Which Social Media Sites Should I be on?

In the age of social media, more and more social networking sites are popping up each day, and businesses have the daunting task of choosing which websites to establish a presence on.  However, signing up for every social media site is a big mistake that many companies are making – no matter how many social media specialists you have, there’s no way that every site can be constantly updated and monitored.  So how does your business choose?

You need a plan when approaching social media – don’t just dive into social media.  Social media doesn’t have to be a time or money zapper, but your business does need preparation.  Your social media sites should be thoroughly personalized, and customers should be able to see that there’s a face behind the brand name.  Your brand pages have to be updated constantly (whether manually or with a media management platform), and social media also takes training.  There is some time that has to be invested into making sure everyone who’s on the social media team is aligned with the company’s social media goals, so which networking site to get involved in takes some serious consideration.

Ask yourself what that certain platform will do for your brand.  Are you a B2C looking for ways to reach out to potential and current customers?  Are you a B2B looking to network with other business professionals?  Your social media platform has to reach your target audience effectively, so you can keep up with current industry news and what customers are asking for in real time.

We’ll leave you with this very insightful infographic from Mashable from the company CMO – it’s a very clear explanation of what the major social networks are good for, and also what qualities they lack.

[Photo courtesy of Flickr: Chris Lott]

Put Social Media into Your Schedule


Ever wish there were more than 24 hours in a day?  Well, we’re not going to tell you the impossible, but we will give you some tips on how to include social media into your workday.

Social media has become more important in our world today, so businesses cannot pass up the opportunity to reach potential customers through these channels.  However, most businesses are struggling to balance their schedules even without social media – so how can social media be added to your marketing efforts?  Social media doesn’t have to be time consuming – follow these easy tips that will create a solid social media plan.

  • Create an actual schedule – Block out a certain chunk of your day to devote yourself completely to social media.  Schedule an hour directly after lunch so you can write blog posts, generate Facebook content, Tweet about company happenings.  Or break up your social media ventures into chunks of time (such as 10 minutes at the beginning of your shift, 10 minutes at the end).  Having a set time will allow you to focus on social media, and help you not get distracted from clicking on other tabs of work.
  • Make a list of your social media priorities – Don’t just dive in without checking if the water is shark infested – have a specific plan about what you’re going to post each day (maybe Mondays will be all about posting about company events to Facebook, and Fridays will be all about researching and listening to customer conversations so you can be on top of your industry’s buzz the following week).  There’s a list of social media must-dos everyday, such as answering direct messages and customer inquiries on your brand page, so make sure you have dedicated time every day to those activities.  Knowing what you’re going to post will make everything seem more organized, and in the long run, it’ll save time.
  • Get social media to work around your schedule – Facebook and Twitter actually have specific times where users are on the most and when they are likely to interact with your content (check out this interesting Mashable article).  But what if these times coincide with your conference meeting every week?  Well, don’t let social media completely rule your life.  You don’t have to reschedule that meeting – use a social media management tool to help you schedule posts and gather insights.  Don’t spend time gathering analytics or waiting for the optimal hour to post when you don’t have to.

Social media isn’t very time-consuming when you have an action-packed, but simplistic plan.  Stick to your plan, and you’ll find that you have more time (and money) that can be devoted to other business efforts.

Customer Engagement

Being on social media isn’t hard, but being on social media is (haha, confusing? read on, my friend.)  Just having Facebook and Twitter and other outlets isn’t enough – your brand has to be actively seeking to enter into conversations with your customers every day. It’s important to not only answer feedback in a timely manner, but to also be the one asking for feedback. When a company asks customers for their opinions, it’s telling consumers that the business cares and wants to improve. Engaging with customers is one of the major steps that companies who are succeeding in social media use.

You be first

Don’t wait for others to ask or post.  Make the initial move to start the conversation with your followers.  Create a post that’s interesting but that also deals with a problem.  Do research before you post so you can be well informed about your audience and their needs, your market conditions, your competitors, and your own product.  Once you’ve done your research, your content will look more appealing and up to date with what consumers want.

You be second

After you’ve scoped out the landscape and placed yourself in various situations, you have to realize that consumers will take advantage of social media to tell you how you’re doing.  Bottom line: social media makes it easier for people to complain.  So you should take the chance to use social media to address those complaints.  Responding slowly or not responding at all can be a major turn-off for consumers.  Take the time to answer your followers’ questions, and even looking up answers or asking co-workers if you’re stumped by the question.  Also, customers hate it most when they get the run-around.  Just answer their question!  No need to give them a generic, automated answer, because that’s also a huge turn-off.  If you don’t know the answer, admit it (it’s okay to make mistakes) but again, go above and beyond to help the customer find the answer.

Customer Service Tips

Today's blog post is all about customer service.  Some consumers might ask "Customer service? What's that?"  In this day and age, it seems like more consumers are complaining about the lack of customer service, and the decline of employee friendliness.  They're constantly fed up because they have to deal with rude employees, which results in loss of customers for that company.  One of World Technology Network's columnists pretty much sums up customer service in a nutshell, "Great customer service died a slow death during the past twenty years.  It died due to neglect, greed, selfishness, and rude behavior."

