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How to Use Twitter for Business

Twitter iconSince its inception, Twitter has become well known for its quirky and often parodied publishing structure. When it comes to marketing via social media, Twitter seems to be the social network that companies shy away from. I’ve seen businesses that were reluctant to use the platform because they just weren’t sure how to leverage it.

Not all social networks are for all businesses, but there are some great ways to use Twitter for marketing and other business-related activities.

Twitter for Service

When you hear “social media” and “business” in the same sentence, it typically means marketing, communications, PR or some combination of those things. For the most part, that is true, but social media can be used for whatever is effective. Zappos has proven that for a while now by leveraging Twitter as a customer service platform.

They even have a dedicated Twitter account (@Zappos_Service)that answers all kinds of customer inquiries from whether a certain product is in stock to when there is an issue with an order.

 

I love Zappos’ example of using Twitter for customer service because it shows that you don’t have to use social media for marketing. It is a great medium for that kind of messaging, but you can also think outside the box and use it for other things.

You Want Images on That?

You can still only use 140 characters in your Tweets, which can be challenging, but a picture is worth a thousand words…or 5,000 characters…you get the point. Using images is important for marketing, especially if you have a product that lends itself well to imagery.

Domino’s Pizza does a great job of this in their Twitter feed, posting an image almost every other Tweet and using the hashtag #PizzaPics.

 

Images liven up the feed, make things more interesting and act as a good way to showcase a product (pizza, in this case). If you have a product or service where images are easy to use, share lots of them. Get your followers to share images of your product or service. The web is a very visual world, so make the most of it.

The Basics of Marketing on Twitter

How you use Twitter to market your business will largely depend on your goals, how you decide to leverage the platform and who your customers are. There are some universal protocols that you should be following, though.

Grow Your Following

Don’t get me wrong here. Followers aren’t everything. You could have fifty thousand followers on Twitter and still be considered a failure at using it to market your business. You do, however, need a good following if you are going to be successful. Here are some tips for growing your connections:

  • Follow people (who you actually want to follow). They’ll follow you back.
  • Engage with people. Favorite, retweet, and reply to their Tweets. This exposes you to their followers just as if their friends saw them talking to you at a party, and they wanted to come meet you.
  • Advertise on Twitter. You’ll have to spend some cash, but it will work.
  • Share content that your followers will like.
  • Embed your Tweets on your website or on others’ websites.
  • Interact and share consistently. Do it daily, weekly or bi-weekly. For the most part, more is better, but no matter how often you are active, make sure it’s consistent.

Get People to Engage

Social Media and Personal Branding: 6 Sure-Fire Tips for SuccessOnly you know your goals for marketing your business on Twitter. There isn’t really a universal result or drive to use the platform. For most strategies to be considered even a partial success, though, a conversation is required between company and followers.

You have to get people interacting with you. You can’t just push content out into nothingness and expect your activity on Twitter to get you anywhere. Here are some tips for doing that:

  • Be a real person, not just a mouth piece for the company. That is, don’t just spout information out. Post things in a way that gets people involved. After all, this is social media.
  • Run contests that encourage and reward followers for engaging with the brand.
  • Integrate online and offline marketing strategies that will drive engagement. For example, you might send out free versions of a product and get people to post images of themselves using it on Twitter.

Have a Goal

This should probably be closer to the front of this post, but as long as it gets mentioned, that is the important part. Before you go tweeting like crazy all over the web, sit down and think about a couple of questions.

  1. What does success look like for using Twitter to market your business?
  2. How will you measure that success to know when you’ve achieved it?

There is no right or wrong answer to these questions. You just have to answer them or your time will probably be wasted online. It’s very easy (even with goals in place) to get distracted and lose sight of your ultimate goal for using the platform.

Some common goals for using Twitter for marketing are acquiring customers, building brand or product awareness, serving customers in innovative ways or building a relationship with a target market. Whatever your goals are, make sure you write them down and revisit them often. The most important things to remember when using Twitter to promote your company are to be creative and have fun!

 

How do you use Twitter for business? Join in the conversation by leaving a comment below.  

