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10 Ways to Optimize Your Social Media Channels

September 14, 2013

Social media channels
Photo credit: Flickr user mkhmarketing via photopin cc

Introduction

Some organizations are rocking the house with social media (a few come to mind: Coca Cola, Starbucks, Virgin America). At the same time, many organizations I speak to are challenged to achieve the results they desire using social media.

ON-DEMAND WEBINAR: Social Media Optimization: 10 Tips in 30 Minutes.

The challenge? It’s usually a combination of “lack of know-how” and lack of resources (or both). So here are ten easy steps to take to optimize your social media channels. You can perform these steps in any order.

1) Use consistent branding across channels.

For personal use of social media, I recommend that people use the same profile photo across all social channels. Why? Because followers who know you on Twitter will recognize you on SlideShare.

So the consistent photo removes a barrier to gaining that new follower. For organizations, use the same logo everywhere. Also, if you’re running a campaign, use the same campaign theme across your channels.

2) Strategically hyperlink from profile pages.

Check out all the valuable hyperlinks we’re afforded on the DNN Google+ page. Take advantage of these opportunities. You can drive clicks (to your web properties) from views of your social profile pages.

And, the inbound links will help with Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Don’t be too cute, however. Make sure your link’s anchor text aligns with the page you’re linking to.

Additional tip: YouTube allows hyperlinks in the description area of your video:

Hyperlinks on YouTube

3) Reciprocate.

Gain a new follower on Twitter? Verify they’re a “real” person (vs. a “bot”), then follow them back. It’s a nice gesture on social media to follow back. And, by following back, you get the opportunity to listen to what your followers are saying. On Twitter, following back allows your followers to send you a “Direct Message” (a private message), which is often an effective channel for customer service or related inquiries.

4) Tag (link to) other users.

When I share an article on social media, I like to “link” to both the publication and the author. Why? Because it gets you (or your organization) noticed by the publication and the author (in addition to sending them some good karma). The author may follow you, retweet you or respond to you. In turn, the author’s followers may decide to follow you. In short, good things can happen.

5) Learn the tricks of the trade of each social network.

Using the “retweet” button on Twitter. Setting up a Google+ Hangout. Managing your Circles in Google+. Each of these things is unique to that service: get to know these unique features well and your use of that service becomes more effective.

6) Measure, evaluate, adjust.

Become BFF’s with analytics (and yes, you really should become best friends forever). Did you know: Twitter now provides free analytics dashboards to all Twitter users (read more on the Constant Contact blog).

Use analytics to evaluate your social media effectiveness across a number of dimensions (e.g. content type, content format, topic, time of day, etc.). Metrics to track include reach, engagement and traffic. Next, draw conclusions that help inform your subsequent social sharing.

7) Mix it up.

I know of professional sportswriters whose Twitter profile is an automated feed of every article they write (and nothing else). While I love their sports writing, I don’t follow them on Twitter. Instead, I follow other sportswriters who comment, respond, retweet and engage. So mix it up: share content, retweet, respond and engage. Don’t be a social media automaton.

8) Engage proactively and respond promptly.

Users on social media can be chatty. And they expect responses to their issues or comments. Your role: listen to what they’re saying and respond promptly. A same-day (or same-hour) response is far better than one that comes tomorrow or next week.

9) Cross-promote your channels.

While your primary goal is to “be useful” on any given social network, there are times when you’ll want to promote your other social networks. Let fans know that you “exist” elsewhere. And, when you’re running events, contests or campaigns on a particular network, use your other channels to drive additional awareness of those activities.

10) Experiment with paid advertising.

Twitter Ads Dashboard

Image: a Twitter Ads dashboard for Promoted Tweets.

It’s great that you have a lot of fans and followers on social media. But did you know they’ll miss 80+% of what you post (that’s my own, unscientific estimate)? That’s just reality.

Paid advertising can create a higher likelihood that fans see your content – and, it extends your reach to people not currently following you. We’ve had fun experimenting with it here at DNN.

Conclusion

Social media can drive tremendous value to your organization – and, it can be a lot of fun doing it. I hope you found these tips useful. I presented a DNN webinar on this same topic recently – you can find the presentation slides below.

Originally published on the DNN Software blog.

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5 Ways, Tips, Things and Reasons on Virtual Events and Social Media

March 26, 2012

Introduction

Regular readers (and pattern matchers) know that many of my 2012 posts have been lists of five. Continuing with my fondness for lists, I thought I’d make a list of lists. So without further ado, here are assorted “lists of five” posts that I recently published.

Google+

5 Ways to Get Started with Google Plus.
5 Tips for Organizing Your Google+ Circles.
5 Tips for Hosting Google+ Hangouts.
5 Reasons Google Plus May Be the Social Network of the Future.

