How to Choose the Best Social Media Platforms for Your Business

So you realize that you need to be social. But where do you start?

It can be overwhelming. There are numerous platforms and every social media advice website will tell you something different. Here is what it comes down to – you need to evaluate your brand message and your marketing goals and find platforms that match the “persona” of your business.

“But how do I know which platforms match my business?” Luckily, I am here as a social media expert to break it down the main platforms for you.

Via Flickr by marcopako

Via Flickr by marcopako

Facebook. Many say Facebook marketing is as dead as paper marketing, which, if you follow my posts, you know is not the case. It is good to have some Facebook presence no matter what your business is (however retail, restaurants, and local businesses do the best). It’s a numbers game – there are over 1.2 billion active users as of January 2014. You can’t ignore that big of platform. Granted, Facebook’s algorithms make it hard for your messages to reach that platform, but if you do a little bit of research you can greatly use organic reach Facebook to your advantage.

Via Flickr by mkhmarketing

Via Flickr by mkhmarketing

Twitter. With the right hashtags, you can do anything on Twitter. Yet the best businesses on Twitter are the opposite of the best businesses on Facebook. This is because retail, restaurants, and local businesses have a dedicated customer base while other businesses have more casual relationships with the audience. This is where Twitter comes in. Twitter allows you to connect with other businesses, prospective customers, and industry enthusiasts who will promote you for free – as long as you use the right hashtags. I insist the majority of my clients get both a Twitter and Facebook. They are the two powerhouse platforms you can’t ignore.

Via Flickr by Link Humans UK

Via Flickr by Link Humans UK

LinkedIn. LinkedIn is THE platform for B2B marketing. Yet LinkedIn can be tricky. You need to have one employee be the “face” of the company, meaning they create, manage, discuss, and make connections on the company’s behalf. It can be tricky to outsource your LinkedIn marketing. Usually it is best to do in house after researching the best way to use LinkedIn as a connector tool, not as a spam marketing robot.

Via Flickr Zack D. Smith

Via Flickr Zack D. Smith

Google+. I admit, I have a love-hate relationship with Google+. There is a lot to be desired and I don’t see its use as a social media platform – outside of its affiliation with Google. With Google’s search engine rules, having a Google+ page is practically a must. With a Google+ page, you get higher search engine rankings and more credibility in Google’s (AKA – Internet God’s) eyes. If you rely on high search engine rankings for your business, get a Google+ page.

Via Flickr marioanima

Via Flickr marioanima

YouTube. YouTube is more of a supplemental platform for your marketing plan. Only certain brands are good for YouTube. If you have the opportunity to make instructional videos, product reviews/highlights, or “commercials” online with your product or service, then YouTube is a great platform for you. Just make sure your videos are professional and high quality!

alicegop

Pinterest. Pinterest is a great platform if your business is highly visual. If you have high quality product photos or offer services that are eye-catching, get your boards started! The pinning platform is best for craft, home decor, home improvement, wedding, food-related, and retail businesses.

Via Flickr Play Among Friends

Via Flickr Play Among Friends

Instagram. Like Pinterest, Instagram is great for highly visual businesses. The difference in Instagram – you need to be very interactive as well. On Pinterest, you can get away with throwing up content without a whole lot of interaction. On Instagram, you have to be involved. You have to know the best filters, know the hashtags, and know your audience as well as constantly communicating with your audience.

Via Flickr by manoftaste.de

Via Flickr by manoftaste.de

Blog. Bottom line – blogs are important for pretty much every business. Blogs are your opportunity to showcase your knowledge about your industry. The golden rule is to never write an entire blog post as self-promotion. You should always blog to give away “free samples” of information to your audience so they want more.

Originally posted on LinkedIn

Advertisements

My Controversial Opinion on The Weather Channel’s Social Media Fail

One of my social media buddies Jessica Wooldridge Tweeted me and a few other gurus our opinion on The Weather Channel’s social media fail moment. I read what happened and found I had way more opinions than could fit in 140 characters. I am writing a blog post giving my opinion as a social media marketer representing multiple companies on how The Weather Channel employee handled the situation. Hopefully my opinion can be a learning opportunity for businesses trying to learn the ways of Twitter.

