Archive | April, 2013

Why it pays to master one social media platform at a time

26 Apr

One of the questions I get A LOT is “how are we going to manage promoting our objectives on all of these platforms on top of our regular workload?” The answer is that unless you plan to hire a social media content manager whose full time job is to gather information from all of your departments and weave it together into a cohesive social media communication strategy, you probably can’t (unless you have superpowers). There are many, many social media platforms, and the number just keeps growing. One of the biggest mistakes that a business or organization can make is to attempt to establish a social media presence across more platforms than it can handle. Here are some recommendations for establishing a successful social media presence, and then using success on one platform to fuel success on other platforms (slowly) over time:

1. Choose ONE or TWO platforms to kick off your social media strategy. Which two will depend on what what you are trying to accomplish by establishing a social media presence AND what your product or service is (and who your target audience is). If your target audience is women and/or children, you might want to start with Pinterest. If one of your goals is to improve customer service, dedicating some quality time to responding to customers on your Twitter feed would be a good move. If you have a rich supply of fantastic photographs or videos, Facebook might be your ticket. Once you have chosen one or two platforms, dedicate some quality time and energy to learning what to share, when to share it and how to share it to create GREAT engagement. In essence — become a master at engagement on your platform of choice.

2. Once you have great engagement on a platform your audience will grow quickly– you will not have to go looking for them. People will come to you because you have entertaining, helpful, quality content that people want in their news feed.

3. Once you have a great audience that is not just large in numbers, but also in engagement, THEN consider expanding onto a new platform. With so much integration between platforms, one tactic that works well is to draw the attention of your current followers on one platform to the fact that you now have a presence on another platform that they may also be on. If they like what they are seeing on the platform they are already engaging with you on, they are going to be far more likely to want to engage with you on another platform.

4. Social media should be a tool that facilitates engagement, not something that overwhelms your communications team. Start small and build up to where you want to be slowly.

Social media is completely revolutionizing how companies and organizations interact and collaborate internally, and communicate with customers and clients externally. Over time, and with experience, your team may find that certain strategies on social media actually replace promotional or customer service activities that were taking up a lot of time and were not as effective at connecting with your target audience. Integrating social media into your marketing efforts requires a complete shift in understanding and strategy. Start slowly, empower your team to build their social presence gradually, and success will be yours!

4 Business Skills You Need to Master for Social Media Success

18 Apr
Samovar Tea Lounge in San Francisco has a great company culture and story--one of connection.

Samovar Tea Lounge in San Francisco has a great company culture and story built on human connection

“Some of the biggest challenges in relationships come from the fact that most people enter a relationship in order to get something…In reality, the only way a relationship will last is if you see your relationship as a place that you go to give, and not a place that you go to take.” – Anthony Robbins

As a social media strategist I get a lot of questions from business owners about what social media is, and how they can use it to build their businesses. One of the most important tips that I can share is that social media is a relationship-building tool and as such it only works if you are interested in building relationships with your potential customers or clients. Below are three skills that you are going to need to perfect if you want to succeed using social media to build your business.

1. LISTEN. Anyone can talk about themselves. The brands and companies that stick out are the ones that take the time to listen to the conversations that their customers and clients are having, identify questions that are not being answered, and provide practical, helpful solutions. A good indicator of whether you are really tuning in to the conversations that your customers and clients are having is whether you use your social media platforms to ask questions that will help you better serve your fans. I am not talking about asking questions just to get engagement up on your page. I am talking about asking questions that you already KNOW your clients and customers will want to respond to because you have your finger on the pulse of your industry and you know what issues are hot. The good news is that if asking great (read: interesting, relevant & engaging) questions is a skill that you do not count among your greatest fortes, it is one that you can master with some effort. Michael Hyatt’s article The Power of Asking the Right Question is a great resource to get you started.

2. RESPOND TO THE RIGHT QUESTIONS. If you are wondering which ones are the right ones, these would be the ones that your customers and clients are asking; the ones they need answered. The key here is that your content should answer the questions your customers need answers to, not what you think your customers should be interested in.

3. GIVE WITHOUT EXPECTATION. Sound obvious? It may be, but many businesses are still posting on Facebook or Twitter with the immediate goal of increasing sales. Don’t get me wrong: ROI is important, but what you should be aiming for is sharing content that is so awesome and fostering conversations so engaging that your clients and customers will love your business–so much that they not only purchase a product or service: they also become brand advocates, sharing their experience of your service or product with their friends and colleagues both online and off. Developing relationships like this with your followers takes time and a recognition of the long-term value of all the energy invested on a daily basis, but the benefit of a rock solid group of brand advocates who are out there singing your praises is worth it!

4.TELL YOUR STORY, AND MAKE IT GOOD. This includes elements of the three points above, but in ways it is the most important. If you do not have a GREAT story, or have a great story but are not telling it well, you will never have success with social media. Why? Because you distinguish yourself from the masses by cutting through the noise, and the best way to do that is to share what your company or organization does differently. My favourite (non-social) blog is Chookooloonks, written by Karen Walrond. Karen is so convinced that the key to success is to celebrate what every individual does differently that she has built her entire business (and written a book) around The Beauty of Different.

