Tagged: Social Media

Social Signals Important or Just So Much Smoke?

The history of Social Signals

A groundbreaking article on the influence of social signals toward a site’s rankings in search engines was written by Danny Sullivan in late 2010. Ahead of its time the article went into great depth as to how these so-called signals could affect a site’s reputation. Bearing in mind that link methods that could be ramped up were the norm for good SEO at that time many of the key players of the web didn’t acknowledge the benefits of going social. Sullivan’s conclusions at that time show that his belief was that Facebook remained a non competitor when it came to getting Google rankings ,but he was one of the first to point out the power of tweets and retweets by respected figures as a means of getting ranked more highly in search results. The legendary Matt Cutts seemed to confirm this with a webmaster video highlighting the role of social signals in good SEO. Well we’ve moved on from that time, or have we…

So have social signals got stronger or…

Naturally, as it has always done, Google plays its cards close to its chest so any study or research that claims to have definitive answers, simply doesn’t. However all the little clues are present that show a gradual rise in importance of social signals. But questions that still remain unanswered are, will they affect future SEO, how do they facilitate a rise in rankings and more importantly what can a webmaster do immediately to improve the way his site ranks? Throughout this article we’ll try to explore these issues and hopefully give you a heads up on using our knowledge to boost your audience and of course your cash flow.

The ins and outs of social signals

Of course looking for a standardized answer is trying to herd cats, what we have established though is that they can either have a very direct influence on your rankings and also some more lateral influences.

The Direct Impact

  • Facebook and its assortment of social signals, including fans, likes and followers
  • The Twitter connection-followers, tweets about you-preferably with links, and retweets
  • And the new kid on the block-Google+ are gaining your attraction too.

The less obvious impact

  • You can expect more visitors to come back to your website again and again , and also increase the time they spend on your site (in other words better bounce rates)
  • As social reach grows so will your positive PR and hopefully this will be reflected in more positive reviews
  • Generally your reach will have grown and this should result in more people visiting your site both through links and recommendations.

Let’s look at these in more depth. As awareness of your brand and the fact that more people are noticing you online increases so will the amount of links that your site has. Links are the one factor that has stood the test of time with Google, and the fact that indirectly social reach improves linkage is a very powerful factor indeed. Matt Cutts pretty much confirmed this in a Danny Sullivan interview suggesting that in the very long term social will grow in importance but links are still very much alive today.

Indirectly you’ll get more positive reviews

In days of yore if a customer had a problem they’d have to pick up the telephone or shockingly write a letter, even for mundane queries. With the online sphere being ever connected some companies even respond to Tweets and treat this as an extension of their customer service. If a company doesn’t support their new products with a strong presence on their Facebook page they’ll soon lose the favour of their customers. This type of personal service brings a very personal face to big business and makes the customer a lot more loyal and trusting of their products. It’s this type of organic interaction that will make a happy customer likely to leave positive reviews on sites like Yelp and Google Local. It really is a way of trendsetting and bringing ‘cool’ to a company’s image. PR departments really love the way that they are able to define a brands personality with a strong online campaign.

Sam Roberts as the Central Executive Officer of Vudu Marketing understands the ins and out of a strong social network, he is firmly of the belief that a large amount of positive reviews can help in local search rankings, more than likely this will also apply to rankings on a larger scale too.

Increased interaction

If a site or brand is ‘cool’ then the fact that people will connect with it and associate with that brand means that in a way they will become analogous to distant Facebook friends. Just as people will be likely to check in on a distant Facebook friend every once in a while, so will these fans be likely to check in on the brands website or social pages to see what they are up to. This lowers bounce rates and increases visitors time on site. Again these factors debatably affect search. With bounce rate being a rough metric of whether visitors are getting their desired quality input from a site and time on site showing Google that visitors are genuinely interacting with a sites’s content. For personalised search results it is a fact that Google will tailor searches depending on whether a visitor frequents a particular site on a regular basis. Again the search engine giant remains close-lipped but there is certainly a strong case for this indirect influence really swaying more traffic your way.

Looking to the Future

The way webmasters conduct their SEO must evolve along with rapid changes in the way Google drives searches. Links are of course still very powerful as an easy means of seeing a site’s popularity, but as social sites grow exponentially so does their influence and this must form part of any webmaster’s strategy. Social networks are becoming the norm of online interaction. Facebook, Twitter etc. are not the new innovations they were a few years ago, they are very much the norm with many people growing up with them. With hundreds of millions on Facebook online it is foolish to think that brand awareness is not very much driven by this.

