Too Focused On Brand Mentions?

We’re so consumed with monitoring for brand mentions we forget it to focus on the bigger picture.

Monitoring your brand for mentions is important.  Your brand reputation depends on it.  You need to know what others are saying about you and you need to know when others are saying it.  It’s not just about catching comments or posts in a timely manner.  It’s more than just being available for customer service.

One major area often overlooked – monitoring for unauthorized uses of your images and content.

Are You Content Monitoring?

I monitor for brand mentions and content in a number of ways so, when an article I wrote for Social Media Today on the April 2015 Facebook algorithm change went viral a few months back, I caught an outright case of theft very quickly.  Someone had plagiarized my article in its entirety and posted it to their blog giving credit to the site’s owner for writing it!

Of course their website wasn’t the only place it appeared.  I found links on Google+, Twitter and Facebook.  It was actually Google+ where I first found it and traced it back to the source.

It took me heading to social media to get the ‘author’ and business to remove links (on Twitter and Google+) to it.  A few posts and discussions resulted in a quick removal of the posts and the original on the web.  I’ve seen several issues like this get messy, but I’d been through this before, knew how to handle it publicly (those posts and discussions of mine were carefully worded) and I had some additional leverage if needed.

Facebook was a different story.  For all of the grief Facebook receives from business owners, one area they win big – protecting copyrights and trademarks.  Simply head to their IP Help Center.  The quick link to their reporting form – file a copyright or trademark violation on Facebook.

How well does Facebook handle copyright and trademark infringement issues? I filled out the form and within an hour had the automated email response below.

For all of the grief Facebook receives from business owners, one area they win big - protecting copyrights and trademarks. Simply head to their IP Help Center. The quick to their reporting form - file a copyright or trademark violation on Facebook. Brand reputation management; Content monitoring & brand mentions @RNissenbaum, Tactical Social Media

It took less than 24 hours to remove the content.  Kudos to Facebook.  I mentioned I’d been through this before so I’ll add I was previously able to remove entire pages and groups for trademark violations.

Facebook copyright and trademarket infringement report follow up letting us know within 24 hours the content was removed! Brand reputation management; Content monitoring & brand mentions @RNissenbaum, Tactical Social Media

No, I don’t want you to stop monitoring for brand mentions.  I want you to start content monitoring as well.

If you’ve had your own experiences, I’d love to hear them.

Rethinking My Own Instagram Strategy

While being on every social media platform isn’t right for every business (I’ll leave that discussion for later), for us that isn’t necessarily an option.  If we’re going to advise a client on how to leverage a platform, I’d better be active, engaged and building a following.  That can be easier said than done.  Instagram, of all of the big platforms, has been our Achilles heel.

 

The Challenge

With original content being a critical part of Instagram, that adds to the challenge for many.  That was part of our own struggle – until I decided to approach things from a new angle.

While you can post to Instagram at any time, it was designed to be, well, instant.  Snap a picture, add a catchy phrase and a dozen or so hashtags (it seems that 11 is the magic number).  While the latter 2 are no problem, I’m not and have never been big on taking photos.  I’d rather be experiencing than stopping to document.

Yes, that means nothing to pull out and look back on later, but even with hundreds of old photos, it’s rare that I ever look at them (unless it’s to use for a post).  The memories are in my head.  It’s the experiences I value most and how I perceived them, not the photo.

I realize I’m not in the norm here but I suspect there are others like me.  All of this, of course, leads to an issue.  If I’m not taking images, how do I leverage Instagram?  Then add in the complication that, with Instagram being a visual channel like Pinterest, how do I leverage that for a business that has little visual impact?

I could upload images from my blog posts (and might very well in the future – Instagram has the ability, like any other social site to drive traffic) but that’s only one image type.  A good content strategy requires more than just one content source.  Let’s face it.  No one would follow Tactical Social Media (and those who did certainly wouldn’t engage) if that was all I posted.  Hence the need for a more tactical plan for my Instagram strategy.

I needed something that would provide me an incentive to stop and take pictures (I’m already doing that more in taking daily photos of my daughter – for her benefit later more than mine) and an idea of WHAT to photograph.

We all fall into the trap of posting all business all of the time.  Even if your content isn’t promotional, you’re likely posting too much advice, too much news and too little about YOU.

I’m often asked by clients, “How do I connect with people?  How do I get my personality to come through in my content? That’s simple.  Be personal.  (If you’re not sure how to accomplish this for your business or you need a plan for how to be social – yes, it seems to be an issue for some.)

My New Instagram Strategy

Unlike the rest of the Tactical Social Media social channels, which are geared to driving traffic and being informative with our social side filtered in, the Instagram page will predominantly be focused on the personal side.  I want to get back to what social media was originally about – being social.

Rather than focus on ‘business’ images, I plan to focus on who we are from family to travel, from our personal interests, likes, and desires to our community.  I’ll continue the #signs and #marketing posts but I will predominately be posting more personal content, (#OurSocialSide, #BeSocial) first and  business second.  I want to use it to get to better know our followers and for them to better know me/us. I’m excited and hope you’ll follow my new and improved Instagram channel.

What’s your Instagram strategy?  

Is it working for you?

Social Media & Employment Equality

This is a re-publication. This article was published to Social Media Today by Robert Nissenbaum, having originally appeared on his personal blog in December 2014

I normally write from the perspective of teaching how business owners need to think about leveraging social media to drive branding, sales and ultimately revenue. I want to switch that up a little and tackle another aspect of social media usage: how businesses use, or maybe shouldn’t use social media with respect to their employees and potential employees.

Social Media, workforce equality, employment screening. Image source: http://www.agent-x.com.au/comic/your-true-profile/

 

Social Media’s Role in the Employment Process

It’s been fairly common, and there have been a number of articles recently on employees being fired or suspended (including this one from Norton Healthcare) due to social media posting, but I am particularly thinking about social media as it applies to employment practices. What prompted the thought was a LinkedIn article I read on Title IX by Bill Wagner after hearing from a friend looking for work.

