Why Your Social Media Strategy Isn’t Working—and How to Fix It

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According to Nielsen, 70% of active adult social networkers shop online, which is 12% more likely than the average adult Internet user. With millions of users online, brands continually flock to social media networks to garner consumers yet have been discouraged by the lack of results and questioning the validity of social media marketing. Rather than become disillusioned with social media, because there’s no denying the millions of people buying and conversing online, the question remains: What is the best way to reach them?

We have outlined five reasons your brand’s social media strategy isn’t working, and what you can do to improve it:

Great expectations

Social media is not a cure-all, end-all solution for marketing to one’s target market. If you think that by setting up a profile on a network and constantly spewing marketing messages that you’ll attract thousands, if not millions, of customers immediately, you’re sadly mistaken. It’s, however, an enduring solution in combination with advertising and public relations to increase exposure, promote and eventually garner sales.

Lack of company buy-in

In order for social media to be effective for your organization, everyone has to buy-in, from executives to support staff, or it will not reach its full potential. Your chances of having a successful social media campaign is increased if senior management actively uses it and allows the brand to have multiple voices. The executives of your company are not the only champions; in fact it is feasible to come up with a list of influencers in all departments that can provide content and insight in the form of a social media council.

Undefined goals

With any marketing effort, you must clearly define what your intentions are for using social media. Do you want to get exposure for new product or service? Improve brand recognition? Increase website traffic? Once those intentions have been identified you must question what success looks like.

Untrained staff

To avoid social media crises and potential disasters every company should invest in social media training and guidelines. Do not pawn off social media activities on the “young” professionals. Just because they know how to use the technology does not make them equipped to become the global communications arm of your brand.

When creating your social media team, you should seek someone who has a strong capacity for communications and marketing; the tools can be taught to via training programs in- person or online. Showing employees the best practices and way in which your brand should be showcased online can be an exceptionally valuable business tool.

Not enough engagement

If you’re not responding to your fans questions or comments, they’ll seek a brand that will.  Social media has shifted marketing as we know it. It’s no longer a one way street, but a two way street which requires communication and collaboration. You will achieve greater results when you respond in a timely manner, highlight your customers using your product or service and share valuable information with them.

Keep in mind if you are not fully committed to social media then you will not achieve the results you desire online. Once you have a social media strategy with realistic goals and targeted content, the rest is relatively simple.

3 Tools to Maximize Your Social Media Impact

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There are many statistical tools you can use for social media analysis. If you want to maximize your presence without spending inordinate amounts of time, you need to know the best day and time to post content, as well as which kind of posts garner the most engagement from your fans.  To get that vital information, you’ll need to use a reliable social tool.

Here are some highlights which tools you can utilize to make an impact on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Tweriod

Every day millions of people use Twitter to discover and disperse ideas across the web. Now, Twitter has become the daily go-to social media platform for people to connect with businesses and organizations. It’s great because it gives brands the opportunity to connect and assist their customers in real time.

So, if you’re looking for a reliable tool to help you analyze your followers, try a free tool like Tweriod.  Tweriod helps users make the most of Twitter by letting their brand know the best time to tweet. It will analyze up to 1,000 followers, so if you have thousands of followers, you’ll need to upgrade to the premium service.

PageLever

With the ever changing landscape of Facebook, it’s hard to truly know the impact of your posting without feeling like you need to pay for advertisements to reach your audience. If you’ve been using Facebook Insights to try to get an idea on what is happening with your Facebook page, you’re likely seeing some interesting results. Unfortunately, you’re also might be a bit confused by what Insights is telling you.

Welcome PageLever to your analytics mix. PageLever provides a deeper look at your fan pages and focuses on the day-to-day usability of the fans that follow your page. Facebook Insights only focuses on seven points wherein Pagelever can give you over 30.

Statigram

Instagram is a photo-sharing and social networking service that enables users to take photographs, apply filters, and share them on other social networking sites such as Twitter or Facebook. Instagram is an excellent source for your brand to curate positive content and encourage customers to share images of them with your product or service.