Fort Worth City Council Member Joel Burns Tweeted a simple complaint to The Weather Channel, asking them to change the photo on the app. When he opened the weather for his city, the app displayed a photo of Dallas instead of Fort Worth. He wanted to see his city, not Dallas.

wct10

The Weather Channel did not respond after his Tweet sent at 7:05 AM. Burns Tweeted again at 7:40, just 35 minutes later, saying:

weather channel twitter

Okay, I get it. The Weather Channel is not perfect. I especially hate the update to their app that happened about a year ago. The interface is sensitive and poorly laid out and it can be a pain to find weather in a different city. However, Burns only waited 35 minutes before deleting the app.

Yes, you need to respond to complaints as a company. Yes, you need to do it in a timely manner. But a timely manner means within a couple hours, not 35 minutes. For all you know, the social media team was in a weekly strategy meeting since it was Monday.

Not only that, but Burns was outright rude about the “poor customer service.” He is the same as a customer in a restaurant who asks the waitress for more napkins on a busy Friday night and then is infuriated when they are not brought back in under five minutes, nixing her tip. His wording and vengeful tone was extremely rude and unprofessional. Which led to a frustrated social media team at The Weather Channel to respond:

weather channel twitter 2

 

Alright. Here we go.

The Weather Channel responded a minute later. This could mean they were on the whole time and ignoring Burns. Or it could mean they just started looking through their Tweets and were responding to things when his Tweet caught their eye and they became frustrated. Regardless, they responded at the wrong time with the wrong thing.

Companies ALWAYS need to be the bigger person when confronted with complaints and unruly customers. The same goes for this interaction between Burns and The Weather Channel. They should have apologized without the sarcastic comment. It was unprofessional and inappropriate.

However, what Burns said was also unprofessional and inappropriate. He WAS bullying. It doesn’t matter that he was bullying a corporation and not a person. It is still bullying. As a political figure, that is terrifying. People quickly rallied behind Burns, scorning The Weather Channel and how horrible they were to BUrns.

wct3wct8 wct7 wct6 wct5 wct4

 

The Weather Channel should not have responded that way. But in this incident, no one is recognizing that Burns was unprofessional, inappropriate, and yes bullying. All things you do NOT want in a city council member. The Weather Channel would have been the winner in this incident if they had responded apologetically and been the bigger person while RT what Burns said. This would highlight how poorly Burns behaved and The Weather Channel would have been a great social media example.

wvt9

The person who Tweeted the sarcasm should not be fired. That person should be reprimanded and The Weather Channel should have protocols in place for future incidents. But everyone is ignoring the bad behavior of Burns on Twitter. This is being overshadowed by The Weather Channel’s fail. It needs to be discussed.

How and When You Should Post on Twitter

I remember when I first signed up for my professional Twitter @HSWriting. I had a very old (and dusty) personal Twitter I tried to use years ago to communicate with my favorite authors and radio stations. I didn’t get much feedback and all of my friends were on Facebook, so I abandoned it. When I signed up my professional Twitter, I knew the rules of how to use it for marketing and all the best things to do. Still, that blank box was glaring at me as I nervously sat down to compose my first Tweet.

3944080951_3d143dba3c

No matter how much you know or don’t know about Twitter, first starting a new account is daunting. One of the most asked questions is, “How much should I Tweet and when should I Tweet to get noticed?” There is a balancing act on Twitter you have to perform between being nonexistent, being annoying with too many updates, and being the model Twitter user. To help you out, I am going to explain when and how you should post on Twitter.

Disclaimer: The “best times” to post on Twitter depend when YOUR audience is online. When you first start out, you can follow my recommendations, but after a couple of months of engagement, you need to get analytics on when your Tweets get the most engagement and optimize your posts for that. Tweriod is a great tool to get a free Twitter analysis. It will tell you the general time frame and exact hours you should be Tweeting.

