Tips to Become Better Integrated in Your Niche Community

Author: Guest blogger Lindsey Patterson:

The new wave in marketing is clearly social media. However, social media marketing involves more than just creating accounts on every social network. Businesses that are using social media to its full potential are seeing more click-throughs and more conversions. These companies are using social media integration strategies to engage customers, expand their reach and enhance the online reputation of their brand.

Social networks provide platforms where communities can form around specific topics, industries and interests, and your business can become an influence in the conversations revolving around your own brand.

google plusUsing Google+ for Your Business

Google+ is fast becoming a necessary part of any social media marketing plan. With personalized search results, Google+ is one of the best ways to reach your niche community. Take advantage of the following G+ capabilities.

1   Become a member of any Google+ Communities which relate to your industry. You can’t circle an individual until they circle you, so Communities allow you to extend your reach and create business contacts when appropriate. You can also influence conversations amongst consumers about your brand.

2   Google+ Hangouts are an easy way to create content marketing. You can hold panel discussions with experts from your field or Q&A sessions with actual customers about new products and services. Record this video chat session and upload it to YouTube from the same G+ network. One Canadian photographer, Billy Wilson, has had success creating a following on Google+ using Hangouts On Air. He brings together artists, musicians and personalities every week to discuss world issues in a Hangout called, “That Show With Billy Wilson.”

3   Being that Google is already a search engine giant, establishing Google Authorship is the way to place your business at or near the top of search results. This is established simply by linking your G+ profile to your company website or blog and vice versa. Google ranks Google Authorship posts at the top of the results. The link to your post, which will include your profile picture, will stay ahead of any knock-off posts which might have followed your original content.

4   Google+ Events is a great way to promote parties, promotions or sales, and webinars for your business. The invitations sync automatically with Google Calendars, and attendees can share photos of the event directly to its photo album using a mobile app.

facebook_like_buttonDevelop a Community on Facebook

Approaching one billion users, Facebook is obviously a marketing force that can’t be ignored. Zappos, an online shoe sales company, has created a successful Facebook marketing campaign. Their slogan, “Let’s be in a Like-Like Relationship” is a clever invitation to become a fan of their Facebook page. Here are three other ideas which can help you develop a Facebook following.

1   Offer certain “fan-only” content.

2   Start a photo contest such as Fan-of-the-Week where fans can share photos of ways they are using your products.

3   Giveaways encourage fans to invite their friends to like your page.

 

Integrate Your Platforms

An essential part of any marketing plan is knowing the message you want to share. The delivery of this message should vary with each platform but the message itself must be clearly maintained. Consumers lose interest quickly in businesses that copy and paste content into multiple platforms. However, you can link your accounts and platforms to help spread the word about your brand. For example, Vivint, a home security and automation company, is an active user on Google+, using it as a platform to connect people to their blog and websites. The final three tips for integration are taken from Vivint’s example.

1   Post regularly to a company blog and share the links on social platforms.

2   Use a variety of content for posts including video, articles and photos.

3   Use widgets on your blog and websites to encourage users to share content.

With these tips, you can use Google+ and social media platforms to develop a community. When customers feel a part of your community, they develop trust, which results in more loyalty and referrals for your business.

 

Lindsey Patterson is a freelance writer who specializes in technology and the latest social trends, specifically involving social media. She is currently a social media advisor to Vivint.  Be sure to follow them as well via Vivint’sTwitter.

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Joe Soto

Joe Soto

Joe Soto is the CEO of One Social Media. A leading expert in social media marketing, Joe has over 16 years of experience in all aspects of sales, marketing, online lead generation, and Internet marketing.

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How Important Is Trust in Social Media?

“You have to gain people’s trust online” has almost become cliche in the online marketing community.  But it’s perhaps the most important thing you can do if you want to have the online presences you’ve always hoped for.

The challenge? Most people are not willing to spend the time and effort it really takes to generate trust online, which may then turn into David Horsager Quoteonline conversions:  People inquiring about you or your company turning into real customers who are purchasing from you repeatedly.

But consider this scenario: I just met you at an after hours networking event. If within the first few minutes of meeting you I asked you for your business (and a hefty thousand dollar retainer fee), would you give it to me? Of course not. And not because you don’t have a need – but because you don’t trust me yet.  How long would it take for us to have a relationship before you’d start to trust me? How many interactions would you have to have with me?  The answer depends on how much value you bring to the relationship over a certain period of time.

The lesson? Online trust building isn’t much different than offline trust building. While it may take longer – you can build trust online over time. This happens by providing real value and nurturing those relationships through ongoing interaction and engaging your audience in the content they care about most.

