Google+ Business Pages: What are the advantages?

February 7, 2012

Most businesses today have at least a website and tend to dabble with at least one or two social media platforms. Of course, it isn’t essential to have a profile in each and every platform available.

However, if the platform is relevant to the business’ communications strategy, it is essential that they begin engaging within that medium.

Businesses need to push through their reluctance
Today, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are the most popular platforms used by businesses to engage with the target audience and build long lasting relationships. Many businesses are reluctant to add yet another medium to the mix of ever growing social media channels. However, there is another platform that has emerged that does seem to be worth a business’s time and effort.

The search engine giant Google jumped on the bandwagon in 2011 and created its own social media platform, Google+ – said to rival Facebook. Several months later Google launched Google+ Pages especially for businesses.

Although we have heard quite a bit from the experts about social media fatigue, the advantages that a Google+ Business Page offers may be enough for a business to push through their reluctance and create yet another fantastic way to engage, converse and bond with their target market.

What are the advantages to Google+ Business Pages?
Every business is different and so needs a different communications strategy. Not all businesses will be suited to the features and benefits that Google+ Business Pages offer, however some advantages of a Google+ Business Page include:

  • Search Engine Optimisation (SEO):
    SEO is all about using techniques to drive the right people to your website. These include key words, back links and valuable content that will help search engines naturally find your site without paying for ads.
    As Google is one of the biggest search engines and therefore ranks Google+ very high in search results, it makes sense that SEO would be the top advantage for owning a Google+ Business Page.
  • Google Services:
    By creating a Google+ Page, an organisation has direct access to all other Google services integrated into the system. Such services as Google Maps, search, YouTube, Android, Chrome and Gmail provide even greater exposure for a business.
  • It helps build connections:
    Google+ pages don’t just interact with other pages; they interact with the entire Google+ world. Businesses can add people to circles, +1 comments and photos, add their own photos, edit their profile, host Hangouts and share things.
  • Host hangouts:
    Google+ allows businesses to host their own Hangouts – live video chats with other users. Potentially a business could use these hangouts to have meetings with international clients, have expert discussions with potential clients, stream a live question and answer session. With live streaming businesses have even more of a reason to engage with their target audience.
  • Circles:
    Circles are a feature on Google+ and Google+ Pages that allow the profile user to create groups of similar people or businesses. This makes it easier for businesses to send out targeted or tailored messages to each individual group.
A business’ social media strategy needs an element of trial and error to find out what platform best suits a brand. Businesses who embrace new ways of communicating and engaging with their clients are far more to find the right platforms for them.

 

How to create a perfect social media team

February 2, 2012

Social media can be time consuming and overwhelming if you’re trying to control it on your own. So why not enlist the help of a social media team.

You can create your own social media team by teaching other employees how to use social media.

The benefits of a social media team include the generation of new content ideas as well as your business’s increased presence on social media.

Social Media Today has provided some advice on how you can start your own social media team.

Hold a recruiting session: You can hand select a number of people for your team, depending on the size of your company. The most appropriate people for the job are passionate, tech savvy and skilled communicators.

Hold a training session: Arrange for your social media team to attend a training session preferably with everyone in the same room.

Set frequency expectations: You should determine who will post each day, when they will post and how many times a day.

Give your team admin access: Administrative access to all your social media outlets allows your team to create posts as your business and not as their personal profile.

Create social media guidelines: Your social media team will be representing your business online and must therefore present your business in a favourable light. They should also keep you updated on their progress and any issues they have encountered. To ensure you team adhere to these principles, you can create social media guidelines, and have each team member sign them.

By enlisting the help of a social media team you can increase your business’s engagement on social media and create relationships with your fans.

Read the full article here.

Social Media Strategy Checklist

December 6, 2011

More and more businesses are using social media because it gives them another avenue to connect with customers.

There are so many social media outlets to choose from, but with all the options, how do you determine which ones best suits your business?

Before you sign up and start tweeting or Facebooking, you should think about the social media strategy. This means taking time to stop and think about what you want to accomplish. It’s pointless to create accounts for every social media outlet without a clear understanding of your objectives.

Here are a few questions to answer and points to think about while creating your social media strategy.

