7 Ways to Create the Online Reputation You Want

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Whether you have your own business or not, managing your online reputation is imperative in today’s highly Internet savvy world. The things you said on social media will haunt you for the rest of your life if you’re not careful. Something you said innocently as a teenager might still be out there and come up if an employer searches for you. Thankfully, you can manage your online reputation if you know what to do.

Blogging What You Want People to Know 

Practicing daily blogging is a good way to keep your name and brand in front of readers and on top of search engine results. A blog post doesn’t have to be long, or in-depth to be effective. You simply need to know why you are writing it, to whom you’re writing it in order to be sure that you choose topics related to your niche of importance to your audience.

Use Article Marketing to Educate Your Market

Article marketing isn’t dead, it’s just changing. It’s still an important way to get the word out about your brand. It’s a good way to educate your market about the need for your products and services in general. For instance, if you sell a specific moisturizer you might write articles about caring for the skin, and what types of ingredients are good and bad for the skin. Let your short bio at the bottom of the articles lead them to your website.

Use Social Media Strategically

Be careful on social media. Use it strategically. If you’re on Facebook sharing away with your friends and relatives be sure to check and double check your privacy settings. You don’t want something innocent there to corrupt your business message. Keep business and your private life as separate as possible. In other words, don’t over share. Share enough, but keep it simple.

SEO Gets You Found

Search engine optimization is more important than ever. You may wonder what it has to do with your online reputation but if no one can find you, you’re not going to have a reputation at all. Keep up to date on new rules as they become available. Each search engine tells you in no uncertain terms how to optimize your pages for best results. Follow what they say and you’ll get better results. You can also use a service like HubSpot’s Marketing Grader to find out how well you’re doing.

Google Alerts for Monitoring

Use Google Alerts to set up a notification to your inbox any time your name, brand, product or any keyword you want is mentioned on the Internet. This is a great way to monitor your business buzz as well as stay ahead of the game when it comes to new products and services. Google Alerts is a great way to keep informed on any topic you choose.

Bury Don’t Erase

When you find information about yourself you’d rather people not have, it’s important to seek to bury the information rather than erase it. It can be very difficult to erase information, especially if it’s true. Even slanderous information can be very expensive to get rid of and won’t always work. The best course of action is to bury the information with great search results, if the information you don’t want people to see is on page four, it’s going to be almost nonexistent anyway.

Be Transparent

This advice might seem counter to the advice above. However, if you ever do something wrong and learn from it in your business, it’s best to be open about it. Write a blog post about what you learned, write a book about it, and you can turn what could have been truly business killing news into something positive. But, remember that being transparent about your business has nothing to do with your personal life. Keep personal and business as separate as possible.

 

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Looking for a someone to  patiently explain social media to help you understand the best ways to use Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube?  Send me a message using the contact form below

I look forward to hearing from you!

Lynn Cooper

 

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.

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

If You Are Who You Say You Are: 4 Useful Online Verification Tools

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Use these tools to prevent from getting Manti Te’o-d in business

A few weeks ago, the world was introduced to the term “catfishing” due to an internet hoax involving Notre Dame football player Manti Teo’s pseudo relationship with a 22-year old woman, who he thought  died of cancer last year. While “catfishing” normally takes place in a personal relationship many businesses have defrauded individuals online as well. The Internet presents a lot of potential revenue opportunities—and a lot of risks.

Knowing that you are dealing with a real individual and/or company minimizes these risks while protecting businesses from both fraud and identity theft. While many websites, and even emails, are designed to look professional and secure, there are often indicative signs that can help you identify ones you want to avoid. Take precaution by using these reliable verification tools online:

BizId

BizId is a service provided by global credit information group Experian. BizId provides reliable commercial information and reduces approval time in order to stay competitive. Through a single transaction, BizId searches multiple databases to authenticate a business and up to two business owners while helping meet compliance requirements.

ZoomInfo

Job-centric search engine ZoomInfo aggregates people and company information in one location.  Their information listings on people, harvested from across the web, include people’s employment history and current job title and whether or not they’re seeking employment. Should you get too many search results for a person’s name, filter them by geographic location.

Google

You can’t talk finding information online without mentioning the big G. For well-known brands and individuals, you will get great results by just typing the name into Google’s search bar, but for civilians, common names or names with double meanings, a few advanced Google techniques can help narrow down the field of results.

