Social media and networking are not only becoming a more integral part people’s lives but also as part of the job search and application process, especially with the rise of the professional networking sites like LinkedIn. So wouldn’t it be practical to maximize the potential of your social media platforms like you would with your résumé?
Whether you’re using social media for work or for leisure, these are tools that have been proven to increase your digital presence through expanded reach, enhanced engagement and increased referral traffic. From a business point of view, Hubspot cites that “social media has a 100% higher lead-to-close rate than outbound marketing.”
With more than 157 million users in the U.S. alone (Inbound Marketing Agents), it is not surprising that a 2011 study conducted by Edison Research and Arbitron found that 80 percent of U.S. social media users prefer Facebook when connecting with brands and nearly a quarter of users said that Facebook had the greatest influence on their buying decisions.
Shelly Kramer’s article on Ragan’s PR Daily outlines helpful tips for maximizing your Facebook’s potential (especially if you’re a brand or organization):
- Use data to monitor your organic and viral visibility and fine-tune your content.
- Reposition your photos so they are featured correctly!
- Plan your content and schedule posts (editorial calendars help organize your topics).
- Assign roles and responsibilities to your social media team.
- Adjust the title and description of your links (and choose the best thumb if that’s an option).
- Highlight your fans’ posts; fans can be one of your best brand ambassadors.
- Monitor your page and/or content interaction (I.e. likes, shares, comments).
A word of advice: both friends and consumers DISLIKE auto-posting on Facebook. Digital Buzz Blog reported in 2012 that doing so decreases likes and comments by 70 percent.
Twitter has risen as a great way to capture users’ voices and thoughts, all in a compact 140 characters. Here are some quick and easy tips (mostly via Search Engine Watch) on optimizing your Twitter account:
- Keep the tone conversational; Twitter is a tool for humanizing your brand (or yourself).
- Apply SEO in your bio; this is where many search engines pull their information from.
- Follow this formula: Headline/phrase + link + hash tags.
- Limit yourself to three #hashtags per post. Keep it concise; nothing drives people away like hash tag abuse. Also, they’re meant to categorize your tweet.
- Call upon others to retweet your content.
Follow me on Twitter (@tanyaknguyen) for more information about social media, PR, marketing, all things related to strategic communications and more.
The content curation social networking platform has exploded in popularity since its introduction in 2010, with daily users counts increasing by more than 145 percent since the start of 2012 (Mashable). According to Karen Leland, “Pinterest drives more referral traffic than YouTube, Google+ and LinkedIn — combined.” When pins on Pinterest go “viral” and are repinned upwards of several thousand times, they can result in many things including:
- Building your brand
- Advertising services/products
- Referral traffic to your website
- New followers for your blog
- Better positioning in Google searches
- Increased consumer insight
- Create lists; people love things they can scan quickly.
- Use title graphics, photo quotes, infographics and data charts; people like visual content so you’re more likely to get engagement with these.
- Include a “Pin It” button with your content; people won’t be as likely to share or “pin” yoir content if the option isn’t there (same goes for all other social media platforms).
- Create relevant content.
- Use your friends to drive up traffic for your pins.
- Use other social media platforms to strategically target and push out your pins.
- Remind people after the initial “peak” period.
In my Public Relations Writing class last spring, Nancy Voith, Managing Director at CRA, Inc., spoke to my class about resume building and using LinkedIn. In her speech, she emphasized the importance of your modern-day digital business card/ résumé.
Some of Voith’s advice for using LinkedIn:
- Create and maintain a complete profile.
- Profiles should showcase your leadership, initiative, responsibilities, etc.
- Use the “SAR formula” to concisely showcase your experience.
- SAR: situation, action and results
- Focus on what makes you different from other professionals.
- Connect through LinkedIn with other professionals you meet.
- Have others review your profile and endorse your skills and expertise.
- Allen, Kevin. “Agency’s Epic Job Listing Puts Social Media Skills to the Test.” PR Daily News. Ragan Communications, Inc., 01 Nov. 2012. Web. 01 Nov. 2012. <http://www.prdaily.com/socialmedia/Articles/13054.aspx>.
