7 Tips to Improve Your Social Media Success

Social Media is an overwhelming, confusing, ever changing entity. Many individuals and companies struggle with how to use it effectively in promoting their business. As I think of everything I have learned and experimented with over the last 10 years with social media, I came up with a list of some of my favorite tips that have helped us along the way. Here are 7 tips that can help you improve your success with social media.

  1. Pick the right platform (s) for you and your business - There are endless social media platforms available out there, but they are not all a great fit for you and your business. Take some time to learn the basics about the most popular platforms. Select only those that make the most sense for your business. Limit your activity to no more than 3-4 platforms. Beyond that it becomes too much to manage and you will waste time you should be dedicating to other activities.
  2. Don’t try to do too much- It is all about quality, not quantity. Be careful you don’t try to do too much.Especially if you are new to the world of social media, start small. Pick one platform and build a plan and track your success around that before growing to multiple platforms.
  3. Cookbook the behavior- In our Sandler sales training we preach the importance of managing the behaviors required for success in selling. It is no different when managing your social media strategy. Create a cookbook of how many posts, updates, videos etc, you need to be creating on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. Track how you are doing against completing those behaviors. You can’t control how well some of  your social media activities perform, but you can control what and how often you do the behaviors.
  4. Manage your multiple accounts together- There are several tools available for managing your multiple platforms all in one place. These tools, some free and some paid, allow you to log into one place where all your various platforms are linked. You can post content, schedule content and see analytics in one place without having to log into each platform separately.
  5. Have a plan of what to post-Know what you want to post in your various platforms, a week or even a month out. Create a calendar for what you want to post. Schedule planned posts out ahead of time to save  time later.
  6. Don’t Sell on Social Media- It is obvious that a business wants to use social media to improve sales and build customer relationships. However, this isn’t a direct sales platform. Your primary goal should be to provide relevant information, foster relationships, and build awareness.
  7. Use Analytics- There a lot of options available to analyze your social media campaign success and failure. Linked In and Facebook have good analytics tools built right in. There are also several free options  available that provide 3rd party analysis. Don’t just collect reports; read them and use the data to build upon or improve the performance of your campaigns. The world and how we communicate has changed. Social media is not a fad, and it is not going away. Learn how to make social media work for your business.

Consumers hear more than they listen

The last time you spoke to someone, especially a younger person, did it seem like they where hearing you but not exactly listening?  Don’t feel alone.  Today’s consumers are bombarded with thousands of messages a day and have become quite selective about what they actually “listen” to and truly comprehend and remember.

Just as important to marketers, is where elusive consumers choose to concentrate their activities and free time.  Data has shown that the Internet has caused a shift away from traditional channels in effectively connecting with consumers.  In fact, 3 out of 4 Americans use social technology* which has become the #1 activity on the web**.   Furthermore, social channels such as Facebook, and most recently Twitter, have dramatically changed social behavior that influences brands. Facebook has now surpassed Yahoo and Google as the world’s most visited site sending more traffic to news sites than Google.

How does this impact my business or organization?  Beyond the obvious of creating a connection with a brand’s audience, social media (Facebook in particular), offers a variety of opportunities to get your brand message communicated to specific audiences efficiently and effectively where they live.  More important are the integrated opportunities that social media provides:

  • Additional product information
  • Viral marketing strategies
  • Coupons, contests & sweepstakes and links to supporting web sites
  • Product sample opportunities
  • Feedback pools
  • Mobile phone apps, widgets and plug-ins
  • Calendar of sponsored events

At the end of the day Facebook Fans are 68% very likely to recommend a product and spend $71.84 more per year on the brand sites they follow†.

As you can see, it isn’t only what your customers hear, it’s where they hear it.

Were you listening or did you merely hear me?

*(Forrester, The Growth of Social Technology Adoption, 2008)

**(Neilson, Global Faces & Networked Places, 2009)

†(Syncapse “Value of the Facebook Fan”)

From face paint to Facebook…It’s interaction, not Internet

How many times have you had a message impact you that came in a unique non-traditional way? With the continued development of web 2.0 technologies, it is becoming increasing critical that brands interact with their audience, not just push out content.

