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Though I’ve written about working as the social media manager for brands like Nissan, Land Rover and Hewlett Packard, I’ve never talked about many of my achievements in this space. For example, you might not know that I helped one newspaper go from a limited social media presence to helping them hit the Digg homepage over 40 times.
Or, how when I worked with Bacardi we drove so much traffic to their site that we took down their servers. Twice. I have plans to cover these stories in more detail in the next few months, but to start the coverage of Social Media here at ViperChill I wanted to bring in 9 other experts in the field to share their thoughts on leveraging social media as a whole.
Together, these people have been involved in social media as long as anyone else and discovered tactics to help you get the most out of the services. Not only that, but they’ve helped shape the way that marketers utilise these services and they teach how to do it in an honest, ethical manner.
After recently surpassing Google as the most popular site in America and closing in on 500,000,000 monthly unique visitors, Facebook has huge amounts of traffic that you can ethically leverage to grow your business online.
Leverage Facebook advertising to gauge the audience opportunity. Research other fan pages to see what those Facebook users are not getting elsewhere and give it to them. Encourage interaction as you grow
the network and give them a reason to share your updates on and off Facebook.
If you create a fan page, look at how to set-up a ‘welcome’ section like I did for ViperChill. It lets people know what they can expect from following your brand and massively helps to increase signups compared to a normal landing page. The more likes and diverse comments you get on an update, the more homepages it is shown on, so try to ask engaging questions that get people involved.
I would treat Facebook almost as a stand-alone website. Use it to engage your audience (on a Fan Page) with questions, contests, photo and video sharing and sharing relevant content that makes people want to keep coming back to your page. It’s a great place to drive interactions with your company if your corporate website is rather boring and hard to content manage.
Consider creating a Facebook fan page as well as placing a facebook share this button on your website. If you build up your fan page by participating and inviting your friends, you should be able to drive traffic to your website.
Facebook can be a great opportunity for social media marketing, especially if you engage fans on a Fan Page. A recent case study of Dessert Gallery illustrates just how powerful it can be. Offer discounts exclusive to Facebook fans and engage them in discussions and chats. These are indirect ways to make your fans feel that they are appreciated.
Master the news feed algorithm. Just because people Fan (or now, like) your page on Facebook, doesn’t mean they’re seeing everything you do. If you want people to see what you’re posting than you need to get that piece of content touched by as many people as possible. Post content that asks questions, that’s eye-catching and that people will want to pass on. Because Facebook filters what appears in a user’s news feed based on comments, shared friends, recent interactions – the more hands you get on something, the more likely it is users are seeing your brand and content.
Facebook for me is a lot of work, for a small audience of people who are not in the learn, buy or convert mode. So although I have a profile on Facebook, I do not use Facebook for marketing to people. Maybe that is why I still have so many friends.
Twitter founders recently revealed that their site has over 110,000,000 accounts and the site is growing by hundreds of thousands of users per day. Twitter is a great way to bring a personality and voice from your company out in the open.
Use Twitter as your company office hours. That means setting aside time to answer community questions, point people to resources, and find ways to be useful to your audience – whether that’s educating or simply entertaining them. Twitter is the one social network where you can really be someone’s “friend”, as cheesy and rainbow-filled as that sounds. You’d be smart to create that relationship by balancing out the informative tweets with the i-love-Glee tweets. The best way to get more out of Twitter is to treat it like your office break room. Same rules typically apply.
The great thing about Twitter is that anyone can sign up and easily find his “community.” It shouldn’t take too long to monitor the streams via a search tool to find the people who talk about things that are interesting to you. Build relationships first, then promote your content.
Somewhere in its evolution Twitter turned into a link-sharing service, with most of the tweets I see now just links to elsewhere. This kind of tweet can work well, but you won’t build a following based on the links you share. You need to balance this with some personality, so you followers can get to know you.
Share good content around your niche or industry and engage in conversations with smart people on the subjects most meaningful to you. Do that and you’ll gain the right followers at the right pace.
For both Twitter and Facebook, do the homework on the end consumers and influentials you’re trying to reach. Create profiles or personas of their characteristics, behaviours and preferences. Then target those personas in your friend and follower tasks to grow a high impact network. Search.twitter.com can be very handy to find who you’re looking for or you could use tools like tweetminer.net. Grow a network, execute on a plan to provide value and opportunities for the network to do what you want them to do whether it’s to upgrade to a more commercial relationship, spread the good word about our brand or recruit others to join the club.
Twitter is one of those sites where having 10 really good followers is better than 10,000 bad followers. In order to retain the audience of meaningful followers, you need to provide value in your updates. Find one thing, preferably not from your own site, that your audience would find helpful and share it each day. Maybe it is a comment about something you learned, a question that engages them in a meaningful way, or a link to a news story they would find interesting, but providing quality updates will keep you on people’s follow list.
