Using Social media and Networking to increase visibility and revenue. Online reputation.
The definition of “social media” provided by dictionary.com is the following: ”websites and other online means of communication that are used by large groups of people to share information and to develop social and professional contacts: Many businesses are utilizing social media to generate sales”.
It has become standard practice for brands and businesses of all sizes to be present in the social media, although managing various social channels successfully requires some knowledge and practice. Entrepreneurs have started to use social media channels like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc., to grow their audience and customer base, and to build their brand and business in a strategic way.
Instagram is one of the www most used for free social media sites. It was developed in 2010 by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger. Between 2013 to 2018, Instagram had a fast growth, and its users’ numbers continue to increase.
**There are over 25 million business, according to Instagram Business Statistics.
Instagram is currently one of the most popular ways to market products.
The platform allows users to create an account which they can then use to promote their services or products, business or be a portal for followers to learn more about the business. Instagram is home to over 500 million daily users, which creates a great opportunity to find the intended target audience for many products. A large number of companies and celebrities use this to get their services in a visually appealing environment.
Companies use Instagram to work with influencers to make their products known. Influencers are everyday people that have knowledge of social media with a substantial number of followers; they post videos or images of themselves using the respective product, creating a type of endorsement to increase the interest of their audience, which in turn will increase the number of followers, consumers and marketing.
Facebook marketing is a platform that provides a large selection of highly targeted paid adverts and organic posts, which enable the brands to display their products and services to massive audience. Although it started as a prominent social medium on the internet, in the recent years Facebook has become one of the biggest marketplaces.
Businesses use Facebook for marketing for a number of reasons:
- It has global exposure (over 1,5 billion daily visitors)
- It provides highly targeted paid adverts for specific audience
- It offers the possibility of an organic reach
- It can be combined with other marketing channels
As with all marketing channels, one of the first steps should be defining your target audience. For this purpose, Facebook Audience Insights proves to be a useful tool, providing valuable information about the audience – preferences, language, living area, purchase history, etc.
A detailed and helpful guide about how to make use of Facebook marketing can be found here.
YouTube video platform is home to millions of users worldwide and is the internet’s second largest search engine in the world. This provides a great marketing opportunity, it is free to use, allows you to engage your audience and show them exactly what your organisation is about. Not to mention that YouTube is one of the best online platforms for videos going viral.
Types of YouTube videos:
• Video tutorials: A video tutorial is a video that gives the audience instructions how to do a task, for example, how to put a bench together.
• Customer testimonials: This is where a company will get one of their satisfied customers, and get them to review their product.
• Behind-the-scenes: This video will consist of the company shows the audience, what goes on when the camera is not rolling.
• Tips & tricks: Will be a short tutorial on all the things that can be done with the product.
• Live presentation: The company will set up a video conference for their audience.
• Product launches: A product launch video is a video explaining what new product will be launching and when.
• Statistics: In this video, the audience will be shown statistics on the company, which will show; how many views your video gets per day, where the viewers are in the world and how popular your video is in comparison to other in a specific time frame.
• FAQs: This will be a video where the company will be answer questions from their audience in a video.
“Blog” is the short name for Web Logging. Blogging can be one of the main components of a digital marketing plan. It can be embedded into websites, shared on social media platforms or act as a distinctive aspect of the marketing strategy. A blog is created in an informal conversational manner, usually run by an individual or a small group of people. Blogs can make you appear like an expert on the topic or product you are blogging about. They can be created freely with platforms for Blogging:
Blogs help to build communities and it is an ideal manner to involve your audience.
“Vlog” is the contracted name for Video logging. Currently is extremely popular. Vloggers are posting their videos on YouTube, and many of them vlog on a daily basis to keep their audiences engaged.
Podcasts - podcasts can be very appealing, especially when it comes to millennials. This is due to the fact that they fit perfectly into a busy lifestyle, it engages the audience, providing them information and something to listen to, whilst they are carrying out something else. It also allows a company to build personal links with their audience. Not only does it position you as an authority -explaining things in depth to the users-, it also increases your visibility on other online platforms.
LinkedIn is currently the largest professional network on the internet. It can be used for finding the suitable job or internship, to connect and build up professional relationships, or to learn the needed skills to thrive in your professional life.
