Google+: why businesses need to jump on board

Answer these questions for me…

  1. What search engine do you use?
  2. What search engine has 67% of the market share?
  3. What online file-sharing platform does your business use?
  4. What email platform does your business use?
  5. How important is search engine optimisation to your company?

I’m assuming your answers look something like this:

  1. Google
  2. Google – Yep, a whopping 67% (Southern, 2013).
  3. Google Docs
  4. Google Gmail
  5. Extremely important, how else will we be found within this dominating online world?

Ta Da! If your answers were matched at least twice, I hope you’re a beginning to realise the importance of your business being on Google+.

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Alison Zeringue, social media and marketing guru explains that, “Investing even a little bit of time and energy into your business page on Google+ can mean improved local search visibility, especially for a small to medium-sized business. With search engine algorithms constantly evolving and becoming more intertwined with social media, the lines denoting where SEO stops and social begins are becoming blurrier by the day” (2014).

Google determines your search engine optimization… if you are constantly creating new content and are additionally using Google+ as a channel to post this content it is undeniable that your SEO result will increase, providing many benefits and opportunities for your business.

References

Zeringue, A. (2014). Beyond Social: The Benefits To Google+ For Business. Marketing Land. http://marketingland.com/beyond-social-benefits-google-business-73460
Southern, M. (2013). Google’s Search Market Share Back Up To 67% Search Engine Journal. http://www.searchenginejournal.com/googles-search-market-share-back-up-to-67-bing-up-2-from-last-year/67568/
 

Where is social media’s place within crisis communication?

A crisis is defined as a situation with the perception of being an unpredictable event, is sudden and developing and falls under close media or government scrutiny (Coombs, 2007).

Although these situations are unpredictable they must be adequately prepared for by businesses and responded to effectively. Failing to do this can have serious negative impact on a businesses performance, relationships, public image and bottom line (McLean, 2009).

Brands can use social media as an effective tool in responding to a crisis as it allows for fast, open and direct communication (Fisher, 2013).

Johnston and Zawawi in Public Relations Theory & Practice outline 10 steps for effective crisis communication:

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Effectively using social media in response can turn a crisis into an opportunity.

For example, when a video went viral of a FedEx delivery guy throwing a customers “fragile” package over their fence the CEO of the company created his own online video in response. This video received over 500, 000 views and not only handled the crisis effectively but also enhanced the image of the company. This was achieved as it revealed successful company management, connected to consumers and allowed for reiteration of the companies values.

References

Coombs, W. T. (2007).  Protecting organization reputations during a crisis: The development and application of situational crisis communication theory. Corporate Reputation Review, 10, 1-14.
Fisher, S. (2013). 3 Great examples of crisis management on social media. SpinWeb. http://blog.spinweb.net/3-great-examples-of-crisis-management-on-social-media
Johnston, J., & Zawawi, C., (Eds.) (2009). Public Relations; Theory & Practice (3/e), St. Leonards, NSW: Allen and Unwin
McLean, H. and Power, M. (2009). Crisis Command. Strategies for Managing Corporate Crises. London: Ark.

Social media in the workplace: business vs. personal?

We all know the importance of social media in the workplace on a business level, but where does social media fit in on a personal level? Transferring between these two perspectives transforms social media from a catalyst for organizational potential to one of disaster.

Individuals are uninformed on the level of negative impacts that can result from social media; they are unaware of who can see it, who it will effect and the possible consequences.

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To combat this it is important that all employers have in place not only email and internet policies but a specific social media policy that deals with acceptable and unacceptable conduct and consequences for breaching this (Greig, 2014).

Unfortunately I have experienced this firsthand. One day at work a balloon animal man made us a rather *cough cough* inappropriate object. My friend and I posed for a “funny” photo with the balloon in our uniforms in the storeroom. This was posted online and within 5 minutes we received a message being told to remove it immediately. How did I not realise the lack of professionalism and immense stupidity of this action? I was unaware and rationally blurred by the “humour”.

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I believe social media policies are not communicated well enough to employees in the workplace. An unclear social media policy can lead to decreased productivity, negative impacts to the brands reputation, defamation, harassment or inappropriate conduct (Australian Business, 2014).

We’ve all been warned that once something is on the Internet it can never be fully removed – so controlling social media use within the workplace must be handled more seriously, well defined, communicated fully and reiterated clearly.

