Is Social Media Relevant to Your Business?

social media

To hammer home the point that content is king, Kelly cited the following statistics:

  • 23% of all social media communications include links to content.
  • 72 hours of video is uploaded YouTube every minute.
  • 250 million photos are posted to Facebook daily.
  • 42% of all tweets link to content, which is logical in that you can’t say much in 140 characters alone so linking to relevant content is essential.

Don’t Be a Robot

Long-time journalist Halah Touryalai said that social media has changed the way journalists relate to their readers.

“It’s no longer just a reporter feeding information to the readers, Touryalai said. “Now, journalists can now hear immediately from readers—it’s so much more public and immediate,” she said.

Touryalai reminds advisors to “engage—you are not a robot. Be human; use your voice. Don’t be so static online,” she encouraged.

I agree with Touryalai. People like an authentic voice. Being a three-dimensional professional can pay huge dividends. Leave the sterile content to others. You want people to come back and hear what you are saying. Don’t just share a link share some sort of comment or analysis—people want to know what you think.

Like Touryalai, I always suggest that firm-based communications on social media adopt a business casual tone. Mix it up. Show your human interests, passions and motivations—especially on Facebook. Another good idea from Touryalai, when there are a number of people posting on a social site that is representing the company’s brand versus an individual professional: have each person sign off on each post with their initials.

Don’t Just Create More Noise

Kelly reminded the audience to think about what is creating noise, and to strive to ensure that their content was relevant and meaningful to the circles of people following them on any specific social media platform. Kelly emphasized that each of the social sites has a slightly different focus, tone and use. For instance, LinkedIn is a business professional networking site, Facebook tends to be more visual and more personal, Twitter is a great way to consume a lot of content in a short amount of time (especially if you are following thoughtful people who are interested in the same type of information or industry trend).

Social Media on the Rise

Social media is all about building trust and reputation. According to the latest Edelman Trust Barometer, Trust in social media is on the rise—from 8% in 2011 to 14% in 2012. Compare those trust-numbers to traditional news, which shows a smaller increase—29% in 2011 to 32% in 2012.

“We are seeing a diversification of media and trust in information sources,” Kelly said as he reminded us that reputation is based on past behavior. “63% need to see something 3-5 times before they begin to believe something; overcoming skepticism requires repetition. Social media is great way to build trust.”

More and more, social media is also driving search engine results. When you look at a keyword search for financial planners in any given location, the paid items will come up at the tops and sides of the page. Next on the page will be the items that are “owned” by relevant firms (such as websites and blogs). We are also now seeing social (e.g., LinkedIn, YouTube, Facebook) and location-based listings (e.g., Google Profiles, Google ) come up on the first search page, along with articles published on traditional news sites and search-engine-optimized news releases.

I’ve written a lot about these strategies right here on Financial-Planning.com and I invite you to visit the Marketing Maven article archive to learn more there.

“What people see when they search can impact trust,” Kelly said. “So make sure to register your locations, set up a Google Profile, leverage Google and use relevant keywords on all of your online profiles, articles, blog posts, and so forth.”

Sixty percent of search results contain video, according to Kelly, and video can play a big part not just in search but also in how we influence perception. YouTube is still the second most popular search tool (next to Google), so producing and posting short videos to YouTube—along with the transcript of the video—is important.

Have a theme and stick to it, Kelly urged.

Beware the Sloppy Post

Touryalai shared a couple social media horror stories and reminded the audience that posts are not only public but can also be permanent.

“If you pitch me or I’m interested in learning more about you after a meeting at, say, a conference, the first thing I do is do a search online for you,” Touryalai said. “Be smart about what you post; your reputation depends on it. Think twice before posting—especially when posting from your mobile devices and when you are away from your normal office. Have fun but remember that there is still a line,” she cautioned. “Would you want everyone you work with to see this?”

Getting an Edge on Facebook

Facebook is all about the news feed. The algorithm determines what you see on your news feed. While the Facebook EdgeRank algorithm changes over time, the trick to being more visible is to get people interacting with your content.

“Engagement changes with who you interact with,” Kelly said. “15-20% of your content is seen based on the engagement—if they engage with your content, share it, like it, comment on it, then that improves the likelihood that your content will be seen in future news feeds. When you are putting content out there and it is not engaged with, but simply posted, the ranking goes down.”

Social Media Strategy

It’s important to think about your social media strategy, Kelly said. One sample approach:

  • Use Twitter to engage with influencers and thought leaders in your space.
  • Use LinkedIn to build relationships and offer or ask for introductions.
  • Use Facebook to build your brand by leveraging your existing clients on Facebook—get people to share your content with their friends.
  • Use YouTube to tell a visual story. Record webinars and videos for the story and the value of the content—but optimize the posts for search. Remember that YouTube is the second most popular search tool next to Google. It’s easy to use Flip cams, iPhones and webcams to record events—not everything has to have high production value. It’s easy to use the video editing tools.
  • Don’t forget about Google as it is important as a search strategy.

Creating/Curating Good Content

Few create content. Most curate and share someone else’s content with others. So you can set yourself apart by actually creating and sharing original content.

But serving as a content curator is also a good strategy to embrace. Be a resource; curate content worth sharing. Only 9% curate, leverage and share information; 90% simply consume it.

“If you have the content, you can drive the engagement,” Kelly said. “Content is the fuel that powers our stories and creates the most impact.”

Why Social Media Is Crucial for Your Business in 2014

pretty businsses

() Social media networks were a novelty 5 years ago, but today their importance is no longer debated. Yes, businesses have definitely realized the power of social media and accepted that social media marketing has to be part of their marketing and PR mix.

