Is Snapchat Right For Your Business?

If social media was fishing, then sites like Facebook and Twitter are the humongous nets thrown in the ocean, catching as many fish as possible. And while you may be looking for a certain fish—that target audience—you’ll also likely pick up all sorts of others, too. Which isn’t such a bad thing.

Today's latte, Snapchat.

There are other social media sites, however, that are much more specific. They’re fishing with a spear, targeting very specific audiences in a very deliberate way. You may not catch as much, but maybe you’ll get just what you’re looking for.

The popular Snapchat mobile app is one of those fishing spears. It’s a photo and video sharing app popular among teens and 20-somethings and not many people more than that. But that millennial demographic? Millennials love Snapchat. So if the target demographic of your customer base is on the older side, Snapchat is probably not worth spending your valuable time on. But, if high school and college kids are an important part of your sales strategy, then you’re going to want to at least consider utilizing the Snapchat app.

Unlike Facebook or Instagram, the content you create for Snapchat disappears after users view it. Think of an old spy movie and the self-destructing message. Because of this, users don’t expect the pretty, well-staged, filtered pictures seen on Instagram. There’s a raw quality to Snapchat that allows you to take off-the-cuff photos and videos and share them directly with your audience. Because of this, make sure your intended message is easily discernible.

That directness is a big draw, too. When posting something on Twitter, you’re posting for the whole world to see. People can then favorite, reply to, and re-tweet your message. In Snapchat, the experience is only shared between you and each user. There is no commenting, there is no ‘like’ feature. It’s notable for its intimacy.

Snapchat isn’t for everyone, but it’s definitely for younger people. Even if it’s not for your business, keep on eye on it. After all, Facebook was once only for college kids, too.

Why iPhone Works Better for Your Social Media Management

Visible Technology’s Social Intelligence Report found 60 percent of social media time is spent on smartphones and tablets instead of desktop computers. This growing trend simplifies social media management for entrepreneurs on the go. But, with a projected 4.55 billion people around the world using smartphones, which one works best for social media? Take a look at how the iPhone 6’s bigger screen and easy interface makes it a contender in the social media market.

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Great Photos

Taking great photos and sharing visual updates is the cornerstone of social media whether you’re using Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter. The iPhone 6 features new sensors that help focus pixels and balance the color and overall scene of your photos. Users who want to get more adventurous with their images can take panoramic shots with accurate detail in comparison to its Android counterparts, claims iMore.

The ability to take professional-looking photos by just pointing and clicking makes the iPhone a winner in smartphone photography. While its Android counterparts also take reasonable and even impressive photos, they tend to lack the ability to take motion or panoramic shots as crisply.

Bigger Screens

A smartphone with a small screen can be convenient for users on the go, but a bigger screen makes social media management, texting and analyzing your business data easy. The iPhone’s sleek, aluminum frame makes it comfortable to hold. The big screen size puts this smartphone into the “phablet” category with enough space for recreational or business use. This helps business owners enlarge their data or zoom in on key figures. They also can open up social media management tools like HootSuite or Edgar and easily see the full report.

Productivity Apps

Eliminate the amount of time wasted from switching back and forth between your laptop, tablet and smartphone to balance your books and manage your projects. Get set up with apps like FreshBooks to check on your invoices and account balances. Use Asana to help manage your social media projects. Or, download Evernote to keep an organized list of everything from which social media accounts need to be updated to client meeting notes and brainstorms. Again, the bigger iPhone 6 screen lets you type emails to your team members and check on status updates without leaving your project management apps.

Variety of Apps

Although Android provides plenty of apps to choose from in its Play Store, the iPhone App Store offers more choices for your social media needs. Laptop explains that this disparity results from the different specs and versions of Android. While Apple’s products have similar specs and sizes, Android devices have a much wider range, which can be difficult for developers.

One exclusive iPhone app includes Postling, which allows you to track your mentions, access your analytics, receive email summaries and get instant alerts on comments. The platform makes managing everything from Tumblr to Flickr to Facebook easy. Some other iPhone-only examples include Tweetbot and Facebook Paper, which help you organize and streamline your social media channels.

The DOs and DON’Ts of LinkedIn

For all of the particulars involved with the many different social media sites out there, there is probably not a more particular social media site than LinkedIn. Because it is a business social networking site, there is a certain decorum that its users expect everyone to follow.