Check out these 10 must haves for a social media policy and the image below on the components of an effective social media policy:

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References:

Austraian Business. (2014). Why do you need a social media policy? Australian Business. http://www.australianbusiness.com.au/lawyers/expertise/employment-law/why-do-you-need-a-social-media-policy-
Greig, C. (2014). Social Media Policies in the Workplace. Colement Greig Lawyers. http://www.colemangreig.com.au/Publication-198-Social_Media_Policies_in_the_Workplace.aspx
Mashable. (2009). Social media policy musts. Mashable. http://mashable.com/2009/06/02/social-media-policy-musts/

LinkedIn: The social network for the professional

LinkedIn is a professional site designed for business purposes and “for professionals… having an online presence is no longer optional” (Brand & Arasteh, 2013).

While having a presence on a variety of platforms is desired LinkedIn is the best for content distribution, job search and career management, as having a LinkedIn account is considered crucial for our professional development and credibility. (Brand & Arasteh, 2013).

Of the major social media sites, 89% of hiring professionals have made a hire through LinkedIn, compared to 26% on Facebook and 15% on Twitter (Jobvite, 2012)

A survey conducted by Lab24 (2011), a market research company, revealed that the top activities on LinkedIn are industry networking (61%), keeping in touch (61%), and co-worker networking (55%).

As Linkedin is marketed as a professional tool designed as a social networking site these statistics reveal that it is delivering on its brand promise.

Some tips for a positive and professional LinkedIn account include (Brand & Arasteh, 2013):

  • Position yourself as a subject matter expert.
  • Use your profile to convey the image you want to portray and make all content on your profile match this persona
  • Build connections and visibility in your industry
  • Share useful information on the topics you want people to associate with you

See this put into action within these 25 LinkedIn Case Studies for Successful Professionals.

References

Brand, P., & Arasteh, S. (2013). USING LINKEDIN and TWITTER for JOB SEARCH and CAREER MANAGEMENT. Career Planning & Adult Development Journal, 29(3), 33-44.
Jobvite. (2012). Jobvite 2012 Social Recruiting Survey. Retrieved from: http://web.jobvite.com/2012-social-recruiting-survey.html.
Lacy, K. (2011). 25 LinkedIn Case Studies for Successful Professionals. http://kylelacy.com/25-linkedin-case-studies-for-successful-professionals/#sthash.JcayCJKx.dpuf

Make your business Instagram worthy

Visual imagery has powerful effects on human psychology and physiology due to its ability of to conjure up images internally, this means it must play a central role in a businesses advertising. Effective imagery can influence your consumer’s perceptions, beliefs, connotations and opinions towards your brand (Alan, B. 2002).

Instagram provides your business with a popular platform to enhance the use of imagery within your marketing mix. Check out why:

It really works

Ben & Jerry’s was among the first brands to run advertising on Instagram and with the use of memorable imagery 17.7% more people became aware of their new flavour and 9.8 million people were reached in the United States (Instagram, 2013).

Mike Hayes, Digital Marketing Manager for Ben & Jerry’s stated (2013), “Since its launch, Instagram has provided us with an amazing platform to connect with our fans and tell our story visually. Ads on Instagram let us reach and engage with more fans about our flavors, fun and values.”

Implementing Instagram into your integrated marketing communications plan unleashes endless creative possibilities. For inspiration check out this guide to Instagram for business or these 7 tips for drool-worthy insta photos.

Get instagramming!

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References

Alan, B. (2002). Investigating the power of imagery in marketing communication: evidence-based techniques. Qualitative Market Research: An International Journal, 5(3), 164-171. 
Instagram. (2014). Instagram Business. Instagram. http://business.instagram.com
Instagram. (2013). Ben and Jerrys Case Study. Instagram. http://instagram-static.s3.amazonaws.com/Instagram_Case_Study_BenAndJerrys.pdf 
Totems. (2014). Guide to Instagram for Business. Totems. http://analytics.totems.co/instagram-for-business/

Twitter: 140 characters of business potential

As the world is progressively connected via the Internet platforms like Twitter are available to public figures and businesses to “construct consensus, establish community and mobilize action” (Tierney, 2013, p19).

Twitter restricts users to 140 characters per post, this puts Twitter’s focus on the use and frequency of micro-blogging (Al-Deen & Hendricks, 2012, p185). This is the distributing of news and activities, posting photos and revealing a ‘human side’ through personal commentary, allowing professional individuals to build and maintain a positive image.

In The Twitter Book (2009) it explains that the biggest mistake professionals make is to use Twitter as a channel to push out information when it is such a great medium for holding conversations rather than making announcements. No one is going to continue to follow someone who comes off as pushy or purely after our money.

