Much like Yelp, the business community has a love-hate relationship with Facebook. Recent actions may make that more hate than love. Over the last few months, Facebook has been adjusting how businesses are “rated” and how it is shared with their more-than two billion users. Their trial with 10 stars didn’t go over well. The latest shift walks away from the Facebook 5 star rating system almost completely and now focuses on “Recommendations”. What does this mean for users and businesses?
Users who want to comment on a business are now presented with a first step: “Do you recommend [business name]?” According to Facebook’s guidance, “Select ‘Yes’ to share what you love about a Page. Select ‘No’ to tell them how to improve”. If the answer is “Yes”, it becomes a Recommendation. If the answer is “No”, it becomes a review. Only after you have made this choice can you enter a rating or comments.
A Recommendation is supposed to answer the question “What do you recommend about [business name]?” Users are welcome to enter any comment they like. Now this is where things become even more interesting. Recommendations are treated like a post to the user News Feed. They type their message, select a privacy setting, and then press Post. If they select any privacy setting other than Public, the review will not be shown to the world, nor will it count toward a Facebook Page’s score. But if “Public” is selected, it will go to the Page’s Reviews (or Recommendations) tab and be shown to all users. The same is true for a (negative) review.
If the user doesn’t want to give the business a Recommendation, they press “No” and leave a review. They will be prompted with “How could [business name] improve?”. The opportunity for comments, privacy, and posting will be the same.
Assuming Facebook is trying to improve the overall quality of the Recommendations system, they have instituted a minimum character requirement. Recommendations or reviews cannot be less than 25 characters. This would prevent such typical spam as “Love it!” or “this place sucks”. A side effect of a Recommendation system instead of stars is that Facebook Business Page managers will have spend more time asking for feedback, not just “5 stars”. They will also have to read that feedback to learn from it, not just brag to a CEO that the company has a high score and assume their job is done.
The unfortunate side effect of this new Facebook rating system is that fence-sitters may be left out. The experience may not have been awesome or terrible. Just a middle-of-the-road situation. They no longer have three stars to choose. They are forced to go to one extreme or the other and must also share a comment about their experience. This could dissuade “lurkers” or introverts from contributing.
The changes discussed so far will represent a significant shift to how most businesses interact with their customers, solicit feedback, and set their own KPIs. Whether they are good or bad for business is negotiable. One new feature is a definite win for businesses: reporting inaccurate reviews. Removing a bad Facebook review is easier under the new system. Facebook Page administrators and regular users can now report Facebook reviews for a variety of reasons. According to Facebook, they are doing this to ensure more “authentic” recommendations. Reviews can be reported for:
You may have noticed that businesses still have a score. Facebook has not deleted previous ratings. According to Facebook, scores are now a combination of previous ratings and new Recommendations and Reviews. There are rumors that response time may also be somehow included, but those have not been confirmed. All of these changes mean a few things for business owners and reputation managers: stop asking for stars, thoroughly read and learn from “authentic” customer feedback, and gauge your success or failure on new standards.
If your organization is looking for professional guidance on how to effectively use this new system, contact our office to learn more about Arkside’s social media management and reputation management services.
Brands love product placements. The perfect product placement can do wonders for introducing a new audience to brand or gain a brand new attention. One famous example of this is the relationship between Hershey and ET. When Mars passed on the chance to have M&Ms featured in the film, the path was cleared for Hershey and Reese’s Pieces. Within two weeks of the film’s release, Reese’s Pieces sales tripled. But what happens when a brand doesn’t ask for a product placement and that placement kills a beloved TV character? Crock-Pot recently found out when one of their devices was the cause of the fire that killed American’s most beloved father, Jack Pearson, on This Is Us.
This Is Us became America’s new favorite TV show in September of 2016. With emotional twists to rival those in Shondaland (Grey’s Anatomy and How To Get Away With Murder) and the lovable likeness of Parenthood, Americans fell in love with the Pearson family and the show that followed them on the journey of life. It was revealed in the first season that Jack Pearson, the father, had passed away tragically before the Pearson children went away to college and that his absence greatly impacted them years later. Through flashbacks, viewers got a sense of who Jack was and began to fall more and more in love with the character. As season 1 continued, Americans became more and more curious about how the beloved father met his demise.