Old values still hold sway though, if word of mouth says that a certain brand has credibility than it will start to gain traction. The difference being that this word of mouth can reach others through social channels too! With your content being shared it is thus much more likely for search engines to use the fact that your site has great “share-ability” to increase your rankings.

And once again we’ve got to remind you of how having a strong social presence will lead to more sales and increased brand awareness, further increasing your credibility through more positive reviews.

Some other trends to watch out for is the fact that Google is starting to associate content not just with sites themselves but even down to their authors. Again evidence can be seen in a Cutt’s video: “Does Google use data from social sites in ranking?” where the concept of AuthorRank starts to be explored. The powerful tool in the presence of Google’s “Google Authorship” is a whole new means of credibility with individual authors able to be tracked from website to website. It’s a brand new way of giving authority to content and even has an associated effect bypassing on great link juice to the domains upon which the author publishes. Things to watch out for in the future are Google + authorship tools which could potentially allow AuthorRank to play a more significant part in driving organic social traffic.

Immediate Social Signals Improvement

Now that you’ve seen the benefits of social media you need to start efficiently planning your site and online campaigns to boost your rankings.

Better ways to plan your website

  • Make it easy to share your content. Social buttons can give your readers quick and easy ways to let Facebook, Twitter etc. know about your great content.
  • A step beyond sharing with connect buttons. Instead of just allowing them to share content give them quick buttons to Like or Follow you on social sites
  • One of the best ways to generate great content time after time is by having a blog

Beyond your own site

There are some big names out there in the field of social media that you really need to know about, the big players like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube need no introduction. But what about the rest, the up and comers and the new trends: include amongst them LinkedIn, Pinterest, and whatever other social platforms you can find. Let’s also not forget the power of guest blog posting.

Go social-Fast…

  • If you didn’t know about the social media sites before you certainly do now, so make sure that you, at the very least, go across and set up a full profile on them.
  • As content still remains absolutely crucial it remains the best way to get word of your brand out via a company blog. Stick to a regular blogging schedule, at the best you should aim for once away, but if that can’t be managed at least try to keep to a regular schedule such as weekly.
  • Generate content. With well managed and good articles dripping with keyword goodness you’ll do we’ll to generate a way to create site content. Even freelance writers can be used to add content, and if it is written well it will trend up your search engine rankings dramatically. The equation is simple-more content means note chances for your site to have keywords which search engines will pick up on and thereby increase your links.
  • Now that you’ve got great content being drip fed on to your website you need to do the same thing for your social sites. Your social presence can be managed by yourself if you’ve got the time, or one of the newest sexiest people on the net: a content manager. A content manager needs to be familiar and comfortable with the use of social media to bring your online presence up in strength in this area.
  • Why keep your website and social presence separate? Add means and ways for your site content to be shared on social media sites. Remember those buttons for liking you and sharing your content? Now’s the time to go off and add them to your site. Remember some media play better to certain social platforms strengths-videos are likely to be shared on YouTube and a pretty picture in every blogpost makes it possible to share on Pinterest.

Social search whole still not able to be pinned down as the be all and end all of generating web traffic is certainly growing rapidly in importance. It’s driven by interaction with real people which potentially makes it even more powerful than Google search. Just look at the example of music stars like Psy (Gangnam Style) and Justin Bieber who have shot to fame because of the power of social media platforms.

About the Author: Kausik Baisya is a Digital Marketing Professional and an enthusiastic writer, holding an editorial position in Prepgenie, a test prep provider that offers exam preparation courses for GAMSAT, PCAT, HPAT, LNAT, UMAT and UKCAT.

 


Using Social Media to Your Advantage When Job Hunting

 

There’s little doubt that social media has had a dramatic, and in many cases, revolutionary impact on how people communicate with one another and with the world at large. So much information can be shared with virtually anyone who has Internet access. But, like many other major technological developments, this ease of sharing has both a good and bad side.

It’s most definitely a good thing to be able to share your life with friends and family that are far away; however, the nature of public forums such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Pinterest also make it fairly easy for those outside your immediate circle to see what you’ve been up to. And if you’re job-hunting or work for a fairly conservative employer, this sort of exposure may be quite detrimental to your employment future.

But that doesn’t mean you have to unplug from social media entirely just to get a job, or to keep the one you have. All you need to do is a little cleanup and polishing of your online image. Here are some tips to get you started:

THINGS TO AVOID

There are some things that should never be a part of your online pages if you want to be taken seriously by prospective and current employers, as follows:

  • Pictures that show you to be out of control, under the influence, making rude gestures, etc.
  • Pictures of a sexual, lewd or suggestive nature. Sorry, but that does include those awesomely hot Spring Break pictures from two summers ago.
  • Pictures that show illegal or questionable objects, like drug paraphernalia or weapons. Yes, I know the 2nd Amendment guarantees the right to bear arms, but a picture of you posing in hunting regalia with your rifle, next to a deer that you’ve shot is too graphic for some people.
  • Similarly, it’s best to avoid commentary on political “hot button” issues, such as abortion, the death penalty, global warming, wars, religion, immigration, environmental activism, etc. Of course you’re entitled to your opinion on these topics but chances are they have nothing to do with your daily job. You need to present an image of a business professional that has his or her mind on the work at hand.
  • Excessive profanity, vulgarity and degrading speech in your posts and writings.

GRAY AREAS

After you’ve removed the obvious stuff, there are a few topics that fall into the “maybe” category. Although the goal is to keep your profile as professional as possible, it’s usually okay to let your hair down a little and show your human side. However, if you work in an ultra-conservative environment or are hoping to land a position in such a place, you may want to reconsider before allowing these topics to be a part of your online persona:

  • Hiking, camping, swimming or other athletic/outdoor-themed photos that show you wearing appropriate but minimal attire.
  • Pictures of you surrounded by lots of empty or half-full glasses, cans or bottles of alcoholic beverages. It can send the wrong message, even if you don’t appear to be drunk.
  • Make sure that any songs or musical groups you rave about are not overly suggestive or offensive. No one is saying you have to stop playing their music, just don’t quote long passages of questionable lyrics.
  • Discussing or promoting the business you have on the side. Some firms can see this as a conflict of interest, and that you won’t dedicate yourself 100 percent to the job being offered.

WHAT PASSES THE TEST

Okay, enough with the removing! Your social media pages should actually HELP you to get a job, not hinder you. Here are some hobbies and activities that are worth promoting on your social pages.

  • Charity work – Helping out those less fortunate reflects well on you as a person. Definitely let people know if you volunteer at a food bank; help send care packages overseas; serve meals at a homeless shelter; work with the Scouts or other boys and girls or big sister/big brother clubs; participate in neighborhood cleanups or organize neighborhood events; care for animals at a clinic or assist on adoption days; deliver meals to elderly or help them run errands; and so on.
  • Non-business writings or commentaries, like poetry or short stories, provided they avoid the political hot button issues mentioned earlier.
  • Fun interests, like yoga, cooking and healthy eating, fashion, antiques, model trains, collections (stamps, coins, old toys, photographs, hubcaps, old license plates, whatever), gardening, woodworking, etc.
  • Travel – It’s fine to share your adventures on the road and to talk about the parks, restaurants, and attractions you’ve visited. It shows that you don’t just sit around on weekends but actually enjoy being out and about.
  • Children’s activities – When your son hit that double, it made your heart leap. Feel free to share the joy of their accomplishments, their quirky little hand-made gifts and their comments on life.
  • Pet antics – Everyone loves to see pictures of adorable baby animals, goofy dogs, majestic horses, cats that look like they rule the world, etc. Pet pictures don’t necessarily add to your online image but they don’t detract from it, either.

Some of you may think a lot of this editing is too extreme. But like it or not, employers will try to find out as much as they can about you to make sure you’re a good fit culturally for their firm. Don’t run the risk of alienating that prospective employer with just a few misguided photos or comments on your social media pages. Take an unbiased look at what your online image says about you, and make sure the image portrayed is professional and free from controversy.

About the Author: Author of this post is Lizzie Wann. Lizzie is the Content Director for Bridgepoint Education. She oversees all website content and works closely with New Media, Career Services, and Student Services for Ashford University.


12 Best Social Media Monitoring Tools

 

Social media is firmly one of the most respectable forms of marketing today as many companies are engaged in it. Social media can be used as a marketing tool to discover new customers, converse with older customers, sell products and so much more. These uses make it a valuable asset to any forward looking business.

However, measuring impact in social media is harder than conventional marketing or advertising. Many business owners don’t know what the best ways to do this and this is bad.

The following compilation is a list of some of the best social media monitoring tools.

1. Plagtracker

Plagtracker is a plagiarism checker that allows you to monitor the originality of your status and statements on social media. This tool ensures that whatever you give or share with your audience or fans is authentic. This can establish you as an authority online and on social media.

2. Hootsuite

Hootsuite allows users to monitor a large number of social media accounts in one place allowing one to do all the social functions in one web window. You can use it to manage multiple social media accounts for your business.

3. Klout

Klout is a popular social media tool you can use to measure social impact. It gives the influencer score on social media, helping you learn from your competitors and what they are doing right.

4. TweetReach

TweetReach is a crucial social media tool which allows you to track activity around your twitter account.

5. PeerIndex

PeerIndex gives you the ability to find out how much online influence you have and what topics make you an influence. Its great if are planning the best strategy to have more impact online.

6. Twitalzer

Twitalzer is a tool which as the name suggests, helps you analyze Twitter activity for your business account. For instance, the tool states what engagement, influence and general impact on Twitter. Whereas this tool is not free, there are several plans which you can use to align to your business goals and objectives on Twitter.

7. Facebook Insights

Facebok Insights is a social media monitoring tool which allows businesses analyze what is happening to their Facebook page. Mainly, people use this tool to monitor engagement and growth to strategize growth.

8. Social Mention

Social mention is a tool which is dedicated to monitoring online mentions on social media. Social media works best if there is a lot of buzz around the brand or product. This tool monitors the specific individuals who mention you on social media, enabling you understand their needs, or become part of the conversation.

9. Tweetdeck

Tweetdeck is a social monitoring tool that has been around for a while now and hailed for its efficiency by many social media experts.  This tool allows you to view all your social media feeds in one place where you can respond on the go. In addition to the feeds, this tool allows you to schedule your Tweets. This is especially when you are busy with your business affairs; this tool allows you to make a schedule around it.

10. Brand monitor

Brand monitor is another popular social monitoring tool you can use to study what is happening to your brand on social media. For instance, you can learn what type of mentions you get on social media. If the brand news is bad, you can do damage control to avoid a slump in your profits.

11. Topsy

Topsy is a real time social media search engine. It collects all information happening in your industry in real time, enabling you know what others are talking about. Such insights can be a great blessing for your business’ social success.

12. Google anlaytics

Google analyticsis another great tool you can use to track information about what is happening socially for your brand. In most cases, this tool analyses your social traffic and how it converts into real buyers on your website.

About the Author: Phillip Garret is a freelance writer, loves writing Tech and SEO tips.

 


Social Media Tips for Aspiring Entrepreneurs

 

Social media, one of the most powerful marketing tools, is often used incorrectly by entrepreneurs and small business owners. They use social media to promote their products and services, but they fail to connect with customers or other businesses. Social media works best when it is used to foster communication between the business and its customers to build trust and loyalty. Sharing valuable content goes a long way to establish a connection and trust with prospective customers. Through social media, you should provide useful information that your competitors don’t provide, and try to provide tips that prospective customers think should come with an asking price.

Provide content that makes you a leader in your niche; people don’t visit social media sites to read sales pitches and advertisements. Use social media to promote conversation. Employing a social media strategy that’s focused on sales and marketing typically results in failure.

Don’t post the same information on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn because redundancy loses followers. Use Twitter for instant communication and news, Facebook for building deeper relationships, and LinkedIn for business networking. Tailor the content for each social media platform and to each audience. Informing your audience about a new product or promotion is fine, but don’t over do it.

Do Your Homework

Aspiring entrepreneurs and those fresh out of college often rely on what they know about social media through their own usage, and this could be a problem. Professor Mikolaj Jan Piskorski, associate professor of business administration at Harvard Business School, believes that “Very often our perception of social media, and what we can and can’t do using social media, is very much tinted by what we think our favorite person is doing – and our favorite person in usually ourselves. So it is about getting students to understand that the empirical skills are absolutely necessary, because whatever they think is intuitively correct, is probably about themselves, but nobody else.”

Videos

Use how-to-videos to boost your presence online. Create a custom channel on YouTube. Videos increase the chances of making it to the first page of search results. Video thumbnails grab the attention of people more than text does.

Create a series of short instructional videos about your products or services. Add some positive customer testimonials. Create a video of an actual customer using a product.

Facebook

Make a customer welcome tab on the company Facebook page. A call-to-action may inspire visitors to become fans. If you receive a “Like,” offer a desirable free item in exchange for a name and email address.

Utilize Facebook to show visitors what you’re passionate about. Every week provide a few interesting questions and insightful answers related to your niche. On a monthly basis, provide at least one new how-to-video related to your niche.

Use Facebook to send traffic to your website. Send people to your website to find more information on subjects that are briefly discussed on the company Facebook page.

Using images and other rich media content allows you to tell visitors a visual story using Facebook Timeline.

Twitter

Twitter helps you stay connected with customers. If you haven’t had success with Twitter, follow some of the successful brands and learn how they engage people.

Be social with Twitter. Don’t just Tweet about products and services because you may annoy your followers. The last thing you want is for customers to consider you a spammer. Tweeting fun facts, unique information, inspirational quotes, and provocative comments may get you retweeted.

Blog

Provide interesting information and stimulate discussions by way of a blog. Be responsive to visitors; business is all about developing and cultivating relationships. Ask questions and generate debates in the comment section. People enjoy an interactive blog and they will always come back for more. Also, provide a call-to-action at the bottom of all the blog posts.

Ask visitors to share their stories, ask questions, and share the blog post at their favorite social media sites.

Reporters

Build relationships with reporters through social media. Engage relevant reporters about the subjects they write about. Reporters sometimes tweet a question. If this happens, make an insightful response and you may get interviewed.

Use social media to personalize your company and build trust with prospective customers. Building relationships through social media makes it easier for people to trust you, and this in turn makes it easier for them to buy your products and services. But remember, using social media to build relationships and increase revenue is a long-term process, so stay patient!

About the Author: Brian Jenkins writes about a variety of topics related to the workplace for The Riley Guide.


 

4 Common Mistakes to Avoid While Running a Social Media Contest

 

Social media is the new weapon of choice when it comes to online business marketing and branding. Several social media functionalities are furthering the reach of businesses in several different ways. Even business owners are coming up with new ideas to take complete advantage of various social media plugins and features to attract their target audience in the best possible manner. Organizing online contests on different social media platforms is one such strategy adopted by several online businesses.

Running a social media contest is beneficial in several ways. It helps you to connect users to your business, increase your email database, re-energize your audience, expand your customer base and promote your product online. The popularity of social media contests is immense and you can find new contests cropping up every day on social media websites like Facebook and Twitter. Most of these contests, however, either don’t follow the prescribed guidelines given on the social media site or they don’t utilize the contest feature to its most. There is no point of organizing a contest if it’s not yielding desirable results. Thus, there are certain mistakes that must be avoided in order to make the most out of social media contests. Here are 4 common mistakes that you must avoid while running a social media contest:

Including Social Media Features in Contest

This is the most common mistake that organizers commit. They use social media features like comment, share, like, retweet etc. as tools in the contest. For instance- “Like the post to win interesting rewards” or “ Retweet to get amazing offers”. These strategies are not correct and against the guidelines of all major social media websites. Going against these guidelines means that either your contest can be closed or your account can be blocked, which doesn’t seem to be a good idea.

Not Using Third Party Applications for Contest

Not using third party applications for organizing contests is another mistake that small business owners tend to make. Using third party applications will allow you to comply with the contest guidelines and thus keep your contest safe from banishment. In case you have an in-house ASP.NET application development team, you can get them to code the contest for you. Else, you can consider web development outsourcing.

Not Using the Right Promotion Strategies

Promoting a contest is as important as organizing one. You can’t expect the contest to get popular overnight without the right promotion. You can promote your contest through social media adverts. Your business website and blog are two other platforms where promotion of your contest is possible.

Announcing Winners Publicly

Announcing winners of the contest publicly or on the wall of a social media platform is completely against the guidelines. Even though business owners know this, they still commit the same mistake again and again

The best way to avoid mistakes while organizing contests on social media platforms is reading the guidelines thoroughly and following them. This way your contest will last longer and thus will engage large number of users. This will ensure that the reach of your business is expanded.

About the Author: Amy Patrix is a programmer at xicom technologies(xicom.biz), a most popular  outsource web development company providing ASP.NET web development services to the competitive world.


 

4 Quick Tips for Making Smart Connections on LinkedIn

LinkedIn is an amazing tool for making business connections – if used correctly. Quite often though individuals miss out on much of the power of LinkedIn by overlooking some simple steps they can take to make better, smarter, connections. Below are four quick tips to get you going in the right direction:

1. What are your Goals?

The first thing you need to figure out is why you are on LinkedIn the first place. Just having a profile because all of your colleagues do is not going to get you very far. What do you want out of LinkedIn? To build your network, to connect with current colleagues, to explore opportunities in your area of expertise, or expand your business? Knowing what exactly you are looking for will help shape how you use the tool. Know what you want and what your goals are going in.