A great free tool to use is Statigram, which allows you to access Instagram from your computer to view, measure, manage, and promote your Instagram account. The third-party application creates a visually-appealing, shareable profile page that sums up your Instagram history.

Join us May 4 at Day of Fosterly #DOF2013

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www.dayoffosterly.com

Tomorrow our CEO, S. Lynn Cooper has been invited to serve as a media match mentor for the annual Day of Fosterly in Arlington, VA. Not your average conference, the Day of Fosterly is more than eight hours of collaborative entrepreneurship for anyone interested in starting, growing, or exiting a business. With a focus on spotlighting many of the best endeavors in the Washington, DC metropolitan region, attendees will depart with hands on experience, knowledge and relationships.

More about Media Match session

We recognize that getting the word out about what you’re up to might be difficult. Accordingly, we’re bringing in some members of the media to help you frame your stories effectively. Taking place in a three minute speed dating format, you’ll have the opportunity to pitch your story to journalists who are positioned to cover them. To view a list of participating journalists, visit the People page.

For more information please visit: www.dayoffosterly.com

4 Ways Colleges Can Take Their Digital Presence to the Next Level

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According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 21.6 million students were enrolled in American colleges and universities in 2012. With today’s youth constantly texting, tweeting, Tumblring, posting statuses on Facebook and updating Instagram, among other social networking sites at a rapid pace, schools need to engage with applicants and current students regularly. It’s clear the days of shiny brochures, flashy websites and in-person campus visits are no longer enough to attract high-caliber students.

Colleges and universities should embrace social media as a means to build relationships and create emotional connections with prospective students. Here are some methods academic institutions could take to bring their social media presence from outdated to fresh:

Get Buy-in

In order for social media to work effectively, key players must include students. Coordinate discussions with current students since they are avid users of social media and can provide insight about student activities and what influenced them to attend. Also, consider hiring a consultant to analyze the various methods utilized by faculty members and staff. That’ll help when you’re creating a robust campaign.

Engagement is Essential

So, you’re institution has Facebook, Twitter…now what? Well, if nothing else, a social media coordinator or manager must ensure the university or college is engaging with the current followers, as well as prospective ones.
Students will make a snap judgment about the college if the pages are not updated frequently, or if inquiries are left unanswered.

Make it a habit to check your pages daily and respond to requests within 24 hours. Keep a log of these inquiries and forward information to appropriate departments for follow-up.

Go Viral

Many students cannot afford to visit the campus, so why not create a series of videos featuring current students and faculty? It will allow prospective students to feel as though they stepped foot on campus for a college tour. The video series can address tours, the application process, financial aid, as well as provide sneak peeks into classes in session. Make sure these videos are no more than five minutes in length and don’t be afraid to inject personality in them.

There’s An App for That

Many colleges are taking advantage of the mobile revolution by building applications for Android and iPhones. A report from the Pew Internet Project found that 78% of people ages 12 to 17 have a cellphone, and more than 50% of those phones are smartphones. These statistics show that most young adults are perusing the web via their mobile device. Hence, it makes sense for universities to design an app where students can get information about the school, course offerings, admissions status and financial standing.

How to Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile

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Whether you’re a business owner trying to ramp up your startup’s connections or a recent graduate looking to secure post-grad opportunities, yourLinkedIn account is crucial to landing new-found opportunities. LinkedIn is an excellent online networking tool that can assist you in building vital professional relationships.

Finish what you’ve started

First impressions are everything. Think of your LinkedIn profile as your one shot. Thus, your LinkedIn profile should list your current position and at least two previous roles, academic institutions attended and contact information which will then make your profile 100% complete, according to LinkedIn’s standards.  Take the time to fill out the descriptions, listing your duties and inject keywords relevant to your industry.  Ask yourself, what would others type in the search box to find someone with my skill set?

Put your best foot face forward

Browsing through most social media sites, you’ll notice a majority of the profile photos are not professional. These laid-back photos are acceptable for personal profiles, but, since LinkedIn is a professional’s playground, promoting yourself or your brand without having professional photographs can drastically alter the way you and/or your business is viewed.