On Twitter, the most you really should share is 14 times a day on weekdays. On weekends, post no more than seven times a day. Of course, this rule can be broken occasionally, but try to stick to that number as much as possible. Also, never send out an individual Tweet more than once an hour. It is okay to converse with other users more than once an hour, but when sending out individual Tweets, keep it limited.

twett-frequency

The Social Bakers did an analytic study where they took thousands of Tweets from top brands and figured out how many Tweets gave them the most engagement. They noticed after the third Tweet, engagement rapidly declined. However, these big brands also have a lot more followers. Three Tweets is sufficient to get them engagement, but you might need to do a little more to get the attention of followers scrolling through their feed. Once you get going, I recommend about five individual Tweets per day. Still hold conversations and comment on other content, but stick to five individual Tweets a day from your brand.

Here is a good rule of thumb to avoid being annoying – post to be informative rather than to be noticed. I get it, you want people to follow you, comment on, and share your content. We all do! That doesn’t share everything you can find. Only share content if it is informative or helpful to your audience.

6 Ways to Get the Party Started on Twitter

Twitter can seem overwhelming at first, especially since almost everyone on Twitter has hundreds of followers and you have zero to start with. It is easy to get started on Twitter once you understand the basics of how to communicate effectively.

Via Flickr by mkhmarketing

Via Flickr by mkhmarketing

Make a Plan

You need to decide what your goal will be for your Twitter account. Once you have that purpose lined out, you can start to craft your Tweets the right way. Otherwise, you will be sending out random marketing Tweets that people will ignore or Tweets about what you had for lunch. You also need to figure out your target audience and craft your Tweets specifically for them.

Be Human

The first way to be human is to make your profile human. Make your profile picture one of your face, smiling. You should also choose a cover photo either related to your business or something that defines you as a person. Once your profile is human, make sure your Tweets sound human. You only have 140 characters, but make sure every single one matches your personality and the way you speak.

Via Flickr by mkhmarketing

Via Flickr by mkhmarketing

Stay Polite and Informed

Always respond to anyone who Tweets to you and share their content. Also, don’t be afraid to ask Twitter experts questions. Everyone needs advice from their fellow users now and then (even me!). Making continuous rookie mistakes on Twitter irritates some users, so it is better to learn from them. Reading what other people Tweet will help you figure out the language and format you need to use. Lastly, make sure your Tweets are about other people or things. Only 20% of your Tweets should be about yourself.

Follow Worthwhile Users

Don’t follow just anyone! Make sure you want to see the content of every user you follow. Start with influencers in your niche and other people you respect. Also follow people you know in real life. From there, Twitter will recommend other similar users to follow.

Tweet Valuable Content

Make sure every Tweet you send out is valuable. Share articles that provide new information or a twist on your industry. Valuable content also includes conversations with others on Twitter. They will find value in the time you took to respond to them.

Via Flickr by mkhmarketing

Via Flickr by mkhmarketing

Patience is a Virtue

It takes time to grow a following on Twitter and see more interaction and results. Take a deep breath, keep using Twitter correctly, and you will see how influential your Twitter can be.

Understanding the New Twitter Layout and Using It to Your Advantage

Twitter has secretly been planning many new and exciting changes to their layout and usability for all Twitter users. Unlike Facebook updates, which tend to go very badly and cause people to “leave Facebook forever”, Twitter did a great job introducing changes to the public and getting its users on board. Just last night I stayed up ultra late to switch to the new layout and create a new profile banner (speaking of, let me know what you think of my Twitter banner!). Here are the key changes you need to know about and how to use them to your marketing advantage.

Profile and Cover Image

small twitter profile

twitter profile

Twitter has updated the user profiles to look more like, well, Facebook’s design. The profile has a cover photo/banner at the top, and the profile picture laid over the banner. Underneath the profile picture is your same old description, location, website address, and photos and videos. On the far right, visitors receive a recommended list of who to follow and what is trending so users don’t miss out on these common Twitter features. The home page is pretty much the same, except your banner is visible above your profile picture in the top left corner.

How to Use It: Make sure you upload a profile picture that is a photo and not a logo (except for rare exceptions). Also make sure you cover photo is relevant, creative, and accurately represents your brand. Abide by Twitter’s optimal cover photo size by making your banner 1500 px wide and 500 px high. I recommend changing your picture often to keep visitors interested and coming back.

