Social Media Webinar Q&A
Karen McCullough and Chris Rash led a Social Media Made Fun and Easy webinar, March 21. The following are answers to questions posed during the webinar.
Q. How do I know which platforms to use for my audience?
A. Knowing where your audience is congregating is important, but you will still likely need to use multiple platforms to reach them. Knowing the demographic trends helps, or you can poll your members to find out where they are. Setting up accounts on multiple platforms to see which draws the greatest numbers and engagement is the route most people take. For a more exact look at your social demographics, Rapportive is a Gmail extension inside your inbox that shows a profile of each contact, including a picture and which social networks they’re on and most social CRM systems include social networks in the profile of your customer database.
Q. How do we use social media to reach those who are not following us?
A. LinkedIn is a great tool to find people in a specific industry. Creating groups surrounding a topic to draw interest from people searching the topic and who wouldn’t necessarily know your organization name. Facebook ads are also very customizable and can be tailored to reach specific audiences by geography, gender, age, interest and much more. Participating in conversations associated with a Twitter hashtag in your field also gets your name out among an industry or niche interest. Depending on your industry, other tools that might be helpful in identifying new blood include:
- Meetup groups meet in cities around the world to discuss topics of interest to them either personally or professionally, search for an appropriate meetup group and connect with the members/attendees.
- Google blog search will turn up blogs about and/or dedicated to topics.
- Creating a “Boolean” search string on Google or using Google Advanced search to specifically look for keywords within pages on a given domain (i.e., Facebook.com) will turn up a significant number of individuals, groups, pages, etc., dedicated to your search topic. Human resources, more specifically “candidate sourcers,” are professional people finders. Contact someone in your organization’s HR and ask about creating Boolean search strings. They should be able to teach you the basics in about five to 10 minutes.
Q. How do you prevent offending or overloading followers, (i.e., taking up too much “Share of Wall” on Facebook)?
A. Post quality matters more than post quantity and/or share of wall. Knowing your audience is key, as is asking for every post: “What’s in it for them?” If you are targeting a younger or more “connected” audience you will need to post more frequently because posts are chronologically ranked and higher volume of posts equals shorter post lifespan. If your audience is less connected, each post has a longer shelf life and one post per day (or less) could be sufficient. Again, quality is still most important. Followers are more open to frequent posts if they value the information you are providing or it helps their personal brand to be associated with you.
Q. What are the legal issues with Pinterest?
A. The copyright issues surrounding Pinterest are still a grey area. Because users are pinning pictures that refer back to the host site, the responsibility should land on whether the originally posting site owns the image. The legalese on Pinterest has attempted to absolve itself from any responsibility by claiming fair use and the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, but these have not yet been tested in a court of law. For more information on the complexities of the issue, read this article in Forbes.
Q. What resources are available to get started on Twitter?
A. Mashable is a great go-to for any social media 101; here is their version for Twitter. Staying up on blogs from social media industry experts like Jeff Hurt, Julius Solaris, Liz King and Lara McCulloch will keep you informed of new ideas to enhance your event’s account once you get started. We also have a basic guide to the new Twitter.
Q. How can companies combat negative online feedback, whether it is about them or a company with a similar name?
A. Listening and responding to any feedback on the Internet about you is crucial. People don’t always talk directly to you when they are talking about you. Listening tools ranging from Radian6 on the high-end or Social Mention, which is free alert you when keywords show up on social media. Once you know it’s there, you can use it as an outlet to provide customer service, to inform the public about your stance on a situation and to stay on top of issues stirring up your audience.
• Once it is posted it is virtually permanent (some sites will let the organization post a challenge and after review the post may be taken down but this is rare). So you really can’t remove anything that’s out there.
• It is less about “combating” the post than mitigating the post’s damage. The last thing you want to do is start a public argument with someone online. You also don’t want to overwhelm the board with denials. Both tactics make your brand look worse than the original negative comment.
• A recommended tactic is to engage the fans you know will come to your defense. Raving Fans are a brand’s best friends and typically they will come to your defense long before you ever find the negative post in the first place, but if not, try to enlist some into service. DO NOT as a representative of the company, pretend to be an impartial fan. Somehow they always find out.
