If you haven't jumped on the bandwagon with social media yet, it's high time you did. With Facebook reporting 901 million current monthly and 526 million daily users , the world of social media is not one you can ignore. If you've been dipping your toe in the waters and aren't sure what to do next, or perhaps haven't yet begun at all, this report will explain exactly how to build a following on some of today's most popular social networks.
'Blogging' is a term that refers to journal sites such as Blogger.com and Wordpress.com, where users create a profile and an on-going narrative that other users can follow. In the first instance, blogging was based on the idea of journaling or diary-writing, as an extension of the many 'personal' sites that cropped up in the nineties. Users would share their life experiences, thoughts and opinions with their online friends, who could then comment. Thus began the concept of the online conversation.
As time went on, blogging became more and more popular, and themed blogs began to appear. Now we have a host of incredibly popular blogs that have made celebrities of their writers, especially in the fashion world where we have internationally famous bloggers such as Susanna Lau or Susie Bubble from the UK, and Tavi from the US. Some blogs are now reported to rake in as much as $15,000 a month which just goes to show how powerful blogging has become.
While these celebrity bloggers are usually individuals with no other vested business interest, who blog as semi-expert amateurs in their particular area (acting as trusted recommenders of various products), there is still a strong case for businesses to maintain blogs too.
Most SEO experts will tell you that having a blog is essential for any search engine optimised website. This is because part of the search engine algorithm looks to the update frequency of your site and ranks those who update on a regular basis more highly than those who don't. It's difficult to continually update and provide new content to a business website in any other form, which makes a news blog a perfect way to provide a stream of interesting new content.
So what exactly do you write in a blog and how do you make it effective as a form of social media marketing? Well, as with every form of social media marketing, one of the most important aspects to blogging is to create a voice that is consistent and is in keeping with your brand identity. When many businesses hire different writers to write their blogs, it can be difficult to maintain a steady voice. This is why it is a good idea to hire a copywriter who can write in your desired style to blog for you on an on-going basis.
When choosing your 'voice,' it's a good idea to think of your ideal customer and to emulate their voice to a certain degree. If your customers are young, it's best not to write a stuffy or overly-technical blog. If your customers are older then it's probably best not to try too hard to seem youthful or 'cool.' However, this can be a difficult balance to strike, because you don't want it to seem like you are imitating your customers too much, but at the same time you must be able to identify with them too. It's often best to consult an expert on this matter.
The next aspect to consider is the content of your blog. While company news blogs seem to be the standard for many business websites, these are often not the most interesting types of blog. It's a better idea to think of subjects your customers would find genuinely interesting and to create in-depth and interesting blogs based around these subjects. This can also be a valuable tool for SEO purposes, so always ensure that your blogs are based on specific targeted keywords.
Over at Copyblogger.com, expert blogger Sonia Simone advises that emotion is an essential part of a good blog . What this means in practice is that your writing should be provocative and should stimulate discussion (always essential for the sharing and commenting part of the on-going social media conversation). Rather than just a dry information service, it should really engage with your readers.
Twitter has reported over 200 million current users (the actual figure hasn't been released), which just goes to show what a massive trend 'tweeting' has turned out to be. It's thought that only 27% of these users actually tweeted in a three month period , but what that indicates is that there are simply more people listening then there are talking in the tweet-sphere. All of these people are ready and waiting to hear your brand message, but what exactly are you supposed to be saying?
Tweets are relatively short at only 140 characters, but it is the very limitations of the form that have attracted so many people to this network. For many readers, blogs are simply too long and rambling. They don't have the time or the interest to read them. What they want are quick, snappy updates that get the point across in the fewest words possible. This is micro-blogging taken to the extreme.
You would probably be surprised by the impact that just one tweet can really have, and that impact is created through easy share-ability. Each tweet should be designed to be shared, therefore, it should be short, sharp, punchy and should grab the reader's attention. Perhaps it should say something controversial; perhaps it should ask an interesting question. Questions are always great because they encourage your readers to engage and to tweet back. Just as with your blog, your tweeting voice should be individual and consistent; it should be instantly recognisable as you.
