Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Social Media Marketing (But Were Afraid to Ask)

The live chats at the Vocus webinar a few weeks ago were fantastically lively and informative, with participants answering as well as asking questions that were posed to the scheduled speakers, Deidre Breakenridge, David Meerman Scott, Beth Harte, Lee Odden and Brian Solis. As time was tight, not all the questions were answered, so we thought we’d scoop some up from the logs and try to give some insights.

Q1: How do I increase my Twitter following?

This was a common question, but there’s no quick answer (unless you use a mass-following tool, which might boost your numbers but won’t necessarily give you a worthwhile audience that includes valuable influencers) – it can be a slow build, however, there are ways to make a difference:

• Write content that people want to read! Bit obvious, but just spieling out advertising isn’t the tastiest bait. Write interesting and useful articles and blog posts and link to them; create infographics, videos, slideshows and share them; make astute and witty observations; share content by others that you think your followers will find helpful. Give them a reason to follow you and retweet you.

• Search for your audience and follow them – if you’re doing the first point well enough, they’re likely to follow you back. Use any of the numerous Twitter applications and search engines to look for relevant people and influencers who would be interested in what you have to say.

• Get involved in Twitter chats to connect with your relevant audience – this is a great opportunity to offer advice, opinions and knowledge to key people who may become followers afterwards. Robert Swanwick (@swanwick) has compiled a Twitter Chat Master List where you can find the right subject for you.

• Find a way to link what you’re saying to topical themes and hashtagged subjects – this gives you a more targeted audience when people search for those terms and keywords.

• Finally, give an incentive now and again – run polls, competitions, promotions to engage and reward your loyal followers, and encourage more people to follow you.

Q2: How can I make my blog more effective?

It’s easy to feel that your blog is lost in the webiverse, but there are ways to increase its visibility and boost traffic.

• Just like in question 1, content is key – write posts that are informative, useful, interesting and engaging. See this post for a more in-depth guide on how to write a great blog.

• Optimise – just like your website, make sure that you are implementing keywords, links and other SEO tactics to ensure that your blog can be found and ranked by search engines. Register with blog directories such as Technorati or PostRank to add to the places you can be searched for, and to keep an eye on your blog metrics.

• Network your blog with other social media platforms, like Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn – link up your RSS feed, or manually link to posts you want to push out there.

• Comment on relevant sites and blogs – not with pointless spam directing people to your site, but with genuine, thoughtful comments. If people appreciate what you’re saying, they’ll click through to your blog to see what else you’ve come up with.

• Search for other bloggers in your field who you could invite to guest-blog (or blog swap), creating a backlink and an interesting new slant for your blog.

• Most importantly, write posts that generate conversation – your audience will be compelled to comment, share, and your traffic will grow.

• Distribute: get your posts bookmarked, upload them to relevant sites, copy them to article-sharing sites etc – the more places they can be found, the more they will be read.

Q3: What’s the proper Twitter etiquette on mutual following?

Well, it depends how powerful and influential you are – if you’re such a big shot you’re followed by 20K and only follow one back then good for you, but you won’t be getting much out of the social aspect of Twitter!

You don’t have to follow every person who follows you, but ignoring everyone who tries to interact with you defeats the purpose of Twitter and can be, well, a bit rude. Choose those whose tweets you actually want to read and find useful. If someone’s followed you that you don’t want to add to your following list, then at least send them a “thank you for following” personalised message to show your appreciation. It’s useful to note that you can also add people to lists without having to follow them.

Q4: How do I use YouTube for marketing?

YouTube serves as a standalone search engine that is becoming more and more powerful within social media and SEO. Using it as a marketing tool really depends on your business, your aims and your content, but there are several ways to make use of YouTube as a social media marketing tool:

• Set up your own channel, where you can host your videos, link to your website/blog/social media profiles, hold discussions and answer questions.
• Use slideshows or infographic videos to back up a blog post or key point.
• Give out some personal and local information – show a behind the scenes of your company or location, introduce your staff, give a presentation on something that is important to you and your business.
• Document case studies.
• Film interviews with key company members, customers, associates etc.
• Have some fun – don’t take yourself too seriously (but at the same time, don’t make a total arse of yourself!)
• Make instructional and ‘How-To’ videos – these make up a lot of the search content within YouTube, as it’s much easier to learn from watching a demonstration than from reading an explanation.

Once you’ve uploaded a video, share it and distribute it via other social media platforms – embed in your site, your blog, link to it from Twitter and Facebook, add it to Vimeo – the list goes on. Get your content out there!

Q5: How do I measure/monitor the ROI of social media?

This is the big one, and unfortunately, the answer is not particularly straightforward. The first thing to do is stop trying to fit social media into a traditional sized marketing box. The purpose and results of social media marketing are less tangible than a PPC campaign, or press release launch – social media affects the reach and influence of your company, which in turn will affect its popularity and your website’s traffic, or awareness of your brand, which in turn will affect sales, conversions and profit. So how do you measure engagement?