Studies show that LinkedIn profiles with appropriate photographs are much more likely to get clicked on than those without.  So, even if you don’t have a professional photo, taking one with a high-resolution camera in conjunction with appropriate lighting, clothing and background is better than having no photo at all.

Reach out

Perform a series of searches to locate people you know by name via the search box. Once you’ve identified these contacts, click the connect button to add them to your network.  Send a custom message to the person within the invitation, especially if you’re not in constant communication with the individual. Once you’ve made a significant amount of connections, you should view the “People You May Know” page to review colleagues you may have missed.

Request meaningful recommendations

Take the time to reach out to your supervisors and closest colleagues to obtain quality recommendations prior to sending a request on LinkedIn, and explain the importance of their recommendation.  Once they have completed your request, take a moment and thank them and consider returning the favor by recommending them.

Get those apps

Third-party applications approved by LinkedIn allow you to customize your profile and showcase your work products. You may have crafted a white paper or presentation that can be of value to your industry; consider sharing it with your network via SlideShare which you can connect to your LinkedIn account. Perhaps you’ve penned a blog article, add the WordPress app so you can share you’re expertise.

Take time to explore the infinite amount of tools and features that LinkedIn offers. It’s like a gold mine for those who want to take advantage of connecting with other professionals, establishing thought leadership and creating new opportunities.

Have LinkedIn tips? Share your best practices in the comments section below.

7 Tips for Creating a Social Media Policy

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Social media is expanding with millions of people worldwide interacting before, during and after work. While social media is an extraordinary communications’ tool, employers can’t help but wonder what employees are discussing on social media during work hours—and even when they’re off the clock.

It’s important that employees understand the impact they have on your brand, as well as their personal brand, when socializing online. The ramifications can be costly, resulting in job loss, forced resignations and legal action.

It’s up to brands to ensure they’ve implemented a social media policy, so that nothing is left up to interpretation and everything is clearly outlined. Here,  S. Lynn Cooper outlines what you should consider when creating your brand’s social media policy:

What constitutes social media?

While Twitter and LinkedIn may easily be categorized as social media, what about YouTube? What about a personal blog? Your social media policy must have a concrete definition, including the various platforms the guidelines apply to.

Who’s responsible?

The best way to find a social media advocate within the company is to seek out the person or team of people who are most passionate about communicating with customers online. Seek those people out and provide them with the training needed to represent your brand.

Content Ownership

Does your brand have a YouTube page, Twitter account, or Facebook fan page? Your brand needs to confirm that the ownership of these social media accounts belongs to the brand, not the staffer whose current job entails monitoring the company’s online presence.

Privacy rights

Due to the casual nature of social media, it’s easy to give away proprietary information without realizing it. Since each social media platform has its own imperfections, it’s best to instruct employees never to share any confidential or proprietary information via their corporate or personal profiles.

Establish ground rules

You must allow your employees the right to engage on social media, but, of course, you want to protect your brand at the same time.  Since this can be a very touchy subject, consider contacting your legal counsel when formulating your policy.

Provide training

If you expect your employees to utilize social networking tools properly, you must provide training. Keep in mind what they post online is also a reflection of your brand.

Create a checks-and-balance system

A social media policy will not do your brand any justice if you don’t actually monitor the networks where dialogue is taking place.  There are plenty of tools to monitor social media (read “4 Tools to Help You Become a Savvy Social Listener”).

S. Lynn Cooper is a Washington, DC-based digital strategist and communications expert. Cooper is the founder and director of Socially Ahead, a strategic communications agency that specializes in the creation of social and digital strategies and campaign management. Follow her on Twitter at @sociallyahead.

4 Tools to Help You Become a Savvy Social Listener

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Are you listening??

On a typical day, peruse through your social media streams and see how many brands are touting and seeding their content, products and/or services, but not necessarily listening to what their audience wants.

Most brands don’t do nearly as much listening on their networks, primarily because they only view social media as place to promote their offerings. Social media listening is a key element for building relationships, keeping up to date with trends, supporting your community and eavesdropping on your competitors. We will provide you with the top tools to seamlessly snoop (but in a good way):

HootSuite

This social media management tool is quite dynamic. When it comes to listening, you can create streams to monitor your competitor’s feed, particular keywords or hashtags, and identify tastemakers who are talking about your brand.