Business figures with successful twitter accounts address their followers as “friends” and write genuine and friendly tweets that include customers within the company’s decisions, behind the scenes work and ask for opinions. This leads to effective engagement, enhanced relationships, creation of networks and a positive public image (Al-Deen, & Hendricks).

Starbucks posts new offers and participates in threaded discussions, HRBlock runs ask-and-answer sessions and Dell creates a new twitter account for each new deal (Smarty, 2008).

When within the professional world, having an effective Twitter account is another to-do to add to the list. So… tweet a little tweet on twitter, any little thing will do! (as long as it is professional, engaging, appealing, effective, proof read, utilizes each 140 character well and is posted at the right time).

References:

Al-Deen, H. & Hendricks, J. (2012). Social Media: Usage and Impact. Unighted Kingdon: Lexington Books.
Tierney, T. (2013). The Public Space of Social Media: connected cultures of the network society. New York, NY: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Publications.
O’Reilly, T. & Milstein, S. (2009). The Twitter Book. California, CA: O’Reilly Media.
Smarty, A. (2008). Huge Brands Using Twitter for Business. SEJ-Search Engine Journal. http://www.searchenginejournal.com/16-examples-of-huge-brands-using-twitter-for-business/7792/

Youtube: an oasis of UGC for marketers and businesses in the social media century

Youtube is one of the greatest social media marketing tools available for businesses. With more than 1 billion unique visits to YouTube each month (Youtube, 2014) not only does the platform provide great reach but it also provides creativity, innovation and best of all… user generated content (UGC).

UGC is all the hype in modern marketing, it is defined as the ways in which users engage in and produce new media content within digital media spaces (Flew, 2008). The growth of UGC has created effective new ways to influence, leverage and connect with consumers within the marketing industry – YouTube being the best place for this (Sehnkan and Sichel, 2007).

A great example of this in action is the company GoPro. A video filmed and tagged as GoPro is uploaded to YouTube every minute of every day (Honigman, 2013). This UGC is the company’s primary way of selling and marketing their product. The 759 videos on their YouTube channel (generated by users, fans and the company) are complied to created their advertisements – transforming user-generated content into consumer-generated advertising. The company is successfully using the online GoPro community in conjunction with the power of YouTube to create free advertising and to put their consumers at the front of the company; exciting and appreciating their work and building brand loyalty. One of their amazing compilation advertisements:

GoPro is rapidly building their YouTube community, with 1,961,428 subscribers to date. Shown in the graph below they are growing much faster than the rest of the consumer electronics sector due to their successful use of YouTube (Claridge, 2013):

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Simply, Youtube is an oasis of UGC for marketers and businesses in the social media century – use it well and the online world will love you for it!

References:

Flew, T. (2008). Twenty Key New Media Concepts: User Generated Content. In V. Somerset (Ed.) New Media: An Introduction. (3rd Ed) (p.35) Hong Kong, Oxford University Press.
Honigman, B. (2013). How GoPro Does Content Marketing Like a Pro. Contently. http://contently.com/strategist/2013/03/08/how-gopro-does-content-marketing-like-a-pro/
Shenkan, A., and Sichel, B. (2007). Marketing With User-Generated Content. The McKinsey Quarterly Journal. http://www.retailfinanciero.org/site/wp-content/site_files/2010/11/Marketing-with-user-generated-content.pdf
Claridge, P. (2013). Unmetirc: GoPro’s User Generated Content Turns Extreme Sports into Extreme Engagement. Womma. http://www.womma.org/posts/2013/02/gopros-user-generated-content-turns-extreme-sports-into-extreme-engagement
Youtube. (2014). Youtube: Statistics. http://www.youtube.com/yt/press/statistics.html

The Facebook App: providing true power for innovative businesses

Facebook Apps “allow third-party developers to create their own applications and services that access data in Facebook” (Wikipedia, 2014). An must-have addition to business Facebook pages and a perfect tool for social media competitions.

These highly engaging apps provide further opportunities to engage users online (Claussen, 2013, p.187). Frito-Lay, the company owner of Lay’s potato chips pulled off an innovative and successful “Do us a Flavour” (how punny) Facebook campaign that reveals the true engagement power Facebook gives businesses.

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They asked their audience to help them create the next Lay’s flavor; over 3.8 million people from across 14 countries submitted their ideas through a Facebook app. The campaign resulted in 955 million organic Facebook impressions, 1.26 billion PR impressions, and boosted sales by 12% (David, 2013).

