Saturday, August 20, 2011

Don’t Believe if You Hear This About Social Media

Social media marketing is definitely catching the attention of all businesses but there is still some hesitation, some misconceptions, some fear and some non-clarity in terms of how to go about with social media, what to expect and when to expect.

This post tries to demystify top five myths about social media:

Myth #1: Social Media is Easy
I often hear this: “I have hired interns for managing our social media. They are very tech-savvy so I am sure they will do a good job at that.” Yes, using the social media tools is very easy, but it requires business understanding, product knowledge, customer orientation and service attitude to be able to effectively manage the social media strategy of any business. It’s not about posting “updates” or “tweets”. It’s about communication and engagement.

Myth #2: Social Media Gives Immediate Results 
Sure, social media definitely has tremendous power in terms of giving viral effect and it can definitely happen for some campaigns. But you cannot expect great immediate response every time. Social media is about building a loyal following and providing them relevant information. This cannot happen overnight. It requires steady and consistent efforts. So don’t quit your efforts if you “have not seen results in a month”.

Myth #3: Social Media ROI Can Not be Measured
If you have set right expectations and have an accurate strategy in place, social media ROI can certainly be measured. The ROI will be in terms of qualitative and quantitative benefits – which can be measured through many methods such as comments, fan following, revenue, leads, visits etc.

Myth #4: Social Media Opens Can of Worms with Negative Comments 
Businesses are often worried about negative comments on social media. Social media believes in openness and transparency. This could work in favor of the brand and sometimes it can against with negative comments. However, with tactful and strategic handling of negative comments, the brand can on the contrary create a positive image in the minds of the users. Think about it: at least on social media, you are getting an opportunity to address the issue, which you would have otherwise never got had the user been complaining offline J

Myth #5: Social Media is Marketing Job
Social media is about communication, engagement, conversation, relationship building and listening. Your users are using social media to share their sentiments about the product, report issues about your product/ service, share their experience and offer suggestions to your brand. Responding to this cannot be done by marketing alone. Each department in the company is representing the brand and got to be equally involved in social media strategy of the company.  

Article first published as Don't Believe if You Hear This About Social Media on Technorati.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Simple Tips For Improving Your Facebook Ads

It feels as if everyone is on Facebook and so all brands start their social media strategy with creation of business page/ fan page on Facebook. Simply creating a Facebook fan page will not get you the desired output unless you have a good, engaged fan base to the page. To increase the fans, businesses are adopting Facebook ads to a great extent.

I often hear about people not getting good results from the ads or the click through rate being very high. Managing successful Facebook ads, according to me, is a science. It goes beyond the technicalities mentioned in the ‘how to guides’. In this post, I am putting together a quick list of some of my learning which can help you get maximum results from your Facebook ads. These are basic things which are there in those ‘How to guides’ but aren’t always paid attention to.

With these small but important things, you can expect encouraging results are in terms of better CTR (Click-Through Rate), low Cost Per Click (CPC) and more Connections i.e. number of Fans.

#1: Picture it Well
A picture is worth thousand words. With Facebook ads, you have only 135 characters to create your ad copy. You can only write limited stuff in 135 characters. But, you can make the ad more powerful with relevant and nice picture/ image in the ad. Go beyond logo of your brand. At the same time, refrain yourself from using irrelevant pictures just because those are attention grabbing.

#2: Target it Well
Facebook offers a nice option to target the ads not only to specific geography but also according to interests. My experience has been that targeted ads give you better results in terms of click-through than untargeted ads – simply because the targeted ads are viewed more by relevant people and that increases the chances of those grabbing their attention.

#3: Populate it Well
The work does not stop at creating a compelling ad copy. Once visitors come to the page, they need to find enough excitement in the page content so that they feel like being part of it. Nobody likes their wall being cluttered with promotional updates. So when you are starting your ads (and otherwise also), ensure that you make your Fan page content rich in terms of relevant, non-sales oriented content which is also educative in nature. This will help in convincing users to not only come to the page but also choose to hit the Like button on top!

Don’t forget to closely monitor the performance of the ads daily. Watch the ad performance and tweak the copy if required.

Although a science, Facebook ads management is certainly not a rocket science which cannot be mastered. Spend time on it, do permutations and combinations and the results are guaranteed.