Filtered Tweets

twitter banner blog

Underneath the cover photo is a navigation that allows visitors to view your Tweets, browse your photos and videos (redundant but useful I suppose), see who you follow, see who follows you, what Tweets you have favorited, and more. The feed below these options will reflect the visitor’s choice. This allows visitors to choose exactly which content of yours they want to see.

How to Use It: This was an option on the old layout, but it was on the top left corner. This design makes it more aesthetically pleasing and easier to access. One way you can use this to your advantage is to add photos that are bold and eye catching to important posts. Since users can now filter Tweets that are only photo and video related, you can get more engagement out of your Tweets by adding relevant and exciting photos to important Tweets.

Follower and Following Lists

followers

More with making things cleaner, Twitter has made viewing who you follow and who follows you easier to sort through. All of these users on Twitter are graphically organized with their banner and profile picture along with their description. This block format, reminiscent of Pinterest, allows users to easily sort through and digest options.

How to Use It: Start finding new people to follow and grow your own following!

Pinned Tweets

pinned tweet

The Pinned Tweet feature allows you to choose one Tweet to feature at the top of your profile. The only rule is it cannot be a Retweet.

How to Use It: Run specials, promotions, or exclusive content in a Tweet then pin it to the top of your profile. For example, if you are offering a free whitepaper, pin it to your profile! It can also be a highlight of what your Twitter “brand character” is all about so visitors get a clear sense of who you are. There is a bit of pressure choosing the featured Pinned Tweet. I am still trying to decide the best Tweet to pin on mine!

Best Tweets

best tweet

Twitter’s new profile also allows visitors to view the “best Tweets” you have produced. These are the ones that have experienced the highest engagement on Twitter.

How to Use It: Look through the Tweets that are featured and find a common theme in all of them. Start using that technique in all future Tweets to increase engagement overall.

Mobile Photo Improvements

twitter photos

Now Twitter’s mobile platform is more photo-friendly with the ability to tag up to ten people in a photo and to share multiple photos in one Tweet.

How to Use It: Brands can now fully engage with their audience by using this multiple photo and high tag option. You can post multiple photos that tell a story or send a message about your brand and tag relevant users in each photo for optimal sharing.

What do you think of the new layout? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @HS_Writing!

How to Use Twitter for Customer Service Without Tarnishing Your Brand Reputation

The Twitter platform is a very useful communication tool for your business. Companies use Twitter to get new customers and connect with the old ones. However, not many companies consider the importance of Twitter for customer service. Many people want to communicate on Twitter and sometimes it is to question or complain about your product or service. Some companies ignore customer requests on Twitter to avoid drawing negative attention to their brand. This is the wrong step to take. Instead, here are some ways to manage customer service on Twitter while still making your brand look awesome.

Via Flickr DigitalRalph

Via Flickr DigitalRalph

Respond Quickly

Try to respond within 24 hours. The less time you take to respond, the better. This is the same rule that goes for any customer service interaction, but many companies take days to make contact after an initial communication request from the customer. Your customer have chosen to communicate via Twitter because they thought they would get a faster response on that platform. Show them how attentive you are to their problem by quickly responding.

Via Flickr Warren Sukernek

Via Flickr Warren Sukernek

Use Empathy and Acknowledgement

Don’t be a Twitter robot! Make sure you tell them you are sorry about their problem or understanding their frustration. Acknowledge the problem before trying to solve it for them as well. When you take these steps, you are showing that you care about their customer and their experience with your brand. You are also indicating you did read their entire problem and did your research about how to fix it.

Via Flickr Book Work Laser & Design

Via Flickr Book Work Laser & Design

Don’t Redirect Them

People are choosing to communicate with your company on Twitter because that is their preferred method of communication. Asking them to visit the store, call, email, or get on another social media platform is inconvenient for them. They want their problem solved now and through the initial way of communicating. Answer their question or complaint entirely on Twitter. This can be tricky since you only have 140 characters, but brevity is your friend here.