  • Describe your business.
    If you can’t describe your business and value you have to offer in a sentence, how will potential new customers know what you do? You will need to do this first.
  • Why social media? What do you want to accomplish using social media?
    You need to define your objectives on why you want to use social media. Are you joining to make more contacts within your industry? Do you want to build on your relationships using an online medium? Would you like more engagement from your current customers? Do you want others in your industry to know you’re up to date with technology and trends? Whatever your reason, you’re bound to find an outlet that suits your business; the options are plentiful.
  • What social media outlets are best for you?
    There are many different options when choosing social media outlets.  Some options include social networking sites (i.e. Facebook), real-time updates or micro-blogs (i.e. Twitter), blogs, social news websites, just to name a few. You need to examine the characteristics of each social media outlet and see which of those support what you want to accomplish. For example, if your goal was to make new contacts with other business professionals in your industry, perhaps LinkedIn would be an outlet to consider.
  • Do you have something to share?
    Social media is about sharing content and information, as well as making connections with others. This connectivity is a way to build your relationships and meet new contacts. Do you have something interesting to share? Do you have news? Do you have information that is relevant and fascinating? Having something to share will encourage people to keep coming back for more.
  • How will you drive people to participate?
    You can have multiple social media accounts and link them to each other to expand your business’ profile. Do you have something share? Sharing content and information will encourage your contacts to participate in dialogue with you, whether it’s posting a comment on your blog or inviting others to read your information ongoing participation will lead to more interest. Participation is a two-way street, if you make the effort your customers will too, thus building stronger relationships.
  • Prepare to lose control of your brand.
    Putting your brand out there will provoke debates, opinions and comments that might not necessarily be favourable. Are you prepared to lose control of the conversations about your business (even just a little)?
  • Who will maintain your social media presence? Do you have resources to keep it up?
    Do you have the resources to keep updating your social media profiles? Will you or someone at your company update content, so your ideas and what you have to share is fresh?
  • How will you measure success?
    Do you have a metrics system in place that can measure the effectiveness of your social media activity? Will you look at the quality of each comment made to determine if they’re positive, neutral or negative, how will you rate these? Will you be measuring your profile views or how many followers or subscribers you have? Have any business transactions happened as a result of your online conversations? If your goal was to build relationships with other contacts, are you doing this and are your relationships positive? You need some sort of measuring system to tell you whether or not social media is having a positive effect on your business.

Social media is making a big impact on how we do business. Take time out to think about why you want to use it, what outlets are best for you are and how you’re going to measure success.

How to encourage positive response about your business on social media

November 24, 2011

This week has been particularly interesting in the world of social media. As many of us know, this week saw Qantas’ social media tactic fail. The negative outcome that Qantas is now dealing with can be viewed as a cautionary tale to other businesses that want to use social media.

Although some companies embrace social media to the fullest, others can be quite fearful of stimulating open conversation online. Business 2 Community has provided some tips on how to successfully and positively manage your businesses reputation online.

Enable listening
Social media can play a role in listening to a company’s current and potential customers. Customer service is an important part of any business and with social media companies are able to view first-hand messages and feedback from their customers.

By creating conversation around issues that customers are facing and by talking openly with customers, your company can be perceived as helpful and being in-tune with customer needs.

Implement an advocate program
With companies using a variety of social media platforms, businesses tend to manage a multiple of networks. Unless there is a large team within your business that focuses on social media it can be difficult to maintain a positive reputation online.

Including external advocates to help encourage positive comments on social media can be invaluable. External advocates contribute to the legitimacy of the company and offer third-party feedback which appeals to customers.

Create a community atmosphere
Online communities are a great way of building your company as a brand that it is approachable and understanding. By creating a community like atmosphere on various social media networks, customers will feel important and valid.

You can do this by asking questions which can help generate positive conversation. It can also be of value to your company to contribute to various community sites that are industry specific to your business. Supporting community conversations is a great way to offer help and position your company as a great source of information and helpful insight.

Social media is an open conversation that allows companies to reach a wider audience. By identifying what customers want to hear about and how your business can help them, you will be able to correctly tailor your message and position your company as a helpful source of information that cares about its customers.

Read the full article here.

Why online coverage (often) beats print

November 8, 2011

While many businesses seem to be moving forward and embracing all things online including social media marketing, when it comes to getting results through public relations, there is still a widely-held belief that print coverage is better than online coverage.

Having a tiny, half column mention in a weekend paper often causes notable excitement for a business or client while a full story with photos included on a niche website doesn’t always get the attention it deserves.

This could be credited to the fact that it is not easy to put a price on online editorial the way we do with print  and with the far reach of the internet and content being freely available, circulation numbers are often only estimated.

Directors and marketing managers want to see the hard facts and know they are getting a strong return on investment and this is easier to achieve when a story is printed in hardcopy.

In reality, getting online coverage for your company can be much more effective than being published in tomorrow’s fish and chip wrapping.

Online content is available forever
Thanks to search engines, the article your company is mentioned in can be dug up and re-read by a new audience, months and even years after it is first posted online. If you’re published in a magazine, you may take a media clipping for your files but once that publication is off the shelf, the story dies, never to be read again. Online offers a much longer ‘shelf-life’ and your exposure is limitless.

Search Engine Optimisation
When you include links to other websites within your article there is the opportunity for the operators of those sites to link back to your article. What this means is visitors to other sites that would have otherwise never have know about your article, can now click on the link and be directed to it giving you an even larger audience. By posting your articles on your website or blog, it also helps keep the content fresh and new helping you rank higher on search engines.