Q. How do you recommend selling the value of social media to management?
A. Like you would for any good marketing pitch, present the data behind how a specific social media campaign can benefit your company. Having a social media strategy outlined will help your cause. A prudent management team is not going to jump on Facebook because it has 800 million users, but they might get behind a campaign that proves the specific market you want to target has an active presence on the social network that you can tap into through ads or a page for your association. Furthermore, identifying similar organizations (competitors are great) that are, or are trying to, have success within the network is always helpful.
Q. How can you expand a presence internationally?
A. It is a Facebook world, the rest of us just live in it. While Facebook is nearly ubiquitous, there are still a few lingering countries where Facebook is not the dominant player (Brazil, China, Russia and much of Eastern Europe). The beauty of Facebook specifically and social networks in general is their international reach and ability to target specific regions. Each individual is geographically identified on his or her profile. Facebook ads can be tailored to individuals in certain areas, and searching or using hashtags for the regions you are targeting narrows down people and posts on Twitter. For more information on prevailing networks in specific countries see techcrunch.com.
Q. Do you see a difference in what industries use which platforms more, e.g. agriculture, health, education, etc.?
A. Most analytics revolve around demographics, rather than industry. But generally, corporate fields lean toward LinkedIn; high-tech, Generation Y-led business are more socially diverse and are more likely to use multiple platforms; and consumer brands tend to have a large presence on Facebook and others.
LinkedIn is the only social network that specifically divides users by industry though, so it is a good place to get started. LinkedIn users in order by job function rank in the following: sales, recruiting, IT, administrative and then others. Top industries are higher education, marketing/advertising, IT and healthcare.
There are a few studies based on the popularity of industries but they are usually based on conversation metrics rather than profile metrics (popular product groups tend to do well—cars, technology, etc.).
Q. How can a content calendar help when setting up a social strategy?
A. The biggest problem most organizations face, is knowing what to say, when to say it and how to say it. Social media, just like any marketing campaign, must have a high-level vision and strategy in place. Once you determine your medium, define purpose and select content, setting up frequency of posts is your next obstacle.
Dashboards like HootSuite and Tweetdeck allow you to schedule posts for multiple accounts far in advance. This is a good way to launch a social media presence and make sure you are regularly updating your accounts. However, setting this up and leaving it alone creates a “push” mentality and doesn’t engage users by listening and interacting on a personal level. Use it in moderation or to fill in the gaps when you are too busy to monitor the accounts religiously.
Analytics show you the type of posts your community interacts with best and what time of day creates the most interaction. Use that information to continually enhance your calendar and optimize your efforts.
Q. Generation Y knows social media. Should you turn over control of your accounts to them?
A. Again, high-level strategy is crucial. Knowing the tools and knowing your business are two different things. Upper level management should determine a vision and purpose of social media, and interns and younger members of the staff can implement this. Use their knowledge of the platforms and tendency to be early adopters to come up with new ideas and execute strategy in new ways. Also, know your audience. If you are primarily serving a more mature audience, they might not connect to someone much younger about a professional development opportunity.
Q. Can you use LinkedIn as a cold call for sales?
A. Most social networks are wary of allowing businesses to contact individuals. LinkedIn forces basic members to identify how you know an individual before you can connect with them. There are ways to get around this though. If you are the member of the same group, you can contact them directly. Also, premium memberships can contact anyone without an introduction. How you contact people is up to you, but looking like spam is never helpful. Use LinkedIn as a name generator, find someone who you are mutually connected to and then take the cold call to the phone line or to email. A cold connection in social is not nearly as good as making an in-person connection via phone and then connecting via social.
Q. How does Google+ factor in?
A. Too early to tell for sure. Google’s new search policy, which puts your presence on Google+ higher in related search results, and its ownership of Picasa (photo sharing) and YouTube (video sharing), and it’s integration with the Android smartphone platform make it a very important player in the game. However, it has yet to create the engagement and critical mass to become a major competitor to Facebook. Time will tell if the millions of people with Gmail accounts who were automatically entered into the system will start using it at any higher rate.