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Woman taking photo mobile phone

More than 100 facts on how social media has impacted the business world

By Dave McGurgan
photo: Annie Spratt

Here are some social media insights that you can use to drop some social media knowledge on your boss and help you geek out with the social media managers in your life. The important takeaways that you’ll want to note for the business world include:

  • Spending on social media marketing is expected to double in the next three years
  • Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn are the social sites most likely to influence purchasing decisions
  • Facebook has 1.59 billion registered users
  • Instagram has 600 million registered users
  • Twitter has 320 million registered users
  • 43,000+ photos are uploaded to Instagram every minute
  • For every one photo uploaded to Instagram, 10 are uploaded to Snapchat
  • Social media penetration is nearly 60% in the U.S.
  • YouTube is big with kids: 85% of them report watching videos on the social network

Social Media Strategy twitter bird

Eight ways to optimize your social media strategy

By Dave McGurgan

More and more businesses and organizations are committing more budget and resources for social media as part of their overall marketing strategy. It’s no longer a question of “Is there value in being on social media?” It’s more of a question of, “How do we get the most value out of our social media strategy?”

Align your social strategy with your business plan

Perhaps the biggest misstep we see organizations making with their social media strategy is that it is not properly aligned with their business plan. In the worse case scenario, there may be no social media strategy in place at all, or it has gotten seriously off track! Other challenges can include lack of training and not allocating enough resources to empower those responsible for executing on social media to effectively move the ball down the field.

Nonprofits and small- and medium-sized businesses may find that they have been too busy managing their day-to-day operations and that they haven’t been using social media to market themselves and to engage and interact with their customers, prospects and the world at large. It’s a common scenario.

There’s an analogy I like to use for businesses that are active on social media but don’t have a strategy in place or haven’t allocated proper research. Imagine setting out to drive across the United States, but failing to map out what the routes will be and how you’ll get from point A to point B.

You’ll start off strong and with a lot of enthusiasm. You’ll do a lot of driving and begin to make decisions based on hunches (“I think we go this way”) instead of relying on the data (“The GPS says to go the other way”) or referring to your road map (i.e., strategy). What happens is you end up expending a lot of energy. And you’ll certainly go “somewhere,” but ultimately you’ll end up lost, begin to encounter frustration and eventually throw up your hands in defeat and unsure how to get your social program back on track.

Does that sound like a good game plan?

Make sure your social media strategy supports, is aligned with and runs parallel to your business plan.

Define your goals

Once you’ve aligned your social strategy with your business strategy, defining the goals of your social strategy will be your next step. At the risk of greatly oversimplifying, the goals of your social strategy should align with and support your business goals. It doesn’t have to be much more complex.

Many businesses are looking to acquire more qualified leads, engage prospects and convert leads into customers. But your social media strategy can (and should) also include things such as positioning your company as subject matter experts, answering questions and providing value to your audience. If your company’s business goals aren’t clearly defined, be sure to push back (on your boss) and ask, “What are we trying to accomplish with our social media program?”

Listen, listen, listen

Before you do anything on social, make sure you understand that your audience, peers, potential customers and existing customers are already conversing on social media. They may even be talking about you, your brand and their experience with your brand or product.

Please, oh pretty please, do not make the mistake of presuming you can jump right into conversations on social networks, blast your marketing message and expect that you’ll see results. You won’t. Read those last two sentences over again.

Social media marketing is very rooted in two-way conversation; listening is one of the cornerstones on which engagement occurs. When you’re listening, you’re laying the groundwork of providing value to your target audiences and participating in the conversation.

Engagement

A successful social media strategy is one that is engaging. Using social media to shove your marketing messages in as many people’s’ faces as you can isn’t very effective. Do you want to risk alienating the audience you’re trying to reach? Then don’t show up on social and don’t just shout your buy-my-product spiel.
Engagement helps humanize your brand, build trust and fosters genuine interaction with your brand. Your social stream of outgoing messages should have not only your marketing messages but also provide engaging posts that demonstrate you’re listening to others, that you’re participating in the conversation and that you’re involved. More importantly, it’ll show that you’re there to provide value through your social media program.

Provide value

Let’s talk a little bit more about what is meant by value. Users are often searching for answers online through web searches and turning to social media for solutions. It’s rooted in customer service: Providing answers, insight and support. Delivering exceptional customer service on social media is still an often-overlooked tactic and is an excellent way to give value to your audience. And don’t forget about content curation. Spend time gathering (and creating) content related to your industry/audience. Liberally share useful articles and information.