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The pictures of your nephew’s birthday party you’d post on Facebook, the clever one-liner you came up with to Tweet, the photo of that delicious desert you can’t wait to Instagram—none of those are things your followers on LinkedIn are expecting—or wanting–to see in their feed. This is a site for networking business professionals; post something out of the bounds of accepted norms and someone will surely let you know it.

LinkedIn is probably most often used by job-seekers and potential employers, which is something you as a small business owner can surely take advantage of as you search for that missing piece of your team. But there are also many other uses for LinkedIn.

As a small business owner, you can use LinkedIn to grow your professional network and introduce yourself to potential sponsors, customers, and business partners. And don’t be shy about introducing yourself to people ‘cold’. Joining LinkedIn comes with a certain set of expectations that include being approached about business opportunities.

However, be strategic and purposeful with the people you connect with. LinkedIn is not like Twitter where you want as big an audience as you can get. It’s about meaningful connections. People can see through accounts seeking to boost their numbers.

When using LinkedIn, it’s critical to remember that this is not your typical social media site. The levity and candor that sites like Facebook and Twitter thrive on do not translate to the professional networking site. We’re not saying to come across as stiff, cold, and unfriendly, but rather pleasant and professional, direct and purposeful.

Using Pinterest for Business

Its users are more active, its content stays visible longer, and it’s the most used social media network you’re not taking advantage of. Pinterest doesn’t get talked about like Facebook or Twitter but that’s just fine by its users. They’re a passionate group, one that actively share and engage with content. And it’s content that is shared and re-shared; as high as 80% of all Pinterest content is curated.

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Signing up your business for Pinterest is not unlike most social media sites. Businesses will want a strong profile picture, a clear bio that defines who you are and what you do, and visual branding that is consistent across all websites and social media accounts.

In Pinterest, users ‘pin’ images and videos to their boards, visible to their followers. Boards are arranged by themes, like recipes, design tips, or cars. People even make their own Christmas list boards, sharing their shopping ideas with friends and family. Because of this, Pinterest affords businesses great opportunities to connect with an audience through images that are associated with their brand. Posting a well-taken photo of your restaurant’s newest desert could blow up on Pinterest, as one person after another re-pins that picture.

You’ll want to make your own content as share-able as possible, which means installing ‘pin it’ widgets on your website. This way when people who are visiting your website see something they connect with, they can easily share it to their Pinterest. When posting directly to your Pinterest account, consider adding a ‘watermark’ to an image (if you own rights to that image), that way when your pin starts getting re-pinned, it will forever be associated with your brand.

Another good tip for getting started in Pinterest for business is to be as active and as social as your followers are. Engage with people and become part of the community and not just a figure lurking in the back, trying to sell product. Pinterest is supposed to be fun and that’s what people will respond to.

How Brands Use Social Media to Enhance the Customer Experience

Social media is no longer optional for businesses wishing to grow and compete in their industry. A survey published by eMarketer last October found that 88 percent of companies with 100-plus employees currently utilize social media for marketing purposes. Despite 52 percent of companies saying it’s nearly impossible to measure ROI on social media marketing, a majority will increase spending on mediums in 2015, according to a study by Gigaom.

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Instead of measuring returns by profits, companies are utilizing social media to enhance the overall customer experience. A good customer experience means positive word-of-mouth advertising and retention of brand loyalists. The 2011 Customer Experience Impact Report by RightNow Technologies found that 86 percent of customers were willing to pay more for similar products to a company that provides exceptional customer service.

Social media is a very public forum, so both positive and negative customer experiences voiced online can impact your bottom line. The following companies have provided blueprints on how to effectively use social media to improve customer relations.

JetBlue Rapid Response

Twitter and Facebook provide customers a real-time way to complain about your product or service in front of a large audience. Airlines are particularly vulnerable to online venting since flight delays are a common occurrence. Social media gives companies the opportunity to show they care.

JetBlue passenger Jennifer Kennedy tweeted her frustration about a 40 minute flight delay with no updates being given on January 14. A few minutes later, the company responded directly to her, offering both empathy and an update on the flight. Kennedy responded with appreciation for the fast response, along with her flight number. The plane was in the air a few minutes later.

The most impressive part of this exchange was the fact Kennedy’s original message was not addressed directly to @JetBlue. The airline’s social media administrators obviously follow all activity on Twitter mentioning its name. JetBlue ultimately retained a customer and showed others how the company does its best to address all concerns.