Americans got their answer on January 23rd, 2018. Viewers watched as Jack went about cleaning the kitchen, turned off the Crock-Pot, tidied up the rest of the home, turned off the light in the living room, said goodnight to the dog, and threw a red towel up against the Crock-Pot. After turning out the lights and going to bed, viewers see the day the Pearsons’ were gifted the Crock-Pot and the original owner telling them about the wonky switch. It is only then that viewers watched in horror as the Pearson family home catches fire as the family sleeps on, unaware that anything is amiss.
Backlash for Crock-Pot began swiftly after the episode as Crock-Pot owners reached for their Crock-Pots to deposit them safely in the trash. Backlash continued on social media flooding both Twitter and Facebook with messages about #JusticeForJack and promises to never use their Crock-Pot again.
Crock-Pot acted quickly to attempt to put out the firestorm around them and their beloved slow cookers. Previously not on Twitter, Crock-Pot created the Twitter handle @crockpotcares to respond to frightened Crock-Pot owners and those placing blame on the company for killing off their favorite character. They began using hashtags like #TrustTheCrock and #CrockPotIsInnocent to help dispel fear and garner support for the brand. Dan Fogelman, writer and producer for This Is Us, even took to Twitter to remind fans of the show that “it was a 20 year old fictional crockpot with an already funky switch”.
On Facebook, Crock-Pot continued to respond to comments from scared Crock-Pot users to help assure them that the trusted Crock-Pot they had been using was perfectly safe. Crock-Pot also responded thanking dedicated Crock-Pot fans for their continued support. While some responses were the same, they tried to personalize each message and tied in something about This Is Us and Jack Pearson to try to connect with scared fans. Crock-Pot issued a statement January 25th on Facebook two days after the episode aired to try to stop the spread of the Crock-Pot disaster and reassure fans that Crock-Pots were safe to use.
The faulty Crock-Pot was a shock to many This Is Us fans and an even bigger shock to Crock-Pot. From their first response to a negative review, it is clear Crock-Pot was unware of the firestorm headed their way and were innocently sleeping while social media went into a frenzy. When they awoke from their peaceful slumber they took action to attempt to put out the firestorm directed at them. Crock-Pot was quick to get themselves on Twitter and replied to a handful of Tweets directed at their brand. They continued this strategy mainly on Facebook where they had more of an established presence and were better equipped to handle the amount of fallout coming their way.
While Crock-Pot did a great job quickly handling an unforeseen situation, they could have responded quicker and more efficiently if they had had the right tools in their arsenal from the start. Having software that listens for brand name mentions can help quickly identify references and let the responsible party respond quickly through one platform. Some programs even offer suggested responses that can help speed up response time and give the person managing social media something to work with.
Crock-Pot still needs to stay on their toes as another wave of Crock-Pot-hating could be on the way when the next episode airs after the Big Game. Good Luck Crock-Pot. We hope you use more than just Facebook in the future.
Early last year, we began a search for our official social media partner. Due to the varied nature of our client list, the sheer number of profiles we managed on a daily basis, and our commitment to cross-media integration, we needed a robust platform that could grow with us and be responsive enough to handle our requests and recommendations. After testing six different platform, including industry leaders Buffer and Hootsuite, Sprout Social was our ultimate choice. Together we have grown over the last year and we are both taking our next great leaps together.
“But what does that mean for me?” Good question. We’re very excited about the answer!
The Sprout platform has already enabled us to offer incredible results for our clients. Their content curation and posting abilities are strong compliments to our unique, cutting-edge social media strategies. When it comes to social, we strive to be a social media partner. Our clients routinely outperform industry standards for engagement every month. Now we will be working more closely than ever with Sprout and creating new opportunities. These are just some of the tools at our disposal for the benefit of our clients:
From Day 1, Arkside has always believed in treating our media vendors like partners. We treasure our relationships because the media is a partner in the success of our clients. That approach has paid tremendous dividends. This week is another shining example. Sprout has worked with more than 17,000 clients over the last seven years including UPS, Bentley, Hyatt, and Stanford University. They have won more than 25 awards since their founding. We are honored to be chosen in a small group representing less than 0.004% of their client roster to help launch their new Agency Partner Program.
There are thousands of individuals and agencies to choose from that offer social media management. As Founding Members of the Sprout Social Agency Partner Program, we collaborate with their amazing team which elevates our abilities to drive new brand awareness and revenue to your business. We offer expertise in organic and paid social media campaigns. Beyond social, we can analyze, optimize, and integrate other media such as radio, billboards, and Google into your media mix for the best possible ROI on your marketing investment.