Firstly, put monitoring tools into place – there are a ton of free tools out there, though you may find that most only cover specific areas of the metrics you are after, so you will need to use several simultaneously, or different tools for different analytics.

To use these tools effectively, you need to have an aim or goal in mind – what are you trying to measure or track? The number of followers or fans is not the bottom line – you need to look at how those followers are interacting with you, whether they are spreading your message, whether they are driving traffic to your site and more. Focus on an objective and measure the appropriate metrics. Here are some examples of aspects you might want to keep tabs on:

• Influence
• Click-throughs
• Site hits
• Re-tweets/mentions
• Followers
• Fans/Likes
• Interactions
• Increased time on site
• Sharing of your content
• Comments
• Backlinks
• RSS subscribers
• Image/video views
• Number of bookmarks

For example, you’ve written a blog post on your business’ new product – you publish it, distribute it, linking to the relevant page on your site. Now you need to track its progress. In this case, you’d want to look at how many click-throughs you get to the product landing page, how much new site traffic you receive, whether people are sharing this information amongst their friends. Monitor these aspects through each of the social platforms you publish the information on – and from there you will be able to see how social media affects the number of conversions/sales from each area.

Q6: How do I show the value of social media to my boss/uncertain executives?

Another popular question, especially for companies just starting out with social media marketing. Often, businesses, or those working above marketers, don’t see the instant results of a social media presence (or, as in the point above, are not receiving targeted analytics to prove its value).

First, gather information on how competitors and other companies in your field are utilising social media – see what works, how they’re interacting, and if it’s having an impact on their brand. If you have no social media presence, chances are that someone out there is talking about you (or your line of business) anyway – go and research and see what questions people are asking, what problems they’re coming up against and what they want from you.

Second, find out where your customers are, and where you should be – in which social media community should you be making a presence for yourself? If your audience are big Twitter communicators, get talking to them; if they loiter around YouTube, upload some videos and get comments and views. Find your niche and get settled in it.

Third, take an example from question 5 above, and show your execs some hard facts and figures – and explain the power of resonance involved in social media, how it can strengthen your brand, make valuable connections with customers and act as a fantastic customer service platform.

Q7: What’s the best way to use social media for a Non-Profit organisation?

I think initial supposition is that it’s harder for a non-profit organisation to market themselves, because they are not providing a service or a product in retail terms. Contrary to this assumption, I believe that non-profits actually can do exceptionally well with social media. The very nature of social media interaction connects likeminded people for things they believe in. Social media is emotional, we participate because we want to, because we are moved or amused by something. Non-profit organisations can take this opportunity to promote their work, their aims and the issues they deal with and gain support, publicity and awareness.

A few places to start:

• Assuming your organisation already has a website, add a blog, on which you can post content in a more conversational style, on issues and subjects that encourage comment and discussion. For example, some non-profit blogs document the progress of individuals who are fundraising by participating in a sponsored event, or post pictures and videos of success stories and company events.

• Facebook accounts have the option of creating a page or a group for your organisation – for this, a page is generally more appropriate, because it enables you to add more structure to the profile, whereas a group might be more useful for a specific goal or issue you are trying to gain support for.

• Twitter is a fantastic place for conversation, and raising awareness. Hashtags can easily organise a subject, and recently have been used to attract attention to issues which require donations and assistance, for example many tweeters are adding the hashtag #Pakistan to tweets which include a link to one of the various donation site for the Pakistan flood victims.

• Make the most of multimedia and sites like YouTube, Flickr to broaden your message and distribute different types on content.

Q8: Where do I find the time to do all this?!

Well, apparently there’s this hot tub that’s also a time machine… Or, you could just make use of those ‘time management skills’ that are on your CV and get organised.

• Focus on one thing at a time – there’s a tendency and a temptation to try to stick your fingers in all the pies when it comes to social media, since there are so many options, so many offshoots and avenues to explore. Target an objective, plan your action and monitor carefully rather than running around madly trying to connect with everyone, everywhere, all at once.

• Set realistic goals. Choose a few things that have the highest priority for any particular day. Put the rest aside and concentrate on achieving your immediate goals. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and distracted by the fast-paced realtime world of social media.

• Schedule ahead of time. I’m a big fan of Hootsuite for pre-composing tweets and facebook posts, squirreling them away and schedule them to be posted later (there are other social media network options for multiple postings). Then you can concentrate on other distribution and interaction.

• Target the most active times for your particular community – look into a monitoring tool and find out when is the best time to post, to join a discussion, to comment and make yourself available at that time – it could be just one hour in a whole week that makes a big impact to your network.

• Form a routine. Everyone and every business is going to have different needs, but as you get more proficient within social media, you will start to find a groove, and see how best to organise your time. Having a routine makes things more manageable, makes you more efficient, and rather than making you stuck into a rigid schedule, it actually makes it easier to deviate if you need to, because you know where you left off and where you need to pick up to keep on track.

I hope these were helpful for those of you starting out in social media, or feeling a bit lost in the networking world! If you have any questions about social media marketing, SEO, PPC, web analytics or any other aspect of internet marketing, please let us know and we’ll try to keep posting Q&A articles like this regularly.

