Be Active!

Generally speaking when I try to be more active on my social media platforms, I commit to posting more content to my own page. Perhaps I post a link to an interesting article that I read online, or I update my followers on my daily happenings. While this does indicate more activity, it does not help me to be more social in my networks. To put it another way, I am not having more conversations with anyone out there; instead I find myself just talking, hoping that someone will respond to my posts.

Even though more frequent posting is necessary to building a consistent following, taking part in conversations is crucial to drawing people to your page. On Facebook this means commenting on friends’ pictures or statuses. For Twitter you can reply to people’s tweets. Google+ has many features that allow you to +1 or share someone’s post. All of these things serve to get your brand out on other people’s networks, and they may lead to increased interaction with your page.

This has worked for me personally as I experiment more with Google+. I recently received a notification that ESPN now follows me on Google+. At first I thought, “Oh they follow everyone they can find,” but if you check out their page you’ll see that they are slightly choosy in their followers. This notification came only after I had commented on four or five of their recent posts.

So it does pay to be active, but you have to be active on pages other than your own if you want people to take notice.

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Pinterest

Recently I have found myself on a sort of Pinterest craze. I created the account a couple of months ago and sporadically post items that I find across the Internet. For awhile I thought that there was no real potential to this site for networking or for marketing of any sort. Yet the more I browse, pin, and re-pin items, the more I start to think that a business could really use a site like this.

One great thing about Pinterest is that it can lead users right to your own website or blog. Being the food-ie that I am, I have checked out dozens of recipe ideas that my friends pin to their boards. In order to see the recipe however, I have to click on the pin that will then take me to the original posting location. From that site, I not only see the recipe but I can also browse through other items posted on that site or links to other sites.

Another nice feature for Pinterest-ers is the ability to categorize your feed. For a restaurant (remember, food is my obsession), they could filter their feed to feature food-related posts. In addition they could post pictures from their website or menu that create interest in their product.

The territory has been largely untouched by businesses, but the number of site users are large enough to merit consideration. Although Pinterest may not be the answer for every company, there are possibilities there that should be looked into.

Check out my own Pinterest account, and if you see a board that you like click the “Follow” button. And start pinning!

Pinterest Logo

Social Media and Public Relations

For the culmination of my independent study efforts, I wrote a lengthy research paper describing some practical implications for the implementation of social media in PR. I learned quite a bit about using social media effectively and applying fundamental public relations practices to this new medium. If you have some time, browse through this paper and see if you can pick up a tip or two!

social_media_and_public_relations

Intro to Google Plus

Google Plus is the newest social media site to hit the stage, and like any new product on the market there are a TON of people excited about it. While the hype for sites like these is always present, there are neat distinguishing features that sets Google Plus apart from other sites like Facebook and Twitter. 

One of the biggest differences is the categorization that exists. Users can create circles of people to follow in sections like “friends” or “acquaintances.” If you would like to share a link with only your friends, Google Plus allows you to do that. At the same time, content can be visible to everyone if you choose to allow it. Profiles can be public, open to search, and because Google controls it you can bet that SEO rankings will be influenced a bit more by one’s Google Plus profile–if you do it right. There are several other unique characteristics of Google Plus like “Hangouts” and “Sparks,” and if you would like to read more about these, here is an interesting link to an article online.

In order to really make your page stand out from the others, here are a few useful pointers. It is important to remember that the same fundamentals of social media marketing apply to Google Plus; there are just other channels to implement these tools now available. For a more complete list of tips, check out this article by Shama Kabani of the Zen Marketing Group.

1. Link other pages to Google Plus and vice versa. By connecting pages to each other, you are allowing followers that you already have get a chance to connect to you in another way. Perhaps through this connection you can make several more connections to people on Google Plus that you were not previously connected to. This is the networking possibility of the Internet.

2. Be active. Post videos, photos, links to articles, comment on others’ posts. The more chatter that you put out there, the more likely it is that your page will be noticed. You don’t want to annoy your friends or followers, but there is nothing wrong with posting useful feedback or input online. Interaction is crucial.