The photo at the top of this blog post is a the Facebook page belonging to one of my favourite places to hang out with friends: Samovar Tea Lounge in San Francisco. The company was established to create a space where people can connect. That is the foundation of their story. The fact that they serve superb tea and food in a peaceful, beautiful environment that makes you feel like you are dreaming just adds to the story. Not sure what you do differently? Start by asking yourself the following questions and thinking of ways that you can depict the answers with pictures or videos (and minimal text):

-How did you become interested in your business? Did it run in the family? What is the history behind where your business is today?

-What are the values that are the pillars of your business? How are these reflected in the causes you support, your relationship with employees, company culture, etc?

-What happens behind the scenes in the day-to-day  operation of your business? What is happening at any given time of year? What are some special events that you host annually?

-Who are the people behind the success of your business? What are their stories? What do they love about working for your company?

-Who are your best clients/customers? If this information is not private (ask beforehand!) then highlight some of the individuals, companies or organizations that you have helped accomplish their goals and that regularly promote your products or services.

Keep in mind that not even the most brilliant marketing team will be able to successfully promote your company online if you have terrible customer service on the ground or a product that is not top-notch. Your social media efforts will amplify whatever is happening in the real world, so make sure you have a great story to share.

Do you have any other skills that you would add to this list? Share them below!

Facebook cover photos: Keeping you up to date

5 Apr

Over the last month we have seen many changes on Facebook. Some of these are obvious. Others are less visible. One change that happened during the last month that is important for businesses is the change to Facebook’s cover photo policy. If you have had a business page for a while you will remember when you could say just about anything in the banner space where your cover photo goes. Then Facebook implemented new policies that significantly reduced what types of things you could do with your cover images. Recently Facebook quietly loosened their policies, allowing businesses to include calls to action and web site addresses in the cover image again. They have kept the policy limiting text in the cover image to 20% of the total area, but businesses can now highlight price and purchase information; list contact information such as a website address, email, or mailing address; refer to Facebook features or actions, such as like or share, and include either text calls to action (CTAs) like “buy it now” or visual CTAs like an arrow pointing from the cover photo to the ‘Like’ button.

This is excellent news for businesses since clear CTAs significantly increase visitor/fan engagement and generate more leads.

That said, you don’t want to use this new announcement as a reason to backtrack in your creative marketing endeavours. There are ways to take advantage of the ability to use CTAs again without simply reverting to old tricks that will look like precisely what they are—used. Be creative. Use some of the new ideas and approaches you have learned by having to accomplish your goals without text CTAs.

If you do switch up your cover photo and add a CTA and/or arrow directing people to like your page, check out this great Facebook image compliance tool that will help you determine whether your CTA is less than 20% of your image area.

Below is an example of a cover image with a CTA in it from Hubspot.

CTA hubspot

Have you come across any others that you find effective?

If you add a CTA to your cover image or use one in a specific promotion/campaign you are highlighting in your cover photo let us know if you gain more leads as a result. We would love to see what new and creative ways you come up with to use the CTA in your cover image, so if you try it out be sure to post a link to your page in the comments section so we can see what you came up with. You never know….we might just ask to feature your business in one of our future blog posts!

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Graphcom Group joins the blogging world!

1 Apr

Screen Shot 2013-04-01 at 4.23.54 PM

There have been rumblings about Graphcom Group joining the blogging world for a while, and we can now say it is official! Our new blog, The Social Edge, will feature regular posts by our Social Media Strategist Ariana Salvo, highlighting the latest updates in the social media world to keep you on the cutting edge of the technology that helps your business distinguish itself.

Graphcom Group has developed a name for itself as a design company, and we continue to offer top quality graphic and web design to our clients. Over time we hope to be able to share some of what is happening in the design world with you in our blog too, but for the time-being this blog will focus on sharing helpful information to keep you ahead of the pack in the social media world.

Meet Ariana!

Ariana Salvo joined our team back in May 2012. She has a background in creative writing and environmental law, and her Master’s Degree in Island Studies with a focus in Sustainable Agriculture and Fisheries practices on Islands from the University of Prince Edward Island. Ariana was born in the US but spent 16 years becoming an island girl on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus before moving to Prince Edward Island. Prior to joining our team Ariana worked with Raymond Loo–a local organic farmer who has been developing new markets for Prince Edward Island agricultural products in Japan as his production coordinator, led field trips for children on an organic farm in California, published travel articles about islands around the world, and was a Community Development Brand Ambassador for Green & Black’s Chocolate in the Dominican Republic. Over the last ten months she has set up social media accounts for clients, led social media workshops for local businesses on PEI, spoken on panels, and managed content and strategy for PEI Flavours, The PEI Fall Flavours Festival, Discover Charlottetown and PEI Culinary Adventures, among others. She currently conducts social media training for businesses and individuals, maintains Graphcom’s social media presence, manages content for a number of clients, and now keeps our clients updated on the latest in the social media world through this blog!

If you would like to be kept updated about the latest in the social media world, upcoming workshops and opportunities to continue learning how to best use social media to market your business and connect with your customers/clients sign up for updates and we will make sure they get delivered right to your inbox so you don’t miss anything important!

If you have any questions or comments please leave them in the comment section on any of our blog entries. We are hoping this will be a forum for us to learn from you too — both what we could do better and what your burning social media questions are!

Stay tuned! Ariana will have a fresh blog post pressed here by the end of the week!