How calls to action work on Social Media

A while ago  I wrote about having a call to action in all blog posts, yet it’s still the number one piece of advice I give out to all mentoring clients.

So it was nice to come across this handy infographic from Dan Zarella showing how a decent call to action can affect all aspects of your social media marketing.

See below how:

  • ASKING people to comment on blogs gets you more comments
  • ASKING people to retweet your Tweets gets you more retweets
  • ASKING people to share on Facebook gets you more shares

Comm0n sense really, but so many people forget their call to action and are missing out on valuable eyeballs because of it.

Your challenge today is to use a call to action in every aspect of your social media marketing, and report in the comments below as to how well it worked for you!

social-calls

 

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Social Media Marketing – is it REALLY all that new?

new2Let’s be real – Social Media Marketing isn’t really all that new…

We were clicking, viewing, commenting and sharing, long before the term ‘social media’ was coined.

The world of business is going mad for social media, with a recent study suggesting 92% of businesses in North America are using it in some way.

This is exciting of course, but in this excitement, many seem to have forgotten that while some of the technology may be new, the phenomena is not.

In fact, this interactive methodology has been at the core of internet marketing since its very inception. Web pages are, after all, interactive and multimedia by their very nature. We were clicking, viewing, commenting and sharing, long before the term ‘social media’ was coined.

In fact, ‘social’ has always been as aspect of marketing. So, how can the lessons of the past inform the way we approach social media marketing today?

Mistaken identities

What is new to many businesses trying out social media for the first time is the idea of anything other than direct selling. On your website, if you want to you can say what you do, why you are the best at it, ask people to buy and no one will bat an eyelid. The same goes for advertising, of course. But in the social media space, this is not so. Or at least, it can’t make up the majority of what you say.

If you’re familiar with networking in the real world, this will come as no surprise, but if you’re not and you try to use your social media profile as advertising space, you’ll be sorely disappointed at the results. Put simply, your social media profile should be more akin to your whole business persona, not just the advertising part of it.

In real life, you wouldn’t just sell, sell, sell (I hope), you would be informative, knowledgeable and helpful. Knowing the value of word of mouth, you would build connections, have conversations and generally get involved in your community. You would take an interest in others and sometimes, your conversations would be with a view to selling, but sometimes they wouldn’t.

Once you think of it like that, your social media strategy should look a whole lot clearer.

Same game, new pitch

So once we accept that social media goes beyond simple advertising, what else can we learn from the marketing that went before? What can we do to ensure it’s not just chat for chat’s sake?

Three techniques that can work wonders in the social media space are: offering free information, helping promote others reciprocally, and giving exclusive offers to others in the online ‘community’. But, again, these techniques are much older than the space they now inhabit.

Ever given out a free fact sheet to anyone that visits your office? Or helped out a person you meet at a conference by passing on the details of a third party? Or offered a ‘buy on get one free’ deal via your shop window?

These classic promotional techniques existed way before social media, so what’s the lesson here? A lot of social media marketing isn’t about reinventing the wheel, it’s about taking what we’ve collectively learned from other marketing activities (in our offices, at networking events, on our websites) and looking at how these can be carried through to our social networking personas.

Making it work for you

The beauty of social media is that the initial outlay is exceptionally cheap compared to many other forms of marketing. Get yourself a profile and then listen carefully to the buzz that’s happening around you. Follow people you’d like to emulate, and those you’d like as customers. Engage as a useful resource long before you begin to add straight sales techniques to the mix, and above all, keep it up. Again, just like any other form of marketing, social media is about keeping a consistent presence. Drift away, and so will your audience.

Need some help with your Social Media Marketing strategy? Give our Mentoring tryout package a try!

 

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Online reputation management – what to do about negative reviews online?

What to do with negative reviews online_One of the great things about the Internet is the level of freedom of speech that exists there. If we experience bad service from a product or service provider, we can tell other people, so they can weigh up the pros and cons before choosing to spend their money with the same vendor. This has really accelerated the way that word of mouth travels via the Internet, allowing your best customers to sell your products and services for you through their positive feedback and reviews.

