One of the most frequently asked questions I hear during my “What’s the point?” series of social media talks is: “How do you find the time to do all this?”
My initial answer is, I’m abnormal. Don’t expect to do what I do — I’m not an average social media user.
My daily routine involves switching off my alarm and checking Facebook, Sky News, LinkedIn and Twitter on my smartphone. I have the same routine before I go to sleep. A couple of times a week, I’ll also look at Google+ and Pinterest. I might also look at Instagram at weekends.
I check in several times during the day — depending on where I am and what I’m doing — usually mid-morning and just after lunch, as my newsfeeds contain the most new content at these times.
But if I was a “normal” social media user, what would I recommend?
You need a plan. You need to know what you want to achieve and identify the best tools to enable you to achieve it. It’s far better to use two or three tools really well than to attempt them all.
First, spend time planning your content. Using a calendar to plan evergreen content frees you up to focus on the real-time stuff.
If you spend time planning, you can maintain an active and effective social media presence in just ten minutes a day.
This gives you time to check your newsfeed or timeline, share timely content, and engage with connections or followers — say thanks, like or add a comment.
Social media needs to become a habit, just as email use became a habit 10+ years ago. Technology is here to make our lives easier. It’s not fundamentally changing what we do — just how we do it.
It takes just 21 days to form a habit. In three weeks, social networking can become a part of your daily life.
Research suggests the following posting frequencies work best:
Facebook: three to four updates each week
Twitter: four to five times a day
Google+: two to three times a day
LinkedIn: two to three status updates each week
Once or twice a week you should check out who has viewed your profile on LinkedIn and participate in a group discussion. Regular participation will ensure you soon have a manageable habit to acquire news and information, and to engage in meaningful conversations.
If your timelines are filled with information that’s not of value, you need to reset your filters. Don’t be afraid to “unlike” and “unfollow”. You can use Twitter lists to organise the accounts you follow into manageable groups, then select which lists you view and when. Your LinkedIn home page allows you to customise the updates you see regularly.
Start forming your social media habit today — the chances are you’ll wonder how you managed without it.
As of 14 April, LinkedIn has removed its products and services feature from Company Pages. With well over one million pages being lost — complete with the wording and recommendations that went with them — businesses are wondering how they can promote their products and services on LinkedIn now.
The Products and Services tab may have disappeared but businesses now have two options to promote their products and services on LinkedIn:
These pages are a relatively new feature and essentially work as an extension of your Company Page with the aim of highlighting a brand or business and the products and services that you offer. The pages consist of a cover photo, a quick description of what the page is showcasing, a sample list of page followers and, of course, the actual page updates.
The main difference, however, is that people are able to use this page to follow aspects of your business they find most interesting. LinkedIn says: “Showcase Pages allow you to extend your Company Page presence by creating a dedicated page for prominent products and services. A Showcase Page should be used for building long-term relationships with members who want to follow specific aspects of your business, and not for short-term marketing campaigns.”
As the majority of space on this page is taken up by page updates, LinkedIn says you must: “ensure that you have a plan for maintaining an active presence” before you set up a Showcase Page. If you have little to say, you’ll soon find your Showcase Page looking bleak and barren.
Posting real-time company updates about your products and services on your main Company Page is a sensible suggestion, but these can be quickly disappear from people’s newsfeeds as new content arrives and the same will happen on your Company Page.
Many firms prefer a more permanent place to highlight products and services. And the products and services section had been well-used by businesses, with some even paying external consultants to create these sections for them.
So how did LinkedIn justify this decision to remove all the hard-earned product and services recommendations and wording? It said: “we do this to ensure that we’re creating a platform where companies can deliver timely, engaging content to our members. Sometimes, this means we need to remove a feature to focus on areas of the product that most benefit both companies and our members.”
Before jumping feet first into a new Showcase Page, ensure that you have enough content and create a plan. In the meantime, posting regular company updates will help but in the long term, this is less than ideal. With regards to your product recommendations, if you’re a page administrator, you can download these to ensure they are not lost forever. You can also request a copy of them from LinkedIn.
