Is Social Media Really the Answer?

True or False: Every company needs to be on social media?

Seems like a dumb question right? After all social media is a way to connect with your audience, reinforce branding, and monitor your competition. Can you prove that your company has benefited from it?

Many question why we need to be on social media if there is no way to measure ROI? Many companies struggle with this. Why be consumed on these social platforms if there are no measurable results?

I tend to disagree with this outlook. While companies may not be able to accurately measure the monetary benefits of being on social media, as is with many aspects in life, setting a goal and taking the steps to achieve them can have a significant impact on your business. The folks at Raven agree with me, “Having a business goal — your brand’s own personal, non-cookie-cutter business goal that may be different from everyone else’s — to attach social media to is the only way to measure it.” My advice to brands: aside from monetary benefits, identify why are you on social media and how can you be unique on your chosen platforms.

Think of why Facebook started. This social network wasn’t invented so brands could advertise to consumers…it was made  to improve human connectivity as people converse in ways that were once not possible. How can you really connect with your audience?

Fundraising on Social mediaSome brands have accepted this challenge and began utilizing social media as a way to illustrate their philanthropic efforts. While Livestrong has come under fire with the controversy surrounding Lance Armstrong there is no question this company has taken fundraising to levels unheard of, and it’s more than just a yellow bracelet. When Brian Rose came to them looking for help they told him to just tell his story and raise awareness for melanoma. And Brian did just that…

What started out as a small blog for Brian to write his story turned into the ultimate fundraising campaign. Livestrong encouraged to post a short, 2 minute video detailing his cancer struggles and within 24 hours his $70,000 medical bills were covered…twice! How did this happen?

Brian Rose-LivestrongBrian was authentic. He was real. He shared his struggles. He didn’t ask for money or pity, he just wanted to raise awareness. People who face a similar battle like Brian often look for others who can identify with to help understand their circumstances. Social media is the answer for these individuals and can be life changing for many.

While your company may not have the same stage that Livestrong has, utilizing social media to do more than advertise can have a positive impact, and in my opinion more rewarding benefits. You can create a community where your audience helps you achieve goals and you move forward together.

Now that you’ve heard my perspective, what do you think? Is it really impossible to measure ROI on social media? Knowing this information would you change your outlook on your company’s social strategy (i.e. instead of solely advertising do you plan to incorporate philanthropic or community oriented posts)?

How to Increase Your SEO: Simple Practices that Make the Difference

Increase SEOOptimal search engine optimization (SEO) relys on key factors, many of which we have studied this semester. Of course it is important to post quality content that includes keywords and to utilize analytics tracking sites…most people know this. What else can we be doing to increase SEO? The difference is often found in the details.

For instance, I feel I have been doing an adequate job of incorporating key words into my blog posts but haven’t in other components of my posts. Having searchable keywords in the beginning of my posts title and attached to my images will have a significant impact on the SEO of my blog. Now that I am aware of these tips you will start to see them incorporated more. By having these words easily accessible the easier it is for my posts to be visible in a Google search.

Another aspect I have neglected to incorporate into my blog post is internal linking. Why I haven’t been doing this is a mystery to me. As with this week’s SEO topic, many of our subjects relate back to previous topics I have written about. Hyperlinking these posts in future blog entries will increase traffic. It’s such an easy fix!

So why does all of this matter? If I’m doing a good job of creating content and getting adequate traffic that should be enough right? No! The whole goal of this class is to test theories and implement practices that will help us reach new heights, which includes an increase in SEO. Articles featured on the first page of Google’s search generate 91.5% more traffic! Implementing these practices, along with posting my blog entries on Google+ are simple fixes to improving my SEO.

Have you been focused on SEO when posting our blog assignments?

What are some practices you plan to incorporate into your posts to increase SEO?

How Many Views are Your Posts Really Getting?