However, the trouble is, that the freedom of the Internet that allows people to have their fair say have also allowed people to use the same processes to damage your reputation online. Whether their comments are negative, truthful reviews written by people that didn’t get the customer experience that they should, or negative, fake reviews written by competitors, disgruntled employees or ex-business partners, it’s important to know what’s being said about you.

So what do you do with negative reviews? It’s all about managing your online reputation and there is a lot that you can do.

Okay, so what happens when you Google your company name and a string of negative comments appears on the front page of Google? No doubt you’ll start losing customers immediately and that could be incredibly costly for your business. Let’s face it, Google is the greatest shopping directory ever invented and if you come up negatively on the front page, you just have no idea of the damage to your reputation because you can’t count the number of potential customers that you lose from it.

The first step to take when you discover a negative review is to check its veracity or verify if the complaint is a genuine one. In lots of cases, it could easily be a lie published by a competitor or just someone out to cause trouble for your business.

The next step is to find out if there are more complaints like it elsewhere on the Internet. You do this by Googling ‘your company name’ plus words associated with negative reviews such as ‘complaints’, ‘feedback’, ‘scam’, ‘problems’, ‘bad service’. I’m sure you get the point.

If you’re absolutely certain that the reviews or comments are not genuine, then you can politely email the sites that are publishing those reviews and offer them your side of the story and ask if they would kindly remove it. The trouble is that not all review sites will let you challenge a review and some will just flat-out refuse to remove anything from their site, even if you have proof.

If they refuse to do anything or ignore your messages, then see if you can add a comment of your own to the site setting the story straight. This at least shows that you are aware of the problem and were willing to do something about it. If it’s genuine, you have the chance to please a disgruntled customer, if it’s fake, people will see that you made an effort to address the situation at least.

If it is indeed a genuine problem, use the opportunity to resolve the issue and post the resolution on that website. More often than not, if you successfully resolve the complaint, the complainant will remove the complaint from the site.

If neither of these simple approaches works, you may need to go deeper. You can post a message on your website that’s optimised for the same searches that bring up the negative review comments. Let people know that there are issues and that you are working to resolve them. This works particularly well if the complaints are lies, but obviously highlighting problems is not a great sales tactic.

If the negative reviews only appear when your company name is searched for on Google, then you need to drive the reviews off the front page by ensuring that your name appears positively enough times on the front page to push them further down Google into the abyss. Using blogs, review sites, online profiles and other high profile websites are great for this.

Ensure that your own site features plenty of positive reviews so that you can point out how ‘out of place’ and ‘wrong’ the negative reviews are.

The best thing that you can do is to set up a level of monitoring regarding your company and its online reputation. You can do this for free by setting up Google alerts or use an application that will regularly check what’s being said about you online. Remember, it’s vital that as a business trading on the web that you are absolutely 100% sure of what’s being said about you in the public forum of the Internet and take steps to respond accordingly to any negative reviews that you find there.

But if all else fails, it may be time to bring in an online reputation management specialist that can wipe the negative reviews off the net for you.

If you need help fighting negative reviews and managing your online reputation, then we may be able to help. Nikki Pilkington is an expert in Internet and Social Media Marketing, and in some cases can help companies to manage their negative reviews and increase their awareness of what’s being said about them online. To find out more, email nikkipilk@gmail.com

 

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Need Social Media, Marketing, Writing or Sales help in 2013?

You’ve been asking us for a while to bundle some of our ebooks together, and what better time to do that than at the beginning of a new year?

Whether you’re looking to up your Social Media Marketing, finally getting around to writing that ebook, or are looking to kickstart your Marketing and Sales in 2013, we’ve got a Bonanza Bundle for you!

Bonanza Bundle #1 – Social Media Marketing ebook Package

6 of our best selling ebooks – from Twitter to Facebook, Linkedin to Google+, with Blogging and SEO thrown in – if you’re wanting to know more about promoting your website, this bundle is for you.

Find out more here.