How to Use Google Plus for Business

Google Plus LogoWhen it was first launched, Google Plus was a shiny new toy many were clamoring to play with. Excitement for the social platform quickly waned as critics predicted its demise while Facebook’s title as market leader seemed secure.

While G+ can’t even compete with Facebook’s user base, recent data show that it continues to outpace Twitter as the world’s second-largest social platform with about 359 million active users as of 2013.

Businesses should sit up and take notice. Not only are consumers who may be interested in their products and services active on the platform, but the indirect benefits of growing a network and having it interact with content you have shared are many.

Using Google Plus for business is easy, and we have some simple tips to help you make the most of your business page.

Define Success

Before you start using Google Plus for business, you should define what success means for you on the platform. That means outlining what your goals are and how you will achieve them. There really isn’t a right and wrong here. Success is different for all people and businesses. Perhaps you already have a social media strategy in place?

The important thing here is that you know what success will look like. Is it building a following and getting your brand exposure? Will you measure success by the volume of engagement you have on the platform? Or will it be when you actually get a new customer as a result of using Google Plus?
Whatever it is, define it, write it down, and outline a plan to achieve it.

plantGrowing Your Following

Using Google Plus for business means you have to get people to follow you first. There are several ways you can go about doing this.

Circle Sharing
I really like this one because if you do it right, you can grow a following in no time with a little bit of footwork. Circle sharing is the practice of grouping contacts into a circle in your account and then sharing it with whatever followers you already have.

Assuming you already have a few followers, create a circle that they would want to add to their accounts. If you, as a business, are at all relevant to the circle you’ve created (and you should make sure that you are), add yourself to the circle and share it.

The idea here is that people will see the circle of people or companies (or both), find it interesting or useful, and then add them all at once to their own accounts. Once they have added the circle (and your business), anything you post will begin showing up in their feeds.

When you build circles, craft them carefully. Don’t just mash a bunch of profiles and business pages together. Make them into a theme and name it accordingly. Make sure there is a common thread among all the accounts you have put into the circle. That way when you go to share it, you can describe it easily, and those for whom the circle is relevant will find it useful.

For instance, if you are a video game developer and you want to grow your following, you could create a circle of famous gamers and game developers to share. You could name it something clever, add your own company to it and then share it with your network. If people like it enough, they will add it to their own accounts and also share it with their own networks.

Quality contentGreat Content
Another good way to grow your following is to share good content. Put some effort into your activities on Google Plus, and don’t just do the bare minimum of sharing others’ content or sharing links to other websites. Those things are fine to do, but if you really want people to be interested and interact with your brand, you have to be original, entertaining, useful and/or fun to follow. Examples of good content to share are:

  • Infographics that you’ve made (hint: come up with your own data and you can make one here)
  • Memes: people love Internet memes. Google the term and you can get a lot of ideas on what you could do. Make it relevant to who you want to attract to your business.
  • Blog posts: write your own blog posts and share links to them on your account.
  • Video: share useful or entertaining videos as your brand.

For the most part, try not to just go through the motions. Think hard about what is relevant to your target market, and share things that resonate with them.

billboardAdvertising Your Presence
People may not search you out on G+, but if you promote your business page in places where customers are already seeing you, then they can find you there. Place links to your Plus page in email signatures, on your website, on other social profiles or on printed materials.

Engagement
You’ll find that by simply participating on Google Plus, your following will begin to grow. Comment on things others have posted, follow other users and businesses, add people to your account and interact in any other way you can think of.

This gets your brand exposure, and people who see the brand may decide to follow it. Using hashtags is another way to get found more often. When you use hashtags, you become part of a larger conversation that people who aren’t following you can see.

Although discounted in the beginning, G+ has become a vibrant community where businesses have an opportunity to make connections with their markets. The real keys to success on G+ (and other social networks) are to be consistent, genuine and original. People connect with brands when there is a two-way conversation.

 

What tips do you have for using Google Plus for business? Join the conversation by commenting below.