It was launched on May 5, 2003, as an employment-oriented platform used mainly to allows job seekers to post their CVs and employers to post jobs. However, it soon turned out that LinkedIn can be more than that. The users can also follow certain interests such as company pages, groups according to interest or location, information publishing or educational purposes.
One can choose between the basic type of account and LinkedIn's Business Services and/or Premium account upgrades, which allow users to post jobs, make use of talent solutions, advertise on the platform and develop their sales strategy to include social sales on LinkedIn.
For those of you who are new to LinkedIn platform, there is a clearly structured description for beginners here.
More detailed information regarding the full use of LinkedIn platform and its benefits for marketing and business purposes can be found here.
The use of social media is not reduced to having to create and manage meaningful content and distribute it via specific social media channels, but it also involves monitoring and listening.
Being active on social networks doesn't always mean talking and engaging with others – monitoring the conversation is also important, because:
• It helps your business in identifying opportunities to connect with others and offer help or advice when needed.
• It signals any 'red flags' or emerging matters that might affect your brand, such as a customer criticism or complaint.
Many businesses are cautious to join social networks because they're concerned someone might say something negative about them.
The truth is, if someone is displeased with your business, they'll publicize their objections on social media whether you're on it or not.
If you're active on social networking sites – and you're monitoring the discussions going on about your brand, positively or negatively – you'll have the possibility to do something about it.
Because many business-customer exchanges are done publicly on social networks – and in full view of all site users – the way you deal with criticism will affect the aftermath of the situation.
• The aim of a business being on social media is to connect with the public and encourage comments, rather than banish people from expressing their opinion.
• Respond to the person's question, concern or criticism and ensure you do this in a suitable mode.
• If you haven't got all the information available, tell them that – let the person know you'll inquire the matter right away and get back to them as soon as possible.
• Add to the dialogue – this could be by offering another resource, asking a significant question or adding your own considerations.
• Always be professional, kind and considerate without being demeaning or judgemental – put yourself in the customer’s place and bear in mind that your behaviour is a reflection of your trademark
Social media marketing is consuming time and effort if you want to do it appropriately and with purpose. As an active member of the online social community, you should:
• connect with your audience frequently
• listen, monitor, respond
• add value.
There are a number of ways to restructure your participation. Free and paid tools provide such prospects to publish and schedule your content to various social channels, and to manage conversations that occur around your brand or business online.
Google favours high quality and relevant content. It's essential that you publish content that people are attentive to, that they'll link to and will likely share with others via social networks.
When users link and share information, Google considers these back links as a sign that the content has 'authority' and ranks it favourably for the keywords and search strings included within it.
Therefore, you need to establish two things:
• The keywords and phrases (search strings) you want your trade to be known for;
• The questions your customers are Googling.
Start cleverly and constantly inserting these words and phrases in the content you create and share, marking it up in your content marketing plan.
You can find out more about improving your SEO and keyword research.
Being aware of few key rules will help you settle on top of your management.
Resource: Google Garage offers free training to help you make the most of online opportunities including modules to decide what social media platforms are right for your business, set goals, get noticed on social media, measure your success and avoid pitfalls.
As with any marketing activity you engage in, it's important to know whether your efforts are working, and whether they're advancing your goals.
The prospective power of using social media to develop and augment your personal and business reputation is high if used the right way to boost your business.
When used appropriately, social media can help people get to better appreciate, to build brand kinship and trust. On a long term, your engagement on social media can generate sales leads and revenue for your business – and ultimately – turn out to be your most important measure.
Some simple methods of measuring the efficiency of your social media and content marketing activities are listed below.
4.1. Measuring content results
Depending on your objectives, there are a number of means to measure the attainment of your content marketing by answering to the following questions:
• What is the number of shares, backlinks and mentions your content received via social channels?
• What kind of traffic to your website is your content generating, and which are the most popular articles?
• What is the number of people who are:
o viewing your videos on YouTube?
o listening to your podcasts?
o checking out your SlideShare presentations?
• Is your content having a definite impact with search engines, and are you progressively ranking higher for the keywords and expressions that your business became known for?