Bonanza Bundle #2 – Sales & Marketing ebooks Package

From finding the customers to closing the sale and everything in between. Find out where your customers hang out, how to lead them through the sale, when to start talking about price and more with this great bundle.

Find out more here.

Bonanza Bundle #3 – Writing & Ebook ebook package

Maybe 2013 is the year you want to see your name on the front cover of a book? If publishing a book or ebook is your dream, this bundle is definitely for you – from sourcing ideas, finding out what will sell, planning and writing the book, through to promoting and marketing your tome, everything you need is here.

Find out more here.

Whichever of our great bundles you decide upon, you’ll definitely get off to a great start in 2013.

At the great price of just £5 per bundle, why not get all 3?

Happy reading!

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Twitter – A Bigger Search Engine Than Google?

English: a chart to describe the search engine...

Image via Wikipedia

It’s come to just about everyone’s attention that Twitter is HUGE. Twitter is used by almost every company, every celebrity, every wannabe celebrity, and every band to update clients on their goings-on, as well as inform future clients of their services. Most people,even those who aren’t on Twitter yet, also know that Twitter has it’s own search function that allows you to find accounts of people and companies that you would want to follow.

The Twitter search engine allows you to find users by post, by name, trends, and even tone. Trends often show what is popular on Twitter, from funny users that have quick quips to news reels from bigger celebrities and companies. Basically, it’s a 100% organic search engine that allows people to decide what shows first.

There are some good sides to this that can’t be achieved with a regular search engine. Spam sites and malware aren’t going to be in Twitter search results, unless you click outside links. It encourages conversation, followers, and also wit. The question remains – is it a bigger search engine than Google?

Well, yes and no.

It’s bigger in the sense that a lot of users can generate a lot of results in the Twitter feed, a lot more tweets probably are online than websites. There’s a much lower chance of viruses, and there’s a lot of companies that are using Twitter to advertise their services. There is a lot that Twitter offers as far as a community goes. And, the user base is massive. One of the most beneficial things about Twitter is that the tweets that are displayed in the search engines are always the newest that they have. Google and the others can’t say the same thing.

But, like with any search engine, Twitter has its own problems. You can’t separate business from personal accounts on Twitter. The results that you get from most searches aren’t as in-depth, nor are they even spelled correctly. If you are looking for grammatically correct musings from followers, searches, or otherwise, Twitter might not be the best choice.

Another issue a lot of people mention is that though Twitter’s user base is very large, it isn’t universal. There are a decent amount of people who aren’t plugged into Twitter, and therefore would not be likely to receive any message that you have there. The thought of nonusers using the search engine doesn’t make much sense, either. Would people choose a certain business because of their Twitter account?

Twitter has a very active community, but search engines like Google and Yahoo will always have the advantage when it comes to attracting a wider audience. Before you give up your SEO marketing campaign for Google, Yahoo, and other search engines, remember that the user base is much larger on these internet juggernauts. Instead, opt to blend both your Twitter and your website into one optimisation strategy that will keep you in the spotlight for all to see.

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Social Media Marketing: How Much Is Too Much?

 – A guest post by Henry Fitzgerald

From the consumer side, you know when enough is enough.

Maybe you reach that point after reading 26 consecutive tweets from Café Le Nom about lunch and dinner specials. Perhaps you draw the line at 50 Facebook notifications from one vendor. Or maybe you call it quits when your Gmail finally figures out how to re-route all messages from Café Le Nom as spam.

Either way, consumers know when they’re fed up. But, how do businesses and service providers know when to draw the line? How do they know when they’ve gone too far? What are the steps to recover from overdone social media marketing and get on the path to recovery?

Whether you suspect you’ve gone too far with your company’s social media use or had no idea that people can become fed up, check out these tips to help gauge your marketing.

What to Do:

When it comes to marketing via social media, there are definite do’s and don’ts. If you haven’t considered this concept before, you may have already gone too far. But don’t worry, you can always improve!

1) DO: Use Email Marketing

Businesses can be pretty quick to discard email as an effective marketing tool. However, with the smartphone revival sweeping the nation, people are showing a renewed interest in email. Eighty-five percent of people surveyed said that their mobile email is becoming increasingly relevant for daily life while one in three consumers said they use mobile email now more than ever. These numbers all add up to a solid case for email marketing. With people using email on the go, sending out deals, offers and coupons directly to consumer’s inboxes means they can access information on the go, from just about anywhere.

The key to being successful with an email marketing campaign is the frequency of delivery and the wording. Do not, for any reason, use spammy subject lines like, “OPEN NOW!!! UP TO 95% OFF SPECIALLY MARKED ITEMS FOR THE NEXT THIRTY SECONDS!!” Your messages will be flagged as spam and redirected accordingly. Make your subject lines honest and appealing and keep your messages between the 2-5 times a week mark. Send them during the day when people are likely to be out shopping and keep the message short but informative.

2) DO: Blog!

Blogs are an underutilized resource for many larger businesses. People like to be updated with your business, but might not necessarily want to read about it on Facebook or Twitter. Linking to your company blog gives people the option to check it out, without being too overwhelming. Keep the blog updated with fresh, interesting content and be creative to make sure that your readers keep coming back.

3) DO: Use Social Media Wisely

All in all, just be wise with your social media use. Follow the golden rule. If you don’t want your social media bombarded with company links, coupons and gimmicky posts, then don’t do it to others. Post a few times a week to keep customers interested and avoid posting more than a handful of times each day.

What Not To Do:

1) DON’T: Fill Up News Feeds

This is fairly self-explanatory. If you notice that you’ve posted a lot at one time, you can bet that you’re probably filling up news feeds. This act will put you on the fast track to be un-friended or un-followed. Over-sharing is the number one reason people will cut you from their social media radar. Keep your updates limited to avoid being axed.

2) DON’T: Bombard Inboxes or Sent Out Spam

If you decide to use email marketing, do not take it too far. Don’t send more than one email a day and avoid spammy subjects like the one listed above. If you send out messages too frequently and if they contain the spam phrases, Gmail will call you out before consumers can even find the unsubscribe button.

3) DON’T: Ignore Feedback

Customers are the most vital aspect of your success or failure. If you receive feedback, either positive or negative, don’t ignore it. If they’re trying to tell you something, listen. You’ll be glad you did.

Henry Fitzgerald is a technology consultant based in Seattle. When not geeking out over the latest tech gadgets, he spends his time cooking, playing soccer, and sailing. Check out his tech blog here or follow him on twitter: @hfitzy34

5 Ways NOT To Market Your Services On Twitter

Follow me on Twitter logo

Image via Wikipedia

If you are a business owner who needs to learn about marketing, it’s important to learn how to Tweet for success. Like any other matter in marketing, there’s a right way to do things, and then there is the wrong way to do things. Those who want to market their services on Twitter should learn how to gain followers, but not by being these five marketers.

The Internet Explosion – Above all, this is the #1 thing you don’t ever want to do. Some very, very foolish business owners don’t know when to step away from the computer when they are angry about something. Once in a very blue moon, a Twitter marketer will post a rant about customers, or something along those lines, in a very unflattering light. If you ever post a rant about a customer, you can bet that people will always think twice about choosing you as the business they want to go to. Should you get the feeling that you need to do this, just back away from the computer, and get a cup of tea. You don’t need to sacrifice your business for a 5 minute revenge.

The Spammer – You have probably seen this one on Twitter. Constantly posting links without any information is a great way to get people to filter out your tweets at the blink of an eye. Customers won’t know whether you are a virused user, a business with a really terrible marketing approach, or a spam bot. For their own computers’ sakes, users will quickly stop following you if they feel this is what you’re doing. Actually put some effort in your Twitter marketing! Come up with real content that isn’t a pile of links or repetitive phrases, and your Twitter following will blossom.