  • If your brand sells sporting goods, now that NCAA March Madness is upon us, set up a Twitter stream that monitors hashtags such as #NCAA, #MarchMadness or #basketball. Listen to what others are saying not only about the tournament but about sporting equipment, clothing and accessories.

Cyfe

Cyfe is an all-in-one dashboard that helps users monitor and analyze data found across all your online services like Google+, Constant Contact, Salesforce, Facebook, WordPress and Twitter, to name a few, from one location.

  • Utilize the Google Analytics widget to identify what content is pushing the most engagement from your community.

Topsy

This free social media monitoring service locates and measures the most important conversations among hundreds of billions of tweets instantly. With Topsy, you can analyze Twitter usernames, keywords or web domains over various periods of time— day, week, month, or year.

  • Filter tweets by displaying “influential only” (pro version). This option will only display the most influential tweets, and the accounts they were tweeted from, so you can contact these key influencers (if appropriate) to help shape and influence their conversation about your branding. 

Google Alerts

These email updates, which automatically notify users when a specific keyword or phrase is mentioned online, allow you to stay on top of any conversation involving your business, industry or areas of interest.

  • Sift through various alerts pertaining to your industry. They could be used as blog articles, Facebook fan page discussions or helpful resources.

Brands that get to know their clientele, respect and trust their competency, and listen continually to how individuals are utilizing their products or services will have a far greater chance of developing and retaining their customers.

What tools do you use to listen in on social media? Let us know in the comments section

5 Social Media Pitfalls Brands Need to Avoid

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Social media is helping brands build awareness and engage with consumers. A successful business relies heavily on efficient communication which in turn helps establish partnerships and allows the company to market its product and services to consumers efficiently.

Professional communication involves ethics and etiquette. While most businesses strive for excellence, not all have netiquette (online etiquette) down pat. Here, Lynn Cooper highlights five tricks of the trade to help you steer clear of common social media pitfalls:

Don’t be pushy

Many of us have experienced the overly aggressive salesperson in a retail store, and walked away from the situation annoyed, confused or startled—and, most importantly, without the product he/she was offering.

The online equivalent is constantly promoting your offerings and sales through social media. Fans and followers dislike it, and you may be able to tell by your dwindling follower/friends count.

Avoid spamming people

This one’s common sense:  Spamming other users’ comments, inboxes, groups and pages will only have people dislike you and ban you from posting on their pages. If you would like to have your message posted on someone’s feed, be courteous and ask for the group administrator’s permission.

Keep your business off the street

Using social media for business means just that. Hence, be as professional as you would in real life. Expressing your disdain for cohorts, clients and competitors on a public platform will only result in you looking petty, and may cause others not to do business with your brand.

Be prompt

Research has shown that more than half of social media users believe that communicating with a brand via social media is a preferred method of communication as opposed to more traditional means like phone calls and mail. Show your customers that you really value you them by responding to their queries in a timely manner, which today is through social networking sites.

Absence on social media is a no-no

Imagine walking into a restaurant and no one is there to greet you. What would you do? Would you stay or leave?

This scenario also applies to your social media profiles. Make sure you keep your profile and feeds current. If you do not have original content to share, then source others such as news or partner organizations.

Follow these simple rules and you will avoid upsetting others and your business will appear positive and professional online.

Have you witnessed any of these social media offenses? What are some of your best practices? Share your thoughts and comments below.
S. Lynn Cooper is a Washington, DC-based digital strategist and communications expert. Cooper is the founder and director of Socially Ahead, a strategic communications agency that specializes in the creation of social and digital strategies and campaign management. Follow her on Twitter at @sociallyahead.

Dos and Don’ts of LinkedIn Leads

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You want your business to be profitable, but in order to do so you’ll need customers. No, not just any customer, but one who will buy. However, that won’t happen without leads.Without leads, and a considerable amount of them, you won’t generate sales, revenue or profits into your business account. Social media has allowed many business owners to yield leads and LinkedIn, better known as the professional’s playground, is the preferred platform.To digitally network and generate leads on LinkedIn, we’ve detailed what you need to do to ensure you have a successful strategy:

Complete your profile

Before you decide to start your lead campaign ensure that your corporate and personal profiles are complete, free of grammatical errors and full of great copy. Your profiles will dictate the way others view you and your brand.

