Monthly Archives: August 2012

How to Create Social Media Business Guidelines

Social media policies and guidelines provide your business a framework to carry out your social media strategy and implement your social media tactics. They can also have a direct impact on the success of your social media endeavors.

In this article, I’ll introduce you to social media guidelines for all your employees and your social media management team, and for crisis management and specific platforms. I’ll also take a look at important considerations for big and small businesses.

Advantages of Social Media Guidelines
Here are four major benefits:

  • Provides a way to implement your social media strategy and improve your social media performance.
  • Gives everyone the information they need to work well together.
  • Makes it easier to build your social communities online.
  • Makes it possible to respond to emergencies before they get out of hand.

With the right strategy, social media guidelines can have a direct impact on your success.

Models to Follow
You can easily find examples of social media policies and guidelines used by big companies. Here are a few lists of social media policy resources:

As you look through these resources you’ll notice how companies have different approaches. Here’s a look at the different types of social media guidelines:

Social Media Guidelines for Employees
Some companies feel the need to provide their employees with general guidelines on how to use social media for both their personal profiles as well as professional profiles.

These guidelines can simply be reminders of what’s considered confidential information or information that could have legal ramifications if shared on social networks in any format.

Guidelines for Your Social Media Team
The people interacting and engaging on social media can benefit greatly with guidelines adapted to your business needs. On one hand, the people interacting on behalf of your company must:

  • Be knowledgeable of various legal terms and what they mean in your business environment, such as defamation, endorsements, intellectual property, and any form of wrongful disclosure
  • Be aware of global implications of your online communication
  • Avoid inappropriate comments about competitors or others online

On the other hand, they must also:

  • Remain positive
  • Be helpful and add value
  • Be transparent

And in addition to this, they are entrusted with cultivating relationships and building community on your social media profiles.

It’s not always easy to balance all of these criteria, especially for people new to social media. And this is where good guidelines can be critical.

If you need this type of social media guide, Todd Defren’s corporate social media policy template is a good place to start.

Guidelines for Crisis Management
You might want to monitor the negative comments about your business because a crisis can grow very fast. So you’ll want to know how to respond to any social media attacks and have your action guidelines ready to respond to a negative situation before it gets out of hand.

For example one of the first places to start is to be sure your team has both social media and business expertise. You’ll also need to delegate enough resources to maintain an on-going presence on your social media sites. This will help you to implement the steps you need in crisis management.

Once you understand how to use social media for crisis management, you’ll want to build your online presence and your:

  • Social relationships in your business community
  • Social media team
  • Online monitoring

You’ll also want to establish clear guidelines to for a quick response. These usually include:

  • Ultra-transparency
  • Dialogue, as well as the right message
  • A team able to provide a rapid response
  • And knowing when to call in public relations professionals experienced in social media crisis management

Editorial Guidelines for Specific Social Media Platforms
You can also create editorial guidelines on how to implement your social media strategy on specific platforms such as Facebook. These editorial guidelines can be very useful when you have several people contributing in one place.

Creating specific editorial guidelines can help you build stronger communities on each platform. For example, moderation might need to be handled differently. On your business blog you might opt for pre-moderation of all comments, but this is not something you’ll be able to do on all social media platforms, where you’ll have to adjust your guidelines.

An active Facebook page can have a lot of social interaction. And you may need to monitor your Facebook page more than on other social media platforms and need a small team to rotate at different times of the day. You’ll also want to incorporate more fun activities regularly on your Facebook page to encourage engagement.

Social Media Guidelines for Big Companies
While big companies almost always have existing communication policies and these guidelines also apply to social media communication, they also need to make sure they address the specific dos and don’ts.

Big companies might require both internal social media policies and external social media policies.

The question of managing social media celebrities may also be integrated into their social media guidelines.

Social Media Guidelines Adapted to Small Companies
Smaller companies may not need all of these social media policies and guidelines. For example, with fewer staff and less time available, smaller companies may decide it’s quicker to “block” people who leave inappropriate comments.

They might only need one well-crafted set of guidelines, some good judgment and an understanding of social media and their company’s online strategies.

And even if smaller companies think they don’t need social media guidelines like the bigger companies, they can benefit tremendously from one, because it will:

  • Help them to stay focused on their social media strategy
  • Allow them to benchmark their progress and better evaluate what to do next
  • Allow them to manage the time they invest in social media better

Find the Right Social Media Guidelines for Your Business
Here are three things you can do to help you create social media guidelines for your business:

#1: Check out the social media policies and guidelines of companies similar to yours in the lists mentioned above.