The Trigger – Similar to the internet explosion, the person who posts something very controversial or incendiary will probably find a drop in their sales. Topics that could trigger a nasty backlash include politics, anything that could be considered racism, or anything that could be related to religion. Your customer base could include anyone. Why alienate them? Why alienate yourself? If it’s a really bad gaffe, your company could be faced with protesters and boycotts. Natural food megastore recently had an entire Twitter following devoted to boycotting their products after unsavory staff relations had come to light. Do you really want to be the one to spark your own Twitter boycott?

The Strong, Silent Type – Some people simply feel strange talking about their Twitter accounts off Twitter. And, it’s understandable. It can be awkward. But, if you don’t advertise your Twitter account, you won’t ever see enough followers for it to become a substantial part of your marketing campaign. The point of marketing is to get people included in your company, and to develop a better community around your company. Not telling them how to be a more active part of that community keeps that community from growing.

The Pre-Packaged Dealer – People can smell out fakers a mile away. You want to appear like a human being to them, which means that any message or following that appears to be manufactured will quickly be disregarded by most people. No one, but no one, wants to feel like they are talking (or listening) to a robot. This is why formula invites, tweets, and messages don’t work. Believe it or not, an organic approach with one or two tweaks might be the best approach that you can have on Twitter.

Done ‘properly’, Twitter can boost your web traffic, increase your sales, encourage referrals and build relationships – surely that’s what every business owner on Twitter wants?

What puts you off following people?

Still finding your way with Twitter? Need a helping hand? Check out my 30 Day Twitter Challenge to kickstart your Tweeting today!

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Avoiding Social Media Fallouts with Well-Crafted Guidelines

Angry Mean Face

Image by chexed via Flickr

How many times have you logged on to Facebook or Twitter and found some friend complaining about his work, client or employer?

Now imagine if you find out that this gripe was about your company and the friend who let out the offending status message or tweet was your employee?

Even if the gripe was not directed at you or your company, it could damage a client of yours.  And because it is fairly easy for people to share that particular post, take a screenshot and upload it to third party sites, and even for search engines to have a copy of the offending content, that gripe could easily become a reputation nightmare for your company.

Social media guidelines help you and your employees know the boundaries of what they could say about the company and your clients online.  It can also help your employees know how to behave.

Some reminders on how to formulate your social media guidelines:

1. Know your goals. Social media, it seems, is a part of every progressive company.  It helps disseminate information to people within and outside your organization, it helps with customer service, it helps to have people’s questions answered quickly.  Before you create guidelines for your social media usage, you should have these goals in mind.

2. Empower everyone to contribute. When formulating your policies, form a team that involves a cross section of employees, from the rank and file to the top executives, to those who man your official social media accounts.  Everyone in your company should be represented.  This would ensure that everyone is updated and involved in formulating policy.  Plus, it would make training others easier.

3. Allow for changes. While making sure that your social media guidelines fully outline the responsibilities and expectations you have for everyone involved, the policy itself should have room for growth and change.  This is because social media is a very dynamic area and the only way to keep on top of it is to be ready to embrace changes.

4. Put respect at the center of every action. This goes whether the employee posting is using the company’s social media sites or their own personal social media accounts.

5. Some typical provisions that others have included in their own guidelines:

• Check twice before pressing that submit button.  Check for profanity, discriminatory remarks, insults and anything you would not want your own mother to read.  When in doubt about a message, don’t post it.

• Politely disagree with somebody and politely respond when necessary.

• When posting something about the competitor, make sure that you have your facts checked and that you have obtained prior approval from your superiors to post it.

• When posting for yourself, include a disclaimer to that effect. When posting in behalf of the company, identify yourself and state your position in the company.

• Admit to your mistakes and humbly apologize.

• Avoid posting anything about the company that should not be made known.  Secret files, private business matters, legal matters or anything that has to do with an ongoing litigation, do not have a place on social media sites.

• Do not plagiarize.  If you want to reprint an article, then get permission from the original author before doing so.

 

SEO Inc., a southern California based Search Engine Optimization Company, ensures they follow best practice guidelines whenever they undertake any Social Media Marketing campaign.

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Buying Facebook 'likes', Twitter 'followers' and 'fans'?

