Choosing the Best Social Media

It seems as if a new social platform pops up every week, and as a small business owner, it can feel overwhelming. So how can you establish yourself on social media when users are bouncing from one network to the other, and the next hot network may have no reliable messaging for your business?

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First, take a deep breath. Second, there are a lot of social platforms and many audiences, but not every one may be right for you. Before diving head-first into the social sphere, you should know what each is used for and whether it’s useful for you. This is especially true if you’re spending your valuable time managing these accounts yourself.

Here is a breakdown of the seven major social media sites and how they can be beneficial to small businesses.

1. Twitter

Twitter is a great platform for projecting what your company is doing and accessing a large audience. Branding a business requires a lot of time and money, but creating a consistent voice with your tweets is an easy way to get started.

If you already have a blog, which almost every small businesses should, syncing it with Twitter lets you seamlessly publish any major company news to both simultaneously. There are dozens of in-house apps on every blogging platform that make this easy to do.

But Twitter is not just a megaphone for your company, it’s also a great way to engage with thousands of customers. Use social tools, such asTweetDeck or HootSuite, to effectively receive feedback from your followers in an organized manner.

2. Facebook

Facebook and Twitter are useful for similar reasons. Both allow you to connect with your audience, start a conversation and update with company news. Why should a business juggle both accounts?

Facebook’s advantage is that the conversation is gathered all in one place. Customers want the opportunity to feel a part of the company they care about, and Facebook allows them to do just that.

Keep in mind that Facebook is much more visual than Twitter, so it’s best to include more than short bursts of text. Post colorful photos, insightful videos or something interesting that’s relevant to your company, valuable for customers and beautiful on your Facebook Timeline.

3. Pinterest

Because the platform is still fairly new, most brands still aren’t sure what to make of Pinterest. But as traffic and engagement are spiking, early adopters have a great opportunity to make their mark on the site before a lot of major brands hop on.

We’ve already seen some pretty creative initiatives from major brands, but even if you don’t have room in your budget for a contest, there are still great ways to benefit.

Pinterest is a social discovery network, but it’s not a platform for self-promotion. Rather than broadcasting what the company is doing, small business owners can crowdsource and create highly visual pinboards for inspiration. Collecting images, logos and websites with good design and clever copywriting will inspire your brand and team, but also show followers that you have an eye for good taste.

4. Foursquare

Location-based social media services might not be best for every brand. First of all, it requires a person to physically check in somewhere that represents your brand, for example a store or an event. If your company is virtual, there’s really no need (unless you’re having an event).

Foursquare is great for restaurants, retail stores and venues, because it allows customers to post reviews and leave tips. Because these tips are from regular customers, newcomers will feel that they’re receiving authentic information that you simply can’t provide as the owner.

Because Foursquare is partnered with Scoutmob and American Express, brands can use these apps to reward customers with discounts for checking in to an establishment. It’s a small bit of courtesy that helps bring happy customers back.

5. YouTube

Don’t let the cat videos fool you, YouTube is a valuable resource for small businesses. Today, technology has made it easy for anyone to create a video without spending a ton on production. Even a smartphone is capable of creating something worthwhile for your audience.

A mountain of content is uploaded every day to YouTube, which can seem intimidating when you’re trying to be heard. The bright side is that you also have access to that content. If you want to know how to do something, there are millions of tutorials on YouTube to help you learn.

But as a leader of your business, you also have something to give the millions of viewers and uploaders. And with the right strategy and engaging content, you can reach a large audience easily.

That being said, don’t expect your videos to go viral every time (or even at all). Instead, focus on creating content that’s thorough and insightful. Some ways to utilize YouTube for marketing include tutorials, interviews with relevant professionals or video blogging about a new product or event.

6. LinkedIn

We all know that LinkedIn is a great resource for finding a job, but there are a lot of great ways that brands can utilize the network for marketing and networking.

The advantage of Linkedin is that you can filter companies through size, industry and geography. By fully completing your company page, it will show up in the search results of potential customers.