 

The Eight Pillars of Social Media Marketing?

The Trust Edge by Dave HorsagerIn David Horsager’s book, The Trust Edge, he states “A lack of trust is your biggest expense.” This hits you right between the eyes. In his book he outlines the Eight Pillars of Trust include Clarity, Compassion, Character, Competency, Commitment, Connection, Contribution and Consistency. These could very well have been called “the eight pillars of social media marketing.” A terrific book for business leaders, I consider it the best how-to book about how to build trust offline as well.

While I’m not going to go through each of his Trust Pillars in this post, below is a video where I share with you some of his key points in the book that WILL help you rethink your approach to how you use social media to grow your business.

What do you think? Can trust give you an edge in social media? If so, what’s your trust edge? Share your comments below.

 You can learn more about David Horsager and his book The Trust Edge at TheTrustEdge.com

 

 

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Joe Soto

Joe Soto

Joe Soto is the CEO of One Social Media. A leading expert in social media marketing, Joe has over 16 years of experience in all aspects of sales, marketing, online lead generation, and Internet marketing.

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5 Quick Tips for Creating Fresh Visual Content

Fresh ContentThe pressure is on for marketers to come up with fresh content, consistently each week. It’s particularly challenging for business start-ups who want a fast start social media presence on Twitter, Facebook and their Blog.

What should you or your company be blogging about? What will be informative, interesting, educational or entertaining enough to attract them? What content will your community actually enjoy seeing posted and engage in? Perhaps you should just ask them.

To give you a head start, here are some quick tips for creating fresh visual content.

1. The Expert Interview. Record an interview with an expert in your field and post it to your blog. You can do this via telephone conference or via video conference using Skype. Recommended resources: For phone interviews try FreeConferenceCalling.com, for Skype: try Ecamm.com (mac) and Camersoft.com (windows).

2. Create a step-by-step guide on how to do something in a screencast, how-to video tutorial, or show the steps in a series of photos. Resources: Camtasia, Screenflow, Screencast, Jing, Prezi, Snap Guide (mobile).

3. Do a simple case study about one company, or offer a few visual examples of how other companies do something successfully. In a recent blog post, I visually showcased brands using social media well and how some were using it poorly to talk with their customers.

4. Poll your community on Twitter with Twtpoll or on Facebook with a Facebook Question and post the results on your blog.

5. Give your community visual choices. Here are two examples of this:

Example 1: One of our clients asked their community which of the author’s books is their favorite. It quickly became the most popular post for that Facebook page since it started with over 200 Likes and over 200 comments.

Og Mandino Books

Example 2: We asked our community to choose which one character Mike most resembled that day.

mike bal

Visual content is the hottest trend, and it’s not going away. The popularity of Instagram alone should be waking people up to this. And video content will rule in 2013 and beyond.

When thinking through your social media content strategy, think about what content will add value and/or attract prospects to your blog or social media sites. Attracting them is only the first step, but it’s perhaps the most important as you refine how to convert and then analyze the results to see which of these ideas works best for your brand and audience.

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Social Media Mistakes

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Joe Soto

Joe Soto

Joe Soto is the CEO of One Social Media. A leading expert in social media marketing, Joe has over 16 years of experience in all aspects of sales, marketing, online lead generation, and Internet marketing.

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Brand Storytelling Spotlight: Sweet Leaf Tea

A few weeks ago I wrote that telling your brand’s story was the easiest way to build brand buzz online. Here are two pieces from that blog post that I’d like to reiterate:

The brands that are getting the most buzz on social media are the ones that are taking the time to creatively share their unique stories. They understand the importance of being genuine, and they legitimately care about the communities they’re sharing content with.

 If you want to stand out on social media, if you want people talking about your brand over all your competitors, if you want to get anything back from your social media efforts at all, share your story. Sometimes it’s the only deciding factor between you and the other guy for consumers like me.

To illustrate the power of brand storytelling, I’ve decided to start featuring brands that get it. This week, I’m sharing the story behind Sweet Leaf Tea—because they are one of my favorite bottled teas out there, and because they’ve taken the time to share their story with me.

So let’s begin.

I actually chose Sweet Leaf Tea as my first brand storytelling spotlight because of a bottled jar of their tea that I had last week. I hadn’t ever tried Sweet Leaf Tea before, but the label caught my eye and I decided to buy one to drink with my lunch.

