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.

social media photo

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.

twitter photo

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.”

The Do’s and Don’ts of Using Facebook for Business

The benefits of using Facebook for business are now well trod ground. But just signing up and posting a profile picture won’t get you the results you’re hoping for. There are a lot of ins and outs when it comes to running a Facebook page for business. Here are some critical DOs and DON’Ts that will provide a basic guideline for running a wicked good page.

facebook photo

DO: Keep it light. Facebook is inherently fun and you don’t want to come across as stiff. If you’re looking to engage with your Facebook community and generate good will among potential customers, make them smile a bit. Have fun with it.

DON’T: Be unprofessional. There’s a line between having fun with your customers and coming across as unprofessional. You don’t want to cross it. Avoid sophomoric and crass humor.

DO: Provide customer service. Facebook is a great opportunity to answer any customer service queries that come up. By being prompt and personable, you can add a human touch that customers are so often looking for.

DON’T: Be formulaic in responses. If someone has a question or complaint, be sure to address it but don’t do so in “customer service speak.” People will be turned off by cookie cutter responses.

DO: Space out your posts. News feed burn out is a real thing on Facebook and you don’t want to be the page that is posting something every five minutes, bombarding your followers. It’s quality over quantity on Facebook, which is not necessarily the case on Twitter. Plan your post ahead of time and publish it when your followers are most likely to see it. This is much more effective than posting constantly.

DON’T: Leave your page unattended. Facebook is a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately type of business and if you let your page go dormant for a couple of days, people are going to forget about you and move on. It’s about finding that balance between posting too much and not posting enough.

DO: Keep people informed. If you’re using Facebook for your business, you’re going to want to let people know about what’s going on. Do it in a way that’s Facebook-appropriate: Use photos, be friendly and warm, and keep it informal.

DON’T: Post like a commercial. Of course you’re going to want to let people know about your products or services but don’t do it in a way that comes across like an advertisement. People will tune out the businesses that they feel like is only on Facebook to sell them things. Facebook is a community, not a place for formal advertisements.

Leveraging LinkedIn for Business

Linkedin ChocolatesWith each social media site comes its own set of advantages, characteristics, and user base. While some sites, like Instagram and Vine, may share similar demographics and video sharing capabilities, other sites are more unique to themselves. This is certainly the case with LinkedIn, a social media site designed with business in mind.

At its core, LinkedIn was created as a place for business professionals to network. It’s a place where businesses can form new partnerships, where employers can look for new employees and vice versa. LinkedIn users are, on average, better educated with higher paying jobs. All of these factors make for an excellent marketing opportunity for a business.

Creating a LinkedIn page for your business allows you to tap into that population, allowing you to target engagement with people who may be better connected within your community and also may have a little more to spend on your service or product. There are the obvious businesses that stand to profit from networking with the professionals on LinkedIn—a suit tailor, office supply store, or anything in the technology industry, for example—but just about any business can take advantage of the free marketing opportunity LinkedIn presents.

Find ways to advertise your business to the LinkedIn crowd. If you own a bar and grill, maybe push your happy hour. You can even offer special LinkedIn-only deals to your followers. Boutiques can push business professional-friendly attire. Salons can show off styles that would stand out in the workplace. The point is that though you may not view yourself or your business as something that would fit on the professional networking site, the people already using LinkedIn make for excellent potential customers.

Doing Business on Pinterest

Pretty PinterestAs anyone who has invested in Myspace knows, the social media game has no safe bets. A site you thought would’ve been around forever is already a ghost town while another you thought was doomed from the start slowly builds into a zeitgeist-grabbing juggernaut. When it comes to matters of social media, it’s best to not count anyone out too quickly. Except maybe Myspace. You can probably count them out. But, then again . . .

Pinterest, who has had its fair share of naysayers, detractors, and otherwise, has established itself as one of the main players of the social media game. If your business isn’t on Pinterest, it’s high time you set up an account. It’s an image-based site, one that allows a user to create a sort of online cork board where they pin their favorite pictures, easily accessed by their own personal network of friends and family. It’s built for sharing.

Being that Pinterest is an image-based site, so much of what you choose to share will have to be agreeable to the eyes—to put it lightly. You want the photos you share to look good. You want them to look so good that your followers will be inspired to repin (like retweet) your image for their followers to see. And then maybe one of their followers repins it, too. And so on and so forth: Your image just went viral.