#2: Listen to our expert interviews, in which many of these social media pros share the simple guidelines that work well for them.

#3: Read through the social media case studies here on Social Media Examiner to see how other companies use social media successfully.

You’ll learn more as you engage on social media and implement your first social media guidelines. So remember to seek feedback and be ready to tweak your guidelines from time to time to fit in with how your business communicates on your social networks. The social platforms change and people also change in how they communicate on them.

Read the full article: How to Create Social Media Business Guidelines »

Inbound Marketing Explained in 6 Simple Analogies

Have you ever had someone stare at you blankly when you say you’re an inbound marketer?

If you’ve had trouble explaining the concept to friends, family, colleagues, or bosses, you’re not alone. Inbound marketing concepts can be complicated for people to grasp if they’re new to things like SEO, social media, blogging, marketing automation — any kind of digital marketing, frankly.

So whenever we speak to people who aren’t very well-versed in inbound marketing tactics, we like to break it down into more relatable terms. In fact, over the years, we like to think we’ve perfected some pretty apt analogies that liken inbound marketing to everyday things that everyone can understand. So we’re using this blog post to share those inbound marketing analogies with you — because we love inbound marketing, and we want to help more people understand it! Take a look at some of our favorite analogies we’ve used to explain inbound marketing concepts, and share your own in the comments.

Inbound marketing is like dating …
You don’t ask someone to marry you on the first date. People get kind of freaked out when you do that. You get to know each other first, then introduce the friends, then the family, and then, once you know the whole package looks good, you put a ring on it.

But if you’re doing something like slapping ‘Contact Us’ as the only call-to-action on every page of your site, that’s essentially what you’re doing — asking your leads to get too serious, too soon. Why would they commit to someone they just met? Play it cool, man. Let them get to know you first. Maybe through ohhh, I don’t know … an ebook? If they like the looks of you from your ebook, then they have a reason to actually want to get to know you better. That’s when you can step it up a notch and offer them something a little more committed, like anything in that little blue circle in the diagram below. If it goes well — you’ve been vouched for by some case studies, they have that warm, fuzzy feeling from your custom demo — then ask them to put a ring on it. Or email an invoice … you know what I mean ;-)

Blogging is like jogging …
You’re going to see better results if you do it 30 minutes every other day than if you run like a total maniac just once a month.

We often hear people say they’ve tried blogging, but “it doesn’t work.” When we dig a little deeper, however, we find that they blogged three days in a row last January and then gave up when their site traffic didn’t jump. Big shock. Business blogging requires consistent, long-term effort, not short sprints of intense activity. You’ll see much better results blogging every other day for a year than blogging twice a day for two weeks, stopping, then starting again four months later. At that frequency, neither readers nor crawlers know when on earth to visit your site.

Keyword strategy is like applying to college …
You’re going to apply to reach, target, and safety schools. You might get into your reach school, your safety schools are a sure thing, and everything in between is what you’re gunning for … and with hard work, you’ll probably get in, too.

Approach your keyword selection the same way. There are some really desirable keywords out there that you’d like to rank for, but they’re also typically quite competitive — think head terms like, say, “internet marketing.” You should put some effort into ranking for these “ivy league” terms, sure, but you’re going to see much quicker returns if you target some “community college” terms, or long-tail keywords. They still provide you great business results, but they’re much easier to rank for.

And while you make quick work of ranking for those long-tail phrases, you can invest more effort into those “target school” keywords that fall somewhere in between long tail and head terms — the ones that will be a boon for your business if you rank for them, take some serious work, but are still within the realm of possibility based on their search volume and competitiveness.

You can actually apply the college application metaphor to SEO as a discipline. If you study hard and do your best work consistently while you’re in school, you’ll get into a great college, too. If you consistently create excellent content, your hard work will be similarly rewarded with excellent rankings in the SERPs — for keywords of all difficulty levels.

The internet is like a popularity contest …
The more people that vote for you, the more likely it is you’ll make prom queen. Or class president. Or chess club secretary. This analogy helps people understand how inbound links work. When content is really good, people want to link to it. That’s how the “internet” knows your content is good — lots of people have linked to, or “voted for” it. And since Google only wants to return the best results in the SERPs to make their searchers happy, the more times people have voted that your content is great via their inbound links, the more likely it is you’ll show up in the top search results for a related term.

The conversion path is like a Discovery Channel documentary … Wait, what? Stay with me, this one’s awesome. The conversion path is like a Discovery Channel documentary. You lure an animal in, capture it, tag it, then release it back into the wild.