For organizations that have an in-house marketing team, we work with seamless collaboration to ensure success. They are a vital element of content development. Our CEO and Digital Coordinator can train your existing staff (once or at regular intervals) on the latest social media best practices, internal process development, crisis management, and employee empowerment.
If you are looking for a social media partner to see the best results from social media, contact us today. The consultation is free. We can even perform a confidential audit of your existing vendor to identify potential areas of improvement. Give us a call and let’s explore your possibilities!
Dealing with the large social media entities and giants of the online world can be a lot like the famous Office Space TPS reports scene. In the scene, Peter Gibbons is talked to about his TPS reports by two people, a phone call, and even his friends have heard that he has been having “problems” with his TPS reports. He simply forgot about the new cover sheet policy. With each new person who talks to him about the TPS reports, they promise to send him a copy of the memo. Everyone he encounters, with the exception of his friends, doesn’t care that he has already spoken to someone else regarding the policy and the TPS reports, but knows that it is their duty to discuss the policy with him and everyone is required to live by the policies set forth by management. This is an example of corporate policy without common sense.
This is the case when trying to get help from some of the giants of the online world, if you can even manage to get help. Recently, we encountered a technical problem setting up a LinkedIn Company Page for a client. In this case, another company in Canada had long ago setup a Page using the same name as our client. The Canadian company has since shut it’s doors. Not even their website existed anymore. We discovered this and brought it to LinkedIn for assistance in creating the Page for our client. LinkedIn refuses to allow us to move forward because the company names are too similar, even though the Canadian company no longer exists. They will not remove the other company’s Page. We have gone back and forth with LinkedIn over the issue but they refuse to deviate from their procedures by using common sense.
In a different area, Google can also be frustrating. It is now extremely difficult to get any assistance from Google, but this hasn’t always been the case. Google used to have a great feature where we could live chat with tech support if necessary. They have recently eliminated this feature for many of their services, so now phone or email are the main methods of getting assistance. A phone call sounds convenient, right? It would be if the operators spoke understandable English. When operators are difficult to understand or they are constrained by following certain problem resolution procedures without applying any common sense, the solution remains out of rech.
This over-reliance on procedure can also slow down things that should be easy and prompt. Want to take advantage of Google’s holiday hour feature? Submit your hours and wait three days for approval and publishing. Want to remove a couple pictures from Bing Places for Business (previously known as Bing Local)? Make your changes and wait up to 14 days. Any time you want to make a simple change to your Google or Bing listing for your business there is a waiting period. Now thankfully Google’s isn’t as long as Bing’s, but in the world of fast moving data, any waiting period is inhibiting marketers and business owners from successfully promoting their business. Now, I’m not one to praise Yelp, but this is something they have done right. If you want to make a change to your Yelp listing, like inputting your holiday hours, those changes take effect immediately: no waiting period, no hoops to jump through. Just a simple click of a button. While there should be some changes that need to go through Google and Bing for verification, not all changes should which is why certain policies should be changed.
We all have Google My Business accounts to manage our Google listings and the Bing equivalent for those listings. We stewards of our brands control the dashboard; we know what is going on with our brands better than anyone else and would give our non-dominant arm to make sure that nothing happens to mar our brand’s reputation. At the end of the day that is what matters and how dare Google and Bing take that control away from us and decide if our holiday hours or a simple removal of a photo is good enough for our brand. That is up to us to decide.
Policies and procedures are great to have. They help determine a path to take in certain situations. However, policies and procedures are not things that determine the fate of every outcome. There are some instances that need to go against policies and procedures and involve common sense. The examples described above illustrate when common sense should be applied to existing policies. Customer service agents on the front lines of support need to be empowered to use common sense when appropriate. Policies and procedures have a time and a place but that time and place should not impact the marketing capabilities of those trying to do right by their brand. A corporate policy without common sense benefits no one.
Twentieth Century Fox apologized last month for an “X-Men: Apocalypse billboard because it shows Jennifer Lawrence’s character, Mystique, being choked by Apocalypse (a male character). The outrage over the X-Men billboard began when actress Rose McGowan posted her disappointment on social media after seeing the billboard in Los Angeles. After the public flogging, Fox issued this statement:
In our enthusiasm to show the villainy of the character Apocalypse we didn’t immediately recognize the upsetting connotation of this image in print form. Once we realized how insensitive it was, we quickly took steps to remove those materials. We apologize for our actions and would never condone violence against women.
