8 Tips for Social Media Spring Cleaning

Regardless of what Mother Nature is telling us, spring is here! Winter is a popular time to hunker down and flip on cruise control until the warm weather arrives again. A good social media spring cleaning might be exactly what your company needs right now. You should be doing regular maintenance in the winter, but right now is the time to optimize and revitalize your networks!

  • Make sure all addresses, phone numbers and emails are up to date. This is also a great time to add and update pictures of employees to the website and social media platforms. Adding that personal touch goes a long way. Let the public know how your company has been performing by adding recent awards and client testimonials.
  • Double check that each social media account has a secure password. Frequently updating passwords is an easy way to avoid getting hacked. Don’t forget to remove anyone as an admin that is no longer with your company.
  • Giving your avatar and cover photos an update will refresh your company in people’s minds. Don’t change it up too much or people won’t be able to identify your brand. Make sure that each photo adheres to each specific platform’s settings. A photo that is not sized correctly can turn off potential customers before they even get the chance to dive into your content.

secure passwords

  • Make sure everyone controlling your social media pages is caught up on the new features that social media platforms have recently released. We all know social media is rapidly changing, so it’s essential that everyone is informed and educated about new functionality.
  • Tidy up your fans and followers. Sure those high numbers look great at first glance, but clearing out inactive clients will give you a more polished look. It also allows you to engage with the right people easier. Are you following spammers or people who don’t give you any value? Clean those accounts out to start fresh.
  • Do your goals still align with your company’s? Reassess your company goals in the short-term and long-term. That way, all employees know exactly where your company is heading.
  • Update your contact list and see if there have been any prospects that fell through the cracks.
  • People are creatures of habit. Go over your last few weeks or months of posts to see the ROI. Creating valuable, insightful content each day can be tough; sometimes you need to take a step back and look at the big picture. If your posts are starting to taper off of engagement, get some fresh eyes on them. Get different people in your company to post on certain days. Keep an editorial calendar to prevent double posting content. This will also help maintain consistency throughout your messages.

espcalendartemplate

Nothing is more motivating then a good spring cleaning. That goes for your house and your company. Is your company already sparkling? What other steps do you have on your spring clean list?

Branding Fought the Law (And the Law Won)

The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office received some national attention last week. The Georgia public office didn’t stop a daring robbery though. Instead, the Sheriff’s Office unofficially cancelled Valentine’s Day.

Oconee Blog 1

 

While also being really funny, this Facebook post served as a reminder that Oconee County was suffering from an unusually heavy ice storm. The post received 1,199 Likes, 170 comments, and 1,693 Shares. The story also ran on the LA Times, Fox News and various local publications.

If you’re a social media manager, you dream about this sort of engagement. But some of you are probably chalking this up to a random event or luck. That’s where you would be completely wrong. Just a quick look at the Oconee County Facebook page tells you that these fine officers could teach people a thing or two about social media. Below are some of the best things on the Sheriff’s Office Facebook page. Be prepared to laugh!

Oconee Blog 2

 

Whimsy: The personnel at Oconee County are funny and that goes a long way. But more than that, this Georgia Sheriff’s Office is approaching their content in a very fun, engaging way. Trust me, I looked at other public and governmental Facebook pages, and most of them were drier than the last piece of leftover Valentine’s Day chocolate. Instead of presenting their content with a “just the facts, ma’am” approach, the officers at Oconee County are adding a bit of whimsy to their content and that’s helping with their brand.

Oconee Blog 3

 

Engagement: Who hasn’t used the old “post your winter pictures here” status on Facebook? The difference between success and failure is how Oconee County presents their call to action. They already have a built-in following due to their humor and they included the ever-so-tempting second sentence: “ACE News would like to see…” What Facebook Fan could resist possibly getting their own content put on national TV? This is a brilliant way to get more engagement.

Oconee Blog 4

 

Content: Not everything Oconee County posts is funny (although quite a bit of it is). This is the online mouthpiece for a Sheriff’s Office, after all. They post about murders and disappearances when they happen. There are also earthquakes and fires. But this little government department manages to show some personality in every post. There are also statuses about officers lost in the line of duty and you can feel the humanity there as well. I’m sure most officers feel this way, but Oconee County shares that insight with their fans, and they are rewarded with engagement and positive feedback for it.

It’s hard to find a post on this page that has less than 10 Likes or Shares. That’s pretty impressive for a local brand, no matter who you are. As of today, Oconee County Sheriff’s Office has 11,201 Facebook Fans in a county with a population of 33,619.

Is your local government’s social media amazing or terrible? Have you found incredible engagement in an unlikely place? I’d love to hear about it. Comment below or tell me about it on Twitter.

Rebrand Your Business without Spending Millions

In 2000, BP spent $7.6 million to design a new logo and at least $220 million over two years to rebrand vans, manufacturing plants, gas stations and more. You shouldn’t have to spend that type of money, but you do have to commit to a rebranding as if it were that costly.