The conversion path refers to the process that turns site visitors into leads and customers — the call-to-action, landing page, form submission, and thank-you page. Here’s how this Discovery Channel analogy breaks down:

  • Call-to-Action (The Bait): Lure them in with a compelling offer, promoted with some enticing messaging and an eye-catching design.
  • Landing Page (The Capture): You’ve got them in your grips! You just need to make sure they don’t escape — remove your navigation, write clear copy, make sure your landing page is well optimized — before you’re able to get the information you need. Which leads us to …
  • Form (The Tag): They fill out their information so you know who they are. That way, when they leave your site to go back into that internet wild, you’ll still be able to identify them among all the other visitors when they come back to your site.
  • Thank-You Page (The Release): Once you’ve captured your lead intelligence, you can release them to explore other elements of your site, or even off-site elements like your social media accounts.

Marketing automation is like air travel … You could get take three days to drive there in a car. Or you could hop on a plane and get there in 5 hours.

That’s the value of automating your marketing — where you can, at least. Let’s consider email automation, for example. You could spend time crafting a personalized email message for everyone on your email list — like, every one of the hundreds of thousands of people on your email list — and then take the time to individually email every single one of those people with your message. One. by. one. Oh, and then you can do the follow-up for all of them, too!

Or, you might realize after writing your tenth email that you’re saying basically the same thing in every email, with maybe just a few exceptions — because they’ve all been properly segmented, so they all have one specific thing in common. So instead of spending days or weeks sending out those emails manually, you could simply segment out that list of people in your marketing automation tool, insert some dynamic fields in the content to personalize it, and then nurture them further down the road based on their response to that email … all of which is documented in your CRM. Documented and followed-up with automatically, not manually.

Doesn’t that seem like a better use of time? I think so.

Read the full article: Inbound Marketing Explained in 6 Simple Analogies »

How 4 Small Businesses Are Winning on Pinterest

It’s been a few months since photo-sharing site Pinterest was all the rage in social media circles. Pinterest grew from seven million unique visitors in December 2011, to a high of almost 20 million in April, according to web traffic analysis service While growth has leveled off, use has remained consistent.

Pinterest is starting to deliver significant results for some small businesses — even ones that aren’t necessarily visually stimulating. Sure, posting pictures that people re-pin, comment on or “like” may seem innocuous. But when you realize the source of the pin remains as a hyperlink on the photo itself, the possibility of driving people to your website becomes apparent.

If Pinterest is driving people to your website, you can use Google Analytics or other tracking measures to determine how much money each visitor from Pinterest is spending on your site. If your goal is simply to increase awareness or customer retention, you can monitor traffic, the number of followers, or engagement metrics like re-pins, comments and thumbs-ups. Here’s a look at four ways small businesses are using Pinterest to drive their companies forward:

1. Using a multiplatform strategy.
Carl Christensen and his wife Ina operate small businesses in New Hope, Pa., that use Pinterest in conjunction with Etsy, an e-commerce platform for artists and craftsmen.

Carl, a photographer and artist, pins images of his work from his Etsy storefront on Pinterest, and Ina, a jewelry maker, does the same. People can click on the images on Pinterest and go directly to the couple’s shops on Etsy to buy the items.

The Christensens also pin other images from around the web that they find beautiful or inspiring, but they use Pinterest primarily as a sort of online catalog for their own products. Christensen says the increased traffic from Pinterest was noticeable within a few months, and the network is now his second biggest traffic referrer, behind Google. The combination of Pinterest and Etsy accounts for about $60,000 in annual revenue, he says.

2. Building web traffic — and cashing in on it.
When Kim Gordon and her then 15-year-old daughter Chloe started last October, they envisioned a trend-spotting website for teens, much in the vein of The Daily Candy but somewhat focused on their hometown of Louisville, Ky.

Soon after, Chloe also created a Pinterest board and started pinning cool images of art, fashion and popular culture from around the web. Because vibrant images and even videos are the virtual candy Pinterest users feast upon, the pins have generated visibility and click through traffic for Popcosmo, which derives its revenue from advertising. For example, one pin — Chloe’s picture mashup showing teens how to easily fake a French manicure — sent more than 10,000 unique visitors to the site in one month.

Thanks in part to Pinterest, Popcosmo now has more than 120,000 page views per month and is seeking national advertisers focused on the teen market.

3. Integrating for a holistic digital experience.
Jen Barnett, the owner of Freshfully, a food store in Birmingham, Ala., knew that without an in-house recipe developer, she’d need to be creative. So she turned to the web and began collecting recipes on a Pinterest board that focused on in-season food items. She has accumulated more than 500 recipes on Pinterest with the intention of inspiring people to buy Freshfully food.