How to Use LinkedIn for Business

linkedin_logoEach social media network is unique. Each one has its own audience, its own strengths and indeed its own style. LinkedIn is one of those networks with a distinct style and audience. It is frequented by professionals and is often used for professional networking as opposed to sharing images of your children and casual status updates. It’s the place where people go to show what they know and to connect with others on a professional instead of personal level. Following are some tips for companies looking to leverage the platform for more exposure. According to Hubspot, 43% of marketers have acquired a customer on LinkedIn.

 

Make the Most Out of Your Company Page

You have several opportunities to brand your page and insert information about products and services. Use the banner section of your company page to showcase your logo or an image that symbolizes what you do as a company.

The Content Authority linkedIn company pageAdministrators can add company specialties, additional logos, recruiting posters, groups, and a company description to the page. By adding keywords in some of these sections, you can increase the likelihood that your company will show up for specific queries.

LinkedIn also features service pages where admins can add a bunch of information on the products/services that the company offers. These pages will be visible to users and the visitors can add recommendations for services.

 

linkedin-demographicsTake Note of Your Demographics

Naturally, you should grow your following on LinkedIn just like on any other network, but unlike other social platforms, LinkedIn places an emphasis on the professional status of the people connected to your page.

Specifically, you can see the professional ranking of those connected to your page. See if your audience is comprised primarily of entry-level people, CEOs or a mix somewhere in between. Think carefully about the content you share as the brand with your audience in mind. This is true for any network, and on LinkedIn, you want to share content that is relevant on a professional level to your audience.

 

thoughtfulPost Thoughtful Content

You should be posting content as your company page at least a couple of times a week if not more. Not only should your content be relevant to your audience, but it should be helpful and insightful. You should also be following the 80/20 rule. That means 80% of your content should be non promotional and the other 20% can be about your company.

Links, images, useful data and video tend to get the most interaction; however, this is a time when you should watch your analytics closely. Plan out content to post for about a month and make sure you have a good mix of different kinds of content.

After the month is over, go back and see which posts got the most clicks, the most interactions and were viewed by the most people. Model future content after that which got the most interactions.

 

Tracking Conversions

When using 20% of your time on the platform to post self-promotional items, make sure you are measuring your activities. If you are using an analytics platform and you are sending traffic back to your website, you can use customized URLs for your posts.

Make sure you have well-optimized landing pages so that visitors can easily convert when they arrive at your site. You should also be laying out clear goals. Are you using LinkedIn to sell things? Are you using it to generate leads? Make goals that are measureable and attainable so you can see if the platform is working well for you as a business.

LinkedIn is a powerful networking and marketing tool. As a business, you can leverage the personality of the network to get people engaged with your brand. Craft your profile to stand out, know your audience, be thoughtful, be helpful and measure your marketing activities.

 

What tips do you have for using LinkedIn for business? Let us know by leaving a comment below!

How to Set Up a Facebook Page

With more than a billion users globally, Facebook is arguably the king of social media platforms right now. Many businesses have taken advantage of the cheap and easy exposure the platform provides. If you are new to the social phenomenon, this post is all about how to set up a Facebook page for your business.

Step 1: Personal Profile

In order to setup a Facebook page for your business, you need a personal profile. Business pages can’t float around out there on their own; they must be administered by a personal profile. If you already have an account, you can use that. If you don’t have one, or don’t want to use your personal account, you can set up a new account by visiting www.facebook.com and filling out the basic fields on the home page.

facebook-home

Step 2: Start your Business Page

Once you have a personal profile and you’re logged in, visit facebook.com/pages/create. At this stage, you will choose the type of page you want to create. Read the selections carefully. You can undo things to a certain extent, but once your page is created, it becomes very difficult to go back and change things.

Beginning of Facebook business page process

Notice that you have 6 choices. If you are a regular business with a physical location, most of the choices are obviously not for you. It can get confusing, though, when you see “Company, Organization or Institution” and “Local Business or Place.”

These two account types are very similar, so if you end up picking one over the other, there may not be much buyer’s remorse for you. If you are a small local business, choose the “local business” option. If you work for a large company or organization, choose the “company, org, inst” option. The bonus with the local business option is that you get to enter address information. Most local businesses owned by sole proprietors benefit from having address and other contact info out there on Facebook. Big companies do, too, but to a lesser extent. Especially if they are not retail locations.

