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To Get Ahead in Social Media Marketing, Don't Send Life Preservers Made Out of Chum

Social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are a great way for people to go online and try to find answers. Not only can you ask around to friends and colleagues, but often you can reach experts and even celebrities, some of whom might be willing to pitch in and shed some light on your dilemma.

This is a great thing, at least most of the time. Unfortunately, it occasionally leads desperate marketers to go around offering "assistance" that's little more than a pitch for their product. No matter what your issue is, their answer is to buy whatever they're selling and hope that solves it.

Tempting as it might be to blanket sites like Twitter with subtle hints to buy your products, that's not a good long-term strategy – even if what you offer could actually fix the issue at hand. That's because people go online looking for answers, not commercials. Here are a few ways to be genuinely helpful on social media sites while still getting your marketing message out there:

Explain the problem first. A lot of people don't know why they're experiencing the troubles they are. If you can help explain what happened to lead to the situation, start there.

Refer to outside sources. Don't ask them to take your word for it, backup your device with documentation on other websites. When people can see that you know what you're talking about, they're more apt to follow your recommendations.

Mention your product or service, but also why you're mentioning it. If the best possible thing someone could do to fix their problem is buy from you, go ahead and say so, but also tell them exactly why. Not only will this make you seem less slimy, but it might be indexed by the search engines and found by others with a similar situation – leading to future sales for you.

Is the Link Between Social Media Marketing and Higher Profits Real?

Social media is everywhere, and studies show the average American likes to visit sites like Twitter and Facebook on a daily basis. So, that means social media marketing must be incredibly important to your online marketing plan, doesn't it? 

Or, to get closer to the point, does being successful on social media necessarily indicate that you are well on your way to Internet marketing profits?

A lot of companies are asking themselves that very question, as they pour lots of time and money into things like sponsored tweets, viral campaigns, and other distinctly social tools. On the one hand, they're putting their faith into the power of social networks; but on the other, they are very aware of the fact that few companies have been able to show a definite link between successful social marketing and real bottom-line improvement.

So, how do you answer this question for your business, and determine whether you should be pouring resources into social media marketing? Here are a few guidelines to help you:

  1. First, it's important to note that most businesses should be taking advantage of some form of social media, even if it isn't advertising or extensive campaigns. It's a great way to communicate with customers and meet buyers one-on-one, so you don't want to miss out on that opportunity.

  2. Next, consider treating your social profiles as you would any other Internet marketing tool (such as a banner ad or pay-per-click campaign). You wouldn't spend money on those without tracking the results and seeing what you're getting in return, so don't do that with social media, either.

  3. And finally, you shouldn't put an inordinate amount of time and energy into anything that you aren't sure is going to pay off. Feel free to experiment and work at your social profiles, but don't do it at the expense of email marketing, search engine optimization, and other proven means.

If you're looking for the right online marketing mix for your business, why not let the Kinetik team of experts help? Call us today to arrange for a free consultation and see what we've been able to do for other companies just like yours.

How Social Networking is Like a Dinner Party

It's a little bit ironic that a lot of people who use "social" media extensively find themselves sorely lacking in social skills. Believe it or not, there is a certain decorum to the way things are done on sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, and the further you stray from it, the more your manners are going to affect your ability to market yourself and your company.

Think of social media sites as a big dinner party; it's okay to talk business and network a bit, but being rude and overbearing is only going to scare people away. Here are three quick tips to help you stay polite and profitable:

It's ok to put your business out there. People, even those you don't know personally, will sometimes be interested in your company, what you do for a living. Feel free to answer questions enthusiastically, but don't make every profile or post into a virtual advertisement; you'll only push interested prospects away.

Don't dominate every conversation. Just as in real life, if no one else can get a word in edgewise, or express an opinion that's contrary to yours, you aren't exactly going to attract new friends. Be engaged but not bullying – you want to leave people with the impression that you’re a helpful professional, not someone in full-time marketing mode.

Participate in conversations started by others. Whether it's online discussions, forums, or even just short posts on their wall, try to get involved beyond your own content once in a while. Not only does that make everything a lot more fun, but it shows that you’re online for reasons other than making a quick buck.

There are a lot of great potential customers for you to meet through social media. Just be sure to follow the rules and stay in their good graces the same way you would if they were actually sitting across from you.

Why Your Facebook Fan Page Can Be A More Powerful Sales Tool Than Your Own Home Page

When social media marketing first arrived as a prime time way to find new business (which for most of us, was right around the time Facebook announced it had more than 400 million users and Twitter was gaining ground quickly), the immediate goals most companies had was to pick up new followers and steer them towards the company's website.

Should that still be the case?

Maybe. For a lot of businesses of all sizes, a Facebook fan page can actually be a more powerful sales tool than anything on their own site. We could throw a handful of metrics at you to explain our reasoning, but it really comes down to one simple thing: believability.

When potential customers visit your Facebook fan page, they see all kinds of great things about your business that were written by other people – in some cases, even people they know. Being able to put a face with those impressions is undeniable; they might not trust you, or "Jane from Dubuque," but you can bet they put faith in the opinions of their friends and family. Or, in the opinions of people who seem a lot like their friends and family, rather than strangers who have given anonymous testimonials.

The net effect is that the Facebook fan page can quickly become the ultimate word-of-mouth sales tool, even if customers stumble across it on their own. They'll still find all the basic facts about your business, including a link to your website, but it's all going to be reinforced by third-party opinions.

If you want to use a higher percentage of the traffic that comes your way on the Internet, consider expanding your company's Facebook fan page and steering people in that direction. It might seem a little counter intuitive to take them away from your website, but you might just be pulling them deeper into your strongest marketing asset.

Social Media: A Force for Good! (Interactions with Customers, That Is)

As we pass the halfway mark in 2014, not much has changed this year in how social media affects our use of various outlets—perhaps with the exception of those taking part in the “99 Days of Freedom” experiment. The usual rules still apply, to post topics that are timely, emphasize the customer’s needs and building a relationship, make offers and information unique to the outlet, and, most importantly, use proper grammar!

While some companies fail to grasp these simplest of rules, others have not only embraced the use of social media to build their brand, they are taking innovative steps to connect with customers and offering unique incentives for those who interact. By integrating social media into their corporate structure and business plan, these companies are engaging with customers on a new level.

One such company is Whole Foods, who established a dedicated team responsible for monitoring social channels for customer questions, and concerns, as well as praise. After announcing in March that it would begin labeling GMOs, the company received a lot of customer questions and feedback, which it then used to create a initiative to educate customers and to answer the most frequently asked questions.

Hampton Hotels and Restaurants is another example of business getting to the heart of what matters to customers. The company employs a dedicated staff to listens to every single tweet, post, status update or comment about their hotels and restaurants—and for a chain of their size, that’s a lot of mentions.

Primarily, the staff members address the issues and complaints, but this company takes it a step further. In one example, a guest received a bowl of soup and a spot of tea. This may not seem terribly out of the ordinary. That is, until you consider that the guest, who was in a Maui hotel, had voiced her woes over social media that she was sick that day and couldn't go out. In addition to the thoughtful nourishment, the hotel included a get well card to her tray, for good measure.

Credit card behemoth American Express connects card members with merchant partners—millions of them—allowing a card member to load an offer directly onto their card via Twitter hash tags. Last March, the company launched a program with the functionality to tweet special hash tags to make purchases, allowing customers to buy products from companies like Sony, Amazon, and Microsoft.

Using social media in business is far from an exact science, and while the basic tenets may not change year to year, the inventive ways businesses engage with their customer base is evolving, creating its own niche.