Nike was looking for a new idea to impact their market in a big way and yet seem to be part of a bigger idea that had consumer support.  Something that had not been done before, yet was cool enough to be clearly noticed, remembered and have the potential to go immediately viral.  A pretty tall order considering the venue, 3,642 kilometres of various grades of roads in both rural and urban settings. Nike’s agency, Wieden Kennedy’s New York office was up for the challenge and created the Nike “Chalk Box Project.”   The agency developed an idea where messages were able to be “tagged” along the route of the Tour DeFrance Race as if they were part of the landscape of the race.  These inspirational messages were sent in via text messages to a vehicle ahead of the riders competing.  The program resulted in Nike demonstrating their continued support of both Lance Armstrong’s comeback as well as all riders in the race. Additionally, Nike was able to insert their brand outside of the traditional advertising channels resulting in viewers being able to continue to follow the race as well as be impacted by the brand. Brands like Nike, continue to place themselves squarely in front of their target audience at every turn, literally.  These unconventional strategies continue to provide greater opportunities that are part of a bigger idea that has high value and high returns on investment and builds sustainable brand awareness.

“Guerilla” or “grass roots marketing,” continues to give brands more opportunities to reach their audiences through non-traditional channels, resulting in bigger, expansive ideas that reach consumers where they congregate most.  Interaction between brands and targeted markets continues to grow at a rapid pace and only strategies that go outside the traditional channels will have continued success to truly have an impact.  The Internet as we now know it, will continue to act as a starting point or catalyst to wider based strategies that include multiple touch points with brands and their audiences through broad based channels.

As Nike and many others demonstrated, the most efficient way to reach audiences may start with the Internet, but finish with broad based customer interaction in various forms, venues and tactics – from face paint to Facebook.

Ideas make the needle move

Tactics that aren’t measurable no longer have a place in the fast changing world of today’s business.  With ROI (return on investment) being a key and sometimes only factor for measuring success, businesses look for ideas that can be unique while being fiscally responsible at the same time.

This is where creative ideas live.  Businesses are always on the lookout for innovative and creative game changing strategies that move a company to a sustainable leadership position.

This is achieved by working well past the obvious.  Creative partners that have the ability to drill deep into a company’s DNA and demonstrate monetary and/or market share increases, have the chance to build a new experience or brand for companies with which they engage.  However, these opportunities rarely see the light of day without supportive ROI data.  Additionally, these strategies can go a long way in directing the entire experience of a company both internally and externally.

Companies continue to discover that unless tactics are part of a well thought out plan they are destined for failure.  Those that embrace this idea such as Apple and others, are the ones that continue to lead their industries by setting the standard and setting themselves apart.

Three Dimensional Branding

Typically businesses have looked at branding from two perspectives.  One being a visual, where a company’s logo or identity system has traditionally communicated the “look” of the company when communicated to a target audience. The second is more from a verbal or messaging point of view.  With the advent of the Internet, brands and branding has changed, as we know it.

There is now a third dimension to brand development.  Brands that leverage their assets throughout the Internet, now have the capability to receive instant feedback from their brand decisions and strategies.  This valuable information can be used to position a brand swiftly and effectively, taking advantage of situations and opportunities as they arise.  Additionally, brands have the opportunity to create an experience that reflects the interaction and engagement that is now available thus affecting the overall business plan of the company.  Furthermore, it allows brands to recruit brand stewards that can champion a brand from a third party position further broadening a brand’s influence.

It is this third dimension that will significantly influence a brand’s reputation, experience and market acceptance as they build towards sustainability and the Internet evolves.

Sales Versus Marketing

For as long as people have been trading services and producing products, there has been a battle between sales and marketing.  Sales are measured against short segment quantitative reporting and do not relate to long term sustainable planning.  However, marketing’s strength is one that charts a course that can stand the test of time and provide a plan that can weather turbulent times.