Get 10,000 fans / likes for just $100

5,000 unique Twitter followers for just $50

Buy your way to the top!

Just some of the headlines of email we’ve received in the past week.

Then there are the potential clients that approach us asking if we can ‘buy fans or followers’.

Well the answer is a resounding:

NO!

We can see why it seems a great idea. 10,000 people listening to your message, all added to your account within a week or so – before you know it you’ll have sales coming out of your ears, right?

WRONG!

See, think about it. How many of those 10,000 will be REAL people, waiting to read your message and interested in what you sell? The chances are, not many.

And how many alerts will you be triggering with your super fast growth? Probably lots – Twitter is renowned for closing down accounts that grow so rapidly, as it’s the classic hallmark of a spam account (which, incidentally, yours pretty much is once you start buying fans and followers instead of building your fanbase organically).

We know, it seems like a great idea – hardly any money gets you a huge potential audience.

But we’ll put it to you that if you think this is a great idea then you’ve not quite ‘got’ the idea of Social Media Marketing – it’s not about broadcasting to a huge audience, it’s about attracting the right kind of fans and followers, building your audience gradually, interacting with them and developing credibility.

Having 10,000 fans or followers is great (our own @nikkipilkington has 11,000+, built organically) but it’s not a short cut to untold riches, and it doesn’t mean you’re going to sell loads – it just means you bought a list that’s probably as useless as the $50 link campaign you considered buying last summer – and probably just as dangerous, in terms of the likelihood of being banned from Facebook or Twitter.

Have you bought followers or fans? Would you? We’d love to hear your opinion of this practice in our comments section below.

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More than 5 hours a week spent on Social Media Marketing?

We are all aware of the power of social media. Used by millions of adults all around the world, social media is by far one of this century’s biggest phenomenons. So with such vast potential audience on social network sites and blogs every day, it only seems logical for companies to embrace social networking to boost the awareness of their brand.

A survey recently conducted by NikkiPilkington.com, an Internet marketing company based in the UK & France, reveals some dramatic if not unsurprising results on how businesses are now using social networking as a regular part of their marketing strategies. The results not only show which sites and what type of social media is most commonly used, but also the duration of time businesses spend on social media marketing.

The sites that people use to promote their business

The sites that people use to promote their business

An impressive 95% of businesses declare they incorporate Twitter into their marketing strategy. Twitter, the world’s leading micro-blogging service, now has literally billions of ‘Tweets’ per quarter. So anyone who is anybody now has to be there in order to boost their online performance.

Following not far behind is Facebook, now the world’s leading social networking site, with 77% of businesses responding taking part in ‘Facebook-ing’. Blogging is also used by an impressive 67% of businesses, with 48% also commenting on other blogs (often as a part of link-building campaign).

Online business forums and YouTube also take a slice, 61% and 28% respectively, but perhaps one of the most surprising revelations is that 0% seems to incorporate MySpace. Although MySpace arguably laid the foundations for social networking back in 2004, in 2008 it was overtaken by Facebook, whose popularity still on the rise.

We also asked how long per week was spent on social media marketing. Again unsurprisingly, 42% spend 5 hours or more every week using the likes of Twitter and Facebook. A still rather hefty 28% spent between 2-5 hours, whilst 17% spend 1-2 hours, and 9% spend 30 minutes to an hour per week on social media marketing. Only 4% spend less than half an hour a week, with all of these results proving the significance of social media within the realms of marketing.

How long per week is spent on Social Media Marketing

How long per week is spent on Social Media Marketing

It is clear that with the ever increasing rise of Tweets, updates and blogs, social media marketing is going to have to keep up with this modern form of communication. Although offline advertising should not be underestimated, social media marketing as a part of a digital marketing campaign is one of the most integral forms of increasing brand awareness in the 21st Century

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Disclaimer: The stats above were based on the responses of 624 business people. As the stats were gathered via Twitter, Facebook, online forums and blogs, it is clear that there will be some bias towards those areas of promotion. However, responses were also solicited via email and our newsletter, to try and even this up a little!

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