Tagged: business

How Social Media Can Be A Nightmare For Businesses

Social Media can be one of the greatest marketing tools a company has at its disposal, but it can also create nightmares if used incorrectly.

In 2014, American Apparel came under fire for their July 4th Tumblr posts meant to celebrate the holiday. What the company thought was an image of a firework exploding across the sky in a patriotic plume was actually a press photo of the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion in 1986, which took the lives of all 7 astronauts onboard. Although the company removed the post and apologized, American Apparel continues to suffer long-standing backlash from the flub.

But not all social media nightmares are as easy to spot as that news-maker. Failures on Social Media outlets can be a headache for companies in ways they may not have expected. Small details can mean the difference between a successful social presence and a negative image being presented to your target consumers.

Avoiding these costly mistakes and pitfalls is crucial when launching a successful social media marketing campaign. Be sure to be wary of the top 5 mistakes companies make when managing their social media pages, and help avoid welcoming the wrong kind of attention to your company.

  1. Failure to Continue Posting

The biggest mistake a company can make after establishing Social Media pages is to stop updating these pages regularly. For customers and potential customers, this makes a page look empty and uninviting. The page then becomes a billboard shouting “We Aren’t Here” rather than an way to invite new customers to your storefront.

Not staying current suggests that not only your pages, but your company, may not be up-to-date. Why would a customer think that you are accessible, current and the best place to take their business if their Facebook page hasn’t been updated in 6 months? The customer may assume you are lackadaisical or lazy and it’s likely they may think you are no longer in business.

  1. Posting Too Often and On Too Tight a Schedule

While posting too infrequently can cause a page to look barren, posting too often can cause content engagement to drop dramatically. An important post, such as a new sale or product, can get lost in a sea of less important content. Likewise, creating too much content can flood customers’ News Feeds, leading them to tune out the excess noise by unfollowing your page.

Once you discover what constitutes a healthy number of posts for each of your Social Media platforms, it is necessary to ensure that these posts go out in regular, yet organic intervals. Social Media is unique in that it allows individuals to present information in real-time. Publishing content at the same time on the same day and at the same interval will dispel this image. A customer should feel they are looking at a page managed by a human, not a robot. Mix it up.

  1. Not Responding to Questions

Social media outlets can be excellent places to present new products and information to a targeted audience, but your responsibility to the pages does not end with posting content. These pages also create a 24-hour hotline for customers to interact with your company. For example, midnight owls and early risers can ask direct questions to your company without the constraints of “Open” hours.

Problems arise when these questions go unanswered. Missed questions leave a customer feeling as if they are not being heard. It also removes the appearance of an active and engaged company. Social media pages are a unique way to present a personalized, accessible image of your company and ignoring customers on your pages dispels this image in a very public way.

  1. Not Responding to Feedback

Social Media is an extension of your customer service abilities, so failing to respond to customer feedback including comments, can give consumers the impression of an apathetic company. Just as your customer service professionals wouldn’t simply ignore a customer’s call, your pages shouldn’t ignore customer feedback either.

Companies who reply to customer comments, both good and bad, appear engaged. They appear to not only care about their customers, but their brand as well. They seem trustworthy. A customer knows if they chose to purchase a product from that company that they will have somewhere to turn if they need further assistance, such as returns or repairs.

Negative feedback left unanswered on a page creates another problem. It can distract potential customers from all other content. One negative review can dissuade customers from further engagement with your company, but a well thought-out response to negative feedback can both re-engage the dissatisfied customer and promote trust that when consumers do have a problem, you are prepared to take care of it.

  1. Using the Wrong Medium/Platform to Drive Business

Just because a social media platform is available doesn’t mean that it is the right fit for your company. Using the wrong content on the wrong social media platform can not only make you look desperate, but cause disengagement and a bad taste in consumers’ mouths.

In a recent study, researchers revealed that nearly 71% of adult internet users are on Facebook, which suggests that’s a great place to start promoting your company. But not every company lends itself to Facebook. A funeral home, for example, may appear less professional if offering sales and specials on Facebook, and garner the wrong kind of attention when such posts show up on customer’s News Feeds. It’s not to say this cannot be done, but posts should keep in mind the audience and be appropriate for the industry and platform.

Each company is an individual, and not every social page is going to work. Finding the right fit for you is integral to ensuring your reaching your target audience. Remember, a post can only be impressionable and drive sales if your customer sees it. Make sure it’s going where it needs to go.

At the end of the day, Social Media is a great way to engage with your customers and potential customers, but managing your social media pages is time-consuming. Be prepared to take a little time everyday (or sometimes many times a day) to ensure you are paying attention to those customers who are engaging with you, and that you are reciprocating. Social media works both ways — make sure it’s working for you.

4 Ways to Get Customer Testimonials

testimonial-01Your job as a business is to win over the trust of potential customers who are not quite ready to do
business with you. Customers are like hoodwinked children. They are cynical and defensive about anything they hear or read. However, if a friend, or someone they know and trust, tells them something, they are inclined to believe it without question.

To make a prospective customer care about your business, you need to show them how you can make their life easier or better. Then, you need to follow through and prove it. The conventional way to prove a claim is to present positive testimonials, endorsements, or media articles and mentions about your business.

You probably already praise your business. However, statements you make about yourself just don’t have the same impact as statements that come from others. Especially testimonial-03happy, satisfied customers.

To convince a cynical potential customer – someone that may not be sure about becoming your customer – you need to let them know your current customers think you’re great. There are ways you can generate proof your business is sound and performs exceptional work.   What follows are four ways to help generate positive testimonials from your customers.

  1. Ask

The simplest way to get positive testimonials is to ask. Do this as a part of thanking your customer for their business. Send an email, or follow-up letter to each of your customers that says something like:

Testimonial-request-USE IN BODY

When your customer responds, you have your testimonial. Collect them all and use excerpts of the best lines that exemplify why others should do business with you.

  1. Create unique experiences

A few years ago, fishing hat manufacturer Tilley sent customers a letter congratulating them on purchasing one of their hats. The letter included tips on caring for the hat and made a pitch for some of their other products.

testimonial-04On the back of the letter was an “Insurance Certificate.” Should the hat become lost or stolen, the
certificate allowed a half-priced replacement hat. This unique promotion made the buying experience different. While a half-priced replacement may not work for all businesses, consider if an “insurance” idea is right for your product or service.

So why do something like this? When you have the opportunity to deliver unique experiences to your customers, follow up! After the sale, email your customers for their thoughts about doing business with you and the buying experience. Their responses become your testimonials.

  1. Recruit volunteers

If you are introducing a new product or service and have a Facebook, or other social media group, use your community to find willing testers during your launch period. Offer a pre-determined number of testers a half-price or even a free service in return for their permission to use their comments as testimonials.

It is important to remember to return the favor when you are asked to test a new product or service. Be sure to offer written comments than can be used as a testimonial for the product or service.

  1. Build relationships with credible experts

Ever read a recommendation for a new book? In the publishing world, authors often get influential people to recommend their books. This gives potential readers positive comments about the book from high-profile people.

testimonial-02So how do you approach a credible expert, someone who may get many of these requests? The smart way to approach this is to always be cultivating relationships over time. Always offer your assistance and always offer to be useful in general long before you ever conceive of your product idea.

If you are building meaningful relationships with others on social media, it should be easy to ask for input from experts. You can always find local experts to recommend your product or service. You could even ask the mayor or other well-liked city officials to try your business in exchange for permission to use their written recommendation as a testimonial.

You can also hire an expert to try your product or service. As a part of this agreement, use the expert’s name and testimonial when promoting your product.

Always ask for feedback

When you openly communicate with your social media audience and encourage their feedback, you can end up with some great testimonials. Keep your testimonials in one place so it is easy to draw from them when you create content.

If you make collecting customer comments a priority, eventually you’ll have thousands of potential testimonials and endorsements to choose from when you need to dispel doubt in the minds of cynical and defensive customers.

Video = Memorable Social Media

Everywhere you look today, video is popping up.

Consider this: Television is no longer the first, or even the primary, screen in our lives today. Surveys show that YouTube now reaches more 18-34 year-old US adults than any cable channel. However, it’s not just 18-34 year-olds that are watching videos on YouTube. Adults, parents and grandparents, are watching and posting their own YouTube videos.

Video is becoming so common, that nearly every publishing and social media platform now has, or is integrating, video capabilities.

Facebook Videofacebook-video

Even Facebook has embraced videos. Remember last summer’s ALS Ice Bucket challenge? For many people, it was the first time they uploaded a video to their Facebook account. Since July 2014, the ALS Association has received over $115 million in donations!

Even more remarkable, Facebook had a 50 percent increase in the use of video from just May to July of 2014. Facebook announced in September 2014 that it now delivers one billion video views per day! It is no wonder Facebook is introducing new video features to its site.

People Remember Videos

We are visually oriented; that is why we remember videos. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video is worth a million words. Actually, 1.8 million words! According Brainshark, a communications training company, the information retained after watching a one-minute online video is equal to about 1.8 million written words!

