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How to Develop a Social Media-Crisis Strategy

It may be difficult to imagine that a comment on social media, or ad campaign, graphic, misquote or argument could cost your organization immeasurably in terms of sales and brand favor.

But these events do occur, increasingly. With communications now moving nationally and internationally at the speed of IOT, compromises can occur, and it is essential to have a solid social media-crisis strategy in place, and ready to implement.

What contributes to a social media crisis?

Digital marketing teams and community managers deal with small problems and minor incidents on a daily basis. One of the most important aspects of social media management is handling negative or inappropriate comments and images and ensuring channel security and customer-service responses that enhance consumer’s experience and with its brand and your image.

Of course, a social media crisis is something far larger than a negative comment or two. It is an incident where something that your business has said or done has caught negative national or even global attention. Sometimes the brand is not at fault in any way, but is still in a position where it has to defend against a substantial social media public backlash, one that can cost millions in lost sales and customer retention, if your representatives do not handle things in an appropriate way.

Looking for some examples of social media brand crises in 2016? Who could forget the staff member at Kitchenaid who tweeted insensitively about President Obama’s deceased grandmother? The tweet was sent, mistakenly, on the Kitchenaid official account by an internal staffer who thought that he or she was using a personal account.

Kitchenaid respectfully deleted the tweet, apologized to the Obama family and indicated how the error had happened. The company also confirmed that the individual who had made the comment would no longer be managing its social media activities.

That quick and appropriate response probably saved the brand.

In some instances, however, it is not an internal staff member who is responsible for tweeting something offensive, but rather a deliberate hack of the social media account. That happened to Burger King in February 2013, when hackers replaced the burger chain’s official branding with a McDonald’s logo, and began to tweet offensively.

Fans quickly caught on, however, that the account had been hacked, and in subsequent weeks (after Burger King changed its password), the chain’s Twitter account gained more than 30,000 new followers.

Creating your social media crisis plan in four steps

Like any other emergency strategy, a social media crisis plan is designed to offer a quick and appropriate response and funnel correct information to anyone looking to access it, including customers, employees and the media. Here are four steps.

1. Assign a team.

While the best-practices guidelines for your social media crisis plan should commence with your marketing department, the implementation of these procedures will touch a variety of departments, including customer service staff, sales, human resources and senior leadership officials within youre organization. Create a team with at least one representative from each impact department who will be trained to respond, and one back-up person from every essential communication group.

2. Delegate and designate.

Define the core message that your brand needs expressed in the event of a negative online backlash or public relations fallout. The most successful businesses in the world, in a state of emergency publicity, fall back to their core values to assure the public, customers, shareholders and employees of their commitment and integrity.

Delegate core spokespeople for your brand. Controlling who comments on behalf of your business is essential to resolving the problem. Letting multiple employees comment, perhaps inappropriately, can fan a small flame into a forest fire, from a public relations perspective.

3. Document it.

Your crisis strategy for managing communication through social media should be thoroughly documented, and there should be printed copies available in key areas, as well as digital ones. Keep in mind that some social media crises can stem from a corporate hacking incident (like the event with Sony in 2014), in which case intranet and other resources may not be immediately available. Have a back-up location specifically separate from your main network.

4. Practice the plan.

Having a social media crisis strategy buried somewhere in the marketing archives does little to ensure that your response will be prompt when it’s needed. So, practice it twice per year, and ensure that as staff members change in key roles, new staff are trained with the appropriate protocols

The ability that a brand has to pivot in the face of a public relations problem determines its ability to find a fast resolution, and minimize collateral damage to the brand and its reputation. With luck, your business may never need it.

Source: Enterpreneur, article by Pratik Dholakiya(https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/282934)

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How to Use Instagram Stories to Market Your Brand

Instagram blew up recently with their new “stories” function. Besides openly ripping off Snapchat, the stories are pretty functional to grow your brand or your business.

Actually, I’ve enjoyed using them a little bit! They’re great because they offer additional exposure to your audience, and another way to connect. When you post a story, people can message you based on each post just like on Snapchat. This allows more interaction and engagement with your followers on Instagram!

Plus, I’ve noticed that I have more exposure on my stories than I may have otherwise on each post I create for Instagram! Instagram looks like they’re giving a little more runway and exposure to your audience via stories, so make sure you check it out!

