How to Better Engage Facebook Fan Page ‘Fans’

By Mari Smith
Published January 26, 2010

A compelling, active Facebook fan page should be an integral part of your marketing plans. With its 350 million users and average daily session time of 25 minutes, Facebook provides an exceptional opportunity for visibility, Google indexing, live search ability, and fan engagement—whether you’re a solopreneur, a large brand or anywhere in between.

But, if you build it, will they come? And if they come, will they stay and engage?

There are two primary components to Facebook fan page engagement: 1) Sharing quality, relevant content and 2) inciting comments.  In this article I’ll tell you how to best engage with Facebook fans.

Of course, there are many other components of effective Facebook fan pages and Facebook marketing in general. However, for the purposes of this two-part post, we’ll focus on content and comments. The more comments you have, the more viral visibility and free marketing you’ll create. But your fans have to have something to comment on!

Share Quality, Relevant Content – Daily

TechCrunch recently posted a Facebook fan page study by Sysomos that revealed 77 percent of fan pages have fewer than 1,000 fans. What stood out for me in that post was this fact: “Facebook fan pages tend to be updated only once every 16 days.

TechCrunch goes on to say, “On Twitter, you follow someone because you want to hear what they have to say. On Facebook, you fan them just to show your support or affinity. Too often, it’s a throwaway gesture.”

While this may be true for many Facebook members and fan pages, I see a lively fan page as an extension of your blog and business – a place where you can generate real community and further solidify your brand.

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1) How Often Should You Post?

  • For most fan pages, there is a direct correlation between frequency of posts and number of fans. Frequency is king, but there’s a fine balance – you don’t want to overwhelm your fans.
  • If you’re just starting out with your fan page, I would suggest a minimum of one update per day and increase from there to several times a day (mixing up the types of posts – see below) if you’re getting a good response from your fans.
  • Daily posting (at least Monday through Saturday) should yield daily comments and engagement.
  • You’ll find the right rhythm with your fans. Better to start with once a day than several times a day and have your wall filled with only your own posts.
  • Also, keep in mind high traffic windows. Depending on your time zone and the time zone of the majority of your fans, you’ll probably want to post sometime between 8:15am PST and 2:00pm PST.

2) What to Post

  • I recommend a mix of your own thoughts, breaking news, useful tips, tools, resources and links from other sites in your industry and related industries. Stay on topic, stay focused.
  • You could create an editorial calendar for your fan page just like many bloggers do.
  • If you’re not sure what content your fans want, ask them – in a poll or status update.
  • If your fan base is small and still growing, ask your Twitter followers, Facebook friends, email list, and blog subscribers. They are all potential fans. (See related post: 5 Ways to Promote Your Facebook Fan Page).

In this screen shot of Volkswagen’s Facebook Fan Page, photos from a recent auto show yielded 363 likes and 68 comments and a video trailer got 121 likes and 25 comments. These are great results, as every one of the fan actions created a post on their respective walls and out into their friends’ news feeds. Free visibility, and every line item has a link back to VW’s fan page.

volkswagen on facebook

3) Sourcing Quality Content

4) Cultivating Your Style

  • Most people will come back to your fan page if there’s a real sense of community.
  • It’s important to be open, inviting, warm, friendly and personable. Even if you’re a large brand.
  • Starbucks leads the way with engagement – you might observe their style for ideas. Though they use their globally recognized logo, you’ll occasionally see posts in first person. I think this is commendable, as it really creates that personal feel so important to social networks.

starbucks on facebook

5) Mix Up the Types of Posts

Text

This is your standard status update. You get 420 characters in the publisher to say what you want. As long as you don’t have a link in the update, the post automatically changes your latest Status Update at the top.

I highly recommend using the Facebook fan page to Twitter app at http://facebook.com/twitter. You simply link your fan page to your Twitter account, then choose which posts to share as tweets (Status Updates, Photos, Links, Notes, Events). You may need to experiment to get this just right.

Your posts will automatically truncate at around 120 characters and include a bit.ly link back to your fan page. Regardless of the number of characters, the tweet always contains the bit.ly link. Here’s an example of an update I posted for this blog post:

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To track stats on any bit.ly link, just paste it into your browser and add a “+” sign at the end. As of the time of this writing, this post/link had 109 clicks and the post had 23 comments, plus replies on Twitter.

Video

Video is the next best thing to meeting your fans in person. There are many choices for video updates: You talking into the camera, photo montages (try Animoto), screencasts (using software like Camtasia Studio for PC or Mac, or ScreenFlow for Mac).

When you talk into the camera, always make good eye contact with the camera lens – just as if you were chatting to one good friend. You could do a video tip per day or per week. Make sure to keep the length short and the content concise. The ideal length for videos is up to 1 minute and 40 seconds.

You can record directly on Facebook or load a file onto your fan page – see screenshots below:

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Here’s a video upload example from Dell Computer’s Facebook Fan Page – a 41-second ad for their nifty new customizable range of laptops, with 179 likes and 57 comments.

Dell on facebook

Or, you could pull in the video from YouTube as a link (click the Links icon on the publisher) – and this pulls in the live video player just as if you’d loaded the video file as in the example above:

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Photos

Upload relevant pictures periodically and be sure to encourage your fans to upload photos anytime they wish. Each time your fans upload a photo, the thumbnail goes onto their profile wall and out into the news feeds of their friends.

Make sure your settings allow fans to post content. Just to the right under the publisher, click Options, then Settings:

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In the screenshot below, there’s a photo on the Coca-Cola Facebook Fan Page – what’s neat about this photo is it was actually a fan-loaded image that Coca-Cola then reposted using the Share button (a great illustration of how Coca-Cola partnered with their raving fans who created the page).

coca-cola on facebook

Links

  • Anytime you post a link in the publisher, Facebook displays a preview with a choice of thumbnails. (If you’re publishing content from a third-party app like Ping.fm, the thumbnail will be a default view.)
  • You may at times wish to create an actual status update with a link in it, instead of a link with the preview on the wall. Here’s what to do: Before clicking the Share button, simply click the “x” to delete the link preview:

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The post goes out as a status update with a clickable link:

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Events

You can quickly create Event listings right from the publisher for any virtual or live event you have coming up. Fans can easily RSVP, as a regular Event page is created when you publish the event.

@ tags

This is a relatively new feature on Facebook. You can tag any friend, any fan page you’ve joined, any group you’re a member of and any event you’ve RSVPed to attend. You can include up to six @ tags in any update. Use the @ tagging strategically and your post will show up on your friends’ walls and other fan pages’ walls per the tag. (Just type the @ symbol in the publisher and the first letter or two of who/what you want to tag and a list drops down for you to select from.)

Notes app

This app is typically used to import your blog. However, I like the Networked Blogs app, so I actually import the RSS feed of my Twitter Favorites via the Notes app, which makes it easy to push relevant, regular content onto my fan page wall (and into the news feeds of my fans).