What stood out to me the most was the back of their label—the space that they chose to use to tell their unique story:

As mentioned above, Sometimes a brand’s story is the only deciding factor between you and the other guy for consumers like me. And that was the case for Sweet Leaf Tea. Fortunately, in addition to taking the time to design a great label, the company also takes the time to brew and bottle a delicious tea.

Right before I began writing this post, I decided to find out if Sweet Leaf Tea had gone the extra step and shared their story online. I’m happy to say that I was not disappointed. The brand has a great website, and a strong and interactive presence on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Pinterest, and YouTube. The only place I wish I could have found them on was Instagram, but hopefully they’ll read this post and jump on the insanely popular mobile photo sharing app.

I’ll ask that you spend some time looking through the links to their social sites above to get a better idea of what they are doing right as a brand. But just in case you don’t have time, I wanted to share their story right here on this page for your convenience:

Are you telling your brand’s story? If not, start planning. If you have questions about the best ways to move forward, ask me! I’m @RobWormley on Twitter.

Want to suggest a brand for me to spotlight? Shoot me an email.

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Rob Wormley

Rob Wormley

As a social media specialist, Rob thrives in situations that require constant creativity. On days when Rob isn’t working hard to create, maintain, and strengthen relationships online, you might find him spending time with family, browsing through his nearest bookstore, or sipping on a cup of coffee at his local Starbucks.

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The Easiest Way To Build Brand Buzz Online

According to a recent Wikipedia search I did, there are about 157 fast food restaurant chains in the great United States of America today. That’s a lot of burgers and fries. As both a consumer and a foodie, I’m constantly thinking about where I can go to get my next delicious meal. So how do I usually decide? I take out my iPhone and do what I like to call a little ‘social investigating’. I consult apps/sites like Yelp for reviews, I use Google to find restaurant websites and menus, and I look to see if the place I’m interested in has a presence on the social sites I use (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.).

In some cases when I’m trying to decide, the restaurants stack up pretty evenly. They both have positive reviews on Yelp, they both have websites and menus, and they both have an online social media presence. So what is it that really makes a brand—whether it’s a fast food restaurant or a clothing store—stand out when its competition looks almost identical at first glance?

It all comes down to storytelling.

Thanks to social media, it has never been easier for brands to tell their unique stories. And every brand and business has a unique story. Telling it just takes a little time, a little creativity, and faith that you’ll get a positive return for your efforts.

It’s easy for brands to join social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube and simply use the same marketing/sales strategies they’re used to using in the traditional media outlets. They upload their 15 second TV commercial to YouTube, they take the last 10 seconds of a radio advertisement script and turn it into a tweet, and they upload their magazine advertisements to a Facebook photo album on their page. You know what most people think of that type of content when they see it on social media? A few words come to mind. Lazy. Ineffective. Promotional. Spammy.

The brands that are getting the most buzz on social media are the ones that are taking the time to creatively share their unique stories. They understand the importance of being genuine, and they legitimately care about the communities they’re sharing content with.

So why aren’t you sharing your story? Why are you being lazy and repurposing advertising pieces and promotional content that none of your followers really care to see?

To illustrate the power and effectiveness of storytelling on social media, I wanted to share two videos with you from two well-known fast food restaurants. Both videos were made to promote the same thing: french fries. The first video is from Wendy’s. The second video is from McDonald’s. I trust you’ll have no trouble at all figuring out which brand is using social media to tell their story.

Video 1:

 

Video 2:

 

Which fast food place do you think I chose after watching those videos? If you want to stand out on social media, if you want people talking about your brand over all your competitors, if you want to get anything back from your social media efforts at all, share your story. Sometimes it’s the only deciding factor between you and the other guy for consumers like me.

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Rob Wormley

Rob Wormley

As a social media specialist, Rob thrives in situations that require constant creativity. On days when Rob isn’t working hard to create, maintain, and strengthen relationships online, you might find him spending time with family, browsing through his nearest bookstore, or sipping on a cup of coffee at his local Starbucks.

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5 Apps in 30 Seconds: Volume I

If you haven’t realized it yet, 2012 is all about two things: visuals and mobile. In an earlier blog post, I wrote the following: “That’s why 2012 is also the year of the photo-editing/sharing mobile apps. There are so many apps that exist within the iPhone/iPad App Store and Android Market that you can be using to share unique photos for your business or brand. So why aren’t you?” (Read the full post here).

When I published that post, it was my hope that readers recognized how important having a smart phone is when it comes to creating and sharing valuable content on social media sites.

I’ve had my iPhone for about four months since dumping my Android device. In that short span of time, I’ve gone app-crazy. I spend a lot of time reading about new apps. I download them, I teach myself how to use them, and then I recommend the ones I like to friends and coworkers.