You’ve been running your business for a couple of years now and you haven’t made many changes. Why change something that is already perfect, right? But one thing is clear; you can’t run your company the same way forever. You have to make changes and evolve as the years go by. Here are some ideas to bring about change and breathe new life into your business.

1. Be Ready for Change: If you want to revamp your business it’s going to require you to change your ways of thinking and get rid of things that were at one time perfect. A first step is to be open to changing or adjusting the way you do business and be prepared to act immediately.

2. Determine Your Mission: Take stock of your company’s strengths and weaknesses.  Look at the big picture and not just a preview of your business. Before you go about changing anything like a type of product, brand name, or company, be clear about what problems you are you trying to solve. Make it a mission. Figure out where you are now and where you want to be.

3. Talk to People: Ask people you know for their opinions on your company. They could be your customers, employees, business partners or industry experts. Ask them…

  • What they think about your products, services, and your brand in general.
  • What they like and don’t like.
  • What they would suggest changing.
  • If you need a little revamping or a major overhaul.
  • Where do you rate in terms of customer satisfaction and brand differentiation?

Your market research, both qualitative and quantitative will be able to help you answer some of these questions. Maybe your business could send out short survey as your market research.

rebranded-logos1

4. Measure Your Total Market: “Most people agree that this is the most important thing you can do as a business owner”, says  Michael Silverstein, a consumer and retail expert with The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), a global management consulting firm. Many companies make the mistake and measure a narrow representation of what their market is. A good approach is to devote ongoing study in two arenas, within your industry and outside it. How has the market changed in your industry? Is your product or service still relevant? That’s the moneymaking question.

5. Seek Allies: Companies should foster new relationships with retailers and seek allies from within and outside of the industry. It could be hard creating a new brand identity and having other businesses help you through the process will be great for you and will help them in the long run as well!

Rebranding can be difficult if you don’t know what steps to take and what needs to be done.  Fortunately, StrataBlue has helped many businesses rebrand themselves and can help you out, too! Which businesses do you think did a good job rebranding themselves? Let me know in the comments below!

Guest Blogging is Dead, But Your Blog is Still Alive

According to Matt Cutts, the head of the webspam team at Google, guest blogging is dead.

The reason? The practice has become too spammy. That can be debated, but let’s focus on why a brand should blog in the first place. 77% of internet users report reading blogs. Of that sizable herd, 81% of U.S. online consumers find blogs trustworthy and informative. Without making this about statistics, blogs equate to consumer attention and authority for brands.

But let’s be fair. Most brands (especially small businesses) only want to blog about one thing—their products. According to Ignite Spot, 61% of U.S. Consumers have bought something based on blog content. If blogs can generate sales, why talk about anything but products and features? The simple answer is that overly commercial blogs are spammy and boring. The average Internet user is spending 23 hours online per week, allowing them to see much more content than they did even a few years ago. If your blogs look like nothing more than a wordy commercial, they will be just as dead as guest posting.

A New Hope. So just writing about products and promotions is bad. What should you be writing about? Glad you asked. Below are a few suggestion to get you started down the right path:

  • Local events: Blogging about a traditional festival or new fundraiser in your community is great content for a few reasons. First, it establishes you as an information source to your readers, instead of a salesman. Second, it shows potential customers that you care about their local community, and want to share in those experiences. Finally, it helps out other businesses, who will likely return the favor when you have news to share. Local events are a bit of a misnomer if you’re writing for a national brand, but you can always scale up to events like the Big Ten or the Grammys.
  • Employee profiles: Does every customer rave about your hostess? Why not do a profile on her for your blog? This will establish more of a relationship between your customers and employees, and content like this shows your readers that that you care about your staff. Only interview willing employees though. Don’t force anyone to participate if they don’t want to.
  • (Slightly) Controversial Opinions: Perhaps the local neighborhood is getting a chain restaurant in the spot where everyone’s favorite diner used to reside. Feel free to put just a bit of vitriol behind your blog suggesting everyone shop local. You will want to be very careful with this option. As my grandfather always said, avoid talking about religion and politics in public. You want your customers interested and engaged, not pissed off at your personal views.

Hopefully this will add a few options for your new editorial calendar, but keep in mind that the best way to keep your blogs fresh is to keep learning. Experiment with new topics, and keep reading.

What blog topics have you found the most useful for your brand? What failed horribly? Feel free to share below, or find on Twitter.

Running Contests for Repeat Customers

So you’re looking for a way to reach new fans and potential customers on your Facebook page. Have you considered running a Facebook contest on your business page? For a long time, Facebook only allowed contests to be run through third-party applications. but now they are allowing any business with a Facebook page to run their own contest. Before actually starting your contest, there are a few steps you should go through in order for yours to be successful.

Running a contest just because you can will not provide you the results you are looking for. What is your ultimate goal for the contest? Do you want more engagement on your page, more likes or both? What about adding to your email list or introducing a new product or service you plan on rolling out? When you figure out exactly what you want to accomplish, it will be easier to find the right kind of contest to run. There a numerous types of contests to run and here are a few popular ones.

