|Making sense of social media: Ten top tips on ten top platforms|
|Wednesday, 27 October 2010 04:34|
Advice for SMEs looking to stay ahead of the game.
Advice for SMEs looking to stay ahead of the game.
The boom in social media and the resulting wave of communication platforms has left many businesses at odds over how to engage with customers and prospects online.But social media need not be a stumbling block for SMEs and marketers can no longer afford to ignore the opportunities that it offers; those that do risk losing out on sales to the competition.
Joe Chernov, director of content at Eloqua, offers his advice for SMEs looking to stay ahead of the game and outlines some of his top tips for using the major platforms to maximise social media integration into marketing campaigns.
The micro-blog Twitter which allows users to connect with the right people at the right time in 140 characters has really come into its own in the past year. Over two billion tweets are now posted each month and across the globe the popularity of the social network has skyrocketed. Twitter members have used the platform to make and break news, stage protests, coordinate disaster relief, air grievances against brands and stay in touch with one another. Nevertheless, while Twitter is a strong, well followed resource it is a fleeting content tracking tool.
The shelf life of tweets in terms of impact and relevance ranges from a few hours to a few minutes. While pure text tweets are appropriate when you have an original thought to share or when you want to start a conversation, your followers are likely to get the most value you mix in rich media (links, photos, videos) to keep tweets dynamic and inviting.
This year the “super platform” Facebook was named the most popular website in the US, and it won’t be long before this trend also follows suit in the UK.
Facebook allows users to connect, publicly and privately sharing all kinds of information with the people in their network. Because of Facebook’s “closed’ platform (though recent indicators suggest it’s incrementally becoming less and less closed), users feel more comfortable sharing personal information such as their political affiliation, their favourite movie – and now their location – than they would on other sites.
These granular details about a user’s preferences allow marketers to create campaigns aimed at much smaller, more appropriate audiences than ever before, while Facebook endeavours to balance marketers’ needs with member privacy.
Blogs should ideally be the hub of a company’s content-creation wheel. Effective blogs provide context for internal developments, expert commentary on industry news, and valuable content for customers and observers. A strategic blog positions a SME as an “insider” within a particular industry. The blog can be also employed to follow-up with a lead or connect with a new prospect – simply send them a link to a relevant article that someone from the company has written with a simple, “Thought you might be interested in this post.” Note that blogs that tend to hype one’s own products tend to be lightly trafficked and ineffective.
LinkedIn is a great tool for making business connections, cultivating leads, developing personal brands and growing professional networks. Connecting with other professional and educational contacts may serve as leads themselves, or connect you to other leads. The platform allows marketers to identify the types of connections that your connections have (e.g., first or second degree) and see how far away your contacts are from people you are trying to contact. LinkedIn has also recently announced ways to make a company’s presence more prominent on the network, so there’s even more reason to start engaging.
Twenty hours of video is uploaded each minute to YouTube, the video social platform. Google rewards multimedia content with higher search rank and since the platform is owned by Google, the analytics tool includes key word and traffic sources, Hot Spots (showing when viewers stop watching the clip), and insights about what other content users also watched. Uploading videos to corporate channels can support search ranking and therefore makes it a doubly valuable tool.
According to the website tracking service Alexa, online user generated encyclopaedia Wikipedia is the 6th most visited in the world, with more than 50 million visits per month. To engage effectively, digital professionals need to not only adhere to company policy regarding editing of its page but also the many policies Wikipedia has in place itself. The most important thing to remember in keeping to the correct policies is to be polite and objective.
The social bookmarking web service for storing sharing, and discovering web bookmarks, Delicious, expands the utility of saving links to a desktop by making information to be accessible from the Cloud or the Internet. Users should look to use the platform as a highly refined, pre-vetted Google search with the ability to learn more about the person who saved the link in the first place.
In addition to being a popular website for users to share and embed personal photographs, the service is widely used by bloggers to host images that they embed in blogs and social media. The platform can be used to increase the reach and relevance of your photos. This can be done by tagging and titling photos to help them rank in Google Image searches and increase SEO findability.
9. Google Buzz
Designed to integrate into Gmail, Google Buzz allows users to share links, photos, videos, status messages and comments via organised “conversations” that are visible in the user’s inbox. Just like an instant message (IM), new posts and comments pop in as they happen, with no refresh required. This can help to keep marketers up to speed with relevant industry topics so that response comment can be supplied as swiftly as possible.
Geosocial networking platforms such as Foursquare – and now Facebook Places – are social networking tools on which geographic services such as geocoding and geotagging are used to enable additional social functions. The tool is a good way to reward those consumers that have showed loyalty to the brand. For example, a Foursquare “mayor” – someone who has earned their position after checking in at the same location a certain number of times – is often offered special deals on top products and services.
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