Title IX is a portion of the Education Amendments of 1972 and most commonly referenced with regard to its role in providing equal opportunities for women athletes in high schools and colleges. It was originally written to prevent gender discrimination in and educational programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance. While gender couldn’t be used to discriminate in hiring practices, Bill mentioned in his article “It is generally accepted that a college education leads to a better paying career and more consistent employment.” The thought being that without the education (The Civil Rights Act of 1964 did not cover gender discrimination with respect to education) women simply would be less qualified and therefore not hired on that basis, not their gender. Title IX, whether you agree or not that it has been successful or even positive, has been a critical cog, just as Affirmative Action has been, in driving workforce equality.

So how does this apply to social media? Social media and modern technology have the ability to undermine the workforce equality created by Title IX, Affirmative Action and similar laws. Prior to the rise of social networking sites employers had limited access to your personal information. Employers are restricted from asking a number of questions on an application or an interview. At least in the initial decision-making process, the most they could gather would be gender (unless you had an androgynous name) and possible age based on school graduation dates. The initial selection process came down to your experience and credentials.

The interview phase would reveal more but the risk for a discrimination suit becomes more likely depending on the number of candidates in the interview pool. By then the right skill set might override a personal mindset anyway. If you fall in love with an idea and then find a few flaws, you’re likely to overlook those flaws. See the flaws first and the idea dies immediately.

Social media and technology now provide employers the ability to see the flaws first. It should be common knowledge that what we post and how we respond affects our reputation. Many employers will admit to screening online profiles as part of an application process (and even after you’ve been hired). What they’re typically looking for is activity that would impact their reputation or yours (assuming you weren’t truthful on that resume). Most do a good job of keeping private details private – there have been plenty of lessons posted on what happens when you don’t.

While checking out your Facebook profile may not seem discriminatory in the employment process, what you have posted, especially with respect to Instagram, now the second place major social network where all images are public by default, can be used to discriminate. These posts and images reveal far more than just our gender. They can help better pinpoint our age (especially for those of us getting older), our ethnicity, our sexual preferences, whether we have a family or are starting one, our religion, our financial status….all small pieces that can enter into a first impression and a hiring decision even before seeing our qualifications.

I’ll add another thought to ponder. Video is a great way to stand out in a crowd of applicants. I have known individuals who submitted resumes online with links to a video on why they should be hired as well as YouTube videos tagging prospective employers. I think this is a great use of technology and social networking BUT….what if the employer requests, or in the case of a recent job announcement I saw, strongly recommend a video be sent to secure that interview?

While I fully believe the employer’s motive was to find the best person (public presentation was part of the job description and what better tool to weed out those that couldn’t present than a video) the underlying thought – a video reveals even more than the photograph. Now your dialect and several other factors are presented.  That makes video applications more open to affect hiring decisions on a basis other than qualifications.

Does social media affect employment decisions and workforce equality?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  But it’s worth a discussion.  What’s your take?

Thanks again to Bill Wagner for the inspiration and collaboration.

When it comes to Facebook brand pages, every discussion tends to center on organic reach.  You stress over how low the numbers are, how the latest algorithm will affect that figure, what you can do to improve it….but have you stopped to consider that how good or bad your organic reach is may not really be worth the worry?

To be clear, we’re not implying reach doesn’t matter at all.  It does and we’ve posted and will continue to post techniques for increasing it (The Facebook Organic Reach Solution), but you shouldn’t be running for the lifeboats to abandon ship or pull your hair out worrying about it.  Why?

 

Why Organic Facebook Reach Doesn't Matter

Reach Is A Poor Measure Of Overall Visibility

“Your post counts as reaching someone when it’s shown in News Feed.”   Simply put, reach fails to measure views when people see your content by going directly to your page or views when navigating directly to your post.  Facebook is only reporting a portion of the actual visibility your content is receiving!  Since your page and posts are public and there are multiple ways for your content to be seen, it’s a poor measure of overall visibility.

  • The Takeaway:  Low reach does not mean your post wasn’t seen.  It simply wasn’t seen in the news feed.
  • Food For Thought:  What are you doing to drive additional views to your page and content to compensate for low reach?  If it’s nothing, you’re wasting an opportunity to leverage Facebook’s audience.

Reach Is A Poor Measure Of Post Effectiveness

Low reach doesn’t tell us your post (content) was ineffective – just ineffective at making it into the news feeds of or being seen by your fans.  Likewise, high reach doesn’t mean your post was any more effective than one with minimal reach.

One of the best ways to leverage Facebook is for branding.  Normally, this is one area where you’d think more is better: more reach means greater visibility and therefore better branding.  BUT there’s a flaw in the thought process.  You need to take into account HOW reach was achieved.

Reach is a measure of views within the news feed but isn’t restricted to views of your original content.  It includes views from shares.  While shares do indicate the source of the content (Robert Nissenbaum via Tactical Social Media or Robert Nissenbaum shared Tactical Social Media‘s photo) which does provide some branding, do people pay attention to the original source?  More important – do they actually take the time to check out the source?  

As for any engagement resulting from the share, it isn’t necessarily with your brand.  It’s with the individual or brand who shared it!  (There is a technique for properly leveraging other people’s audiences to drive engagement and interaction with your brand.)  Shares may get great reach, but if you’re not getting engagement, page views or page likes, someone else is getting the benefit from your content, not you.  You have high reach but are you really reaching anyone?  

Sadly, outside of likes, it’s extremely difficult to measure the benefit of reach derived from content shares within Facebook.   Even tracking the referring source of a page like is difficult. There’s no way to know for sure if it was the result of a specific content piece.

To illustrate just how poor reach is as a measure of post effectiveness:

  • Our Facebook post on May 11th discussing on one of our tactical social media tips reached a pitiful 30 people ( with 7 likes, 6 comments, and 1 share).  That same post, however, generated 6 referrals to our blog resulting in 2 conversions (accessing our contact page) and a new subscriber to our e-newsletter.

