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Is Engagement the Most Important Social Media Metric?

This article was originally posted on Rso-Consulting.com and can be found here.

Likes, shares, comments, and now hearts. Engagement is an important social media metric, but is it all you should be watching?

Social Media Engagement Meme with Dog on Computer

Social media engagement reminds me of the Skinner Box. Except instead of pushing the lever myself and getting the reward, I’m relying on users’ affirmations to give me that weird, endorphin-like high. Engagement means my content resonated, it entertained, and it effectively solicited the kind of reaction I wanted.

But while engagement is certainly a valuable social media metric – and one of the most commonly measured – it isn’t the only one. And in some cases, it isn’t the most important one either.

Engagement vs. Other Social Media Metrics

Let’s say your company is brand-new or just about to launch. You have very different needs on social media than a business with huge market presence. You must make yourself known (brand awareness), whereas the other business may be more focused on increasing sales.

Because you have different goals, your organization must measure your performance differently, too.

Your goal needs to correspond to a specific social media metric that tells you how well you’re doing – or not doing.

For a campaign focused on brand awareness, engagement is certainly an important metric. The goal is to get in front of as many social media users as possible, and to increase likes, shares, etc. in order to gain even more exposure. The more users who engage with your brand, the better for building your brand.

But for the company that is building a sales campaign, measuring conversions is a better fit. The business needs to see which social content is getting users to click and then buy the product or service. The goal is to sell more, so the business must be able to see whether or not their social media is aiding this initiative.

Some campaigns may even combine metrics. But that’s a whole other post. For now, just know that while engagement is a very good social metric, it may not be the most effective one to help you reach the goals that are important right now.

Utilizing Analytics for Your Website & Social Media

analytics-600Finding out if your online campaigns are actually working is important for any team or manager.  In order to allocate resources effectively throughout the campaign you need to find out if potential customers are taking the actions that you want them to take.

 

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a tool that you can use to track social media interactions as well as actions that your visitors take online. Under the “site content” tab you’re able to see what pages people are visiting and how long they are staying on the pages. This is useful if you are posting articles on social media and want to know if people are visiting from specific networks. If you are posting content on all social networks and find you are only getting traffic from a couple of them, then you know to concentrate your focus on the platforms that are working.

This tool provides you with key statistics including:

  • Time User Spends on Site
  • Bounce Rate – Percentage of visitors who leave after visiting the homepage
  • Geo – What location visitors are coming from
  • Device – What device visitors are using
  • Flow – What pages do they pass through before leaving the site
  • Pageviews – How many pages do they go through when on the site

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Content Marketing Campaign of the Week: L.L. Bean

For years L.L. Bean was the epitome of outdoor essentials. From clothing to equipment to learning how to be an outdoorsman, everyone who went hiking knew the L.L. Bean brand. But what happens when your business is based on mail-order catalogs and everyone goes digital? You either change your ways or go out of business. While L.L. Bean struggled with sales in the first decade of the 21st century, it seems they’ve integrated the digital world and content marketing strategy with their core values, earning them a 3% net revenue increase in 2014, according to their Newsroom results.

When Leon Leonwood Bean founded the company in 1912, his Golden Rule the foundation of his business:  “Sell good merchandise at a reasonable profit, treat your customers like human beings and they will always come back for more.” Even though that was more than 100 years ago, the statement embodies what many consumers look for in a company – they want to be treated like human beings and get a good product. In addition to the Golden Rule, L.L. Bean has had a 100% satisfaction guarantee on all of its products since its inception.

While the focus on doing the right thing, caring about nature, and family first will give you warm fuzzies, it doesn’t guarantee sales. And let’s face it – if you don’t have that in a business, the warm fuzzies go away quickly. But when you combine a brand that makes quality products with great content marketing and publicity, you get success. Most notably, their handmade boots have a wait list of 100,000 people.

So how do they do it? Catalogs are no longer the prime method of sales. Their website is reasonably functional and easy to use, but not spectacular. Their blog is inconsistent with anywhere from one to five blog posts per month. Where are they getting noticed? The content they publicize on social media.

