Infographic by computer school.org
I disagree with the contention that social media is “…just a plural term for any online vehicle that allows for, and encourages, interaction” (see one of my previous postings on Social media for details). Additionally, I predict that business websites will soon be far less crucial to a brand’s marketing strategy and market engagement than one might think (but more on that in a later post).
For the rest, I found Brazilian social media marketing strategist Gina Gotthilf’s recent article very helpful on several points that might prove of particular value to B2C businesses (B2Bers can still glean some useful tidbits, but the article is primarily speaking to e-commerce and e-consumer engagement). Ms. Gotthilf kindly agreed to have what I consider the most salient points excerpted here below, and I believe you’ll find some good tips on improving digital marketing tactics and optimizing your connection to your online audience/prospects:
When incorporating social media into a marketing strategy, most companies focus on Facebook and Twitter. Those who hire social media strategists also venture into niche platforms and new technologies, racing to stay ahead of the competition.
Yet what is often forgotten is that social media does not necessarily entail a dedicated platform – it is just a plural term for any online vehicle that allows for, and encourages, interaction. Hence, one of the most important steps in making your brand social is incorporating social elements into your company website.
Here are the top 6 questions to ask in determining if your website welcomes interaction.
1) Is your content shareable?
This may seem obvious but is more than often overlooked. Sure, readers can always copy a URL they find interesting and manually paste it into an e-mail to share with friends, or into Facebook to share with their network… but they more often than not WON’T. The rule of thumb is, and will always be: your community is lazy, no matter how much they love you. Use ShareThis to facilitate and encourage sharing by making (at least the most basic) buttons available by any post, photo or item on there. But don’t make EVERY button on the face of the internet available – your readers are too lazy to look through them and easily confused. But remember – just because you put a button there doesn’t mean people will click. Shareable content needs to be unusual, interesting, humorous or controversial. Keep this in mind when planning content and layout.
2) Can readers affect the content of your website?
Of course your professional website isn’t a wiki – open for endless edits by well-humored kids located in some non-English speaking country. Yet readers like feeling as though you’re listening enough to incorporate some of their thoughts and opinions. If you publish written content, perhaps offer the possibility of suggesting topics. If you publish visual content, give your readers the ability to submit their own for photos and video for display in a designated UGC (user generated content) area of your site. If you sell products, consider letting users vote on what models and colors they’d like to see made available for purchase or suggest changes to existing items.
3) Can your audience submit public comments or reviews?
Sure, your own description of your product may be accurate and what you sell or write may actually be life-changing. But readers want to hear that from other readers. Comments and reviews make your site look honest, transparent, and not afraid of public opinion. Of course, as with any other social media platform, monitoring is necessary to ensure that comments and reviews are appropriate, non-offensive and properly responded to if necessary.
4) Is your content dynamic?
Static websites are the equivalent of stores that never change their collections (I don’t know of any in real life, other than antique stores). Keeping your content new and fresh will encourage your readers to visit on a regular basis – to read new articles, check out new products or admire new images. Readers will most often share content from websites they are familiar with as a credible source of information – they don’t want to look foolish. Moreover, new content means new things to share… and more visitors entails more members for your new thriving community!
5) Does your homepage offer a relevant social experience?
When a reader is perusing your content… is he/she hanging out alone or with others? In other words, are there indications that other people are there too at that particular time or that their friends have been there before? Facebook Connect offers an easy solution to bringing people’s networks into your site without altering content and letting your readers find out what articles or products their friends have personally endorsed. Making buzz public (such as number of current visitors or total pageviews) and adding chat plug-ins are also easy, effective upgrades.
6) Is your site optimized for mobile platforms?
It’s no news – people are constantly browsing the web and looking for relevant information on -the-go. Browsing the web on your computer is so last year! Whether they own a Blackberry, iPhone or iPad, your audience will want to check up on sales when they’re close to stores, see if you sell something they need, or want to reference your content when it’s most relevant to them geographically. Make sure to create a mobile version of your website or ensure that your existing website functions properly on multiple mobile devices. Additionally, consider creating a relevant branded application and maintaining up-to-date on Facebook’s Open Graph mobile features.
Gina Gotthilf is a Social Media Strategist with several years of experience in developing, managing and analyzing social media marketing campaigns for luxury fashion brands. She loves observing and predicting behavioral and market trends online.
If you want a device that can do a pretty good of chopping veggies, opening bottles and cans, extracting small screws, cutting paper, sawing small pieces of wood (very small), chiseling even smaller pieces of wood, and picking your teeth…then the good ol’ “all-purpose” swiss army knife is what your looking for! It may not be the best at any one of those things, but then you just want something that covers all the bases adequately, right? Who knows what you’re going to want to do at any given moment, and you want to be ready to do it all, right? It’s not as if today’s individual actually has the time to plan their activities and intentions in advance, is it?
If you know what you want to do in advance, and you’re the type of person that prefers to focus on one activity at a time, with minimal distraction, then it stands to reason that you should select the best tool for the job. For example, if you have a particularly thick steak that you wish to enjoy eating, your swiss army pocket knife is going to be a messy and challenging device to deploy, resulting in a less than exquisite dining experience. A well-crafted, high-quality, high carbon stainless steel knife is the only option in this case. It does one thing…reeeeaaally well.
I do not want my car to have email functionality on the driver side; I do not want my oven to do my laundry; I do not want my book to play movies. Not yet. Not until the car drives perfectly, the oven bakes beautifully, and the book reads crisply. I prefer my devices and tools to be as cost effective, robust, elegant, and functionally precise as possible, so that I may have the liberty to develop a relationship with my products that assures me the highest degree of satisfaction, at the best price.
At a moment in time when consumers are desperate to bring order to the chaos in their lives, when people are eager for simplicity; when companies such as Flock and Pip.io are growing their user base of evangelists intent on collapsing the layers in their social worlds…why isn’t Amazon’s marketing department focusing on the fact that their product is built for one main purpose, and it accomplishes that purpose with an elegance that the iPad’s multifunctional personality cannot pretend to approximate, except perhaps via the Kindle App itself? The e-ink differentiator is a worthy advantage, I agree, but perhaps it’s time to focus on the big value advantage: the Kindle knows what it’s supposed to do and, a few minor tweaks notwithstanding, it does it very well.
I know where my steak knives are. I use them regularly. I have a Swiss Army knife, but have no idea where it is…never use it anymore.
How many of you were aware that China and the US almost went to war recently (according to Chinese mainland media and other sources)? Did you know that China had rebuffed Obama’s request for Secretary Gates to come visit his military counterparts in China (to discuss North Korea situation), refusing to allow the US to meet with military leaders in Beijing; that the US parked several fleets around the nation as a show of indignant force; and that people in China were being prepared by their leaders to rise up and fight “the evil Americans”? I have friends in China who had their bags packed, ready to flee. Yet we heard precious little about this over here.
We are also hearing precious little about China’s enormous investment in the African continent, helping almost every nation therein build up their infrastructure, and investing heavily in natural resources. Just as many see the US as having helped to rebuild Europe in the post-war years, China is building a reputation through the African nations as the benevolent partner…
How are US corporations and administrations responding to the inescapable growth of this Asian culture? We cannot seek to slow down or arrest the development of this economic and cultural force. Attempts to crush evolutionary movement tend to hurt the instigator (see RIAA attempts to stop digital file downloads, as a smaller scale example).
China is bigger than most people seem to consciously calculate, and their business and social culture is very different to the aggressive, fast-moving instant gratification, individualistic culture manifest in US business and society. Are we SO arrogant to think WE can change THEM?..
I wonder how long it will take us to learn how to interface truly effectively with Chinese leaders (government and business), and whether that learning curve will prove simply too long to save us from painful decline as a leading global influencer of policy…when our Secretary of Defense is told to go fly a kite by a foreign nation, you know that more than icebergs are shifting…