As a special bonus, I’ve organized the four posts (above) into an eBook, which you can download here.

Events

Top 5 Ways Virtual Events Are Like Football Games.
5 Ways Face-to-Face Events Are Like Family Reunions.
5 Hybrid Event Tips for Trade Associations.

Social Media

5 Things I’ve Learned About Pinterest.
5 Things Virtual Event Platforms Can Learn from Pinterest.
5 Reasons I’m Breaking Up With You, TweetDeck.
5 Reasons “Words With Friends” Is Awesome.


5 Reasons Google Plus May Be the Social Network of the Future

February 20, 2012

Photo credit: birgerking on flickr.

Add me to your Google+ Circles: http://gplus.to/dshiao

Introduction

No, Google+ will not be displacing Facebook any time soon. However, the Circles component of Google+ is the “killer app” that, in my mind at least, is a game changer.

Previously, I provided tips on how to organize your Google+ Circles. Organizing my Circles made Google+ so much more effective for me. That’s led me to wonder whether Circles could propel Google+ into a leadership position among the major social networks. Let me list five reasons.

1) Topically Focused Social Surfing.

Facebook and Twitter have conditioned us to peruse streams. Whether it’s our Twitter stream or our Facebook Newsfeed, we’re used to browsing through a set of tweets and updates that are not connected by topic or theme. Google+ Circles, if organized well (by you), changes things.

I’ve created Circles around selected topics, which means that when I select my “Event Profs” Circle, I know up front that most of the posts will be about event and meeting planning. This allows me to surf my social streams topically – and I find that to be very powerful.

On Twitter, I could follow the #eventprofs hash tag – or, I could create a Twitter List comprised of EventProfs folks. But for me, the Circle approach is the best solution. Not only is my Circle private (unlike a Twitter List), but I can also publish to selected Circles, rather than to all of my followers. I find this “bi-directional management” (consumption plus publishing) quite elegant.

2) Time-Segmented Social Surfing.

Let’s say you have 15 minutes to surf your social streams. That’s not enough time to get caught up with everything. If you’ve organized your Circles well, you can now surf 1-2 Circles, saving the rest for later in the day (or tomorrow).

You don’t quite have the same flexibility on Twitter and Facebook, since they’re organized around a more holistic stream. If I go half a day without checking Twitter, I don’t go back to try to consume the tweets I missed. Instead, I peruse through recent tweets to see what’s going on – and as a result, I’ve permanently missed the earlier tweets.

Facebook addresses this by retaining active posts (those that received a lot of Likes and Comments) in my Newsfeed, as a way of saying “you ought to check this out.” With Google+, I can simply check one Circle for those 15 minutes, then check my other Circles later in the day. And the result is that I’ve missed a lot less.

3) Continual Segmenting.

Louis Gray posted a neat tip about searching within your Circles. Let’s say I’m learning about HTML5. I could search for mentions of “HTML5” within my Circles. The search results will show users in my Circles that have mentioned HTML5. I can then create a new Circle (e.g. called “HTML5”) and add them to my new Circle. In this way, I can continually refine and further curate my Circles, making the service more and more effective (to me).

4) Search, plus Your World.

It’s the elephant in the room for your corporate or personal brand. With Search, plus Your World, Google is incorporating content from Google+, from users whom you’ve added to your Circles. While some have criticized Google for not including results from other social networks, the impact is clear: being present and active on Google+ is now part of your search engine optimization (SEO) strategy. And that alone, will cause brands (including personal brands) to sign on.

5) One Size Could Fit All.

With Circles, Google+ may be the only social network that allows you to combine business and personal use simultaneously. While many prefer to segment their social media use across distinct services (e.g. Facebook for friends/family and LinkedIn for work), Google+ gives you the ability to manage this segmentation in a single application.

You can create Circles for your business interests, your hobbies, your friends and your family. From there, you can segment your social surfing (as discussed above) and segment your (outbound) sharing.

Conclusion

Having said all that, I understand that to become the “social network of the future,” Google+ needs to get Mom and Dad using the service (instead of Facebook). And frankly, many of the points I’ve made (above) don’t apply to Mom and Dad.

So time will tell how well Google+ is able to capture the Mom and Dad audience. In the meantime, I’m happy to continue with my topic and time-segmented social surfing.

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5 Ways to Get Started with Google Plus (#googleplus)

December 12, 2011

Introduction

According to statistics provided by comScore, Google+ had 20 Million unique visitors in its first 21 days of service. comScore’s statistics were measured between June and July of this year (2011). While it took me a few months to jump aboard, I’ve been actively using Google+ for the past month. I thought I’d share some things I did to help me get started with the service.

1) Add People to Circles.