Since I’ve received a lot of positive feedback from others about the apps I recommend, I decided to launch a new series on this blog that I’m calling 5 Apps in 30 Seconds. In each installment, I’ll decide on a theme to focus on, choose 5 apps based on the theme, and share them with you in a quick video.

In this first installment, I’m focusing on content creation apps as my main theme. The apps mentioned in the video below are apps that I believe businesses and brands could and should be using to develop interesting, entertaining, educational, and original content for their social media sites and overall online presence. Watch the video below now to hear my recommendations.

To download or learn more about the apps mentioned in the video, look for the links in the description section of the YouTube video. 

If you do end up downloading and liking any of the apps I recommended, please let me know! Come back and leave a comment on this blog post, or let me know on Twitter. I’m @RobWormley.

By the way, you might notice that I focus mostly on iPhone apps in this series. That should be a hint. Dump your droid and get an iPhone. It’s worth it. If you are too stubborn, however, click here for a list of the top 100 apps for Android.

Want to suggest an app for me to test out? Let me know! Send me a tweet or email me directly.

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Rob Wormley

Rob Wormley

As a social media specialist, Rob thrives in situations that require constant creativity. On days when Rob isn’t working hard to create, maintain, and strengthen relationships online, you might find him spending time with family, browsing through his nearest bookstore, or sipping on a cup of coffee at his local Starbucks.

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Can Social Media Be an Artistic Outlet?

In my last blog post, The Language of Social Media, I wrote about how social media is changing the way we write. Our vocabulary, grammar, and punctuation all take a back seat to being casual and brief.

Whether this movement is good or bad is entirely debatable: there’s no objective answer. But regardless of your view on the matter, some people are embracing this change and seeing it as an opportunity instead of an obstacle. Here’s one of them.

Teju Cole is a Nigerian-American writer, who has spent time living in both countries. Cole’s experiences give him a unique perspective on life, death, and the different social issues that America and Nigeria face. Along with being an accomplished author and photographer, Cole uses his Twitter account as an artistic outlet of a different kind.

Cole’s tweets mix social commentary, American history, and Nigerian culture– only he writes them as poetry. This unique blend of content and delivery often come off as morose obituaries or headlines, and they certainly aren’t for the weak-hearted. Still, Cole achieves a goal that most of the Twitterverse has yet to reach: he makes you think. Here are some recent examples of his tweets:

What Cole proves without a doubt is that social media can be used as an artistic outlet. And I don’t mean in the way that bands, artists, and authors use it to promote their newest product– I mean it in the sense that social media is providing the actual basis for creation. Twitter is Cole’s canvas, not just a place where he can post a link for people to view or buy his canvas.

On top of that, Cole hardly ever self-promotes on his Twitter. After going back through a week’s worth of tweets (probably about 100), the only kind of posts I could find besides the ones shown above, are the occasional wordy (albeit macabre) joke, and a lot of interaction with his followers.

Cole is showing how to make a personal brand through social media while keeping his integrity as an artist. So what can we take from his example? A lot of things:

  • Be unique.
  • Provide value in a way that nobody else is.
  • Don’t be overly-promotional.
  • Write about what you know and care about.
  • Don’t be afraid to be provocative.
  • Be persistent.
  • Don’t complain about or shun change: use it to your advantage
  • Be consistent.
  • Turn obstacles and restrictions into opportunities.
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Tom Hummer

Tom Hummer

Tom’s two biggest passions in life are writing and music. In his free time, Tom reads, writes, and works on musical projects.

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Selective Hearing And Social Media

We’re all familiar with the term ‘selective hearing’. It essentially means you only hear what you want to hear. This means that anyone choosing to apply this concept to their lives has a sort of filter  blocking out the things that might annoy them, offend them or, even worse, bore them. This idea has been applied to every form of communication that has ever existed, and guess what???

Selective Hearing Applies To Social Media!

For the most part this isn’t literal in social media which is why I want to make a slight amendment to the term and call it “Selective Processing”. Your fans and customers are selectively choosing which messages they will process and they’re basing their decisions off more than just the content you’re providing.

There is very little original content online. What I mean by that is there will always be a similar blog post or tweet or Facebook update to yours, so your mission is to break through all of the selective processing filters people have up. Here are a few ways to do that.

1. Rely on visual obscurity  - Don’t default to generic stock photos. Make connections between your content and the visual you use but don’t be obvious about it. If you show someone what they expect to see they will skip right over you.