  • Enclose the name of the person you’re searching for in quotations when you enter the name into the search box (i.e. “John Doe”).
  • Include other relevant words, like the person’s profession, employer, location, or screen name (i.e. lawyer or Washington, DC.)
  • If the person you’re searching for is likely to appear on a particular web site; search only that site using the site: URL operator (like site: sociallyahead.com “John Doe”).
  • To search people by appearance, look for them on Google Images to get a quick visual—especially useful for those with common names, or to determine the gender of a person you’re meeting for the first time.

LinkedIn

Over 200 million professionals around the world use LinkedIn. You can quickly review their profiles, which will include educational background information and work history, as well as their connections. When reviewing, you should see if you have any similar connections. If so, reach out and request a recommendation on this person. If you do not have connections, LinkedIn offers a paid service called Reference Search.

4 Must-Have Social Media Monitoring Tools

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ImageThe plethora of social media monitoring tools, which vary from inexpensive to exceptionally pricey, is only matched by how functional the tools are for customers. By using one or more social monitoring tools to track your social media presence, you can capitalize on the power of this form of marketing while staying on top of any buzz surrounding your business. Social media tracking ensures your resources are being maximized, which, in turn, leads to sales. After all, marketing online is less of a popularity contest and more about meaningful customer engagement that boosts sales and complements your overall marketing plan. With this in mind, how is one to make a decision as to which one to use? It inevitably comes down to your needs and budget. Take a look at these four popular monitoring tools for your business:

Wildfire

Wildfire, a division of Google, is one of the world’s largest social media marketing software providers, with over 21,000 paying customers worldwide, including 30 of the world’s 50 most valuable brands. Wildfire’s technology combined with Google’s advertising solutions provides a more holistic way for brands to manage and optimize their marketing efforts, as well as spend across all digital channels, including search, display, video, mobile, and social.

TweetDeck

TweetDeck is a free personal social media management and monitoring tool that allows users to control all their social media accounts through a single dashboard. This is an ideal tool for freelancers, community managers, and contractors who need to juggle multiple accounts.  TweetDeck was brilliant to offer service on both mobile and desktop versions, which makes it simple for users to update and monitor feeds from anywhere.

Brand Monitor

Brand Monitor allows users to track across multiple social media platforms in real-time, providing brands with the information they need to become actively engaged in conversations about their products and/or services. This powerful tool lets users identify influencers, track keywords and respond quickly to mentions.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics has been a the go-to metrics measuring tool since its release, and with integrated Google+ activity, users are able to view easy to read infographics showcasing which social media platforms are directing the most traffic. Another great feature of this tool is the visitor behavior analysis and a monetary evaluation of conversion rates through Google’s Social Value charts.

11 things you can do to make your blog standout!

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You’ve got some great posts that you believe deserve more than the attention of your closest family and friends. Yet,  no matter how many times you publish you do not seem to be reaching anyone outside of your network.  Below are eleven ways that you can stand out from the crowd!

Be yourself, even if it’s a company blog. People want authenticity.

Promote and distribute your posts on other social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest and LinkedIn.

 

Interview a successful client for a video blog post. This is a powerful way to provide authentic evidence of you and your client’s authority and credibility.

 

Comment on other blogs and news articles to show your thinking/expertise, but also link people back to your blog.

Provide sharing buttons. (Help others share your content online)

Use StumbleUpon and AllTop to increase your readership.

Comment on industry trends, where they’re going, and emerging trends.

Enlist your colleagues to write about topics in your industry they are passionate about.

Write in bite-size chunks, and use bullet points so readers can quickly and easily consume.

Install the search engine optimization (SEO) “All-in-One” pack on your WordPress blog.

While these are only a slice of the things you can do to improve your traffic, we believe if you put  all of these in action for a period of a month you will attract new readers to your blog.

What are some other ways that you have driven traffic to your blog? Leave comments below

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Socially Ahead, a strategic communications agency specializing in the creation of social /digital media strategies, online communications, training and web content production based in Washington, DC. Socially Ahead focuses on helping brands and individuals navigate social media and online space to build better connections.

The final log off: Do you need a social media will?

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Disclaimer: This article is intended to provide advice only. Every legal matter is unique and you should consult with a legal professional in your area.

Unfortunately a few months ago, I lost a friend to leukemia who was in her twenties. She was an active participant on social media networks and during a discussion with friends someone asked “What do are they going to do with her Facebook account?” It is a great question that many of us in this digital age are going to be faced with. In fact, creating a “social media will” is now one of the government’s official personal finance recommendations, listed on USA.gov.