LifeLock Cares

Facebook user and Lifelock customer Mindy Lacey allegedly had a payday loan approved in her name that she never applied for. She posted her frustrations on Lifelock’s Facebook timeline, telling the company she should be canceling her account.

Despite the post being published after midnight, a company representative responded within an hour. They apologized for the inconvenience and reminded the customer of their $1 Million Total Service Guarantee which covers these types of instances. The response concluded with another apology and the company’s toll free number so the customer could call and start the process of remedying the issue.

Granted there are a lot of people who complain just to complain. But LifeLock makes it point to address these matters publicly. A Twitter user posted a complaint about someone stealing his identity. Once again, LifeLock quickly apologized and offered the 24 hour customer service number. These instances may seem trivial on the surface. But the footprint left behind for others to see makes it worth the trouble.

Pinterest Personality

Though rarely mentioned in the same breathe as Twitter and Facebook, Pinterest is actually the second-most powerful social network available. Pinterest directs more traffic to company websites than Twitter, Reddit, LinkedIn and Google Plus combined, according to a 2013 analysis by social plugin developer Shareaholic.

Pinterest provides a platform for companies to convey a friendly and fun public image. Taco Bell pins photos of corporate ugly sweater days, jalapeno eating contests and in-store birthday parties for employees. UGallery, an online art exhibit, uses Pinterest to feature individual client’s work. Girl Scouts of America pin pictures of community service projects, including their members making care packages for homeless people and children suffering from cancer.

Regular engagement on social media gives companies instant feedback and opportunities to provide good customer experiences. The returns will ultimately be in the form of better loyalty and higher retention rates.

Measurement Basics for Facebook Pages

For all the work you put into running your Facebook page—updating statuses, responding to comments, updating information, creating events, answering messages, posting pictures, interacting with others’ posts—sometimes you might wonder just what it is you’re doing on your computer when there are so many other aspects of your business to worry about. Hey, we get it. But the power of Facebook and its humungous audience is not to be ignored. Fortunately, there are ways you can track how effective your Facebook campaign actually is.

There’s the immediate, of course. Just monitoring what type of posts garner the most likes and comments from your community can go a long way in determining what works and what doesn’t in the content that you share. Did attaching a photo to that update on your holiday hours generate more engagement than last year’s post with no photo? Bingo. That’s an easy one.

But Facebook has a bevy of tools that allow its page administrators to get deep in analytics. Monitoring how many likes a photo receives is just scratching the surface. We call them metrics and what they allow us to do is track nearly every aspect of the Facebook experience.

There are three main metrics that are the basics of Facebook’s Page Insights tool, easily accessible through your page admin tab. These are Page Likes, Post Reach, and Engagement.

In Page Likes, Facebook shows you not only how many likes you have in total but how many you received this week vs. last week.

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With Post Reach, the metric allows you to monitor both the total reach of your posts throughout the week—just how many people saw your post in their news feed—and also the number of people per post.

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In Engagement, you can analyze the action-related results of your posts. Engagement numbers are the metrics that show how many people clicked on a post, liked it, shared it, or left a comment.

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In utilizing the Page Insights tool, Facebook users are better equipped to view and analyze the effectiveness of their posts, enabling them to make any changes necessary for fostering a more engaged community. It should give you a better idea of just how much you’re getting in return for all that work you’ve been putting in.

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How to Know if Social Media Efforts are Paying Off

Maybe because it’s still relatively new or maybe it’s because it’s intangible, but for whatever the reason, many businesses are still skeptical of the positive affects of running a strong social media campaign. The fact is that many people just don’t understand how to figure out how their social media efforts are paying off.

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For the biggest of social media skeptics, throwing around phrases like ‘community engagement’ is just not that impressive. While plenty of people understand the benefits of establishing a community online to where you can directly share your content, some bottom-line business owners just aren’t going to care how many ‘likes’ a photo receives. If you’re one of these types, there are other ways to observe the impact of your social media campaign and even ones that provide hard numbers to analyze and use to affect changes in your business.

Some social media websites, like Facebook, include analytics functions built into the user experience. As page admin, you can track your impact to see what your followers respond to. Both Facebook and Twitter allow you to purchase ads that will make your posts more visible, the impact of which are also easily trackable.