While Facebook and Twitter are great resources for feedback from customers, LinkedIn is where you can partake in conversations with like-minded professionals. In addition to networking offline, small business owners should consider joining groups and participating in Q&A forums that are useful to your industry.

7. Google+

Many small businesses join Google+ for SEO purposes and syndication with other Google applications, like AdSense or Gmail.

It’s also a great platform to expand content distribution—many business owners claim it’s easy to gather an audience.

The audience for Google+ is highly engaged, meaning that like Facebook and Twitter, it’s a great tool for conversation. What Google+ has that the others don’t is the Hangout feature. Here businesses can talk about products or ideas face-to-face with consumers, through videochat.

Taken from: http://www.openforum.com/articles/choosing-the-best-social-media/

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Using Facebook for small busineses

Over 800 million people are currently on Facebook, so it’s no surprise every business wants to use the social networking site to drive their business. But how do you create a community and engage with them effectively? Kirby Koo, Manager of Small and Medium Business Growth at Facebook gives us some top tips that will help you get the most out of your business’ Facebook Page.

1. Get to know your fans

The best way to get your fans to talk about your business with their friends is to understand what they care about. Use Page Insights regularly to track which posts sparked conversations and sharing, then try to keep posting this kind of content.

It’s worth remembering that no matter how engaging your posts are, not all of your fans will see them in their News Feed. To make sure that more people see your posts, you can use Page Post ads which are a great way to reach a wide audience and get more people to Like and engage with your Page. And because these ads are telling people what their friends are Liking and interacting with they are much more effective because of that social context.

2. Stand out from the crowd

Don’t forget that people’s News Feeds contain a lot of information and they are busy so probably won’t have time to read everything. Your posts are a reflection of your business but keep them short and snappy, ideally less than three lines. Pictures are also a powerful way to grab people’s attention so try to include related images when you post.

3. Post regularly

It’s important to keep up the conversation with your fans so that you build a real relationship with potential. You wouldn’t stop talking to a friend for six months and then try and start up a conversation out of the blue, so you should treat your Facebook Page in the same way! There are no hard and fast rules for the optimum amount of posts and only you know how often your fans want to hear from you. If you run a small shop for example you may want to post a few times a week when new products come in, however often you decide to post, make sure you post consistently.

4. Start conversations

Your Page should be a place for conversations between you and your fans. You can ask people questions and make them feel involved with your decisions. Your Page is a real online community, so you can use it as a way to gather feedback about your business.

Facebook’s Questions feature allows you to ask your fans for ideas about how to improve your business. People can agree with an existing answer with a single click, or add a different response – this is incredibly easy and means your customers can engage with minimal effort. “Fill in the blank” posts can be particularly useful if you want to give your customers a very simple way to engage with your post by asking them to finish your sentence.

5. Reward your community

There are thousands of businesses on Facebook so you need to stand out from the crowd, you could reward your fans for liking your Page by offering competitions and special offers. Think about announcing new products to fans on Facebook before anywhere else, giving fans early access to sales, or posting exclusive photos from events on your Page.

6. Be relevant

Your fans will be more likely to notice your business’ Page if you post about relevant issues, post about special offers and mention the issue of the day – whether that’s the Oscars or Mother’s Day.

Visit facebook.com/FacebookMarketingUK to keep up with how you can use Facebook to market your business

Picture credit: Rex Features

Taken from: http://www.stylist.co.uk/stylist-network/how-to-use-facebook-for-small-businesses

YouView internet TV finally reaches homes

YouView, the internet television project backed by Britain’s major broadcasters and broadband providers will finally enter public trials this week after lengthy delays.

A first-stage trial in 350 homes was agreed last week by the YouView board, chaired by Lord Sugar, The Financial Times reported.

Each will get a new set-top box that connects to the internet and offers access to an array of free online services such as the BBC iPlayer, as well as subscription apps such as Amazon’s Lovefilm. It aims to build upon the success of Freeview by offering more choice and content.

Until now, the system has only been tested under secrecy by YouView insiders. Earlier this month The Telegraph reported that Dido harding, chief executive of TalkTalk, one of the major broadband providers backing the project alongside broadcasters, had not yet received her test equipment.