• Are the relevant industry publications, websites and blogs including or featuring your content?
• Essentially, are people subscribing to your content, and is your email subscriber list expanding as a result of your endeavours?
4.2. Measuring social results
Measuring your efficiency related to your social presence can also be done in a number of ways, including:
• the number of followers, connections and likes achieved by your brand across various social channels – and whether these numbers are constantly increasing
• the engagement level with your current and prospective customers
• your ability to reach out to key influencers in your industry and to build relationships with them,
• whether your audience is promoting and/or recommending you on Twitter, Facebook and other channels.
4.3. Measuring your profile and credibility
You can get a fair idea of your credibility by starting to measure your performance bearing in mind the following questions:
• Is your brand's visibility, impact and influence being increased, and is this leading to offline prospects, such as speaking engagements and boardroom presentations around the themes you want to be known for?
• Are you seeing increased PR openings, such as;
o Requests for interviews or quotes from journalists, bloggers, podcasters?
o Are you requested to provide guest blog posts or opinion pieces in significant on and offline publications?
4.4. Choosing the adequate monitoring and measurement tools
There is plenty of (free and paid-for) platforms and tools available to monitor, analyse and measure your social media and content marketing activity. According to Australian Victoria State governmental site, some of the most popular tools are:
• Google Analytics : measure your website and blog traffic
• Twitter Analytics: provides Twitter intelligence
• Facebook Insights: the channels in-built analytics
• Google Alerts: alerts you about any mentions (about you) online
• Talkwalker alerts: alerts you about any mentions online
Tools with paid options:
• Mention: includes mentions online – free with paid options
• Hootsuite: measuring social media analytics – free with paid options
• Tweetreach: get tweet measurement – free with paid options
• Sprout Socia: measure your social media engagement – free trial, then it's paid.
It's important to establish what you're trying to achieve and then implement realistic measures to help direct you towards your goals.
For more details, please check https://www.business.vic.gov.au/marketing-and-sales/eCommerce-and-digital-technology/social-media-for-business/ways-to-measure-your-social-media-presence.
4.5. Experiment and try new things
Some things will work, some others won't, so find what functions for you and your brand – from the kind of content that resonates and gets shared by many, to the frequency of your posts on Twitter and Facebook.
Use your content marketing plan to observe the followings:
• the connections you make
• the relationships you build
• the opportunities that have been created.
There is no doubt that social media has proven its benefits over the last two decades. For businesses, social media has designed a way to conduct a brand’s messaging to the right people at the right time and hope your brand catches their attention enough for them to be interested, and even loyal throughout their lives.
The main reasons why being on social media is imperative for businesses, and the way in which it can help ensure your brand’s success are as follows:
Faster, Easier Communication
It’s faster now than ever before to contact the right people and it’s definitely becoming easier due to the fact that more people and brands use social media platforms to keep in contact with the people relevant for their business.
Networking & Partnerships
Apart from the simplified lines of communication, there is also the aspect of general availability. Building quality relationships turns out to be a lot easier with the structured communication we get from social media, and developing relationships with key influencers gains significant value for your brand.
Here are some examples of the added value facilitated by these connections:
• Trust from others’ networks and audience partners.
• The achievement of quality backlinks (that offer SEO boost as well as, hopefully, an increase in referral visitors).
• Prospective business openings.
Boost Organic Visibility
There is plenty of potential value to be unravelled through social media, apart from the networking and partnership-produced backlinks.
In addition to the SEO value acquired from adding quality backlinks to your brand’s website, social media also launches relevancy signals and other signals to search engines like Google to ensure popular content is clearly detectable and easy to share.
So, although social media shares don’t function as actual full-value backlinks, the people, brands, and webmasters/marketers that may see your brand’s content through social media, may likely relate to your brand’s content (since it is quality content offering real value), and those backlinks would certainly hold real value.
Increase Website Traffic
Social media is intended to reach different audiences in a friendly, useful, and enjoyable way and direct those potential customers you may not have ever had the chance to engage with earlier, to get acquainted with and try your business.
In the world of business, sales and profits, irrespective of what your activity is and who you are marketing and selling to, the focus must always be on the customer.
