Last night, I started reading Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead (and subsequently developed a strong feeling of jealousy that our Marketing Coordinator, Danelsy Medrano, saw her present at last month’s Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce event). I’m not sure what captivated me more: Sandberg’s journey to becoming COO of Facebook (a dream job, as far as I’m concerned), or the fact that I can relate to her experiences and dilemmas as a woman and a leader. Regardless, I couldn’t put my Kindle down and I’m paying for it today (sorry, SMO team, for the yawning).
Her memoir/manifesto/however-you-want-to-categorize-it (or not categorize it) helps give women the tools they need to succeed in the workplace by encouraging them to “sit at the table,” raise their hands, and let their voices be loud enough to achieve their goals – to lean in, rather than lean back. Naturally, as I read, I found myself applying the lessons from the book to my own career goals. Then I realized Sandberg’s advice can be applied to the social media marketing campaigns that we manage every day.
Here are three ways business owners can stop missing opportunities by leaning in when it comes to social media marketing efforts.
Do Not Sit on the Side!
Social media networks and strategies are constantly evolving. In fact, simply keeping up with the latest marketing tactics in an ever-changing industry can seem like a challenge itself. Sitting on the side and missing opportunities to build a community around your brand and ultimately convert fans into customers based on the fact that it’s too challenging is not an option.
Sandberg would recommend pursuing a social media marketing plan because it’s a challenge (and not just because she’s Facebook’s COO). Whether you decide to do your own in-house social media marketing, or you hire an agency, just make sure you “sit at the table” rather than on the side.
As WebiMax’s Director of Social Media, I’ve noticed that there’s one thing that all of our most successful social media campaigns have in common: the client’s willingness to take risks. A “one size fits all” social media strategy doesn’t exist, so I’ve found that coming up with customized solutions based on each client’s unique marketing needs is the most effective way to increase their online visibility. If you want to maximize the ROI of your social media marketing efforts, you must be willing to take risks that, at times, push you outside of your comfort level.
“Pursue Goals with Gusto”
The first step in creating a successful social media campaign is to clearly define the objectives you want to achieve. But, Sandberg would say, it’s not enough to define these goals then quietly “lean back” and hope for the best. Instead, business owners need to take on more leadership. Pursuing business goals with gusto by becoming thought leaders not just Following them, starting relevant and engaging conversations not just participating in them, and generating the content that your audience craves are ways you can lean in to your social media campaign.
If you hire an agency to help you achieve your goals, it’s important to bring as much enthusiasm to the campaign as if you were performing it yourself. The more passionate you are about the products/services/information that you have to offer, the more successful your social media efforts will be.
Are you seeking challenges when it comes to your marketing efforts? Are you taking risks and pursuing your goals with gusto? Don’t let opportunity pass you by; lean in to online marketing to make your business dreams a reality.
The Facebook Cover Photo –prime real estate for you to visually represent what your company is all about. Are you adhering to the latest guidelines? Is your cover photo compelling enough to draw user engagement?
Facebook has proven to a valuable asset for many businesses over the last several years and has helped many companies expand their online presence considerably. From “mom-and-pop shops” to some of the world’s largest and most recognizable brands, Facebook has been targeted as one of the top marketing and advertising platforms on the Web.
In fact, Facebook is second only to Google in terms of unique visitors per month and this nearly unparalleled visibility gives the network a considerable audience (currently over 1 billion active users worldwide) and provides businesses an opportunity to have their products and services showcased around the world.
However, like all marketing and advertising zones, Facebook maintains guidelines which all of its users, including businesses, must adhere to. Following Facebook’s gradual deployment of the controversial Timeline feature last year, many companies attempted to capitalize on new functionality such as the Cover Photo. The large banner which spans the upper third of all Facebook profiles and business pages is, ostensibly, prime real estate for advertisers and marketers. Facebook understood this and created a set of guidelines strictly pertaining to the new Timeline layout.
The latest and arguably most important revision to these guidelines: Cover photos must now be primarily imagery and only as much as 20% of the photo itself can be composed of text.