2. Have a Complete Profile

Now that you’ve set up your account don’t short change yourself by having a thrown together profile. Take some time to fully complete your profile making sure you hightlight the items that will help you achieve your goals from point #1 above. Make sure your profile has all of the following:

  • A picture (professional!)
  • An informative headline. This does not have to be your job title, it can be anything of your choosing. “Talented XXXX”, or “Creative _____ Seeking _____” is much better than just a title
  • Communicate concisely what your skills are
  • Have a well thought out, yet succinct summary
  • Make your profile about you, your skills, and what you offer. Not what you do at your current company
  • Use the “Sections” feature to add sections to your profile where you can call out special projects, skills, and abilities

3. Get Active

Now that you have your profile set up, and your goals outlined, it’s time to get active. Post statuses, share content and be helpful. Join and participate in groups. Build your presence. Be sure to check out business pages that interest you or that are in your niche. For some  business pages getting it right check out:

Google

Nike

Starbucks

NetSpend

Zipcar

4. Connect with Purpose and Care

The strength of LinkedIn and your network are only as strong as your connections. Make good, solid connections that will help you achieve your goals.  For some people this net will be very wide, for others it will pay to be more selective.

There you have it, for simple tips which should get you on the right track to using LinkedIn effectively. Now, set your goals, get your profile setup, and start connecting!

 


 

Why Social Media Matters for Customer Service

Over the past decade, the online and social world has rapidly and radically changed how businesses address and communicate with their customers. Social media has accelerated customer reaction times and, critically for PR and marketing professionals, it can also amplify their opinions exponentially.

According to a recent report on Econsultancy, 18 million (36%) of UK consumers have engaged with brands through social media, with this number expected to rise over the coming years. Of those people, 68% believe that social media gave them a more powerful voice when dealing with a brand, and more than two-thirds (65%) thought it was a better way to communicate with a company than a call centre.

Interaction through social media isn’t limited to just the younger generations, either: the same study found that more than a quarter of the 55+ age group have used some aspects of social media at some point, although this is less than half the amount of 18-24 year olds that use it.

With such figures, it’s difficult to believe that in today’s interconnected, socially networked world, some companies are still reluctant to take social media seriously and use it to complement their existing customer service strategies. When more consumers demand and expect customer service through social media channels, it is the companies that refuse or cannot adapt to these new channels that will be left behind.

However, it’s not always easy for brands to respond in the correct way and it can be tricky to integrate social media into existing customer service systems. It’s also difficult to quantify the level of activity a brand should spend responding to – it may be too time consuming to respond to every tweet or Facebook post, for example.

And although social media can benefit a brand’s reputation and outreach, plenty of social media ‘horror stories’ have arisen over the past few years. In some cases, brands have stumbled into the social media waters unprepared, and have had some of the worst PR disasters in recent memory.

A prime example of how not to engage with fans on social media is 2010’s famous Nestlé Facebook backlash, where thousands of angry fans swamped Nestlé’s Facebook page in response to the company’s alleged use of palm oil from deforested areas in Indonesia. Rather than using the backlash as an opportunity to engage with its community, it invited scorn and negative responses by being confrontational on its Facebook wall. Nestlé later admitted in a post on their Facebook wall that they were still learning how to use social media.

Unfortunately, many brands don’t currently integrate customer service into their social strategy, despite the fact that Facebook and Twitter are some of the best devices in which to turn your customers’ negative comments into positive opportunities. Social media allows companies to gain immediate feedback from customers, to rectify mistakes just as quickly as they were made and, in the process, it becomes more likely that there will be some positive tweets or Facebook posts in return. In the long run, customers will feel more positive about brands that use social media well, which helps them to build stronger relationships and raises the possibility of turning those customers into brand advocates.

The key is to know your audience, understand that there are rapid response expectations on social media channels, and to keep in mind the inherent public nature of these platforms that will directly impact your brand. Customers who have received good customer service through social media channels are much more likely to buy from that brand again, which all points to the simple fact that companies that fail to actively engage with customers through social media do so at their peril.

About the Author: Will Vicary is a digital marketing specialist whose interests include CRM solutions and online customer experience, as well as online lead generation. He is specifically interested in CRM insurance and cloud technology.


 

5 Tips For Using Twitter For Customer Service

Twitter is about more than just gaining a huge following. It’s also a great way to engage with your customers and turn them into satisfied advocates of your brand with less effort and in less time than traditional customer services.

Having finally realized that Twitter is a cluster of customer complaints, questions, and concerns, more and more companies are jumping on the bandwagon every day. For most organizations, the trick is understanding how to use Twitter in the most effective and efficient methods for their particular customers.

The following are several tips to help you successfully handle customer service issues.

1. Track your brand

First, to use your business’s Twitter account for customer service purposes, identify the Twitter users in need of your help. These customers may not be following you or even talking directly to you, so you’ll need to check out more than just the regular feed. Track the conversation around your brand by creating a few saved searches for words and phrases customers are likely to use on Twitter when talking about you.

Simply search for your company or product name using the box at the top of your Twitter page to create a saved search. Once the search results are up, click on the Save this search button to easily repeat this search later.

2. Respond with haste

Look through your saved searches twice a day for customers who are upset or in need of help. Make sure the tweets are recent to avoid contacting customers after they have already solved the problem and avoid upsetting them again.

Once you’ve identified a customer who needs your help, send them a quick reply offering information or assistance. If it’s possible to solve the problem over Twitter, then feel free to do so.

An @Reply will make it easy for customers to see what you’re doing and you can send an @Reply to anyone. If the customer seems especially upset or if their problem is in any way sensitive, try to move the conversation to direct messages, as quickly as possible. The goal is to provide help faster than users can receive it from the traditional channels.

3. Be honest

It’s not uncommon for companies to embarrass themselves on Twitter by attempting to turn a bad customer experience into an opportunity for free public relations. The truth is this is far more likely to backfire on you than it is to help build your company’s image.

Remember that Twitter was modeled on conversations, so try to talk with customers instead of at them. The reputation you’ll gain from helping customers and being honest with them is the best PR you can buy on social networks.

4. Separate accounts

Use a separate Twitter account than the one you use for the primary business profile for the purposes of customer service. Keep in mind that most issues can be isolated to individual problems and don’t affect the majority of your customers. Don’t clutter your main Twitter timeline with individual customer service tweets.

Try using social media management tools to organize your Twitter customer service account. Monitor keywords, including your brand and business name, and reply only to tweets where customer service support would be helpful or appropriate.

When the conversation extends beyond individual problems, it may be better handled by another department. Create a process so that all types of issues are handled appropriately and in a timely manner.

5. Offline conversation

Twitter is best used for simple customer service questions. Furthermore, many customer service questions and answers are very personal in nature. Identify which types of questions, issues, and concerns should be taken offline immediately and create appropriately worded responses that your Twitter team can use when this occurs.

You can take conversations offline through direct messages, email, or telephone. When a person needs to be directed to a different employee or department, make sure a process is in place to hand off these types of inquiries, so they don’t fall through the cracks.

Make sure you benchmark companies to see how they use Twitter for customer service. There is so much you can learn simply from listening and watching.

 
About the Author: Yo Noguchi is an experienced freelancer, guest blogger, and frequent contributor to a blog hosted by Benchmark Email, one of the world’s global provider of email marketing services.

 

 

How to Use Photo Sharing Apps to Increase Your Online Presence

One of the most important things for a small business owner to do is to build an online presence. Social media has become the latest buzzword for getting your business out there, but there are things you can do within social media to maximize your results. Photo sharing is one way to stand out from the crowd.

Let’s examine some of the ways you can use photo sharing apps to build your brand.

 

Service Reviews

Customer reviews are extremely important in today’s business climate.  Customers are more apt to purchase from a business that comes recommended to them than for any other reason. An easy way to get reviews is to ask customers for feedback immediately after you have a business interaction.

Health service providers, such as a dentist or chiropractor, can keep a camera in the office where the patient checks out. Take a picture of the customer and have them jot down a few words about their service. You can post the photo and comments on Instagram and connect it to your Facebook page so that other potential clients will see it.

 

Restaurant Experiences

Restaurant owners can give people an incentive for posting photos of their dining experience on Twitter. For example, offer a free dessert to people who take a photo of the table and attach a hashtag with the name of the establishment.  Not only will their Twitter followers see the photo, but people searching for the hashtag will see it too.