The offended people and 20th Century Fox are both missing the point. When analyzed from a marketing perspective, both groups are making a mistake.
Of course. Everything is offensive to someone. The legendary “Got Milk?” ad about the assassination of Alexander Hamilton may have offended people. Budweiser’s Clydesdale ads offend people against the use of animals in advertising. Does that mean they were bad or mean-spirited? No. Marketing is a combination of art and science. It should be understood that “you can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time” (John Lydgate, adapted by President Abraham Lincoln). The important issue is whether or not the offense or the size of the offended party merits attention in your marketing.
In this case, the size of the offended group and their voice were extremely small until Rose McGowan used social media. After that, the size of the offended group remained small but they had a larger megaphone to broadcast their grievance. They became a very vocal minority. It can be said with some certainly that most people understood that the latest installment in the X-Men movie franchise had violence in it. Why was this violence so offensive?
It is worth noting that the image depicted on the billboard is taken from the movie itself. It is an actual scene in which Apocalypse battles Mystique. But only the advertising was vilified. Why is the on-screen “violence against women” not decried yet the advertising depicting the violence is maligned? According to Ms. McGowan and followers of her cause, they didn’t feel it was right to have the image “forced” upon them (especially their children).
Some facts need to be added for the sake of marketing analysis and public perception:
It seems counterproductive to criticize a billboard for violence against women when that movie has a strong, female lead character who defeats all the men that stand against her.
Furthermore, the same level of outrage was lacking from Ms. McGowan and her fans when Mystique was killing military personnel in previous films or when she was beating up men at all. A double-standard in objecting to violence seems inappropriate.
Fox’s mistake came not in the billboard, but in their apology for the X-Men billboard and removing it from the campaign. As marketers, we fully appreciate the pressure on major corporations to walk many fine lines to please customers. In this case, we would not have advised Fox to apologize or remove the billboards. It is our opinion that they should have stood behind their campaign, the strong female lead character, and the film’s PG-13 rating which deems it appropriate for most of the world’s population to watch.
For parents, the billboard is an opportunity to have a positive discussion with their kids. They can explain Mystique, her strength, her redemption, he leadership, and her triumph over evil. Tell them Apocalypse is an evil character who thinks it is okay to use power over people instead of helping them.
The X-Men, like the Fantastic Four, and many other comic book characters are about good defeating evil, equality among all, and justice reigning supreme.
Fox could have told that story instead of apologizing for it.
Tired of posting to Facebook and not getting results? This Facebook case study is here to help. Good social media is not something for your receptionist or “any young person” to handle. Facebook for your business is different than having a personal profile. You have goals to sell more widgets, promote your brand, earn new customers, turn loyal customers into fans (more on this later), and increase traffic to your website. To achieve these goals -or any others on social media- you need to understand what works. You must also be prepared to dedicate multiple hours per day to finding content, sharing images, promoting posts, replying to comments, finding new audiences, and analyzing previous results.
Our goal with this Facebook case study is to show how we approach Facebook management (along with other social media networks) and the results we create for our clients.
Craig & Sons Termite & Pest Control, Inc., located in Redlands, CA. Their service area is approximately 35 miles from their office. They are a family owned business for many decades and provide all pest removal and prevention services to residential and commercial clients.
Craig & Sons had been working with a national media company (who will go unnamed) that built their website and “managed” their social media. After failing to see any meaningful engagement on Facebook and no other social accounts being used, Craig & Sons was seeking alternatives. After explaining our approach to Facebook and other social media, we were honored to earn their business.
Posting Schedule: The previous company had no posting schedule. Content seemed to appear randomly: sometimes four posts a week (still less than half of what it should be) and other times once a month. In all cases, the posts would lack any images or video. Just a few sentences of text. This is completely insufficient. According to some studies, the average life of a Facebook post can be only 2.5 hours!
Audience Reach: In the six months preceding our takeover, only three posts ever reached (not engaged, simply reached), more than 100 people. This was on a page with over 250 fans. Two of those posts were posted directly by the client so they can’t be attributed to the media company.