Videos speak in a way words and static images cannot. If you haven’t already, you may soon find yourself using Google to find a video to answer a question. Admit it, watching someone demonstrate something is much more effective than reading about it.

As a content creator, you should be creating videos that are relevant and engaging for your audience. Don’t worry about trying to create the next viral video. If you create content that your audience just can’t help but share with others, the viral part will take care of itself.

Using-Video-Marketing-For-businessUsing Video for Your Business

So, how do you use video for your business? Show off your work! Before and after images, video progress of your work or a time-lapse for automotive repairs are perfect ways to show off your work. Adding a date stamp is a subtle way to reinforce how quickly you accomplish your great work.

There are other ways to use video besides highlighting your work. You can use video to show off your facilities and employees. Perhaps you have new equipment; show it off with a description of the customer benefits it offers. Highlight your employee of the month and their work. You might consider giving a mini-tour of your facilities. You might want to offer a special discount for customers who specifically mention the video when in your shop.

Another good use of video is customer testimonials. Ask if a customer is willing to talk on camera about your business. You can have them talk about your awesome customer service, or how quickly the work was performed and if they would recommend your shop to their friends.

Perhaps you have an awesome holiday light display. Show it off! If you sponsor a local sports team, show highlights from the latest game.

Spread the Videos Around

Do not just post your video on YouTube or Vimeo. Link to it in your blog posts and on your website. The great thing about posting a video on YouTube is you can link to it on your website and get twice as much exposure. Also, encourage those who find your videos to share with their friends and followers.

Your videos can lead potential customers to your website or blog, and your website or blog can direct current customers to your video channel.

 

Video Lighting Tips

When planning a video shoot, it is important to plan the lighting. The reason is simple – the camera does not perceive light as well as the human eye. Generally speaking, anytime you shoot video indoors, the shoot will require artificial lighting. As we talk about lighting, we are not talking about the normal overhead office or shop lights.

Don’t Be Blue

If you only use the lights in your office or shop, you will find florescent lights tend to cast a blue hue over everything and regular incandescent lights tends to make everything have an orange tinge.  This means you probably need a video lighting kit. Ideally, you should use lights specifically designed for video, or still, photography. However, there are ways around using a lighting kit, but more on this in a moment.

Indoor Lighting3-point_lighting-CHcrop

No matter what lighting you use, you should know about the three-point lighting concept. This is the basis for the lighting of most all indoor videos.

The main light source, or strongest light, is your key light. The key light is near the camera and slightly to one side. The second source of light is a fill light. Place this light on the other side of the subject to soften most of the shadows. This light is generally the same power as the key light. The final light in 3-point lighting is the back light. This light helps separate your talent from the background on video.

Shooting Out Doors

If you are shooting outdoors, your key light will most likely be the sun. Shoot during the morning or early afternoon with the sun behind the camera and to one side. This avoids having your subject look directly into the sun. You don’t really need a backlight when shooting outdoors. However, you should use a reflector for your fill light. You can find a 40-inch professional-type reflector online for $50 or less. A good alternative to a reflector is a large piece of white poster board. The type you find at most office supply stores. Use a reflector to bounce the light from the sun onto the darker side of your talent.

If you do not have access to a lighting kit, here are some tips to take advantage of the available light. Since most videos shoots occur during the day, there are times you can take advantage of the sun even if you are indoors. You can use the sunlight from a window or doorway if the windows or doors in your building allow you to take advantage of the sun. If so, plan your shoot near a window or door to take advantage of the sunlight.

You might also be able to take advantage of the sun by positioning your subject in the shop near an open bay door.

It is important to remember to position the window or door behind the camera. Never shoot toward the window or door as the camera will adjust for the brighter outside light and your subject will appear as a shadow.

Lighting Alternatives

If you cannot take advantage of the sun and do not have a light kit, try using some of the lights that you might already have in the shop. Work lights put out a lot of light. Just be careful in how you use them. Work lights tend to concentrate light in the center with much less light toward the edges of the lighting pattern.

If you use these types of lights, you will want to avoid lighting ‘hot spots’ in your scene. The camera will always adjust to the brightest portion of the scene. This will make some areas dark in the scene. Work lights with a reflector behind the bulb tend to produce move even light.

Work lights are great to help fill in areas you want to show in the background.

Speaking of the background, if want to show something important in the background of your scene, be sure there is enough light on that background. This will make it that area appear clearly on camera.

If you think your shop or office has good lighting, shoot a test video. Set up your camera and gear in the locations you are thinking of shooting your video. Have someone be in front of the camera if you plan using a spokesperson. Watch your test video on a computer or TV. It may surprise you how dark the setting looks on camera, compared to how it looks to your eyes.