This update is aimed at businesses which utilize the cover photo as an advertising tool rather than a branding resource. With imagery now playing a larger role than ever before, Facebook marketers and advertisers will need to utilize more captivating and engaging photos to gain exposure and increase brand awareness.
Going “Under Cover”
Facebook cover photos are still an integral part of the network and businesses should continue to recognize them as such, but while these photos are expected to be lighter on text in the months ahead, there are still several areas where text content is essential to create an effective Facebook marketing strategy. Profile/About fields, Timeline posts and image captions are more than just informational – they’re valuable!
These should be used to include links back to your site and critical information about your business, as they each represent possible conversion opportunities and can provide more relevant site traffic.
Like Search Engine Optimization & Marketing, Social Media Marketing requires a balance of skill, research, knowledge and data collection. Over the next several months, many businesses will undoubtedly unveil new Facebook cover photos in order to abide by the new guidelines and a new form of “Visual Social Marketing” will emerge as brands try to create more effective imagery. With popular networks such as YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram and Tumblr at the forefront of an online “image revolution,” businesses will need to adapt in order to provide a more visually-enhanced user experience to remain successful in the highly competitive social media marketplace.
What images visually represent your company’s mission and values?
I love Andy Cohen.
For anyone who isn’t a reality TV junkie like me, he’s the Executive Vice President of Development and Talent at the Bravo network. He also hosts the Real Housewives reunion shows and Bravo’s late night show Watch What Happens Live.
Basically, he’s who I can thank for bringing level-ten drama and hilarity into my living room every night.
I could go on and on about the reasons why he’s so great, but I’ll spare you the countdown of my favorite WWHL moments and focus only on what’s relevant here: Andy Cohen has an exceptional ability to use social media to connect with his audience, build his brand, and generate buzz for the network.
As the Social Media Manager at WebiMax, I have a deep appreciation for the way he integrates his fans into all of his television episodes. Here’s a list of 5 social media tips that any brand or marketer can learn from Andy Cohen.
5. Be Approachable
Part of what makes Andy so successful on his late night TV show and in the social media world is that he’s as relatable in the WWHL Clubhouse as he is in his Facebook posts and tweets. He even takes Instagram “selfies” from his dressing room and shares them on Twitter:
When it comes to social media marketing, brands should make an effort to be personable. It’s this approachability that encourages the user engagement that is so important to a successful campaign. Humanize your business – put faces to the names of your execs; let their personalities shine.
4. Reward Your Fans
Andy Cohen is always rewarding his fans: he sends signed copies of his book to those who call into his show and he even invites super-fans to be guest bartenders in the Clubhouse through a video contest called “Raise the Bar.”
Turning enthusiastic fans into brand advocates who tweet and blog about your products or services is a smart way to get more value from social media marketing efforts. Rewarding these engaged customers for their loyalty will help you create a powerful marketing force that will generate sales for you. First, find out what these fans want the most and find a way to indulge those cravings.
3. Be Consistent
Every episode of WWHL has a formula: every night there’s a secret drinking game word; Andy announces his “mazel” and “jackhole” of the day; he has “game time!” with his guests; viewers call in with their questions for Andy or whoever is in the Clubhouse that night; and Andy takes a poll in which viewers vote on an answer to a question that usually has to do with the most recent drama on any of Bravo’s reality shows and announces the results at the end of the episode:
As an avid viewer, not only do I look forward to each one of these components of his show, but now I expect them. Consistency is a basic marketing concept that should be applied to your social media posts in order to create a sense of reliability that people respond to. The first 100 times I saw one of these polls on WWHL I didn’t bother to vote, but now I find myself wanting to chime in every once in a while – a perfect example of how consistent messages and methods boost engagement.
The key is to also be persistent. Just because you don’t get a ton of user engagement right away doesn’t mean people aren’t seeing your messages or relating to them. Being consistent and persistent with your content and strategies is an effective way to get the most out of your social media marketing.
2. Engage, Engage, Engage
In addition to the WWHL poll questions, Andy Cohen is constantly soliciting questions from his fans for his guests via Facebook and Twitter. Then he chooses the best questions to ask during his live show which makes the viewing experience interactive:
He built his persona by interacting with fans on Twitter and commenting on his show’s online forums, so Andy Cohen is a pro when it comes to engaging with fans. Integrating these tactics into WWHL and his Real Housewives reunion shows by reading viewer questions accomplishes two things: it allows viewers to participate in the shows they love, and it rewards those who take the time to enter their questions.