From a reach perspective, the post performed poorly, yet it was clearly effective.

  • The week prior we ran a post on our Facebook page late on a Sunday evening (well outside the timeframe we’d expect to see any reach).  As of Monday morning, reach was at 5.  We then had it shared by one of our admins to their personal timeline.  The net result – a phenomenal reach of 256!  The downside – not 1 like or comment on our post.  All of the activity was on our admin’s post.  We saw no engagement, no new page likes, no traffic driven to our website.

From a reach perspective, the post performed amazingly well, yet it was clearly ineffective.  To be fair, the content wasn’t from a blog post designed to drive traffic as the goal was to illustrate a point (and past experience has shown sharing ‘quality content’ doesn’t raise reach as drastically and still results in only limited effectiveness).

Just to make sure we covered all bases, we did have the May 11th post referenced above shared by the same admin and, true to form, total reach only jumped by 35 and resulted in only 1 additional blog view.  Again, while reach more than doubled to a reasonable level, the post wasn’t any more effective.

  • The Takeaway:  High reach doesn’t mean your content was effective, just that it was seen by more eyes within the news feed.
  • Food For Thought:  Are you paying attention to where the reach is originating?  Are you getting engagement from the increased exposure?  Are you doing anything to try to drive more reach or engagement on your page?

 

A Better Measurement

Reach is a good benchmark, but our preferred (Facebook) measurement is engagement per reach. The old adage ‘work smarter, not harder’ is our prevailing thought here.  Given more reach doesn’t always translate to more engagement, we’d rather reach fewer people and interact with them than spend more time tweaking content and timing posts to get more eyes on it.  At some point, there’s a diminishing point of return in your efforts to increase reach.

If your intent is to leverage Facebook to generate prospects and leads, the foundation is your content, but the critical piece is building trust and relationships.  That comes from engagement and interaction. Rather than continuously focusing on getting more reach, focus on generating engagement from the reach you do get.  To maximize this, leverage outside tactics to drive eyes to your content (cross-platform promotion, driving traffic via a newsletter), something you CAN control.

While engagement per reach is a better measurement for post effectiveness, it still falls short.

Measuring Post Effectiveness

Facebook is a valuable branding tool and using it solely as such is perfectly OK, but most small businesses can’t afford to spend their time (or money) on branding alone.  At a minimum, they need to see a conversion to prospects from those who see their content.  Sales and contacts via social posting does occur, but for most of us, it’s not the norm.  The best source for turning social media viewers to prospects though is still your website.  The most effective posts – or posting strategy – is one which drives traffic to your website  The best way to measure the effectiveness of your content is Google Analytics.

Google Analytics Behavior Flow To Measure Social Media Post Effectiveness; Tactical Social Media - A Tacoma social media marketing agency, #BeTactical

Unlike reach, Google Analytics provides a more complete picture.  We can see the amount of traffic driven from Facebook (or any social platform), determine landing pages, exit pages, time on page and even determine what content was accessed.  We can get a good picture of how effective the post was, not only at driving traffic but also at converting that traffic.

The Bottom Line

So should you focus on reach?  Yes.  While more doesn’t necessarily mean better, more provides a better opportunity.  If you can get more feed views, you are ahead of the curve.  Just don’t get too caught up in it.  Reach is still a vital measurement about the overall health of your Facebook activity but it’s only one measurement that, on its own, tells us very little about your overall of visibility and post effectiveness.

Will (Did) Your Brand Benefit?

Facebook gets some heavy criticism from brand and pages admins on algorithm changes.  What was a great tool to get visibility for just showing up and posting morphed into a “you need to work hard at it and maybe add a few of your hard-earned dollars” tool?  Most saw this as a negative, for those brands that did social media right, it hurt but certainly wasn’t a death-blow.  The latest Facebook algorithm change (there are three significant changes) looks to be no different.  How brand pages will be affected depends on several factors.  For some brands, this latest Facebook algorithm change will be a major benefit.

 

The Latest Facebook Algorithm Change, April 2015: Facebook Organic Reach = (Quality Content + Post Timing) x Post Frequency + Engaged Fans; Tactical Social Media: a Tacoma, WA / South Sound Social Media Consulting Agency

 

Facebook Organic Reach

The primary measure Facebook has given us to measure post effectiveness is “reach” – how many saw your content in their feed (not that this in and of itself was a good measure).  Initially, liking a page meant seeing content.  That meant good reach.  Shifts over the years have limited content from ‘liked’ pages being seen in favor of content and activity from your friends.  Facebook assumed this was what people wanted.  It went so far as telling us what our friends were up to with Open Graph and details in our feeds.

Organic Reach took a deep hit unless brands provided timely, relevant content or paid to have their content show.  It seems Facebook got this ‘half’ right.  People complained about sponsored posts they didn’t want to see and being shown content friends liked or commented on they could care less about.  People, it turns out, don’t want a play-by-play of what their friends do.  They want content FROM their friends and pages.  Afterall, that’s why they connected with people and liked pages.

 

Enter the latest Facebook algorithm change.

Significant Facebook Algorithm Change:  Posts about friends liking or commenting on a page’s content will be pushed down the news feed.

What does it mean for pages? Brand pages who relied on a couple of engaged fans to leverage reach through likes and comments will mean a further drop in those already dismal reach numbers. Unless you have other methods in place to drive fans to your Facebook content (if you want to know more, contact us now), this will have a significant impact on Facebook’s value for your brand.   

 

A larger fan base that isn't actively engaged has no value. You still need numbers, but you need active numbers.  How you get those fans and who they are matters.Click To Tweet

 

Significant Facebook Algorithm Change:  Trying to balance the content you see in the right mix.

Facebook seems to have taken the stance that if you engage, you want to see it.  While the change is designed to show more of “content posted by the friends you care about”, we cannot help but think ‘friends’ includes ‘pages’ – “If you like to read news or interact with posts from pages you care about, you will still see that content in News Feed.”

