The online world has been all abuzz with the news of Facebook’s recent $1 billlion acquisition of Instagram with some excited about what this could mean for their marketing, along with the critics who say the move is a desperate one to keep fans on board.
Details are still coming into focus as to how the two platforms will weave together in the future but for the moment Mark Zuckerberg insists that Instagram will be completely independent and will continue to be so.
Nevertheless there are plenty questions about the Instagram/Facebook combo and the new challenges and opportunities that will come up for marketers due to this alliance.
Instagram remains the place to communicate visually with friends via photos, artfully masking suggestions and influence with their users surpassing 30 million and many companies are realising that a picture of what you had for lunch (especially when there is a brand name displayed) can actually be worth the marketing involved. While this is the case, it is a small platform that brands are only just beginning to make use of.
With Facebooks members close to 1 billion, a powerful advertising program and the rollout of Timeline for Brands, Facebook has shown immense support for brands and has established itself as a reputed and imperative platform to make use of in marketing strategy.
By integrating Instagram into a brand’s Facebook communications, the potential is to create a much more visual conversation via rich stories and conversations. This could really revolutionise brand personification by fleshing out previously transparent personalities with no real humanity behind it.
The question really is whether as the branded Instagram content begins to work its way into users feeds, people will notice or mind the instrusion. Paid endorsements are supposed to be unobtrusive but whether this will hold true remains to be seen.
Facebook and instagram will need to maintain independence and their authenticity as separate platforms so as to not push users away. Marketing efforts really do need to have the end user in mind. This doesn’t just go for the way that Facebook and Instagram roll out their paid endorsements but also for the brands that are making use of the platforms.
It is vital that the brands and companies making use of social media marketing remember why their audience is even accessible: the need for entertainment and interaction online.
While this move may prompt many to join Instagram, brands need to continually evaluate their image and whether Instagram is a platform which will enhance their brand reputation or whether the integrity of the platform will be affected by misuse and guerrilla marketing tactics.
While Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook may bear the brunt of anything that may go wrong in the future of Instagram, the real responsibility lies with brands and their focus on user engagement. Used correctly, however, the two platforms could complement each other wonderfully.
Social media may not be the be all and end all of marketing these days but it is an integral part of the new marketing mix. While many small to medium businesses have been hesitant to start making use of this medium, once they have in fact experienced the benefits of social media in their businesses, it is unlikely that all business owners and CEO’s will really “get it”.
There are no other media that you can make use of in marketing that can give you a global reach with many unique visitors to your site without spending much more on traditional advertising and marketing.
Many businesses are starting to see the benefits of social media though, and here are a few key things that it can do for your business, straight from the real world of business:
The 12 Major Benefits Of Social Media
1. Increased awareness of the brand or organisation
2. Increased traffic to the company’s website
3. Greater positive perceptions of the brand
4. Ability to monitor conversations about the organisation
5. Ability to develop targeted marketing activities
6. Better understanding of customers perceptions of their brand
7. Improved insights about their target markets
8. Identification of positive and negative comments
9. Increase in new business
10. Identification of new product or service opportunities
11. Ability to measure the frequency of the discussion about the brand
12. Early warning of potential product or service issues
SOURCE The Harvard Business Review Analytics Services
This isn’t to say that there are no cons to using social media. As a business owner, it is incredibly important to take note of all the positives as well as the negatives of each marketing medium you make use of. The fact of the matter is that in ordinary word-of mouth marketing, a dissatisfied customer will tell on average about 10 people, however, with social media, he has the ability to tell 10 million people simultaneously.
The real challenge then is not to allow fear of the unknown to hold one back from the real benefits that social media can bring to your business. As with any dissatisfied customer, it is not in the complaint alone that the world sees, but in the company’s response to the complaint and how it is handled. This is why it is always best to address a public complaint publicly in a diplomatic way that will turn your dissatisfied customer as well as all the people who read the complaint and your response into happy and active brand ambassadors for your company.
Social media has become an essential buzz word in marketing and a very important tool for brand awareness but how do you convert Twitter followers and Facebook fans into paying customers? It really depends on your brand and finding the right marketing mix for your brand and company are imperative if you wish to be successful in this area. Each brand will have different challenges which means that your strategy has to make sense for your brand.
Often times, people ask me what I charge for social media networking on behalf of a small business and every time, I have to say, “That depends”. This isn’t because I don’t know what my own rates are and there isn’t a value attached to what I do but rather because each brand is different and while one brand may get great engagement from 2 posts a week and basic management and monitoring, another brand may benefit more from more hands-on interaction with daily or even multiple daily posts on their social networking sites.
That said, there are some generic tips that can be used to increase your engagement and as a result turn fans and followers into brand ambassadors who will not only endorse your brand but will also be a paying customer.
1. Use Search to your advantage
With so many social media network messages sent out into cyberspace every day, there is plenty chance that your company or brand may being talked about without anyone using your handle or hashtag. It is important to be proactive when managing your company’s social media profile. If there are conversations going on, you can always join in, offer advice, answer questions and improve overall brand interaction with your potential customers.
You can also search according to your industry so you can be aware of what people are saying, what they do like and don’t like, which can help you with your marketing techniques for new product/service launches in the future.
Another way of searching is to search for your competitors, monitor who is interacting with them and communicate with those potential customers as well. Make your searches relevant to your business and services and approach potential customers with real human interactions and not just sales speak and you are bound to convert a couple of those users into real customers.