Random Google Searches
By placing an article online and selecting a few really good keywords your story can turn up on Google searches, even when you don’t expect it to! By using key words about the topic you are writing about, for instance if you were writing about Twitter you could use key words such as ‘social media’, ‘marketing’, ‘web 2.0’, ‘tweets’ and then when people do a Google search about Twitter, they could stumble across your article and be directed to your website.

It is more likely for potential readers to stumble across your story when it can be found online rather than hidden in the back of a magazine somewhere.

The Internet is a BIG space
With so many websites, blogs and e-newsletters out there, there is an ongoing requirement for content. If you can provide interesting and helpful information that people want to read about and can learn from, you will find there is a never-ending need for articles. You just need to find the right niche that your piece can fit into and pitch the idea to the editor or blogger.

Accessing stories online is easy
Gone are the days where you have to make your way to the newsagents to physically pick up and buy a magazine to read an article. It is so easy to type in the URL of your favourite online newspaper or magazine, scan the headlines and pick the stories that interest you. It’s also incredibly easy to share links to stories you find interesting through email and sites like Facebook and Twitter. This idea of sharing stories with friends provides even greater scope for your article to be read.

How to improve your online reputation

October 20, 2011

When people hear about you for the first time they will usually Google your name to see who you are and what you do. Chances are that if they find content that they don’t like they aren’t going to get back in contact with you.

Fixing your online reputation can be easier than many people think as most people don’t want to spend copious amounts of time sifting through search results – most people are content just looking at the first page.

Andrew Hennigan has provided several tips on his blog that will help most people improve their online reputation.

Google yourself: Don’t wait until somebody else does it and points something out; be proactive and do it yourself! Also, Google is always changing their algorithms and indexing new content so it’s important to check Google at least once a month.

Remove hide any negative content that you control: For most people this would be their Facebook page. If you have negative content on any site that you control the best options are either to delete the page or change the privacy settings to private. The less negative content visible, the better.

Create new, good content to push down unwanted content: Push down all other unwanted or negative search returns by creating new, good content. Search engines like new content, especially on high ranking sites so the more new profiles, articles and other content you put up the more likely it will be that your old content is pushed down.

These are just some simple ways that you or your business can clean up the reputation you have online. Of course there will always be some cases where the issue of improving online reputation is much more complex and in these cases professional help may be required.

Read the full article here.

Does email marketing work in a world of social media?

October 13, 2011

Today, using social media is a great way to increase your business’s exposure, improve traffic to your websites and create a better reputation for you and your brand.

However, just because social media has become the newest channel added to the ever-changing multi-channelled marketing world, doesn’t mean that you should give up on other methods, such as email marketing.

Email marketing is still an important marketing tool and by integrating email marketing and social media efforts, you can create two powerful channels that can help your company create more business.

SixDegreesContent.com has provided several reasons why email marketing is still important.

Your subscribers are committed
With email marketing you have built a database full of people who are interested and dedicated to you and your business.

When a person takes the time to subscribe to your email marketing campaign they are ready to hear about what you have to offer and are more loyal and committed than social media fans – these are the people who you really want to target your offers to.

Email marketing can help with targeting
Although it may be easier to generate more followers on social media than on a email database, how many of those social media followers are seeing and reacting to your content? On social media, not only will your messages potentially be lost in the array of news items people have on their pages but your level of competition increases as well.

Best of both worlds
When it comes to the use of social media and email marketing there is no need to choose – always opt for both! Email marketing can help increase followers on social media and social media can help build your email database.

Additionally, it has been found that social media is a great way to prime people to open and be active in email marketing campaigns as many people will trust emails from companies they are familiar with via social media.

Read the full article here.

How wireless broadband has changed the way public relations professionals work

September 29, 2011

As wireless allows mediums to expand into every home, business and social gathering places businesses are relying on social media to be instrumental in each and every campaign. PR professionals are using social media to evaluate the competition, spark new dialogue and gather information about new and existing products and services.

The PRIA has provided a few examples of how wireless and social media have changed the way PR professionals work.

The use of Twitter:
Twitter may be used by PR practitioners to monitor both positive and negative feedback from their clients key audiences. The PR agency will document this feedback and respond immediately in an appropriate and professional manner that will improve the image of their client. 

Some companies may opt to use Twitter as a way to promote their company product or service rather than using the traditional methods of phone or email. Since the tweets are so brief, and Twitter can be accessed anywhere at any time via mobile, PR agencies are able to respond quickly and efficiently to any questions or feedback provided.

The use of Other Influencer Networks:
Some PR agencies are now choosing to use social media to find influencers who will promote their clients product. These influencers use blogs, press releases and other print media and can also be used as a test group for new products and services.