- Faeth, Bill. “Power Up Your Social Media Strategy.” Inbound Marketing Blog. Inbound Marketing Agents, 01 Nov. 2012. Web. 02 Nov. 2012. <http://www.inboundmarketingagents.com/inbound-marketing-agents-blog/bid/238017/31-Fresh-and-Tweetable-Social-Media-Stats>.
- HubSpot. “All The Marketing Statistics You Need To Know.” HubSpot. HubSpot., n.d. Web. 01 Nov. 2012. <http://www.hubspot.com/marketing-resources/marketing-statistics/>.
- Leland, Karen. “10 Pinterest Tips For Small Business Pinners.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, Inc., 23 Mar. 2012. Web. 30 Oct. 2012. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/karen-leland/10-ways-to-use-pinterest-_b_1367288.html>.
- Kramer, Shelly. “7 Secrets to Make Your Facebook Page Pop.” PR Daily News. Ragan Communications, Inc., 02 Nov. 2012. Web. 02 Nov. 2012. <http://www.prdaily.com/socialmedia/Articles/13059.aspx>.
- Turner, Jessica. “7 Proven Ways to Create Viral Pinterest Posts.” PR Daily News. Ragan Communications, Inc., 23 Oct. 2012. Web. 30 Oct. 2012. <http://www.prdaily.com/socialmedia/Articles/12962.aspx>.
- Webster, Tom. “The Social Habit 2011.” Edison Research. Edison Research, 29 May 2011. Web. 01 Nov. 2012. <http://www.edisonresearch.com/home/archives/2011/05/the_social_habit_2011.php>.
The question is how? Some creative agencies may claim to have a foolproof method to attaining this type of widespread attention via strategic use of social media, search engine optimization or pay-per-click methods, but is this realistic? If a formula exists that ensures a brand or idea will receive millions of views, hits, shares, or conversations, then wouldn’t more organizations reap its benefits?
The Internet and media aren’t flooded with more viral content because companies can’t make something viral on their own. Only their audiences have the power to elevate something to that level of notoriety. The key is for planners and strategists to create materials and campaigns that dig deeper than their immediate brand or product. Across the board, experts and veteran industry professionals will express the importance of creating content that is meaningful, engaging and reflective of insightful research and planning in regards to increasing the chances of ideas and messages “going viral”.
With the advancement of technology, the explosion of social networking, and the reach of the Internet, people are able to connect and converse now more than ever. In regards to this new level of online connection and interaction, internationally renowned Facebook expert Mari Smith said,
“Not only is this growth a part of the evolution of human consciousness, the technology allows us to touch the lives and hearts of hundreds of millions of people around the globe… such that we all know we’re not alone. There are others out there who share our dreams and visions, too.”
Content created with a meaningful message and vision that also makes that profound personal and emotional connection with people is the type that can drive people to share and advocate it. But connection should be merely one part of the larger scheme.
Alexis Wolfer is the founder and editor-in-chief of the online women’s health and beauty magazine The Beauty Bean. She is also the creator of the viral Makeup-Free Mondays campaign that calls upon women to celebrate and appreciate their natural beauty once a week.
“It was creating a day where we look in the mirror and appreciate our beauty for what it is,” Wolfer says. “People refer to putting on their makeup as ‘putting on their faces.”
According to Wolfer, viral campaigns should do the following:
- Challenge people to take some type of action.
- Include a larger purpose.
- Be long-term oriented.
“It’s easy to post a ridiculous video on YouTube and get a million hits,” Wolfer said, “But that won’t have legs.”
Her Makeup-Free Mondays campaign, which turned into a movement and still garners active participation and conversation two years after its launch, encourages readers to post photos of themselves sans makeup. The campaign also urges readers to give back by helping elevate other women’s confidences through fresh makeup item donations to local battered women’s shelters.
Social media expert Shama Kabani, who works with companies from around the world agrees, saying that viral content “inspires action and it isn’t passive. It engages us in a very profound and personal way and leverages technology to turn a project into a movement.”
According to Kevin Allocca, YouTube’s trends manager, YouTube videos in the small percentile of viral videos have the following in common:
• Taste makers helping them
• Communities of participation
In the TED Talk video below, Allocca discusses why videos go viral.
According to Lucie Austin, the Marketing Director for Coca-Cola South Pacific,
“What it has always taken is the ability to understand a problem, strategically and creatively work out a solution and implement that solution successfully. Today it’s not really any different other than understanding that the solution may also involve a role for the consumer.”