SEO Performance: In the six months preceding our takeover, only four clicks from Google went to their Facebook Page. One substantial benefit of a successful Facebook Page is search engine ranking. Beyond linking to your website and encouraging search engines to boost it on page one, you also have the capability to have your Facebook Page rank on the first page of Google (and other search engines) to knock out a competitor.
Audience Engagement: Reaching an audience is one thing. Getting them to engage with your content and your company is another. Only ONCE did they get an engagement level of 10 people or higher. Half of that engagement was directly attributable to a post from the client.
Summary: Despite having thousands of employees and millions of dollars to develop effective social media strategies for their clients, this company approached social media as less than a hobby. Their client suffered from a wasted investment.
Remember Arkside Rule #1: Always treat marketing as an investment!
1) Understand the target market: home owners and property managers, age 35+, located within 1-35 miles of the Craig & Sons office
2a) Create accounts on Twitter, Google+, Instagram, and Pinterest
2b) Optimize their existing Facebook Page (and the other networks) to include keyword-rich bios and easy-to-find contact information
3) Capitalize on the creepy factor of bugs with visual content and include educational elements so the audience becomes more aware of bugs and other pests, how to prevent infestations, and how Craig & Sons can take care of pest problems
4) Build a posting schedule focusing on the days with the most social traffic, optimizing time-of-day placement
5) Utilize social profiles for engagement, customer retention, and SEO value
6) Posts need to be image and video heavy while still maintaining the traditional “80/20 Rule”
7) Employees were trained on engagement and encouraged to Like the Page (if they had not already)
Date work began: June 6, 2015
Posting Schedule: As most people don’t want to hear about bugs on a constant basis -especially a sales pitch about bug killing- we identified the days of the week most relevant to the client’s target audience. On those days, we create 1-2 posts per day. These are scheduled during “prime time” when the audience is most likely to be on. Approximately 20% of those posts in a given week link directly to the client’s website. The remaining 80% are funny, creepy, educational, or otherwise relevant content for the intended audience. Hashtags are included when appropriate as they are now searchable on Facebook.
Beyond Facebook, we also create unique content for Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. These platforms were selected due to their user demographics, capability for visual presentation, and popularity.
As a combined group, all four social channels receive relevant content customized for the intended audience. Twitter receives more posts and Instagram the least. This is based on substantial research regarding how users interact with brands on each network. All four work together to promote a cohesive brand presentation no matter which social network a potential or current customer may discover.
Audience Reach: Beyond taking their number of Likes to over 300, our relevant organic content now reaches more people each week than previously achieved in a month. This is without a single paid ad or otherwise promoted post. The goal is to provide information that matters to the audience so they Like, Comment, and Share with their friends.
It is worth noting that this new approach, which put much more content in front of the audience than they had seen previously did not result in a single Unlike, Hide Post, or Report as Spam action!
SEO Performance: The SEO improvement was extremely fast. In just six weeks we saw at least eight clicks to the Facebook Page directly from Google search results. We also began to see traffic from Bing, Yahoo!, AOL, and even LinkedIn. These demonstrate moments in which a competitor may have appeared but had been outranked by Craig & Sons’ Facebook Page.
Audience Engagement: We often describe our “Useless Army” concept to potential clients. It is the idea of having thousands upon thousands of Facebook Fans but none of them actually engage with the Page. No Likes, comments, or shares – or at least very few. So what good is an army of Fans who don’t interact with your posts? In one word: useless.
As you can see here, the new content immediately achieved greater engagement across all three measurements: Likes, Comments, and Shares. Such interaction helps Craig & Sons demonstrate expertise in their field, passion for their industry, and a commitment to truly engaging with their audience. Where the previous company only achieved an engagement level of 10 people or higher one time in six months, we have done it more than a dozen times without any direct client posts. When people have great content to share, you empower them to become “brandvocates”.
What is a “brandvocate”? The term describes anyone not employed by the company that promotes your product or service without compensation. They advocate your brand to their friends and family for one simple reason: they like what you offer. They are a valuable marketing asset because they are genuine, loyal, and provide free word-of-mouth advertising. Social media gives them the ability to do this on a massive scale.
Summary: Success is a direct result of multiple efforts. It requires an understanding of the intended audience, posting schedules based on research and demographics, relevant content curated and shared by people, better search engine optimization, and new levels of audience engagement.