Influencers can be found on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or on any of the other countless social media platforms available. Influencers are relied upon by PR practitioners to help build brand awareness and loyalty through word of mouth and convincing their circle of friends to buy their clients product or service.

PR professionals must always be seeking new ways to promote their client in a positive light. Wireless has increased the speed in which PR agencies can respond to and target key audiences – a speed that could never be matched via telephone, email or regular mail.

Read the full article here.

How social should a CEO be?

September 26, 2011

There’s no doubt social media is a worldwide phenomenon with millions of people taking part every second of every day. But as a CEO, is there a place for you to use it to make a positive, and lasting, difference to your business?

Yes there is. In recent times there has been a shift to a digital world, CEOs need to realise social media is here to stay. It is not a fad, or just for the “young ones” but rather a legitimate marketing and customer engagement tool.

Social media should be seen as an opportunity, not a risk, and can be used to boost both the profile of the company and an individual. It is another opportunity to connect with your audience and grow your insight into who they are and what they are looking for in terms of products and services.

When choosing to start into the online world there are a few steps to be considered.

Start with a strategy

The first question you need to ask yourself is why are you creating a social media presence? Is it to increase the awareness of your brand, for customer service, real-time crisis management or as a marketing channel? In order to reach your goal, you first need to have one.

Once you have thought this through and decided to start using social media, find out who your audience is and where they choose to visit online. There’s no point in starting a Facebook page if your target audience prefers LinkedIn.

Once you’re connected, how do you let customers or clients know? You need to have systems in place to be able to drive people to add you on Twitter or Like you on Facebook. There are a number of different and simple ways to do this such as adding links to your email signature, links on your website or advertising it through a company newsletter.

Once this is established you need to figure out what you are going to say. You can share insights into your business, distribute knowledge and ideas and use it, sparingly, to promote services, products, marketing messages and competitions.

Resources

But having an online presence isn’t enough. It needs to look good. In much the same way you spend time, effort and money on making things like a bricks and mortar store look presentable, or branding business cards, this same level of effort needs to put behind your online marketing.

Social media will take time and money. But if you choose to utilise its advantages you need to set aside time to keep it up to date. Having an out of date Facebook page or Twitter feed can be as bad as having no presence at all.

Keep the look and feel in line with how your company likes to present itself, whether this is purely professional, a little quirky or outright funky. As CEO you are the face of your company and should present yourself in much the same manner.

Where to begin

A great place for CEOs to start is with blogging. As a CEO you have a wealth of information about your industry and business which you can share.

Your content should engage and/or inform readers and make them want to come back for more. 

It should also be regular, just like sales meetings and budget briefs. Making the time to write a blog should be seen as at least a once weekly task. Put it in your diary as an appointment if you have to and block out the time needed to write.

Once you have written and posted it, make sure to promote it. Send it out through your other social media channels, whether that is Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter, to let people know it is there.

ROI

Whichever social media path you choose to go down, make sure to figure out how you are going to measure the ROI.

Remember this doesn’t have to be hard and fast bottom line numbers. It can be the sentiment behind mentions of you, or your brand, or the number of brand advocates you have and how effective they are in spreading the message about your business.

Set yourself goals to reach, but make them achievable and realistic. It can take a while, sometimes up to a few months, to engage and build a community. 

Don’t become disheartened if you don’t have as many followers as Kevin Rudd within the first week, keep at it, be honest and soon you will reach your social media goals.

Lessons learnt through social media

September 22, 2011

Social media has become a way for businesses to improve their relationships with target audiences, manage customer service and gain further insight into what their clients or customers really want.

Businesses today must understand that social media shouldn’t be used to solely talk about their service or product offering; it’s about finding out what they can do better and then using that information to improve on what they already have.

BusinessWeek.com has provided several lessons businesses can learn when it comes to social media.

The conversation cannot be controlled by the business:
Gone are the days of censorship. Businesses now have to understand that occasionally they are going to see, hear and read about things about them that they are just not going to like (that may position their brand negatively?).

Deleting comments, ignoring negative feedback or only allowing comments from people who have something nice to say just isn’t using social media to its full potential – people are now seeking genuine and honest two-way discussions between them and a brand. Social media is all about good, honest and genuine communication.

Be authentic:
Sometimes businesses will try to be something they are not in the online world. The best advice is to mirror the culture the company has offline, online. Social media will always, in one way or another, expose the true nature of the business and by trying to be something else a business is just setting themselves up to be caught out. 

A business’s social activity should reflect reality. By welcoming and responding to constructive criticism and feedback from clients or customers, a business will reflect genuine authenticity and transparency – which will be appreciated and valued by their target audiences.

It’s about the people:
Businesses should try to create a balance between talking about their business and talking about their clients. Communication and stories that have a human element to them will always create significantly higher impressions than those that are solely about what the business ‘s products or services are about.

Read the full article here.

« Previous PageNext Page »