What does it mean for pages? Brand pages with good fan bases that are active, who post quality content will have that content seen by their fans.  While reach will increase, but only within your core fan base.  Expanding your ‘Reach’ will now require more sharing by your fans.   Now, more than ever, your better content needs to be timely, relevant and shareable.  If your content is already there, this change is a major win for you.

Significant Facebook Algorithm Change:  Facebook will allow multiple content from individual publishers to show in your feed.

What does it mean for pages? Previously Facebook had rules in place to essentially prevent individual publishers (friends and pages) from monopolizing your feed.  While that meant seeing more content from your entire network it also meant missing out on content from those you interact with the most.  While we don’t suggest leveraging this as a tactic to purposely drive more reach, when you do have additional content, it will get seen.  Again, if your content is up to par, this is a win for you as well.

 

My Take

The latest Facebook algorithm change might be the first I’m happy to see.  Brand pages who post good content, drive interaction and engagement with their fan base and are truly social will see big gains.  Like Google’s algorithm changes designed to weed out ‘Black Hat’ SEO practices, this change should have the same effect, reward those who are doing it right.

The only downside we can see initially while being social and relevant are still key, as they always have been, smaller pages will be hurt more than larger ones.  Expanding your reach will require a bigger and more active (bigger alone is not enough) fan base.  For some brands, who were seeing good numbers in the past without having to ante up, they may now.

Again, do it right, and you may just see some big rewards.  Of course, while more organic reach is good, we still caution of focusing too much on it.

UPDATE:  It does appear that those brands ‘doing it right’ should have seen a big uptick in visibility a result of this particular Facebook algorithm change.  Did YOUR brand?

 

Getting More Organic Reach From Your Facebook Posts

Organic reach for Facebook brand pages is down.  Gone are the days of post and they will come.  It’s is one of the biggest social media frustrations I run into when talking with small business owners.

I’ve been seeing a number of posts in our personal feed lately requesting people to like, comment and share as a way to make sure “our posts show in your feed”.  It may help, but it’s a bandage.  It’s not a long-term strategy.

The Pay to Play Mentality

There is no need to pay for reach.  This “pay for play mentality” is actually a hindrance to your efforts.  Ads and boosting posts are a great way to drive reach, increasing page likes and drive traffic to your website.  Used correctly it’s an excellent tool, but it’s not required.

The following images from a client’s Facebook Insights clearly shows plenty of organic reach.

Facebook page insights showing significant organic reach for a small page.

Clearly great reach for a small page.  If you’re not seeing results like these, it’s not a lack of payment. Your content is at fault.   Crafting and posting good content starts with understanding why what you are posting now isn’t working.

Why has organic reach dropped?

According to Brian Boland, VP Ads Product Marketing at Facebook in his 5 June 2014 article on Declining Organic Reach on Facebook, it comes down to 2 simple points:

  • Too much content. We’re at a point that so much content is being created by individuals and businesses now that space in the news feed is at a premium.  There’s only so much you can see, especially if you have a few friends who post incessantly.  Facebook simply decided to filter what users see.

Before you get on the “I should be able to see every post” bandwagon, consider the fact that Twitter doesn’t filter your stream.  Following just shy of 2000 people, we amassed 186 new Tweets in a 5 minute period.  That’s 1.62 Tweets per second!  On a Friday afternoon!  What would it have been being peak Tweeting time?

The point?  Even if Facebook allowed every post to find its way to your feed, you’d probably still not see every most posts and that means your page posts aren’t being seen by others.

The idea of not showing posts may seem unfair, but as a business, unfair can be good for you.

Update: The latest Facebook algorithm change (April 2015) has made significant changes to what content appears within the news feed.  Much of what appears below is still has an effect on what is seen.

  • How the news feed works. This is where what we see from the overabundance of posts and why we see certain content gets cloudy.  The short answer from Brian: “To choose which stories to show, News Feed ranks each possible story (from more to less important) by looking at thousands of factors relative to each person.”

So Facebook narrows down what you see based on 1000s of factors relative to each person.  If you read this like we did, it appears Facebook is behaving like Google.

When you perform a search for a keyword, phrase or full question, what Google returns in its results is based on factors including location, who it sees as your influencers, previous search history, an attempt to understand the meaning in your search query and likely your email content – all in an effort to return results best designed for you.  It’s effectively a personalized search result.  (You can always log out and run the same search to see a completely different set of results.)

Facebook, it appears, is factoring in your interests (those movies, shows you watched, the books you’ve read) what you like and comment on, what you share and who you engage with to determine what you are shown.

Added into this mix is the quality content factor. Facebook is working to show more high quality content.  According to Varun Kacholia high quality content is defined as:

  • Timely and relevant
  • From trusted sources
  • Genuine (think not overly promotional, click bait)

Facebook also takes into account how users might feel about the content.  Is it something shareable, something that could be seen as spammy, something others might complain about or hide?

The 3 bullet points are easy to work with, while the last 3 are subjective, if you hit on the other items, you’ll likely avoid any news feed blacklist issues.

There is little doubt Facebook’s news feed weighs far heavier to personal content than business content.  We can’t fault them either.  Facebook is still predominately a tool for keeping in touch with family and friends.  While users do support business and do searches for businesses within Facebook, it’s a secondary role.  Facebook, in skewing feed stories to friend’s posts shows they are aware of and protecting the user’s main interest.

What this leaves in an already concerned feed is even less space for business posts.  Add in paid posts and we wind up with a game of extreme musical chairs.  Think 25 people playing but instead of a scramble for 24 chairs when the music stops, there’s only one.  Rather than only one being excluded, only one gets included.

If you’re not seeing good organic reach, your content likely isn’t relevant, timely, trustworthy or less genuine than Facebook would like (no pun intended).  I’ll add content type and when and how often you post will affect organic reach, but will leave those for a later discussion.  Why?  The organic reach above was derived from 3 or fewer posts per week and primarily relies on links.