Step 3: Enter Basic Information

Basic information entered on FacebookIf you chose the “company” option, you just pick a category and type your business name. If you choose the “local business” or “place” option, you have some extra basic information to enter. Put it all in and click “get started.”

Step 4: Add More Information

In the next step, you’ll be prompted to enter some “about us” information, a profile image and other basic info. It is important that you add as much information as possible because this will all appear on your business page profile. For example, links to your website, your business address and phone number will all be available to your prospects.

Basic Information on Facebook

After you get through the basic information, you’re done! You will be taken to the admin area of your business page. From there, you can invite people in your network to like the page, write your first post or add more images and milestones to your timeline.

 

Do you have any tips for first-timers setting up their Facebook business page? Let us know by commenting below.

Preparing For Social Media Marketing In 2014

social media marketing tips for 2014December tends to reign in a flurry of activity as marketers and their teams scramble to assemble some sort of plan for the coming year. While some will succeed, others will fail miserably. Although we’d love to ensure you fall into the former category by focusing on every area of marketing, there’s one area that appears to need some work: social media marketing.

It’s time not only to do social media marketing right, but it’s also time to do it better. With that said, here are five ways to prepare for the year ahead.

Writing a Social Media Plan That Makes Sense for Your Business

Writing a social media plan is only something big businesses do, right? After all, they’re the ones with the time and resources to create these “useless” documents few people ever really follow. You’re the one who barely has the ability to produce enough social media content, let alone focus on unnecessary paperwork.

Besides, your “let’s play it by ear” strategy seems to be working. You can’t really tell what impact you’re having because you’re not measuring anything, but your follower and fan numbers are on the rise so that must be a good thing.

Unfortunately, that’s not how it works. Although your reasons for not writing a social media plan may seem valid, adopting a forward-thinking strategy and content plan can help you solve many of the issues you’re using as excuses. Whether you’re a one-man band or part of a large team, make certain you have a written plan to help you remain focused and accountable. It doesn’t have to be long or complex, but it must make sense for your business.

Being Effective In the Implementation of Your Plan

What good is your plan if you let it gather dust in the attention-deficient recesses of some marketing file you only glance at once a year?

The hard truth is this: we’re entering 2014. It’s time to be effective or be left behind. Pull out your plan if you have one, blow off the cobwebs so it looks as grand as when you first typed it up, and then get excited about implementing it the right way. Your social media marketing strategy is designed to guide you, so let it. If you don’t, you really have wasted time and resources your business can ill afford to lose.

Unleashing Creativity

social media creativityIf you look at most viral social media posts, there’s one thing they have in common: creativity. They’re created by people who think outside of the box and take risks in their content development strategies.

In an environment where every brand is vying for the attention of the masses, the successful ones are those who show character, embrace unusual thinking, and break with convention. The only rules you need to follow are those of being a responsible social media citizen. Outside of that, there’s no law that states your content has to conform to specific guidelines in terms of structure or appearance.

Going Big or Going Home

Keeping the buzz alive on social media platforms is a hard thing to do. People move from one trend to the next at what seems like lightning speed, so it has become increasingly important for brands to develop concepts that produce enough buzz and brand awareness for a campaign to be deemed successful. Although you’ll want to publish a consistent flow of content, you should also plan one or two big ideas that give your target audience something they desire—something that’ll keep them engaged, and something that’ll generate valuable leads for your business.

Opening the Door for Spontaneity

If you’ve wrapped so much red tape around your social media marketing strategy that all content has to make an extensive journey through the upper echelons of your organization for approval first, you’re missing some great opportunities to be innovative and timely. Some of the best and most viral posts this year came from brands who took advantage of topical events. Things happen too fast to dally about with ridiculous review processes, so let your team of social media content geniuses be spontaneous and jump on the latest happenings for the benefit of your brand. As long as you have a social media policy in place and trustworthy individuals at the helm who think before they post, your brand should be in good hands.

The bottom line: if you prepare properly, you have a good chance to make 2014 a year that surpasses all others in terms of your social media ROI. Most businesses can’t afford to play around anymore. Can yours?