Incite Comments

Now that you have a wide variety of regular, quality, relevant content posting on your fan page, here are some points about inciting comments:

  • For status updates, try ending with a question.
  • Add your own comments as needed to get the ball rolling.
  • Come back and reply often to your fans’ comments – Facebook currently doesn’t have threaded commenting, so I suggest addressing specific fans in your comments as @name.
  • Do your best to respond to fan questions as promptly as possible. If you find you can’t keep up with the volume of questions, offer a free teleseminar or webinar in which you answer your fans’ top questions.

Vin Diesel has the second most popular Facebook fan page with well over seven million fans. Vin doesn’t post all that often, but when he does, each post yields tens of thousands of comments and likes. Just like Starbucks, there’s something to learn from Vin’s style – he talks to his fans in a very warm, caring and authentic manner.

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In part two of this Facebook Fan Page Engagement post, I’ll cover:

  1. How to encourage fans to keep coming back to add their own content and comments and ask questions, etc.
  2. Monitoring insights – what do they mean, how to analyze the numbers and adjust your posts accordingly.
  3. Should you also use the “Send an Update to Fans” feature? Do fans read their updates?
  4. How to spark ongoing engagement via the Discussions tab.
  5. Setting up systems for monitoring and responding to your fan engagement, given that there are currently no notifications of activity or RSS feeds to subscribe to on fan pages.
  6. Integrating your Twitter followers and activity into your fan page engagement.

From the Team at WebWitches

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Five Facebook-Only Strategies For Business Success

By Jason Falls
Published December 29, 2009

It’s hard to find a business participating in social media that isn’t doing something on Facebook. In fact, “I want a Facebook fan page,” has replaced, “I want a company blog,” as the single most heard request from clients in the social media world these days. With 350 million accounts and growing, it’s no wonder.

Facebook is one of my favorite places to recommend for businesses for a lot of reasons. The primary one is that Facebook offers almost of all the various social media tools that companies can apply to their brand.

Facebook allows you to participate without having to spend time or money on your own website. Still, few companies are using Facebook well. One example of a business doing it right is Ernst & Young Human Resources effort (brilliant).  But for every good Facebook presence there’s a brand page we like to call a “campground.” Not because lots of people hang out there, but because all you hear when you visit is crickets.

To give you a leg up on getting smart with Facebook, here are five facebook-only strategies for business success.

1. Drive Off-Line Engagement With Event Postings

Facebook event postings are not just whimsical little calendar items. If you use them correctly, you can drive a veritable viral wave around what your business is doing because people who RSVP, comment or add to the event conversation have their activity posted publicly to their friends.

Here’s an example of an event page on Facebook

The catch is making your events irresistible, making the headline, description and invitation irresistible, then delivering on the off-line experience.

2. Give People Virtual Keepsakes With Photo Tagging

Speaking of events, when you have them, take pictures to post on your fan page. Then create some post-event buzz by inviting attendees to tag themselves in the photos. You won’t be able to tag most people (unless they are Facebook friends with the brand page administrator) but encouraging your attendees to tag themselves and their friends gives you a fun reason to reach out to them after an event.

This serves as a long tail effect of your event, driving your fans back to your fan page or event posting to see their images and further engage with your brand. And as a courtesy, put signage up at the event informing people their pictures may appear on your Facebook page or website.

3. Turn Customer Service Up a Notch With Facebook Discussion Forums

This tip works wonders for companies that don’t have some sort of support forum on their own website. Drive customers to your Facebook forums (called “Discussions” on the brand page tabs) by letting them know they can get support there.

Here’s an example of Jeep’s discussion forum on Facebook

Open up a forum topic for customer support and have someone on your staff check the forum for new issues every hour or so (or more depending upon volume). You’ll immediately give confused or frustrated customers a direct connection to solutions without having to spend a lot of money on complex issue tracking software.

4. Promote Your Page With Super Targeting

While I do not have access to specific data, almost every company I’ve talked to that has placed ads on Facebook has been thrilled with the outcome. The click-through rates have been higher than normal display ads and have had immediate impacts on page traffic.

The great thing about Facebook ads is that when you set them up, you can hyper-target them to the exact audience you’re trying to reach. Age, location, interest… filter your targeting to the specific profile of your target consumer and let Facebook do the rest. Because the ads are served on Facebook pages only, Facebook knows the age, location and interests of the people they serve the ad to. It’s probably the most effective ad targeting system in the world. Take advantage of it.  Here’s 5 more ways to promote your Facebook fan page.

5. Collect Fan Photos and Videos at No Cost

Want your fans to take their picture with your product at various landmarks while traveling? Throw out a cool video contest or activity idea to engage your customers in some fun creativity. No need to hire a developer to pull together fancy code or pay YouTube thousands of dollars for a branded video contest.

Just ask your Facebook fans to upload their entries. Using the commenting tools provided, you can work up some guidelines for judging or just highlight and post the best stuff on your wall to promote the video makers. Even better, by posting appropriate policies and guidelines, you can get permission to use anything uploaded for company advertisements, projects and more. However, you should beware that Facebook has recently implemented some strict promotional rules.  See this post for more on that.

There are lots of other strategies you can use on Facebook to engage your customers and even drive them to your website or other calls to action. These will at least give you some Facebook-exclusive ideas for starters. But these are just my ideas. Please share what you’re doing or your ideas to drive your business on Facebook in the comments.

From the Team at WebWitches

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New Study Reveals Facebook Better Than Twitter for Marketers

By Amy Porterfield
Published January 18, 2010

The team at Social Media Examiner recently received a real gold mine of social media insight.  It’s a mega report recently released by MarketingProfs called, “The State of Social Media Marketing.”  This massive report highlights social media usage, strategy and predictions for 2010.  And this article will bring you a small look at some of the findings from this content-rich report.

By the way, MarketingProfs used a three-tiered approach to craft this study, including consulting with a panel of social media experts, surveying more than 5,000 MarketingProfs readers and asking comScore to mine its panel data.  This approach adds greater integrity and scope to the overall results.

#1: What’s “Normal” in Social Media Usage?

How often are marketers posting on some of the most popular social sites such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn?  Here’s a snapshot of the frequency of posts:

  • Twitter: Half of the marketers surveyed reported updating at least once per day. Of those, 20.6% actually update several times per day.
  • Facebook:  The largest group (33.4%) of marketers are updating “weekly.” However, nearly 30% are updating at least once per day.
  • LinkedIn: Only 11.5% update daily with the overall consensus being weekly updates at 25.4%.

What’s hype and what’s fact?

Many of the findings in this report touched on some of the frequent hype-versus-fact dialogue taking place in the social media arena. “Is Twitter more popular than Facebook?” “Do companies with no money use ‘earned’ media the most?” and “Do a lot of followers mean social media success?” are some of the questions addressed in the results.

Who has higher usage stats, Facebook or Twitter?

If you look at the overall number of users, both corporate and consumer (with the exception of certain industries), Facebook comes out ahead of Twitter.

Here are some facts:

The average minutes per visitor on Facebook in 2009 was 182.8 versus only 25.6 on Twitter. According to MarketingProfs, “Part of why time spent on Twitter is so much less than time spent on Facebook has much to do with the design of these sites. Facebook encourages users to aggregate external content on Facebook to be viewed within the network, while Twitter encourages users to link externally, viewing content outside of the network.”