Barnett doesn’t try to track exactly how much store traffic or online sales her Pinterest board alone generates. “Our Pinterest, Facebook, website, newsletter, SMS program and Twitter strategies are so integrated,” she says, “but I can say we started a business using virtually no paid advertising and expect to have $500,000 in sales in our first year.”

4. Keeping the business top-of-mind.
Mr. Rooter is a national plumbing franchise with more than 250 locations. But the local franchise in Waco, Texas — where the company is headquartered — has created its own Pinterest account. From the Where In The World Is Mr. Rooter board that pins images of the company’s fun action figures traveling with customers to a DIY board that helps customers fix easy problems, Mr. Rooter Waco’s boards are engaging.

The company goes old school to track revenue and customers from each of its social channels. “We use different phone numbers that are connected to each of our online channels and can track customers based on where they found the number,” project coordinator Rachel Florence says. She views Pinterest as primarily a retention tool to help keep the company top-of-mind when a customer needs plumbing work.

“We just want to keep our name on their minds so when they need a plumber, we’re the first thing they think of,” she says. “It’s name recognition.”

Read the full article: How 4 Small Businesses Are Winning on Pinterest »

10 Most Important Guidelines for Mobile Web Development

An immense development in the world of mobile devices has made things a lot easier for mobile users. With Android, iPhone and other Smartphone people are accessing internet simply from their mobile websites. As per a recent research, more than sixty three million people in States visited different mobile websites via their mobile devices and the count is expected to reach almost 2 billion by the end of next year. Since the numbers are growing like anything, it is very important for designers and developers to come up with websites specially designed for mobile usage.

Good thing about mobile web development is that as a developer or a designer, you won’t have to make an extra effort to learn something out of the blue as far as technology is concerned, in order to develop a mobile website design. All you need to have is a whole new perspective regarding designing of the mobile website. Today, in this article I am aiming to sum up the most important guidelines for mobile web development in a simpler way. So here goes:

Initiate with Analytics – It is extremely important to analyze a certain points regarding your mobile users’. To start off with, review the stats of your OS. This will help you in analyzing the important and most visited web pages of your website. You will also get to know the country/city you are driving the most traffic from. Apart from analyzing the top pages visited by users’, make sure you check the keywords being used in order to get an access to your site. These analytics will help you a lot in your mobile development and will definitely bring positive results.

Visitors Profiling – Mobile users are bound to have different needs altogether in comparison with desktop users. While developing and designing your mobile website, make sure you put yourself in the mobile user’s shoes. If your target audience is teenager, they will always be on the go so your website should be easy enough to use while driving, shopping or any other activity. Analyzing audience profile is indeed helpful in mobile web development.

Minimize the usage of images – Excessive usage of images is not considered to be a very practical act for mobile websites. In fact, images are considered to be a bad news for mobile websites and that too for the following reasons:

  • In general, images take a lot of time to load because of their large sizes. As a developer and designer, you must keep in mind that mobile users are often using slow internet connections and their connections cannot handle download of heavy images. So, this is one good reason to avoid usage of images.
  • Each image will require a new HTTP connection and because of the latency it has, it will further slow down the loading of the page.
  • Sizing of the images for all kinds of devices can be very difficult due to the different resolutions. You are inviting a whole new lot of effort by including a lot of imagery in your mobile website.

Still, if you really desire to use images in your website, make sure you use CSS Sprite because it helps in time reduction of loading.

Do not rely on JavaScript – Different mobiles will support different browsers and if you are developing a website to accommodate all of the browsers, you should not rely on JavaScript because mobile browsers are not very good with supporting JavaScript. Apart from this, mini browsers such as opera mini, also provide poor support to JavaScript resulting into a poor outcome. This issue is expected to get resolved in coming years thanks to Apple, Android and Blackberry devices.

Avoid drop-downs – While you are developing/designing a mobile website, make sure you avoid fly-outs and drop-downs in your website. This is a good thing but only for desktop websites since a user is able to move the cursor over any tab to view the drop down. Yes, a notch for dragging down can be used but then again, it is not a great idea for mobile websites. It would be a good idea if you do not use this thing at all.

Optimizing Download Speed with minimizing JavaScript and CSS – As mentioned earlier, JavaScript is not a reliable thing and if you want to increase the downloading speed of your website minify the JavaScript and CSS and it will automatically improve the downloading speed of your website. Also, minifying JavaScript and CSS should not be a difficult task so there should be no excuses for doing this.