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Web Seminar Recap: Brand Advocates – Empower Your Followers to Become a Powerful Content Creation Force

Marketers today have been engaging in a “social media arms race” trying to gain as many fans and followers across their social media channels. Many are realizing that increasing the size of their social communities rarely translates to increased engagement or revenue. The real value of social media marketing comes from identifying your most passionate fans and influencing them to recommend and advocate for your brand, products and services. Are you confusing ‘audience’ with ‘influence’?

Cord Silverstein, President of Advocacy Social, discussed how to identify, engage and empower brand advocates. Participants learned how to distinguish audience from influence by developing social media advocacy and content programs that help them identify and engage with their most loyal fans and increase their brand’s visibility.

This session was presented by Cord Silverstein on May 26th.

Missed this seminar? Catch up by downloading the slides and recording here.

Blogging Tips

Having fresh content on your site is essential to your success if you would like to be effective online. There are many different reasons to have a blog for your business. These days blogs are not just for individuals who want to express themselves. Businesses are using this to show their expertise to get more customers. Not only does this help you build credibility, it also helps your rankings on the search engines. Search engines like having fresh content so they can provide the best content possible to the searcher. This article will help you understand the basics of blogs and how to use them effectively.

Tips for writing a blog post:

  • Write your blog/post offline
  • Find complimentary visuals
  • Share blog post through social media
  • Specify category and add keywords
  • Tag visuals with keywords
  • Turn on “comments”
  • Moderate, respond, engage
  • Be consistent

1. Topics

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What is Google Plus?

Google Plus can be a bit confusing when you use the platform for the first couple of times. Many people mention they have issues understanding what the difference is between the other social networks and Google Plus. This post will go over three segments of Google Plus that makes the platform different from other sites.

First off Google Plus is an easy way to connect with people who share the same interest as you. If you have a strong interest in photography, then finding like-minded individuals who share many photos to their groups is easy. You are instantly able to connect with people who you want to see and connect with. Other social networks require you to know the person or go through a process in order to connect with them. Google Plus eliminates this issue because remember it is more of a platform.

Quick Tip- You can gain better search results ranking if you add the official Google Plus Button to your site which can be found Here

Below are the three main things that will help you get a better idea of how to use the network.

Circles

Ever afraid of posting the wrong thing to the wrong people? Maybe you just don’t want to share everything online because it may mix with your different relationships that you have. Some people have even lost their position at their jobs because they have posted something about their job and the manager ended up seeing the post!

To prevent things like this from happening Google Plus has what is called Circles. Circles enables you to target the people you post to on the platform. Let’s say you want to target your loyal customers vs your general customers. You can do this with Circles. Also if you are traveling and want to announce that you won’t be in town maybe it’s a good idea to send these types of posts to certain friends and family Circles etc. There are many stories on how doing these strategies can protect your privacy.

This tool also helps if you want to be able to communicate with a group of individuals in an organization. Everyone in the organization can be members of the same Circle so that communication can be seen only by members. You can also add the same people to multiple circles. It’s important to note that people will not be able to see what circle you place them in. So when you post be sure to add them accordingly.

Hangouts

Hangouts is another really useful way to use Google Plus. Hangouts are divided between two types, Hangouts and Hangouts On Air. Hangouts serve as a conferencing feature that enables you to talk to up to ten people at once. This feature is very useful for people who work in an office where there are many locations but they do not want to drive to meetings. This also plays a role in some tech companies hiring process as they use this for interviews. Unlike some platforms that offer conferencing features, this one gives you this ability at no cost!

If you are a user of Google Docs (a tool that lets you work on the same documents at once) you may be interested in the feature that lets you use Google Docs while you are using Hangouts with other people. This helps make conferencing features and collaborations much more engaging. Whenever a group is on Google Plus, whoever is talking will be zoomed in for a more up close look at the person. Participants are also able to mute their mic in the case of background noise.

Quick Tip- You should definitely utilize land line internet access whenever doing Hangouts for good use

Hangouts On Air

Hangouts on Air is meant to help you have a wider audience for broadcasting. Instead of just having the ten people, this hangout is broadcasted across the web. This is done by the platform showing your live hangout on YouTube. Many users have used this opportunity to put on cooking classes and many other class ideas. Another way people use this tool is to hold events that cannot be attended. While doing the broadcast you are able to see exactly how many people are viewing the broadcast.

