How to motivate your target audience to use your Social Media channels permanently?

Here are a few tips how you can motivate your target audience to keep following you on your Social Media channels:

– Study your audience. Knowing your target audience is a big advantage for you. If you know what your customers like, what they want and who they are you can adapt your content and communication on your platforms.

– Use interesting and eye-catching titles on Facebook, Twitter, your Blog and other platforms. It is better if you don´t use the same titles on all your platforms although it would save time. But you might have a different target audience on each network. For example on LinkedIn you usually interact with professionals whereas on Facebook you are mostly connected with a more informal and younger audience.
The platforms also display the content differently, for example Twitter only allows you to have 140 characters which you should use wisely without loosing any content. Whereas on Facebook you can use more words for the title and it even shows part of the text you are publishing (see picture).

– Be interactive is the essential thing. Use different campaigns to keep your audience visiting your platform, for example Starbucks in Spain offered a 50% discount for their Fans on Facebook for a Mocha Frappuccino after 8 pm during July this year. Fans could print the voucher and bring it to any Starbucks Coffee Shop and received the discount.

Here is another example by Jewelz by Angie. Every week they have a contest where you can win their jewellery. On their they put a Link to the contest. So people are coming back to the Fanpage because they want to win jewellery rather than buying it. 

– The right balance. Another important point is not to bombard your followers with Marketing messages but neither ignore them, because then they will stop following you. For example try to publish regularly a Blog post, maybe weekly. On Facebook I would suggest to post every day or at least every second day to fill your Fanpage with content. If it looks empty or the date of the last post was 2 weeks ago your Fans think that nothing is happening on the page and might not come back. On Twitter I suggest to tweet 1 to 2 tweets a day. If you tweet to much, people feel overwhelmed and bombarded by so many tweets and might stop following you.

– Try to be personal. An example is the canadian company Freshbooks and how they surprised and made one of their customers happy with the help of Social Media. Here is an excerpt from Social Media Marketing All-in-One For Dummies by Jan Zimmerman and Doug Shalin who talk about this case study:

Maybe you have other tips and suggestions? You are welcome to add them into the comment section below.

Are there any negative examples of how companies have used Social Media?

After naming a few companies, in a earlier Blog post, which did a great job in using Social Media to communicate and interact with their customer (for example Starbucks or KLM), it´s time to have a look at companies which haven´t done such a great job in using Social Media.

For example the companies Nestle or Deutsche Bahn – the national german railway company. Both communicated with their fans on their Facebook fanpages in the wrong way.

In March 2010 Nestle posted the following comment on its Facebook wall:

Answers from fans were for example ‘please can you email me your brand guidelines so that I can create a logo that is in line with these?’ or ‘This is the best example of how a big corporation can screw up, and has no one to blame but themselves, what about emotional inteligence??? the manual says, that you should not insult your costumers, or fans….and so it goes on.’
The company went on the ‘offensive, responding to individual posters in a tone that was at times sarcastic or antagonistic’:

Here are some more comments: Facebook comments Nestle

The company Deutsche Bahn used Social Media to advertise a special ticket. As soon as the advertising campaign became a success, fans used the facebook fanpage to complain about  several things (delay, breakdown of the trains in winter, breakdown of the air condition in summer). The company reacted with ignorance and deleted some of the critical comments, the whole advertising campaign became a flop.

These two companies weren´t well prepared to react in a customer friendly way to negative comments. When you start to be present on social media platforms you also have to be prepared that you not only get positive comments and feedback but also negative ones.

Here are some tips how to prevent and cope with negative comments:
– before you are going ‘online’ on social media platforms, plan a strategy how you will react when you get critical and negative comments and how you can turn them into positive customer service

– don´t delete comments as people want to feel free to express their opinions

– respond to comments as quickly as possible. For this, you need to be where your customers are, so monitor your social media presence regularly. For example the tool Social Media Mention helps you by using keywords to track conversations about your company.

– never ignore negative comments.

Social Media is a powerful Feedback canal to improve your product or service, use it wisely.

‘How to use photos, videos, colours and graphics for Social Media?’ Part 3: Colours and graphics

Colours and graphics are playing an important role in the Social Media domain.