3. Use circles to full potential. Google Plus allows you to categorize your connections and post information to only certain circles. For businesses, this means that you can have a circle of only prospective clients or new clients and then you can post things directly to them. They do not see what circle they are in on your profile either; they just know that you have added them. You can also recategorize individuals, so if you have someone in your “potential customer” circle and you close a deal with them, move them into a different circle like “clients” or something.

Remember that Google Plus is in an exciting stage right now and the possibilities for use are endless. If it is something that your business would like to utilize, continue to research the capabilities of the site. Develop your profile there and follow pages of business that are effectively using the site.

Audience

While doing research for a paper a little over a year ago, I learned that if Facebook were a country it would be the third largest in the world with over 500 million people registered. Recently I read on Brian Solis’ blog that Facebook has now crossed the 800 million user mark, which as he notes makes Facebook as big as the Internet was in 2004!

Although Facebook does get most of the credit, other social media platforms have continued to increase in popularity over the Internet, presenting businesses with a great opportunity to reach large markets of potential customers. If there are any doubts on this notion, check out this video by Socialnomics about the effectiveness of social media for business.

In the end, social media holds the power to send out a message and create the hype that public relations had previously been in charge of, AND it is possible to do so on a larger scale with less funding. What is not to like about this concept?

For the next few posts I will be looking at specific strategies to combine social media with public relations messages. But in the meantime, suffice it to say that opportunities are available in many different forms across the Internet. Businesses need to be on the lookout for the most effective tools to distribute their stories.

A Helpful Social Media Tip

In order for a company to get the most out of their various social media sites, it is crucial to be connected. As I wrote in the last post, there are sites like Ping.fm that allow businesses to send out a universal message across multiple social media channels. If a business works to utilize tools like this, search engine hits will likely rise.

Links to other pages is another way to connect audiences to more detailed information about the company. It can be as simple as posting a link to a company’s website on their Twitter or Facebook page. But even more important than that, by adding links to other social media sites you can connect viewers to different aspects of the business.

For example, consider a company with a diverse social media strategy. They have accounts on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Flickr, and also their own web page. Twitter and Facebook allow the company to update their audience on what’s going on in the day-to-day dealings, Tumblr perhaps informs more interested customers about company vision and objectives, and Flickr shows pictures of events or products. To better connect them all, each page should have buttons or links that send the user to another site.

So someone who is interested in a recent tweet by the company decides they want to learn a little bit more. They notice that this company has a blog on Tumblr and clicks on the link to read the post. After reading the post, this individual subscribes to this blog via their RSS Feed and perhaps retweet or post articles on their own social media sites. Without the interconnected-ness of these sites, it is unlikely that this user would have given the time to search for a blog like this. If a company does take the time to connect the pieces and monitor the content being sent out, they will expand their potential reach considerably.

Sample Twitter Button

Sample of link to Twitter

An Easier Way to Share

With so many different social networking sites out there on the web, keeping all of them straight and posting to them can be a virtual nightmare. Thankfully however, there are some ways to simplify your life when it comes to updating your networks on what you or your company is doing. Since I cannot sleep in past 7:30, I decided that this Saturday morning I would take the time to add a few networking sites to my ever-expanding list and sign up for a service that allows me to post to multiple sites with one click.

Ping.fm is the tool that I chose to use for managing my social media presence. After I linked all of my various social media accounts to this home site, I can update and post to all if I desire. Since different social media outlets offer different types of postings, Ping.fm also allows the user to group sites based on the content posted. For example, I link my Twitter and Facebook pages to my #StatusUpdates group, and I have a Tumblr and WordPress account linked to #Blogging.

Not only does this make your life much easier, but it also holds the potential to increase your visibility on the web. By covering the same material on many different sites, your search engine ranking will likely increase if you use the correct language in your post. More content on the web means that more hits will come up in a Google search, for example. So when you have some time on a Saturday morning, or you are tired of bookmarking sites to make sure you have all of your audiences covered, spend some time figuring out Ping.fm.

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