing

As a business owner, do you struggle to understand how certain companies can so easily utilize social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook? Their numbers in followers and fans just keep rising, while you warily type out a status update for your 23 fans.

 

The Truth Behind Success

Well, here is some good news: the other companies didn’t just luck out. They indubitably have been closely following a social media strategy that was previously scheduled for them. Seriously, there’s a strategy for that. Before you scoff and close this tab, consider how impactful social media sites are. They have taken traditional advertising methods to an entirely new tier. Rather than just talking at people, barking the details of a weekend sale or coaxing customers to indulge (come on, you’ve earned it..), the marketing world has suddenly leveled out. Now major corporations like Ford can compete with the little guy, like your local florist. Yes, the big corporations will automatically attract followers simply because of the reputation that they’ve already built up over decades (and millions upon millions in advertising spots). But as a smaller business owner, you have just as much of an opportunity to expand upon your brand image and gain new followers. This means more conversions and greater profit. Brands can now interact personally with consumers instead of just filling in the holes based on the performance for that quarter. It isn’t guesswork, though. You can’t approach it as a last priority because you’ll never get around to utilizing it. Not consistently, at least. There’s got to be a starting point. And that has to be in the form of a social media strategy.

 

Is it a Waste of Time? Not if You Do it Right

If you think social media is a gross waste of time, you’re not alone. Maybe that has something to do with the amount of hours you have racked up on Facebook (how many of you logged on with the intent of uploading photos from your brother’s wedding, then somehow ended up on your ex-boyfriend’s sister’s page? We’ve all been there). It can be a huge, fat waste of time. And within a company, time is money. But when you develop and implement a strategy, you’ll find it easier to stay on track and on time, focusing only on the areas that require your interaction and attention.

 

Map Out Your Goals

Begin with listing your goals. What are you hoping to gain from social media? A stronger brand image? More traffic to your site? Over 1,000 followers on Twitter?  Before you begin your social media journey, you must have a clearly defined direction and a set of concrete objectives.

Research

Research the sites you plan to use. Search your competitors, your brand, and industry keywords. Understand whom you are marketing to.  Create a list of contacts and content. The keywords you search will lead you to find valuable sources relating to that industry. These contacts can produce credible content that you can share with others.

 

Plug Into the Conversation.

Once you have started to follow or “like” businesses in your industry or local to you, start engaging with them. Comment on a status. Retweet a witty quote. Show your personality and most importantly, give people a reason to trust you. This stage will result in the development of relationships with other businesses and customers.

 

Make a Content Plan

Then you need to plan out your content. One highly effective method is to compile a spreadsheet of a Tweet Library- all with complementary hashtags. This is a great way to give you a head start so you won’t find yourself stressed about a lack of content. Post self-promotional tweets, interesting facts relating to your industry, or links- and other users will not the value of your content. This method can be used with Facebook too, of course. The point is to think ahead and be prepared.

 

Measure the success

If you skip this step, then you will never know if you have reached your goals. It’s important to measure your results if you want to know just how effective social media is for your company. Various tools are available (some even free) that report great information regarding your social media effectiveness. Which exact tweets are passed on to others? What times of the day yield the most interaction? Who are your most influential followers? With this insight revealed, you can tweak your methods and keep trying.

 

Every business will approach social media differently. Without a well thought-out plan, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed by the copious amount of time that effective social media demands of your business. Because it can become expensive and time-consuming, many small businesses opt out of this opportunity. Hopefully this post has illuminated the importance of social media. If you’re a business owner, you need to start thinking digitally because social media is going nowhere but up.

 

 

 

 

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