How are you preparing your social media marketing in 2014? Let us know in the comment section below!

 

Social Media Manager Tools For 2014

As social media experts gear up for the year ahead, it’s crucial to evaluate the old marketing toolbox and add plugins, applications, and services that can potentially bolster campaigns. With so many new options entering the market on a yearly basis, it’s almost impossible to choose the best tools for monitoring your brand, understanding your audience, and staying connected. Fortunately, our 2014 list can help you narrow down the choices.

In previous posts, we’ve covered some great social media manager tools that we’d still highly recommend today. These include:

Following are some of our 2014 recommendations for your growing arsenal of social media marketing tools.

Social Motus

Social media manager tool - Social Motus

Although Social Motus was only established in 2011, this social media data analysis tool has quickly become a popular option among the pros. Besides helping you manage Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn accounts, this all-in-one program offers everything from monitoring, publishing, engaging, and discovery to analytics, real-time feeds, and conversion tracking. Pricing starts at $15 per month per user, but you can test out the service with a free 30-day trial. If you’re an Internet marketing consultant or belong to an agency, you’ll be pleased to know Social Motus also offers a White Label option so you can rebrand the dashboard as your own when providing social media management services to clients.

Swayy

Social media manager tool - Swayy

Finding and publishing engaging content that speaks to the interests of your audience is crucial for social media success. Swayy helps you do just that by dropping relevant posts into your dashboard so you can read and choose what you want to share with your communities on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. Besides the content discovery aspect of the tool, the software will even provide hashtag suggestions for your posts, as well as analytics that show you which pieces of content are the most effective in growing your community of followers. Swayy plans range from free to $49 per month depending on your needs.

SimplyMeasured

Social media manager tool - SimplyMeasured

When you need detailed data regarding your social media presence, few tools can compare to SimplyMeasured. This service not only allows you to manage, organize, and analyze your brand’s data on all major networks, but it also provides a complete snapshot of your social media performance, competitive analysis’ for Facebook and Twitter, Instragram and Youtube channel reporting, and data on social traffic. All accounts include Google Analytics integrations, Bitly and Klout tracking, influencer and trend analysis, and more. Although there are five different levels available with basic plans starting at $500 per month, there is a free 14-day trial period so you can test the tool first.

Crowdbooster

Social media manager tool - Crowdbooster

This popular platform is a firm favorite with experts as it offers social media managers listening, scheduling, monitoring, analytics, and exporting capabilities. It also highlights influential followers, lets you track audience growth, and offers intelligent suggestions for improving campaigns. Plans range from Bronze to Platinum with $9 per month being the starting point for basics.

Raven Tools

Social media manager tool - Raven Tools

A little different from other options, Raven Tools offers a complete Internet marketing toolset that’s perfect for social media managers wanting a comprehensive solution. In addition to monitoring and management software, users gain access to features that cover the areas of online advertising and SEO. Social media features include team management, automated sentiment analysis, keyword searches, analytics, and CRM integration. If you run large-scale digital campaigns and you prefer the convenience of managing everything on one dashboard, then give Raven Tools a go. Their Pro packages cost $99/month while their Agency packages start at $249. There is a free 30-day trial available if you want to test the service without any obligations.

 

Are there any social media manager tools you’d recommend for 2014? We’d love to hear about them so drop us a line in the comment box below.

Striking a Perfect Balance between Social Media Promotion and Interaction

social media promotion versus interaction balanceLet’s be clear about the basics: businesses claim social media property and invest resources into strategies because they want to see some form of return. Whether that’s a monetary return, a boost in visibility and brand awareness, a strengthening of customer relations, or an increase in retention rates, depends on the company’s strategy.

Where many entrepreneurs fail is in the execution of social media marketing. They mistakenly translate “social media marketing” into “promote, promote, promote.” With so few companies succeeding at this approach, it’s a tactic that clearly doesn’t work.

The reality is that social media platforms aren’t advertising forums—they’re designed for the creation and exchange of ideas and information. If any business hopes to succeed in the online social sphere, it’s crucial to remove the focus from the promotion of a brand’s product and service offerings to the creation of meaningful conversation. Does that mean you shouldn’t promote your content at all? Absolutely not. What it means is you have to create an ideal balance between social media promotion and interaction.