Also, about half of all marketers report that their employers or clients actively maintain a corporate Facebook account, while 42.8% reported their employers or clients maintain a Twitter site.

Who’s using “free” media? Based on the results of the study, “free” media, also known as “earned” media, is not just for small businesses with no money to spend. The data shows that “it takes money to build and staff earned media marketing materials. The word ‘free’ belongs in quotations for a reason,” says MarketingProfs.

This compares “earned media” usage against annual corporate revenue. Surprisingly it shows a steady usage amount across many of the “earned media” tactics, showing that annual corporate revenues are not necessarily a driving factor for “earned media” usage.

“Comparing earned media use against annual corporate revenue, we find a remarkably steady usage amount across many of these tactics. Private communities, share tools, SEO and email have nearly identical amounts of usage across all these levels of annual revenue. Those taking in less than $10 million do tend to rely more heavily on public online communities and blogs, while companies with lots of cash are more likely to invest in PR and viral videos. However, it is surprising how consistent usage is across all these categories.”

Do follower counts really matter?

According to the stats, there are three types of Twitter users, the two primary types being “those that value massive follower counts and those that want a very specific set of people to follow them.” And MarketingProfs points out that a third type of Twitter users might be those that want a lot of followers but have no clue how to get them.

This shows how the number of followers reported by corporate Twitter users is distributed. The steep curves shows that some users care about the quantity of followers while others care more about the quality of followers.

Although the report did not touch on the number of fans on corporate Facebook fan pages, it did report on corporate Facebook accounts and the number of friends associated with them.  Based on the results, only 6% of Facebook fan pages had 2,000 friends or more.

This shows the number of Facebook friends reported by corporate users. Similar to the Twitter graph above, there is a steep curve. This curve shows that very few marketers (only 6%) have been able to reach the 2,000 friend mark, meaning most marketers fall well below this mark.

#2:  Social Media Strategies: The Good, Bad & Ugly

On Twitter, the two tactics tried the most were 1) driving sales by linking to promotional web pages (72.1% tried it) and 2) driving traffic by linking to marketing web pages (54.2% tried it).

On Facebook, the two tactics tried the most were 1) driving traffic to corporate materials with status updates (55.3%) and 2) “friending” recent customers with corporate Facebook profiles (39.2%).

Here’s what you really need to know from the report:  The least-tried tactics often seem to work the best (something to consider next time you plan a social media campaign!).

Here are some interesting factoids revealed when marketers were asked the following:

  • Monitoring Twitter for PR problems in real time? While only 50.8% actually tried it, 74.8% reported it “worked great” or “worked a little.”
  • Inviting Twitter users with positive brand tweets to do something? 33.2% tried it, 72.1% reported it “worked great” or “worked a little.”
  • Contacting Twitter users tweeting negatively about the brand? 22.4% tried it, 72.3% reported it “worked great” or “worked a little.”
  • Creating an in-person event using only Twitter invites? 13.5% tried it, 71.8% reported it “worked great” or “worked a little.”
  • Using Facebook user data to profile your customers’ demos or interests? 25% tried it, 73.1% reported it “worked great” or “worked a little.”
  • Creating a Facebook application around a brand? 24.6% tried it, 73.3% reported it “worked great” or “worked a little.”

Counterproductive Social Media Tactics

MarketingProfs’ expert panel weighed in on the counterproductive tactics many marketers are using today.  Below is a list of a few from the report.  Check them out and see if you or your company fell into any of these social media tactic traps:

  • Pushing data: Companies that only push out their own messages and continually dump links to their promotions are missing out on the responses of their followers and fans. When they do this, they are missing the opportunity to engage and build valuable relationships.  This is a sure-fire way to lose followers quickly.
  • Treating social media as a short-term campaign: It is easy to spot the companies that are not in it for the long haul and not interested in long-term relationships—just like the previous point, they are the ones pushing data and ignoring their followers.
  • Thinking Twitter revolves around you: Two great examples of this are Twitter auto-responders triggered by a follow and not following most people following you on Twitter. These actions speak volumes and tell your followers you are in it for you… not them.

#3:  2010 Social Media Predictions from the Expert Panel

When MarketingProfs asked their panel of experts how social media and social media usage will change in 2010 and how these changes will affect marketers, their predictions touched on the surge of Google Wave, the onset of social media integration and growing skepticism overall. Here’s a snapshot of their predictions:

The Surge of Google Wave

One expert predicts Google Wave will “rock the universe” and thus blur the lines of online communication such as blogging and IM. “Efforts to make it easy for people to ‘take their network with them’ across sites will play an important role in the disruption of user loyalty to various sites and services.”

Social Media Integration

According to Jason Baer, president of Convince & Convert, we’ll begin to see more case studies showing the integration of social media with other prominent marketing initiatives. For example, we’ll see more examples of how social media integrates with email, banner ads, direct mail and customer service.

Social Media Growth and Skepticism

Heidi Cool, an Internet marketing strategist, predicts that social media will continue to grow and more consumers and marketers will get in the game.  And with this continued growth will come social media newbies who will introduce more “missteps along the way” (e.g., increase in Twitter spamming) that could negatively affect how we choose to use the platforms. She notes how thought leader Robert Scoble changed the way he uses Twitter due to the spamming issues and many may follow his lead as more missteps surface.  Cool points out that if “too many new marketers abuse the systems by using auto-following services, only pushing content without listening, etc., it will make users more skeptical of business usage.”

More Opportunity to Capture Market Share

David Alston, vice president of marketing & community for Radian6, predicts that more people will continue to use social media platforms to express their needs and challenges with companies (instead of calling or writing in their grievances). Alston notes that businesses that embrace this form of communication will have the opportunity to capture market share from those who don’t. Marketers that make listening and engaging the core of how they market will begin to grow in numbers because it is how word of mouth is powered and it is much more effective.

The report goes into much more detail and is definitely worth a read.  To check it out, go here.

So now it’s your turn.  What do you think of the findings? Have you or your company been victim to the “counterproductive” social media tactics mentioned above?

From the Team at WebWitches

Tags: Increase traffic site Internet seo Online internet marketing Online ranking Online seo Learn SEO online SEO Course SEO for Beginners

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Here are some tips on managing your time on the social web:

  1. Schedule Everything and stick to the schedule
    I use the Entourage calendar to schedule EVERYTHING…meetings, responding to email, social network presence, day-to day tasks.  But it’s not enough to schedule things..you have to stick to the schedule!
  2. Schedule your most important tasks when you feel like you are most productive
    The most productive time is different for each person…some people are sharpest in the morning, some are later in the day.  Figure out what your magic time slot is and schedule your most important task during that time.  Sprinkle your social interactions & email management throughout the day but make sure it’s not during your most productive time.
  3. Use a timer
    Using a timer will allow you to set an alarm to notify you when your current scheduled task/activity is supposed to end.  Let’s say you are alotting 20 minutes for social media interaction at 1pm…before you begin the task at 1pm, set your alarm to let you know when the 20 minutes has passed. 
  4. Close down the applications that you are not using
    Human nature is to respond to stimuli…so if you hear a notice that you have a new email or a new response from a friend, you have to go see what it is.  That is why if it’s not time to check and respond to email, I close down the email application…if it’s not time to interact on Twitter, I close down the Twitter application…the point is…only have the application that you are currently working in open.
  5. Set and manage expectations
    Managing everyone’s expectations is the key to time management.  I think a lot of the time, the immediacy to respond is in our own head.  Training your clients, colleagues, friends, and online connections that you are not available 24×7 will allow you to respond on your own time.  And because we are all going through this information and task overload…they will more than undertand!