Footnote: knowing a better mix of post type drives even more organic reach, especially when using native video, we’ve only hit the tip of the iceberg.  Ramping up our client’s content strategy should mean even better organic reach.

Getting More Organic Reach From Your Facebook Posts: Why organic reach has dropped & how to craft your Facebook posts for better organic reach in 2015.

Crafting Your Content for Better Organic Reach

Now that you know what Facebook is doing (as well as anyone can outside of Facebook) and where your current posts are missing the mark, you can design that more effective content strategy.

So where do you start? Facebook made part of your job easy.  They told us content should be timely, relevant, come from trusted sources and not be overly promotional.

Timely and relevant – If you tend to write and schedule posts weeks in advance, you’re doing yourself a disservice.  Scheduling out is a great tool for your general content but you need to keep up and be able and willing to post ‘on the fly’.  If a news story breaks and it affects your business, you need address it, post it and reschedule your next few posts.  This not only applies to the news but also trending topics within Facebook and those items your fans deem important to them (the relevant part).

Facebook-page-analytics-showing-it-is-possible-to -still-get-significant-organic-reach.

The last 2 updates our clients posted See  where highly successful.  One was written leveraging a trending topic (#TheDress) tailored to their audience and message.  The other involved sharing a trending viral ad.  A post written about a controversial Super Bowl Ad just before the big game was so successful organic reach was 1357!

At Tactical Social Media we use a number of scheduling tools, but we don’t rely on them.  We are actively engaged daily in each platform and maintain a daily pulse on the news to catch the trending topic or story.  You need to do the same.  If you have or are looking to hire, a social media marketing agency to manage your account, they need to be able to monitor for news and other relevant content, creating new posts as necessary.  If they simply schedule content for you and can’t or aren’t willing to monitor and react in real-time (reasonable time), consider another firm.  

Trusted sources – Facebook now puts far more weight on links over images.  While Facebook’s desire to keep users within the platform was a major reason links were poorly weighted in the past, it also boiled down to where those links took users.  The current algorithm resolves the issue as Facebook can determine via domain authority which sites are trusted, better controlling what is seen.  Make sure the article you share, if found on multiple sources, is linked to the most trusted source.

#BeTactical: We check the domain authority of each source our client uses when sharing links. 

Genuine – make sure your posts aren’t promotional.  The more they’re geared to advice, information and helping others, the more likely they’ll make the cut.  This isn’t to say you can’t promote, just that it should be done sparingly if you want posts seen.  We already know Facebook is cracking down on click baiting and overly promotional content.

Most experts insist all of your content should have a Call-To-Action (CTA).  Since a CTA is actually promotional, though not as blatant as “Buy Now”, CTAs in too many posts could negatively affect organic reach.  Our recommendation – limit the number of posts with a CTA.  Your mix should be only 20 – 30% promotional. Save the CTAs for that content.

#BeTactical: Our client only posts promotional content once every week or two.  CTAs are limited.

While fans will follow for content about your business, there is only so much they want to hear about your widgets.  If they hide your content or unlike your page, No one said you needed to only post business content. As a matter of fact you might just be better off posting less about what you do and even business in general.  Consider being more social.  More shareable.  More personal.  Have fun. Post about what peaks your fans’ interests.  If they love coffee, take advantage of that fact.

Remember, this is social media, not direct marketing.  You need to connect with your fans on a personal level.  Social media, when used correctly, builds relationships and brand awareness (yes, direct sales too).  That awareness and those relationships, that turns prospects to leads when the decision to purchase is made.

This will take some work, but the rewards are worth it.  You need to find out what appeals to your fan base and post that content.  Facebook provides some of the demographics data on your fans.  The rest requires a little strategy to obtain.

Takeaway

If you want organic reach, your posts need to play by the rules.  Focus on crafting content that is timely, relevant and genuine.  Limit the promotions and the CTAs.  It will take some work but figure out what your fans want to read.  What peaks their interests.  What content they’ll most likely share (without asking).  This will require some time and effort but you will be rewarded.

Your Turn

Are you still seeing good organic reach?  What have you tried that worked?  That didn’t?

I’d love your hear your thoughts.  You can comment below or you can find this discussion and comment on Google+Pinterest, LinkedIn and Facebook or simply Tweet your thoughts!

If you’re at your wit’s end and need help creating Facebook posts that generate good organic reach,  contact us today to schedule a consultation.  If you’re in the Tacoma or South Sound Area, we’d love to buy you a good cup of coffee.

If you like what you’ve read, share it and get yourself on our mailing list for more valuable content.

Are You Leaving That Positive Review to Chance?

#BeTactical: Having a number of positive reviews won’t prevent a negative one, but it will minimize their impact.  

In The Negative Review Reaction we suggested requesting a positive review from satisfied customers and clients.

#BeTactical: The Positive Review Request: Are you asking your customers to leave positive reviews?

When we work with a client on reputation management we always perform a simple evaluation.  We’re looking for two things: reviews received and responses.  Both tell us plenty. The latter – We look to see IF you responded and HOW you responded.  EVERY review needs to be addressed.  Negative ones to work toward a resolution (again, see The Negative Review Reaction) and for positive reviews – if your client took the time to write one, the least you can do is take the time to acknowledge it!  The former – if you’re not getting reviews, you’re missing an important reputation building and marketing piece.

#BeTactical: EVERY review received requires a response. Negative ones to resolve, positive reviews to acknowledge & say ‘Thank You’.   

Most business owners understand they need to ask for reviews and do ask for them.  The issue for many – even though they ask they do not receive them.  Why?  It’s comes down to HOW they ask.

Asking For That Positive Review

While many will take it upon themselves to write reviews after a purchase, people are more apt to write negative ones before positive ones.

Why you need to ask for a positive review: Americans tell an average of 9 people about good experiences, and tell 16 (nearly two times more) people about poor experiences.

So how do you get those positive reviews?