Twitter is like a party. It’s all about fun while providing value at the same time. Spread links that help your audience (and that you know they would like to spread on to their own network). Include your own blog post links but make sure it’s mostly other people’s stuff. By promoting others over yourself, you grow your Twitter following with engaged people and drive traffic back to your blog. Use the @ feature to reply to folks when you can. Links should not always have to be about your business topic: have fun and watch massive traffic roll in.
Though you hear Digg talked about less and less by marketers, it’s still a site which can get you a huge flood of traffic and hundreds of links if you manage to make the homepage of the site. With the recent announcement that all previously banned domains are now unbanned, it’s an open playing field.
More than any other social site on the web, with Digg you have to participate in all aspects of the site. You need to have a good profile, vote, comment, network, follow trends, and submit a wide variety of content. AND you have to do all this with moderation. If you really want to succeed in Digg, then treat it like a real life social community. Pretend you are actually in a room with the people on Digg and you will go very far.
Digg is a great source of traffic to your site but it’s also incredibly difficult to get your story on the front page. The best performing content is content that jives with the Digg audience, so you really need to study out what has performed well on the front page for weeks, if not months. Digg, however, is really hard to “game.” Your best chances come from knowing a power user who can submit on your behalf.
Pay a submission marketer to get your stuff on the front page. Otherwise, let the gamers have it.
To understand what works on Digg and how content goes ‘popular’, you really must be an active user of the service. You’ll learn the formulas that work, the topics that are hot, and you’ll make connections who can help you out with submitting and promoting your articles. If you don’t understand Digg, it’s very tough to have success with it.
To make Digg work for you, you really have to study the top headlines in your category. And if your category isn’t on Digg, don’t bother, or you’ll just be beating your head against a brick wall for nothing. It helps to have an army of friends to vote you up and it can take time to build it. Leverage your friends from other networks on Digg if you can.
One of my favourite time wasters and ways to find new websites, StumbleUpon, has over 10 million people who have installed their toolbar and are actively using the service. While it doesn’t send the best traffic in the world to your site, it can send floods of which some will convert.
StumbleUpon can send you huge amounts of traffic. The name of the game is curating. Find the BEST links for the topics your CUSTOMERS are interested in (not just your peers). Use the messaging system in SU to actively promote your links. Never post links to your own blog posts or articles in SU. Have your friends do it for you (and you do it for them, of course).
StumbleUpon is one of the most forgiving social sites. Since it utilizes a tagging system and a toolbar, the majority of people who see your content should have an interest in it. So if you really want to do well on StumbleUpon, try to pick the most popular tags for your content, but make sure they are related. If your content is in the most popular, but wrong category, you will get nothing from it.
When you channel surf, you’re looking for something to immediately grab your attention on the screen. StumbleUpon is a way to channel surf the internet, so the same principle applies – your post needs to hook readers in immediately to be successful on StumbleUpon. For a post to do well on StumbleUpon you’ll need a great title, a very good intro, and ideally an eye-catching visual element (a photo, video or infographic) to draw the eye.
StumbleUpon drives a fair amount of traffic to websites, especially among the more active users of the service. If you genuinely show that you want to participate in the community and give of yourself rather than take, you’ll get traffic. Whether it’s targeted or not is another thing, but you can always look at the types of people who consistently stumble certain websites to find out if they’re the types of people you want to be friends with.
Like any submission website (even Digg.com), you have to spend time on it, commenting, voting, submitting and what-not to get any traction out of it for your own site. But I’ve seen more traffic influx from StumbleUpon when I do submit my own material there than from any other site because I’ve build up some level of trust that I’m sharing good content.
Many marketers today forget that social media isn’t just about sites like Twitter and Facebook, it also includes blogs like the one you’re reading right now. Though the social aspect of blogs has veered off onto other communities, you can still get some great results by understanding them properly.
Develop a blog alliance. Problogger had a great post on blog alliances not so long ago. The idea is that bloggers are stronger in numbers and when they can leverage each other’s communities. Create a network where you can share ideas, brainstorm content strategies and develop a comment strategy. Once you have your alliance, find your blog enemies. Your blog is nobody until somebody hates it.
For many, blogs are a home base — it’s where you can establish your identity but also use it as an opportunity to show your readers other sides of you by pointing out other social network outposts and other subjects of interest. Blogs are a way to communicate directly with people who are interested in your offerings. They are a way for you to get to know the people around you as they converse about what you have to say. Of course, blogs also drive traffic to your website, especially when you optimize for the long tail.