So how can you avoid this epidemic and be that company that customers keep returning to?  Here are 6 tips that will boost customer loyalty:

1.  It all starts in the hiring process - Your company's customer service will only be as good as the people providing it.  If you're recruiting, failing to notice that your hiree isn't personable and friendly can cost you.  It's important to train your employees to be nice and understanding (this seems like a no-brainer, but if it was, why is customer service so bad nowadays?)  and to teach them how to handle different scenarios.  It's actually a chain of events that can become a disastrous snow-ball effect if not implemented from the top: in order for customers to be treated well, employees must be treated well, so their managers and bosses must treat employees well.  A cutthroat boss or team manager is the easiest way for employees to hate their job and take out their anger on the customers.

2.  Know your customers - Get to know your customers on a personal level.  People like it when others remember their problems or what's going on in their lives.  If you're a large company, get to know your "VIP customers."  This may sound like you're playing favorites, but it's important that you are up to date with your most frequent customers.  Even if you don't have the time to remember all your customers, refresh yourself before you see them (if your company has appointments and such) or have an information database that you can easily pull up when talking to the customer.

3.  Know yourself (and make sure your customers know you too)- Make sure your company is streamlined- everyone has to be on the same wagon and know all the company policies.  Customers don't like to see inconsistencies with their brands; once your company's employees are well informed on rules and what they can and cannot do, relay this information to customers.  Giving customers information will make them more knowledgeable when they make their buying decisions.

4.  Encourage feedback - There's no easier way to see what customers think than to ask them directly.  Create polls on your Facebook page and website, and even have an incentive for replies.  Encourage customers to give you not only positive reviews, but negative feedback - you should always be looking for ways to improve.

5.  Don't just listen - Now that you've gotten all this feedback, respond to it.  Customers like to see that their suggestions are being implemented.  You have to engage with your audience in order to communicate effectively with them.  Not only can you be there for customers by making yourself searchable on social networks and the internet, but replying quickly and directly shows the customer that you care.

6.  Don't sell the product - Sell your company's mission statement.  Let's say I'm a panini sandwich business.  I'm not going to try to convince everyone that a panini will make them happier during lunchtime, but that I vow to give you the best tasting panini ever since I believe lunchtime should be happytime.  Sounds kind of funny, but when you aim at giving your customers what you vowed you would give instead of just shoving your product down their throats, they'll be more likely to come back.  And don't be afraid to admit you're wrong or that you don't know the answer.  State that you don't know and then turn around and fix the problem or find the solution.  Never lie and try to make your product or company something it's not.

What other customer service tips does your company give to your employees.  We want to know!

[photo courtesy: Flickr user: passiveagressivenotes]

Why Social Media Doesn’t Work

Courtesy of Flickr: Sybren A. Stüvel

We think social media is great. A lot of other people do too. So far we’ve been focused on helping those who are interested in putting effort into social media for their brand. So what about the people who are against (and I mean fiercely against) using social media for their business? We think there are 3 different camps with 3 different views on why social media isn’t working for their company. If you identify yourself as any one of these, keep reading! You never know when you’ll find a new piece of information!

The Haters

These people are really against social media.  They swear they’ll never use it, and grumble and mumble when other people talk about it.  Why does my business need social media – we’re doing perfectly fine with our traditional methods of advertising and managing.  Why should I post about the latest company happenings?  Why would consumers want to follow me anyways?

No offense, but they sound like my grandma.  Stuck in the past, not up-to-date with technology.  Times have changed, and people (especially business people) need to realize that social media has become the new mode of communication.

But they would be surprised to see how many potential relationships they’re letting fly by.  Did you know there are many users on social media that are all potential customers? (check out this cool infographic with all the stats)  Traditional methods of reaching out to the consumer isn’t enough – social media is in real-time, and it’s important nowadays to get information to your customers (who are using online media to research who they’ll buy products from) and to do so quickly, time-efficiently, and effectively.

The Fence-Sitters

This group of people has a love-hate relationship with social media.  These businesses use social media for their brands, but don’t really believe that it can do any magic.  They might be using Facebook and Twitter for their brands because everyone else is, but deep down inside, they don’t believe social media efforts are that important (or at least one of the most important factors to communicating with customers.)  So they put limitations on their social media management employees.  You can only do this much with social media.  Interacting with customers is for business-only purposes.

Really?  Do these businesses really want to set these rigid rules?  What will their customers think of them?

No consumer wants to see a business that “is only a business.”  We’ve said this a thousand times, but customers want to see that businesses have feelings too.  Social media is a great way for brands to show their fun side, and inform their followers.  It’s taking more than smarts for businesses to succeed nowadays – creativity and uniqueness are really important to catch the consumers’ eyes.

The Over-enthusiasts

We hear it all the time.  I devote myself to social media – I’m on all the platforms, I update my followers often.  I’ve got a great social media management tool…and I sat and waited…and nothing happened.

Well, what’d you expect?  Social media isn’t some fairy dust you sprinkle over your business and you become popular the next day!  It’s a lot more work than that!

The problem is two-fold.  Did you actually engage with customers, or did you just establish your presence on the social media networks?  If you did attempt to communicate with customers, are you posting and creating interesting content?  Most businesses get stumped at this step – they throw information at consumers and expect an increase in followers.  A lot of companies have big social media teams to make sure their brands get it right.  But you don’t need a huge team to be successful; take a look at our previous post to get some easy, helpful tips on how to garner more publicity.

For those of you that read this article and are ready to dismiss it…DON’T.  Take a stab at social media today and keep trying – the web holds a wealth of information that you cannot afford to miss out on.