As we look more closely, the two outcomes are more perpendicular than parallel. As with many strategies there are exceptions to the rule.  However, based on the fact that sales structures are dependent on quantitative facts the method disallows much flexibility or proactive adjustments and is highly based on market conditions.

Whereas marketing is a much more proactive approach that drives customers to a brand and its influences.  Based on the leveraging of a brand’s assets, a much broader market penetration can be achieved resulting in a more efficient business structure.

With the advent of the Internet and especially social media marketing centric companies versus sales focused organizations, companies are able to target market without having to rely on one-to-one inefficient selling processes.  In addition, the Internet provides a platform for continual contact with a company’s target customer.

When and when not to App

As I-Phone and I-Pad technology continues to evolve, there seems to be a race to have SmartPhone applications without researching the consequences.  Many decisions are necessary in creating the correct messaging to accomplish the goals of the strategy.

With the various platforms for SmartPhone technologies it is important that the application is designed to live in the right environment.  According to AdAge research, Blackberry, Apple iPhone Android and Palm all have created a niche in the market that aligns each brand with an identifiable demographic profile.  As an example, Palm which had aligned itself with early adopters to mobile technologies, has a higher index for 35-44 year olds than any other manufacturer with more than 25% of users falling into that range.  On the other hand, iPhone boasts the highest percentage of users with more than $100,000 in income.

Furthermore, Blackberry with its profile being very much a business user, has garnered the highest segment of users reporting income of more than $100,000 annually.  However, the downside to this platform is that the typical user does not surf the web as much as others, and when they do, they spend less time online.

The bottom line is: it is reported that IPhone apps, at best, reach 25% of SmartPhone users of the fast growing segment represented by 42.7 million Americans.  Compare that to the fact that by 2013 it is predicted that phones will overtake PCs as the most common device to access the internet worldwide.

There is a way in which to solve these platform issues within this fragmented technology.  Web development providers are now able to create web sites that are specifically formatted and coded to operate in a fashion similar to an app on SmartPhones without the platform compatibility issues.  The drawback of the mobile websites is their inability to take advantage of some smart phone hardware features such as camera and compass options.

There is also the issue of exactly when is the best opportunity to engage with the target audience and the call to action strategies.  Unless the application has entertainment and high volume functionality, a case can be made for mobile designed web sites.  Apps will continue to act as a branding function while mobile sites operate as an advertising model to concentrate at a point in time, with slight crossover opportunities.  As technology continues to evolve and speeds improve in the mobile market, you will see the line continue to blur between mobile web site strategies and smart phone applications.

Where do brands begin?

Before a company thinks about its logo, necessary steps are needed to ensure a strategy is in place in which to move forward.  Developing an effective brand starts with taking a look at what makes a business tick, what effects does the current industry have on the company, and what innovations can be created to fill industry or customer needs. This information will allow a business to develop distinctive products or services that will not only fill a need in the market place, it will further set you apart from your competition and help structure and develop a business into the future.  These results will provide a plan to leverage unique qualities to potential customers.

This is where successful brands begin.  By analyzing a company’s assets, a message can be created that positions a company, defines its place in the market and clearly communicates its point of difference.  Only then can a brand thrive, evolve and grow.

Once this task is achieved, brand messaging, identity and marketing can move forward resulting in a complete brand strategy that a brand is built upon.  Additionally, this will allow for a focused and consistent communication structure to evolve.

Qualitative adjectives

Better, bigger, stronger, faster….you get the idea, all adjectives. Everyone is better just ask them!  Using adjectives like these without a supporting statement makes them unbelievable and can be detrimental to a brand.  Saying your business is faster without factual content such as “why”, is of no use to potential customers. Whereas a factual reason along with proof can separate your brand from your competition.  This strategy also allows a business to defend its brand as well as create a new benchmark as a leader in the industry.

Separation of your brand is what every business should be striving for.  Defining what makes your business different is where brand definition begins.  This allows companies to carve out their place in the market where they can state their case in demonstrating their unique capabilities to potential customers.

So in the future, before you say “we are better or faster” or any adjective that ends with “er”, think about what qualifies those claims to fame.  It will bring much more credibility to what you are communicating.