I’ve been monitoring how people have been using stories, and it’s actually pretty similar to the way that they use Instagram. Even though the platform is similar to Snapchat, people use it differently. Rather than streaming your face (the way Snapchatters do), Instagram stories are about posting sweet pics through your day of beautiful things and environments. it’s kind of like a behind-the-scenes slide show. Not to mention, everything that’s posted is beautiful.

So the question rises, how do you use this to grow your business or brand?

Let me jump right in and give you some tips to use stories to create hype around you.

Give Your Followers Behind-the-Scenes Access

Much like a VIP at a club or a show, give your audience behind-the-scenes access. Show them what you do in your business or with your brand. If you have a product, show how it’s made or the production process. If you’re a photographer, show yourself choosing new pics to edit, or live on a shoot with a client. If you’re running an online business, show what you do through the day that only insiders would see! Show some secrets, create some mystery and give another dimension to your brand.

This can be done a variety of ways.
I would start with something on the first image that says “VIP ACCESS” or “INSIDER ACCESS” or something like this to intrigue. Then snap away! Try just posting pics with some text on top, a series of videos or explainers, or mix still and video. Remember to ask your followers to send you a message and connect with you too so you can start engaging even more with them and building relationships.

Show Your Day-to-Day… (if your life is cool!)

Allow me to preface this by saying that no one will be interested in seeing the day-to-day of a normal person’s life. The reason why they’re on social and watching your stories to begin with is because they’re using social as a tool to dream, and escape from the normal realities they face on a daily basis. Give them something to love and aspire to!

For example, I have a friend that is mostly normal all around, but she recently got invited to NY Fashion Week care of JCrew. JCrew invited her to NYC to take part in a stylized-fashion shoot specific for fashion week, and she was one of the new models (without any modeling experience or crazy amounts of Instagram followers!). She got to see all the behind the scenes for a JCrew art directed photo shoot, live with all the craziness that happens at these events. And she did it for 2 days.

This is an example of something that you’d want to show through Instagram stories as a day-to-day. Had she decided to broadcast the moments throughout the day (even more “boring” ones) her followers would have LOVED it! They’d see her modeling for a major fashion brand, eating lunch with the creative director and having someone do her hair and makeup.

Mostly they’d be able to place themselves in her shoes even for a few moments and say to themselves “maybe I can have that cool of a life too!”

I know… it sounds kind of vain, but I promise you that if your followers don’t WANT YOUR LIFE, that you won’t have a following. It’s just how it goes. It’s part of psychology. If your followers admire you, what you stand for, and the life you live, they’ll follow you and engage with you.

Alas, with all that… if you have cool stuff that you do on a day-to-day basis—show it! It’ll gain you street cred with your audience and build your brand.

Show a Curation of Your Day

I keep seeing these types of stories on Instagram, and they totally resonate with me so I’m sure they do with others too. Some of my favorite Instagrammers are posting a curation of their day on their stories through static photos.

For example, I’ll see something like 4-6 pics of coffeeshops and cool scenes in NYC throughout the day, or coffee-shop hopping in Los Angeles. They’re just a string of beautifully taken static shots to give you another type of Instagram gallery (within stories). Just with the story feature, they disappear in 24 hours creating more urgency to watch them!

Get Up Close and Personal: Do an AMA (Ask Me Anything)

Get to know your followers, and allow them to connect with you on a more personal basis. This is an opportunity for people to get up-close and personal with your brand. Of course this builds more brand awareness for you, and consequently will earn you more Instagram story views.

An “ask me anything” is where you announce to your followers that they can submit any questions, and that you’ll answer them on your story for the day. This is a terrific way to humanize your brand.

Create Giveaways in Your Stories

I love to do giveaways on my Instagram feed. I’ve found that announcing the giveaways every day on my story and telling people what’s in the giveaway and how to enter has been really great for engagement. They’ll go straight from my story to my gallery and comment on the giveaway post!

Source: Business to Community, article by Emelina Spinelli (http://www.business2community.com/instagram/use-instagram-stories-market-brand-01660434#ripsaZPzewLlj1bi.99)

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How to Run an Effective Social Media Employee Advocacy Program

Every smart entrepreneur knows that you need to use social media to effectively market your business and your brand.

I realized that back in 2008, when I opened my camera store in New Jersey and had to compete against the largest camera store in the world – B&H Photo — and the biggest competitor of them all – Amazon. I had to acquire customers, and build our brand with little time and even less money. Social media turned out to be the fastest way to do that. But one of the problems I immediately faced was how to get engagement on our posts, when we didn’t have a big following on any of the social platforms.