If you would like to learn more about how Arkside Marketing can help your business find success on Facebook or other social media, contact our office today. The first consultation is free and we will analyze your social media at no charge.
It isn’t a rumor, nor is it a conspiracy. Facebook organic reach has been slashed. Facebook has admitted to changing its algorithm so businesses (or anyone else with a Page) are forced to pay if they want their posts to be seen. While most businesses saw a decline to about 15-20% organic reach last year, many are now reaching only 2%. In the case of the Arkside Marketing Facebook Page, we are seeing 5-8% consistently.
Facebook has become the bridge troll with a pay-to-play model.
The origin of this change reaches back about a year and a half. Facebook had one billion users and was the place to be. Many Fortune 500 companies were clamoring to get on the bandwagon but still hadn’t figured out how. Even at the end of 2012, only 66% of the F500 were on Facebook, let alone using it effectively.
But in May 2012, General Motors’ firebrand CMO, Joel Ewanick, made the decision to fire their social media agency of record and stop all advertising on Facebook. Quick way to save $10 million. The stated reasoning was that they didn’t see any substantial return on their investment so they would stop advertising and continue with their organic Facebook Page fan base of a few million followers.
Even with Facebook making it impossible for brands to reach 100% of their followers, most were still seeing what you posted. Why advertise? Faceb0ok was cannibalizing itself. Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?
Not only did they just eliminate themselves as a top Facebook advertiser (and revenue source), but they did this the week Facebook had their IPO. Ouch.
We believe Joel was right.
Ewanick and General Motors exposed the flaw in Facebook’s plan. Spending wasn’t necessary because people were organically finding, Liking, and sharing brand content.
Facebook had to fix the giant hole in the ship. Now you have to pay to get on board.
Post-IPO, Facebook has been under immense public pressure (especially from our own Founder who has had issues with the platform). They have been busy addressing their failure on mobile devices and an unfriendly ad platform. Organic results were odd also. For many years, it has been frustrating for businesses on Facebook because they are treated badly. Even when a customer says they “Like” a business, Facebook doesn’t see that as permission to show your content. In their belief, just because a customer says they “Like” something, that doesn’t really mean they want to see anything from it.
In high school, guys wanted “no” to mean “yes”.
On Facebook, “yes” actually means “no”.
Now, “yes” actually means “no way in hell”. So what is a business to do? According to Facebook, a business is to pay for ads.
“Your brand can fully benefit from having fans when most of your ads show social context, which increases advertising effectiveness and efficiency“.
Perhaps the most offensive and glaring admission is this:
“We expect organic distribution of an individual page’s posts to gradually decline over time as we continually work to make sure people have a meaningful experience on the site.“
If someone tells you they like something and you block them from seeing it, how does that equal a meaningful experience?
1) Save Money and Reach Fewer People
There are many social media agencies and managers that we have spoken to whom have told us they will be focusing less of their time (and their client’s money) on Facebook Pages. In their view, the task of reaching a fan base is so time consuming and expensive that better results can be found on other social media or even traditional media.
2) Spend Money and Reach More People
Other social media agencies and managers have said they will pay, if necessary. Facebook wants to command paid media and may be a force that is too large to ignore. For those companies with substantial followings in the thousands or hundreds of thousands, a marketing investment may be a wise decision.
At Arkside Marketing, we have saying, “advertising is an investment. If it is only an expense, you are doing it wrong.”
3) Leave Facebook
Yes, we’re serious. For some businesses, the Facebook Page organic reach may have provided a nice bump in social interaction, but their new model decreases the return that could possibly be achieved. Could that time be better spent on other social platforms such as Twitter or the SEO-friendly Google+?
In the spirit of full disclosure, we have not recommended that any of our clients abandon Facebook. Each of them can continue to successfully reach their audience, but to a smaller degree. We also plan to continue our own Facebook presence, but will reduce our advertising to large announcements.
Although we agree with his decision, we blame Joel Ewanick for this. Ultimately, it would have occurred anyway. Facebook had to realize their shortcoming. But now that it is here, what will your business choose? The pay-to-play model is here to stay, mainly because it doesn’t seriously infringe on Facebook’s main product: its users.
If you would like an objective evaluation of your social media presence and strategy, contact our office.
It was recently reported by Searchmetrics that Google is strongly prioritizing social media activities in their ranking algorithm. This knowledge should have profound implications in the SEO strategy of your company and how you include social media in your overall online plans. The SEO strategy you have built with your Arkside consultants incorporates this information already and we encourage you to utilize these best practices in your social media efforts.