In Social Media Examiner’s 2013 End of Year Report, marketers now place very high value on social media marketing:

  • 86% of marketers stated that social media is important for their business
  • 89% of marketers stated that increased exposure was the number one benefit of social media marketing

These are the definitive benefits of social media marketing that are listed:

  • Increased exposure
  • Increased traffic
  • Developed loyal fans
  • Generated leads
  • Improved search ranking
  • Grew business partnerships
  • Reduced marketing expenses
  • Improved sales
  • Provided marketplace insight

Social Media is the Game Changer

It’s obvious that social media will continue to have a significant impact in 2014 on marketers and business owners: They now have the ability to reach out and communicate on a personal level with their target audience on a daily basis. This is a game changer for businesses engaging in marketing, sales, customer service and other business activities. This is very powerful and has never been available with traditional marketing!

The success gap is widening between businesses that are using social media in an informal, ad hoc manner and those taking a more planned, strategic approach.

This has significant implications:

  • Businesses that use social media strategically are more satisfied with the results than ad hoc users, who are more skeptical about the value of social media.
  • Businesses that use social media as part of a planned corporate approach are 1.5 to 2 times more likely to anticipate revenue growth than ad hoc users.

Much has changed over the last year in social media, and it will continue to change in 2014.  Here are my Best Tips for Successful Social Media and Digital Marketing in 2014.

Some Powerful Stats and Information from 2013

  • Check out this infographic from Digital Insights on social media facts, figures and statistics from 2013:

  • Facebook is still the leading social media network and continues to grow. Here are the latest facts and figures:
    • Facebook now has 1.26 billion users
    • Facebook averages 1.23 billion monthly active users
    • There are 128 million daily active Facebook users in the US
    • Facebook averages 945 million monthly active mobile users
    • Facebook usage is highest in North America: Facebook has 59% of all Internet users in North America as active users. Google+ only achieves 15% and Twitter 25%.

  • Google+ is now the second largest social network at just over 50%with Facebook still dominating at 70%. Keep in mind that a Google+ account is mandatory whenever a person creates a new Gmail account. This is pushing up the account ownership stats. But no other social network has Google’s web assets leverage. Read more on how important Google+ is for Your Business and how it has a major impact on search engine results for your biz.
  • YouTube is more popular than cable television: YouTube reaches more adults than any cable network. In the United States, the number of people who watch television has fallen behind the number of people who watch YouTube on a regular basis. This makes it clear that televised content is undergoing a decline, online consumption of video is on the incline. Many companies have taken advantage of this by releasing their ads or marketing campaigns on YouTube first before they debut on TV.  Take many of the 2014 Super Bowl XLVIII ads (like Budweiser) that were released on YouTube before the big game and were rewarded with triple YouTube views.
  • LinkedIn is still the largest professional business network and continues to grow but not at the pace of Pinterest,Google+ or Twitter.  Here are some numbers from Visual.ly.
  • Pinterest is the fastest growing social network right now. The visual web is driving the rise of Pinterest and Tumblr with growth rates of 88% and 74% respectively over the last 12 months. Pinterest is also one of the leading referral sources for organic traffic, which is a good for high search rankings.
  • Some social media networks have a more active user-base than others. Statistical research has revealed that more than 95% of Facebook users log into their account every day. That number for Twitter is 60% and for LinkedIn is 30%.

What are 2 key factors driving the social web in 2013 and 2014?

According to the Global Web Index study it is:

  1. Mobile – the number of people accessing the Internet via a mobile phone increased by 60.3% to 818.4 million in the last 2 years.  In the USA, there are now 101 million daily mobile users. Facebook’s 101 million US daily mobile users make up a whopping 78% of its 128 million daily US users.
  2. Older user adoption – On Twitter the 55-64 year age bracket is the fastest growing demographic with 79% growth rate since 2012. The fastest growing demographic on Facebook’s and Google+’s networks are the 45 to 54 year age bracket at 46% and 56% respectively. So maybe that’s the reason your parents and grandparents aren’t visiting that much anymore — they are too busy on Facebook and Twitter!

The top challenges businesses have in using social media are:

  • Lack of time
  • Inability to measure value
  • Difficulty integrating social media with other business activities
  • Lack of budget

I absolutely agree with this, and hear it first hand from many of my clients. But these challenges can be overcome, if social media is planned and done strategically!

Social Media Channels – Which One to Choose??

Business owners should pay attention to which social platforms help them reach their goals with relevant audiences, whether that’s generating sales or greater visibility. Part of my job is helping business owners decide which networks are best for their business. Read my blog on “Which Social Media Channels Should I Use For My Business?

Here are the most popular ones:

And of course, blogging is key! Here are some tips to generating great online content to feed your social media networks!

Integrate! 

Social media is not an end unto itself. It MUST be integrated and work hand-in-hand with all your other marketing and PR initiatives which should be continued to reach all your marketing touch points and your ultimate success. These can include:

  • Email Marketing and growing your email list
  • Search engine optimization
  • Event marketing (speaking and networking)
  • Direct Mail
  • Online ads (Google Adwords)
  • Print display ads
  • Sponsorships
  • Mobile Marketing
  • Radio/TV Ads

Sharing is Caring! 

I know this sounds basic, but make sure your website, blog and email newsletter include social “share” buttons for people to easily share your content on ALL their social networks.

Add your social network links on your email signature.

Read my blog on Make Your Online Content Sharable! Best Plugins & Widgets (Free)

So, What Will Social Media Do For Your Business?

Making social media a priority for your business will allow your business to:

  • Be found!
  • Establish a stronger brand
  • Boost sales
  • Share expertise and knowledge
  • Tap into the wisdom of customers
  • Interact and receive valuable customer feedback
  • Free advertising: satisfied customers talk about your company, this is the strongest word-of-mouth-marketing
  • Build a community

Social media definitely needs to be part of your marketing mix in 2014!