From the Team at WebWitches

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Female uses were sent private messages to update their Facebook status with the colour of their bra, in a message that read, “Some fun is going on…just write the color of your bra in your status. Just the color, nothing else. It will be neat to see if this will spread the wings of breast cancer awareness. It will be fun to see how long it takes before people wonder why all the girls have a color in their status Haha.”

The message was un-attributable to a specific organsiation, which is part of its appeal as a viral marketing tool. Viral campaigns are based on word of mouth distribution amongst fans. Part of their appeal is that they are not branded, nor do they have an obvert or often clunky marketing message. Instead, they aim to engage fans through their quirkiness or their unique manner of telling a story. In addition, this campaign could be said to be particularly successful because it asked for a call to action from fans.

“Generally for a viral campaign to be successful it needs to be very subtly branded, as the online community are pretty wary of being marketed to, so from a brand recognition point of view you don’t really get the visibility through this type of activity,” said Nicole Lovelock from the National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF), in response to the viral campaign.

At NBCF, however, they have no idea as to where the campaign came from, or as to who started it. “No we haven’t heard where it started, but it doesn’t seem linked back to any particular organisation – it may have just started as a fun thing and because of the bra mention, been linked back to breast cancer.”

Without being directly attributed to breast cancer, it could be asked what the benefits of such a campaign are. Is it really nothing more than a crass attempt to get attention, or one of the latest quizzes or applications sprouted by Facebook?

Lovelock says anything that gets a dialogue about breast cancer research and awareness going is worthwhile.

“It gets people talking and puts it on the agenda for a short time.

“At NBCF we definitely see the benefits of harnessing social media to promote our research message and fundraising campaigns, with over 10,000 Facebook fans and close to 1,000 Twitter followers, and we use these mediums regularly to communicate with our supporters.”

But does it get people to donate or volunteer?

“That would be the preferred outcome as opposed to ‘awareness’ – most people are aware of breast cancer – our goal is to generate sustained engagement with the community to continue funding for research which will ultimately help to save women’s lives.”

Lovelock reports, however, that since 7 January, when the campaign first started, they have attracted an extra 230 Facebook fans. Of particular note was the spike in web traffic on 8 January, with 170 additional click throughs from the NBCF Facebook page to their website.

While there were no donations made via the Facebook page during that period, Lovelock comments, “I would have to say yes, it has had a flow on effect.”

From the Team at WebWitches

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30 Tips for Using Social Media in Your Business

Wading into the fast-moving flow of social media can be daunting to a small business owner with very little time on his hands. So Inc. has boiled down 30 tips — from using social networks to generate leads to what not to say in your blog — for the time-strapped but socially curious CEO.

By April Joyner |  Jan 18, 2010

1. Offer a peek behind the scenes. Offering a sneak preview of new products, services, or features online can help build demand and provide critical feedback to help smooth the launch. For instance, John Doyle, founder of chocolate company John and Kira’s in Philadelphia, posts photos of new products on Flickr and invites comments from customers.

2. Harness your expertise. Chances are your company’s white paper won’t go viral. But sharing knowledge you’ve gathered through your trade can go a long way toward boosting your brand. Ford Models, for instance, became a YouTube sensation through a series of videos that featured its models giving beauty and fashion tips.

3. Demonstrate what your company does. Because multimedia is so integral to social media, getting connected allows you to express your company’s value proposition beyond words. To show just how powerful his company’s blenders were, Blendtec’s head of marketing, George Wright, created a series of videos showing the appliances churning up such diverse items as a rotisserie chicken, a Rubik’s Cube, and an iPhone. The series’ 100 million combined views helped boost Blendtec’s sales by 700 percent.

4. Put your website’s content to work. Want to draw more traffic to your website? Help spread the word by encouraging visitors to share content they enjoy. GotCast, a website that connects television casting directors with aspiring actors, draws new visitors by posting audition videos on Digg and allowing others to share video links on the site. One way to promote the sharing of your site’s content is to install a widget, such as AddThis, that automates linking to popular sites.

5. Be candid. In unsure economic times, transparency goes a long way toward retaining and attracting customers. Giving readers the scoop on your company blog is an easy way to keep the lines of communication open. Giacomo Guilizzoni, the founder of San Francisco software company Balsamiq, even posts sales and profit figures to show that his company is on solid financial footing.

6. But be careful what you say about others. When Leslie Richard, owner of a North Carolina clothing company, described Vision Media Television as a “scam,” she was slapped with a $20 million lawsuit. While recounting negative experiences with others won’t necessarily lead to a court battle, it’s best to steer clear of name-calling.

7. Interact with visitors—really. Just putting up a blog or a Facebook fan page won’t do much good if visitors sense the flow of conversation only goes one way. In fact, Matt Mullenweg, founder of blogging platform WordPress, lists not participating in comments as a surefire way to kill a community. Mullenweg and his team field the many suggestions users have for WordPress through his blog.

8. Don’t try to create a stand-in for yourself. With all the other tasks required within your company, it’s tempting to outsource managing your social media or even to try automating the process. That can easily backfire, as Joe Pulizzi, founder of Cleveland marketing firm Junta42, learned when he tried sending automated welcome messages to new followers on Twitter. His online contacts quickly called him out for sending out what they perceived to be spam.

9. Don’t pretend to be someone else. Thanks to IP address tracking, observers can also quickly tell when company figureheads adopt fake identities for the sake of fluffing up their reputation. Not only can the practice hurt your company’s reputation, it could also land you in legal trouble. The plastic surgery Lifestyle Lift had to pay $300,000 in settlement costs to the state of New York for having its employees post flattering reviews of the company without disclosing their affiliation.

10. Help employees bond. Corporations such as IBM have built in-house networks—even virtual worlds reminiscent of Second Life—to link employees working in different locations. Small and medium-sized businesses can take advantage of readily available tools to facilitate collaboration. The Hoffman Agency, a public relations firm, uses Ning, which enables users to build custom social networks, to connect its U.S. staff with employees in Europe and Asia.

11. Reward customer loyalty. Through social media, companies can not only run promotions more frequently than coupons in the mail will permit but also devise more whimsical and engaging campaigns. Sprinkles Cupcakes, a bakery chain based in Beverly Hills, California, uses Twitter to send out daily promotional offers. The tweets, which ask customers to whisper a “password” to receive a free treat, have helped the company draw more than 17,000 followers.

12. See what people are saying about you. A quick search for mentions of your company on Facebook, Twitter, and Yelp can yield a goldmine of information concerning your reputation. Several users on Yelp, for instance, suggested that employees at Quimby’s Bookstore in Chicago were less than welcoming. After reading the comments, owner Eric Kirsammer focused on improving customer service. Applications such as monitter and Trackur can help you keep track of the conversation across the Web.