Like with all communications and marketing campaigns, research, planning and audience engagement is the new norm for success, especially when the desired success is a viral one. Though the advice noted above does not guarantee that brands and content will “go viral”, it increases the chances through a better understanding of the thoughts and emotions that drive the audiences that ultimately drive a brand or company’s success.
As a public relations student with a minor in marketing and Spanish, I constantly judge a business or organization’s PR quality everywhere I go. This is even easier with the prevalence of technology and social media at the swipe of my fingers; if I ever need to find news immediately or look up a fact or reviews, I immediately pull up Twitter or a search engine on my cell phone.
I doubt there are any companies, marketers and brand managers in today’s wired world who can afford to forgo their own social media presence. Social media usage extends beyond products as organizations are increasing their focus on their reputation and maintaining relationships with and engaging customers. Thus enters the role of public relations firms. PRMarketing.com created an interesting and visually appealing infographic based on market research about online public relations, noting that online PR averages a 275 percent return on interest (ROI) for businesses. Click on the picture to the right or check the end of the post for the infographic.
Rabbi Dr. Abraham Unger, Assistant Professor and Director of Urban Programs at Wagner College, notes that President Obama was not the first candidate to use social media technology to leverage his campaign and ideals. However, President Obama most successfully applied the strategic use of social media to form a campaign platform that’s reach extended beyond traditional political networks.
According to social media news blog Mashable, the all politics in the 2012 presidential campaign is social. For an interesting infographic about social media in the race for the White House, check the end of the post.
Fast Company calls him “America’s first truly social president” as his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention broke political Twitter records by averaging 52,000 tweets per minute throughout its entirety. This is not surprising to me after seeing that Twitter’s vice president of international strategy quoted the company’s total registered accounts at 200 million.
One of my favorite websites is Ad Age, which is where I found this interesting section of stories, mainly for marketers but relevant to everyone, that discuss the importance of public relations firms to a business’s integrated marketing communications plan and its effects on the marketing industry.
According to Richard Edelman, CEO of Edelman, the firm that works with Microsoft Corp.’s Xbox gaming system, their campaigns to engage bloggers and fans begins 10 months before the ads even launch.
“Our job is no longer doing a press conference to break the ads—we are building engagement with enthusiasts to create a runway of credibility for a new brand or campaign,” Edelman said.
This is very true; companies cannot afford to not personify their brands to consumers because those voices carry so much influence in today’s digital word. According to Rob Flaherty, president of Ketchum, the consumers, not the press, are the real owners of media in today’s highly connected landscape. Word-of-mouth, especially when it is negative, travels further and sometimes faster than any other form of marketing. Research has shown that dissatisfied customers and negative experiences are likely to generate online conversation, and who hasn’t taken to their Facebook or Twitter to gripe about poor management or lackluster customer service?
Case in point: my one night stay at an Econolodge in Kingsville, Texas resulted in the tweet pictured.
I received an email from Choice Hotels, the parent company of Econolodge, that attempted to address my bad experience and improve from it, but it was too late. My attitude of the chain’s quality is set, despite their apologies and effort to make contact with me, and unfortunately for some companies it’s just unavoidable.
One of my coworkers also told me of a prime example of lackluster PR and marketing at IKEA, a privately-held Swedish self-assemble furniture company with a reputation for the non-literal help center and employees who never help customers. During this visit to IKEA, he noticed that all the temp employees wore shirts saying,
“Temporary Team Member…Please do not ask me any hard questions.”
As a marketing manager, his mind was as boggled as mine was after hearing this story. Especially coming from a teller job at one of the U.S.’s biggest financial institutions, it has been deeply ingrained in my beliefs that in-store employees are the figurative and literal “face” of a company. These types of employees, whether they’re an IKEA sales rep. or a banker, have direct contact with the company’s most important constituencies and whose interactions can greatly impact the reputation and relationship with these customers.
Perhaps this concept is lost on Leontyne Green, CMO of IKEA North America, or maybe anti-IKEA tweets need to reach 52,000 hits before it’s worth making a change.
PRMarketing.com’s Online PR Infographic:
Mashable’s Politics via Social Media Infographic: