Is your Twitter dressed to the nines?

Resolutions fail because they are vague, they can be easily achieved if we pin down the actions rather than the goal itself. Most common and apt business resolution is to optimise the Twitter Profile this year, and here’s my new year gift to you all. An action packed list to help you achieve this goal:

1)    Stitch in time saves nine
How secure is your password? Test it here http://howsecureismypassword.net “Change is good” and a periodic change for your password is a security mandate. Can I ask when was the last time you changed your Twitter or any frequently used account password? Ah! I can imagine your wide-opened eyes and dropped jaw for your own answer.

2)    Would YOU follow you?
Check your profile often and keep questioning yourself.  I am sure your profile looks great, it is recommended to enliven it every now and then. How about reviewing your design settings now and refreshing it. https://twitter.com/settings/design This is a wonderful feature. You can even customise the design based on an upcoming event of your business.

3)    Is your Bio up-to-date? 
You were on the drawing board last summer and revised your business’s profile to be in sync with your expanded line of product, services and the new goals. It should reflect accurately at your social footprints as well just like your employee book, website and all the policies. Time to review your twitter bio and re-write, if required.  https://twitter.com/settings/profile

4)    Give it a little swirl
This is an appropriate time to review the people you are following. Unfollow the ones you just started following in the flow, start following a few new and keep the mix right. Twitter profile health checks offered by “Twitter Counter” can be a good place to start.

5)    Get better with a Bitly account
Twitter automatically shortens URLs for you when you compose a tweet. But they use their own shortened and that doesn’t give you any access to the statistics that you may essentially need. Some Twitter interfaces let you to connect to Bitly and that way you can always go back to that site to see which URLs did good.

6)    Get an app
The web interface of Twitter is fine, however its helpful to have an app for your smart devices and see if it helps you operate your social world more effectively. HootSuite, TweeDeck, TweetCaster, Scheduling, managing different accounts and platform at once, statistics are some features of these apps and interfaces that can help you achieve your goals and carve your content and twitter strategy.

7)    Pull the plug for all unwanted apps
This is yet another very important security arena we often miss. The number of apps you have given permission to do mostl everything they want on your account. The number will surely surprise you. Some might still be appropriate, but there might be a few you tested once and never used even for a second time. They are better off if disconnected. https://twitter.com/settings/applications

8)    Flourish with more Followers
Never stop announcing your presence, the excitement and efforts should be as fresh as when you had just started on Twitter. Mention your Twitter handle in your email signature, contact page, sidebar of your blog, Google+ page, LinkedIn profile.. at every social footprint of yours. Are your employees aware of your social footprints? You could be losing on a ready to use followers base. Don’t leave any stone unturned. Employee handbook, newsletter, sen an email to the employees and your customers with a friendly reminder that you are active on Twitter and a few instructions on how to follow you. Try making it visible at the entrance to your office.

9)    Love is a universal language
Twitter wouldn’t be Twitter without the engagements between tweeps. Show some love to your followers and keep the conversation on. Retweets, replies and the stars keep tweeps connected and a bit of the mention goes a long way.

With the above and a few tips from my previous post, your social footprints will shine with the glory.

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14 must-dos to improve your social impression in 2014

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Just like you I was totally tempted to surrender to the bubbly, mulled wine, cookies and cakes so I started with the yearly housekeeping and just then it occured to me that I am meant to do the yearly tidying to my social as well.

Well whilst you decorate your Christmas tree and warm up for the New Year cheer, this is a suitable time to do a little social media housekeeping. Here are top 14 stars to add glamour and sturdiness to your social cheer. Get them all done and you’ll enter the New Year with a stronger base.

