Tracking is a huge part of online marketing. When you visit a site, the company knows all sorts of details about your browsing history, and all of that gets used to market specifically to you. In fact, that lamp you were looking at on Amazon is going to become the bane of your existence for the next few days. It will seem like every page you visit is trying to sell that very same lamp to you. However, tracking is not that easy when it comes to social consumers.
Enter Social Media Marketing
Content on social media gets shared via mobile devices, apps, and the like. Before long, your website traffic starts to increase, but it looks like it is all direct traffic. That can’t be right. How many people who have never been to your site before know the URL to just type it in to arrive at your site? Welcome to “dark social.” These are the social consumers that are arriving at your site, and you simply don’t know where they are coming from. It may surprise you to learn that as much as 70 percent of the website traffic you get from social media falls into this category.
What Can You Do About Social Consumers?
Google is trying to help by adding filters that can allow you to get a better look at where traffic is coming from. Other tools are available that specifically keep track of hidden social shares and things of that nature. Unfortunately, no one tool exists that will allow you to measure everything, only those tools that give glimpses into what you were completely missing out on before.
While some marketers are looking for creative ways to track mobile and social use—think custom keyboards offered by certain brands—there is still a long way to go before all of that traffic is as transparent as it once was. Until then, this hidden traffic is a hot topic in the marketing world.
Does your company have a solution for shedding light on this dark traffic? If so, it may be the next big thing that digital marketers are looking for, and it’s a race against the clock to be the first one to get there.
Social media is changing the landscape when it comes to providing customer service. Back in the day, a disgruntled customer would call, a rep would pick up the phone, and even if the issue couldn’t be resolved, it wasn’t a huge deal. You lose one customer, and maybe they tell a few friends and family. Now, one resentful customer can change the entire public’s perception of your brand—thanks to social media.
A consumer who once could only influence the opinion of a few close friends can now have his say in front of 10,000 “friends” on Facebook, Twitter, or some other social site—and for some reason, people believe this complete stranger. People trust online product reviews just as much as the advice of a parent or best friend when it comes to making a purchase.
Social Media: Judged by Your Response
Another big factor in social media is that a consumer can complain directly on your brand’s social media account page. Now, all of your other customers will be judging you based on how you handle the complaint.
- Will you commit the unforgivable sin of erasing the negative comment and force internet conspiracy nuts to upload all of the screenshots that were inevitably taken as proof?
- Will you respond in kind and alienate consumers who don’t realize that this one dissatisfied customer is unreasonable?
- Will you give in and cave to the demands of every unhappy consumer who accosts you on the internet?
There seem to be so many bad options and so few good ones. We suggest taking the high road. Encourage the consumer to direct message you his or her account number/invoice number/etc. and let them know you will “look into it immediately.” This tells your online followers 3 things:
- We won’t air our dirty laundry in public.
- We will handle customer service issues immediately.
- We won’t be rattled and automatically give out free stuff to people who complain in public, so why not just call the customer service line instead of trying to cause trouble.
It’s a simple way to appease consumers and avoid saying something in public that will get passed around faster than the flu. Having the right person at the helm of your social accounts is key in these situations.
Let’s face it—while we were happy to start making Instagram videos, 15 seconds was only a small step up from 6-second Vines. But now the game is about to change for real. Instagram announced that they will begin allowing videos that are up to 60 seconds long.
What does this mean for the future of marketing on Instagram?
Instagram Videos are More Important Than Ever
People want to see videos. It’s why YouTube is second only to Google for number of searches—and Facebook and Instagram are also trying to get on board. Instagram offers just one more way to reach consumers with video, and not only condensed ones anymore.
Creating Video Specific to Social Media
The one possible downside to this as far as marketing is concerned is that brands are going to think they can simply upload their TV ads to Instagram. You want to be sure that you are creating an experience that goes along with social media. A TV ad on Instagram is going to feel out of place to the average user.
Brands Must Meet Consumer Expectations
You’ve been given an opportunity to engage with consumers on a deeper level. If you squander that opportunity, consumers will find the engagement they crave somewhere else. This is a chance for smaller businesses to quickly gain ground on larger and established competitors. Don’t waste that chance.
High-Quality Video Production
People are using social media on all sorts of devices with varying screen sizes and resolutions. Make sure your videos are up to par. Plus, you want the production quality to show that you are a real business. Stop filming business videos with a smartphone or tablet simply because it is easy to upload. It is time to hire a video production company, if you don’t already have one. If you do, 1 or 2 videos isn’t enough anymore because Instagram users will demand steady content.
Influencers Will Benefit Most
Influencers who already have a stronghold in social media will certainly grow stronger with this new way to express themselves to the public. If your brand is not an influencer, you need to get close to those who are influencers in your industry now.