 

Build Followers

You want to get as many people to follow your business on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. so that you can build a relationship with them. For example, if you own a local pub, you can have your bartender take a photo of patrons watching the game at a Monday Night Football event. Then when the photo shows up in people’s feeds, they may be inspired to com join the crowd, when they may not have been planning to previously.

Link Your Social Media Accounts

You are probably already spending a certain amount of time maintaining your Facebook Business Page and Twitter account. You may wonder how you will squeeze in maintaining a photo sharing app on top of that.

Luckily, you won’t need any extra time, as long as you link your accounts together so that every time you take a photo it goes straight to Instagram. You can also set it up so that all Instagram updates automatically show up on your social media sites.

Promote

Sponsor a contest and ask for photo submissions with your specific hashtag. That’s a great way to ensure many people will hear about your business because hashtags are searchable. The more photos you generate the better. If you don’t want to run a contest, you can do a promotion asking people for to provide a caption based on a photo related to your niche.

 

Finding creative ways to use photo sharing apps can be the difference between being successful and extremely successful. Do you use Instagram or another photo sharing app for your business? Have you found any unique uses for the app?

 

 About the Author: Submitted by Kole McRae for Web Design Toronto

 

5 Tips For Promoting Your Blog with Social Media

With a staggering number of blogs out there right now (and with that number growing each day), readers have millions of options available. Therefore, attracting an audience can be a challenge. A blogger’s first step is to try to make his site stand out. But all the creativity and IT-know-how in the world won’t ensure a loyal following. Therefore, a savvy blogger must use all available resources to generate interest.

One great way to get the word out is to engage in social media. The beauty of the internet is that sometimes very little promotional effort can have tremendous results. Take Facebook, for example. Once you set up a Facebook page, and after a few of your target readers “like” something you post, sometimes there is a viral effect. Friends of friends get the message, and before you know it, you might have swarms of readers eager to check out your latest blog entries.

The following tips will help you take advantage of various social networking sites in order to promote your blog.

Find a Niche

The big names in social media (think Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn) are obvious go-to sites to generate interest in your blog. While those sites have a great deal of mass appeal, other smaller social networking sites cater to a more specific audience. For example, the site Last.fm allows users to discuss and share information and ideas about music. Therefore, if your blog has any sort of musical focus, joining that site would be a logical step. Similarly, BlackPlanet is a social networking site designed specifically for an African-American audience. If you aren’t already aware of a niche site that matches your blog’s content and focus, do a little research to find out what’s available.

Develop an Appealing Online Persona

Bloggers should strategically create the content for their social networking profiles in order to attract readers to their sites. Merely signing up for Facebook, for example, isn’t enough. Instead, you have to entice your audience by providing them with interesting information about yourself and what you have to say. Consider the profile of your typical reader, including that person’s interests and tastes, and make sure your content would appeal to that person. In addition, the appearance of your online presence is sometimes as important as the quality of your content. Therefore, select high quality photos and artwork in developing your profiles. In short, the image you portray through social media should convey to potential readers why they should visit your blog.

Keep It Captivating, but also Consistent

Maintaining a presence on a multitude of social networking sites can be a good strategy for maximizing your exposure and generating traffic for your blog. However, you should take great care to ensure your online persona is consistent throughout all social media so it doesn’t appear that you are pandering to your audience. For example, you shouldn’t create a faux persona on a niche social media site just to increase your readership. If readers catch on that your online image lacks consistency, you’ll lose credibility. If you lose credibility, you’ll likely lose readers as well. To optimize consistency, consider using a device like HootSuite to help manage multiple social media profiles.

Update Often

If you want to attract readers through social media, you must commit to providing continuous updates and fresh content. Posting your most recent blog entries is a great way to generate interest. If your objective is to promote your blog, you’re probably better off avoiding social media altogether rather than maintaining a profile that appears incomplete or out of date.

Celebrate the Interconnectedness of the Internet

The more connections you make online, the wider your audience will become. Therefore, when possible, provide links to your blog on all your social networking profiles. In addition, provide links to your social networking profiles on your blog. Any opportunity to connect to a potential reader is a wonderful gift, and you should take advantage of it. As followers show interest in your status updates, they may repost your information, potentially leading to new connections for you – and potentially new readers for your blog.

Regardless of the tone or focus of your blog, social media is a great way to attract readers who might not have found you otherwise.

About the Author: As a key member of the team at Extra Space Storage, Tim Eyre helps customers care for their cherished belongings that must be put in storage. Tim regularly visits his facilities including a Las Vegas storage units facility.