  1. Verify your Google profile – Google+ made colossal progress this year. You can try some simple updates. If you haven’t already, customize your URL so your company page is legitimate and easier to find and share.
  2. Tarot card readings didn’t fetch you well this year? Try Twitter Cards? Well I find Twitter’s Lead Generation Cards very promising. They allow you to collect leads directly from tweets. Christmas is a great time to try new things, and these have no form for users to fill in – cherry on the top, isn’t it?
  3. Fine tune your content – Now is a good time to review all the content shared and plan ahead. Be creative. Experiment!
  4. Take a Google Analytics course – No business is complete without acumens. Insights is everything. Google analytics course will be a true investment of your time and money, well only the time as it’s free now.
  5. A lot can happen over LinkedIn –Sponsored Updates allow businesses to promote any post from their company page directly into a specific demographics’ news feed. Give it a go.
  6. Be the “Titleholder” – Had a good social 2013? Highlight your work with internal staging, newsletter and creative comms using Vine, videos, infographics. Celebrate your social triumph!
  7. “My father taught me many things … keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.” (Yes, I was watching “Godfather” last night. Yes, Again!)Take a few steps back and get the wider view of the marketplaces. Understand what worked well for your competitors and what didn’t. Learn and take notes to fin-tune your social strategy.
  8. Play with video – Now you can create and edit videos on the Instagram app as well as photos. And what’s more, these videos outdo the 6 second restriction of Vine, so it’s worth testing which platforms work best for you.
  9. Get on the right side of the law – The legal systems of any nation wasn’t  made with social in mind so they have had to adapt. Get better prepared for legislation in 2014. An appropriate time to refresh and brush the legal knowledge. Research time!
  10. Re-state your statement  – Once you’re aware of the legal risks, you’ll no doubt want to get your housekeeping in order. Re-draft your social policy; it should cover everything from changing passwords to protecting the company against liability caused by your workforce. Many free and reliable workbooks are available online.
  11. Sieve and revive – Get rid of the channels which are not suited for your business and re-focus your efforts on active platforms.
  12. Surf the net for inspiration – This is a great time to do a bit of research. Some casual surfing can land you with great ideas for the next twelve months. Start by checking out what competitors have been up to!
  13. Social also needs some “alone-time”  – While business is not that chaotic and busy, reflect upon the risks and vulnerabilities in social. What worked for you and where could you improve? How will you go about making change? Who else in your company could you tempt with cake to get some guidance?
  14. Before you get Christmassy – Before you pour that drink to your success, plan the social media content and dispenser during the holidays. There should be Christmas in the virtual world as well. Isn’t it?

Wish you all a very merry Christmas and a happier 2014!

Social Media : Isn’t it just a waste of time and money?

Last week I attended an astute networking event for social media professionals. I returned home with smile and simper both as a result of assorted reactions (Ah! I am sorry to disappoint you; I am not talking about mixed vinos).

It was great to observe the rising interest in social media by all. There were some humour doses too. I did keep a straight face but inside me there was a big chuckle when one of the “Social Media Professional” repeated my question “Do we have a social media strategy. “Of course we do! To get as many Facebook likes as humanly possible!”

Social media has been the next big thing for several years. And now many brands are increasingly tossing lots and lots of money at it because it’s become quite popular.

Social media has been the next big thing for several years. And now many brands are increasingly tossing lots and lots of money at it because it’s become quite popular.

Social media has been the next big thing for several years. And now many brands are increasingly tossing lots and lots of money at it because it’s become quite popular.

In many ways, social media has become the latest status symbol for brands. Seemingly obsessed with their mission to achieve social media success, brands continually try to outdo their competitors and maintain their social media “star” position.

Ignorance Drives Panic and Desperation

This mentality forces brands to throw everything at social media while completely bypassing strategy.

Why is this happening? It might simply be ignorance. Many brands do not really understand social media. And because they are so busy trying to achieve social media fame, they really don’t have time to step back and learn about its true power.

Their lack of understanding often produces an underlying fear that leads to desperation. All they know is that the competition is doing it, so they damn well better do it too. More often than not, their pursuit is fueled by some executive rant: “ABC Company has 10, 000 Twitter followers and we only have 3000! This is unacceptable!!!” This mentality forces brands to throw everything at social media while completely sidestepping the strategy.

It also creates unnecessary and unhealthy pressures. In their quest to achieve social media fame, brands tend to latch-on to certain success metrics, such as Facebook likes or Twitter followers. Some even use these metrics to assess the individual performance of brand managers, and require them to achieve some arbitrary number.