Need some more food for thought on making your Facebook fan page a success; have a look at this article

Monday, August 8, 2011

7 Internet Marketing Strategies which Work

Once you are convinced about online marketing and are ready to start your efforts in that direction, below are some of the online marketing strategies which have worked for many brands. Of course, you will need to tweak your strategy based on your offering, target audience and target geography. But these can help you get started and establish a strong base.

#1 Website Design, Development and Analysis
The first and most important item in your online marketing efforts is a ‘good’ website. By ‘good’ website I mean a website which boasts of quality content, has clear navigation, is easy to follow and gives relevant information – quickly. Implement tracking mechanism in your website so that you know details like who is visiting your site, which all pages are being viewed the most, how much time users are spending on your site and so on. These details will help you enhance the website and offer better experience to the visitors.

#2 Search Engine
Get your website ranked in major search engines through search engine optimization (SEO). For SEO to be effective, you need great website content. So invest time and efforts in creating good content.

#3 Social Media Marketing
You cannot shy away from social media. Get yourself on relevant social media networks (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Blogs, Communities), build a steady fan following, educate and engage the audience. This can take you a very long way in terms of both qualitative as well as quantitative ROI.

#4 Email Marketing
Learn to use email marketing effectively. Define your email marketing objective, design a good email campaign, build an opt-in list to which you can send the campaign, track the campaign and analyze the results for better targeting next time.

#5 Online Press Releases
Write and publish online press releases. These press releases help you promote your brand, establish a strong online presence for your brand and also help in your search engine optimization efforts.

#6 Article Marketing
Invest serious time, efforts and talent in writing great articles. Make these articles educative, thought provoking and interesting. Publish these articles on article websites which will help you establish your thought leadership in your area of business.

#7 Pay-Per-Click Advertising (PPC)
Once you are conformable with your online presence, you can invest in PPC campaigns (like Google AdWords, Facebook Ads or LinkedIn ads) to bring in quality visitors/ leads to your website. Remember though that running PPC campaigns is a specialized skill, so do get some expert help for this.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Handling Negative Comments on Social Media

Conversations among the members of your marketplace happen whether you like it or not. Good marketing encourages the right sort of conversations.”  Seth Godin, Seth’s Blog

Realizing and adapting this is of paramount importance in case of social media.

With social media taking the center stage in today’s internet marketing, it is no more about ‘what stories you tell your customers’ but it is more about ‘What stories your customers tell each other’. Now obviously, the stories will be positive as well as negative. 

While you benefit from social media with honest feedback, user engagement and user community building, there are also times when you will hear things which you don’t necessarily like to hear – those are negative comments about your product, brand, service or the experience you deliver to the customer.

So how do you handle negative comments on social media? Well, here is a small checklist for the same:

1.   Be Alert and Acknowledge: Just as you acknowledge compliments with a prompt ‘thank you’, the first thing you got to do with negative comment is acknowledge it. Remember, you have to demonstrate that you are LISTENING. Don’t think that if you ignore it, it’s going to die anyway after a few days. 
2.   Be Honest and Accept: This is true for any kind of conversation on social media. In case of negative comment, be honest and accept if you believe it truly is a mistake on your end. This will hugely benefit you in terms of earning the trust of the user. Never get aggressive or challenge the people. Acceptance is the key.
3.    Provide Solution: Just acknowledging the comment and being honest about accepting it is not going to help. You need to provide a solution. The solution could be in terms of solution to the problem, a workaround or if that’s not possible, then it could be an update on what you have done or will do at your end to ensure that the issue does not repeat.

Some obvious questions which could come to mind are:

What if there is a situation where another user has pitched in and provided the solution? What should be your action as a brand? I would say you still follow the same above mentioned steps.

What if you need additional data points to resolve the problem? In that case, ask for the data points in public forum (wherever possible) and discuss the issue openly. That will have multiple advantages: a) Other users could come forward and assist you in solving the problem and b) it will convey a positive image as a brand which is open to discuss issues, is transparent and genuinely wants to solve the problem of its users.

What if you know that the comments have been purposely planted because of some vested interests? Even if this is the case, you need to remember that others are watching your reaction and they do not necessarily know about the vested interests. The way you handle the situation will create your image. So handle it just the same way as you would handle a genuine comment. 

Don’t be afraid of negative comments on social media. Rather than any harm, those could benefit your brand – provided you handle them properly!