The Problem with a Promotion-Focused Strategy

  • You risk alienating your target audience. People don’t join social media sites so that companies can shove branded content down their throats or sell their latest product and service offerings to them. They join to connect to the world outside of their local communities, to interact with people who share the same interests and values, and to have fun.
  • Your brand will fade into obscurity. Think about it: if you alienate the very people who are meant to spread your social media content and endorse your brand, how will you keep your name in front of the right eyes?
  • You miss opportunities to connect with clients, partners, influencers, and future employees. When you’re failing to participate in crucial conversations around your brand and key topics, you’re neglecting to fulfill a major part of any successful social media strategy. Why would any business want to miss the opportunity to build potentially fruitful relationships?
  • You may overlook critical insight. Interaction with like-minded individuals can help stimulate the big ideas that may just put your company on top. You never know when valuable links, stories, or industry data will make their way into your hands thanks to your participation in relevant groups.

So, what should you do to make sure you don’t implement a strategy that’s too focused on promotion?

The 80/20 Rule Can Help You Find the Right Balance

Social media balance

In a nutshell, the 80/20 rule, which is also known as the Pareto Principle, states that for many events, approximately 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.

In other words, you should be using your social media assets for interaction 80% of the time and for self-promotion 20% of the time. With one out of every five posts being a promotional post, you shouldn’t have too much trouble following this rule of thumb, right?

Just in case, here are tips for the best 80/20 outcome:

  • When you’re promoting, provide value.

  • When you’re interacting, be engaging and helpful. Show that you’re genuinely interested in the topic of conversation.

  • Don’t make a promotional post a blatant sales pitch. Subtlety is the way to win over followers.

  • Keep it real when you’re posting a conversational post. Let people know there’s a person on the other end of the computer.

  • Always be audience-oriented.

The bottom line: stop killing your brand by constantly talking about your brand. Social media demands that you get rid of the “me, me, me” mentality and start focusing on others. People will buy from you if they like you, and you’re not going to attain that favorable position if you’re bombarding them with advertisements and self-flattering posts. Finding a good balance will ensure you’re not viewed as narcissistic, but rather an all-around social media player.

 

Do you struggle to obtain a balance when it comes to social media promotion and interaction? Perhaps you have a different viewpoint on the 80/20 rule. Share your thoughts with us below.

Lead Generation through Social Media in 2014

A few months ago, we covered seven ways to use social media for lead generation. As marketers look to refine their inbound marketing tactics in 2014, we’re outlining four additional ideas to boost your lead generation efforts through social media next year.

Before we get stuck into it, here’s a recap of the first seven:

  1. Listen to relevant conversations for outreach opportunities.

  2. Add value and a personal touch to conversations by taking your virtual communications offline.

  3. Leverage social ads to reach a high quality, highly targeted audience.

  4. Promote compelling free offerings social media users can’t resist.

  5. Create contests, sweepstakes, giveaways, discounts, and other promotions to accumulate qualified leads.

  6. Actively participate in Google+ Hangouts, Twitter Chats, and LinkedIn Groups.

  7. Encourage social sharing.

Once you’ve mastered these, move onto our next four tips.

#1. Use Social Media Tools Specifically Designed For Lead Generation

As social advertising increases in popularity, providers are creating unique tools to help businesses boost their effectiveness. Twitter’s new lead generation card feature is a perfect case in point.

Twitter lead generation card

Brands can now create an expanded Tweet with a cool description of their offer and a tempting CTA. Best of all, users can securely share their email address without having to leave the social media platform or fill out a tedious form. The tool pre-populates the card with a lead’s @username and email address so all the individual has to do is click the submit button to take advantage of your offer. Pretty convenient, right?

Keep your eye on developments within the networks you’re using because we’re sure to see more of this smart marketing in the future.

#2. Learn To Newsjack Intelligently

Newsjacking isn’t new, but many businesses need to get better at it. Buzz-worthy stories create high demand, so why not jump at the chance if you see an opportunity to tailor your offers accordingly? Just make sure you do it the right way. Exploiting natural disasters or tragic events can ruin your reputation rather than fuel your social media lead generation efforts, so be extremely sensitive when selecting the topical content you plan to newsjack. Be quick about it, too, because most stories have a very short lifespan.

#4. Get Back To the Basics

If you’ve been sweating for hours over the right message and call-to-action for a great lead generation post, dig into your old bag of tricks and get back to the basics of marketing. You know, where you wield psychological influence through things like scarcity to drum up interest and sense of urgency in your offers. This is a great way to generate leads through social media within a limited time frame so use this tactic when appropriate.

#4. Become a Pro at Creating Offers and CTAs for Each Buying Phase

Lead Generation Social Media CTAAs a marketer, you not only want to focus on the quantity of leads you generate through social media, you also want to focus on the quality. After all, what’s a lead worth if it’s unlikely to convert? Therefore, you should aim to create a variety of offers and marketing messages that speak to your target audience at various stages of the buying cycle. While one prospect might be interested in an eBook or similar informational piece, another might be ready for a free trial or demo.

Always remember that the first key element of a good lead generation campaign is a compelling offer, while the secret sauce is a powerful call-to-action. Back that up with a killer landing page and lead capture form and you’re good to go.

Are you preparing for lead generation via social media in 2014? Is there anything you’d add to our list? Add your voice to the conversation below.

TCA’s Social Media Awards – The Best and Worst of 2013

TCA Social Media AwardsAdvertising isn’t as simple as it once was.

With social media use on the rise, marketers have to find imaginative, unexpected ways to create relevant and interesting content that tantalizes target audiences and encourages participation. Although social media makes it possible to raise significant awareness with zero budget, it can also amplify the shame when campaigns go wrong.

With that said, we thought we’d have a bit of fun and highlight some of the best and worst applications of social media we’ve seen in 2013.

The Feel Good Award

As one of the most shared videos of 2013, Dove certainly has a reason to celebrate their Real Beauty Sketches campaign. The brand’s powerful message evoked strong emotions from a deeply engaged audience, prompting viewers to share the Youtube masterpiece with their own online communities, as well as contribute to the brand’s campaign with testimonials, stories, and other user-generated content.

The Unfortunate Wording Award

Social media award - Tesco

Poor Tesco. Their ill-worded (and ill-timed) Tweet appeared in the midst of their infamous horse meat scandal that had the stomachs of consumers turning violently. Based on the reaction by social media users, few appreciated their choice of words whether they were intentional or not. Although we love a good viral post, this one circulated for all the wrong reasons.

The Creativity Award

Social media award - The Weather Channel

 

To promote #TornadoWeek earlier this year, The Weather Channel created a tweet-powered tornado simulation controlled by the volume of #TornadoWeek mentions. Putting Twitter users in the driving seat of Mother Nature really paid off with the dedicated hashtag still showing up in many feeds months down the line.

The All-Rounder Award

Social Media Award - Oreo

Oreo not only has the knack for baking delicious cookies, but the brand also has a talent for creating fun, timely, and visually appealing campaigns across all their social properties. Whether they’re showing off the versatility of their product through mouth-watering recipes or capitalizing on current events like the birth of the royal baby, you’re sure to find an Oreo-related post to make you want to grab a cookie and a glass of milk.

The Cool Contest Award

Social media award - Heineken

Heineken brought a fun factor to Instagram with a scavenger hunt contest that generated numerous impressions and raked in a boatload of new followers. While this type of contest isn’t new, contestants were able to find the clues and hunt for the prize within the confines of the dedicated Instagram competition page.

The Innovative Campaign Award

Social Media Award - Fruit of the LoomPhoto: Fruit of the Loom

Fruit of the Loom believes that “great-fitting underwear can help you start your workday in a great mood,” which is why it’s no surprise that this famous underwear company sent LinkedIn users who had recently acquired or changed jobs a message stating they could claim a free pair of underwear for their new adventure. Since LinkedIn is usually left out in the cold when it comes to this sort of campaign, we’re giving Fruit of the Loom two thumbs up for targeting this networking site.

The Worst Reaction Award

Social media award - Amy's Baking Co.

Amy’s Baking Co. fiasco really takes the cake for 2013. There have been some pretty bad reactions by brand’s to criticism, but this business has created a PR nightmare of note. Besides vulgar language and erratic posts, the company owners completely trashed their target audience via Facebook. What about those 118k likes you see in the image above? They’re mostly there because people can’t take their eyes off this social media train wreck. The brand has stated they were hacked, but the mudslinging continues months later. BuzzFeed is calling it an “epic brand meltdown,” we’re calling it something every company should avoid at all costs.

Which have been your favorite social media campaigns in 2013? Which ones made you cringe? Share your suggestions along with a name for your award in the comment section below.

6 Ways to Make Your Social Media Content Management Easier

If you’ve been operating within the online marketing world for a while now, you’re likely tired of having the phrase “content is king” rammed down your throat. It’s a simple concept, yes. However, the actual management of your content assets can be a pain when you’re implementing a multifaceted plan that’s integrated with a comprehensive social media strategy. There’s just so much content—both original and user-generated—that many people have trouble staying on top of things.

To help you make the process of social media content management a little easier and less frustrating, consider the following six tips.

1. Establish an Effective System

Social Media Content ManagementIf your social media editorial process is a mess, the chances are your social media content management is a mess, too. When you’re running a complex marketing campaign, it’s crucial to set up a system and organize your team in a way that allows for maximum effectiveness. Establish clear roles, identify the right individuals to perform the right tasks, and ensure your content workflow, optimization, and distribution processes make sense for your business. You’re dealing with far more than a simple social media editorial calendar here, so make certain you spend quality time refining your system.

2. Choose the Right Listening and Monitoring Tools

While most social platforms offer sufficient capabilities to track conversations, there are tools specifically designed to dig deep and key in on relevant discussions and topics that will feed your content development strategy. In addition, they consolidate conversations from your social media assets into one stream, so you don’t have to waste precious time checking each feed obsessively. The important thing is that you select a tool based on your business needs. Although some options are free, others don’t come cheap, which means you need to ensure you research several available social media listening and monitoring tools before you make a buying decision.

3. Pick a Good Social Media Management Tool

Whether you opt for a free social media management tool or a paid solution, you’ll find that good software with extensive functionality can make content management a breeze. Manage multiple accounts, schedule posts, collaborate with your editorial team, discover optimal times to post content for maximum engagement, manage user-generated content, reply to inquiries, participate in conversations, and more. The best part is you can do all this on a single dashboard. There are thousands of tools out there, so test a handful and then select the one you or your team find the most efficient.

4. Become an Expert Performance Tracker

You can create and publish every type of content you like, but there’s no guarantee you’ll be effective. With social media measurement tools, you can determine whether your content produces results, figure out which pieces generate the most bang for your buck, and track the overall market value of your content. Monitoring your performance lets you establish and focus on key areas that deliver results while eliminating ineffective tactics and dud content.

5. Avoid a One-Man Juggling Act

Juggling Social Media ContentWhether you’re a solopreneur or part of a small team, social media content management can quickly go haywire if you plan to do everything on your own. The process usually requires more than anyone in a full-time job can handle, so you should consider delegating or outsourcing certain tasks where possible.

Think about it. Larger businesses have content marketing directors, content creators, editors, community managers, analytics specialists, and others within the organization working together to make their content marketing and social media programs work. Hiring someone to write your social media snippets or manage your content schedule can eliminate unnecessary pressure and give you an opportunity to focus on tasks that are more important.

6. Use Time Trackers

Social platforms can be addictive. Before you know it, you’re sucked in and spending hours at a time following a trail of content that leads to Nowhereville. A simple time tracking tool will help you manage social media content projects and identify areas of inefficiency.

Ultimately, your aim should be to create plenty of useful, relevant content you can feed your hungry social communities regularly. Ensuring your streams are full helps keep your brand top-of-mind.

 

Do you struggle with social media content management? Maybe you’re a pro with favorite tips or tools to share. Drop us a line in the comment section below and share your thoughts on this topic.