It is important to have goals when it comes to social media. Defining your message, adding value to your viewers lives, and creating engagement are key elements to success on any social network, but how do we measure this success? Is it by comments, shares, or likes? What about those who view your material but choose not to respond to it? In my opinion, defining success on social media is more in-depth than visible engagement.

imagesCAM2D3MAFor one of our social media assignments last week we were asked to post material using concepts associated with viral content. I chose to post links by using bit.ly. One link I posted on Google+ only received one +1 but received the most clicks/views out of any of my other posts. In my assignment I classified this as the most successful piece of material for the week; however, I would not have known this if I was not able to monitor engagement through bit.ly. Seeing these results showed me how beneficial analytics sites can be when determining success and planning my next social media post.

This revelation made me think more about the material I post. What is it that made this link very “clickable” but didn’t correlate into shares or likes? This is where listening, learning, and revising my strategy begins.

Listening to what people discuss in relation to material I post should be the heart of my content strategy. I love the Gatorade example provided in “Beyond Social Media Analytics.” When Gatorade listened to their consumers and found out coaches did not know the product hydrated better than water they changed their message to convey this. Instead of continually pushing a message across to my audience listening and understanding what they don’t know and addressing it could potentially lead to improved engagement.

bitly-analyticsLearning and identifying trends and understanding how my audience uses different social media outlets are aspects I plan on incorporating into my posting routine. I had never really thought about how important these concepts are until I was involved in a conversation with a coworker who asked me how I identify trends on social media. Wake up call: I haven’t really been identifying trends! I have been so consumed with posting material and creating interactions that I haven’t examined trends with the material I post. I’ve been thinking humorous content get’s my viewer’s attention, but my link about Google+ somehow received more clicks? It’s time to reevaluate my strategy.

In social media numbers don’t lie, they just need to be examined closely to get the truth. Identifying what your goals are and choosing the appropriate analytics site that helps you track social media goals will help you measure your success and improve your plan. This may seem overwhelming but it is necessary to be the best we can be on social media!

Your Turn

Have you been using analytics sites this semester to track your audience engagement? If so, what conclusions have you determined through the results?

How do you plan to use these services to improve your posts and gain success on social media?

Viral Content…What Is It?

What is viral content? How do you create it? How does a regular Joe like me create something that generates 10 million likes and shares? Until this week’s readings the thought of creating viral content seemed very overwhelming and scary but as the saying goes “the truth will set you free.”

In reality creating viral content is like creating good content, just at a higher level. There are methods to the madness that provide some insight for us: be consistent, be relevant, and play on emotions. These are essential elements to making highly shareable content so obviously it translates into viral content. Ok great, so now that we know the science behind “viral” content how to we get millions of likes and shares in a matter of days?

1a-grumpy-cat-art-gu8kjvrb-1good-morning-catI love that Dori Clark sheds light on what viral content really is. It’s not the angry cat, the infamous “Hide Yo Kids, Hide Yo Wife” Antoine Dodson video, or anything along those lines…it’s getting 10-20% of your audience to tell one additional friend about you. That really is amazing when you think of it. This whole time I’ve been sitting here thinking about how crazy it would be to have viral content when in all actuality I probably have had some “viral” blog posts in this class this semester.

If viral is just “word of mouth” on steroids then we’ve all probably experienced it. I’ve posted pictures on Facebook that have gotten over 50 likes, based on Clark’s notion I would say that is viral content. It’s a lot more people than usual that liked my posts. I’ve had friends at work read my blog and then ask me about it the next day at lunch…is this viral content? I would say yes.

When the goal is just to have a high level of visibility with the content you post then you are creating viral content. I think this is really the goal of everyone on every social network. We want likes, shares, and retweets. It’s not so daunting when I put it in perspective. I want people to like what I post. This whole semester I’ve been keeping tabs on what my audience likes. I’ve been publishing posts that create the most engagement, allow me to have a higher SEO, give them something to think about, and keep them coming back for more. I have created “viral” content.

What do you consider to be viral content? Do you think have in some aspect you have created viral content this semester?