Using photos to showcase your products is great, of course, but you’re going to want to keep your posts varied and diverse. For every photo you pin, you’re going to want to repin someone else’s photo. Not only does this engage other Pinterest users, it demonstrates that your business isn’t only on Pinterest to advertise. Users aren’t going to follow an account that is only bombarding them with advertisements. To be a part of someone’s community, you must commune.

Of course, posting photos of your products and services is an excellent way to drum up business. But don’t stop there. Post coupons available only to your Pinterest community. Post photos of your employees to show that you’re a team. Make things that are visually stimulating and inspiring. Follow influential accounts in your own industry to watch for product trends. Use Pinterest to learn more about your customers and what they’re interested in. Pinterest is excellent for engaging and interacting that community which you rely on. Also, it’s popular and, we think, here to stay.

The Art and Value of Repurposing Content

Now that the content industry seems to have come to the agreement that high-quality, regularly updated content is the best way to get traffic, webmasters are left with a dilemma. In a way, it’s a version of the same dilemma that has frustrated content creators (or as we used to call them, artists) since time immemorial: what to write? What to photograph? What to feature? How to create content, day in and day out, and keep it fresh and interesting?

Repurposing content can answer some of these questions. It takes the pressure off by limiting the amount of creativity your content creators need to deploy, and also allows you to subtly tweak content to better fit different formats. Repurposing content is the key to maximizing your efficiency and ensuring that you get the most bang for your content buck. Read on!


Get maximum mileage out of each piece of content

Repurposing content helps you maximize the reach and efficacy of each piece of content you create. If you’ve researched a topic enough to write an article about it, get a designer to use that research to create an infographic, a slideshow, or even a video! The more you go over information, the more insights will become available to you, and in this way you’ll be able to add value to your content as you repurpose it.

Attract visitors from difference sources

When you repurpose content for a social media channel, you access a different category of your fans. It’s entirely possible that these fans only follow you on Twitter, and didn’t know you actually had long-form content. Repurposing content for all of the various channels of social media also maximizes your exposure to all the different people who are interested in your brand.

Boost your SEO Game

By reconfiguring and repurposing content, you maximize keyword coverage and density across multiple pieces of content, making sure that your relevance for that keyword is as high as possible. You can further increase your relevance by cross-linking the various pieces of content, however take care not to make your repurposing too blatant in this case.


Make sure your they get the message

As any Facebook marketer knows, the organic reach of a Facebook page is limited. Facebook itself puts the number at 16%, meaning you’re likely to reach 16% of your page’s fans with a given post, but some people allege the numbers to be even lower than that.

Repurposing your content means increasing the instances of that 16% reach—ensuring that you reach a larger percentage of your fans than that maybe-16% without repeating yourself and possibly getting penalized for spamming.

Repurposing: 2nd/3rd/4th time’s a charm?

Repurposing content is great for maximising the efficacy of your content and giving your creators a much-needed break to recharge their creative energies. Plus, as we have shown, repurposing and repromoting is actually necessary just to ensure that your content is seen by as many of your fans as possible. Your content is there, you already paid for it. Why not get the most out of it?

About the Author

Hilary Smith is a guest author and online business journalist with a background in business telecommunications and media marketing. Her writing often covers content amplification, business globalization and technology as well. Follow her on Twitter to read more!

When to Use Twitter Ads for Business

Twitter Bird SketchFor all the great things social media has to offer small businesses, perhaps the greatest might be the simple fact that it’s free. All of these services allow you to reach thousands and thousands of potential customers without spending a dime.

Well, sort of.

While it’s true that sites like Instagram and Vine don’t charge users to start an account and begin posting to their ever-growing list of followers—i.e., potential customers—that doesn’t necessarily mean that a post is going to be seen, read, or clicked on. How do they offer their service for free? Advertisements.

So while you may be posting for free, this doesn’t necessarily mean that a post is as effective as it can be. In fact, this is sometimes by design. A site like Facebook actively makes it more difficult for posts to be seen these days, gently prodding its users to pay to “boost” their posts so that they experience a wider reach.

While Twitter doesn’t actively limit a tweet’s reach, its wide-open, anything-goes Twitter feed means that a tweet can be quickly buried and quietly forgotten. If a follower of yours only follows 50 users, than your tweet is more likely to be seen. But if they follow hundreds of users, than their twitter feed is more likely to be full of so many tweets that they’re bound to miss some—including yours.