2. A Picture is worth 1000 words
Photos drive double the engagement that text posts do on Facebook so take some pics and connect with fans that way. You are marketing to your fans without annoying them because they are actively engaging with your post in a positive way. You can gain feedback, and the pics need not be product focussed. You could post literally anything and you will find that you will get more engagement as long as the picture can be identified with the brand in some way.
3. Give stuff away
Internet users LOVE to enter competitions, especially when there is a great prize to be won. It’s a great way to boost followers as well as engagement. Be careful about what you are offering so you can be sure you are attracting the right types of followers.
Build in actions that allow fans to share to their social networks, which will increase virality and stay true to your brand. Make sure the way in which you are running your contest fits with the platform you are using to run the contest on. So this will mean a change in the way you present the contest on each social media network. Make sure your prize attracts people from the same demographic of your target market and that your average customer will appreciate the prize.
4. Use Platforms Exclusively
Make sure your message is unique to each platform. You will gain more followers on each platform that way and you will be able to more easily promote your product to more people if you have a growing following of people.
If you have specific marketing messages or offers that you only offer on Facebook and nowhere else you are reinforcing your investment in the channel.
5. Get more Personal
If you speak to your customers in a personal way that builds the relationship and creates real brand loyalty, you have a higher chance of converting your fan into a paying customer. No one likes being the recipient of a mass message. It’s important to try to humanize your brand so people don’t feel like they are just a number.
Live chats are another great way to offer interaction and engagement with your fans. Also, ignoring negative comments is an absolute no-no. Rather address the complaint and you will be making use of an opportunity to convert an unhappy customer into a brand ambassador who has confidence that your company will take every opportunity to ensure quality service provision.
With rapidly changing mediums and the pace of social media picking up so quickly, it is important as a socially aware company to make sure that your data is always available and protected. In order to keep up with the latest trends and to ensure that you are relevant to your customers it is important that you are able to analyse your social media history as well as your traditional marketing history. This data can later provide important insights into your marketing campaign and the growth of the company socially. So, it only makes sense that you are backing up all this data, right? But, what is the quickest and easiest way to do this?
If you aren’t currently backing up your social media data, there are a couple of ways in which you can rescue your data from the abyss, out there.
Here are some of the ways in which you can do that…
1. Google Takeout
There is a built-in archive service for many of Google’s applications. If you use Google a lot, it can take a while to download, but it does allow you to choose which applications and services you wish to archive.
There is also a built-in archiving system for Facebook which allows you to download a copy of the data and sends it to you via email. It call comes in one big package though so you won’t be able to filter which data you require. Comments made on other’s posts are also not included in the archive.
3. If this, then that
Ifttt.com allows you to set up tasks following the typical algorithm: “If this, then that”. You can sent your tweets to Google Calendar for example and there are a few different social networks and web tools you can make use of in this way.
This paid service has a number of different plans with different rates that will no doubt suit your archiving needs. Whether you are using it for personal accounts or corporate accounts, they have a service plan that will suit you. Backupify also backs up your Gmail and Google Applications.
5. Tweet Library
This is primarily for iPhone users and allows you to archive and filter tweets on your iOS device. You can archive by timeline, hashtag, follower or tweets. There are some minor bugs being worked out in the current version so it might be worth waiting for version 2.0.2.
This is a basic archiving service that exports to any other format you are looking for and is a part of BackupMyNet which also backs up your mail, blog and online photos.
Tweetguard, another free service, archives and exports your tweets, favourite tweets and a list of your friends. Significantly more user friendly, but can take a little longer to load the archive if you tweet regularly.
There are many social media monitoring tools on the market for analysing social media stats but these can get quite expensive and if you can’t afford these, you may need some other smart tricks to get you through.
Social media marketers are in constant search of free alternatives to the paid versions and I’ve gotten a couple of tips from Mashable on how to get ready-made spreadsheets you can copy and use for social media analytics which are free, customizable and easy to use.
Most of these scripts are public and have been reviewed and approved by Google Spreadsheets. They are available from the Tools + Script Gallery.
1. Twitter Search Results
GetTweets is a Google Spreadsheet script which allows you to export Twitter search results into a spreadsheet.
2. Facebook Likes and Shares
The FacebookLikes script evaluates Facebook user interaction for a given range of URLs. It displays:
- Facebook likes.
- Facebook shares.
- Facebook comments.
- Overall Facebook interactions.
Additionally, the embedded chart lets you compare Facebook interaction for the number of pages provided.
3. Comparison of Facebook Pages
FacebookFans is also a Google macro based on Facebook API. It will fetch the number of fans for any Facebook page ID and visualizes the data with a pie chart. Track your page, as well as your competitors’ Pages using the script, and the numbers update each time you open the spreadsheet.
4. Social Media Reputation
This spreadsheet generates Google search results for the terms you provide, and also fetches Twitter and Facebook counts for each page returned. A search for a brand name will easily show how actively that brand name has been discussed in social media.
- Copy the spreadsheet here.
- Spreadsheet credit here.
5. Extract and Archive Your Followers
This is the hardest spreadsheet to set up, and also has the most complex functionality. It allows you to extract your friends and followers and easily search and filter your Twitter contacts.
The script requires your Twitter API key, and provides easy-to-follow set up instructions. Go to Tools + Script Manager and run Test script.
If you have done everything correctly, a Twitter Auth will pop up so that you can authenticate the application. Go to Twitter + Get Followers and you will see the tool importing your following list. If you have large following, you probably won’t be able to import it all.