creativitymarketingsocial media

Connecting With Your Audience

Okay, so you have your strategy in place and now need to analyze what tools to use to meet your objectives. As they say, one size doesn’t always fit all, so you need to figure out what social media platform(s) makes the most sense to help you meet your goals. I know you may understand what Facebook and Twitter are, but this is going to help you look at these outlets through a slightly different lens.

Where are you connected?

FACEBOOK: You can’t turn a corner without hearing about Facebook. Currently, there are over 750 million users from all across the globe. Of these users, over 50% are logged in each day, spending over 700 billion minutes on the site each month. Between sitting at the computer and using Facebook on the go (250 million users check Facebook on their mobile devices), this online community is liking, sharing, commenting and posting everywhere.

Advice: Because you can use Facebook on a personal and business level, you need to determine your purpose for posting on your personal profile. If using it for both, make sure to differentiate, but understand you can blend when appropriate.

People connect with Facebook pages of brands and topics that they find interesting, relevant to daily life and/or because there was a good incentive to “like” it. Come up with a strong messaging strategy that provides fans with a solid value proposition and gives them reasons to look at your updates in their news stream, come back regularly and PARTICIPATE.

TWITTER is a micro-blogging service, letting users share what’s happening in 140 characters or less. There are over 200 million users registered with the site sending over 140 million tweets each day (with about half of those users tweeting from a mobile device). Twitter moves fast, making it an ideal platform for information sharing.

Advice: Contribute, but also make sure to listen. Be open to conversation and don’t just be a megaphone. If you are consistently sharing links and content, make sure to make it relevant and conversational so that it doesn’t just take up space. If you establish a Twitter handle for your brand, make sure it exhibits the “human element” and connects with people.

YOUTUBE: How many videos have you watched on YouTube today? It’s the largest video network online, with over 3 billion video views per day and 48 hours of video uploaded every minute. Users are all over the world, contributing content of all languages, length and subject matter. Users can connect with one another through friendships, subscriptions, comments and ratings.

Advice: Be a good video community citizen: “Like” and “favorite” other videos, and comment when you like it. Don’t be a troll by posting irrelevant comments just for the sake of posting them. Make sure that you brand your YouTube channel, which archives all of your public videos. Tag your videos and write a description. However, don’t tag your video for everything under the sun. Make it specific and easy to find. If time permits, close caption all your videos. If you upload anything to YouTube for private sharing, make sure to tag it as “unlisted,” which means you will be able to share the URL with others, but no one can actually search for it.

FLICKR: Need to share some photos? Try Flickr, which currently has over 3,000 images uploaded every minute, and as of September 2010, 5 billion photos hosted on the site. Make albums, upload videos, share with friends and, if you really want, say cheese.

Advice: A major advantage of Flickr is that your content is archived for universal search, if uploaded for public sharing. This may help people see your brand more often when searching online. Make sure to appropriately tag your photos and video. Flickr does have video capabilities, but you should use it predominantly for photos. If you do have things that may be sensitive, password protect them or put them in private albums.

FOURSQUARE: If you like to explore new places, Foursquare, a mobile-based smartphone application that lets users “check in” around town, might be for you. Over 10 million users are currently checking in, leaving tips and earning badges on Foursquare. Brands can also join Foursquare to let users engage while not sitting directly in front of their computer screen.

Advice: If your brand has a retail location, register the location with Foursquare (it’s free). Make sure to reward those who check in, though. You can run specials through Foursquare that give someone a discount when they “check in” to your location. If your goal is repeat visitors, focus on rewarding the mayor (the person who checks in most often). When using Foursquare personally, you should check in places so you can redeem deals or get special discounts. Don’t automatically link everything to other social media sites, such as Twitter and Facebook. It’s a matter of keeping your privacy, and also to not overwhelm your friends and followers.

YELP: If you like to know as much about a location before visiting, Yelp, a network that allows users to post their own reviews on locations they visit, is a great resource. At the beginning of 2011, Yelp had 15 million reviews with 41 million monthly visitors. Reviews are available on establishments ranging from health and beauty to pet care to religious organizations.

Advice: Use it when you are trying to find something or find reviews. If you have a bad experience somewhere, be judicious in your review.

GOOGLE+: Google recently launched its own social network, Google+. In its very short lifetime thus far, it already has 18 million users, 1 billion items shared per day and 2.3 billion clicks of +1 each day (as of July 20). Users can post status updates, content, comments and, if they liked something, add a +1. Because it’s brand-new, jump in headfirst and explore! Don’t share with all your circles, unless you know it’s relevant for everyone in all your circles. It allows for segmenting.

LINKEDIN is the professional’s network. It exists strictly for networking purposes and essentially functions as an online resume. As the site has a very specific purpose, know that it is slower. Make sure that you are connecting with people you know and trust, because it is a professional network. Who you are connected to is a reflection of you.

Advice: Your company should have a “company profile” and you should have a “personal profile,” which acts as an online resume in some ways. Be as accurate as possible when creating profiles. You’ll be connecting with people who know your job history, so don’t lie! Maintain professional standards: If it’s not something you would shout in front of a group of people, it probably shouldn’t go online. Oh, and make sure to check out groups like Mattress Industry Executives for networking and to contribute to professionally relevant conversations.

These are just a few of the basics for getting started with social networking. There are always new methods of communication popping up, so be open, be adventurous and have fun! If you are just getting started and want to find a friend on these networks, here are my links:

Twitter
LinkedIn

What social networks are you using? What am I missing? What are you thinking?

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in this blog are mine and mine alone. They do not represent the thinking of the company I work for, or anyone else with whom I am affiliated. Except my wife of course, who is good at telling me what not to say.

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