13. Make amends with dissatisfied customers, quickly. Andy Carlson, owner of an Ace Hardware store in Denver, once came across an angry Twitter update from a customer who had bought a tool that broke after one use. He resolved the issue in a matter of minutes by referring the customer to an area store and notified him of Ace’s lifetime guarantee. Best of all, he was able to catch the complaint after store hours—and prevent negative word of mouth.

14. Don’t go on the defensive. A harsh rebuke of your business on sites like Yelp can not only bruise your ego but also hurt your livelihood. But resist the temptation to lash out in public. Sarah Dunbar, owner of Oakland vintage boutique Pretty Penny, privately responds to less-than-flattering reviewers and encourages them to visit her in person. And keep in mind that you can’t please everyone. After Dunbar wrote to one dissatisfied customer, the reviewer accused her of conducting “shady business” by trying to sway opinions.

15. Keep customers in the loop. Frequently on the go? Twitter can help your customers keep track of your latest destination. Kogi Korean BBQ, which operates a food cart in Los Angeles, keeps its Twitter followers constantly informed of its location on the street. The real-time updates help Kogi keep up demand, as customers line up in advance at the broadcasted locations.

16. Find potential customers. A quick keyword search can help you find prospective customers who may not be aware of your company but could nonetheless benefit from your product or service. Bob Scaglion, a senior managing director at New York real-estate management company Rose Associates, generates 100 leads per month on Twitter for his company simply by replying to users whose tweets include phrases such as “moving to New York City” and “no-fee rentals.”

17. Reach more markets. Social media can help your company reach multiple markets at a time. Restaurant chain Boloco focuses most of its advertising on Boston, which houses 13 out of its 16 locations. But as an experiment, CEO John Pepper decided to post a copy of a coupon from a local newspaper on Twitter in order to reach customers in Vermont and New Hampshire. Coupon redemptions increased by more than 150 percent as a result.

18. Target your online advertising. Both Facebook and MySpace allow businesses to run ads that attract specific groups of users based on what information they include in their profiles. By running Facebook ads targeted at students at specific colleges, StorQuest Self Storage, which has locations in Arizona, California, Colorado, and Hawaii, increased its number of rentals by more than half.

19. See where your customers are. A growing number of social networks are designed specifically for users on the go, and some, such as the mobile application Foursquare, offer tools specifically for businesses. Frozen dessert chain Tasti D-Lite, for instance, uses Foursquare to gather data on how many people visit its locations and send promotional offers to frequent customers.

20. Let customers help each other out. Including a customer forum on your website or social network profile can help enhance your customer service while building a sense of community. At Poolcenter.com, a swimming pool equipment retailer based in Arlington, Virginia, customers often field each other’s inquiries on swimming pool equipment before they reach customer service reps. Get Satisfaction and Fixya are two sites that offer dedicated spaces for customer service forums.

21. Build a community beyond your business. Photo hosting site SmugMug has established itself as a resource for skilled photographers in part by operating a forum, Digital Grin, where members trade advice on topics such as the best techniques for taking photos at night and capturing wedding scenes. With the exception of a support section at the very bottom, the forum is devoted to photography at large, rather than the company’s own services.

22. Let customers contribute. FrontPoint Security, a home security provider in McLean, Virginia, began collecting video testimonials from its customers, who filmed themselves with Flip cameras. The videos are posted on FrontPoint’s site and on YouTube, and even some customers’ personal blogs. FrontPoint’s video efforts have helped the company more than triple its sales leads.

23. Help others promote you. Social media can help you find passionate customers who are more than willing to spread the word about your company. Crafts supplies manufacturer Fiskars reached out to scrapbookers by inviting four avid users to blog. Its crafts community, called Fiskateers, has since attracted 5,000 users who serve as brand evangelists.

24. Cultivate relationships that lead to sales. Soon after he joined Twitter, J.R. Cohen, manager of The Coffee Groundz, a Houston coffee shop, began encouraging his followers to visit him in his shop. He began getting to know customers so well that they not only initiated conversations with him through Twitter—they began tweeting orders through the site as well. Now Cohen periodically fields menu requests through Twitter, though he doesn’t use the page primarily for that purpose.

25. But don’t promote too aggressively. While social network users have proven to be open to marketing—especially if it involves a discount—they’re not flocking to Facebook or MySpace to hear sales pitches. If your profile or blog reads like an ad, it will turn visitors away. Kent Lewis, founder of Portland online marketing firm Anvil Media, encourages Twitter users, for instance, to pass along industry news and retweet interesting items from others along with their own promotions.

26. Find ways to engage visitors offline. In March, Cinda Baxter, a retail consultant in Minneapolis, ended a blog post on local business with one simple idea: choose three businesses to support, and spend a combined amount of $50 per month. The post spurred hundreds of inquiries—enough for Baxter to build a standalone website, which has since attracted the support of more than 12,000 businesses. Baxter has used the publicity to bolster her consulting business: she now travels nationwide to advise retailers on building support within their communities.

27. Find influential people in your industry. In addition to maintaining your blog, make sure to keep your eyes open to what others in the industry are buzzing about online. Reading independent blogs and joining industry groups on Facebook and LinkedIn is a good way to join the larger conversation. Spoonflower, a fabric design site based in Mebane, North Carolina, has built its community of more than 40,000 users primarily through word of mouth on crafts blogs.

28. Boost your credibility by helping others. For service providers, establishing yourself as an expert in the field can bring in a steady stream of business. LinkedIn’s Answers feature enables business owners to do just that. Heidi Cool, a Web design consultant in Cleveland, browses LinkedIn Answers for inquiries related to her industry and spends one to two hours per week answering them. In one month, she generated 29 leads for her services directly from her responses.

29. Look for talent off the beaten path. While LinkedIn is specifically geared toward professional use, some companies have found other social networks to be effective recruiting tools as well. Jason Averbrook, CEO of the management-consulting firm Knowledge Infusion, found 19 candidates in two days for an open position simply by writing about his search in status updates on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Plaxo, which aggregates contact information from social networks.

30. Connect with potential partners. Because LinkedIn is designed specifically for professional networking, businesses can find a host of valuable contacts there. Josh Steinitz, CEO of NileGuide, a trip planning website based in San Francisco, used LinkedIn to find business partners by identifying companies of interest and then asking his existing contacts to provide introductions. A third of the company’s inquiries resulted in eventual partnerships.

From the Team at WebWitches

Tags: Increase traffic site Internet seo Online internet marketing Online ranking Online seo Learn SEO online SEO Course SEO for Beginners

www.webwitches.com.au

30 Tips for Using Social Media in Your Business

Wading into the fast-moving flow of social media can be daunting to a small business owner with very little time on his hands. So Inc. has boiled down 30 tips — from using social networks to generate leads to what not to say in your blog — for the time-strapped but socially curious CEO.

By April Joyner |  Jan 18, 2010

1. Offer a peek behind the scenes. Offering a sneak preview of new products, services, or features online can help build demand and provide critical feedback to help smooth the launch. For instance, John Doyle, founder of chocolate company John and Kira’s in Philadelphia, posts photos of new products on Flickr and invites comments from customers.

