It can be easy to fall into the trap of using social media for your brand in an ad-hoc way, especially when you are starting out. But setting standards for tone and branding on social media sites can be a crucial make or break decision for a fledging business.
When you're looking at social media for your business, there are several things you need to consider - from where your audience is, to making sure your social media pages have a consistent look.
It can be daunting to get your social accounts properly up and running, especially with each platform having their own nuances and tricks to learn, but if you do it right, it can be one of the best moves your business makes.
Here are some key tips for best practice if you're starting to use social media as a new business:
There is no point setting yourself up on social media if your target audience isn't using it too. Your audience's demographic will determine how much you use each social media site. For example, if your target market is young people, you'd be best off focusing on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram - with about 53% of 18-to-29 year olds on Instagram, 37% on Twitter and even more on Facebook.
Of course, you will have identified your target market when you establish your business. It's also worth browsing on social media platforms to see if your competitors' audiences are there and how much they are using it. You can also track the habits of your target market - if they are using Twitter between 5pm and 10pm, you need to be active during those hours.
Branding is huge for any business, especially a fledging one. If your marketing doesn't match your website, people will not necessarily recognise your brand wherever they find it. The aim of good branding is being able to recognise it at a glance - from your logo to your colour scheme. Social media is a great place to implement your signature look as you can ensure your profile picture, tone and font usage remains the same throughout.
We've all seen businesses who try a little too hard to get noticed. Tagging random people in pictures and posts can generate likes but it doesn't always make for good marketing. And refrain from spamming other people's posts with comments - it may seem like a great way to spread brand awareness but you'll just look like you don't know what you're doing.
Social media can be the best starting point for new businesses, if used properly. It introduces your brand to new customers you normally wouldn't find and provides free advertising. (Or paid if you wish!)
Remember our three magic rules of social media; be where your audience is; make your social media pages consistent with tone and feel; and don't try too hard. If you stick to these best practices, you should get real results from social media.
Sponsored post: copyright © 2016 Elena Lockett, digital communications expert, FM Outsource.
Just when you think you’ve got your head around social media, along comes something new to add to the marketing mix.
In fact, there have been a number of new social media platforms coming to the fore in the past year. Embraced by the younger generation - who can spot cooler alternatives to Facebook when they see it - new platforms like Snapchat, Vine and Instagram have really taken off.
Now we have Meerkat and Periscope, two live video streaming apps that have been launched in quick succession (and in competition with each other). You may not have heard of these new apps or have any experience of actually using them, but what they have in common is native video.
Let’s focus for a minute on the safe ground that is Facebook. How many video clips do you see in your news feed? I’m guessing quite a lot - either clips of family life uploaded by friends, compilations of cats doing silly things, or live video streams from the brands or business pages that you have Liked and followed. All of these examples are native video.
And they are "native" because the video is uploaded or created directly on that social network and accessed via that network without being redirected to another site such as YouTube.
Video now accounts for almost 80% of all web traffic. And native video seems set to absolutely sky rocket, especially when you take into account the fact that video views on tablets and smartphones more than doubled last year alone.
Social media apps such as Periscope and Meerkat have now made live streaming video content incredibly accessible, and it opens up all kinds of new marketing avenues.
So Twitter is no longer just about choosing your words carefully, you can now publish video content of up to 30 seconds in length using Periscope. And Meerkat enables users to stream video directly on Facebook.
In short, video is big news; there are some three billion video views a day on Facebook alone, according to some estimates.
Savvy businesses are now adopting native video into their marketing strategies. Big brands and small firms alike have recognised that the potential of live video streaming goes way beyond cute cats and dippy dogs; it's a powerful marketing tool that offers a new way of directly engaging with their target audience - without expecting them to shift their attention from one online environment to another.
Copyright © 2015 Sarah Orchard
So you’ve made sure your business has a page on Facebook and you’re posting regularly – but are you using it to its best effect? And did you know that visual content is five times more effective in engaging followers or random visitors who have chanced upon your page? Whether it’s a photograph or video, images add impact and communicate immediately.
But before you start worrying about how to generate all this exciting visual content, let me reassure you that you don’t necessarily have to do that much. Social media sites are all about communities, so you can ask your customers to contribute to your Facebook page by posting photographs and videos that are relevant to your brand.
