Why Some Companies Fear Social Media

There are lots of companies out there that have no presence on social media. Some of them are not there because of fear. Those fears are real though and most companies may not want to admit it (do you like to admit your fears). I would say that what the company fears most is the ability to control their brand, control of their message, and consumers will speak up (could be negative).

People will always say well you know they are already talking about you (feel free to roll your eyes). That may not even be remotely true. Really have you given them anything to talk about? No, well they probably not talking about you, let’s not get paranoid. However if you can get them talking about you, you just might be able to steer it and use it as wind in your sails.

With the internet you now have the ability to reach anywhere in the world you want. You really can (although less likely) make a sale at any time in some far flung location. It had made the little guy as capable as Wal-Mart in getting out there. A website, social website, and a blog can make you pretty visible. It just takes work.

Let us take a closer look at those fears.

1. Fear of losing control of the brand.

This fear is actually somewhat irrational. Your name is already out there. Do you have a strategy for getting into social media? If not what is your goal? Help bring awareness to your brand (I would start here). Now how are you going to do that? Open a Facebook account and then a month later a Twitter account (I would advise it is something visual open a Pinterest account too) and link to them from your website. Then post at least 2 new things a day with something that can help start a discussion. Reply to people who post within 24 hours. This allows you to steer your brand in conversation.

2. Fear of losing control of the message.

Okay so you have your name out there and you have your slogan because you are the greatest at something (every company things they are the greatest at something), but you are afraid that  if you active on social media then well how can you control the messages coming in and going out from the company. You can control what is going out initially and you can always control how you respond to communications on your social media page.  No, you will never be able to control what people say about you. Instead think of it this way, if you have good messages coming in you are doing something right. If you have negative messages coming in, engage those consumers and find out what is wrong. Then as the friendly, kind and loving company you can go out and fix those problems if they are more than one offs.

3. Fear of actually hearing from consumers.

I really have never understood think one. Any communications you get as a company are great they can teach you what you are doing right and what you are doing wrong and so you can learn what to adjust. Sounds like a winner to me. Plus if you respond in virtual time just like you would to a real live person (really that is what they are) then you might just get a brand advocate who will really talk about you after the problem is fixed and nothing is better than that.

 

Need some other ways to master that fear check this out.

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Scared Consumers Are Waking Up to Social Media Privacy Concerns

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The sheer comfort and ease many of us have when sharing our most personal thoughts, whereabouts, and family relationships just might be the reason a new era of cyber criminals are lurking as our next “friend” on Facebook. Perhaps even more concerning is the data aggregation of consumers online and social networking behavior, which is costing some people job offers and turning away insurance providers.

Consumers are waking up from a social media trance to find out the real consequences of disclosing perhaps a little too much about themselves.  As Facebook went public, so has the real reality of the company’s most powerful asset: an inventory of human behavior and personal data.  For the company, this means a solid foundation for continued advertising sales.  As consumers, it means we may need to start reading more of the fine print when accepting those “terms and conditions” statements.

Lori Andrews, a law…

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Social Media and You

Social media is everywhere. Most people have access to the internet whether via cell phone, computer, or other electronic device. Where there is access to the internet, there is access to social media and networking. Social Media is a means for people to get connected to each other whether through common interest, common location, or common backgrounds.

Philippe J. Maarek puts it very simply in his book, Campaign Communication & Political Marketing, when he defines social networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn. Maarek defines these social networking sites as “an Internet variation of personal ads found in newspapers, but where the initial form to fill out when you become a user records personal details of your life (Myspace, Facebook, Twitter) or more professional data (LinkedIn).” This is a tremendous tool for businesses to conduct research because they have access to people’s personal information at their fingertips. Businesses have demographic information readily available and can use the social networking sites to communicate with their public and gain useful feedback about the business’s efforts. Social networking is helpful because it is a means of one-on-one communication with the public without the need to spend money and time travelling to them.

Let me show you a couple of variations of social media sites that can really help your business. We will look at Facebook, LinkedIn, Ning, and Social Mention.

Let us start with the most familiar one to most of us Facebook.

Facebook was created in 2004 as a free, public social networking site for college students. To join Facebook one had to have an email address from a college or university. It created an online meeting ground for college students to stay connected with their friends at other schools and their fellow classmates. Since it was created, Facebook has opened to the general public.

Anyone and their mom can, quite literally, have a Facebook account. To create an account, you must enter some personal information, the amount of information and how public that information remains up to the user. A profile can contain pictures, videos, interests, quotes, pages “liked, and much more. Facebook includes advertisements and businesses can create profiles. Facebook allows friends to comment, like, post a message, and send private messages to other people on Facebook which enable people to stay connected.

Yet you are wondering how it can be useful to me as a business? Facebook can be used in a number of ways to reach out to clients. A business can form their own Facebook profiles where supporters can become their “friends” and the business can have an open line of communication with their constituents. This is a great tool because customers can see exactly what the business is up to, where they are, videos, links to blogs, the company page, and can give their input (positive or negative) on what matters most to them. Facebook profiles create a real sense of humanity for the business because they are reaching out and being personal and Facebook can help give the business character. Facebook can also be used by a business in its ability to advertise. A business can also use Facebook profile information in marketing research because essentially all demographic information for an individual is listed in their profile. This concept enables a business to segment their public to more effectively reach their target audiences.

Now what about LinkedIn? LinkedIn was developed in 2002 and up-and-running in 2003. It is the largest professional networking site available on the Internet with more that 175 million members worldwide. LinkedIn is a free, public social networking site that focuses primarily on forming professional connections. LinkedIn is arranged so that a user can create a profile which resembles a resume. The information included in a profile may be educational background, previous and current employment information, and the reason you are a member of the site. LinkedIn functions in several different ways, it serves to reconnect colleagues and classmates, to find connections when looking for employment or business opportunities, and to gain or share advice about business with experts.

LinkedIn provides a backdrop for businesses to interact with an audience of professionals. Members of this social networking resource include executives from all 2011 Fortune 500 companies.

LinkedIn also contains tools useful for businesses such as LinkedIn Answers. LinkedIn Answers is used to pose questions in different professional groups. This means that the information provided in each profile enables marketers to segment LinkedIn’s population to reach a specific professional group and ask questions. This is like being able to pass out a survey or ask a group of professionals for their opinions on topics, current issues, etcetera, without having to manually seek out the target group, and create and distribute questions. It also provides immediate feedback to questions rather than lagging responses that are associated with mail-outs and email questions. LinkedIn Answers can also pose general questions about business’ performances, character, and choices. This could be an important tool for businesses to see where they are failing and succeeding in their work in the public eye.

What is Ning? Ning is a social network creator which allows people to build private social networks. There is a cost associated with this website building site. Ning offers a wide variety of options for its users such as the option of whether to make their network private or public, require approval for membership, and allows for moderation of actions on the site. This website builder also allows the user to incorporate other social networks into the new one, making the users reach even greater.

Groups can be created within the social network as well which may aid in segmenting the network community into smaller, specific groups. A site designed on Ning meets the specifications of each user; there are a variety of options for displaying information, pictures, and videos, as well as a plethora of theme options. Ning also offers a variety of ways to collect money such as collecting money per site usage, collecting donations, or running the user’s own advertisements. When reviewing the possibilities that Ning presents users, it is easy to see where a business could benefit from utilizing this service.

By using Ning and creating personalized social network it enables a business to interact with public or private communities, collect donations (if you a non-profit and all that), and conduct marketing research all on one site. Ning creates a perfect environment to interact with their consumers and gain feedback on the business’s initiatives. Ning therefore aides in creating sites where a business can gather pertinent information in a controlled group setting which gives an advantage when a business can properly use that information to better a  product.

Another useful tool for businesses that are on any form of social media is Social Mention. According to the website, “Social Mention is a social media search platform that aggregates user generated content from across the web into a single stream of information.” This means that Social Mention is a means of searching the web for keywords or names, the frequency they appear, where they appear, and whether or not their appearance has a positive or negative connotation. Social Mention also provides an immediate analysis of searches. This enables a business to gather information immediately; Social Mention provides an excellent basis for constant data collection.

Businesses can utilize Social Mention for marketing research. Understanding how this tool can be used requires knowing what information can be gleaned from keyword searches on the internet. A business can search their name and find how much it is mentioned, where, and whether it is positive or negative in nature. A search for a business marketing campaign can give an idea of how the public is reacting to the marketing. Social Mention is useful to a business because it can assess how a business and its opponent are ranking among internet users.

There you have it a few ideas for the business that just is not quite sure where to go on social media and really even what options are out there. If you are going to be on-line and available to the world (or even if you are not) it is always a good idea to know what people are saying about you even if it is nothing. Social Mention is only one of many tools that can be used to find this information. This enables you to stop wasting you hard earned marketing dollars and put it into a location that just might earn you a better return on your investment and a better return is something everyone at the company can enjoy.

I hope that helps you get a better grasp of possibilities from a few different types of social sites and how each of them provides different options.

Give Your Site a French Manicure

I thought this was a good post and worthy of re sharing.

Boomer Blog Blunders

Hello again!

This week, let’s explore the secret world of web design.  Do you prefer a French manicure or glitter?  Often underutilized, “whitespace” can bring a sophisticated, polished, elegant feel to a web page.  Top brands know this and use whitespace liberally to visually position themselves as an upscale brand. 

Unlike its name implies, whitespace does not have to be white.  “Whitespace is simply the empty space between and around the elements of a design or page layout. This can include: space around graphics and images, margins and gutters, space between columns, and even the space between lines of type.” 

Consider the following examples: 

     

As you glance at these web pages, which portrays a higher quality?  Notice the difference in the amount of whitespace in the menu bar and between the photographs.  Also, look at the space incorporated into the company names.  One feels sophisticated, confident, and luxurious…

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Websites and Design

When many of us think emerging media we do not really think of websites since they have been around for quite some time now, but in 2010 almost 50% of small businesses did not have a website. That is mind blowing to me. I am not sure the last time I opened a phone book to find a business (or well anything for that matter). Okay I’ll admit, most likely not everyone needs a website to be successful, but most companies do and if you even have and inkling that you should have one you probably need one.

The first problem is where do you go to get your domain name to even start your own website? Well if you have ever wondered what those Go Daddy commercials were selling look no farther, but there are a variety of companies that also provide domain names for you. Some of those others are: Register, Network Solutions, 1&1, and Yahoo Domains. Okay now that that is settled and you know where to get your domain name and you paid to officially have a link to your site (hopefully you got your company name).

Now it is down to the actually design of the site. I suggest a few things one if you do not know what you are doing you might want to actually pay someone to create it for you (I would be going the route of paying someone for sure). Before you hop in your car and run off to the tech savvy high school kid down the street to build your website; sit down and take some time and think how you would want to see your website (you may need some paper and a pencil to do some simple layouts). We have all looked at websites that we liked and here is what I see these websites have in common.

Good websites are written in easy to understand language none of those pretentious words like we were supposed to know for those standardized tests in high school.  Key word there we were apparently supposed to know them. Guess what I still do not know them. Why, well because I do not use them to talk or to get you to understand what I am saying. That said if your clients are pretentious well maybe you do need big pretentious words otherwise speak like the people you hope to be drawing to your site. The way your content should be written is what Steph Hay calls the mom test. That is if your mom does not understand what you are trying to say then well how do you expect others to understand? This is where you give your website some personality and character (just like your business has a personality with consumers make it one voice).

Good websites have easy navigation paths. Nothing will turn an on-line customer away faster than not being able to click through your website to find what they are looking for. That said your contact information should be clear and easy to find on every page and give the customer every opportunity to reach out to you. This may require that you have links on the top and bottom of the page to help navigate (I personally do hate reading something just to scroll back to the top to move to another page).

Good websites clean and clear page layout. That is words are large enough and have enough contrast from the background to be easily read. Pictures are well organized and placed orderly on the page. Remember all ages may be looking at your website. You do not need lots of motion, music, or glitz and glitter to keep people, quite contrary you actually want some white space. This serves as a resting place for your eyes. No need to try and give people a headache as punishment for looking at your site.

Lastly a good website is capable of being used on multiple platforms. It is predicted that by 2015 more people will access the internet through a mobile device (phone or tablet) than by a computer, so make sure you website displays properly across the device divide. Not only that but do you use Internet Explorer (maybe even an old version), what about Apple’s Safari, or Firefox, or Google Chrome, or maybe even a Lenox device. That is a lot of choice and guess what your website might not display properly if it is not coded properly. That is why I suggest a professional make your website, but they do not have to be expensive to do a great job.

Good websites solicit feedback. That is right they get feedback on their site and work to make it better and easier to use. That means they care what others think about their site and want you to keep coming back to visit. That is the ultimate goal right to have people come back and spend their time on your website and not somewhere else.

With all this it can easily overwhelm a small company or even a stuck in the old way of doing things fortune 1000 company. You are not alone and there is plenty of help out there you just have to look. Plus you know what business people really do what to help you. I suggest you find a business person you respect and see what they can do to help. Plus if you have a website that violates these ideas well maybe you need to find out what you can to improve your website. If you learn nothing else that you read remember this: every aspect of your business is a marketing tool, forget that and well you miss a whole heap of potential.