  • Make it easy.  This is a big one.  It’s another reason you need to ask more than once, especially if the first time is as they’re leaving your store.  Assuming they remember to write the review, they now have to ‘work’; get online, find your site, figure out where to leave the review and still write it.  We’re sure at one point or another you’ve had the best intentions to express your love for that awesome shop then realize you had no desire to go ‘through the trouble’ of doing it.
    • Send that follow-up email with links to a few of your reviews sites.  Just be sure to embed the link.  Long URL strings, even shortened ones in our opinion, just look unprofessional.
    • Add a QR code or two on the customer’s receipt or the follow-up card.
    • Excellent use of a QR code on a purchase receipt asking for a positive review; #BeTactical
    • Add written directions to walk your client through placing the review.

#BeTactical: The Positive Reviews Request - South Tacoma Honda does a great job using this postcard. They ask for reviews, provide choices and directions; Tactical Social Media in the Greater Seattle Area

  • Provide Options.  This is up there with making it easy.  Some love Yelp and use it to find everything.  Others prefer Google.  If you ask for a recommendation on Yelp and your client doesn’t use it, chances are you won’t get their review.  Providing choices means a greater likelihood your receive reviews.  It also increases the odds reviews will be spread out across several sites.  While five positive reviews on Facebook would be great, someone searching for you on Google or Yelp won’t see them.  Better to spread the wealth.
  • Ask more than once and in more than one way.  It’s great that you asked for the review at the end of the sale, even before the customer left your shop (and you’d better be doing this!) but you know as well as I do that by the time your client got home, they’ve forgotten!  They had stops to make, dinner to prepare – something came up and they just plain forgot.  Been there, done that!
    • Send a follow-up email.  Make it sincere, make it personal.  Provide some helpful advice if appropriate and offer your support if it should ever be need.  Add your request for their review with links.    Make sure the email is timed properly.  Too soon can be seen as annoying and waiting too long means the client may be too far removed from the buying experience.
    • Send a personalized card using snail mail.  Emails get overlooked and deleted.  A card has several advantages.  It’s personal.  It takes time to address, write and mail a card.  It gets noticed.  These days a thank you card is unique.  When was the last time you received one?  It’s tangible.  People have a much harder time ‘deleting’ something physical.  Done right, cards get noticed AND saved!

Author’s note:  I’ll always recommend sending handwritten thank you notes.  Services like Send Out Cards are great for bulk campaigns – holiday cards and routine follow ups – and even for individual cards to stay connected, but they’re still computer generated.   While they can be personalized with respect to content and signatures, a hand addressed and stamped envelope carries more ‘punch’ and less likely to be mistaken for junk mail.  For that initial ‘Thank you’, take the time to build / grow that relationship.

One final note.  We highly recommend against using any site for syndicating reviews.  We were approached about this practice recently as a way to get review visible on several sites when the reviewer only writes one.  While tempting, we find the practice unethical.  The reviewer didn’t chose to add their comment on those sites and re-posting without permission is not a good practice.  From a consumer standpoint, if we do some research and read reviews on several sites having duplicate copy, it will come across as spam, not an authentic review.  Beyond this, syndication is duplication of content.  It will catch Google’s eye and your site is likely to take a big SEO hit.

The Takeaway

#BeTactical: Ask for reviews more than once, provide choices & make it easy to leave them.  Have a plan in place to monitor for reviews, responding when they’re received. 

Your Turn

Are you leaving positive reviews to chance?  Do you have a plan to request them?

I’d love your hear your thoughts.  You can comment below or you can find this discussion and comment on Google+Pinterest, LinkedIn and Facebook or simply Tweet your thoughts!

If you need help creating a plan to request positive reviews, monitoring for online reviews, or how to respond to reviews,  contact us today to schedule a consultation.  If you’re in the Tacoma or South Sound Area, we’d love to buy you a good cup of coffee.

If you like what you’ve read, share it and get yourself on our mailing list for more valuable content.

Customer Service Via Social Media

We came across a very good article by +Brandwatch on this very topic we wanted to share (and highly recommend you give it a read:

How to Provide Great Customer Service Via Social Media

#BeTactical: Why you need and how to to provide great customer service via social mediaWhy you should be offering social care

Response time expectations:  Customers want answers right.   They don’t want to wait 24 hours for their email to be read.  Nor do they want to wait on hold for 30 minutes.  Social Media has the ability to provide real-time and faster response rates.

Like it or not, people talk about you:  It’s where your customers are mentioning you and discussing, complimenting or criticizing your brand.  They’ll also likely attempt to contact you through social sites which leads to……

Avoid unpleasant actions:  “….most customers (74%) believe that if they take to social media to criticize a brand, this leads to better customer service.”

#BeTactical: Your customers are using social sites for customer service.  Shouldn’t you be there to address those comments?

Loyal customers spend more:  “But just as social media gives dissatisfied customers a bigger voice, so too does it give retailers an opportunity to not just diminish problems, but turn a disgruntled customer into an even more loyal one.”

A perfect, real world example of this can be found in the article by Robert Nissenbaum on Social Media Today: Handling the Negative Social Media Post

Best practices for great customer service via social media

Humanize your brand:  Great point.  “….the key to delivering great customer service on social media is to be speedy, personal and empathetic in your response.”

Respond in a timely manner:  This goes back customer response time expectations mentioned above.  Failing to respond quickly means more negative publicity and a more irate customer.  At the very least, delayed responses mean less chance of turning that negative review into a positive result.

#BeTactical: Have a monitoring plan in place to catch mentions and reviews as they occur.*

Choose the right avenue of communication:  #BeTactical: Addressing customer service via social media is great as a tool for others to see how you  issues when they arise but…. “there are occasions where a conversation should remain private.”  You need to know when the conversation should remain or be shifted off social sites.

This also involves knowing WHEN to shift the avenue of communication.  Nothing is worse than making a bad situation worse and doing so publicly.   For the real world example in the article on Social Media today, the customer was addressed on her public post, handled privately (via the polite request to call her), then resumed publicly for the thank you.