CI and Colours
When you already have a CI (Corporate Identity) make sure you use it also on your Social Networking Platforms. Here is an example of Coca-Cola with its Twitter page, Fanpage on Facebook and Youtube Cannel:

Logo and Pattern
Using a special Logo or pattern like Blyss Chocolate can bring attention to your visitors. Blyss uses its Logo in form of a heart on its Website, as pattern background on Twitter and on its company site LinkedIn:

Specific colours
On all platforms, Coca-Cola uses red and Blyss Chocolate brown. If I hear Coca-Cola, I always connect it with the colour red which is a recognition value, even the colour font on Twitter of Coca-Cola is red.

Let´s have a look at three big companies using the colour blue combined with white:

Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin. The colour blue ‘is the colour of the intellect, the mind, making it the colour of communication and when you think about social media, it’s all about communicating’ (Karen Haller). Blue is the colour of trustworthy and researches show that Blue is the most favourite colour worldwide. Blue combined with white fits perfect as white is also used to ‘communicate clarity, simplicity and efficiency‘.
Other companies and brands identified with blue are for example IBM, Intel or Tiffany & Co.

Using your logo on Facebook
On Facebook, you can choose your profile picture and a graphic that is shown when you post a new Blog post on your Blog. Here is an example of the MAKIme Fanpage showing its profile picture: 

Hillert & Co are using a special pattern on Facebook when they post a new Blog post. It is different to their Logo but has the same colours, it fits into their CI:

Different views for Fans and Non-Fans on Facebook
Facebook is able to direct your Fans and non-fans to different content of your page. You can set the landing page for your fans for example to your wall, for non-fans you can create an attractive page where you can convince them to become a fan of your page. Here are two examples:

You have more examples or ideas how to use graphics and colours in the Social Media domain? Feel free to comment.
Here is an info graphic of how to use colours to affect purchase:

‘How to use photos, videos, colours and graphics for Social Media?’ Part 2: Videos

You can use Youtube, MySpace or Viemeo to upload your video and share it on Twitter and Facebook or embed it with using the code on your Blog or Website. In the picture you see how the embed code looks like:

On Youtube you can upload a video with maximum 15 minutes (it was 10 minutes before). But try to make the video not longer than 5 minutes, better are 2 minutes. Because after 2 minutes watching, people loose their attention.

And now there is the question what your video should contain. You can do it for example like Blendtec. They produce Blenders, and with their video series ‘Will it blend’ they show how good the blender works. Tom Dickons – the founder of Blendtec – blends different things. For example the iPhone, iPad or Justin Bieber´s action figure, autobiography and CD´s. Will it blend has more than 65 million video views and the video campaign drove sales up to 500% in 2008 and to 700% in 2009 (they started with the campaign in November 2006). Read more about the case study Will it blend here.

If your product/service is a website, for example a social network or an application, you can make screencasts. With screencasts, you capture a part of your computer screen with programs like Jing or Camtasia studio. These programs show where you are moving with your mouse or what and where you are typing in. So you can show new features or explain how your website or application works. Here is a video tutorial how to use Linkedin, using screencasts:

You can also make videos about people you are interviewing for example about your product or service. Or, taking again the example from part 1 with the photos and the Coach who is doing a Training with his or her clients: He or she can upload a part of this Training on Youtube and then embed it to other Social Media platforms. This gives the customers an insight about his or her program.

A few people do Vlogs instead of Blogs. The word ‘Vlog’ is made up of the two words ‘Video’ and ‘Blog’. Instead of writing you are doing a video which you then can also embed on your Facebook page.

HBO with its series True Blood offers on its Facebook Fanpage (when you are a Fan) to ‘immortalise yourself’. The application creates a really good video using the information of your Facebook profile like your friends and photos.

If you are not an expert in video production don´t worry. Here are some great examples of videos without using actors and actresses:

The nativity story told with Social Media:

Promo video of Toolea:

and LinkdIn:

You have any comments or more examples of great videos or video campaign? Fell free to share it in the comment section below.  

‘How to use photos, videos, colours and graphics for Social Media?’ Part 1: Photos

There is a big opportunity to use different assets like photos, videos colours or graphics to leverage Social Media effort.
This will be a longer post, so I split it in four parts: photos, videos, colours and graphics. Here is the first part:
A famous platform to upload photos is Flickr where you can create an account and upload photos. These photos can be put into sets, you can title, comment and tag them, add information like location and people in the photos , share them with friends via Twitter, Facebook etc. Every photo has a code which you can use to embed it on your Blog, website or other platforms.
Here are more ideas of how using photos on Flickr (see also B2B Voices):
Through the tags and titles the photos can be found on google or yahoo. For example if you are a company which produces products, you can put photos of your products on Flickr and title them with the name and tag them with relevant keywords. Or if you offer a Coaching service you can show pictures from your last session (if the client allows it). With the help of Google AdWords the relevant keywords can be found. You can think about words your client would search for when looking for your product or service and then use the Google Adword tool to find adequate keywords. There is also the possibility to make your photos usable by others (Creative Commons), if one is using your photos, he or she has to link back to your Flickr account or website which makes them and others more aware of you.