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Anindita Mukherjee, CMO of Frito-Lay America explains (2013), “Today consumers want to have their voices heard. They want to have their hand in where a brand goes… they want to have a say.”

The campaign is “one of the most widely used brand apps in Facebook history” according to Mark Darcy, the Director of Global Creative Solutions of Facebook.

While this proves the power of Facebook and its app possibilities, businesses must be innovative and creative when developing their campaign in order to STAND OUT from the white noise of Facebook.

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Claussen, J. (2013). The Effects of Rewarding User Engagement: The Case of Facebook Apps. Information Systems Research, 24 (1), pp.186-200.
Eunice, D. (2013). Top 10 Influential Social Media Marketing Campaigns of 2013. Ad Here. http://www.adherecreative.com/blog/bid/152638/Top-10-Influential-Social-Media-Marketing-Campaigns-of-2013
Fritolay. (2013). Lay’s “Do Us A Flavor” Contest. Lay’s. http://www.fritolay.com/about-us/press-release-20140114.html
Villegas, A. (2013). Facebook App Success. Boxless Media. http://www.boxlessmedia.com/facebook-app-success-do-us-a-flavor/
Wikipedia. (2014). Facebook Platform. Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Facebook_Platform

Corporate Wikipedia: a smart business move

We all know and love Wikipedia for its ability to know everything… literally! It is written in 285 languages and with 4525000 articles in the English free encyclopedia we have all used its magic to complete assignments and Google diagnose. But how can businesses make use of Wikipedia?

Firstly, the magical Wiki is defined as, “A browser based web platform that lets volunteers contribute information based on their expertise and knowledge and permits them to edit content within articles on specific topics” (Safko, 2012, p.197).

Businesses are discouraged from writing articles about themselves due to policies. Wiki states, “Our policy on neutral point of view mandates that promotional material and advertising be removed” (Wikipedia, 2014).

Due to this businesses use of Wikipedia is limited and structured. They can download the MediaWiki software for free, which is the same software that powers Wikipedia, and use it to set up a business corporate wiki. The use of this, “improves the information environment for business within their market” (Xiaoquan, 2013).

Businesses use this corporate wiki for a management system, internal knowledge sharing, to store corporate information and for employee training. The corporate wiki community includes companies like Adobe and Amazon.com

But… these corporate wiki’s look the same as a normal Wikipedia page, so for those unaware you will not know the difference. A great form of public relations! Check out the infographic below for some interesting statistics on the relationship between public relations and Wikipedia.

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References:

Safko, L. (2012). The Social Media Bible: Tactics, Tools, and Strategies for Business Success. 3rd ed.
Wikipedia. (2014). Wikipedia: FAQ/Organisations. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:FAQ/Organizations
Xin Xu, S., & Xiaoquan (Michael), Z. (2013). Impact of Wikipedia on Market Information Environment. MIS Quarterly, 37(4), 1043-A10.
Image: PRSay (2012). Infographic: Measuring PR Pros’ Engagement With Wikipedia.
http://prsay.prsa.org/index.php/2012/04/17/measuring-the-relationship-between-wikipedia-and-public-relations-professionals/

Blogging: its cash-flow possibilities

A blog (noun) is defined as a personal website or web page on which an individual records opinions, journals events, links to other sites and shares information on a regular basis. To blog (verb) is to add new material to or regularly update this site. Hey, you’re on my blog as we speak, or… as I am blogging.

Blogging was once purely a personal hobby, but so many bloggers are now able to say, “My blog is my career.” How can one get paid to publish their personal opinions? How can one get paid enough to be able to quit their full time job? It is possible!

From food to travel to fashion, bloggers all over the world are quitting their ‘normal’ jobs for a blogging career. Forbes magazine states, “Blogging has become a viable part-time career option” (Bell, 2010). This modern possibility is thanks to the growth of the Internet, convergence and globalisation – and it is filling the marketplace with more citizen journalists.

As we know, word-of-mouth is the most trusted source of information in comparison to advertisements and marketing. Econsultanty reveals (2011), 90% of consumers online trust recommendations from people they know and 70% trust opinions of unknown users. Bloggers are capitalising on this social preference and are digitising word-of-mouth. Check out these great statistics:  Blogging Stats

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Earning money with a blog is made possible through gaining a significant following so that you can incorporate advertising banners, affiliate sales, pay prclick, display ads and CPM advertising. Take a look at World of Wanderlust and Sally’s Baking Addiction, these wonderful blogs began as the authors way of expressing their passion and then became their career.

References: