Last week, I attended a workshop at Birmingham City Football Club (not representative of my football team – I don’t have one!). Entitled ‘The Secrets of Social Media Success’, I felt I should go along and see if I could pick up any new tips to improve how we use social media both within our own company and for what we offer our clients.
The biggest problem with social media is that it’s still quite new and constantly evolving, and so it’s likely that you’re in one of two camps: you’ve either jumped onto the bandwagon and are using at least some of social media’s features, or you’re aware of social media’s existence but you’re not sure quite where to start or how it can help your business.
In this series of articles, I hope to give an overview of some of the biggest social networks, as well as present some tips to help streamline the process of using social media; making it more manageable, productive and effective for your business – if you’re currently on Facebook, you know just how easy it is to lose an entire evening!
I have chosen to focus on the three main social networks for businesses and business people in the UK – Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn – and is targeted towards people who have some (if even just very basic) knowledge of one or more of these.
As Facebook is by far the largest and most well-known social network, this is where I shall start.
If you currently have a Facebook account, you’ll be familiar with your personal profile, where your Wall provides a place for you and for friends to add comments, links and other media; the Photos section where you can upload your own images or where others’ images of you appear if you’ve been ‘tagged’ in them; and status updates, where you can tell the world ‘What’s on your mind?’. Quite literally.
Obviously telling the world you’re eating Frosties for breakfast isn’t necessarily what your customers want to know – or what you want to tell them – and this is why Facebook offers Fan Pages. These are separate from your personal profile – and although you do need an account to create a page – fan pages are to be used solely for promoting businesses, brands or products. Other Facebook users are able to ‘Like’ your page, and this then gives them access to statuses, comments, photos etc.
There are 6 different page types which you can create. Once you’ve logged in to your personal account, visit Facebook’s page creation page http://www.facebook.com/pages/create.php to select the type of page, fill in your details and click ‘Get Started’.
Once the page is online, you need to make it as effective and useful as possible. Upload your company logo as a profile picture, making sure that the image is square (on search results the thumbnail is square so making sure it fits is a must).
Complete all your company details, including an address if you’re location based. Facebook has paired up with Microsoft’s search engine, Bing, to provide map services, so if a user clicks your address, it’ll jump straight to a map.
With the basics complete, the most important thing is generating new content, keeping it fresh and keeping it frequent. Make a plan with upcoming events and important dates, and then write posts that relate to the event that you can use when the time comes. Try not to bombard your followers with messages all the time, 2 or 3 items a week is enough to keep people interested, but not posting at all will leave your page forgotten.
- Keep posts short (no more than a few sentences) or people will simply lose interest
- Use numbers (eg. countdowns – “5 days to go!”) to increase interactivity
- Include links to feed visitors through to your main website
- Add photos to help publicise an event or show what’s going on. Images are more likely to get ‘Liked’, and with more and more people using social networks on mobiles – especially smartphones – visitors want content that’s easy to see on a small display, yet memorable– so slightly unusual, quirky pictures will get noticed)
- Use videos from YouTube and other services – either related interesting videos from other people, or create your own (an article on this will be included in our next e-newsletter), to help emphasise a point or show what you can offer
Facebook is an ideal place to interact and discuss with your customers, and with 30 million users in the UK (and growing!), you can target people from all age ranges…though users should supposedly be 13 to sign up to the service, of course.
Essentially, interactivity is generated through people ‘Liking’ and commenting on your posts, images, status, links and videos or posting their own to your Wall. Asking questions, having Facebook-only competitions and posting statuses like “Only 20 to go till we have 500 fans!” will all encourage users to comment and react to your content.
One way to keep interactions between Facebook and your website is to include ‘Like’ buttons on your website. If people visit your site and have their own Facebook account, clicking ‘Like’ will post what they have liked on their own Wall, expanding your reach. Resources for these can be found here.
Of course, I could go into a lot more detail, but I initially wanted to just cover the basics in this article. If you would like any information about anything more specific, do let us know and we’ll see if we can add something to the blog.
Join us next time for an overview of Twitter. If anything that’s been said has been of interest, or if you’d like help in setting up, planning and implementing a social media campaign, give us a call.