2. Harness your expertise. Chances are your company’s white paper won’t go viral. But sharing knowledge you’ve gathered through your trade can go a long way toward boosting your brand. Ford Models, for instance, became a YouTube sensation through a series of videos that featured its models giving beauty and fashion tips.

3. Demonstrate what your company does. Because multimedia is so integral to social media, getting connected allows you to express your company’s value proposition beyond words. To show just how powerful his company’s blenders were, Blendtec’s head of marketing, George Wright, created a series of videos showing the appliances churning up such diverse items as a rotisserie chicken, a Rubik’s Cube, and an iPhone. The series’ 100 million combined views helped boost Blendtec’s sales by 700 percent.

4. Put your website’s content to work. Want to draw more traffic to your website? Help spread the word by encouraging visitors to share content they enjoy. GotCast, a website that connects television casting directors with aspiring actors, draws new visitors by posting audition videos on Digg and allowing others to share video links on the site. One way to promote the sharing of your site’s content is to install a widget, such as AddThis, that automates linking to popular sites.

5. Be candid. In unsure economic times, transparency goes a long way toward retaining and attracting customers. Giving readers the scoop on your company blog is an easy way to keep the lines of communication open. Giacomo Guilizzoni, the founder of San Francisco software company Balsamiq, even posts sales and profit figures to show that his company is on solid financial footing.

6. But be careful what you say about others. When Leslie Richard, owner of a North Carolina clothing company, described Vision Media Television as a “scam,” she was slapped with a $20 million lawsuit. While recounting negative experiences with others won’t necessarily lead to a court battle, it’s best to steer clear of name-calling.

7. Interact with visitors—really. Just putting up a blog or a Facebook fan page won’t do much good if visitors sense the flow of conversation only goes one way. In fact, Matt Mullenweg, founder of blogging platform WordPress, lists not participating in comments as a surefire way to kill a community. Mullenweg and his team field the many suggestions users have for WordPress through his blog.

8. Don’t try to create a stand-in for yourself. With all the other tasks required within your company, it’s tempting to outsource managing your social media or even to try automating the process. That can easily backfire, as Joe Pulizzi, founder of Cleveland marketing firm Junta42, learned when he tried sending automated welcome messages to new followers on Twitter. His online contacts quickly called him out for sending out what they perceived to be spam.

9. Don’t pretend to be someone else. Thanks to IP address tracking, observers can also quickly tell when company figureheads adopt fake identities for the sake of fluffing up their reputation. Not only can the practice hurt your company’s reputation, it could also land you in legal trouble. The plastic surgery Lifestyle Lift had to pay $300,000 in settlement costs to the state of New York for having its employees post flattering reviews of the company without disclosing their affiliation.

10. Help employees bond. Corporations such as IBM have built in-house networks—even virtual worlds reminiscent of Second Life—to link employees working in different locations. Small and medium-sized businesses can take advantage of readily available tools to facilitate collaboration. The Hoffman Agency, a public relations firm, uses Ning, which enables users to build custom social networks, to connect its U.S. staff with employees in Europe and Asia.

11. Reward customer loyalty. Through social media, companies can not only run promotions more frequently than coupons in the mail will permit but also devise more whimsical and engaging campaigns. Sprinkles Cupcakes, a bakery chain based in Beverly Hills, California, uses Twitter to send out daily promotional offers. The tweets, which ask customers to whisper a “password” to receive a free treat, have helped the company draw more than 17,000 followers.

12. See what people are saying about you. A quick search for mentions of your company on Facebook, Twitter, and Yelp can yield a goldmine of information concerning your reputation. Several users on Yelp, for instance, suggested that employees at Quimby’s Bookstore in Chicago were less than welcoming. After reading the comments, owner Eric Kirsammer focused on improving customer service. Applications such as monitter and Trackur can help you keep track of the conversation across the Web.

13. Make amends with dissatisfied customers, quickly. Andy Carlson, owner of an Ace Hardware store in Denver, once came across an angry Twitter update from a customer who had bought a tool that broke after one use. He resolved the issue in a matter of minutes by referring the customer to an area store and notified him of Ace’s lifetime guarantee. Best of all, he was able to catch the complaint after store hours—and prevent negative word of mouth.

14. Don’t go on the defensive. A harsh rebuke of your business on sites like Yelp can not only bruise your ego but also hurt your livelihood. But resist the temptation to lash out in public. Sarah Dunbar, owner of Oakland vintage boutique Pretty Penny, privately responds to less-than-flattering reviewers and encourages them to visit her in person. And keep in mind that you can’t please everyone. After Dunbar wrote to one dissatisfied customer, the reviewer accused her of conducting “shady business” by trying to sway opinions.

15. Keep customers in the loop. Frequently on the go? Twitter can help your customers keep track of your latest destination. Kogi Korean BBQ, which operates a food cart in Los Angeles, keeps its Twitter followers constantly informed of its location on the street. The real-time updates help Kogi keep up demand, as customers line up in advance at the broadcasted locations.

16. Find potential customers. A quick keyword search can help you find prospective customers who may not be aware of your company but could nonetheless benefit from your product or service. Bob Scaglion, a senior managing director at New York real-estate management company Rose Associates, generates 100 leads per month on Twitter for his company simply by replying to users whose tweets include phrases such as “moving to New York City” and “no-fee rentals.”

17. Reach more markets. Social media can help your company reach multiple markets at a time. Restaurant chain Boloco focuses most of its advertising on Boston, which houses 13 out of its 16 locations. But as an experiment, CEO John Pepper decided to post a copy of a coupon from a local newspaper on Twitter in order to reach customers in Vermont and New Hampshire. Coupon redemptions increased by more than 150 percent as a result.

18. Target your online advertising. Both Facebook and MySpace allow businesses to run ads that attract specific groups of users based on what information they include in their profiles. By running Facebook ads targeted at students at specific colleges, StorQuest Self Storage, which has locations in Arizona, California, Colorado, and Hawaii, increased its number of rentals by more than half.

19. See where your customers are. A growing number of social networks are designed specifically for users on the go, and some, such as the mobile application Foursquare, offer tools specifically for businesses. Frozen dessert chain Tasti D-Lite, for instance, uses Foursquare to gather data on how many people visit its locations and send promotional offers to frequent customers.

20. Let customers help each other out. Including a customer forum on your website or social network profile can help enhance your customer service while building a sense of community. At Poolcenter.com, a swimming pool equipment retailer based in Arlington, Virginia, customers often field each other’s inquiries on swimming pool equipment before they reach customer service reps. Get Satisfaction and Fixya are two sites that offer dedicated spaces for customer service forums.

21. Build a community beyond your business. Photo hosting site SmugMug has established itself as a resource for skilled photographers in part by operating a forum, Digital Grin, where members trade advice on topics such as the best techniques for taking photos at night and capturing wedding scenes. With the exception of a support section at the very bottom, the forum is devoted to photography at large, rather than the company’s own services.