Participate in industry events (conferences, meetups)

Participating in industry events such as meetups, conferences and Twitter chats is an excellent way to increase reach and visibility for your brand. Did you know when you attend industry conferences and events, there’s a parallel discussion occurring on social media and that is now part of the event experience?
These events are fantastic opportunities to specifically connect with individuals or companies you’re not already connected with, for prospecting and identifying subject matter experts in your industry. Engaging with these folks after the event is a great way to build long-term relationships online and create opportunities for engagement long after the event is over.

Rely on metrics to help tell the story

Analytics should determine your social media program’s performance. Rely on metrics to tell the story of what and how your social program is performing. Make decisions based on metrics and use analytics to derive insights into what content is working, what types of posts and interactions drive engagement and what things don’t resonate with your audience.

Don’t fall into the trap of relying on your gut or anecdotal thoughts about your social program such as, “Well, I think that most people follow us on social because of _________,” without having the stats to back it up. You can keep your social media program moving forward based on data and not assertions, which usually aren’t supported by facts.

Revise your strategy and tactics as needed

Social media strategies can and should evolve over time. A good program will be nimble enough to respond to changes in tools, additions of new networks and experiment with delivery of content. A good social program is responsive, rather than set in stone.

Ready to optimize your social media strategy? Call us today at (302) 367-4023 for a free consultation about your social media program.

Social Media Marketing

What 2017 has in store for social media marketing

By Dave McGurgan

In the world of social media and social media marketing, one constant you can count on is constant change. New social media tools rise to the surface, while others reach the end of their lifespan. Meanwhile, major players such as Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and Snapchat continue to roll out new features. These changes can often shake up your organization’s social media strategy and playbook from year to year.

In 2017, we expect to see continued innovations in the social sphere and the continued evolution in being able to target, message and market to highly defined audiences. And here are some of the ways it’s all likely to unfold.


Video is about to hit the peak! Now’s the time to get on

“When asked which type of content they would like to create more of if there were no obstacles like time, resources, and budget, 83 percent of [the] marketers surveyed said video content.”

What 1,200+ of the world’s best marketers think about the future of social media [Inbound.org, Alfred Lua]


The status quo on social is shifting

“For marketers, social media in 2017 will be a challenge and opportunity. With the decline of content marketing and the rise of new technologies, like virtual reality and artificial intelligence, marketers will have to create new strategies to keep up.”

Social Media in 2017 [Crowdbabble, Katie Meyer]


New areas of communication will emerge

“Historically, social media existed as a way for individual people to communicate online. When brands caught on, it also became a way for brands to speak to and advertise to consumers. But now, social media is evolving in new communicative areas. Some platforms are offering means of customer service, increasing the significance and interactivity of exchanges between brands and consumers. Others, like Facebook, are delving into more professional communication. Expect to see more diversity here as more brands catch onto the potential.”

7 Social Media Marketing Trends That Will Dominate 2017 [Forbes, Jayson DeMers]


The social media skills gap widens

More companies than ever are using social channels for marketing, customer service and sales: around 90 percent, according to the latest data from eMarketer.
But a curious thing has happened: training and resources for frontline employees have been largely ignored. Research from management consulting firm Capgemini Consulting says nine out of 10 companies report their workers don’t have the requisite skills to leverage social media as a business tool.

Top 5 Social Media Trends for Businesses in 2017 [Hootsuite, Ryan Holmes]


Employees Turn Into Beacons For Their Brand

“If you are working for a company that considers itself “connected”, you might be encouraged to share business updates. This is because brands have now started turning to employees as brand ambassadors to further their brand image. In other words, using employee social advocacy programs has grown about 191% since 2013.”

5 Trends That Will Transform Social Media in 2017 [Social Media Explorer, Nancy Grace]


Chatbots Take Over 1:1 Conversations

Automated communications are here to stay. Facebook’s Messenger app now enables brands to build their own chatbot response services, helping to automate and direct communications with customers that don’t require major human influence. This month, the network even announced that payments will be supported in the feature.

So far, the majority of chatbots on the network seem to be experiments with the potential and range of the feature, but that’s bound to change. As savvy marketers and developers begin to catch up with the possibilities, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see chatbots begin to automate communication in 1:1 conversations. If that happens, 2017 will be the year we begin to see tangible effects on your social media marketing strategy.

5 Predictions For Social Media Marketing In 2017 [Social Media Today, Brad Friedman]


Leveraging live video within social media

“In 2017, one of the marketing trends we’ll continue to see the increasing adoption of live video for businesses that are marketing themselves through social media. It’s a powerful tool. I think smaller companies are likely figuring out how they can leverage it. I expect we’ll see more experimenting with live video for sure. I also believe that we’ll see more tools or add-ons that help make the production of live video even easier. It’s pretty amazing: You can launch a live video stream with one click and a mobile device.”

Marketing trends to watch for in 2017 [Four Dog Creative, Dave McGurgan]


If you’re not sure where and how you should be focusing your social media marketing efforts, call us at (302) 367-4023 for a free consultation and see how we can help.

LinkedIn social network

Linkedin’s new interface: Will it make social network easier to use?

By Dave McGurgan

LinkedIn is one of the oldest social networks in existence (it was launched in 2003!) and focuses on business, employment and professional knowledge sharing. Until early 2017, LinkedIn had an extremely utilitarian, if not Web 1.0 design, similar to sites such as Craigslist and Reddit. LinkedIn has made a bold step forward with a new interface that simplifies the user experience and reduces clutter. But does it make the social network easier to use?

As LinkedIn grew, it rolled out new features such as the ability to publish articles and discover/curate topics of interest. As it added on more features, the site became increasingly harder to use because of its unwieldy design and less-than-optimal UX. As a result, many of LinkedIn’s advanced features remained out of sight and out of mind for casual users of the social network. Simply put, LinkedIn hadn’t been especially easy to use, or navigate, for a long time.

The new LinkedIn design is much more contemporary and streamlined. The new feed where your latest updates flow in is very reminiscent of the Google+ feed. It’s dead simple and clean as it should be. The navigation menu is also greatly simplified, with all of its primary activities very apparent.

Where did everything else go? Well, you’ll want to check under the “More” tab, where LinkedIn favorite Groups now reside along with Slideshare (which is an incredible resource for business knowledge in and of itself.) Hopefully, with the new design, these features will get more play due to better placement in the site navigation. The “More” tab is also home to where LinkedIn business services now reside and are where companies can post a job and advertise to acquire customers.

LinkedIn continues to offer “Premium” services for job seekers, which is ideal for those willing to plunk down $29.99 a month, but for the underemployed or recently laid off workers, the monthly membership fees may still be too much to bear. It’d be great to see these premium services available to all users, but it seems like LinkedIn’s subscription model won’t be going away anytime soon. That said, you can usually get a free 30-day trial to their premium services, which may be sufficient if your search is a short-term one; sadly these days that’s not always the case.

If you’re like most professionals, you’re probably too busy to learn all of the nuances of the new LinkedIn site redesign. In which case, you’ll want to check out this recap of LinkedIn changes from Social Media Examiner. While it’s intended for marketers, there are probably several takeaways for most people and novice LinkedIn users.

Six storytelling tools for the social web

By Dave McGurgan

As the Internet becomes increasingly visual and more content is consumed via mobile devices, brands and marketers are reacting by spending more time telling stories.

As marketing evolves away from traditional one-way messaging (e.g., “Here’s my billboard with my marketing message”), storytelling is becoming more commonplace as consumers expect to have connections with their favorite brands and products via the social web and mobile devices.

Reap big rewards by using social media for business

The benefits of social media for business continues to grow as more social media channels emerge and more users get connected. Any business still shunning social media these days is like eschewing newspaper ads in the ’90s: an epic fail.

Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram combined have over 2 billion users. All these are potential customers or represent a big chunk of your already existing clientele. There is so much that businesses can do on social media that was previously possible only with huge marketing and CRM budgets.

Top 20 tools to create social media visual content for the web and social networks

By Dave McGurgan | @dmcgurgan

“The web is becoming increasingly visual.” It’s something that we tell our customers and our prospects every day. With the rapid adoption of mobile devices and increased download speeds, more people are consuming more images (and video) than ever before

As social media marketers, it’s our job to help brands and organizations connect with their audience and one of the primary ways we do that is to create social media visual content for both the web and social networks (which, by the way, are well on the way to becoming one and the same). 

Here are some of our favorite tools that we use to create social media visual content both for Four Dog Creative’s own marketing efforts and on behalf of our customers as well.

Social media engagement: Brands should be talking with customers, not at them

By Dave McGurgan | @dmcgurgan

What you’re able to read is something that I originally wrote four years ago, in 2012. At that time, many organizations still had trouble accepting the fact that they no longer were in charge of the conversation. 

The fact that customers could talk about companies and brands and their experiences with them, was a frightening reality to upper management. 

It might seem absurd in 2016 that some companies still question the value of being on social media. Yet, they still exist. For now anyway.

Social media policy for employees should be built on trust

By Karl Smith | @coachkarlpa

One thread that’s followed me through my career has been trying to connect things. I did it as a reporter, an editor, a designer, a website GM and all through my time as a manager and executive. 

So no surprise that I worked to connect to pieces I’ve read, both via Hootsuite. Both involved social media policy for employees, but they didn’t carry the same message. Or maybe they did. I guess it all depends how you connect them.