This is a problem that many entrepreneurs face today.

In many cases, your social media accounts do not have very many followers, connections or interactions. So, if for example, you post on Facebook, your relatively small number of followers will mean Facebook’s algorithm will keep engagement very low. But is there a way to increase your engagement without investing a lot of money boosting posts?

The tactic I discovered back in 2008, and one that I have honed with great success today, is employee social advocacy. Here are the 10 steps I’ve used to implement and run an employee-driven, post-boosting program, which you can start doing today.

1. At the next staff meeting, it should be announced that you are looking for all team members to promote posts on their personal social media accounts – Facebook, LinkedIn, beBee, Twitter and Instagram — on a regular basis.

2. There should be an email sent to All@YourCompany.com with an explanation of what employee advocacy is, why it is done and what will be accomplished for the company. Ask staff to reply with their willingness to participate. I would not require any staff member to do it that doesn’t want to, but let them know there will be rewards for the people who do it the most.

3. In a follow up email, ask everyone to follow and like all of your YourCompany pages on Facebook, LinkedIn, beBee, Twitter and Instagram from their personal social media pages.

4.There needs to be a social leader in the company. It works best if it’s the owner, president or stakeholder. He or she will lead the charge on the personal posting side. Let everyone know who that will be. There can be more than one leader.

5. All participating members need to connect with the social leader. It’s ok if someone is not on every social platform. Let them participate where they can.

6. The social leader then creates a post on their personal social media accounts. Use all the social networks if it makes sense for the post’s content. The post needs to be interesting and engaging and include no direct selling. That post should be shared on all company pages by the company page owner.

7. Send an email to All@YourCompany.com with all of the links to the leader’s posts asking everyone to share on their accounts with a personal comment added that relates to their friends, fans or followers.

8. When you start this advocacy program, do one post per week until your staff gets use to it. Then do up to three per week, but that is the maximum you should do. The staff will get tired of it and so will your followers.

9. To jump start the program, give everyone who follows No. 2, No. 3, No. 5 and No. 7 a $20 giftcard or something similar. Many, who agreed to do it, won’t – especially the first time. A personal note or visit from the social leader asking them to participate again is the way to go here.

10. Create contests, and publicly hand out prizes. The top employees with the most engagement, receives a money prize, extended lunch, day off or something else intriguing. You should post a leaderboard and hand out prizes for the top performers for each month and for the year.

Employee social advocacy is an incredibly cost-effective way to build your brand and business. It also builds employee morale and creates a corporate culture where staff feels like they have directly contributed to the success of the company.

Source: Fox News, article by Matt Sweetwood http://www.foxnews.com/us/2016/09/15/how-to-run-effective-social-media-employee-advocacy-program.html)

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Social Media Lessons from 6 Must-Follow Brands on Facebook

Sometimes the best way to learn how to do something is from example. If you are seeking advice for your business’ Facebook presence, you can adopt this same mentality. There’s no better way to boost your Facebook strategy than looking at how successful brands are using the site for their own businesses. To see what the pros are doing, we explore six must-follow brands on Facebook who are doing great things on the network.

6 brands to follow on Facebook
1. Target

Top Takeaway: Provide quick and effective social customer service

Target, one of America’s largest retailers, has an equally large Facebook presence totalling over 23 million Likes. With this big of a following there are sure to be countless customer service inquiries. If you look at the comments of any of the Facebook content shared on their page, you’ll find that the majority are not reactions to the post, but unrelated customer service questions and complaints.

Although the volume of messages Target receives on their Facebook page seems overwhelming, they handle them with grace thanks to a few tactics.

They address each customer by name in their responses to ensure they are delivering personalized service.
The customer service representative signs their own name at the end of each response to show that they are actually people and not robots providing automatically generated responses.
They provide a direct phone number to the customer in case they want to speak to a person offline.
They provide a response in a timely manner (less than 24 hours, with some responses as fast as under 10 minutes).

Take a page out of Target’s book and boost your own Facebook customer service efforts by applying these effective techniques.

2. Teva

Top Takeaway: Show lifestyle-centric rather than product-centric content

Your fans aren’t following you on Facebook to be constantly sold to, which is something that hip footwear brand Teva clearly knows. Instead of simply sharing image after static image of shoes and Teva products, the brand uses their Facebook page to showcase the lifestyle surrounding their products. They show the people who are using their products, and the (aspirational) lifestyles that they lead. Teva recognizes the type of customer they attract, and align their Facebook content accordingly.

