Making the most of trending topics

make the most of trending topicsWith a Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google+, Vine or other social media page to help grow your business, you should take note of what is trending. Try to connect something from the topics to your business. Many times social media is trending. Everyone who has a social media account can relate to that.

Other times there are sports figures, politicians, criminals, natural disasters or other current events trending. Anniversaries of big news stories often make the list.

What are trending topics? These are the most popular topics on social media right now. They change, usually many times per day. But the big stories always are on the list. Search engines also list trending topics so you can find them on Bing or Google.

By using the hashtag (#) and a trending topic on Twitter, your term becomes searchable. So, if wild fires are trending and you put #wildfires in your post, people who search for that hashtag will find your information. You need to stick to the topic for this to be effective. You can send good wishes to people who are in danger of losing their homes from the wildfires. If you have a product, say smoke detectors, that have a natural connection with the trending topic it works best. You can use that to your advantage and help funnel traffic to your social media pages and your website.

Make sure it is a natural fit. If you check trending topics every day, you will find something every now and then that works with your business. You cannot force the issue. It can backfire and result in people making negative comments.

Keep posting on your social media pages. Make it a daily habit. You will find that you gain new followers, likes and connections.

Social media year in review

jpg_2013_bursting_open_boxThis has been the most spectacular year for those of us involved in social media. The entire industry has grown in leaps and bounds. More entrepreneurs and companies are using it to help grow their businesses. Athletes, musicians and individuals are so involved in social media that they use it multiple times every day.

Here are some of the highlights of 2012:

  • Facebook stock goes public. Mark Zuckerberg gets even richer.
  • Facebook buys Instagram for a big pile of money.
  • Obama is called the “cool” president, has impromptu visit on Reddit and crashes the system.
  • Infographics are on the rise, using pictures and words to get a message to huge numbers of people.
  • Twitter had a record number of tweets during Super Storm Sandy.
  • Angry Cat and other fun memes flood social media.
  • Pinterest becomes 6th most popular social media.
  • Finding lost kids is enhanced with social media. Since it is incredibly fast, it gets the word out almost immediately.
  • Gangnam Style goes viral. Do you know how to do that dance?
  • Find lost pets, rehoming pets. Gets the word out faster and to more people than traditional methods.
  • The new MySpace – it’s bigger, better than ever and making a comeback.
  • Instagram changes policy, people get angry, Instagram changes it back in a matter of a couple days.
  • School shooting in Newtown, CN has social media ablaze with outrage, gun control opinions, tributes and an outpouring of emotions.

No one wants to read text these days. That’s why this list is a list, in bullet form. Infographics are snowballing in popularity because the graphics make it simpler than a paragraph of words, to get the information to the masses. People all over the world want instantaneous information and they do not want to spend a lot of time reading it.

The best thing that happened in 2012 with social media is that people now take this method of communication seriously – more now, than ever before. So, here’s to the end of 2012 and to watching social media grow even bigger than anyone ever imagined in 2013!

Social media: worth the trouble, or not so much?

social media marketing networkingThere has been a lot of talk lately about whether or not social media actually works as a method of marketing. Some large companies have over 100 social media accounts. Each division or section of the business has its own complement of social media sites. Obviously, large companies find value in social media.

Are you using LinkedIn? According to SocialMedia B2B, “LinkedIn generates more leads for B2B companies than Facebook, Twitter or blogs. Yet only 47% of B2B marketers say they are actively using LinkedIn vs. 90% on Facebook.”

In other words, if you are not using LinkedIn, you should start! Don’t wait for an engraved invitation. The groups on LinkedIn work wonders in networking. Join as many as you feel are relevant to start networking right away.

Nonprofit organizations and colleges are some of the biggest users of social media. They take advantage because they are always looking for inexpensive ways to do their marketing. Other businesses make the mistake of always they have to spend a lot on marketing in order to get a good return on investment. Entrepreneurs and every business should use social media to the max. Other forms of marketing can be combined with social media to bring the right mix for your business.

A You Tube channel with videos, even if you only have a few, is really helpful in this visual world. Your clients begin to build a bond with you through videos. As they learn more about you and your business, they will begin to like and trust you. Then, hopefully, they will buy from you too.

Keep active and post often or you will be wasting the effort. Posting every now and then does nothing to help promote your brand. The more you post, the more friends, follows and likes you will get and that means you are reaching more people. So, get cracking! Start building your brand and growing your business.

Make new friends and keep the old

make-new-friendsWhen using social media to grow your business, an important aspect is making virtual friends. This is not always an easy process, especially for businesses that have never used social media in the past. One of the best ways to get likes on a business Facebook page is by asking your friends on your personal Facebook page to like it. Without a personal Facebook page, this is a bit more challenging.

I have had retired racing greyhounds for pets for many years. Sometimes they can be a bit neurotic. The dog I have now was a little different than any greyhound I ever had before. He was afraid of everyone. No one, especially men, could come near him. Lots of business owners feel just as apprehensive about meeting people online. There is a stigma attached to meeting unknown people. Maybe as kids, when our parents told us not to talk to strangers, this became ingrained in our psyche.

My dog trainer taught us the command, “make friends.” Using a little piece of cheese to entice my dog to make a new friend, he gradually learned to trust people. While I’m not asking you to use cheese to make friends, followers or fans through social media, think of new business as your virtual cheese. Go and seek new likes, followers and/or fans – especially if they are unknown to you. This will help your business grow.

One way to achieve more activity is by literally asking. When you talk to potential customers on the phone, don’t be afraid to mention your social media sites. Ask them, “How did you hear about us?” When they answer, tell them about your Facebook or Twitter page. You want as much exposure for your content as you can get. And, ask your people to share the page with their friends.

