AWRF Social Media Presentation 2013

AWRF Social Media Presentation 2013

When social media first arrived on the scene companies were scrambling trying to figure out how to take advantage of this new medium. While others were asking the question, “why should I bother? Especially when all people do is share pictures of what they had for dinner or their kids back to school pictures.”

What we forget is that social media is really nothing new. It’s something we’ve done since the days of AOL, America Online. Don’t you remember the 500 hour free cds and usernames like Kitty 902010? It’s really just a fancy way of describing how we communicate on the internet.

We know that Social Media isn’t going away. It’s the #1 activity on the web and when we pull out our cell phones, 91% of us are using them for social media related activities.

Here is a great example of the larger role mobile plays in our day to day lives. This is a picture of St. Peters Square in 2005. Nothing really to write home about. Fast forward to 2013 and you’ll notice nearly every person has a mobile device to capture the moment. But they aren’t just capturing the moment for their personal collection. They are sharing the moment in real-time on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. It’s what we call the real-time web.

So as business owners how do we take advantage of social media? With all that we have going on where do we start?

It begins with your website. Think of your website as your hub. Everything that you do should revolve around getting traffic back to your website. Facebook is not your website. Your activities on social media are the spokes that drive traffic back to your site.

Now if it’s been a little while since you’ve updated your website it may be time for a makeover. Sure we get busy, but we need to think of our website as our business card on the web. It’s the first impression we give when someone is researching our company. And with keeping mobile in mind it’s even more important that we take a mobile first stance to our design. What we like to call responsive. Responsive design allows your website to resize to fit whatever device someone may be using whether it be an iPhone, tablet, or desktop computer.

An example of recent redesign is the AWRF.org website. We wanted to put the social icons at the top for a couple of reasons. Number one was to share with people where they can find and two to let the search engines know what social media sites are connected to us. This way when someone searches out your company Google can return the social media sites as relevant results.

We also added an image that would quickly give a visitor an idea of what the website was about. You have roughly five seconds when someone visits your website to before they give up and leave.

Finally we made sure to have a clear call to action telling the visitor what we wanted them to do. All of these items were above the fold. Meaning when you visit from a desktop you can see all three items.

Now that we have our website in order we need a way to measure our efforts. It doesn’t make sense to put in all the work without understanding the return. One of my favorite tools is Google Analytics. Mostly because it’s free but also because it gives you great insights to how people are visiting your website and if the content you are sharing is working.

You can see how many people have visited your website. What country, state or city they came from. The amount of time they’ve spent on your site. All of this data will help you to understand how people are using your website. Don’t trust my word on going mobile, let the data guide you.

So we have our website in order and a way to measure our efforts. How do we choose a social network? It starts with connecting the dots with our traditional marketing goals. Who are the people we are trying to reach? Where do they spend their time? With over 200 social networks it can be overwhelming. Don’t forget forums they are great for niche communities and discovering conversations that can’t be found on more traditional networks.

Let’s talk a bit about blogging. Blogs are great way to easily update your static websites. For those who are a bit leary about the pressure to update often because of the name blog can name it something like news.

What are some of the things you can talk about? Stories of employees volunteering or doing good in the community. An employee spotlight. Share your company milestones. Customer stories and testimonials are great options. What about your frequently asked questions. Certainly you have customers that reach out with same questions over and over. Make them short blog posts. Blogs are a gift that keep on giving. Long after you’ve written a post you’ll reap the rewards of that content.

I’ve listed a few blogging platforms although my favorite is WordPress. It’s simple to update. If you can use Microsoft Word, you can use WordPress. Talk with the guys in your IT department about implementation.

As business owners you certainly wear lots of hats. Finding time to manage social media and digital marketing may be one hat too many. Where do you find the time? It’s a team effort. Look for subject matter experts within your organization that can contribute on a regular basis. Find employees that are active on social media. But make sure you put a social media policy in place to guide them on what is acceptable. What works for their personal Facebook account isn’t always what’s best for a corporate account. And be sure to make it a habit. Check your accounts first thing in the morning. Get in a routine.

Now that you have some pieces in place it is extremely important to listen. If you’re going to be involved you need to participate. This means knowing when a question has been posted about your company. Don’t let it sit for 2 or 3 days. Answer the question. You’ll know it’s out there if you take the time to listen and monitor your accounts.

I’ve listed a few tools to help manage your social media efforts. All of them are cloud based tools to allow you to manage from multiple devices from any location with internet access. Be sure to check out Bit.ly. It allows you to take a really long URL and make it tiny. You also have the ability to track where clicks are coming from and where your links are being shared.

Be sure to reach out if you have any questions. There are a couple more slides with additional tools and an example of how search engines return social media channels in search results.