Let’s face it: Social media is not a great way to make direct sales for most businesses. However, there is something that a brand can gain on social media that they would struggle to find anywhere else. It is basically the Internet’s version of “street cred.” When you engage consumers on social media, it can dramatically affect brand perception and awareness.
A Counterintuitive Form of Marketing
Let’s take the wedding industry as an example. Say you are a wedding planner. What do you post on your social media accounts? You may actually provide tips on how to save money when planning a wedding. Isn’t that counterproductive? Why encourage your potential customers to try and save money?
Your prospective customers may determine that you are the right planner for them, based solely on the fact that you know these tips and tricks—and aren’t afraid to share them. Your article may be the first contact they have with your business. Without the social post, they may never have even come into contact with your brand. And so the relationship begins.
Can Your Business Use Social Media in this Way?
That’s a simple example, but you can apply this to any type of business. For example, a food cart may provide recipes on their social sites. Does that mean no one will ever come to their food cart again because now they can make similar dishes at home? Of course not. People grab lunch on the go more often because it is convenient than because they can’t do it themselves. The recipe engages consumers, shows off expertise, and introduces the cart to those who may not have been aware of it before.
Now the world of social media suddenly starts to take on new life. Before, you may have wondered how social media fits into your marketing strategy. Now you can begin to see that social is less about selling—and more about giving consumers something to share with others. By focusing on shareability instead of profitability, your social media accounts will attract more attention, and also be a good influence for the consumer’s perception of your brand.
What do people want to see when they check out their news feed on social media? That is the question that Facebook had to answer while creating a new algorithm. Unfortunately for marketers, the answer that the social media giant came up with is content posted by friends and family members. How does this affect you, and how can your company still use social media marketing effectively on Facebook moving forward?
How Businesses Are Affected
Preference to posts from friends and family automatically means that sponsored content will appear lower in the feed. Since some users do not have time to scroll very far during each use of the social network, this may mean fewer ads actually being viewed. There is, however, a silver lining. Here are a few things that you may already be doing that will have a positive effect on your news feed placement.
- Brand Advocates Are More Vital Than Ever
Create a call to action for your fans to share your content with their friends and family. By producing high-quality content that fans deem worthy to share and promote, you get an even better spot in the news feed, and it doesn’t cost you a dime.
- Use Images and Video
This is another determination that Facebook made – people love visual content. That translates into videos and images finding a higher spot on the news feed. So whether you are encouraging your fans to share your content or are using paid advertising, focus on high-quality and engaging video and image content.
- Tags, Tags, and More Tags
Tags increase your viewing audience quickly. Be sure that any content your company posts is tagged properly, and encourage fans to use specific tags that are associated with your brand. If you have an event, make sure everyone who posts to Facebook is using a specific tag that identifies the event. Tags can also create a sense of community.
It may take a little more creativity, but the new Facebook algorithm is certainly not a deal breaker for social media marketing strategy gurus.
The short answer is: as often as you have something to post. Before you say, “I was expecting at least several days a week and even specific hours of the day,” hear me out.
The reason you are looking for information on this topic is because there are so many conflicting opinions out there. Some say you should post to your LinkedIn on Thursdays between noon and three local time. Others say to post to your Instagram at noon EST because Europeans are getting home from work right when those on the US West Coast are just getting to work.
Here is some even more helpful advice.
Rather than trying to post one thing at the most opportune time each week, be prolific in your content creation. Then if one post falls into obscurity due to the timing of the post, it’s not the end of the world. Plus, your brand may get a better reaction from your specific audience at a different time from most companies. Posting at all different times allows you to see when you get the best response from your fans and advocates.
Plus, having a set time when you post content once per week does not allow you to market in real-time or to produce content when you feel the most inspired. Of course, if you really need to post at a certain time, you can create when inspired and then set up a scheduled post.
In short, you should upload social content when you have something to upload.
If there is a formula beyond that, it is one that you have to find yourself by creating, uploading, and then observing the response. Perhaps, lunchtime on Tuesday will work out best for your fans to comment share or click. Maybe they prefer to read your posts during commercials while watching Monday Night Football. The only way to find out is to post your personal social media content often.
First of all, we need to recognize that most customers are no longer hearing about a company for the first time from an ad. The Internet and social media has made word-of-mouth recommendations a ubiquitous practice. Unfortunately, it also leads to bad publicity spreading like wildfire. Your company needs to provide consumers with the right information to be interesting and relevant enough for shares, retweets, likes, and other digital referral methods.
The other major factor is that customers want to be educated about products both before and after they buy them. You need to understand the journey that a consumer makes from discovering a product to finding out about the benefits of the product and then finally making a purchase decision. Plus, customers want to know how to use the product when they get home without having to download and read a 200 page manual. Product education now makes up a much larger slice of the customer life cycle and leads to long-term business relationships.