22. Let customers contribute. FrontPoint Security, a home security provider in McLean, Virginia, began collecting video testimonials from its customers, who filmed themselves with Flip cameras. The videos are posted on FrontPoint’s site and on YouTube, and even some customers’ personal blogs. FrontPoint’s video efforts have helped the company more than triple its sales leads.

23. Help others promote you. Social media can help you find passionate customers who are more than willing to spread the word about your company. Crafts supplies manufacturer Fiskars reached out to scrapbookers by inviting four avid users to blog. Its crafts community, called Fiskateers, has since attracted 5,000 users who serve as brand evangelists.

24. Cultivate relationships that lead to sales. Soon after he joined Twitter, J.R. Cohen, manager of The Coffee Groundz, a Houston coffee shop, began encouraging his followers to visit him in his shop. He began getting to know customers so well that they not only initiated conversations with him through Twitter—they began tweeting orders through the site as well. Now Cohen periodically fields menu requests through Twitter, though he doesn’t use the page primarily for that purpose.

25. But don’t promote too aggressively. While social network users have proven to be open to marketing—especially if it involves a discount—they’re not flocking to Facebook or MySpace to hear sales pitches. If your profile or blog reads like an ad, it will turn visitors away. Kent Lewis, founder of Portland online marketing firm Anvil Media, encourages Twitter users, for instance, to pass along industry news and retweet interesting items from others along with their own promotions.

26. Find ways to engage visitors offline. In March, Cinda Baxter, a retail consultant in Minneapolis, ended a blog post on local business with one simple idea: choose three businesses to support, and spend a combined amount of $50 per month. The post spurred hundreds of inquiries—enough for Baxter to build a standalone website, which has since attracted the support of more than 12,000 businesses. Baxter has used the publicity to bolster her consulting business: she now travels nationwide to advise retailers on building support within their communities.

27. Find influential people in your industry. In addition to maintaining your blog, make sure to keep your eyes open to what others in the industry are buzzing about online. Reading independent blogs and joining industry groups on Facebook and LinkedIn is a good way to join the larger conversation. Spoonflower, a fabric design site based in Mebane, North Carolina, has built its community of more than 40,000 users primarily through word of mouth on crafts blogs.

28. Boost your credibility by helping others. For service providers, establishing yourself as an expert in the field can bring in a steady stream of business. LinkedIn’s Answers feature enables business owners to do just that. Heidi Cool, a Web design consultant in Cleveland, browses LinkedIn Answers for inquiries related to her industry and spends one to two hours per week answering them. In one month, she generated 29 leads for her services directly from her responses.

29. Look for talent off the beaten path. While LinkedIn is specifically geared toward professional use, some companies have found other social networks to be effective recruiting tools as well. Jason Averbrook, CEO of the management-consulting firm Knowledge Infusion, found 19 candidates in two days for an open position simply by writing about his search in status updates on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Plaxo, which aggregates contact information from social networks.

30. Connect with potential partners. Because LinkedIn is designed specifically for professional networking, businesses can find a host of valuable contacts there. Josh Steinitz, CEO of NileGuide, a trip planning website based in San Francisco, used LinkedIn to find business partners by identifying companies of interest and then asking his existing contacts to provide introductions. A third of the company’s inquiries resulted in eventual partnerships.

From the Team at WebWitches

Tags: Increase traffic site Internet seo Online internet marketing Online ranking Online seo Learn SEO online SEO Course SEO for Beginners

www.webwitches.com.au

30 Tips for Using Social Media in Your Business

Wading into the fast-moving flow of social media can be daunting to a small business owner with very little time on his hands. So Inc. has boiled down 30 tips — from using social networks to generate leads to what not to say in your blog — for the time-strapped but socially curious CEO.

By April Joyner |  Jan 18, 2010

1. Offer a peek behind the scenes. Offering a sneak preview of new products, services, or features online can help build demand and provide critical feedback to help smooth the launch. For instance, John Doyle, founder of chocolate company John and Kira’s in Philadelphia, posts photos of new products on Flickr and invites comments from customers.

2. Harness your expertise. Chances are your company’s white paper won’t go viral. But sharing knowledge you’ve gathered through your trade can go a long way toward boosting your brand. Ford Models, for instance, became a YouTube sensation through a series of videos that featured its models giving beauty and fashion tips.

3. Demonstrate what your company does. Because multimedia is so integral to social media, getting connected allows you to express your company’s value proposition beyond words. To show just how powerful his company’s blenders were, Blendtec’s head of marketing, George Wright, created a series of videos showing the appliances churning up such diverse items as a rotisserie chicken, a Rubik’s Cube, and an iPhone. The series’ 100 million combined views helped boost Blendtec’s sales by 700 percent.

4. Put your website’s content to work. Want to draw more traffic to your website? Help spread the word by encouraging visitors to share content they enjoy. GotCast, a website that connects television casting directors with aspiring actors, draws new visitors by posting audition videos on Digg and allowing others to share video links on the site. One way to promote the sharing of your site’s content is to install a widget, such as AddThis, that automates linking to popular sites.

5. Be candid. In unsure economic times, transparency goes a long way toward retaining and attracting customers. Giving readers the scoop on your company blog is an easy way to keep the lines of communication open. Giacomo Guilizzoni, the founder of San Francisco software company Balsamiq, even posts sales and profit figures to show that his company is on solid financial footing.

6. But be careful what you say about others. When Leslie Richard, owner of a North Carolina clothing company, described Vision Media Television as a “scam,” she was slapped with a $20 million lawsuit. While recounting negative experiences with others won’t necessarily lead to a court battle, it’s best to steer clear of name-calling.

7. Interact with visitors—really. Just putting up a blog or a Facebook fan page won’t do much good if visitors sense the flow of conversation only goes one way. In fact, Matt Mullenweg, founder of blogging platform WordPress, lists not participating in comments as a surefire way to kill a community. Mullenweg and his team field the many suggestions users have for WordPress through his blog.

8. Don’t try to create a stand-in for yourself. With all the other tasks required within your company, it’s tempting to outsource managing your social media or even to try automating the process. That can easily backfire, as Joe Pulizzi, founder of Cleveland marketing firm Junta42, learned when he tried sending automated welcome messages to new followers on Twitter. His online contacts quickly called him out for sending out what they perceived to be spam.

9. Don’t pretend to be someone else. Thanks to IP address tracking, observers can also quickly tell when company figureheads adopt fake identities for the sake of fluffing up their reputation. Not only can the practice hurt your company’s reputation, it could also land you in legal trouble. The plastic surgery Lifestyle Lift had to pay $300,000 in settlement costs to the state of New York for having its employees post flattering reviews of the company without disclosing their affiliation.

10. Help employees bond. Corporations such as IBM have built in-house networks—even virtual worlds reminiscent of Second Life—to link employees working in different locations. Small and medium-sized businesses can take advantage of readily available tools to facilitate collaboration. The Hoffman Agency, a public relations firm, uses Ning, which enables users to build custom social networks, to connect its U.S. staff with employees in Europe and Asia.

11. Reward customer loyalty. Through social media, companies can not only run promotions more frequently than coupons in the mail will permit but also devise more whimsical and engaging campaigns. Sprinkles Cupcakes, a bakery chain based in Beverly Hills, California, uses Twitter to send out daily promotional offers. The tweets, which ask customers to whisper a “password” to receive a free treat, have helped the company draw more than 17,000 followers.

12. See what people are saying about you. A quick search for mentions of your company on Facebook, Twitter, and Yelp can yield a goldmine of information concerning your reputation. Several users on Yelp, for instance, suggested that employees at Quimby’s Bookstore in Chicago were less than welcoming. After reading the comments, owner Eric Kirsammer focused on improving customer service. Applications such as monitter and Trackur can help you keep track of the conversation across the Web.

13. Make amends with dissatisfied customers, quickly. Andy Carlson, owner of an Ace Hardware store in Denver, once came across an angry Twitter update from a customer who had bought a tool that broke after one use. He resolved the issue in a matter of minutes by referring the customer to an area store and notified him of Ace’s lifetime guarantee. Best of all, he was able to catch the complaint after store hours—and prevent negative word of mouth.

14. Don’t go on the defensive. A harsh rebuke of your business on sites like Yelp can not only bruise your ego but also hurt your livelihood. But resist the temptation to lash out in public. Sarah Dunbar, owner of Oakland vintage boutique Pretty Penny, privately responds to less-than-flattering reviewers and encourages them to visit her in person. And keep in mind that you can’t please everyone. After Dunbar wrote to one dissatisfied customer, the reviewer accused her of conducting “shady business” by trying to sway opinions.

15. Keep customers in the loop. Frequently on the go? Twitter can help your customers keep track of your latest destination. Kogi Korean BBQ, which operates a food cart in Los Angeles, keeps its Twitter followers constantly informed of its location on the street. The real-time updates help Kogi keep up demand, as customers line up in advance at the broadcasted locations.

16. Find potential customers. A quick keyword search can help you find prospective customers who may not be aware of your company but could nonetheless benefit from your product or service. Bob Scaglion, a senior managing director at New York real-estate management company Rose Associates, generates 100 leads per month on Twitter for his company simply by replying to users whose tweets include phrases such as “moving to New York City” and “no-fee rentals.”

17. Reach more markets. Social media can help your company reach multiple markets at a time. Restaurant chain Boloco focuses most of its advertising on Boston, which houses 13 out of its 16 locations. But as an experiment, CEO John Pepper decided to post a copy of a coupon from a local newspaper on Twitter in order to reach customers in Vermont and New Hampshire. Coupon redemptions increased by more than 150 percent as a result.

18. Target your online advertising. Both Facebook and MySpace allow businesses to run ads that attract specific groups of users based on what information they include in their profiles. By running Facebook ads targeted at students at specific colleges, StorQuest Self Storage, which has locations in Arizona, California, Colorado, and Hawaii, increased its number of rentals by more than half.

19. See where your customers are. A growing number of social networks are designed specifically for users on the go, and some, such as the mobile application Foursquare, offer tools specifically for businesses. Frozen dessert chain Tasti D-Lite, for instance, uses Foursquare to gather data on how many people visit its locations and send promotional offers to frequent customers.

20. Let customers help each other out. Including a customer forum on your website or social network profile can help enhance your customer service while building a sense of community. At Poolcenter.com, a swimming pool equipment retailer based in Arlington, Virginia, customers often field each other’s inquiries on swimming pool equipment before they reach customer service reps. Get Satisfaction and Fixya are two sites that offer dedicated spaces for customer service forums.

21. Build a community beyond your business. Photo hosting site SmugMug has established itself as a resource for skilled photographers in part by operating a forum, Digital Grin, where members trade advice on topics such as the best techniques for taking photos at night and capturing wedding scenes. With the exception of a support section at the very bottom, the forum is devoted to photography at large, rather than the company’s own services.

22. Let customers contribute. FrontPoint Security, a home security provider in McLean, Virginia, began collecting video testimonials from its customers, who filmed themselves with Flip cameras. The videos are posted on FrontPoint’s site and on YouTube, and even some customers’ personal blogs. FrontPoint’s video efforts have helped the company more than triple its sales leads.

23. Help others promote you. Social media can help you find passionate customers who are more than willing to spread the word about your company. Crafts supplies manufacturer Fiskars reached out to scrapbookers by inviting four avid users to blog. Its crafts community, called Fiskateers, has since attracted 5,000 users who serve as brand evangelists.

24. Cultivate relationships that lead to sales. Soon after he joined Twitter, J.R. Cohen, manager of The Coffee Groundz, a Houston coffee shop, began encouraging his followers to visit him in his shop. He began getting to know customers so well that they not only initiated conversations with him through Twitter—they began tweeting orders through the site as well. Now Cohen periodically fields menu requests through Twitter, though he doesn’t use the page primarily for that purpose.

25. But don’t promote too aggressively. While social network users have proven to be open to marketing—especially if it involves a discount—they’re not flocking to Facebook or MySpace to hear sales pitches. If your profile or blog reads like an ad, it will turn visitors away. Kent Lewis, founder of Portland online marketing firm Anvil Media, encourages Twitter users, for instance, to pass along industry news and retweet interesting items from others along with their own promotions.

26. Find ways to engage visitors offline. In March, Cinda Baxter, a retail consultant in Minneapolis, ended a blog post on local business with one simple idea: choose three businesses to support, and spend a combined amount of $50 per month. The post spurred hundreds of inquiries—enough for Baxter to build a standalone website, which has since attracted the support of more than 12,000 businesses. Baxter has used the publicity to bolster her consulting business: she now travels nationwide to advise retailers on building support within their communities.

27. Find influential people in your industry. In addition to maintaining your blog, make sure to keep your eyes open to what others in the industry are buzzing about online. Reading independent blogs and joining industry groups on Facebook and LinkedIn is a good way to join the larger conversation. Spoonflower, a fabric design site based in Mebane, North Carolina, has built its community of more than 40,000 users primarily through word of mouth on crafts blogs.

28. Boost your credibility by helping others. For service providers, establishing yourself as an expert in the field can bring in a steady stream of business. LinkedIn’s Answers feature enables business owners to do just that. Heidi Cool, a Web design consultant in Cleveland, browses LinkedIn Answers for inquiries related to her industry and spends one to two hours per week answering them. In one month, she generated 29 leads for her services directly from her responses.

29. Look for talent off the beaten path. While LinkedIn is specifically geared toward professional use, some companies have found other social networks to be effective recruiting tools as well. Jason Averbrook, CEO of the management-consulting firm Knowledge Infusion, found 19 candidates in two days for an open position simply by writing about his search in status updates on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Plaxo, which aggregates contact information from social networks.

30. Connect with potential partners. Because LinkedIn is designed specifically for professional networking, businesses can find a host of valuable contacts there. Josh Steinitz, CEO of NileGuide, a trip planning website based in San Francisco, used LinkedIn to find business partners by identifying companies of interest and then asking his existing contacts to provide introductions. A third of the company’s inquiries resulted in eventual partnerships.

From the Team at WebWitches

Tags: Increase traffic site Internet seo Online internet marketing Online ranking Online seo Learn SEO online SEO Course SEO for Beginners

www.webwitches.com.au