2. Brush up on your non-regional diction – There are a million ways to say almost anything so don’t just regurgitate a popular title to share an article. Come up with a unique combination of words to present your content in a more appealing way. Go for puns, alliteration and any other grammatical tools you can think of to really CRAFT your messages.

3. Be brutally honest -  This is a little tricky because people who don’t agree with your opinion might look right over you, or they might take the time to respond. Some people are scared about being confronted on social media but I recommend embracing a little confrontation from time to time. Maintain your civility, of course, and make solid points. Don’t ever tell someone that their opinion is wrong but don’t be afraid to stand by your opinions. These are sometimes the conversations that attract the most attention and inspire the most engagement.

Have you been breaking through all of your fans and customers selective filters? Download our complimentary Ebook on the 5 Biggest Mistakes You’re Making on Social Media and find out. 

 

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Mike Bal

Mike Bal

Hi, I studied advertising, I have a passion for creativity and I love working in social media. I try to write about the combination of traditional marketing, branding, and advertising strategies that can apply and work affectively with social media. I also enjoy music, batman and life.

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The Status Update: It’s All About Variety

Creating a presence for your brand on social media sites like Facebook. Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Pinterest, or Google+ is great, but it’s really only the first baby step in a never-ending quest to build and maintain a connection with your online community (prospective clients, customers, loyal brand advocates, etc.). Here’s the harsh truth most businesses are unwilling to understand or do anything about: simply having a place for people to go—like a Facebook page for your business—isn’t enough to make people want to stay, interact regularly, or click on your seemingly enticing links to products or services. 

So what is it that makes people stick around and interact with your business on social media? It’s all about the variety of information you choose to share with your network on each social media platform. Yes, consistency is important. Quality is more important than quantity. And you have to have a plan. But if you plan on consistently sharing the same old boring content, you might as well not waste your time. You need to care about the people you interact with on social media, and part of caring means being thoughtful about the information you take the time to share with them. Are you thinking about it? Or are you just going through the motions day after day?

If you’re guilty of not thinking enough about the content you’re sharing on the social media sites your business is using, then take a look at the diagram below. It will help you think more about how to add variety to the social media updates you share with the people you want to connect with.

Don’t just go through the motions because someone told you that your business needs to be on social media. Be thoughtful. Add value. Embrace variety and be creative. Care about your customers.

EXTRA: Want a PDF version of the diagram above to print out? Click here.

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Rob Wormley

Rob Wormley

As a social media specialist, Rob thrives in situations that require constant creativity. On days when Rob isn’t working hard to create, maintain, and strengthen relationships online, you might find him spending time with family, browsing through his nearest bookstore, or sipping on a cup of coffee at his local Starbucks.

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The Language of Social Media

In this video from the TED Education series, Terin Izil talks about the relationship between brevity and clarity in language. “Ten-dollar words are rendered worthless if they’re not understood,” she says. According to her, the secret to great communication is efficiency: get your point across in as few syllables as possible.

 

All you need to do is read the comments on this video to get an idea of the controversy it’s sparked. Some people think this is a dangerous idea, and that it would mark the death of artful language.

But despite the opposition, society has definitely moved toward simplicity. In National Treasure, there’s a scene where Benjamin Gates (played by Nicholas Cage) reads the following line from the Declaration of Independence:

“But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

After he’s done, Gates says “People don’t talk that way anymore. Beautiful, huh?” and his friend, Riley, responds, “No idea what you said.” This conversation sums up the gap between the 18th century and now quite well.

Unsurprisingly, social media has definitely played a large role in this trend. On Twitter, for example, where users only have 140 characters to make their point, brevity is key. And that brevity often comes at the expense of interesting language. Even on Facebook, in text messages, and (shockingly) LinkedIn, punctuation and grammar are commonly thrown to the wind.

Since this new style isn’t going away anytime soon, the real question becomes: Is it good, or bad? Or neither?

As a social media professional with a background in literature, I’ve seen enough “LOL”s and “OMG”s to make Chaucer and Whitman roll in their graves. But surprisingly, the lack of engaging language in social media doesn’t bother me– after all, it’s about context. There’s a place for fancy, artistic language, and everyday communication isn’t that place. Izil makes that point when she talks about knowing your audience. A novelist’s audience expects different things than an online audience, because they serve different purposes.

The language of social media is here to stay. Rather than complain about it dumbing down the way we communicate, we should try to improve its efficiency. Remember– you can still read Shakespeare and Hemingway any time. But when connecting and understanding is the goal, simple is better.

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Tom Hummer

Tom Hummer

Tom’s two biggest passions in life are writing and music. In his free time, Tom reads, writes, and works on musical projects.

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