We wrote The Little Book of Social Media to give business owners and marketers real, easy-to-follow tips that will help them provide a great social media experience for their customers. When we were putting together the data for the book, it was disturbing to see in aggregate how many times social media is seriously misused by companies large and small. It seems like every day another company is in the news for a social media-related PR nightmare.
Last week, it was Home Depot and Kellogg’s, two big brands who certainly have the resources to support plenty of great social media content. (It just goes to show you that money does not equal quality.)
In Home Depot’s case, someone (they cited an “agency and Home Depot individual”) tweeted a racist tweet. It was subsequently removed and the agency and employee were both fired, but not before earning Home Depot a lot of unwanted publicity.
In the case of Kellogg’s, the UK branch of the breakfast food company tweeted “1 RT=1 breakfast for a vulnerable child”—an offensive retweet request that seemed to use hungry children as a marketing promotion. The company later clarified that they fund school breakfast programs.
There are so many easy ways to prevent this type of mistake and avoid the possibility of alienating the people who follow you. Don’t let it happen to your company! Check out my previous post, 10 Ways to Protect Your Reputation on Social Media. Read The Little Book of Social Media (available on Kindle too) for 60+ social media tips, including many pointers on how to manage your company’s reputation and what to do–and not do–when interacting with customers on social media.
This post features more excerpts from our ebook The Little Book of Social Media: 60 Ways to Create a Great Customer Experience. The Amazon version is on sale this week! You can also download the PDF from our site.
Having great content is promote is only half the battle. How and when you deliver that content is just as critical. But how do you know the best times to post, tweet, or pin? It depends on the audience and the platform you’re using.
If your goal is to get the most customer engagement (measured by views, likes, shares, etc.), here are the ideal times (based on studies from Argyle Social, KISSMetrics, TrackMaven, and HubSpot) for some of the most prominent platforms:
Remember to also utilize each social site’s metrics to further refine the best times for you to promote content. For example, on YouTube, you can look at your views by day and determine what your specific audience’s viewing patterns are.
Remember time zones
If your company is based in the Mountain or West time zone, remember that 80% of the U.S. population lives in the East and Central time zones. Adjust the timing of your posts accordingly, whether your customers are mostly US-based or global. If you have a dedicated cadre of European, Australian, or Asian customers, make sure some of your content is arriving during their respective peak viewing times as well.
Schedule content according to your audience’s priorities
Too often, businesses schedule and release their content based solely on their own priorities–quarter-end revenue goals, capital campaigns, or product launches, for example. Obviously you must do that sometimes to achieve your business goals, but you will be most successful if you think about how you can maximize your timing to best help your customers. For example, if you’re a tax advisor, plan to provide additional content from January through April, when people are more focused on taxes. If you run a blog devoted to fans of a TV show, you post content right before, during, and/or after each new episode airs (or live blog the entire episode). Use your customers’ priorities as a guide to help you provide the content when they are most likely to benefit from it.
Once you’ve set your goals, it’s time to figure out what content you will promote on social media to support those goals. Brainstorm topics, themes, and formats. What will you talk about? Will you produce news, interviews, or customer stories? How about ebooks, contests, or polls? What existing content can you leverage in new ways through social media? For example, do you currently have an email newsletter that contains useful tips or short articles you could also promote on your Facebook page or Twitter feed? Think about categories and keywords that describe the content you’ll create to help you envision what that content could be. The goal is to plan enough great content to fill up a 3- to 6-month social media calendar. Here are some ideas to get you started:
Regardless of the subject matter, your content must provide value. Don’t constantly pitch your products or talk about how great your company is. Instead, create content that adds value to your customers’ lives by giving them information that’s useful and interesting to them. If you can do that, you’ll be on your way to creating a great customer experience.
Get 59 more social media tips: Download The Little Book of Social Media now!
Content isn’t just your website – it’s every form of communication your organization already produces, whether it is email marketing campaigns, print materials, billboards, TV ads, etc. And, of course, it’s your social media assets. Many businesses launch social media accounts without aligning them to their existing content, which can create an inconsistent brand that confuses customers. A great social media strategy is part of an organization’s larger content strategy.
What is content strategy?
Content strategy has been defined in many different ways. Probably the most well-known definition comes from the influential Kristina Halvorson, founder of content strategy events company Confab and co-author (with Melissa Rach) of Content Strategy for the Web. In that seminal work, Halvorson wrote: “Content strategy plans for the creation, publication, and governance of useful, usable content.”
In other words, content strategy is not just a phase of a website project, or merely the creation and editorial curation of articles, emails, or web pages. Content strategy intersects with and helps to drive many different practices, from information architecture to user experience design to editorial strategy and more–because all of these practices are critical to the production and delivery of information your customers want.
Why is content strategy important?