Social media marketers take note – fostering action and engagement by talking with your audience instead of AT them is most effective. Interacting with fans and followers by asking what they think, feel, and need encourages them to treat your brand like a true friend and ultimately encourages behaviors that help promote the brand.
1. Listen to Your Audience
A few months ago, Andy Cohen invited Jill Zarin, a former Real Housewives of New York cast member, to the Clubhouse for a special episode of WWHL to discuss how the decision was made by Bravo to fire her from the show. Andy explained,
We were looking to shake the show up. The viewers were the ones that, to us, dictated that they wanted something to change. That last reunion, I think you would agree, was incredibly toxic for everyone involved and when it was over the viewers and then the producers and then Bravo said ‘What can we do to change it?’
Notice how Andy listed the viewers first in the series of people who contributed to the decision to fire Jill and some of her cast mates. Because Andy Cohen is so engaged with the Bravo audience, he is in tune with what they want. And, he’s prepared to give it to them, as he proved when he awkwardly dismissed Jill from her role on the show.
Listening to your audience and giving them what they want is the most important part of social media marketing. Hearing what your customers have to say about your brand is only one part of the process; putting those opinions into action is the step that takes engagement and user feedback to the next level.
How do you achieve social media marketing success? Is there anything you think I’ve left off this list? Do you love Andy Cohen as much as I do? Share your thoughts by leaving me a comment.
WebiMax headquarters is located in South Jersey. This is our first day back in the office following Hurricane Sandy. Luckily, we have power and we did not experience the same levels of damage that the NJ Shore, Newark, and parts of Delaware, New York, and New England endured. Our thoughts are with those who lost their homes or worse – their lives. Among all of the chaos and destruction are brave and generous people who are stepping up to help each other everywhere we look – from neighbors helping to clean each others’ yards to people opening their homes and their hearts all over our Facebook news feeds.
There’s no doubt about it – Sandy was a unique storm on many different levels. Not only did she produce once-in-a-lifetime coastal flooding, 80 mph sustained winds, and wide-spread power outages, but social media played an unprecedented part in spreading safety tips, news, photos, and personal updates in real-time by those who were affected as well as by public safety organizations, major news outlets, and even local politicians.
While millions of people kept in touch and joined the conversation on various social media sites, there is one person who stood out to me on my Twitter feed throughout the ordeal: Cory Booker. The Newark Mayor has always had an impressive Twitter presence, but superstorm Sandy proved that Booker is just as in touch with the power of social media as he is with the community he serves.
Since the storm hit, Booker has been driving around with supplies, making house calls to those in need. Here’s is just one example from last night:
Two hours later, this appeared on his Twitter feed:
And this is the Newark resident’s current Twitter profile picture, with Cory Booker during the house call (with the toy car he gave her nephew):
When it comes to tragedies, including natural disasters, many people try to find the silver lining or a lesson that can be learned. In this case, one of the lessons is that social sites are communication tools powerful enough to save lives.
Sandy showed us that Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram have much more to offer than photos of what your second-cousin-once-removed is eating for dinner (filet and baked beans, in case you’re wondering…); over the past few days, they’ve offered updates to people who are unsure if their homes are still standing, peace of mind to those worried about their loved ones, and hand-delivered diapers to a toddler in Newark, NJ by his Mayor, Cory Booker.
Thank you, @corybooker, and best wishes to everyone in the Northeast in the coming days and weeks.
For the last twelve months, Google’s relationship with online businesses has been rather complicated. Regular readers of the WebiMax blog are no doubt familiar with the effects that the company’s various search algorithms (Google Penguin and Google Panda) have had on the SEO community and their clients. Although the company maintains that the development and implementation of these updates all serves to better the SERPs for the end user, countless businesses have been negatively impacted by the recent alterations made to the search engine. The result of this has been a lot of hurt feelings between online companies, marketing firms, and Google.