Communities

Communities helps you create a group revolving around a niche that your company can relate to. For example Lowes Home Improvement has a community specifically about technology within your home. The group can be formed to be private or a public community that anyone can join. Once people join your group they can begin to post things related to your community. The good thing about Communities is that once enough people join the group many people will be contributing so that the owner just has to manage and maintain everything instead of posting.

This should help you get started with Google Plus and understand how to use the tools!

Facebook for Businesses of all sizes.

Being up to date on marketing your business online is essential to your success. Facebook has many different ways in which it chooses what posts are more important than others. Knowing how Facebook works will help you find out what you can do differently in order to succeed.  This article will go over specifically how you can use Facebook to your advantage.

It’s important to be aware that most consumers are on Facebook. Whether your organization is business-to-business or business-to-consumer, your customers are most likely there.  Stats below show that for business-to-consumer companies the platform is even more important.

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The reason why practically almost every target market is on there is due to the fact that it is a place for people to socialize with their friends. Whether the person is a professional or not chances are they want to socialize.

1. Personal Account Basics

Before creating business profiles on any social media network you need to make sure you understand the basics of the personal profiles.

  • Import your email addresses
  • Up to 5000 friends
  • Set your Vanity URL for better search results
  • Set your “interests” list
  • “Like” Business Pages of interest
  • Easy to search with new Social Graph Search

The personal profile is one of the main drivers for business advertising on the platform. You can have up to 5,000 friends before having to create a public figure profile. Whenever you set interests or like brands, books, and topics this information is used to target ads to you and to other people. Be sure not to try to create a business profile out of your personal page. Instead, you can create a business page and then asking your friends to like the business page.

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2. Business Page Tips

  • Increase your information bandwidth
  • Create custom pages w/cover photos
  • Connect to Twitter to cross-promote
  • Create Social Media tabs: Pinterest, twitter, LinkedIn
  • Talk casually w/other businesses; tag them!
  • Set your Vanity URL for traditional marketing
  • Use Ads/Sponsored Stories to get message out
  • Post good content

Business pages are very important for business. The first step is to fully fill out your business profile.  This means making sure that all the descriptions and location information is filled out with content that involves what your business does. The main reasons that this helps is when people search for your type of business this will show up. Also the search engines pull different information from this section so it is important that all the sections are filled out.

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Social Media Marketing: These Lies will Kill you

*The original article can be found in ASPE’s ROI November/December Newsletter. Interested in more articles like this one? View the most current newsletter here.*

Social media is booming. Hundreds of millions of people around the globe use one or more social site every day, with some jumping from service to service to get their fill.

This alone should be enough to excite you about the future of social media marketing. If you take the right approach and are willing to tweak your strategy when necessary, the sky is the limit.

For a better idea of just how big social media has become, consider this information shared by Mediabistro earlier this year:

“Did you know that Twitter has 255 million active users who collectively send 500 million tweets each and every day?

What if I told you that there are more than 50 million Facebook Pages, that 20 billion photos have been uploaded to Instagram or that 5 percent of all selfies on social media are shared on Snapchat?”

Now that we have that out of the way, there is no reason for your business to ignore social media marketing any longer.

If you have come to the conclusion that now is the time to focus more time and resources on this part of your business, there are steps you should be taking. There are also things you should avoid at all costs.

Here are five common social media marketing lies that could kill your momentum before you ever get started:

1. More followers is always better. There is nothing wrong with wanting to increase your number of followers, as this will give you a solid sense of accomplishment.

But did you know that higher numbers do not always pay off when it comes to social media marketing? Your goal should not be to increase your follower count as quickly as possible. Instead, you should focus on those who are interested in engaging with your brand.

Think about it this way – you aren’t going to generate much interest from people who don’t care about you, your business, or what you have to say. On the flip side, there are people who are interested in your brand and the messages you promote. These are the types of followers you want and need.