Via Flickr Trey Pennington

Via Flickr Trey Pennington

Try to Resolve the Issue in One Tweet

I know you think I am crazy. But if your company can solve any issue in under 140 characters, your customers will have an amazing impression of your customer service. When you read about their problem entirely, do your research before responding, and give a perfect solution in few characters, you are taking up very little of your customer’s time and resolving their issue with ease. Evidence of your excellent customer service stays on Twitter as well, showing others how easy it is to communicate with you therefore giving them confidence in your brand.

The Different Kinds of Twitter Chats

Many businesses know they need a Twitter for their marketing campaign. They have an account and follow the best Twitter business practices. But many do not use Twitter chats to their advantage. Using the Twitter chat tool will engage your followers and generate new leads.

Via Flickr danielmoyle

Via Flickr danielmoyle

Twitter chats get people to stop scrolling and to engage in in-depth discussions about a certain topic. A person or a business will set a time and duration for the chat. They then spread the word to get others to join in using hashtags with the name of the business and chat after it, such as: #NameChat. There is usually a leader of the chat who welcomes users and keeps things on track and on topic. There are some different kinds of Twitter chats:

  • Chats with no agenda. These kinds of chats are usually spontaneous without a leader or moderator. They are very casual and anyone can join in.
  • Chats about a specified topic. After a particular topic is posted, everyone will Tweet about that topic.
  • Chats with an expert. This kind of chat features an expert or famous speaker. People can join in by asking that person questions.
  • Chats with a posed question. This chat is when a leader poses a question and users participate to answer the question.
  • Chats about an event with a hashtag. This is very common on television. For example, How I Met Your Mother puts the hashtag #HIMYM on the bottom of the screen at the beginning of the episode to remind people to Tweet about the episode. Other shows, like The Voice, will do the same thing and read off Tweets during the live show.

Have you ever participated in a Twitter Chat? How did you feel about it? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @HS_Writing!

How Many Tweets Should Your Business Respond To?

One of the best things about Twitter is the ability for businesses to quickly and easily interact with their followers. Celebrities have used Twitter to build an image of their brand where fans can openly communicate with them. Communication is one of the best Twitter tools you have, and using it will help you seem authentic and increase your Twitter followers.

Via Flickr Garrett Heath

Via Flickr Garrett Heath

Respond to Questions

Communication on the internet is the same as having a conversation in real life. If someone asked you a question, you would not just walk away without answering. On Twitter, any time a user asks you a question, you need to respond either with a @mention or a direct message. For questions that many people would have, use @mention. For more specific questions, respond in direct message. You don’t want to clutter your follower’s feed with questions they don’t care about.

Respond to Comments

The comment should be exceptionally moving or positive. Do not respond to users who just say, “Awesome website!” RT too many inane positive comments causes your brand to lose authenticity. If the user did not ask for a response, then do not reply. Cluttering people’s feeds wastes your followers’ time and bandwidth.

Every now and then, RT a Tweet that mentions you positively. This should be a great Tweet, such as, “Just got my shirt from @tshirts! I am so excited to wear it out tonight!” This is a good thing to RT every now and then with a thank you comment and a link to the shirt on your eCommerce website.

Respond to Insults or Complaints

Before responding to these kinds of Tweets, remember to never get nasty or start a flame war. Many people on Twitter are putting this kind of content out there in order to get a rise out of others. They feel safe on the anonymous internet. Everything you do on Twitter reflects the business, so every time you communicate it needs to remain professional.

Instead, respond with helpful solutions to their issues. You also need to find out the percentage of people on Twitter who do not care about your brand and who will only Tweet you to start problems. Ignore the people who are intentionally trying to cause problems and save your resources for people who actually need customer service.

How often should you respond? Some experts say as often as possible to respond to everyone, but many followers do not like their feed to be cluttered with a business responding to every comment or inquiry they receive. This tactic can result in a loss of followers.

A better rule of thumb is to only respond to the kind of Tweets mentioned above and only if they are very strong. Also, only respond to Tweets within 24 hours of their being sent. Any longer and it makes your brand seem less authentic.