Brand strength: Good content supports, enhances, and reflects well upon your company’s brand. Bad content damages your reputation and erodes customer trust.
Consumer loyalty: If consumers know you will give them great content–the information they need delivered in an easy-to-use and attractively designed way–they will come back.
Return on investment (ROI): Good content helps the bottom line. It increases. It helps attract and retain customers.
Creating a content strategy usually involves 4 steps:
What does it all mean for social media?
The content you create for and/or promote through social media–from the photos you post on Facebook to the profile you write for your company’s page on LinkedIn–needs to be aligned with your overall content strategy. Before you schedule, pay for, write, or produce content for social media, ask yourself: Does this fit well with the other content we have out there? Is the tone consistent, and is the information useful or entertaining to the customer? What other great content can I create for my customers?
Asking questions like this can help you make sure that your company’s social media will provide a great experience for your customers.
Learn more: Download our ebook now!
The following is another excerpt from our ebook The Little Book of Social Media: 60 Ways to Create a Great Customer Experience. Get the Kindle version now or download the pdf.
Once you’ve decided that you want to use social media to connect with your existing customers, find new customers, and further your brand, you need to focus on strategy. Too many business owners and marketing managers jump on social media with no plan, no goals, and no content pipeline. They just want to do it because, well, everyone else is doing it! The social media landscape is littered with abandoned and poorly maintained accounts that are the victims of a lack of strategy. To prevent your company from being the next social media victim, review three critical components of your business:
Align with your business strategy
Now that you’re armed with more information about what your customers want from social media and what your competitors and industry leaders are doing in the space, focus on your business strategy. How do you want your company to be perceived? What are your short- and long-term business objectives? What can you provide through social media that will support these objectives? What benefits (customer service, thought leadership content, etc.) can you provide to customers through social media as you work towards these objectives? Think about some concrete measurements (increased sales, a certain number of new customers, etc.) that will help you determine what success looks like.
We recommend you focus on the top three business goals that social media can help you achieve. If you are that local retailer from our previous example, your top three goals might be to double your sales, expand your product line, and open a second store. Your social media activities should support all three of these objectives. We’ve created a social media strategy template (available on our website) to help you get started.
Coming up in our next post: Content strategy! And why you need to care about it as you plan your social media presence.
The following is an excerpt from our ebook The Little Book of Social Media: 60 Ways to Create a Great Customer Experience. Get the Kindle version now or download the pdf.
1. Do your homework.
Before you jump into social media, there are a few questions you should consider to make sure it’s appropriate for your organization:
If you don’t have the time and resources to do social media right, don’t do it! It’s better to stay away than to risk damaging your company’s reputation. But if you think social media might be right for you, the next thing to consider is strategy.
We’ll talk more about social media strategy in our next post.
Every day, more small businesses and non-profits are realizing the benefits of social media. Social media provides an amazing opportunity to build brand and product awareness, attract new customers, and increase sales — and it does all of these things at a substantially lower cost than traditional marketing.
But before you dive in, you need to know the ground rules so you can protect your brand and your customer relationships. This ebook outlines those ground rules in an easy-to-understand, accessible way, with 60 quick tips that you can use immediately.
You’ll find tips on how to:
To help you start using these tips right away, we’ve also included two downloadable templates that you can customize — a social media strategy and a social media calendar.
Get The Little Book of Social Media now (downloadable pdf).
You can also buy it on Amazon.
Coming soon to the iBookstore!
The following is an excerpt from our upcoming book, The Little Book of Social Media: 60 Ways to Create an Amazing Customer Experience. I’m excited to say that we will be launching the book next month! In the meantime, here is a sneak peek of one of our tips:
Tip #26. Give them what they want!
Certain content types tend to be more popular with users. Here are some tried-and-true options:
Solve a problem. Is there a common issue your customers face? For example, if you are a pest control company and it’s mosquito season, can you post some tips to help your customers combat mosquitoes or film a video showing customers how to pest-proof their yard?
Teach or educate. Help people learn about something they’re interested in. For example, if you’re a history-related organization, talk about a historical event that happened on this day 100 years ago. Or if you sell foreign language software, post a new vocabulary word or translation each day.
Provide a list. Everyone loves a list (articles that are made up of lists have become so popular that they have a nickname – “listicles”). Sites like Buzzfeed deal almost exclusively in lists. For example, you might post an article called “5 Ways to Save Money on Your Car” or “The 10 Best TV Comedies.”
Interview someone. Whether your subject is one of your employees or a famous person in your industry, interviews tend to be popular because people are naturally curious about other people.
Use statistics and quotes. Readers often respond to quick, easily digestible facts like statistics about your industry (or about something fun and trivial). Inspirational quotes are also popular.
More stories to share with your fans and followers: