How do I deal with bad comments and tweets online?

Good or Bad – You may still need to Respond

The answer is really you have to make some decisions about what to do and how you will handle this negativity if it comes up. And keep in mind, it does not always come up for everyone. But it is important to make this part of your social media strategy and plan for what can happen.

A Few Examples to Learn from

A few years ago a local Cable/Internet company had done something that made it impossible for many clients to access a whole bunch of websites.  There was an uproar online immediately because people were complaining. When everyone noticed all the complaints we realized that it was not our own systems but the internet system and it stemmed from the cable company. The trouble was they were very new to Twitter and had no idea what to do – or no plan in place. The response everyone got was no response. This made it worse, and more complaining happened.

This past week while at a School Board event, an event intended for the Superintendent to find out feedback from parents and students. One of the questions asked by the superintendent of those attending was in reference to how they communicate and amongst the lost of questions was this one:

 ”Do you follow us on Twitter?” and “How can we communicate better?”

Ironic questions to ask considering that the next day there was a bad snowstorm and the School Board made a call to leave schools open. The backlash online was harsh and with opinions from both sides.  Admittedly, this decision is the hardest one the Superintendent ever makes – she even made note of this at the meeting and referencing the coming storm and how making those calls is hard.

What mistake did both of these organizations make?

Having an online presence was not a mistake. The error came when the proverbial shit hit the fan and the online backlash started. Both companies had the means to respond but did nothing.  Nothing can sometimes be the answer, but with social media making everything very transparent, in cases like these, my advice is to respond in some way. Even if it is a firm backup of your decision or a response that there was an issue and you are working on it.

There will be times you need to ask people to take the conversation offline (privacy issues for certain things), sometimes ignorance is required (ie foul language and spam types of comments) – but you always have to think that a response of some sort may be needed.  If you have opened up yourself online then the people connecting do have some expectation that when they ‘talk’ to you online they will get a response.

Some companies have a disclaimer right on their BIOs that not all requests will get a response and if it is customer service you need, then go to the website through proper channels.  The additional benefits of online customer service can be helpful, but many companies are making it clear that you are not guaranteed support via Twitter or Facebook. This is a good way to go for a company like the Cable/ Internet one.

The School Board is somewhat different as they will not do ‘customer service’ as much as an Internet Provider.  People will talk to them about a variety of items, and they need to be ready for it. No response can be the worst thing you do in some situations.

Every company and organization will be different.  As noted before it comes down to planning and knowing how to be ready for a variety of scenarios. Getting a strategy and plan in place will help with this.

Is this something holding you back from putting your business online? What are your fears, doubts and worries about using Twitter and Facebook for your business or organization?  Post a comment and share them here, I will try and give you some ideas to overcome it as best as I can.

5 Tips to creating more valuable Tweets on Twitter

Value… everyone wants some great value in today’s economy. Marketing companies are all about promoting value in advertising these days. It makes sense considering how these “tough economic times” are hitting many people.

My family takes a two-week vacation every summer and a good part of the planning is ensuring we receive good value for the money we spend, whether it’s at a hotel, attraction or restaurant.

This same principle can be applied to what you do and say on Twitter. People are looking for value with their connections on Twitter. If you add value to your tweets, you will find yourself having more conversations and connecting with more people. Ultimately it is these connections and relationships that help you succeed on Twitter.

So… how do you add value to a 140 character tweet? Simple. You make it worthwhile for others to read. You also need to realize that everything you tweet should not always be about you and your business. Big value can be had from making a post about someone or something else besides you!

Here are five tips to help you think of ways to post tweets with value:

  1. Teach. Teaching others something new or hand out a tip. It’s amazing how many tips many business owners have in their repertoire of past articles, newsletters and blogs. Use this information to make a simple post (or even a series of them) that can help people learn something.The hashtag #Twitip is a prime example. People are always giving out tips on how to better use Twitter. #VAtip is another one many follow; you can learn a lot on how to work with a Virtual Assistant and what a VA can do to help your business.

    You don’t need a hashtag with your tip to make it work; but I do recommend it for people looking to ‘teach’ others on a regular basis.

  2. Compliment. Send someone a compliment about a tweet they posted or their service or an article or blog post. You can really brighten someone’s day by paying an unexpected compliment.
  3. Refer. If you have learned about a good deal or service or sale – tell others about it. And I don’t mean a sale on your service or an affiliate program you belong to. Remember this is about value for others, not you.
  4. Share. Share good news or a funny story or an inspirational quote. Others love to join in your happiness – or even your misery if you are sharing a frustration.
  5. Help. Help other people; think – Pay It Forward. If you see a post and it’s someone looking for a solution to a problem. Offer them a solution, and one that does not require a ‘sale’ from you. If you notice something amiss, let someone know. Many times I have been rewarded unexpectedly for this type of action.

I received a discount when buying a product online by pointing out a major spelling mistake on the website to the owner. I’ve been invited to write an article for a high traffic website by letting someone know their twitter bio was messed up with some weird symbols. Someone else had an error on their twitter username, when I kindly pointed it out and how it could easily be fixed, he said thanks – A few weeks later this same person contacted me for a consultation on how I could help his business with their social media plans, and turned into a client.

I never helped anyone to receive anything in return; it just appears that they valued my ‘words’ enough to go one step farther.

Adding tweets with value to your updates will show others that you don’t always have a sales pitch for them to read. They soon learn that reading your tweets can be pleasant, not intimidating and they receive ‘value’ from doing so. They look forward to your updates. A nice feeling especially considering the influx of ‘sales tweets’ as Twitter grows.

Twitter is a great platform to bring value to others and I firmly believe everyone has something of value to share.

Want more valuable advice? I offer a free Social Media Setup Guide that has many tips in it to help you start off the right way with your social media profiles – please enter your name and email on the right column above to receive your free copy.

Planning your Social Media Content

One of the more interesting social media training sessions I do is on looking at content to include in social media marketing. Coming from a small business point of view, of course, it will be a little different for larger-scale businesses.

I like to start by categorizing the content you will post online to share. Once you have this, it is easier to look at your online presence and your business and know what you have in the way of content that you can use in your social media marketing and networking. You will have the content and then can focus on where to post it – what networks.

I also believe in looking at what percentage of each type you put out there. I normally recommend the following mix for the Type of Content.

  • Business: 50%
  • Personal: 30%
  • Sales: 20%

You really need to watch the sales numbers. If there are too many of those, you do not come across as genuine and authentic and people will wonder if there is only a robot behind the scenes. People want to network and connect primarily. Aim for networking and relationships first. The sales will follow as people get to Know, Like and Trust you.

What are these Types of Content?

Business:
Tips and information, sharing of other news articles/blog posts or info, quotes, no links to your website – teaching content. Make sure it is relevant, timely, and useful.

Personal:
Updates that are less about business and more about your brand/business or you. If a one-person company – some of these will seem more personal – that is okay…just go as personal as you are comfortable with (i.e., Review or comment about a movie last night, pets, and life as a business owner.) If a business presence, share the volunteer things staff partakes in, news about the staff things like that will make the team behind the social media account more real.

Sales:
Information directly related to a call-to-action of some sort. The benefit of a product and a link to the page to learn more/purchase. Post a review of a book on Amazon, purchasing services, signing up for ezine or free report, link to services page on website, links to products, request to join in Facebook page (I always like to have something happening there they can join in – not just “Like my Page!” – i.e., We are sharing elevator speeches today, share yours: link to your facebook page.)

  1. Make a chart first for each type of content – Business and Sales. (Personal will be the more ‘on the fly’ updates and not prepared ahead of time.)
  2. Look at all you have on your website and in your business, then make a list under each category of business and sales of the types of content you can use for them.
  3. Look at the chart/list and now start to write out updates / words for each type in the lists. If tweets, keep them to 120 characters. If using on a Facebook Page the sky is the limit – but keep it short if you can. (Long updates, those are blog posts!)

You will find that your content online will greatly improve once you take these steps.

Be a Networking Leader in your LinkedIn Groups

LinkedIn is the social network for business. This understanding is simply accepted.

I’ve noticed recently how many people within LinkedIn Groups are posting content in discussions that do not encourage conversation, they are more self-promoting than conversational.

LinkedIn Groups are fabulous places to network with other professionals. Use this to your advantage, do some research and see what type of people make up the group. Other groups, you may be in could contain people that would be possible clients. Know your audience.

You need to network appropriately depending upon the group dynamics. And remember that LinkedIn groups are not a place to “sell your wares” – even if that group is the second type and filled with people needing your services.

You calling card on LinkedIn IS your profile. Fill it out as much as possible, use keywords that describe what you do – make it clear what your business is. As you network in groups, do just that – network, talk, ask opinions, gather info as research – however you participate – don’t sell.

You “sell” by what you say and do with the connections you have. The link on your name gives people a way to contact you. Have a good profile and people will know how to reach you.

Use Facebook’s Birthday Reminders to make people think of you

Facebook makes it so easy to network and make people smile!

Happy Birthday! Two very simple words that can so easily bring a smile to the face of the recipient. It’s an automatic tool that sends reminders out through their notification system. Within Facebook the reminders are of any birthdays today, or upcoming ones.

Networking online means connecting with people and not selling – what better way to ‘talk to someone’ than to send them a birthday wish. Last year I had over 100 people say Happy Birthday to me… it’s so much fun to know people are thinking of you.

Using this function on Facebook as a way to say a special hello to people is a no-brainer because the system is set there for you. You simply need to say Happy Birthday.

When you sign in to Facebook, start making note of the Birthday

If there is more than one birthday reminder, it will have a link that says ‘See all’ if you click that it opens a window with all the upcoming and current birthdays. The best part of this system is the ‘see all’ area opens up a place where you can enter your wishes right there and not even have to click to go to their page. It’s so fast and easy.

I also recommend adding a little extra in the message to make yours stand out – a link to a fun YouTube Happy Birthday video is one idea, or a pic of a birthday cake. Anything to be more than just the words – so your wishes stand out in their memory.

If a lot of your current clients are friends connected on Facebook – make certain to reach out to them as well. Make a list (if you have the birth date info) then be sure to take note and send the birthday wishes to clients and not miss them.

Don’t miss this easy opportunity to make a quick connection with people online – Happy Birthday!!!

Don’t give away your Newsletter Articles for Free

I belong to a couple of online ‘list serv’ groups (generally these are done via yahoo groups and are a way for people of like-minds to network and share tips, ideas and struggles). In one last week, there was a discussion about keeping your email newsletters stored on your website where people can read them anytime.

I am not a fan of this practice and for one primary reason: The website visitor’s thought process when it comes to emails and newsletters.

We all feel the same way about newsletters – there are ones we really want and read, those we read sometimes and then all the others we receive that go unread and we tend to forget to hit unsubscribe, so the emails keep coming…making us upset at the overwhelm in our inboxes.

So, the average website visitor will be thinking they do NOT want another email newsletter coming. That’s why you offer the free gift to get them on the list, but it’s also why you don’t a have place on your website where people can go to newsletters and read the archives. This practice gives visitors a way out of signing up to your list.

Their thought process will go from “Enter name and email” to “Oh, I can come back here and read them anytime, so no need to sign up” and that makes a big difference in getting more people signed up on your email list. Odds of them coming back to read it month after month are pretty slim.

If you have or are thinking of placing a newsletter archive on your website, think again…it may keep you from building your email list.

Tracking your Marketing Plans and Efforts

One thing I find many people forgetting to do when they start using online marketing tools is to create their reference point for growth and numbers. In order to know if you are seeing a difference from your results, you need to have a frame of reference to start with.

What numbers do we make note of?

  1. Newsletter Subscribers
  2. Blog Subscribers
  3. Facebook Likes
  4. Facebook Friends
  5. Twitter – Followers, Following, and Lists you are on
  6. LinkedIn Contacts
  7. LinkedIn Group Members (if you have your own group)
  8. Website Analytics – Main traffic numbers – this way, you can always check back to a different period in your analytics
  9. Alexa Ranking on your website and Google Page Rank – These are not an exact science but a good gauge

You will want to check these results and numbers monthly. Many will be a guide to let you know if you are making progress with your marketing activities online.

Also, the more you can set up everything to track certain items, the more specific the results. For instance, if you keep your website newsletter signup in a separate list, you will know that the names on the list came straight from the website. If you have a separate one for your Facebook page email list sign up, then you know those specific results too.

When setting all these pieces up, think first how you want to track your efforts and then make certain to set up in a way to see specific results if that is what you want to see.

I can always help you with a Social Media Boost Private Strategy Session if you want to plan out your set-up and tracking for your marketing plans.

Have you optimized your Free Report?

List Building is important to any business…and your free report is a key piece to this process.

Why is this Free Report or Gift or eBook so important?

  • To pre-qualify people to join your list.
  • Gives them a reason to part with their email address.
  • The first step in the relationship process to lead to sales.

A few weeks ago I hosted a webinar to share the “5 Key Pieces to Creating a Free Report“. For many people, they create a freebie and then when people ask for it, they send it off. The person is on their email address so great…mission accomplished.

BUT, there are several key factors you may have missed that can, in fact, takes that free report and have it lead to more…more emails, more contacts, more trust built up, and more sales.

It’s called email marketing for a reason. You need to make sure to market to the people who have asked for the first tidbit of information, cultivate the relationship with them AND give them a report that is much more than one page with some information.

I sign up for a lot of newsletters and free reports and many people whose lists I subscribe to are missing a lot of opportunity in their free report. That is why I created my free report. 🙂

Don’t waste the opportunity sitting right in front of you and make the most of your own free report – be sure the prospects who have asked for your free report get it ALL!

Have you tried Facebook Ads yet?

Building a Facebook Fan Base can be difficult. One of the best ways to reach people on Facebook is to use Facebook Ads. Ads reach out directly to people on Facebook instead of waiting for them to find you. I like to use what I call an ‘Engagement Ad‘. You just want interested people clicking the Like button. That’s it – no big sell.

You want to build the fans or “Likes” on Facebook because it allows more people to see your online content and activity. From here, you can have them seeing your blog posts, articles, tips and even sign-up to your email list where they will learn more about your business and you.

Likes don’t translate directly to sales…but they do translate to contact. Contact, whether via your Facebook Page or emails from your website or reading your newsletter, are all first steps to building the Know, Like and Trust.

To set-up Facebook Ads, you need:

  1. A funding source in your Facebook account – a credit card or PayPal account.
  2. An image to use for the ad… keep it simple and with less than 20% text on the image.
  3. A 25-character attention-grabbing headline.
  4. A 90-character line of sales copy.

The best way these ads work is by keeping it simple – something like the following image:

All the action we want is for them to click the Like button. Once they are connected to the page, they will see and receive the content you post.

What kind of results happens from these types of ads?

To get started with a Facebook ad, login to your Facebook account.

8 Steps to Creating your Social Media Marketing Plan

Creating a Social Media Marketing Plan and an online marketing strategy is vital when making the decision to add social media to your marketing campaigns/plans. A plan is needed to assess the viability, know what steps you will need to take and to aid you in staying focused on your goals.

Your plan can also help you save time by ensuring you follow a systematic approach to the time you will invest in social marketing and networking. The social networking part can easily take you off track and eat up your time if you do not pay attention to the overall picture of what you are trying to accomplish.

Here are the basics steps to any social media plan we setup for clients:

Assess

Look at what is available in your market, what competitors are doing and find out if your customers are in fact using these social media channels. These answers may help you determine your goals.

Purpose

Define your main purpose for using Social Media and identify the various social media channels to use.

Goals

Set at least 3 SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely) goals and create an action plan to help you reach these goals. What steps will you take to reach these goals?

Content

Create a plan for what content will be published – blog posts, tweets, Facebook page updates, YouTube videos. This plan should include the type of content and also how often and via what channel it will be published.

Keywords

Part of the content planning would be finding the keywords your customers use when searching for your service or product online. If your business has some technical jargon that customers rarely pick up on – it is unlikely that is how they will search online for the solution to their problem (your service or product). It is imperative to find keywords they are using and add these targeted keywords into your content.

Optimize

Look at all the platforms available and link them together as much as possible to help you save time. Link your blog to twitter and your facebook page so when a blog post is published it will automatically feed an update to the other networks. Be certain to make a flowchart so you understand what automatically goes to what network in order to avoid any cross posting.

Track

As much as you can track your results, do it. Keep a record of your contacts, facebook friends, page likes, twitter followers, Linkedin followers, newsletter subscribers and results on Google for your name, business and keywords. Check the results every month and see how it changes. Read your analytics on your website and adjust keywords/tactics to fit with what is working well or not from these reports. With social media marketing, businesses may set goals related to brand identity and levels of engagement.

Schedule

Take time to schedule in all the aspects of your plan and work at it to keep on top of it, and follow the plan. Stay focused and use your time wisely. If you set aside time every two weeks to schedule some content to go out, then your live networking time can be focused on having conversations online with your contacts.

Following these steps will help you network much more effectively and in a way that does not find you looking up from your computer wondering where the last few hours went. Stay focused and be consistent!!

Post a comment here with any issues you have in creating your plan and I will do my best to help you move forward.