It’s the ultimate endorsement strategy – the customer who is happy to post a wedding photograph thanking your for the cake stand they bought from your online shop is, in essence, telling all their Facebook friends and your Facebook followers that yours is a great shop and you’ve just made a bride very happy. People like that.
This will also drive more organic sharing and increased traffic to your website as well as your Facebook page. Empower your followers to share their images and more will follow.
Smartphones and tablets have made it even easier to share a moment – think back to our hypothetical bride, she has a million things to do on the day, but a simple snap of her wedding cake on your cake stand is effortless to upload.
It’s important to remember to respond to any content that is added. Maybe that bride was let down at the last minute and you saved the day – a few words to say how delighted you were to have helped shows that you care about your customers and the service you provide.
Here’s another idea: ask customers to show how they’re using a particular product. Introduce a hashtag so it’s easy to share on Twitter too. But don’t forget to check that no-one else is using that hashtag on other social media sites such as Pinterest and Instagram.
Don’t leave everything to your followers. Listen to what they’re saying and notice which posts they are sharing – in short, discover what engages them and then follow their lead and give them more on the same theme.
Images also provide an opportunity to show a different side to your business – a behind-the-scenes moment or a “this is how we did it” movie (Twitter Vine is great for this) that gives real insight into what you do and, importantly, your love for it.
Recently we’ve seen some sinful uses of social media; from clueless users to pointless tweeters. Already this year we’ve witnessed an array of social media blunders, not to mention those who’ve been prosecuted for their comments on social media.
So why all the sinning? With social media use at an all time high and as competition increases between social businesses, people are stretching the social media boundaries to stand out online. Some businesses have lost sight of social media etiquette, business etiquette and common sense as they “borrow” content and spy on their competitors.
But businesses that abuse social media are only damaging their own reputations and jeopardising their business opportunities.
So what are the 11 social media sins?:
Although you can delete posts, people can also screen grab and anything you post can remain in the social media realm forever. This is particularly relevant with Twitter — you can never be certain who is monitoring what you tweet. Never post anything on social media that you wouldn’t be happy for the whole world to see.
Treat social media as one and be consistent across your social media profiles. Your social media profiles should not be competing for your attention, do not favour one over the other; you should post content consistently over all sites. But keep in mind though that each has its own rules and purposes.
Use Twitter to signpost, ensure LinkedIn is B2B focused, Facebook B2C and Google+ should be a mixture of the two. You may need to alter the language of your posts based on the target audience of that platform. Ensure that your presence is consistent and truly represents you. Your social media profiles are usually the first place people go to find out about you, if you’ve got a mismatched, jumbled and inconsistent presence, people will be less likely to trust you and what you post.
There are thousands of fake social media users posing as celebrities and everyday users, with many of these being controlled by internet trolls. These are people who trawl social media sites posting derogatory comments and abusing users and should be reported to the social networking site in which they are operating on.
You must ensure that those influencers you follow are verified (have a little blue tick). If you’re an infamous user yourself, consider getting your own account verified.
You need to be careful what you tweet, even on your personal social media profiles. If your employer is mentioned on your profile, they can be liable for any offensive comments you make through Vicarious Liability.
Mind your social media Ps & Qs, watch your language and do not swear — especially if you’re posting from your business account. Your tweets represent your brand so ensure they reflect your target market and avoid offending anyone with your language.
There are proven best and worst times to post on social media and constantly broadcasting brand messages can be a waste of time. Check out the best times to post and ensure your posting is targeted.
Mix up scheduled tweets with timely posts throughout the week so you’ll create a great balance for your social media profiles and save yourself a lot of time.
Social media is not the place to air your dirty laundry and you will undoubtedly regret doing this so don’t share your personal information, family disputes or private matters.
Do not mix your personal life with your business handles; ensure you create a different personal account to keep up to date with friends. Already this year we’ve seen a number of cases involving people being fired, and in some cases prosecuted, for what they’ve said on social media. Again, don’t post anything that you wouldn’t want the world to see — including friends, family, colleagues and employers.
Most of us have received negative or abusive comments on social media at some time. Don’t delete these comments, instead reply to them promptly (not necessarily immediately) and appropriately (step back, compose yourself, don’t reply in anger, deal with this in the same manner as you would through any other form of contact) to show you are dealing with this.