To combat this, Twitter offers its own paid model for tweeting. Users can pay to have tweets appear at the top of their followers’ Twitter feed, which is the ideal location for being seen. Obviously you’re not going to want to pay for every single tweet but if you have a special offer, sale, or event coming up and you want to ensure that it’ll be seen by more of your followers, than paying for a boosted tweet is the right option for you.

Sharing for Engagement on Twitter

Cat Mandoo too

Content, as we say in the social media biz, is king. Well, that and cats. So cat content is king. But the rest of content is a very close second. It’s what drives the social media machine, garnering likes, gathering retweets, and being spread virally through shares. It’s articles, listicles, photographs, infographics, videos, and so much more. Content is the key to engagement.

No matter the format, be it Facebook or Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram, you’re going to want to share content that occupies that magical space where your own interests and your customers’ interests overlap. Of course, how you share that content is largely determined by which social media platform you’re using. The Vine app, for instance, only posts user-made videos. Instagram started off as a photo-only app, though it now offers video sharing, as well.

Be Concise

When it comes to Twitter, sharing content can be a tricky endeavor. The popular social media site’s 140-character limit per tweet doesn’t allow you to dive into a deep analysis of whatever it is that you’re sharing, like a Facebook or LinkedIn does. Instead, you want to deliver content with a concise but engaging headline with two goals in mind: Users clicking on your content and users retweeting your content.

Be Visual

One of the biggest things that can help is including an image with your Tweet. This used to be more of a hassle but Twitter has recently incorporated images directly into users’ Twitter feed. If you are tweeting a link to someone else’s article, find the author’s Twitter handle and include that in your subject line. This greatly increases the likelihood that you’ll be retweeted.

Be Relevant

You’re going to want your content to be relevant to your message, trustworthy, timely, topical, useful, informative, and personal. And take the time to see what your followers respond to. If you notice that one type of tweet is consistently retweeted more than other types of tweets, thoughtful analysis may reveal what your specific audience is interested in.

Best Business Uses for Instagram

Short break for a small craft project...

Short break for a small craft project… (Photo credit: sazbean)

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. But in the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it rapidity of this modern world, social media suggests that a photo might be worth much more than a thousand words. The right photo at the right time might be worth 10,000 words. Heck, a snap on a smart phone could carry the weight of War and Peace for your business, should everything work out right.

The popular image-sharing app Instagram is an oft-overlooked opportunity for businesses hoping to connect with customers. While sponsored posts that appear in every user’s feed are available (and expensive), the average small business is going to gain Instagram followers the same way they would on Twitter or Facebook: Start your own profile and build from scratch. The more people who opt to follow your feed, the more people you reach.

Show off your goods

With Instagram being an image-based platform, it presents a perfect opportunity to show off what it is that you’re selling.

While plenty of people use the service as a means to show off their products like they were in a catalog, it’s important to note that lots of people online appreciate subtlety in their social media marketing. People take ownership of their feeds and don’t necessarily want their friends’ photos to be interrupted by a commercial. Instead, it can be helpful to present the product in a thoughtful, creative manner.

And for those in the food and beverage industry, what a leg up you have. It’s like Instagram was invented just for you. How thoughtful of them! Half of a person’s Instagram feed is already full of pictures of their friends’ meals, treats, coffees, teas, and cocktails.

Remember: Creative. Thoughtful. Fun.

The photos and videos you can make showcasing your product or business are excellent opportunities for involving customers and potential customers alike in the process. In the world of craft everything—beer, cocktails, cupcakes—more and more people are wanting to feel a part of the processes of production and manufacturing. Instagram is your chance.

With photos and videos, you can take people directly into your woodshed and show them what goes on behind the scenes. Take them to the market with you and document your picking out fresh produce. Getting a little loopy after a long day in the kitchen? Start a dance-off with an employee. A sense of humor goes a long way in a medium like Instagram—anything to get someone to linger over your post for more than half a second.

Another idea is to create demonstrations of how your product works. Or even how your product can be enjoyed. People putting on the clothes you created. Someone enjoying that pie you labored over. Or sitting on that chair you built.

Contests always go over well on social media and Instagram is no different. Offer exclusives and first dibs to your followers.

Remember that on Instagram, just as it is in life, it’s not all business. Let your followers into your life as they do with theirs. Show off your dog, show off your cats. Take a picture of a new piece of art you bought or a beautiful late summer sunset.