2. Social media can generate traffic, but it does not convert well. This is one of the biggest lies circulating. It is also a lie that has sunk many social marketing campaigns over the years.

Do you think the biggest and most reputable brands in the world would be using social media if the traffic didn’t convert? Do you think Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn would be publicly traded companies if all these services were unable to provide high quality traffic?

This does not mean that every person who comes to your site from a social media service is going to convert into a buyer or client. What it does mean is that you can most definitely generate interest through social media. From there, once these people make their way to your site, you can use a targeted approach to increase conversions.

Not sure if this is true? Do this:  use Google Analytics to set up goals associated with your social media traffic. This can help you determine what you are getting out of traffic from each site.

3. Social media marketing is the right strategy for every company. There is no denying that this is a big lie. There are companies that can leverage social media time and time again, using it to generate traffic and increase profits. And then there are companies that have no chance of succeeding, either because of their industry or other constraints (such as a lack of time).

If your company does not typically generate income from the internet, there is a chance that social media will be a waste of time. Of course, you will never know for sure until you give it a try.

4. Daily participation is a must. One of the primary reasons people shy away from social media is because they are afraid of the time commitment. They don’t want to get started because they are scared of missing a day of updating their accounts.

If you have something unique to share every day, good for you. If you don’t, however, it is not a reason to avoid social media altogether.

Let’s put it this way:  it is better to share high quality information on a semi-regular basis than to push daily updates that don’t offer any real value.

Don’t feel pressured into updating your social media properties every day. If you have something to say, say it. If you don’t, there is nothing wrong with taking a step back for the time being. Just don’t let too much time pass between updates, as you don’t want to turn off your followers.

5. You shouldn’t take the time to interact with your audience. Whoever started this rumor was probably somebody who didn’t want to take the time to interact and converse with their followers.

If you are going to use social media, you should expect people to engage with you on a regular basis. There will be times when you are praised. There will also be times when you receive negative feedback. Either way, it is your job to respond. It may be more enjoyable to respond to positive feedback, but if somebody has something bad to say, or disputes your update, don’t be shy about stepping in.

Note:  some companies have dedicated Twitter accounts for customer care and support, such as Nike.

There is a lot of good that can come from social media marketing, but if you believe these lies to be true you could find your company missing the boat.

Are your Blog Posts Generating Quality Leads?

*The original article can be found in ASPE’s ROI November/December Newsletter. Interested in more articles like this one? View the most current newsletter here.*

There are many reasons to create and maintain a corporate blog, one of the top being to generate quality leads on a regular basis. The more leads you receive from your blog the more inclined you will be to stick with your strategy well into the future.

Before we go any further, here is something you need to know:  Regardless of what you do, there is no way to guarantee that every blog post will generate at least one lead. When it comes down to it, there will be posts that surpass your expectations as well as those that fall flat.

In the event that your blog posts are not generating leads, it is time to take a strong look at your strategy. Which changes can you make to ensure more success down the road? You can only answer this question after reviewing your strategy, including what has and has not been yielding results.

In many cases, a few simple changes here and there are enough to take your blog from ordinary to extraordinary. Below are several of the best ideas to consider.

Get In-Depth with your Blog Posts

Are you stuck in the past, thinking that a couple hundred words will be enough to attract people to your blog?

Every post doesn’t have to be a novel. That being said, you don’t want to consistently come up short in terms of the depth of your posts.

Consider reviewing the last few months of your blog posts, taking a strong look at how many words each one consists of. What is the average?

Once you have this number, you can adjust your word count upwards as you move forward. After another month, calculate both your new word count average as well as the number of leads generated. Do you see a difference?

Tip: longer is not always better. Don’t write to hit a specific word count. Instead, write with quality and depth in mind.

Target the Right Audience

If you don’t know who you are targeting, writing any blog post, regardless of the topic, is going to be a challenge.

Are you attempting to connect with consumers? Are you looking to reach other businesses? You must know your target audience inside and out. This will allow you to alter your content in the appropriate manner in hopes of generating a better response.