But as well as commercial funding, YouView, formerly called Project Canvas, has received at least £6m of licence fee-payers’ money from the BBC over the last three years.

The system was originally scheduled for introduction in 2010, but has been blighted by technical issues. In the meantime electronics manufacturers have introduced their own “smart TV” equipment and app stores, Google has ramped up its television efforts and Apple is consistently rumoured to be preparing to enter the market.

But a YouView spokesman said that if the initial “alpha” public trial phase is successful, thousands of set-top boxed could be in homes within four weeks for broader testing.

When they are made commercially available, YouView boxes are expected to cost around £200.

Ian Maude of Enders Analysis said the longer YouView is delayed the more difficult its entry will be.

“If they can’t get it out before the Olympics, which is looking less and less likely, I wouldn’t bother,” he said.

Dan Cryan of Screen Digest meanwhile said the project “risks becoming irrelevant” because of the delays.

Taken from: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/9295122/YouView-internet-TV-finally-reaches-homes.html

The five biggest social media fails

The mix of old brands and new media has led to several unfortunate social media mishaps. We take a look back at some of the worst implementations of social media advertising.

With companies constantly looking for new ways to connect to their customers it was inevitable that the globe’s biggest brands would turn to social media sites as a means of promoting their products. Guinness has this month launched a campaign using QR codes on its glasses. QR (Quick Response) codes are square barcodes that can be scanned by a smartphone to direct the user to a website. The feature will supposedly let you update your “Guinness pint-drinking status” on Facebook and get money-off coupons for your next pint. Whilst in theory it seems like a good idea we can’t remember the last time we scanned a QR code, let alone had any interest in updating our “pint-drinking status.”

While Guinness’s scheme might succeed, it feels like a gimmick that is doomed to fail. Here are four other examples of brands trying to grasp social media and failing badly.

Habitat’s Trending Topics
In June 2009 British furniture store Habitat jumped on the Twitter band wagon, utilising the trending topics feature as a way of promoting their £1,000 giveaway. Whilst the majority of the tweets used harmless hashtags such as #TRUE BLOOD and #AT&T Habitat was criticised for using the hashtags #IRAN and #MOUSAVI which pertained to the protested Iranian election result that year. Habitat offered a swift apology and promptly fired the intern responsible for the mishap.

Skittles’ Search Terms
The marketing guys at Mars Incorporated, the producer of Skittles, thought it would be a great idea to let the users of twitter take over the skittles.com homepage, turning it into a list of tweets that had the word “skittles” in them. Whilst, presumably, the team at Mars thought this would lead to a bunch of tweets from users talking about how great skittles were the internet quickly cottoned on to the fact that the website wasn’t being screened by anyone and pounced. Instead of tweets about how great skittles were the website was saturated with hundreds of offensive tweets that incorporated “skittles” in the body of the tweet.

Snickers’ Sponsorship
Another attempt from the marketing team at Mars Incorporated to boost their product sales led to a full blown investigation by the Advertising Standards Agency in 2012 after it emerged the company was paying celebrities to tweet about Snickers.

The move by Mars saw the company paying celebrities such as Rio Ferdinand, Katie Price and Ian Botham to post bizarre “teaser tweets” before finally revealing “You’re not you when you’re hungry” followed by a link to the Snickers website. Twitter users responded by asking things like “Do you really need money that bad” and “I’m not on here to be advertised at.” The company was cleared by the Advertising Standards Agency.

Microsoft’s Facebook Poll
In late 2011 Microsoft’s Windows Phone division decided to run a poll on Facebook to find out “what was the first feature you loved about the Nokia Lumia 800.” Whilst, to the inexperienced internet user, this seems like a great idea, a battle scarred internet veteran would not think to make such a rookie mistake.

As with the Skittles campaign, users of the website quickly realised that they could add their own voting options to the poll and immediately inappropriate options such as “nothing, its s—” and “the mickey-mouse PR that thought it would be great to let people make up options,” began to appear and became some of the most voted on answers.

Taken from: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/social-media/9285281/The-five-biggest-social-media-fails.html