Horizontal and Vertical Layouts – These days we see a lot of mobile websites supporting both horizontal and vertical layouts for the websites. Yes, they work well for iPhone and Android devices but this is not practical for all Smartphone’s. While developing your website, you should go for a single column form. This will allow your users to scroll and that too in a single direction. By default, the single direction should be vertical because this is what is natural and a user expects this as well. If any images are being used, they too should support vertical scrolling. Opting for both vertical and horizontal scrolling is not a good idea.

Take advantage of mobile features – A great way to develop your website is to learn the features of mobile devices which are the most popular. You can then incorporate these features into your mobile website and this will be a definite plus for your website.

An option to visit your regular website – Mobile website is bound to have very limited information and in case a user requires more information, you can always provide a link of your regular website on the main page of your mobile web site.

Speed of your website – While developing your website, this is the most important thing to consider. Your site’s speed should be good enough to deliver website’s content quickly. If you want to achieve this, apart from avoiding JavaScript you need to avoid usage of flash as well. The most important guideline for mobile web development is to focus more on functionality and speed.

Read full article: 10 Most Important Guidelines for Mobile Web Development »

5 Retail Lessons For Ecommerce Sites

The traditional ecommerce experience normally entails searching on Google or Amazon for the product you want, and then scanning for the cheapest deal. Or maybe it means visiting a retailer’s website and trolling through 575 pairs of shoes to find something that suits your style. But rarely does buying online feel like the enjoyable real-world experience of “going shopping.”

By contrast, meeting up at the mall or wandering a busy shopping district with a friend is an inherently social experience. You never know what cool stuff you’ll stumble across, and those moments are what make going shopping so much fun. These fun aspects are actually transferable to the online world. Here are the five to focus on.

1. Let People Emote – Retail therapy is all about discovering products that get us excited and provoke reactions and conversation with our friends. While many brands have added “want” buttons to product listings, several months of data generally show that a “want” post performs poorly at driving follow-up reactions in the social stream. This is likely because “wanting” something is typically tied to a more considered purchase process.

The key is to enable people to emote the same way they do during the physical shopping experience, and let them share their reactions with others quickly and easily.

For example, providing tools to emote is at the core of The Huffington Post’s social features. Next to most articles you can click on buttons that say “amazing”, or “weird”, or “important”. This range drives a more interesting social post and follow-up comments.

2. Showcase What’s Hot – If you make it easy for people to express their views on products, you’ll also know what’s “hot” in your inventory and can give these products more prominence within your shopping experience. By featuring these trending items, you drive impulse purchases by even casual visitors. This creates a self-reinforcing viral loop, which can give products broad exposure to new potential customers.

For example, social curation site Wanelo showcases products from across the web that are “saved” the most by its users. More “saves” by users give a product a higher placement on the home page, letting people know what’s hot among Wanelo users.

3. Ditch the Cart – Pushing a cart around is a drag in the real world and online. Since social commerce product discovery often comes from within a social stream, it is all about spontaneous, one-off buys, not shopping from a pre-defined list. Enable your shoppers to immediately buy with one click rather than filling up a cart they have to manage and can more easily abandon.

It’s all about taking friction out of the system so impulses can result in instant sales. The iTunes store has shown the clear value of this one-click, cart-free approach.

4. Lead with Mobile – Social discovery is driven from the social stream, and that stream is increasingly being consumed on mobile devices. As of a few months ago, people spend more time using Facebook on their mobile devices than on their PCs, and Twitter users spend six times more time using Twitter mobile than

This has major implications for the shopping experience. Mobile behavior is a lot different from desktop behavior. With mobile, people prefer snippets of browsing versus longer periods of time when they sit in front of a screen. Make sure your mobile ecommerce experience is bite-sized enough to make spontaneous discovery fun and easy.

Social commerce vendors can take a page from Amazon’s mobile shopping flow, which is a great example of this approach in action. The mobile web experience and the mobile app offer simpler versions of the full site that enable shoppers to easily get in and get out.

5. Use Data to Fuel Discovery – The online ad industry long ago mastered the art of behavioral targeting: using data about what people do online to infer what their interests are and serve them more relevant ads.

The same thing is now possible with social commerce as people share opinions about your products. The more people interact, the more information you’ll have about what they, and people like them, are interested in. Use this data to put the right products in front of the right people to boost discovery and sales. It’s important to note that this interest or taste-based clustering and targeting reaches beyond the social graph and can be much more effective at driving results. It also makes the shopping experience less of a chore and more fun, since only the products you really like are served up to you.

Read the full article: 5 Retail Lessons For Ecommerce Sites »

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