While you need to respond to both negative and positive comments, you need to do so by keeping your brand in mind. Be consistent with your voice and brand personality on all Twitter communications. Sometimes, brands do not respond to Tweets that mention their name, but do not use the @mention tool. This means a slew of Tweets get lost in the space of the internet. Businesses need to use a social media management tool in order to receive both kinds of messages. This will help your brand seem more reachable to all users.

What kind of responses from businesses annoy your Twitter feed? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @HS_Writing!

6 Ways to Get More Followers on Twitter

Your followers are going to be your greatest Twitter marketing tool. Getting followers can be tricky, especially when you are just beginning an online marketing strategy. While it does take time to get a following, there are six things you can do to increase your follower count without buying fake followers from vendors.

Via Flickr by shawncampbell

Via Flickr by shawncampbell

Do Not Overly Promote

While it is okay to link to blog posts or web pages from your website occasionally, do not spend all of your tweets promoting products or your brand. You will be unfollowed instantly if all of your Tweets look like promotions. Followers consider promotional Tweets as spam. Statistics show:

  • 77% of shared images have no reference to a brand.
  • However, 67% of Twitter followers are more likely to buy from a brand they follow.
Via Flickr by mkhmarketing

Via Flickr by mkhmarketing

Post Images, Videos, and Quotes

Images, videos, and quotes are most often Retweeted than any other kind of Tweet on Twitter. When your content is Retweeted, it reaches more users which gives your brand more exposure. If people like what they see, they will visit your Twitter page and could begin following you.

  • 36% of links shared on Twitter are images
  • 40% of people respond better to visual content than text content
  • There are over 700 YouTube videos shared on Twitter every minute
  • 6 seconds is the average length of a Vine video
  • Inspirational quotes have high engagement on Twitter because people enjoy sharing them with others
Via Flickr by JoshSemans

Via Flickr by JoshSemans

Use Hashtags

Hashtags were originally invented as a kind of SEO keyword method that was used only on Twitter. People would research trending and popular hashtags to add to their Tweets, giving their content more exposure. It became so popular that it began being used on other social media websites.

Hashtags have evolved to be used as a marketing scheme. Businesses will hold contests, prompting followers to answer a question with a Tweet and telling them to add #hashtag at the end of it. Followers do this to win something and gain exposure if their Tweet wins. Hashtags are a great analytical tool, since businesses can track how many people are using their hashtags.

  • Tweets are twice as likely to be Retweeted if they have a #hashtag
  • Follower engagement will be 21% higher if there are two #hashtag #hashtag
  • Using a #hashtag contest can increase followers by the hundreds or thousands
Via Flickr by MDGovpics

Via Flickr by MDGovpics

Keep Tweets Short

Each user is only allowed 140 characters in their Tweet. Businesses often make the mistake of using up all of their characters. Instead, their Tweets should be 100 characters or less. This gives people room to RT and reply to your Tweets. If you include links in your posts, they should be 120 characters or less to give users room to RT.

  • There is a 21% higher engagement rate for Tweets under 100 characters
Via Flickr by Rosaura Ochoa

Via Flickr by Rosaura Ochoa

Include Calls to Action

You need to tell your followers what actions to take in your Tweets. If you post links, include an engaging headline and, on the linked page, tell users to comment and share. If you are sending out photos, videos, or text Tweets, tell your followers to Retweet the content. Including calls to action will help increase user response and engagement.

  • When asking for a “RT”, brands get a Retweet rate that is 12 times higher
  • When brands ask their followers for a “Retweet”, the Retweet rate is 23 times higher.
Via Flickr by mkhmarketing

Via Flickr by mkhmarketing

Interact with the Twitter Community

When followers or non-followers send you a Tweet, mention you in a Tweet, reply to a Tweet, or send you a Direct Message, you need to reply to them as soon as possible. Every time you communicate with someone on Twitter, it needs to short, courteous, and show off the personality of your brand. Consider joining a Twitter Chat. Industries hold Twitter Chats to talk about certain topics. Join them and engage with the industry and other user’s comments.

  • Follow users who follow your users since they will likely have similar interests and begin following your business on Twitter
  • Use the #Discover section of your dashboard to find who Twitter recommends you follow

Which of these strategies do you believe is most successful? Let me know in comments or on Twitter @HS_Writing!