When you send out email, add your page locations to your online signature. You don’t have to remember to tell people, because it will automatically be at the bottom of every email you send. Any print advertising can simply have the phrases, “Follow us on Twitter” and “Like us on Facebook” with the logos of the sites, and people will do it. If your business has online Yelp, Yellowbook or Superpages listings (and they should!!!), make sure you add links to your social media pages to the information.

You can also go out and get new followers and likes. There are websites like Twiends.com that help you get followers on twitter. Socialscube.com helps people get followers, likes and web page views. Those two are free. However, when taking advantage of the free sites, you might get a bunch of followers and then the next day many will be gone. You have to continuously add new people to keep your numbers steadily growing.

Sites where you buy followers are also available. Socialscube and Twiends both have paid programs as well as many others like twitterfollowersbazar.com. Microjob sites like fiverr.com also offer Twitter, Facebook and YouTube followers for really cheap, only a few dollars. On the microjob sites, most purchasers leave comments so you can see how happy (or not) they are with the results of each offer.

A much better way to get followers is to create an interesting page, good content and links and to have a great photo. Those things will get you organic followers who are actually interested in what you have to say. You won’t have to give them cheese like I did my dog! Just give them fresh and interesting content and they will want to be your virtual friend for a good long time.

Add pizzazz to social media pages

memes-for-social-networkingAs more businesses jockey for position to be the best, they use their social media pages to gain popularity. Some have one time offers, others contests and still more have funny pictures. No matter what strategy you employ, you must do something to attract new clients.

Lots of web pages have “suggest a caption” contests. Those are fun because people think of the most outrageous things you would never think of on your own. Viewers often share these funny photos. Come up with something that is thought provoking. Remember that you either need permission to use a photo or have taken it yourself to avoid copyright infringements.

You can do a lot with videos. They do not have to be professionally done. Many people use their laptop’s webcam to create video content for their site. People love watching videos and looking at photos. It is so much more interesting than straight text. Even if your website is devoted to something very serious, you can always find some tasteful artwork to go with it.

There are programs like Picasa and Instagram that will help you manipulate photos you take and make them look a little better. By using your own photos, you know no one else will be using the same image. If you don’t have the skills to take photos worthy of your blog or Facebook page, subscribe to a graphics service in order to get copyright free material to use on your site. Companies like istockphoto.com will sell rights for individual photos. Sites like graphicsfactory.com offer a year-long subscription and rights to use any graphics or photos on the site. Both are reasonably priced.

Even creating a meme, some having no artwork at all, are gaining in popularity. A lot of times they are old fashioned looking photos or artwork with a catchy phrase. In the case of I Can Has Cheeseburger, and the LOL cats seriously lacking in their knowledge of grammar, the text is often misspelled. I am told it is because cats can’t spell. Many times, unfortunately, I believe there are misspellings not done on purpose.

A meme is defined by Bing:

meme

[ meem ]

  1. cultural characteristic passed down generations: any characteristic of a culture, e.g. its language, that can be transmitted from one generation to the next in a way analogous to the transmission of genetic information.

Making your social media pages look more interesting will help get page views, likes and retweets. When you have that kind of interest, your business will grow. The more people who view your information, the better the odds are for you to get new business.

Don’t be afraid to add some zip to your Facebook or other social media pages. Jump in, and build up the page with artwork and maybe even video. You will quickly discover how much new attention you will get.

Grow and nurture your Facebook audience

nurture-your-facebookOnce your business has a social media presence, it is now time to grow your audience. Sounds simple, right? Well, maybe it sounds easier than it is.

Growing your audience doesn’t happen overnight. It takes a lot of posting, tweeting, forwarding, sharing of your information. Maybe it is something that you need to hire someone to do for you, wink, wink, hint, hint…

I spoke to someone who owns a pest control company the other day. I asked him if he had a Facebook page. “Of course!” he answered, like he was shocked that I would ask such a ridiculous question.

I looked at the page. It literally had three likes and had not been updated since 2011. Seriously? This is not a Facebook page. It is a sorry little, shriveled up plant that no one ever waters. This page is doing nothing to help his company build a brand, have recognition in the community or anything else. It is just a placeholder. There were no photos. It contained absolutely no information other than a location and phone number. Yes, he might get one call a year from that – although I think I’m being generous.

This pest control guy could do so much with that Facebook page. He could increase interest by adding photos, maybe showing the difference between a flying ant and a termite. That is content people can use. Posting a photo that would give useful information to his audience would be fantastic. This guy does nothing, except complain about a lack of business. Adding posts that discuss flea control, roaches, ants, mice or other pests would help people. And more than that, it would attract new customers. The saddest thing is, the person knows this information like the back of his hand and would take him no time to put on his page.

It costs nothing but your time, to set up and use a Facebook page. Every business can benefit from having one.

But, and this is big, you must keep the momentum going. As people like the page, you have to post on it. A page that has no activity is not going to be popular. A page with no information is not even going to get likes.

If you spend just a few minutes each day nourishing your Facebook page, you will see amazing growth. Post on the page. Keep it active. Many businesses put special offers on their Facebook page that are found nowhere else. The offers encourage people to check back with the page to see if there is a new discount.

Use the Facebook address on any communication, whether it is snail mail, videos, newsletters – absolutely everything. It will attract likes to the page. Add it to your email signature line. Then, every email you send, may result in a new like on the page. For sure, if no one knows your page exists, they will not visit it.

Sometimes the Facebook page address is a very long list of random numbers and letters. If the address is to long for people to easily remember or type, check out tinyurl.com and shorten the web address. It is a free service that comes in handy with those long URLs. You can let the site pick a shorter address or you can customize it. If you want to tweet the address, this will leave a lot more of the 140 characters allowed by Twitter, to punch up your message.