While of course they don’t ignore their products, Teva balances creative product-centric content with lifestyle-focused posts to provide an engaging mix for their Facebook audience.

Follow in Teva’s steps by making sure you:

  • Don’t put your product front and center in every post
  • Share lifestyle and aspirational content
  • Show your product in the real world, rather than solely in a studio photoshoot
  • Showcase the customers who are using your product or service
  • Keep your customer and their desires top of mind

At the end of the day, think about why you follow certain brands on Facebook. You aren’t looking to make their product the center of your life, but rather build a lifestyle that happens to include their brand. Brands don’t exist in a vacuum, so give your product the context it needs with your Facebook content.

3. Dollar Shave Club

Top Takeaway: Share user-generated content

Nobody is more important to your business’ success than your customers. They’re the ones on the ground actually using your product and know it best. Razor and personal grooming products company Dollar Shave Club uses Facebook to build meaningful relationships with their customers by regularly showcasing content created by them. As our post Content Marketing Ideas for Small Businesses explains, “people trust content created by their peers 50 percent more than other media.”

User-generated content (UGC) is a great option for branded Facebook pages as it not only puts the spotlight on your all-important customers, but provides you with unique and cost-effective social media content.

Dollar Shave Club’s #UnboxDSC campaign is a great example of user-generated content at work. The #UnboxDSC campaign asks customers to share photos unboxing their Dollar Shave Club products on their social media channels. If the company reposts a customer’s photo, they receive a free t-shirt from Dollar Shave Club.

This campaign has been successful for Dollar Shave Club because they:

  • Pay attention to the content their Facebook audience is already sharing and align their campaigns accordingly
  • Made the process of sharing user-generated content easy for their customers
  • Highlight those who share creative and unique images so that the quality remains high
  • Feature use-cases and the product in action

User-generated content invites your customers into the conversation around your brand, and allows them to feel as if they are part of a greater community. Incorporate UGC into your next Facebook campaign with the above tips as a guide.

4. A Mighty Girl

Top Takeaway: Inform and inspire your audience.

As the “world’s largest collection of books, movies, and music for parents, teachers, and others dedicated to raising smart, confident, and courageous girls,” A Mighty Girl is a unique brand in the Facebook marketing space. Rather than blatantly pushing the products they sell, the organization shares ideas, debates, news articles, and content aiming to inspire and educate their audience. They recognize who their audience is and the information they are seeking, and create content that satisfies these needs.

Some approaches from A Mighty Girl’s page that you can apply to your own Facebook presence include:

  • Consider your audience and their interests, and build content that pertains to these
  • Only push your product or service when it organically fits into the conversations happening
  • Rather than using it as an advertising platform, turn your page into a community hub for those whose interests and values align with your organization’s.
  • Facilitate unbranded discussions and share content that is relevant to the values of your audience and business
  • Think about the problems your audience is facing, and provide information that can solve these problems
  • Have industry experts and thought-leaders share information, inspiration, and their expertise with your audience

By creating a positive space for your customers to engage with your brand and one another, you invite the opportunity for a community to build—something that will become irreplaceable to your audience.

5. Netflix

Top Takeaway: Optimize Facebook video

If it isn’t a part of your social media strategy yet, now is the time to focus on social video. As our post A Guide to Social Video, and Where it Fits in Your Marketing Plan explains:

  • 72 percent of businesses who use video say it has increased website conversion rates
  • 74 percent of all internet traffic in 2017 is projected to come from video
  • Facebook has 8 billion average daily video views from 500 million users
  • Facebook sees 100 million hours of daily video watch time

For Netflix, using Facebook video as a part of their social media strategy was a natural fit. The majority of the content they share on Facebook is video, including new show trailers, highlights from current programming, and throwback or topical clips (i.e. scenes from Elf around the holidays, etc). To optimize your video content for Facebook just like Netflix:

  • Ensure that your videos are created with silent playback in mind. Digiday found that 85 percent of Facebook videos are watched without sound, so check out our guide Why Your Facebook Videos Need to be Optimized for Silence to find out exactly how you can do this.
  • Share sneak peeks and teasers for upcoming product launches. Netflix shares clips and trailers of soon-to-be-released shows and movies, but you can easily apply this method to sharing short videos giving your Facebook audience access to your future product launches.
  • Build your brand voice through the videos you share. Video naturally conveys more emotion than text or images alone, so ensure you use video to not only align to, but enhance, your established brand voice.