Like Twitter’s tweet stream and Facebook’s Newsfeed, your experience on Google+ is largely defined by the people you follow. In Google+ parlance, this is called “people in your circles.” Visit your “Circles” page, then click on “Find people”. As you add people to your Circles, Google+ gets smarter about its recommendations, since it can find people that both you and a recently added user have in their Circles.

As you find people you’d like to add, determine which of your circles to place them in. I currently have 221 people in my Circles. This is quite manageable for me and quite different from the 1,300+ people I follow on Twitter. As a result, I place nearly everyone in a single Circle and my default mode is to read the Stream from all Circles.

2) “Go Out” to Find and Discover.

Unless you’re a celebrity or a social media A-lister, you’ll find that a modest number of people have added you to their Circles. So think of Google+ as a cocktail party that you just arrived at. No one’s coming to chat you up, so grab a drink and go mingle. As you meet and interact with new people, you’ll start to gain attention.

How can you do this? It’s easy:

  1. +1 other people’s posts.
  2. Comment on other people’s posts.
  3. +1 other people’s comments.
  4. Comment on other people’s comments.
  5. Re-share other people’s posts.

If you’re new to Google+, posting to your page (alone) won’t cut it. “Go out” to find and discover interesting content (and people) and you’ll feel that much more a part of the community.

3) Check Out “What’s Hot.”

Click the “What’s hot” link on the left side of your Google+ page. Your Stream then gets filled with popular posts on Google+ – those that received a higher number of +1’s and comments. I use this as an effective way for finding interesting content – and, discovering interesting people (or Google+ Pages) to add to my Circles.

4) Start a Blog!

When I gave a presentation on personal branding earlier this year, several audience members asked my opinion on whether they should start a blog. With Google+, there’s apparently no character limitation on posts. I’m seeing some users opt to publish long-form content on their pages. These longer posts look a lot like blog posts.

So if you’ve been wondering whether (or when) to start a blog, experiment on Google+ and drop a long-form post here and there. There’s no set-up required and you can connect it right into your Google+ social graph. Perhaps you’ll find my next blog posting there (and not here).

5) Be Different.

I use Twitter for “all business” and Facebook for “all pleasure.” So it didn’t make sense to me that I’d use Google+ in an identical (or even similar) fashion to an existing social network. Instead, it’s served as a nice middle ground between the two. I mix business-related content with personal interests and I can use a “voice” different than what’s possible within 140 characters. For instance, here’s a recent post I made about Amy Grant.

3 Things You Didn’t Know About Google+

You can grow an instant moustache.

You can tell the world that you talk to yourself.

You can provide feedback and send a screen grab of the Google+ page.

Bonus Tip: Follow Me and I’ll Follow You Back… Um, Maybe Not

The following tip is provided by Heidi Thorne (Heidi on Google+.)

Remember the early days of Twitter (like 2008 and 2009) when people were putting statements such as “follow me and I’ll follow you back” in their bios? Tweeters were anxious to build their Twitter street cred by having kaboodles of followers. And you also saw people who followed anyone whose Twitter handle they could find, hoping for a reciprocal follow. Didn’t care if they were relevant or not. Only the numbers mattered.

Now it’s a social media lifetime later. We’re more cynical and overwhelmed with Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and a host of social network wannabes flooding our streams and attention. Active social media types were rejoicing at the prospect of starting over with a network from a technology powerhouse like Google. They could get rid of the junk followings and followers, put their contacts in appropriate categories or “circles,” with the goal to only see what’s relevant. And Google+ delivers on that. Kind of like what Twitter lists and Facebook and LinkedIn groups hoped to be, only in an easier to manage and manipulate format.

But you still see people trying to use Google+ as if it’s the early days of Twitter. In a day, I might have a dozen or so people circling me that I have no idea how they’ve connected with me. Do I automatically add them to my circles as a reciprocal courtesy? No way! If it’s not someone from one of my established networks or someone I regularly follow, or doesn’t have a bio filled out, I don’t circle them. But I will follow people I’ve met in discussions on other people’s posts who have fun, interesting or intelligent conversation. In fact, I’ve found some incredible new people on G+ that way.

So use Google+ as a clean social media slate, only filling that stream with what matters to you.

Bonus Tip: Try Google Hangouts

The following tip is provided by Jenise Fryatt (Jenise on Google+).

Most of the time I use Google+ for the Hangouts function.  I’ve found hangouts to be easier and more consistent than Skype for video chats.  You can chat with up to 10 people and starting a Hangout and inviting people to it is very easy.  I’m going to try using it for regular company meetings when some of us are out of town.

Conclusion

I’m enjoying my time on Google+ so far. It’s a neat mix of Twitter, Facebook and a few other services. Use the comments section below to let us know how you’re using the service. In the meantime, you can find me on Google+ here: http://gplus.to/dshiao.


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