Still, tracking Facebook and Twitters just don’t mean that much to some. Skeptics may want to turn to a numbers analysis program like Google Analytics. Like many of the services it offers, Google’s analytics program is free. It can be of enormous help to a business person and especially so when they’re trying to better understand their social media numbers. For example, a business owner can use Google Analytics to track how many customers visit their online store by way of a Facebook ad. That’s just not possible with a hard copy advertisement in the Sunday paper.

Of course, one way to measure the impact of a hard copy advertisement is the coupon. Count how many coupons are collected and you have numbers to analyze and use to modify future actions. Coupons are equally effective via social media. Post a coupon or special deal, your customers will print them out and bring them to the store, and you can see first hand the impact of a social media campaign when done right.

Getting Started with Twitter for Business

Like most entrepreneurs, chances are you didn’t start your own business so you could run a Twitter page. But this deep into the 21st century and the impact of a social media campaign is undeniable. Unless you’ve completely written off technology, it’s likely that you’re either already on the Twitter train or you keep thinking, “You know, I should really look into this Twitter thing. I’ll do it tomorrow.” The problem with tomorrow is that it isn’t today. In Twitter, as with most things, there’s no time like the present.

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Here are some quick and easy tips to get you started with running a Twitter page for your business.

Set up your Twitter profile.

A complete and consistent profile is essential to making an immediate impact on Twitter. The branding—profile picture, graphics, Twitter handle, bio—should be consistent with the rest of your branding, be it on your website, other social media accounts, or physical products. Choose a profile picture that is bold and easily identifiable. Your Twitter name should be your company’s name, ideally.

Build your Twitter community.

When you start out with Twitter, you start out at zero. It’s up to you to build your community of influencers and followers. Twitter will always suggest people to follow—who, in turn, may very well follow back. But take the initiative to identify who are the key influencers in your industry, follow them, and begin to interact with them. Also important is to spread the word among your customers that you are now on Twitter. Cross post to other social media accounts, include information in advertisements, and always include links to your social media accounts on your main website. Make it easy for people to find your page.

Establish your Twitter voice.

Now that you’ve set up your profile and begun to build your followers, it’s time to begin posting and making connections. Be consistent in your posting. Make it so that people can come to expect and look forward to seeing your Tweets. Post regularly and often, but not so much that you’re a pest. If you’re unsure of your posting technique, check other accounts that are in the same industry as you. What are they doing right? Levity and visuals are two major ways to catch people’s attention. Staying current and local can also quickly build a sense of community.

Though it may seem daunting at first, Twitter can be a gamechanger for your business. It’s free and—though this may be hard for some people to accept—easy to use. A complete and consistent profile, relevant community, and a strong voice are the building blocks of an effective Twitter account for business.

Avoid Sites That Sell Followers

It’s a practice as old as business but when it comes to the social media game, paying to play just doesn’t cut it. Buying followers from “businesses” outside of Facebook, Twitter, et al. will not get you the results you desire. At best, you can hope for a superficial list of friends and followers, one that’s inflated like a balloon—big and hollow. It may seem like a quick, easy way to boost your follower count so let’s take a look at why paying for likes just doesn’t cut the mustard.

FallFest Crowd

So you’re new to a social media site and you see that low follower count. If only there was a way to quickly gain a bunch of followers so it doesn’t feel like you’re tossing pebbles in the ocean . . . Well if you give in to one of those users who promise 10,000 likes or followers you’ll be tossing your money down the drain. First, it’s highly unlikely that they’ll be able to deliver so many followers. And even if they do? It’s nearly certain that these followers aren’t your target demographic. Heck, they might not even be real people at all.

Companies that promise new followers often deliver with people from different countries who have no realistic chance to ever visit your business. Another tactic is to deliver ‘bots’, fake accounts run by computer programs. What good is that? The whole point of running social media communities is to commune with your customers. All the work you put into delivering interesting and engaging content through your social media sites will go ignored if not delivered to the people its designed for.

Paying for followers is a cheap way to boost your audience and the results are just as cheap. It’s quality over quantity when it comes to running a healthy social media community. Want more followers? Targeted ads through the sites themselves help, allowing you to aim your site to the people you wish to reach. Be sure to include links to your social media accounts on your official website. Cross post between accounts by posting an Instagram photo to your Facebook page. Put up notices in your store. In the end, there are plenty of ways to increase your follower count without “paying to play.”