  • A sweepstakes contest is great way to gather more email addresses. People give their name and email address to enter in a drawing for your product or a gift card. Make sure that the prize is relevant to your business. One downfall of this kind of contest is there is little engagement on your Facebook page, but you can build your email list rapidly.
  • A photo contest allows fans to upload a picture to your Facebook wall. The contest could be held around a holiday, theme or something that pertains to your business. You can either pick a random winner or have people ‘Like’ the photos and the person with the most Likes wins. You can also use video instead of picture of that makes more sense for your business. For example, if you’re a flower shop, you could run a contest around Christmas time and have people upload a picture of their front door wreath. The picture that gets the most likes wins a gift card. By using this type of contest, people will get their friends to like your page and like their photo to help them win.
  • Asking a trivia question is another great way to build some engagement. You can ask a question about your business, industry or even location. The more specific the question, the more likely people will want to answer. You can also choose a random winner or have the first person to answer be the winner. For example, if you are a record store, make a contest to win a new album and ask a trivia question about the band.

One thing to keep in mind is to keep your prizes tied to your business. This can turn Facebook fans into repeat customers. If someone wins one of your products as a prize, hopefully they will love it and buy more! Sure, a Visa gift card might seem like a great prize, but it has nothing to do with your business so after the contest is over people are more likely to stop following you.

Have you entered a company’s contest before? What did you like or dislike about how the company ran it?

Selfie: Branding on Instagram

I’ll be honest. There are plenty of articles on Instagram out there. If you’re curious about how many times you can take a picture of your dog before someone wants to throttle you, you’re set. Google it and you’ll have the basics of Instagram etiquette. The problem is that no one explains how a business should behave on Instagram. And trust me, your business needs to be on Instagram.

What is Instagram?

Let’s back up a minute. Instagram is a social media tool. It’s a free app you can use on Android and iPhone platforms at the moment. Unlike other social media, it’s less about words and more about pictures. People typically post snapshots of their lives and share them with friends and followers. Others can like those pictures and leave comments on them. If you’re familiar with Twitter (using hashtags and following interesting people), you’ll be comfortable with Instagram.

How is it good for business?

So what does this have to do with your business? Well, you should already have a general understanding of the benefits of Instagram, but let’s review. Instagram has more than 15 million active users on it right now. Those users aren’t just looking at each other’s cat pictures; they’re researching. Does a trip to Paris actually look fun? How does that water filter look in a real house? Is the food at the local Greek restaurant appetizing? With the world at their fingertips, consumers are doing a lot more research at this point. So, you need to wow them before they even get near your store. And more importantly, you need to let them see your branding quickly and easily.

Step One: Have a theme

Before you start converting those followers into customers, you need to know the basic protocol here. When you start an Instagram account, try your best to tie it into your other social media. If you’re Bob’s Jerky Shack on Facebook, then you are BobsJerkyShack on Instagram. Don’t make people hunt for you. Since you’re Bob’s Jerky Shop, you should probably focus your Instagram theme on jerky. Get a picture of your shop and use it for your profile picture. Follow people who are also in the jerky business. When someone visits your Instagram profile, they shouldn’t be confused by a lot of dog pictures.

Step Two: Picture do’s and don’ts

Speaking of dog pictures, don’t do that. Unless you have dog as a store mascot, keep your greyhound out of your pictures. This is about your business—you can get a personal account. Also, avoid using stock photos or screen caps. People don’t want to see a picture off of the website, they can get that on any other social media. Even worse, do not “borrow” (i.e. steal) other people’s pictures. It is the height of bad taste.

What should you be taking pictures of? Your business, but not just shots of what you’re selling and prices for them. People are on Instagram to see interesting, striking shots. They can get a marketing picture of beef jerky anywhere. Show them pictures of your store, your staff and interesting things around your shop. Do you have a big moose statue in the middle of your sales floor? Take a picture of it and explain why it’s there. And then tag it, so people know where they can see this crazy moose. If the businesses around yours have interesting qualities, that’s more photos you can capture. Then you can find out if those businesses have Instagram accounts and you can tag them, hopefully leading to some cross-promotion between you and your neighbors.

And this should go without saying, but I will say it: keep it professional. Also, do not spam people. This can take many forms—from liking every picture you see to begging for likes and follows. It will have the opposite effect you want, I promise you. People will like you if you’re interesting, so just be yourself! See, mom was right.

Step Three: Be social

While you’re being yourself, also be social. This is social media, after all. Follow leaders in your brand and engage with them. If they have a really sweet picture of a beef jerky waterfall, like the picture and comment on it. Find people that might be interested in your brand, start following them and engage with them as much as possible, but keep it honest. If people or brand leaders don’t follow you back, don’t sweat it. After you gain some momentum on Instagram, they’ll come back. If someone is starting to spam you—or connect your brand with uncomfortable topics—then you have my permission to unfollow.

In closing, follow the competition and learn. Take some risks. Maybe every picture won’t be directly about your store, and that’s okay. People that see you as a satisfying and original source of content will reward you with follows and comments. And that is worth a thousand marketing words. Next week, I’ll be talking about hashtags, and how to use trending topics to help your brand.