Understandably, those interested in job security often interpret the KPI as “You need to acquire 100,000 Facebook likes this year, or you’re fired!” How exactly is a brand manager supposed to get 100,000 likes? Are there really that many people excited about the kitchen liquids or toiletries? May be no but management decides to ignore such common facts.

Consequently, brands have to reach as broadly as possible in order to hit those numbers. Instead of defining a strategy to reach their target demographic, most resort to running Facebook Ads or giveaways. In other words, they basically ‘cheese the mouse’.

Point Missed!

Brands are missing the main point, they do not realise that this approach isn’t going to build a very loyal following. In fact, when your social media audience is full of people who don’t actually care about your brand, they’ll easily get annoyed when you post an update, and quickly repel.

Seemingly, brands are spending a tremendous amount of time and money to build a massive audience, but avoid communicating with it for fear of losing it.

Aiming for ROI on Social Media is the key

If you want your social media efforts to pay off, you need to realise that it is an Important marketing channel, not an Impotent one.

If you are feeling above approach at home with, you need to take a step back and ask yourself WHY you want these likes or followers in the first place. Besides gaining more than your competitors, what’s your objective? If you don’t know, that’s a sign for you to step back and THINK! You should have a clear answer, just as you would for any other media channel.

For example, you wouldn’t advertise during the Wimbledon season just because the number of viewers is huge. You’d be looking to get a return on your big investment. To do so, you’d still need to have a message and a clear objective. That’s where real strategy comes into play, and where many social media experts are making the most common mistake.

If you want your social media efforts to pay off, you need to realise that it is a marketing channel, not just a shiny new toy. Given that, it should be held to the same standards as other media channels. That means it’s time to have an actual marketing strategy for your social media channel, and think about how it fits into your buying pipeline.

How to Build Your Social Media Strategy?

An effective strategy is defined by clear objectives and quantifiable goals. Below are key objectives you can use to help support your social media strategy:

To create brand awareness

If you want to create awareness, social media can definitely help. However, it can be tricky in this realm as it usually means to meddlesome and putting yourself where you aren’t wanted. Typically, it is achieved with the various promoted options available on social media platforms, such as Sponsored Stories or Promoted Facebook updates and Promoted Tweets.

Other non-paid tactics for generating awareness via social media include commanding trending topics. Or joining a relevant group, like LinkedIn groups or Google communities, and becoming a valuable member.

While the effectiveness of these tactics varies, you can improve their chance of success by putting some strategic thought into them. Who are you targeting with your social advertising? If you’re running a social media based contest, is it going to draw the right zooming glasses for your brand? Does your tweet on a trending topic add to the conversation?

To create brand trust

Social media has some serious power in the deliberation step of the conversion funnel because it can help you build social trust in a variety of ways.

While people don’t usually decide which brand to purchase based on who has the most Facebook likes or Twitter followers, your Twitter / Facebook presence could help them make a decision. For example, it influences me when I make hotel reservations. I know that hotels with an active customer service presence on Twitter will be much easier to deal with should anything go wrong.

Brand trust is also achieved via online reviews as many people ask their family and friends for suggestions before making a purchase decision. We even aspect strangers’ opinions! Such reviews can be extremely helpful to people in the research phase. Given that, attempt to use social media to help get reviews and word-of-mouth, and position your brand in the best possible manner.

You can also build social trust by using your social media profiles to showcase product features that put you ahead of your competitors. For example, Samsung Mobile uses their Facebook photos to highlight many of its phones’ features. While these mostly go to current fans of Samsung, it still provides powerful visuals for someone researching the brand. And social activity on these photos could expand their reach far beyond Samsung’s audience.

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Pulling in the social trust factor is important. Be sure to put a Like Button on your homepage (or every page) that displays a user’s friends who already like the brand. Use social media plug-ins to enhance the consideration power of your website and product pages.

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To create Conversions

If you also believe that Social Media can’t covert, I am here to convert you. You can use social media to convert. Here’s a simple example of exactly how:

I saw this tweet from @StarbucksUK: “Your receipt, our treat.  Save your morning receipt and get an afternoon drink for £2

Starbucks

So, I literally scanned my bag for the morning receipt and left the office and walked over a block to grab one. (It was hot out, and the drink was cheap!) Clearly, Starbuck’s social media effort drove that conversion.