And success, both digitally and conventionally, is attained by understanding — and providing — the best quality customer service achievable, and doing everything in your power to ensure that your customers and potential customers have the most enjoyable experience with your company.
Social media helps us preserve that reputation by providing us platforms where we can directly interact with our customers in a manner never practiced before. That also means we are offered real customer feedback directly from the source, faster than ever before (and frequently quite harsh, too). Customers can now publicise real feedback in real time, which did not use to happen before, but it is something businesses have attempted to achieve for a long time.
Impress Potential Customers
Maintaining constantly your brand’s respected reputation is the opportunity to make a good impression upon potential customers with the manner you’ve handled other, typically unrelated customer interactions.
People habitually turn to social media and online-review sites to get a sound idea of just who a company truly is, and they rely on that. Just like vendors, consumers are using social media as a tool to help them in making better choices for purchases and decisions in general.
The influence a brand has and the reputation it built can be substantially boosted and exposed through social media.
Each platform is distinctive in terms of what it does well, the demographics of the users and the type of content (and timing of its publishing) you see posted habitually. Each brand’s messaging should be personalized accordingly.
You can display your brand culture and personality, stick out among the rest for the qualities that make your brand different, attract new, valuable staff and further develop your business even more.
Track Your Competition
Social media channels also give us the opportunity to stay in touch not only with other marketing tactics and practices, but also with the approaches used by direct competitors.
And we can learn a great deal from the other market partners. Our competitors are seeking to do the same things as us (build up and safeguard brand reputation and eventually sell its products/services), so it’s important for us to us monitor and find out ways our business can improve educating and entertaining users, as well as the things our brand does well, and ways of improvement.
User-Generated Content & Crowdsourcing of Ideas
User-generated and crowdsourced content is not only free and unique; it can also be remarkable.
Social media permits us to request this user-generated content, and receive it promptly, but there is more than that.
The majority of the brands will have people post their content with particular hashtags. So, the brand isn’t just receiving the content; the content is actually being posted all over social networks and is equipped with the required hashtags and other “requirements” (which typically comprises following the brand, sharing directly with a certain number of connections, and lots of other things).
Getting the Most Out of Social Media
Each business has its own aims and ways it measures success.
Social media can help accomplish those aims, but the important thing is to stick to the basics and use them in manners that help your brand thrive.
Each brand is distinctive. Let your one sparkle on social media.
The online reputation, or e-reputation, is the reputation of an enterprise, individual, product, service or any other component on the Internet and digital platforms.
This online reputation is affected by the content distributed by a company, the responses of and relations with web users, activity on social networks, etc.
For e-commerce brands, online reputation is essential, taking into account that it can affect their online store’s reliability and prominence.
Simon Wadsworth, managing partner at Igniyte, an online reputation management agency in the UK, indicates the negative media content as being a reason why brands lose prospective customers.
“When people search for brands online, they tend to search for stamps of credibility,” said Wadsworth. “If they find anything negative, that could end up being a significant amount of leads that the business won’t get from people who are put off from using the service.”
A single adverse media reference can deter users from purchasing a product or service from a company.
By frequently monitoring media references, companies can prevent the potential loss of a considerable amount of new business leads.
The rise of social media also grants some advantages for businesses. Social media offers the companies the opportunity to have first-hand conversations with customers, according to Shannon Wilkinson, CEO at Reputation Communications, a reputation management agency in New York.
“Social media enables companies to participate in conversations about their products, services, and industries. It also enables them to monitor those conversations to ensure they can be a part of them,” Wilkinson said.
With social media, businesses are able to react and reply quickly to consumers’ queries or remarks, allowing them to participate in a conversation that might not be available on a blog or reviews website.
Online Reputation Management Helps Businesses Boost Sales
Although sustaining a positive brand reputation appears to be a continuous, considerable process, it can conduct to obvious outcomes.
A quarter of digital marketers (25%) uttered that the main effect of allocating resources to ORM is a growth in sales.
Find out more about Online Reputation Management here.
'''A clean reputation limits the hesitation a client might have if they see negative reviews or comments about your company.'
Andy Beal, Reputation Refinery
The European Commission support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents which reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.