It’s no longer enough just to write content on a consistent basis. There are so many content producers in every niche online now that you really have to become the signal that cuts through the noise. To do this you need to write compelling content, be an authentic representation of your niche and interact with your community as much as possible. Make everything you do about the reader, and you can’t go far wrong.
To get the attention of another blogs audience leave comments on them and connect with the authors on other platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. Only after you’ve given back to that person’s community should you ask for something in return.
Not only should you be posting comments on blogs that talk about things related to your industry, but you should build relationships with bloggers. This way if you want them to blog about you, you can email them and ask them for a favor.
You can respond to your blog or company’s audience by comment functionality or email. So when members of your audience say they don’t believe that a crack pipe will burn off the hairs on the chicken, you could link them to the viral video of the crack head turning the crack pipe into a blowtorch and burning needles off a porcupine.
You can add a wide variety of media to your blog: video, audio, written word. You can use your blog to respond to topics covered on other websites. The other site may post a link to your site and direct some of its audience to your website. You could increase the chance of acquiring those links by guest posting or notifying the other site’s webmaster or stakeholder of a response to their topic.
Blogging wins when it’s full of passion and helpful information at the same time. Blogging about topics your customers care about and find helpful is key. Making personal stories into lessons wins big. Resources your customers find helpful, like reviews and links all win big. Tutorials are helpful. Although it may feel scary, getting personal while making it into a lesson is potent content.
Figure out which search terms you want to win or rank well for and build content around those. 80 percent of a corporate blog’s visitors are first-time visitors. You aren’t writing for a community of fans.You’re writing to win search results and drive referral links from other sites. Identify keywords and go after them with your content. Just also be sure to give those first-time visitors something to do once they arrive!
Take the time to create a plan for the audience, keywords and business goals you’re trying to reach with a blog. Develop a content marketing strategy that allocates resources for SEO, network development,
content promotion off the blog, commenting on other blogs, quickly responding to comments made on the blog, automatic distribution and syndication, repurposing of content and encouraging social popularity. One
of the most important tips for a new blog is to have patience and to watch web and social media analytics closely for both progress and opportunities.
Be consistent, stick with it for the long-haul, write for a specific audience, always try to improve the quality of your content and have a plan – know what your goals are and constantly evaluate your progress towards them. Do all these things and blogging will be really rewarding for you.
Message boards are really the first internet form of social media, after IRC. No matter what niche your business is in, there’s a great chance there are a number of active forums on the topic which you can participate in.
An earnest desire to help others and be with like-minded people is the key to driving traffic from forums. A simple signature link is all that’s needed. Don’t be sales-y. Forums are also a great place to lurk and listen to what your customers are saying. This helps you improve your marketing and your offer, which will in turn get you more highly qualified traffic instead of “tire kickers.”
With forums the goal is to not just interact with the community on a regular basis, but you want to add a forum signature so you can get links back to your website. You also want to do this for relevant forums because it will drive more traffic than irrelevant forums.
The greatest thing about forums is that there are SO many of them. We think we’re being overwhelmed by social networking sites. Forums predate social networks and still thrive. If you find the right forums, you can really make a difference. As always, though, build real relationships — don’t just go there to spam or self-promote. Most forums let you add a signature to the bottom of the post where you can identify who you are and why you’re there.
Be part of the community first and foremost to be part of the community. Leveraging forums ethically tends to take a long time although what you get in return often makes the time investment worth it. Try to build up a strong reputation as a helpful user before trying to promote anything for your own benefits.
Be helpful, promote others more than you promote yourself, and behave like a leader. If you’ve got a link to your site in your signature, you’ll naturally get traffic through that link if your forum contributions are really good.
Forums may be used to respond to your target market’s inquiries and comments about your industry. If a former dope head in Siberia needs some bitter as a lemon rind chocolate, which only your company sells, you could instruct him on how to sign over his mortgage for a box of cacao.
You can create responses on your site to direct traffic to it, if the forum allows it. So when forum members ask where can they get the best bungee jumping instruction, you could link them to your video of pygmy tribemen jumping off of 200 ft wooden ladders with vines tied to their ankles.
You could respond to questions to position your brand as an expert resource in the industry the forum covers. You could have your company’s Einstein break down the theory of relativity to 16 yr old 11th graders who want to cheat on their regent state exams.
You could ask questions, the answers to which can be used to compose a blog post, article, or application that have a greater chance of having webmasters point links to your site and the traffic which comes with it. Such a web page can also be used to influence your existing audience to complete an action, which helps your website meet an objective.
Find the ones that offer the most value (read: Other smart people are there) to you, but that you can also contribute to. And carve out 30 minute or so each week to pay attention to them. Remembering to go check in is the hardest thing about forums.
If you liked the insights provided here then I encourage you to go and check out the websites of each expert. I want to thank them all again for taking part and I hope you all learned something from the post.