Like Netflix, you can use Facebook video to support your social media strategy— and contribute to your overall marketing objectives.

6. The Honest Company

Top Takeaway: Provide special incentives and content for your Facebook audience

While you could just share the same content to all of your social channels, you will provide your audience with a much more dynamic experience if you can offer customized content for each platform. I’m not saying that you need to create hugely different campaigns for each social network, but provide slightly tweaked content that makes sense for each platform. The Honest Company works with this principle by offering the following through their Facebook page:

  • Discounts and Facebook fan-only coupon codes
  • Exclusive contests for Facebook fans
  • Behind the scenes content
  • Expert advice
  • Product sneak peeks

You need to give your Facebook audience a good reason to follow you, and the above incentives are a great start. By knowing your customers and what drives them, you’ll be able to offer incentives that will be of interest and value to them.

One of the best ways to learn is to take note of what leaders in your field are doing right. Follow these six brands to continue seeing prime examples of how organizations can use Facebook to increase customer engagement and find business success.

Source: Hootsuite, article by Dara Fontein (https://blog.hootsuite.com/social-media-lessons-6-top-brands-facebook/)

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Effective Ways to Generate Leads Through Digital Marketing

Lead generation is at the heart of all businesses. Entrepreneurs and marketers are constantly on the lookout for new and improved ways to enhance their lead generation strategies.

Building a strong base of customer leads is crucial for every business. Numerous digital marketing tools have surfaced over the years to aid in the process. Each of these tools plays a major role in putting together an effective lead generation strategy.

The number of Internet users worldwide has been found to be 3.5 billion. If your business relies primarily on local customers, chances are, your potential customers are a part of this figure. Here are some effective strategies that can help you generate more leads through your digital marketing efforts.

Request for Reviews

The power of online reviews is immense. Did you know that 88% of customers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations?

Consumers have increasingly been turning to online referrals before making a purchasing decision. One of the best ways to leverage this is by asking for reviews from your existing customers. You can ask your customers to fill up a short form on your website for this purpose.

In addition to that, you can claim your business’s listing in top review sites and ask your customers to post a review there. More the number of positive reviews, better will the prospects for your business.

Conduct Online Contests with Special Offers

A special offer works as a bonus to motivate a person to take action. If you plan on conducting a contest, you can consider offering a discount to the consumer who wins it. Additionally, you can also provide an offer at the end of a survey or a request for review.

The offers can be as simple as a discount on a product or a service that your business provides. For example, if you have a car dealership, a discount on private number plates can be quite effective. A gift certificate can be used as well.

Such campaigns can be highly effective in attracting new leads for your business.

Leverage Social Media

With 2.1 billion active social media users, this platform is a goldmine for lead generation. Most of your potential customers are quite likely to be on social media. Therefore, leveraging social media should be given maximum priority.

For example, you can consider investing in engaging content and posting them on various social media sites like Facebook, Twitter etc. Instagram can also be used to post pictures and short demo videos of your products etc.

There are numerous ways to increase social media engagement for your business. Social media sites provide marketers with an opportunity to initiate interactions with customers. Additionally, this also helps in building credibility and trust.

Create a ‘How-to’ Guide

Many consumers may be confused with the services and products that your business offers. This is where a ‘how-to’ guide becomes relevant. It simplifies the information that you wish to convey to your existing as well as potential customers. A complex process can be broken down into simple steps to help your customers understand it easily.

You can consider creating an engaging blog post for this purpose. You can post an infographic, an article or even an e-book. A short video can also be highly effective. It is advisable to include a call-to-action at the end of the blog post or the video leading to the relevant page of your website to enable customers to take action.

Focus on SEO Strategies

Organic search is one of the most vital source of traffic for businesses which primarily relies on the proper utilisation of the right keywords. Therefore, it is important to have strong keywords in your website’s landing pages that rank well in Google search results.

You can also consider focusing on PPC (Pay-Per-Click) campaign to see immediate results. Google AdWords is highly effective for this purpose. You can choose specific keywords and pay only when someone clicks on them to go to the relevant landing page. Depending on the performance, you can adjust your budget.

These strategies are highly effective in generating valuable leads for your business. That being said, it is important to track the results of your efforts and adjust them accordingly to ensure that favourable results are generated from the strategies that you implement.

Source: Business Zone, article by Kent Charlie (http://www.businesszone.co.uk/community/blogs/kentcharlie/effective-ways-to-generate-leads-through-digital-marketing)

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