But as Google has said countless times, it has the best of intentions at heart and just wants the best possible experience for all its users. Now, to return a little bit of kindness back to us in the SEO industry, the company has released a new toolset that should assist in raising page ranking. This new program, called the Google Disavow Tool, is still in its infancy but should help we in the SEO business to get some of our more errant campaigns back on track.
What Can Disavow Do for You?
The Google Disavow Tool does precisely what one would think it would – it disavows connections made between a company’s domain or PPC campaign with sites deemed unwanted. These can include websites that are considered spam by Google, relate to adult materials or unflattering services, or link to paid link databases. The biggest deal of these is clearly the paid link database.
In the past, numerous SEO companies made the mistake – be it from poor judgment or unscrupulous behavior – of relying on artificial and paid link databases for improving page traffic and ranking. Once Penguin hit, these once supportive links became liabilities that not only lost their purpose but also became black marks that condemned client domains. Now Google is trying to help out these businesses by allowing them to disavow links that may point to their online properties and hurt their ranking.
As helpful as this all is, Google has stated for the record that this is a new feature that even their teams are not 100% prepared to tackle quite yet. As of now, those links SEO companies and their clients would like to disavow need to be submitted to Google in a text document for review. Since this will take time to complete, it is usually best to contact offending link sites first and see if they can’t remove the page on their end. If this does not work, Google will do its best to get to the reviewing process as quickly as possible.
The Chance for a Clean Slate
At the end of the day, top SEO companies realize that Google is neither friend nor foe to SEO but rather just a company trying to do right by its own users. The release of the Google Disavow program may seem like a sort of gift to those online marketing firms that have in the past used illicit methods to reach their goals, but the fact is that the toolset is really engineered to help Google further clean up its SERPs. This does not mean, however, that we as an industry can’t use these tools to do a little bit of spring cleaning (or in this case, autumn cleaning) ourselves. If anything, now is a perfect time to step back, sort out our old backlinks, and get things back on track.
Defending your Good Name Is More than just a Smart Idea
The growth of the World Wide Web over the last decade has been a mixed blessing for businesses hailing from around the globe. Although every online advertising firm touts the strength of e-commerce, social media outreach, and viral marketing, there still exist a number of setbacks that can be truly damaging for a business in the online arena. Chief among these is bad publicity.
What’s in a Name?
Although the old adage of there being no such thing as bad publicity has worked its way into common parlance, this saying is actually quite untrue when the web is involved. Due to the increasing reliance of smartphone and mobile device users on the internet for reviews and consumer reports, many companies find themselves losing significant business because of negative online interactions. These can include forum complaints, published articles, self-proclaimed “watchdog” blogs, and any other variation of internet content.
It certainly does not help that particular key terms are often incorporated into queries that consistently lead to bad press instead of official properties and balanced reviews. Let’s take for example a company that we’ll call “Biff’s Book Store” (yes, you and I have seen the same movies). If someone is standing outside the book store itself or is looking for reviews for the store prior to traveling to it, then odds are they’ll go to Google, type in the name of the business and add “reviews” or “complaints” to the end of it. This is what inevitably results in people finding overly negative reviews.
Sometimes well-respected review sites will populate the search results and other times it’ll be random blog posts and forum replies that can be quite harsh. This isn’t to say that sharp criticism may not be warranted of a particular business, but there are many occasions where outlying critiques set a bad precedent for how potential customers see a company. That’s why reputation management services exist.
Managing your Good Name on the Internet
SEO companies and online marketing firms provide a varied selection of services to their clients and one of these is reputation management. In short, reputation management is exactly what it sounds like: it’s a series of procedures and content creation techniques that downplay the negative feedback. This can be accomplished through a number of different approaches, but more often than not SEO agencies try to emphasis positive company reviews and highly ranked web domains (such as Glassdoor.com) so that they appear above negative results in the SERPs.
By implementing standard SEO procedures and a number of other techniques, reputation management providers are able to ensure that potential clientele will be able to look into a business and see well-balanced reviews appearing above unfair ones. This helps situate companies in a manner that prevents customer loss before interaction can ever occur. In our modern web-oriented age, this sort of preemptive approach to customer service is crucial to keeping momentum for businesses and is something that no company should be without.