In December of 2014, Instagram announced that it hit the 300 million mark when it comes to active users on a monthly basis, finally surpassing Twitter after years of being in the social media competitor’s shadow. How did the photo sharing site catch up to and finally outdo its uber-popular counterpart?
It probably all started when Facebook opened up the piggy bank and purchased Instagram for an obscene amount of money ($768 million). Suddenly, Instagram went from becoming popular through word of mouth to being owned by the biggest name in social media. With over 1.3 billion Facebook users, maybe 300 million Instagram users should sound like too few.
Instagram is a much more manageable form of social media for most people. I don’t know about you, but I could never possibly see every tweet from every account that I follow. On Instagram, however, I can check a couple of times per day and see everything. It is just a very convenient way to see diverse content without being spammed by a ton of stuff I don’t care about.
It is unfortunate that Instagram is a little restrictive as far as digital marketing is concerned. It’s basically just a customer engagement tool as far as businesses are concerned. Plus, if companies lose credibility over an employee posting a 140 character tweet, imagine what would happen if they posted an offensive image (especially if you count a picture as 1,000 words)?
In short, Instagram is all about user engagement, and that is what makes it such a popular social media choice. For businesses who want to venture into the Instagram world, keep in mind the reason people check their Instagram. Sell less, and work on brand perception more. They’ve added about 50% to the user base in the past nine months, so the app must be doing something right.
Social Media Affects Sports: Here’s How You Can Take Advantage
Sports have always been connected with social gatherings. If you go to the game, you are surrounded by thousands of people, and a camaraderie forms as you all cheer on your favorite team and jeer the enemy. Even at home, important sporting events often result in watching the game with friends, enjoying some good food and drink, while rejoicing as your team triumphs or shouting at the screen while they get decimated. There are also sports bars that let people come together to watch the game in a public forum. Nowadays, social media affects sports, and in a variety of ways.
Around 35 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 34 admit that they are frequently using sites like Twitter or Instagram to post sports related content. Many fans now commiserate over losses and boast over victories by tweeting and posting pics with hashtags that attract fellow fans or insult fans of competing teams.
So, how can you benefit from knowing that sports fans are not just watching the game, but engaging one another via social media? (By the way, they are doing this while the sporting event is on, likely during the commercials we wish they were watching).
Nearly 75 percent of people who use the Internet are actively using social media. That makes social media a must when it comes to engaging consumers and building your brand’s reputation. Clearly, it’s time to use social media strategically to engage sports fans during the game, and perhaps even at live events.
Now that you know that social media affects sports, use this knowledge to the benefit of your brand. Make sure that during the game, whether live or on TV, fans know what hashtag you want them to use. This connects your brand with the game they are watching. You get a large audience, increase brand awareness, and create engagement all at the same time. It’s a great way to associate your brand with the good feelings that come from the sense of community people enjoy when they watch sports.
Social Media Lost Its Edge: Why?
Have you noticed that social media lost its edge? Everyone wants to be super nice, keep their nose clean, and avoid topics that could cause any dissent. Now don’t get me wrong, content that is considered prejudiced or intolerant can cause a lot of damage to a brand. And it doesn’t have to be posted directly to the company’s social media site either. It can be a mistake made by an employee that instantly smears a company’s reputation. But these overly nice, ‘how’s the weather by you?’ posts aren’t engaging by any means. So, where is the happy medium? Where is the point at which social media creates a dialogue without being shocking and detrimental to a brand?
Let’s take the Applebee’s scandal from last year as an example. A disgruntled waitress posted an obnoxious note on a receipt from a customer who was too cheap to leave a tip (we’ll leave it at that). They fired the employee who posted the pick siting privacy issues. If that didn’t get them enough negative attention, they then posted an apology for the employee’s actions, actions which the Internet seemed to support. In an effort to be overly nice to one customer who didn’t tip a waitress, a chain restaurant earned themselves tens of thousands of negative online remarks and threats of boycotts. That’s what happens when you are too nice on social media.
Just as an aside, Applebee’s also made the mistake of deleting negative posts. Just because you feel you have to be nice on social media doesn’t mean that everyone else has to live by your company policy.
That having been said, there are a few risks that you shouldn’t take on social media. The primary one is that you shouldn’t try to capitalize on a catastrophic tragedy that occurs. Yes, it’s on everyone’s mind. No, they don’t want you to try and turn it into a PR stunt. Also, it’s important to plan ahead for what you will do if a social media post does go awry. Be ready to apologize and take the hit—if your brand screwed up. Don’t apologize if the Internet is on your side or your employee’s side (refer back to the example above).
Social media lost its edge by trying to be uncontroversial. It may be time to flip the conventional wisdom on its head. Speaking on a controversial issue can start an expansive dialogue and give the opportunity to show customers your brand values.