Respond appropriately:  How you respond (and you should respond to EVERY mention and review good or bad) can say more about your brand than the initial posting.

*Set up alerts, listen and speak their language:  If responding timely is critical to handle customer service issues on social sites, you MUST have a monitoring plan in place.  Without it you may never realize you have an issue or could far too late to help.  Failure to acknowledge the issue at all further creates a bigger issue – not only didn’t you resolve the problem, you didn’t care to respond to it.

Make helpful suggestions & point back to your brand:  We love this!!

  • “If you can’t provide a 24 hour customer service, make sure your social media profiles state your operating hours clearly.
  • List your company’s other contact channels and link back to the different social accounts for different regions where possible.
  • Where possible and relevant, you can also include links to your website, research and other content to provide more detailed information.”

Social media channels offer small businesses a means to gain exposure they simply couldn’t afford through traditional avenues.  It’s the customer service role social media plays, however, that may just be the best source of ROI.  From providing support to resolving issues creating happy, loyal customers to just being available when needed, social care can have a significant impact in the bottom line.

Your Turn

Are you handling your customer service via social media?  Have you found it effective?  Do you have a monitoring plan in place to keep up with mentions and posted reviews?

I’d love your hear your thoughts.  You can comment below or you can find this discussion and comment on Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Facebook or simply Tweet your thoughts!

If you like what you’ve read, share it and get yourself on our mailing list for more valuable content.

If you don’t have a monitoring plan in place,  aren’t monitoring your customer service via social media or if you need help crafting responses to issues, we need to talk.  Contact us today to schedule a consultation.  If you’re in the Greater Seattle or South Sound Areas, we’d love to buy you a good cup of coffee.

The Value Behind Content Curation

Content is king.  Whether for a blog post or social media channel, and regardless of the SEO effect, without regularly updated quality content, you’re providing no value.  Potential customers have no reason to return to your site.  No reason to return means not building a following and little chance of turning your visitors into prospects and leads.   The issue for many is creating a content strategy that delivers the quality material their audience wants without overwhelming themselves.

We recently met with a client struggling with this exact problem.  He was continually trying to create original content for Facebook and his blog.  The time involved was removing him from other areas that needed his attention.  We was frustrated and, quite understandably, burnt out.

We laid out a plan that would reduce the demand for original content, allow him to shift his focus while still retaining a consistent posting schedule.  We created a schedule for posting involving a mix of original material, curated content and leveraged content.   In addition to reduced stress levels, this strategy provides several tactical advantages.

5 Reasons You Need A Content Curation Strategy

#BeTactical: The Content Curation Strategy: Is content curation missing from your strategy? by Robert Nissenbaum, Tactical Social Media (image by Jeremy Karelsen Photography)

The ‘Go To’ Resource

People spend a great deal of time online looking for information.  Over time they gravitate towards sites that provide them the most useful information possible on the topics they’re researching.  It’s smart. Less time finding sources means more time getting answers.  How many sites have you bookmarked for reference because they had plenty of content you needed?  We’ll bet you’re not even aware how much of the information on those sites was original versus curated.

People search to find solutions.  When they have a problem, who provides the answer is more important than whose answer it is.

Why not make your blog, Facebook or Google+ page that site?  Why not provide the best content someone would need to make a buying decision regarding your industry, your product or your service?  Your page becomes the trusted source.  YOUR page becomes the ‘go to’ resource.  Over time this will increase your fan base, reach and ultimately your revenue.

The ‘Expanded Reach’ Factor

Content curation requires acknowledging the source.  Whether it’s a backlink in a blog post, a website link or tagging in a social media post you’re alerting the author.

If you tag us in a post, we’ll make it a point to thank you.  That interaction is an excellent means of increasing exposure and reach.  If the content shared was from an influential source, it can also put you on their radar.

The ‘Credibility’ Factor

Being the expert in your industry doesn’t mean you know everything or you’re the only expert.  It also doesn’t mean you have all of the answers.  Sharing curated content acknowledges that fact.  You become more credible by sharing the work of others (especially that of a competitor).

The ‘Expert’ Factor

This tactical use of content curation, the “leveraged content” we mentioned in our strategy.  Sharing the work of others makes you a great resource, it provides you content when there isn’t time to create your own and it increases your visibility but it’s WHAT you do with that content can and will define you as the expert.  Don’t simply share what you’ve curated.  Add value to it!

Look at the content from another angle.  Build on the work already done.  Add additional points, especially if the content is a list.  Maybe your experience can fill in gaps.  Even the experts see content differently.  We are always learning ourselves.

A great example of this strategy was how we used content curation in sharing a recent Google+ post by Mandy Edwards.

We built upon her original list, adding value to the reader.  The approach allowed us to create ‘original’ content without starting from scratch, provided (targeted) reach and overall exposure.  It added credibility by validating someone we recognize as a true social media expert and provided the opportunity for collaboration on a future article on the topic (see the comments).

The Customer Service Via Social Media Necessity is a good example of how to leverage content for a blog post.

The ‘Collaboration’ Factor

Sharing content from more influential sources (and even competitors) provides a great opportunity for collaboration (especially if you follow the advice in The ‘Expert’ Factor above on how to tactically use Content curation).  When you share another business’s or individual’s content, they will (or should) know.  While they may not actually engage on that particular piece of content, you may just grab their attention.

The primary role for your content is prospecting tool.  It’s designed to find potential clients / customers (the upper level of the marketing funnel).  At the same time, that content serves the role of prospecting for collaboration and partnerships (as it did in our post – see the comment string).   If you can grab the attention of a leading industry expert and if your content resonates with them, you’ve created the prospect for a working relationship.  Those relationships, especially if with another industry influencers, are priceless in terms of exposure, credibility and learning.  The right project could catapult you or your brand to the next level.

One added benefit our client received – the reduced time creating daily content not only meant time to focus on other pressing matters, but allowed him to create more in-depth articles.  His content mix now includes short, original content, shared quality content, value added leveraged content and in-depth articles providing more detailed solutions.