Go Get Google Plus

In a recent post, we talked about Google+ being the second most popular social media site in the United States. In fact, Google+, with its 343 million active users is the third most popular site in the world. It ranks right behind Q-Zone, a Chinese social networking site.

Many people neglect the use of Google+, but it is crucial for your business. If you don’t already have a Google+ page for your business, create one today. In today’s blog, we have three more tips to help expand your business influence and opportunities.

  1. Join and Create CommunitiesGooglePlus1

You will find many communities on Google+ similar to those you will find on Facebook and LinkedIn. If there’s not one that suits your business, you can start a new one! Create it using your personal profile or your business page.

Your community can be public or private. A private community requires permission to join. As the moderator, you must approve requests from any that wish to join a private community

Like any social network group, Google+ communities have their share of spam. However, Google+ has an excellent spam management system. The Google+ system grabs most spam and keeps it for moderator approval instead of allowing it to go public and someone notifying you to remove it. At Google+, moderators can also get rid of users who frequently spam others.

You can find ways around most spam in your community by keeping the community private and only allowing people of your choosing to join. A private community will take longer to build, but it does help reduce, if not eliminate, spam.

  1. Get Local!

Google+ has taken charge over Google Places. Customers can leave review write-ups on your local Google+ places page even if you are not active there. That makes Google+ important to businesses because search results show up in reviews alongside other important details and photographs on a Google+ Local Places page.

If you have ever searched for a business at Google, you have probably noticed some businesses have a map and business information along with the option to write a review. These are Google+ businesses! Once you have a Google+ page, when someone searches for your business, this information appears along with the option to review your business.

  1. Host a Google+ Hangout

Yohangoutsur business may not be prepared to invest in webinar or online meeting software. Google+ hangouts are a fantastic and free platform around the expensive meeting software. With Google+, you are limited to a maximum of 10 participants active in the video hangout. However, you can stream video to however many viewers you want using YouTube, making it similar to a webinar.

You can hold Google+ hangouts for all sorts of things, like interviews, question and answer sessions, discussions, webinars (with screen-sharing), private conversations and really about anything else you could imagine. Hold a hangout about car safety; show off new equipment and employees.   Other subjects might be about repairing aluminum or how to identify a quality repair shop.

In addition, you can record the hangout and post to your YouTube channel – a great way to increase your video content.

Go to the Google+ hangouts page (https://plus.google.com/hangouts) and see live hangouts happening in real time. You may find some that you can jump into to see how the hangout works and better know your audience. Then you will be well on your way to creating your own hangout party.

Check out our other Google+ tips, here on Engage Target Media.

Social media IS for you

Small business and social media are made for each other.  However, we still find questions like, “Why should my small business use social media?” and, “What’s the value in social media for my small business?”

The simple answer to both questions: RESULTS!

Survey after survey continues to prove social media is a true benefit.  Businesses – small, medium and large – are flocking to social media.  According to LinkedIn, 90% of small and medium businesses currently use or are planning to use social media.  Ninety-four percent of those small and medium businesses use social media for marketing their business.  Are you one of them?

If you are trying to figure out if there is any value in social media for your business, keep reading.  This post is for you!  We have collected three benefits from a variety of sources that show small businesses can prosper with using social media.

Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 2.57.19 PM Social Media Drives New Business

Chicago-based Crowdspring – an online marketplace for crowd-sourced creative services – found 50% of small business owners reporting social media helped them gain new customers.  Most through Facebook and LinkedIn.  LinkedIn further reports 82% of small businesses surveyed say social media is effective for lead generation.

Better Customer Relationships

Spredfast, a Texas-based social marketing company reports social media is the top driver (at 52%) of customer relations building and brand engagement.

Credibility

The Michigan market research firm Morpace found in their survey that 68% of the respondents reported the recommendations of a Facebook friend made users more likely to buy a specific product or visit a specific retail store.

social-channels

Are you using newspapers or TV or radio commercials to promote your business?  In this day of expensive print and broadcast advertising, that’s like fishing with a giant net in hopes of catching a few new customers.  With social media, you can hook individual customers with advertising that specifically targets the exact audience for your product or service.

If you are looking to drive new business, develop better customer relations and increase your credibility, now is the time to get social! Yes, it takes a while to build your customer base with social media; but done properly, and like any good asset, it is worth the investment.  It is also more cost-effective!  What are you waiting for?

Respond to Positivity

In a previous post, we discussed negative comments and reviews posted to the internet about your business.  This time, we want to talk about responding to positive comments.