This is particularly true when it comes to social customer service; Twitter is now the first place many of us go to complain and if your company is brushing these comments under the carpet and removing them from your feed then this shows you in a terrible light. Show respect when replying and only use humour if appropriate.
So, don’t kill comments (unless truly offensive, in which case report and block); start dealing with them confidently. Ultimately, you will be judged on the way with you deal with it.
Don’t insult or mock people via social media; instead treat all your connections with respect. Ensure you get the tone of voice right, as well as the content you share — never position yourself online as something you are not.
Treat others as you would like to be treated yourself. Forge new relationships, share content and that way your will gain respect, support and recognition.
Social media has made it harder than ever for individuals to keep a track of their comments, posts and articles; and it’s now easier than ever for people to steal your content. Don’t steal other people’s tweets, arguments and opinions — it’s wrong.
We all know that social media is great for getting content ideas and inspiration, but if you are to use someone else’s articles, don’t present them as your own and reference them correctly. Social media content can still be copyrighted and you may find yourself in trouble if you present ripped off content as your own.
Many people think social media gives you anonymity but this isn’t always the case. Social media posts and comments are traceable so never use social media to slander people or businesses.
If you have a problem with a business or a brand, make sure you bring this, politely, to their attention and do not use social media as a way to broadcast your hate towards them. If you’re a business, don’t lie about other companies or mock them on Twitter.
Ensure that you have correct training and policies in place to monitor what your staff post and who has access to your accounts. After all, social media is an extension of your existing communications channels.
Love what your competitor is doing on social media? Well, don’t just sit back green with envy, go and do it yourself. Social media has removed boundaries that were traditionally the realms of big brand, big budget names.
Social media has provided a glass wall into other businesses and If you like something they’re doing, then think about doing something similar yourself. Not only has it allowed you to monitor competitors, social media has also allowed you to keep a track of your business targets, giving you an easy way to communicate and network with them.
© Emma Pauw, social media writer, We Talk Social.
Social media platforms such as Twitter give brands a free and invaluable way to connect with clients (both current and potential), spread brand warmth, monitor competitors, manage customer service, gain customer insights and drive website traffic — what’s not to love?
Yet, many brands are jumping feet first into the social media realm without understanding the basics; in particular, how to post content. This may seem like a no-brainer to some, yet many brands still don’t understand the fundamental rules of social media. Yes, social media is integral to your brand, but going out all guns blazing with no planning or strategy may do more harm than good.
And what’s the biggest faux-pas of all? It’s using social media channels to broadcast rather than engage.
If used in moderation, broadcast messages on social media can be effective. You can flag up new website content including blogs, news and articles. And you can attract more fans and followers by positioning yourself as an industry expert.
Yet, this must be done in moderation. If you continuously broadcast marketing messages via your social sites, people will soon switch off. Mix these messages with engaging third party content, network with customers and work to build strong lasting relationships with your followers. Social media is a long game but over time you will see results.
You wouldn’t train your in-store staff to constantly shout out brand messages in an attempt to sell to customers — apart from looking unprofessional, it would drive people away. So why do brands do this on social? The best sales people get to know their customers, they engage them in conversations, find out what makes them tick and then provide a solution to match their needs. The same should go for social media.
A report from Brandwatch shows that 25% of top brands continue to use Twitter for broadcasting purposes only. If you’re constantly broadcasting marketing messages, your content is without context, no trust is built and ultimately no sales. This can also make your brand look uncreative; your social media sites are supposed to show the human face of your organisation, to show your personality. If you’re only pushing brand messages, your business looks dull and uninspiring.
The real value comes from engaging your followers in two-way conversations, interacting with them and showing them that you care. Over the years, many brands have created a huge sense of brand warmth via their humorous and engaging social media posts; and their messages are retweeted, spreading their brand messages much further than those brands who broadcast. So come on guys, get some personality.
We all know the saying; if a tree falls in a forest, does it make a sound? Well, the same goes for social; it’s all well and good endlessly posting but if you’re not engaging your followers then these posts will fall on deaf ears. If you’re constantly pushing out messages, people will soon switch off. Instead start engaging in conversations, joining in with the chatter and building up a strong sense of brand warmth and rapport with your followers.
Copyright © 2014 Emma Pauw, social media writer, We Talk Social.
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.