Connect

You can do numerous things with LinkedIn such as build connections within your industry, research competitors, and source talent. But how those connections are garnered is another story.LinkedIn groups are an excellent way to connect with others. Identify groups based on your industry and review the activity of each group prior to deciding to join. Read posts from others and, if you have information to contribute that will help another professional, then share it. The more you give to the community, the more benefits you will sow.

Follow-Up

After attending an event or conference, gather the business cards of the individuals you met with and connect with them on LinkedIn. This move will secure a digital connection where you can share information and identify others within your shared network.

Showcase your work

LinkedIn has some great applications you can utilize to enrich the content on your profile. From WordPressapplications, which can display your latest blog posts, to the SlideShare application, which will show PowerPoint presentations, find which tool best fits your needs.

The easiest way to showcase your work on LinkedIn is to post it as a status update with a link. It will remain on your profile until your next update.

Don’t Cold Message

The term cold calling has been around for decades; online it’s referred to as cold messaging. If you have no connection to an individual on LinkedIn, your first communications should not be a sales pitch. You need to develop a relationship with this individual prior to attempting to sell them anything. Ask yourself: If someone you don’t know walked up to you on the street and asked you to buy something, what would you do? Nine times out of ten you would say no thank you and move on. When these unsolicited messages are shared on social media platforms, they are treated as spam.

Have you utilized LinkedIn to build your business? If so, share your story below in the comment section. 
S. Lynn Cooper is a Washington, DC-based digital strategist and communications expert. Cooper is the founder and director of Socially Ahead, a strategic communications agency that specializes in the creation of social and digital strategies and campaign management. Follow her on Twitter at@sociallyahead.

6 Ways to Keep Your Brand Hack-Free in Social Media

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There’s no question that social media is an ideal venue for marketing and sales. But along with the rewards come threats, due in part to the fundamental qualities of cyberspace: easy access, ambiguity, and global reach.  Because the online world has seen little formal policing, it’s perfect for the “hijacking” of brands. Brands such as NBC News, Jeep, Burger King and USA Today have fallen victim to hacking, exposing the vulnerability of these platforms. While I cannot assure you that your social media accounts will not be hacked, here are some tips to minimize your brand’s risk of being victimized.

Use social media tools

HootSuite, an online brand management service, can provide your organization with the ability to allow multiple employees to monitor, engage and manage your accounts without giving them access to your social media sites’ passwords. HootSuite Teams allows you to control access to social networks and profiles, as well as change permissions any time to remain consistent with your business needs.

Implement a strong social media policy

If you haven’t already, develop a social media policy and review with your employees what is and is not appropriate to post online to ensure that you safeguard confidential information. Also, require employees to log into social media accounts via one computer rather than allowing them to access them from a public venue such as a hotel or conference center.

Are you in the know?

Keep up to date with warnings from news outlets about tactics employed by spammers and hackers. Never click on links that contain suspicious messages or that are from sources that you do not know. Consider setting up a Google Alert, utilizing keywords such as hacked, spammer or hijacked.

Enable two-factor authentication

Sites including Facebook and Google+ show your active sessions. As a general security precaution, you can enable these features to ensure no authorized person is logging into your accounts.

Change passwords often

A password should be hack-proof yet something that is simple enough to remember. Powerful passwords combine upper and lower case letters, symbols and numbers. Change the password as soon as an employee leaves the company or if you suspect that security has been compromised.

Have a contingency plan in place

It’s imperative that everyone on your team who manages or evaluates your brand’s social media accounts knows what to do if your account is hijacked. The plan should be in writing and reviewed with the staff quarterly.

S. Lynn Cooper is a Washington, DC-based digital strategist and communications expert. Cooper is the founder and director of Socially Ahead, a strategic communications agency that specializes in the creation of social and digital strategies and campaign management. Follow her on Twitter at @sociallyahead.