In our previous discussion about negative comments, we talked about common sense reasons about how and why you must respond.  So you may think it is not necessary to respond to positive comments and reviews online.  You may think of doing nothing, just let others see the glowing review.

Consider this:  an unsolicited positive comment from a customer means someone took the initiative to speak publicly about your business.  This person is far more motivated to respond to a question from you.  It’s an opportunity to get additional feedback about your business.

Positive comment

Plus, in the spirit of politeness, you should respond to positive comments. Why?  It’s not just about being polite.  It’s all about opportunity.  Not responding to a positive comment is a missed opportunity.

Here are some tips for responding to positive customer reviews.

 

  • First, say “thank you.” 

Your parents taught you to say “please” and “thank you.” However, this is more than just good manners. Your “thank you” shows appreciation for not only the compliment, but also the customer who took the time to share a positive experience with your business.

Your response should include a portion of the customer’s comment.  Such as,

“Thank you so much!!  We are pleased you had a good experience with our service department.”

 

  • Next, reinforce the positive.

thumbsup

If the customer specifically mentions what they liked best about their experience with your company – recognize it. Then confirm it again. This allows you to build buzz not only about your business; it also gives you a chance to let others know about a specific product or service you offer, or one of your outstanding employees.

You might say,

“Thank you so much!!  We are pleased you had a good experience with our service department.  Our technician who performed your service, Brian, has not only been employee of the month twice this year, but has been recognized for his outstanding service by the [certification organization].”

 

  • Finally, ask what you can do better.

If you are serious about increasing your business’s potential, you are probably already looking for opportunities to improve. As mentioned earlier, when a customer offers unsolicited positive comments, they are very likely to help you improve.  Just ask!

You should ask the customer what they think you can do to improve their experience.  Not only is this a great way to keep the feedback going, but to affirm and improve a positive experience.

The full response might be:

“Thank you so much!!  We are pleased you had a good experience with our service department.  Our technician who performed your service, Brian, has not only been employee of the month twice this year, but has been recognized for his outstanding service by the [certification organization].  Please let us know if there is anything else we could have done to improve the experience you had at our shop.”

It does not take a lot of work to do this.  The rewards are great.  You can take unsolicited positive comments and turn them into not only a simple marketing survey to improve but demonstrate to others you really care about your business and your customers.

Mark Twain once said, “I can live for two months on a good compliment.”  Don’t just bask in the glow of a good comment online, returning the compliment can lead to more positive comments about your business.

If Mark Twain were alive today, he might say, “I can turn a positive comment into ten new customers.”

Using Google Plus for your Business

According to recent statistics, Google+ is the second most popular social media site in the United States behind Facebook.  Google+ has 343 million active users. That’s more than Twitter’s 200 million users.

If your business is not using Google+, now is the time to start your business page.  With a Google+ business profile, you can directly tie your website to your Google+ account.  In today’s blog, we have three tips to help expand your business influence and opportunities.Google plus

 

  •  First, install a badge!

Google+ allows you to install a ‘badge’ on your website to allow readers to communicate with you through this medium while remaining on your site.  With the Google+ badge in place, an active “Follow” widget appears next to your listing in search results.

This is good for two reasons:  First, your website visitors stay on your site.   Second, the code helps establish you as a blog publisher by tying it to your Google+ page.  By connecting your website to your Google+ page, your updates show up in search results.

 

  • Use #Hashtags!

You may be familiar with hashtags on other social media sites, and Google+ uses them as well.  Hashtags are useful because they provide added exposure to users beyond your followers.  The hashtags are connected to all your updates.

To help you, Google+ will sometimes come up with suggestions for which hashtags you should use.  If you use the suggestions Google offers, make sure to choose ones that are a good match for your topic.

 

Ranking up
  • Use Google+ as Your Business Page

Instead of your personal Google+ page, use your business page to increase followers and exposure for your business.  Now, instead of seeing your own profile when you connect with others on Google+ as your business, you will have your marketing message in front of more people.

Similar to “liking” or “commenting” on Facebook, you can use your Google+ account to +1 and comment on other people’s Google+ accounts.

Be sure to  use the Google+ account whenever you communicate with anyone in the Google+ network, both those who are following you and people who share public information, even if they’re not following you.

Like other social media sites, find the most active Google+ pages, public personal profiles and communities that match your business.  Then start interacting with them to gain more exposure for your Google+ page… and your business.

Post links and videos about your company on Google+. Google recognizes this effort and improves your search rankings, helping your SEO.

 

Be sure to get the most out of your business by getting the most out of Google+.