On your Facebook Fanpage you can create Albums and also tag people. Photos motivate your customers (fans on Facebook) to interact with you by commenting on them. For example, you can upload Photos about ‘How to…’, info graphics, Maps of for example the location of your company or your branches, Screenshots of your new website or new features, guides, charts to show some interesting statistics for example of your last survey etc. (see examples and more here).

You can also use the Facebook Fanpage to upload photos from your office, your team and your work, for example when you have a team meeting or moving into another office. But this depends on your company´s philosophy if you want to give your client this insight, but it could give them a chance to get to know you better and it can build up trust.
If you don´t want to use your Fanpage for uploading photos, you can also use Twitter. Using tools like TwitPic or yFrog you can quickly make a photo (also using your smartphone) and upload it with its link and a comment.

There are some more tips (see also David Hartstein):
1. Make sure that the photos you upload on Facebook, Twitter or your Blog etc. present your brand well and fit in your Corporate Identity

2. Post photos that other people want to share for example the last Coaching session you did. Maybe some of your Fans on your Facebook Fanpage took part. They recognise themselves in the photo and maybe tag themselves or other persons. This tag will be seen by their friends who on this way hear about your company

3. If you can benefit from a local appeal then show photos from how your company is interacting with local communities, organisations etc. For example if you have a team meeting at the local coffee shop, make a photo and post it on your wall or Twitter stream

4. Post photos consistently to keep you fans coming back and to keep you in their mind

Any thoughts or more examples and tips? You are welcome to comment. Here are a few links to read more:
6 Tips to enhance your Facebook page with photosHow to use images successfully on online media sitesHow B2B Companies Can Use Video/Photos in Social Media


‘Are there any companies which are exemplary in using Social Media?’

Yes, there are.
I will begin with a small company: The Creme Brulee Man from San Francisco who discovered the value of using Twitter for his Creme Brulee cart. In the beginning of his career he only had friends buying his Creme Brulee. He moves with his cart from neighbourhood to neighbourhood without setting any locations, so only his friend knew where he always stops to sell his Creme Brulees. But one day, there was a stranger buying his dessert. He asked him how he discovered his cart, and the man answered: with Twitter. So someone of Curtis Kimball´s (the Creme Brulee man) friends must have tweeted about his delicious dessert. And this tweet was discovered by this stranger.

This was the beginning of a successful career of Curtis Kimball as Creme Brulee seller using Social Media tools.

He opened a Twitter account and now has over 18.000 followers. On Twitter, he publishes the location of his cart. He says, that the most of his clients come from Twitter. But Curtis Kimball not only uses Twitter to tell people his location but also what flavour of Creme Brulee he is serving in a given day or to ask his clients what type of custard to serve or if they have suggestions where he should park his cart.

Now I will talk about a bigger company: Starbucks. This company has over 1,5 million followers on Twitter and over 23 million fans on Facebook. On Youtube they have over 10.000 subscribers. Successful they engage with their audience on several platforms, they have a platform called ‘My starbucks idea‘ where people can publish their ideas for example a new product, experience and involvement ideas. Others can vote for these ideas and Starbucks evaluates the most voted ideas and possibly adopts them.

Here are a few ideas which are currently in use and which came from Fans:

  • Free coffee for Gold Card members on their birthday
  • Starbucks VIP card
  • Splash sticks
  • Buy coffee beans, get a free cup of coffee

Here are more details about Starbucks and its Social Media platforms: Starbucks and Social Media. And here is a link to more case studies of companies using Social Media successfully: Social Media Case Studies.

Maybe you have other good examples of companies using Social Media? Please feel free to comment, post links of examples or give Feedback.

Welcome to Social Media Cloud

Welcome to Social Media Cloud. This Blog is based on the idea of a friend who asked me a lot of questions about Social Media which I think are very interesting for everyone. Therefore I will answer his questions bit by bit in this Blog. All the answers are based on my own research and experience, so you are more than welcome to comment, give your own opinion and answer or ask your own questions which I will try to answer.

This work is part of my final project for my Master´s degree in Social Media at Birmingham City University, UK.