While this customer needed a means of reducing reliance on original content, tactical use of curated and leverage content is a recommended strategy for any business.

Value Add Versus Aggregation

The Museum Correlation

While many feel content curation has little value without your own voice (good article by The Social Masters), it’s not our stance.  Without question content curation should focus on adding value, there is a place (and value) for simply creating a collection of quality content as part of your mix.

Consider any of the Natural History Museums.  They curate pieces from hundreds of sources.   This pieces may be displayed as individual specimens or as a collection of like items such as “Sue” (‘…the largest, best-preserved, and most complete Tyrannosaurus rex ever found.’)…

The world-famous fossil known as “Sue” is the largest, best-preserved, and most complete Tyrannosaurus rex ever found, Chicago Field Museum

Image courtesy of the Chicago Field Museum

 

…or be arranged to create a ‘scene’ providing a more detailed look into the past.  In some cases these scenes may involve the combining of pieces from multiple sources.

Display of wildlife survival in the vast area of Africa, Las Vegas Natural History Museum

Image courtesy of the Las Vegas Natural History Museum

The latter is the valued added exhibit.  The former simply a re-posting if you will.  The value in a curated display with no value added in the form of Sue being placed on display?  It’s a ‘high draw’ item.  It’s the content that will bring in visitors who will then likely check out the rest of the exhibits.

Simply curating high quality, timely content on your blog or social sites has the same potential effect.  The key is to not abuse it.

Our advice:  #BeTactical.  Make sure your content curation strategy is balanced.  

Your Turn

Is curated content missing from your strategy?  If it’s included, are you simply sharing or do you add value?

I’d love your hear your thoughts.  You can comment below or you can find this discussion and comment on Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Facebook or simply Tweet your thoughts!

If you like what you’ve read, share it and get yourself on our mailing list for more valuable content.

If you don’t have a content marketing strategy in place, if you have no idea how to find content or if you have a plan but could use some help to #BeTactical in leveraging it, we need to talk.

Contact us today to schedule a consultation.  If you’re in the Greater Seattle  or South Sound Areas, we’d love to buy you a good cup of coffee.

#BeTactical: Tagging by Exploiting Facebook’s Sharing Feature

#BeTactical: Tagging by Exploiting Facebook's Sharing Feature, Tactical Social Media, Greater Seattle social media

One major disadvantage Facebook has when compared to Google+ is the inability of Brand Pages to interact with personal profiles.  Your brand cannot Like, follow, comment on or share personal posts.  They cannot, by default, tag individuals.  This severely limits a page’s ability to organically drive reach.  Rather than being able to ‘call out’ fans, page admins need to rely on the fan seeing the post in their feed (something we know Facebook is limiting) OR private message a fan and request they ‘check out’ the post.  Neither is a great option.

Tagging is still the best method.  When people are tagged in posts, notifications are prominent and generally result in engagement on some level. Those tags are the catalyst to large reach numbers.  Fortunately there are two methods you can use.

#BeTactical: Facebook brand pages can tagging individuals and other pages in images.

Image tagging:  If you use an image in your post you have the ability, as an admin, to tag friends and other pages within the image the same way you can on a personal status update.  It’s great for photos were the individual’s tagged are actually IN the photos.  Otherwise it does appear spammy.  The tags also appear at the end of the post so they’re less visible. Consider using  the method for event photos,  selfies taken in your place of business or any posted image featuring individuals.

The share:  Facebook allows you to post to your brand page as your brand page when using Facebook as yourself. This allows you to share content from another page, a friend’s or your own personal profile and from any other site using a share button.  The advantage here – when you share the post, the content you add in the body of the post is written by you and NOT your brand.  That allows tagging of individuals.  The big advantages with this method – the tags appear inline and it can be used with links, videos, images and text only posts!

The one big limitation is the inability to schedule shared posts natively.  You’ll need a third-party application if scheduling is a must.

#BeTactical: The share method for tagging individuals in page posts is a great way to share your own blog posts leveraging Facebook to drive blog traffic.

  • Locate the content you want to share
  • Select the option to post on a page you manage#BeTactical: How to share a post on your Facebook page for the purpose of tagging individuals
  • Select the page (if you manage multiple pages).  By default it will automatically post as the same page#BeTactical: How to share a post on your Facebook page for the purpose of tagging individuals by posting to your page as your page to drive reach and organic views.
  • Say something about this:  Enter your text tagging the desired individuals.

The brilliance in this method – not only is the individual tagged on your brand’s page in the post (serving as a that ‘reach’ catalyst), your brand’s post will also appear on their timeline. visible to their audience.  Any activity on the post on their wall will reflect on the post on your page.

#BeTactical: The power of tagging individuals in Facebook brand page posts

If you go to my personal page you can see the tagging benefit – this post appears in both there AND on Tactical Social Media’s brand page drastically increasing visibility and organic reach.  

The downside to tagging?  Tagging the wrong person can lead to the post being blocked as spam (and negative feedback) and/or result in losing fans.  Keep in mind there is a reason Facebook opted to prevent brand pages from tagging individuals.

#BeTactical in how you use tagging on Facebook pages.  

Use the feature to only tag those individuals you know have a true desire for the information you are posting and don’t over do it.  As noted above, and unless they have opted to review posts first, any post you tag an individual in will show on their profile.  The last thing you want in an effort to gain some organic reach is to upset a fan.

Are you getting the organic reach you want from your Facebook posts?  If you try tagging individuals I’d love to know your results.

I’d love your hear your thoughts.  You can comment below or you can find this discussion and comment on Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Facebook or simply Tweet your thoughts!

If you need help getting more organic reach from your Facebook posts or have any other social media issue you’d like to discuss?   Contact us today to schedule a consultation.  If you’re in the Greater Seattle Area, we’d love to buy you a good cup of coffee.

If you like what you’ve read, share it and get yourself on our mailing list for more valuable content.