Either leave a comment below (or on any other blog post that you have questions about), send us a tweet @ikroh, or post something on our Facebook wall. We’d love to hear from you and we’d be happy to answer your questions.

HOME BASED BUSINESS – What Do You Look For When Joining A Network Marketing Company? OR Do You Know?

Home based business this term has become more and more popular in recent years. There is a network marketing company (MLM) for almost any item you can think of such as makeup, supplements, phones, internet, water, chocolate, wine, perfume, gold, travel and so forth.

The benefits of joining a network marketing company are varied depending on why you joined the particular company. If you joined the company just to save on the product or service make sure you will be getting the benefit of the product/service and the sign up or membership fee is worth the cost you think you are saving by getting a membership discount. The membership fee which is usually due annually may not out way the saving you get if you purchased the product/service at retail.

If you join a networking marketing company to do so as a business owner, you should know and check out the five important characteristics to look for before you join.

1) Leadership
2) Is the product consumable and effective?
3) Timing
4) Longevity of the company
5) The comp plan

Leadership – Who are the leaders and founders? Do they have integrity, passion? Do they have meetings with the representatives/members and listen to their concerns, comments and suggestions in regards to all aspects of the products, marketing materials, comp plan?

Product – Is the product/service consumable, does it work as stated?

Timing – Is the product/service something that everyone is looking for? Is the product/service something that will be desired for a number of years? but millions of people worldwide?

Company – What is the vision of the company? What is their 10, 20, 30 year plan? Is the company going international? Is the company debt free?

Comp plan – Can the average person make money and get a quick return on investment? How many people do you need to make a substantial check, especially if you plan to do business full-time?

To get answers to the above five points you should make it a point to be on all of the company’s training and product calls, go to the company’s conventions, opportunity meetings, meet the leaders, founders and talk to other company representatives and ask a lot of questions so that you can make an informed decision as to whether or not the company is the one you want to invest your time and money in.

The product also needs to be one that you can have passion sharing with others. The product/service may be great but if you are not passionate about the product/service you will fall down flat because you need to be enthusiastic about what you are sharing and promoting.

If you would like to ask any questions related to joining a networking company, please feel free to contact me.

Also don’t forget the great tax benefits you may be able to utilize being in business for yourself and the freedom you have to be your own boss.

As a side note –
In the end when looking at whether or not you choose to have a home based business – the tax benefits, friends, relationships, and the good feeling you get knowing that you shared information that helped someone look better, feel better, get exceptional services is priceless when someone comes up to you and says “Thank You” for caring enough to share this information/product with me.

What Really is Affiliate Marketing?

Some time back I was forced into a career change and I had no idea what to do. My partner is a local school teacher, so she earns but I have always been the main provider covering all the bills etc and suddenly I had no job and no income. I have always and probably will always be an avid saver but my savings wasn’t going to last forever. I tried getting a new job in my industry but quickly decided that due to the recession I didn’t want to be the last one in and first out, and if the truth be known I really wanted to start something for myself so that I could spend more time doing what I enjoyed doing, rather than trading time for money! So I decided that the World Wide Web was the way forward, I started surfing the make money online sites / work from home etc (You have seen them all I’m sure). I started to get familiar with some of the language; everyone seemed to be saying the same thing over and over again… Affiliate Marketing, Internet Marketing, Network Marketing…

But are they really making an honest living?

What Is Affiliate Marketing?  

First I had to find out what exactly internet marketing or affiliate marketing was. What I found is pretty simple really, affiliate marketing is when someone markets / promotes a specific product or service for a company online, when a sale is made you receive a commission (Exciting hey!). At first I was like everyone else, “I can’t do this, I have no online experience etc etc” I’m like everyone else, used to a steady reliable income this was going to be a big change to the norm. I did so much due-diligence and quickly realised that there are hundreds of thousands of products to promote online, times that by billions of “online surfers” on a daily basis many of which are buying products… Surely this was going to be a no-brainer?

So my next question was, what am I going to market? Can I have a mentor, someone who has been there and done it?   Going back to the beginning… For me, I quickly learned that I needed a mentor someone who is experienced; someone who has made money online, someone who has made the mistakes so I wouldn’t have to. There are so many websites online that promise you the world, there are programmes, books, but for me I needed a real human being not a robot!  

You may be asking if I am making money Internet Marketing, and am I happy?   I have been at it now for quite some time and couldn’t be happier! It wasn’t easy, and unfortunately there is no such thing as a get rich overnight scenario, but with hard work, plenty of research / due-diligence, setting a strict budget and having a good mentor to coach you through every step then the only way you won’t succeed is if you don’t generate traffic to your sites. Too many people give up to early, normally because they have been promised that if they follow these simple steps you will become a millionaire within 6 weeks… Don’t let this be you. Be patient!   I know there are a lot people in the same position I was in, or maybe you just want a change from the norm. Whatever the case may be I am here to say you can do it. You can be making money internet marketing if you really want to.