Tools And Etiquette For Using Social Media Effectively

Social media is not just for  tweeting your thought of the day or updating your status about the “amazing” lunch you just had, which  you just had to take a photo of. It can  be used to further enhance your business and get your customers more involved in your company than you ever thought possible.

I have never been a “social media guru” and have usually attempted to stay off of the social media “bandwagon” because I never appreciated the value that it can bring to ones image. I was very wrong with this mindset because there are so many different things that can be done with the different platforms of social media and  every business can stand out in a crowd, if used correctly.

The different types of social media that  is out there can be a bit scary to comprehend when you first jump into the online world, but they all follow a similar etiquette when it comes to promoting your brand and gaining leads. Like I have been saying in my last few blogs, it is all about content.

Your content needs to be informative but humanized. Don’t worry about always selling your brand and your product. Give the customers something fun and interesting to read. There are many different tools out there that will help track what your customers are talking about and what they found particularly interesting that your company has shared with them.

Google analytics(http://www.google.com/analytics/) is a great tool that can be very handy when it comes to tracking your blog or your Google+. It is a free analytics tool that will help provide insight into your user’s behavior, the traffic that your page receives, and the behavior on your website. This tool will help you by providing useful data that will help you get to know how you can better serve  your customers.

Pinterest, I feel, is very unacknowledged for its promotional benefits and generation of leads. All a business has to do is pin a picture and link their website to the picture. If you pin it to the right board and promote it to the right audience than you generate many leads. One thing to keep in mind, when it comes to your audience, is the gender that the site is most likely to be used by. For example,  women are five times more likely to use Pinterest than men are, while men are supposedly  more likely to use Google+. By knowing this you can customize your sites to bring in the right type of audience. Pinterest has many tools that you can use to get the fullest advantage out of your boards; Curalate (http://www.curalate.com/) helps measure your pin and board engagement. It helps find advocates and generate traffic. This is a great tool to use because it can  find out what types of pins are becoming popular and what are not.  This tool can also be used for Instagram. Currently in beta testing for Pinterest is promoted pins. These pins work like any other pin,  but have a little icon in the right hand corner. This icon is clicked on by the user and they are given more information about the pin and the company that it came from. What I feel is great about this type of promotion is that it is not pushed into the customers face and the people clicking on it genuinely want to learn more about the product and business that it came from.

This leads me into the next etiquette rule that you should always follow on any social media site: Don’t be pushy. Update continuously but know when to promote and how much to promote. If you tweet all of your information at the exact same time then you are going to flood your customers feed. They are going to eventually get bored and then ignore what you are trying to say.

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There are many tools out there that will help you with the scheduling of your posts. For example, Buffer is a scheduler for LinkedIn. This tool lets you schedule your posts, while also giving you a basic click/reach analytics for all of your pages.  HootSuite ( https://hootsuite.com/) is also a great tool for scheduling your posts. This allows you to post to many different websites at the same time. You can choose to schedule your posts or have them decide when would be the prime time to post a status. Scheduling is extremely important  because you don’t want to post something on your page when no one is paying attention. A fellow blogger, Belle Cooper, and team member of Buffer wrote  a blog about the best time to tweet, post, email, and blog. http://blog.bufferapp.com/best-time-to-tweet-post-to-facebook-send-emails-publish-blogposts

In this blog she stated some interesting facts like, the engagement rate for Facebook is 18% higher on Thursdays and Fridays and Twitter engagements for brands are 17% higher on weekends.  As you can see there is a bit of a trend here. More people are engaged near the end of the week, but that isn’t the case for blogs.  Mondays are the highest traffic days for an average blog. Not only should you focus on the day that you are posting but also on the time.  You want to post when there is the most users are one the site but at the same time you don’t want to be lost in the feed. Belle provides more information about the best times to post in the link I posted in the paragraph above.

One last very important rule of etiquette that you should always follow is: stay engaged. Don’t forget about the users and don’t ignore them either. If you allow for your users to comment on your pages then make sure you answer them back. I would answer back in 24 hours, if possible. You want to keep building and maintaining that relationship with the customer and make sure they know that you care about them and what they have to offer your company. If you leave a comment ignored that can result in the loss of a customer, but also make sure that when you do comment back you do it appropriately.

A bad example of responding to customer comments would be the very famous Applebee’s  incident.  Long story short a picture of a customer’s bill was posted on Reddit, making fun of the “10% tip for God” that was left instead of for the waitress. This picture went viral and Applebee’s responded by firing the waitress responsible, for violating the customer’s privacy. People were very angry and felt that Applebee’s was being hypocritical because they post positive feedback from customers on their page.  Negative opinions flooded Facebook and Twitter.  It didn’t get better from there because an Applebee’s employee decided at 2am to respond to the comments. Not only did they respond at that time but they made it a comment and not a Facebook status. They then being tagging people in their comments and ended up arguing with the customers.

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Applebee’s lost a lot of customers because of this incident and hopefully the employee who did this was fired. If they had responded at an appropriate time with an appropriate message and not have fought with the customers then they may have been able to salvage their image. This just goes to show that you need to make sure you are engaging with your customers in a well-mannered way and at an appropriate time. If you would like to read more about this incident and see some of the customer responses follow this link: http://rlstollar.wordpress.com/2013/02/02/applebees-overnight-social-media-meltdown-a-photo-essay/

There are of course more social media etiquette rules that you should follow but I highlighted the ones I felt were the most important to know. I would like to give a shout out to the people at MOZ. They just put out this very lovely beginners guide to social media, which is filled with techniques and tools you can use to further enhance your social media presence and your business.

http://moz.com/beginners-guide-to-social-media

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