Sure, it can be difficult to tie the social media effort to the conversion, but it’s not impossible. One way to do so is to plan to use special codes or printable (or smartphone) coupons in your social media promotions. Even a simple “mention Facebook and get X% off” initiative can be tracked at the register.

You can also drive conversions through social media by monitoring the conversations online. For instance, people love to complain about all kinds of personal problems on Twitter, and it could stimulus ideas for new marketing research and efforts.

As you listen to the conversation, keep in mind that your product solves a problem. For example, let’s say you sell candles. You can do a Twitter search for “need attractive candles” in London. Now you just tweet your store’s address at these people, and maybe offer them a small discount or share some pictures of your special candles. They need attractive candles. You sell attractive candles. No need to go door-to-door. Instead, just monitor Twitter to boost conversion.

And speaking of Twitter, these new Lead Generation Cards could be a revolution for social media conversions.

To convert Trust into Loyalty

To truly nurture loyalty with social media, go for creating eloquent engagement points and provide ongoing service to users.

This goal is best and favourite of all social media experts because it’s a wholesome for pretty much everything they do. It can also help them mask the fact they have no real strategy.

From their perspective, every retweet, like, mention, follow – or whatever — counts as loyalty! It doesn’t matter the context. It doesn’t matter what comes of it, or what the message was. Their claim is that this was a brand engagement, and therefore, the customer has loyalty to the brand now!

But do they really? If you tweet an ice cream flavour and I retweet it that just means I’m loyal to the ice cream or that flavour. Your brand may not even be on my mind at all.

To truly foster loyalty with social media, strive to create meaningful engagement points and provide ongoing service to users. For instance, a smart phone company could let people sign-up for important application or phone updates reminder tweets, or a food company could send out free samples of new products to its Facebook fans.

To create your customers as your brand ambassadors

Considered the whole platter of social media, advocacy can really help you multiply the return on your investments. It takes all of the above to a new audience and leads to word-of-mouth, online and offline.

Considering that, you should make achieving advocacy a core component in your social media strategy. Keep asking yourself: How can I boost advocacy? How can I make it easy for users to be my brand ambassadors? How can I provide a service that is so good that people will want to talk about it? This mindset will help guide you.

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You can use some of these to achieve advocacy with social media?

  • Give them what they want: Creating valuable and easily sharable content can boost advocacy. This can be achieved in various ways, such as simply posting product feature photos on your Facebook page or a user’s guide video on YouTube.
  • Keep it relevant: Your engagement points should be relevant and add value.
  • Demonstrate that you care: Having a reactive customer service presence in social media can add a human element to your brand, build trust, and improve the customer satisfaction.
  • Be princely: Rewarding people with some social media acknowledgement can make them feel valued, and in turn, increase advocacy. Give users positive feedback when they actually do what you want them to, and you’ll condition them to do it more often. For instance, I love doing the community work – from a variety of NGOs — but I tend to tweet about Sparks Charity more often because they’ll respond.

Social Meeting Mantra: Keep it easy but with a serious mind!

You need to decide and act accordingly. What’s more important to you? Using social media to accumulate more likes than your competitors? Or actually making social media pay off? It’s time to stop wasting money on meaningless likes, and start getting serious with social media. That means having an actual marketing strategy. Only then will you be able to effectively use social media to achieve business objectives. Otherwise, it’s quite simple to prove it a big money and time waster.

Hashtags: Why and How businesses should use them?

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Hashtags have become a noticeable part of the online world and as of late, more and more social media sites have allowed for the categorizing program known as Hashtags. Hashtags are used to allow users to tag posts, pictures, or even video with a hash symbol (#) followed by a word or phrase, such as #SocialMedia #IT #Cloud #video #infographic etc. Doing this allows the program to categorize anything posted with that Hashtag; this makes it simpler to search for related posts. The implications of this program have not yet been fully realized by the business community. The ability to tag and search using Hashtags can be utilized in all the arenas of the business community.

Why should today’s business community use Hashtags?