So ask yourself, what should happen to the content you have posted? Consider creating a statement of how you would like your online identity handled by appointing someone you trust as an online executor. The executor will be responsible for the maintenance and or closure of your email addresses, social media profiles and blogs after you are deceased.

Consider these steps to assist you with write a social media will.

  • Write down a list of all the websites where you have a profile, along with usernames and passwords.
  • State how you would like your profiles to be handled. You may want to completely cancel or leave it up for friends and family to visit. Some sites allow users to create a memorial profile where others can view your profile but cannot post anything new.
  • Identify and meet with your intended executor. Explain to them their role and share the list with them. (Google Drive may be a good resource as you can retain ownership of the document and share it with them. This way if your passwords are changed it can be easily updated.)

While my friend did not have a social media will her family chose to leave her profile up so that we could post photos and memories, and while I knew she was an awesome person now I can connect with the hundreds of people whose lives she touched and make new acquaintances.

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Socially Ahead, a strategic communications agency specializing in the creation of social /digital media strategies, online communications, training and web content production based in Washington, DC. Socially Ahead focuses on helping brands and individuals navigate social media and online space to build better connections.

Use Content Curation To Tell Your Story

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We’ve talked a lot about the importance of monitoring what others are saying about you. It’s nice to share and retweet, but if you do that with every post, you’ll flood your followers with the same info over and over. Sometimes you want to collect the best tweets, posts, photos and videos into one place and use what others are saying to enhance your story or event. That’s where Storify comes in.

With a simple drag-and-drop interface, Storify combines Twitter and Facebook posts, YouTube videos, Instagram and Flickr photos, plus any other clippings from the web into a single article.

You decide how to organize it – chronologically, by content type, by subject matter – then with just a few clicks, it can be shared on social media, embedded into a blog (see below) or emailed. It can also notify all the people whose content you used so they can share it with their friends and followers.

The White House social media team has been using Storify to trim the stream of questions in its regular Twitter chats (http://storify.com/whitehouse/whchat-presssec-answers-your-questions-about-cong) down to just the ones that get answered.

News organizations use Storify to pull in reactions to major events, combining posts from celebs and regular folks to create richer content than through traditional reporting.

So what are you waiting for.. STORIFY!

Can your business afford a social media mistake?

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Before you think of assigning an intern to manage your corporate social media… think again!

In general, most companies post news and articles related to their services and products. They also post events, photographs, tips and other information that aligns with their company’s direction.

This information gathering takes time. One way to solve the posting bandwidth issue is to assign the social media updates to an intern. After all, interns are social-media savvy and inexpensive, right?

However, if the employees posting to social media sites aren’t in the loop about the latest projects, releases, initiatives, or other organizational goals, they may find it difficult to know what to say. What they post may not align with your company’s mission.

According to A Social Primer for Technical CommunicationIntercom. June 2011, an intern or young staffer may not have the knowledge needed to guide the social media endeavors with the right direction. It states:

“Someone must have ownership of the social media strategy. The initial reaction is to look to the new intern or the youngest employee because he or she is probably using many of the tools, but this can be an unsuccessful choice. An individual’s goals do not always align with a company’s goals. Individuals are often looking to share personal thoughts, photos, and news with family and friends—probably not the same goals as a company. The strategic choice is someone who understands the mission of the company, the goals of implementing the strategy, and how the tools and the message delivered therein, may have positive or negative effects.”

In other words, although it may seem logical to designate a young, social-media savvy employee to handle the social media updates, such an employee may not have the right information and direction to post in alignment with the company’s goals.

Your corporate social media presence can help garner or lose clients. There have been numerous articles and case studies where social media faux pas have severely hurt businesses bottom line.

So ask yourself

  • How much supervision and coaching will this individual need to complete this task?
  • Does this person have the communication skills and professionalism needed to represent your business globally?
  • Does this person have the research capability to find relevant information to post on your corporate social media profiles?

If you answered negatively to any of these questions then this is not the person to consider and you may be better suited to retain a professional strategist.

While we understand that some organizations may not have the financial resources to outsource, we strongly suggest that you invest in training for the intern or young employee is implemented prior to them taking on this task.

If your business has hired an intern to manage social media what has been your experience? Was it positive or negative? Please share.