Seven of the top 10 factors in a website’s rank involve social media. They are:
1) Google +1
2) Facebook Shares
4) Facebook Total
5) Facebook Comments
6) Facebook Likes
The importance of social media elements has been a growing trend in Google’s SEO algorithm and 2013 seems to reinforce that notion. Although backlinks continue to remain vital, there are other factors which have decreased in importance such as keywords links and domains. It is interesting to note that Google is specifically including Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, while ignoring LinkedIn which is a hub of deep knowledge on nearly every possible industry. We’ll have to see how or if this evolves over time. When sharing your content on social media, remember that people don’t want to see you talk about yourself all day. For every 7-10 social media posts you make, one should be about you.
Also of note in the report are the on-site elements Google is looking for. It is no surprise that “content is still king” and Google wants websites to create unique content that is valuable to the intended audience. As a contrary example, the Arkside Marketing blog is filled with information about the company, areas of marketing, best practices, and client profiles. If we suddenly began blogging about fishing or the latest updates to IRS tax code, Google might devalue our site for being grossly off-topic. Ensure your website has fresh, unique, and quality content in order to build your authority on your topic(s). These are the on-site factors examined by Google:
Missing from the first list in this blog post is #3 – Number of backlinks. Google still considers this to be a critical metric of your authority on a particular subject. If you have good content, Google assumes people will like it, link to it, and share it publicly via their own site or social media channels. This does not mean you should implement any “black hat” SEO techniques and create blog farms filled with backlinks to your site. White hat techniques are still the unarguably best way to achieve Google SEO success.
While Google hasn’t made many dramatic shifts in their ranking priority from last year to this year, social media has climbed in importance and must remain a key factor in your online strategies. Use social media to promote the high-quality, unique content on your site and encourage people to distribute that content via backlinks and social media sharing. This is how you will achieve digital success.
When the doors to the office are locked for the evening, that never means you have to stop receiving phone calls, generating website traffic, receiving emails, or educating your customers. There are many ways that your direct response advertising campaign can continue to sell after hours. Advertising is an investment and, like your money, it should always be working for you.
Let us pretend your company sells mattresses. You have three showrooms within 200 miles of each other and they are open 9am – 6pm seven days per week. Your website shows your full product catalog along with information about your company and how to contact any store. You are currently running a radio ad campaign and 20% of your commercials are running from 8pm – 12 midnight. (Don’t worry. You got these for free as a result of our negotiating.) You also have a television campaign running from 4pm – 12 midnight, a YouTube channel, Facebook Page, Twitter feed, Google AdWords, and a long-term SEO strategy.
How do you continue to sell after 6pm?
Your radio and television ads include a phone number. But after 6pm, you don’t have a live body in the office to answer it. That is no reason to stop your customer from calling after hours. There are many call center services with locations around the world (remember the time difference) that can provide professional operators to take calls for your business after hours. They speak proficient, sometimes fluent or native, English, and can be trained to follow your company protocol for greeting and working with after hours calls. This can include instruction on what to do with urgent calls and whom to reach. Messages can be taken and delivered via fax or email for convenience.
They can also direct customers to your website and/or social media networks, which we will cover in the next sections. Always remember that your staff and marketing media should be a resource to the customer.
Your direct response advertising should include a reference to your website. And your website has a live chat operator, right? If your answer was “no”, we hope there is a great reason because a live chat operator can help you move more mattresses when your brick and mortar is closed. According to a 2010 Forrester Research study on live chat, “44% of online consumers say that having questions answered by a live person while in the middle of an online purchase is one of the most important features a Web site can offer.”
In addition to answering questions just before or even during someone’s purchasing process on your site, live chat also offers specific after hours benefits. If most or all of your competitors are lacking a website live chat feature, you are in a unique position to help your customers AND sell to them while your competition waits for 8am the next morning.
Live chat is also a great means of reducing cost-per-sale.
Customers hate waiting. By allowing your employees to multitask, you can substantially reduce the backlog on your phone system during the day (not to mention reduce call volume dramatically) and increase the overall number of customers who received support.
Finally – use it in your advertising! Promote your competitive advantage of having help available 24 hours a day, especially if that is when your advertising is running.