A survey from San francisco based ad platform RadiumOne, which polled 500 participants, found:

  • 58 percent of respondents utilize hashtags on a regular basis, and 71 percent of regular hashtag users do so from their mobile devices
  • 43 percent of respondents think hashtags are useful and 34% use them to search/follow categories and brands of personal interest
  • 51 percent of respondents would share hashtags more often if they knew advertisers awarded discounts for sharing product based hashtags
  • 41 percent of respondents use hashtags to communicate personal ideas and feelings

How should today’s business community use the hashtag?

#Promotion
A survey done by Radium one found that 51% of those who responded to the survey said that they would be more willing to share company hashtags if they were awarded discounts or chances at prizes if they were to do so. This is especially powerful for small businesses since launching a campaign needs only good ideas. It is indeed simple effective promotion for small businesses. Not only can you give discounts, and therefore bring in more customers, but this allows you to track promotions activity online.

#Targeting #Customers
Hashtags make it simpler to reach relevant customers. Marketing tools allow brands to advertise based on hashtags. For instance, Twitter lets advertisers target ads by category or interest. Internet surfers who use hashtags are likely to engaging in the social conversation and share their experiences with a brand.

#Conversation
Sometimes it is important to see what the marketplace is saying about a product or brand. According to the RadiumOne survey, 43 percent of respondents think hashtags are useful and 34% use them to search brands of interest.
Hashtags open up the social media world to better converse about your company. A website or a URL post only brings you to the company’s website while a Hashtag allows people to use it in everyday conversations they have on social media. This also allows you to track the conversation and get a better idea of what is being said and how you can utilize that information.

#Combined #Campaigns
Tools like Tagboard now allow you to track a hashtag across all the major social networks. Promote products and engage with customers across all platforms without having to create special campaigns for each. Since the hashtag can be the brand or the product.

#Innovations
Like every new thing, there is immense innovation opportunities are inherited in Hashtags. While hashtags and their use in business have begun to be utilized there are still endless possibilities to what can be done with them. The success of this new bliss is possible because of its simplicity and possible creative ways to use them. They are as easy to produce as campaigns are to incorporate them. For instance American Express recently launched Amex Sync, which lets cardholders make purchases by using hashtags.

LinkedIn is 10 today!

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It looks like yesterday when I was in complete annoyance about updating each minute detail of  my academics, career and professional journey on LinkedIn. To be honest, it all started in a moment of desperation while finding a new job assignment. I was not leaving any stone unturned and untouched so stumbled upon LinkedIn as well.

Today my morning tablet surfing and coffee made me gather that my emotional shift journey for LinkedIn. Feelings graduated from annoyance to love with an ease. A decade ago, really!

Do I really need to mention that its biggest and busiest business networking site on the internet.  LinkedIn has 200 million members worldwide and the network is growing by two members per second or 10-15 million members per quarter.

I have a ‘love and hate’ kind of relationship with numbers. (I like them when they make achievement look like one. I just start hating when they make a problem look bigger than its solution.) Today I am happy to share numbers for sure.

At present, over 2.8 million businesses have a LinkedIn Company Page. The popularity and global approach is evident from the fact that the website is available in 19 languages: Bahasa Indonesia, Bahasa Malaysia, Čeština, Dansk, Deutsch, English, Español, Français, 한국어, Italiano, Dutch, 日本语, Norsk, Polski, Português, Română, Русский, Svenska, Türkçe.

LinkedIn and its users did evolve gradually and both helped each other in tremendous ways. It has been a journey for both.

As a LinkedIn admirer, I want to raise a toast for LinkedIn and its users in my way. How about a quick 10 Things To Do LinkedIn List?

  1. Allocate and adhere to your LinkedIn time for each workday
  2. Stay up-to-date about your industry
  3. Stay in the know of your department and business development of your own and competitor’s business development
  4. Keep your LinkedIn inbox clean (not by deleting, by appropriate responses)
  5. Respond to professional requests in hours or days but never in weeks – Delayed response is as rude as no response
  6. Stay conversant with the groups you join
  7. Recognise people for their good work – Recommendations is a key – give and get recommendations, and now with the new feature of Skills endorsements, it’s another quick way to endorse your co-workers and old colleagues
  8. Stay conversant with your own company page, do value add whenever possible
  9. Be status active – Scan the status updates of your connections and nurture relationships
  10. Check your profile often – Would you follow you?