Just as essential as your actual tweets is the way that you promote your profile and obtain followers. After all, if no one is following you no one is listening to your beautifully crafted nuggets of wisdom. There are various ways you can do this. You can start to follow other people to gain some attention, you can include keywords in your tweets so that anyone searching for a particular subject will find you (get involved with any current, relevant debate), and you can mention that you're on Twitter at every opportune moment (in emails and on your website, for example). You can also use widgets on your webpages to show your recent tweets, enticing viewers to follow you.
Those tiny little updates really can enhance your visibility and your brand profile, and ultimately your sales. It's predicted that Twitter is only going to become more popular in the next few years, so get involved before it's too late.
Launched by Harvard alumni Mark Zuckerberg & Co. in 2004, Facebook really is the behemoth of the current social networking world. If you had to choose one social network to become involved with, Facebook is the one you should choose. With over 901 million users , it really can't be ignored. But surely Facebook is for personal profiles? What can a business do with that?
Well, a lot of things actually. Most importantly, it can create a community. There are specific pages for businesses, rather than personal profiles, that people can become fans of. These fans are your community members, and you can talk to them just as you do to your Twitter follows. There is actually a setting on Facebook that allows your tweets to show up straight away on your Facebook profile; doubling your number of viewers!
Facebook can be used in exactly the same way as Twitter, or just as an extension to your Twitter account, but you can also choose to include a discussion board or YouTube video box. Every comment you make (or tweet that you set up to show up on your profile) can be responded to by your fans, who can then engage with each other, creating a conversation. Friends of your fans can then read what your fans have written, and can choose to become involved with the conversation themselves. They can also then choose to become a fan of you, further increasing your visibility and status.
Just as with Twitter, therefore, the most important aspect of using Facebook for business is to be able to spark off conversation. Choose subjects that your fans will be interested in and emotionally engaged with, and write punchy copy that really grabs their attention. Don't write the exact same thing every time, and don't simply use Facebook to tell the world that you've updated your blog again. This is a waste of resources.
Every time you talk to your fans, you are increasing your brand visibility and the likelihood that your customers will choose you over the competition. Every time you add a video you are adding to your brand personality. Facebook allows every business owner to engage personally with its customers all over the world; and it's an opportunity that you can't afford to miss out on.
Recently, there has been a strong trend toward content that 'borrows the aesthetic, attitude and distribution modes of UGC (user-generated content)' . You may have noticed this trend with videos created by businesses that are made to look like YouTube content, such as the Liquid Mountaineering video made by Hi-Tec , where a group of men seem able to walk on water, or the Nike video of Kobe Bryant jumping over a speeding car .
What both of these videos have in common is that they have been filmed on shaky, low-quality handheld digital cameras, but actually involve special effects more common to big-budget TV advertisements. The point in both of them is that they are shocking, intriguing and guaranteed to interest viewers. They are also designed to be shared widely; in other words, they are designed to 'go viral.'
Some viewers felt duped when they discovered that these videos were in fact 'fake'. Many others thought that they were both extremely clever, witty marketing ploys. Whatever the viewpoint, the videos both achieved exactly what they were designed to achieve; they were shared widely, and they were talked about. They both increased the visibility of their brands, and added to the mysteriousness that sports brands often like to portray.
What both of these examples prove is that in the right hands, viral marketing ploys can be very effective. However , they are only effective if they chime with the brand identity that you have already developed.
Understandably, not every business has the time or resources to devote much attention to social media. Most businesses with an established social media presence spend anywhere from between ten to twenty hours a week on it , and this does require a great deal of manpower that may be needed for essential business processes.
This is possibly why more and more businesses these days are outsourcing their social media campaigns to experts who not only have the time and resources to devote to their campaigns, but most importantly, the expertise.
Zanity has experts in social media management and online PR. They understand its intricacies and know exactly the style of communication that's necessary for each social media platform. For a skillfully tailored and targeted social media campaign, contact Zanity today.