Social networking sites are always evolving and should never be solely relied on to showcase your business. So it’s vital that your company website remains the principal shop window for your products and services.
Emma Pauw is social media writer at We Talk Social.
You may think that that social media and direct marketing are two completely different beasts, but I beg to differ.
Engaging with an individual via social media is about as “direct” as it gets in direct marketing. Direct marketing aims to connect marketers to customers and social media allows us to do this in real time with real conversations.
As we all know, selling is increasingly a two-way process with your potential customers more often than not being the instigator of a relationship. No longer do we have the preacher and congregation scenario whereby sellers preach their wares to a voiceless audience.
Our customers now have a voice and they are using it.
The key to success is to harness the power of this voice using social media to help spread positive news and reacting quickly to any negative conversations to convert the naysayers.
So there you have it, social media and direct marketing do not have to be quarrelling siblings; they can work together in perfect harmony to increase the influence and effectiveness of your campaigns.
The “no makeup selfie” viral fundraising campaign has taken the social networks by storm and raised an incredible £2 million in 48 hours for Cancer Research UK. It demonstrates the incredible power of social media as a fundraising tool.
Social networks and newsfeeds have been inundated with images of thousands of women, all bare-faced, along with the hashtag “nomakeupselfie” and a text number to donate to the charity. It all started last Tuesday when author Laura Lippman posted a picture of her makeup-free face in support of actress Kim Novak who was recently criticised for her looks.
Interestingly, the campaign wasn't started by Cancer Research. But the charity was quick and clever in its support of the campaign, which then helped generate significant amounts of awareness. After Cancer Research UK noticed the “nomakeupselfie” trending on Twitter it sent out a tweet saying: "We're loving your #cancerawareness #nomakeupselfie pics! The campaign isn't ours but every £ helps #beatcancersooner." And on its Google+ page it announced: “Thousands of you are posting #cancerawareness #nomakeupselfie pictures and many have asked if the campaign is ours. It's not but we love that people want to get involved!”
It just shows that when a campaign goes viral via social media, messages reach millions of people in minutes. Prior to social networking it wouldn't have been possible for charities to have this kind of impact, without huge advertising spends.
The Institute of Fundraising and Blackbaud reported recently that online giving and digital fundraising is growing rapidly. It accounted for 30% of the total income charities received between January 2010 and December 2012. Moreover, the average online donation increased to £64.07 in 2012, a rise of £11.20 per donation compared to 2010 (£52.87).
Charities and not-for-profits have a huge opportunity via the internet to generate income — free of charge. Digital fundraising platforms can enable charities to diversify and expand their online fundraising capacity, reaching out to far greater number of supporters and allowing them to communicate their messages and campaigns quickly and free of charge.
Social media is fast, powerful and cost effective and when done correctly, it captures people's imagination and enables messages to be shared across a multitude of channels, to family, friends and beyond.
Although many of the bigger charities are jumping on board with online giving and using social media as a key tool, smaller charities need to follow suit. As the “no makeup selfie” shows, a little imagination and creativity can translate into millions of pounds of funding.
In many ways, the internet is made for small charities, as they can use digital fundraising platforms and social networks to reach millions of people — at virtually no cost. Let's hope this campaign provides food for thought and inspiration.
David Berney (pictured) is the CEO and founder of Wishgenie, offering free social media fundraising tools for charities, businesses and individuals.
If you know what you’re doing, social media can be an easy and cost-effective way to improve your customer service, especially for small firms. As your company grows, you need to make sure that you are also developing a loyal customer base. The great thing about social media is that a satisfied customer will recommend your products and services to their family and friends.
If you are unsure how to approach social media, take a look at your competitors to get an idea of how other businesses do it. Then aim to do it better. Here are five tips to help you improve your social media customer service:
The best way to ensure your customer service remains consistent throughout your company and social media platforms is by developing clear company values and social media policies. Ensure your employees are properly trained and that they have the ability to deal with issues as they arise. This way you can guarantee your online presence is consistent.
By maintaining active social media profiles, you will have a platform on which to connect and interact with your customers. Be a person, not a faceless brand. Your customers want to talk to real people — and this is often where small businesses have the edge over bigger competitors. By really engaging with your customers you can get a better understanding of the people who use your products. Use this to provide a personalised service that will exceed your customers' expectations.
If you receive a complaint, make sure that it is dealt with quickly and professionally. When dealing with the customer, be polite. It is important that you genuinely and openly apologise for the error. After this is done, move the conversation to a private message or email. The best way to exceed expectations is to reach a mutual resolution, but provide more than what the customer was expecting. This is your opportunity to turn a customer’s negative experience into a positive one.
Complaints are not only a chance to showcase your customer service skills; they are also an opportunity to learn and develop your products and services. You should encourage your customers to give feedback and take on board any suggestions that they have to offer. You can use this feedback to provide your customers with a product or service that is tailored to their requirements.
Give advice and share your expertise and experience. Produce interesting and useful content that you can use for your company’s blog. If you do start a blog, make sure that you update it consistently and frequently. Your posts can then be promoted on your social media channels and used to kick-start meaningful conversations.
Sara Parker runs the social media for Face for Business.
It’s all too easy to sit at your laptop and write something in the heat of the moment — a complaining email or even a tweet or Facebook update having a moan about something. But these online moments could land you and your business in court.
Just because you are writing something in the comfort of your office or sat on your sofa in front of the TV doesn’t mean it might not have serious legal implications. It’s all too easy to respond to something in an instant — post a comment here, have a rant on Twitter there — but you should consider whether your actions might be stepping outside the boundaries of the law.
One tiny comment can have far reaching effects in terms of who sees it and what it means for you or your business. Your tweets, status updates and reviews are out there in the public domain, for all the world to see, and unfortunately, some may come back to haunt you. If you think the internet offers a free rein to say whatever you want, you need to think again.
If you have written a comment on a social media site, on your own or a competitor’s website or on a review site such as TripAdvisor or FreeIndex, you could be committing libel. Recently, there have been several high profile libel cases surrounding Twitter, including Sally Bercow’s tweet referencing Lord McAlpine.
The fact that the UK High Court found that her tweet was libelous shows that you don’t even have to explicitly defame someone for it to represent libel. Justice Tugendhat ruled that innuendo was equally damaging, carrying the “same effect” as the natural meaning of words.
Sally Bercow said: “Today’s ruling should be seen as a warning to all social media users. Things can be held to be seriously defamatory, even when you do not intend them to be defamatory and do not make any express accusation. I have learned my own lesson the hard way.”
It has been reported that online libel cases have doubled in recent years due to the social media explosion, so don’t think that social media is still a grey area in the eyes of the law — it’s really not. Your bite-sized tweets, status updates and comments on social networks (personal and business) are all covered by UK libel and defamation laws.
Even search giant Google has found to its cost that online defamation can take many forms. It has been sued several times because of its auto-complete feature, which whilst a useful tool for most of us, has been found to link people’s names with offensive or misleading terms, resulting in expensive lawsuits.
UK law is very clear on libel: anyone who makes a defamatory comment in published material about an identifiable person (ie someone named, pictured, or otherwise alluded to) that causes loss to business or reputation has committed libel. As the Sally Bercow case shows, a person does not even have to make a direct allegation, as UK libel law equally covers insinuation and implication. All social media users need to be aware of this.
Unlike criminal law where the burden of proof lies with the accuser, with UK libel law a defamatory statement is presumed to be false, unless the defendant can prove it’s the truth.
If you are in any doubt about what you can say online, take a look at this useful article Can I write whatever I want online? but my advice (and I’m not a lawyer I hasten to add) is never tweet or comment online in anger as it may land you (and your business) in a lawsuit!