It isn’t wasted time or space to include social media in your direct response advertising if you can help questions and sell mattresses via social media. In much the same way live chat can help you sell after hours, so can social media, but with more opportunities. Live chat requires initiation by the user on some level to begin the relationship. All of the social media sites give your business the opportunity to start a relationship, answer questions, promote a new mattress line, or offer advice.
A recent study showed that Google prioritizes social media factors in its calculations for search rankings. Seven of the top 10 factors involve social media. If for no other reason, make sure your company is using social media to enhance its own rankings in search. Never make it a challenge for customers to find you, especially after hours when customers have plenty of time to search and choose between you and your competitors.
Content is also critical for SEO and customer engagement. No one wants to see a Facebook Page or Twitter feed filled with self-promotion. Talk about events in your community, share interesting and RELEVANT photos and videos, and create contests to prompt customer engagement. These are a few of the things you can do that will earn a customer’s attention while they try to learn more about you and your mattresses in the wee hours of the night.
Ensure that your staff or an outside vendor are monitoring your social media networks after hours. They should have the ability to respond to messages, reTweet, share information, and assist customers with making purchases on your website. The goal is to be far more than an answering service taking messages for someone to handle in the morning.
Your social media team should be thoroughly familiar with your website. This is vital so they can direct customers to the right page at the right time. For example, a customer wants to know how many years a mattress will last. Your social media team should send that person to a Testimonials page about the mattress line, not a description of the features. (Of course, if your product page has testimonials on it, that is okay.)
There is no reason you need to wait for your doors to open to sell. Utilize your after hours direct response advertising to direct your potential customers to the places they can find answers. With these three techniques, you can successfully and cost-efficiently sell your product or services after hours.
Businesses large and small can encounter difficulties when integrating social media into their traditional advertising strategy. The opportunities to reach an audience are more diverse with social media due to the variety of sites, not to mention the methods they use to connect users together. The following tips will help you integrate social media with your traditional media such as print, radio, and television.
The same person responsible for your current traditional marketing should also be responsible for social media. They don’t have to do the work, but they should be accountable. You need someone to coordinate the brand, message, and schedule between all of your media properties. This will help maintain cohesion in your marketing.
Show your customers that you are the same company on social media that you are in traditional media. For example, place the Facebook logo in your magazine ad with a call-to-action such as “Like Us On Facebook for Exclusive Coupons!”. Social and traditional media should be used to assist each other. Share your TV commercial on Twitter and other social media the same day it hits the airwaves. Make sure it is loaded on your website or YouTube channel so you can track interactions. Let people know what TV channels they can find it on. We brought a new level of cross pollination to our client, Precision Instrumentation, by including their YouTube channel on all of their product packaging. The channel offers a collection of how-to and self-help videos so their clients don’t have to call a support line for small, quick fixes.
Make sure to incorporate whatever features are appropriate: a “Like” or “+1” button, Facebook or Twitter feed, Share buttons, etc. Integrating social media into your website can give you four direct benefits. First, some social media elements such as Like or +1 buttons give you a search engine optimization (SEO) enhancement. Second, it can add dynamic content that keeps your website visitor updated on the latest news from your company or about your product without having to read a blog or press release. Third, your website visitors now have a direct and convenient link to your social media and can connect with you organically (thereby growing your contact potential in the future). Finally, with a Like, +1, or other Share button, you are enabling and encouraging your visitors to share your content with their friends and family. This is equivalent to handing them a bullhorn and providing a script about how amazing you are.
You may use a newsletter or “email blast” to communicate with your customer database on a regular basis. (If not, please contact us NOW so we can help you get started on this vital marketing component!) But whatever you use to stay in touch, make sure to promote your new social media channels. Tell them to Like you on Facebook, Follow you on Twitter, Follow you on Instagram, Circle you on Google+, or whatever it may be they need to do on a particular social media channel. “If you build it, they will come” only works for strip clubs and open bank vaults. You not only have to tell people where to find you, but what to do when they get there. Make it easy by integrating social media.
Social media is an important opportunity to reach new customers, stay connected with current customers, and showcase yourself. It also allows public promotion and discourse so that your customers can help sell your product or service. Integrating social media correctly with your traditional media will bring new growth to your bottom line with minimal investment. Truly great potential for ROI!
If you would like to schedule a consultation or ask a question about social media integration, please call or email us today. We always promise a response within 24 hours.