The list can go longer, leaving some room for my readers to add.

I am sure like me, for all you LinkedIn graduated from an annoyance as the moment you updated your details, to an essential business tool. I look at it as an authenticate business card today.

So on this note and toast wishing happy birthday to LinkedIn.

Stay connected!
http://uk.linkedin.com/in/diptibsocialmediastrategist

‘Tailor-made’ Twitter Content Strategy

What’s your Twitter strategy?

If you are unsure of the answer and with great amount of thinking, your response is, “We tweet often, we are polite, we use hashtags,”. It’s alarming.

To be successful on Twitter – whether you’re an individual owned business, an individual tweeting on behalf of a Fortune 500 or a mid-sized business – you need a well-articulated content strategy that covers the basic 5 WsWho, What, When, Why and in What Way.

Who is tweeting? Who are you tweeting to?

The question of who should be one of the first ones you answer when coming up with your Twitter strategy. You must determine who is in charge of your Twitter account, and who you’re your target audience.

You may be a one-person social media yard, and so you’ll be tweeting on behalf of, well, yourself; or you might be part of a dozen person team representing a major brand. In either case, establish a clear ownership of your Twitter account, and identify other team members who might also participate in content creation, couture and commitment.

Once you’re clear about who will be handling your Twitter handle, you are in more control of your specific campaigns and they are likely to run smoother. You are not prone to multiple conflicting tweets.

Once you have your Twitter team in place, determining your target audience is the next logical step.

This is a two-step process: I) Identify your target market and II) Find your target market on Twitter.

Hopefully you already know who you want to connect with your brand – if not, it’s time to go back to the drawing board and figure this out. But once you know that your market is mothers in their 40s with at least two kids and an interest in yoga, you can take step 2: find them on Twitter. Using Twitter’s search or a service like Social Mention, enter keywords that are associated with your target market. You can start following some accounts, lists or hashtag chats this way, to get to know your onlookers thoroughly.

What are you tweeting?

What: what will you tweet?

Here are some types of content you might want to consider:

  • Your own (created) content – including blog posts, case studies, promotions,      etc.
  • Others’ content – including retweets, sharing articles, blogs,      research reports pertaining to your industry and target audience’s      interest etc.
  • Multimedia – including photos, videos, podcasts, interviews etc.
  • Polls, Q&As, Discussion Starters
  • Your Organisations’ highlights / product updates etc.
  • Industry updates / news etc.

Of course, there’s a whole wide world of content out there, you cn come up with a variety of content pieces that represent your brand appropriately.

When will you be tweeting?

You need to figure out the two things here: Timing and Frequency.

When, and how often, you tweet. How much time and effort can you spend on Twitter? When is your maximum audience online? Twitter’s real-time natureis the key here hence you would want to send tweets out when your audience are most likely to see them.

Why are you tweeting?

This is the most important part of your strategy: answering the question “Why am I on Twitter?”

Doing a little contemplation is good for the business and your own good soul both. If you haven’t set you goals for Twitter yet, it’s the time.

You might be on Twitter to because your competitors are, to see your latest launch, to promote your restaurant, to increase social presence of self or business or to provide customer service. Whatever your reason, write it down and be as specific as possible. This will be the guiding light for the rest of your strategy.

What way are you going to be tweeting?

Last but not least, any good content plan needs to plan the tools and tactics it will use in order to flourish.

If you have more than one team member accessing your Twitter account, you might want to consider using a dashboard like HootSuite to manage everything. It’s also great for scheduling tweets and for analytics.

In this part of your strategy, you’ll also want to clarify any short-term campaigns you’ll be running: are you going to do a photo contest? Quiz campaign before you release your latest report etc.

Finally, included your analytics plan. How are you going to measure the success of your content strategy?

No plan is complete without a solid understanding of how it will be implemented and measured hence thinks this part through.

All of these elements will come together to give you the groundwork of a successful Twitter presence, and will help you achieve your social media goals.