If you are struggling to identify your audience, you can do a couple of things. First off, examine other blogs in your industry. This may be all you need in order to get a better idea of the direction you should take your blog. Additionally, don’t shy away from asking your readers for feedback. You can learn a lot about your blog’s audience by the comments your posts receive and the emails that arrive in your inbox.

Share Something Unique

Regardless of your industry, it is likely that there are many others blogging about the same topics. Are you going to rehash the same ideas time and time again? Or are you going to take a unique stance, giving your readers something to get excited about?

If your blog content does nothing more than mirror the rest of the industry, you should not expect to generate a large number of leads. Take a unique viewpoint on your topic, as this is the best way to generate interest and prove yourself.

The only way to guarantee that you are saying something unique is to interject your personality and opinions into each post. If nothing else, this is enough to differentiate your blog from the rest of the pack. Let your voice shine through.

Market your Blog

Wouldn’t it be nice if every blog post you wrote generated thousands upon thousands of page views without you doing any work? While this may be reality at some point in the future, most people find that they have to market their content.

You can do this in many ways. From sharing on social media to pushing newsletter readers back to your blog, get as creative as possible.

Tip: track your marketing strategy so you know what is and is not generating traffic. This will allow you to adjust your approach, making the best use of your time and resources.

Answer these Questions

Now that you are aware of some of the changes you can make to generate more leads from your blog, it is time to tweak your strategy. As you begin doing so, here are some of the questions you should address:

  • Which types of blog posts have generated the best response in the past?
  • Which types of blog posts are useful for reasons others than generating leads?
  • Have you implemented a simple way for people to contact you after reading your blog posts?
  • Are you charting every aspect of each blog post, from the content length to the marketing to the time and day of publication?
  • Are you willing to make changes, even if it means turning your blog strategy upside down as you search for the right answers?

It is safe to assume that you have many reasons for creating and maintaining a corporate blog. If you are going to put time into this part of your business, you might as well do your best to generate high quality leads as often as possible.

If this is something you have struggled with in the past, don’t be afraid to change your approach and try new things in the future.

By implementing some or all of the changes detailed above, your blog could turn into a lead generation machine. As a result, you could find yourself swimming in more business than you ever imagined possible.

Internal Social Networks

One common public relations platitude is “A company is only as good as its employees.” It’s why employee relations is a clearly defined segment of PR, and it’s why Southwest Airlines is often used as a case study for outstanding business leadership.

Several tools — including memos, email reminders, shared Google Calendars and bulletin boards — can help the internal communication process, but the larger the organization, the harder it is to keep everyone equally informed. Luckily, though, we live in the 21st century and can take advantage of the Internet. There are several social media platforms that form a group called “Enterprise Social Networks” or ESNs. The specifics differ from program to program, but an ESN is a social media platform for specifically for your employees.

How do I use an ESN?

There are several ways to use an ESN to streamline the communication process and strengthen your team:

  • Link employees with common interests: Because employees can post interests and hobbies to their profiles, an ESN can provide limitless conversation starters. It’s perfect for the awkward breakroom small talk. Imagine the team building that could happen when your employees figure out who likes to read, who likes to run, who is a political junkie, who is obsessed with professional football, etc.
  • Increase communication about ongoing projects: One common downside to a large organization is a lack of transparency about projects. Employees are usually so busy at completing the next report or design, that they don’t have the time to update their teammates until they’re done. Most ESNs come with a “Project” function that will keep all employees up to date on every project. Instead of having to send two follow up emails to finally obtain the status of the new logo design, you can just hop online and check your ESN.
  • Help new employees adapt faster: I’ve been the “newbie” several times in my career (either in internships or jobs), and one of the most frustrating things is the lack of information about who’s in charge of what or who knows how to do Task X. I would have relished the idea of an ESN on which I could search for “Design” and figure out exactly who to ask about that logo. That sounds far better than getting ping-ponged through the office for what ends up being a very simple answer (which is often the case).
  • Unify communication processes: Instead of requesting meetings through Google Calendar, posting announcements on the break room bulletin board, and hosting meetings through phone conferences, a company can use an ESN to centralize all communication. Many ESNs have all of these functions, which means you’ll have fewer Internet tabs to worry about. That alone sounds reason enough to me to look into it!

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