Holly Berkley is a recognized Internet Marketing Consultant and the author of popular business and marketing books including Marketing in the New Media and Social Media in Action. Her books are required reading for universities worldwide, including San Diego State University where she taught Interactive Marketing for five years.
You may have seen Holly Berkley's appearance on ABC Primetime's 20/20, 10 News San Diego or discussing online marketing trends and tips for FOX 5 San Diego and KPBS, along with numerous radio talk shows, podcasts, business magazines and newspapers throughout the country.
Holly currently lives in San Diego, California where she accepts only a handful of corporate accounts each year to advise on improving web site usability, search engine optimization, online media buying, social media marketing and other new media strategies to increase traffic, sales and brand awareness. You can contact Holly at www.new-media-consultant.com
Finding Your Target Audience on the Social Web
by Holly Berkley
Photo Caption: Rather than trying to tackle every social network at once, focus on the handful of social spaces where your target audience is most active.
By the time you finish reading this sentence, there will be 700 new posts on Facebook. Before the end of the day, there will be 1 million new tweets. With more than 1.9 billion Internet users world wide (RoyalPingdom.com, June 2010), watching millions of videos, creating millions of blogs and updating posts, status updates, and comments on a daily basis, finding your target audience in the sea of social media can feel overwhelming.
Stop. Take a deep breath. And realize that in order to be successful on the social web, you do not have to be everything to everyone. Or everywhere for that matter. In fact, no one can conquer every social space. There is simply too much information flowing every second. So rather than trying to tackle every social network at once, focus on the handful of social spaces where your target audience is most active.
As you start using social media to find and communicate with different audiences, you will quickly discover that some social networks provide more immediate benefit to your overall goals than others. You may also learn that it can take a combination of many social networks to promote your message most efficiently. And because online communications are extremely measurable and trackable, the more you listen and engage on the different social networks, the more you will be able to refine your efforts to maximize efficiency and attain your desired goals.
On any social network site such as Twitter and LinkedIn, you can easily search by keywords to find people in your target audience. Search by topic, or job function, or company name and you’ll be presented with a list of tweets, profiles, pages, groups and so on. Once you identify where your target audience is, take some time to listen.
Think of joining a new social networking group as stepping into a cocktail party where you don’t know anyone. You wouldn’t start loudly announcing your business and latest projects the second you stepped foot in the door. That would not only be rude, but a complete “turn off” to all the other guests. Instead, take smaller steps. Listen. Ask questions. Find out who the key influencers are in that group and get in their good graces. Also pay attention to how the group talks, lingo they use, how they interact with each other. You want to fit in.
Never hard sell your business. Instead, contribute meaningful information that your target audience is seeking. Encourage dialogue that helps position you as a knowledgeable person in your industry and as someone who cares about others thoughts, problems, concerns and opinions. Through this type of engagement and understanding of the audiences, you will be more likely to capture the right kind of attention, along with trust and loyalty. And if you are lucky, your target audience will find you!
Social Media Recipe for Success
Mix in your Most Valuable Asset: Smart Employees
By Holly Berkley
Photo Caption: Mix up a recipe for social media success by allowing your most creative, passionate and knowledgeable employees to engage with customers at the right time.
It still amazes me how many corporations actually block social networking sites during work hours. According to a 2011 openDNS study, 14% of companies blacklist or block FaceBook from company computers – compared to only 1% blacklisting pornography sites.
Keeping employees from engaging on social networks can prevent a company from leveraging its most powerful asset – knowledgeable, creative and passionate employees.
When you allow employees outside the marketing department to get involved in online conversations, your brand has the ability to provide real insight and valuable conversations on projects and expertise related to your business goals. These conversations naturally go beyond pushing a PR crafted mission statement. These conversations help humanize your brand and build real relationships with customers, vendors and partners in a way that direct mail or other one-way conversation channels just can’t.
So unless your employees and partners are engaged in top secret projects, let them talk about it! Allowing your employees and other stakeholders to share openly about projects and experiences they are most passionate about, lends itself naturally to exciting, genuine and viral content on the social web. And everyone from project managers, customer service reps, to human resources can get involved in the social space.
Companies like Zappos boast more than 500 employees using personal Twitter accounts to help promote the company’s ideals and products. And Best Buy bravely empowers more than 150,000 of their employees to join customer conversations throughout the social web.
Photo Caption: Put it on paper: make a social media action plan before anyone in your company engages on the brand's behalf
But before allowing employees to tweet, post or comment on your company’s behalf, take time to develop a social media strategy and set of clear guidelines to best fit your company’s values, goals and mission.
In fact, no one in your company should be unleashed on the social web without a plan, crafted in sync with the goals of your marketing, sales, product development and PR people. Just as corporations have brand guidelines establishing logos, colors and tone of voice, they should also take time to craft social media guidelines that any employee who engages on the social web should adhere to.
Nokia, the mobile phone manufacture, requires employees to complete a six-part social media certification before they can become active on the social web. While Best Buy is able to successfully manage thousands of customer service and tech reps using social media through ongoing training and conferences.
Smart companies that allow driven, passionate, creative and knowledgeable employees to partake in social media on the company’s behalf, have taken time to train staff on social media best practices as well as develop guidelines for when employees should engage in social media, and when they should simply listen. These primary ingredients are a smart company’s recipe for social media success.
Why your Business Needs a Facebook Page, not Profile
By Holly Berkley
Photo Caption: Take time to set up the right type of Facebook page for your business...the benefits of a highly active Facebook page include helping your Google Ranking.
If your business is still using a Facebook Profile to reach out to customers and promote its services, its time to make the switch to a Business Fan Page. In fact, according to Facebook’s terms of service, “Profiles represent individuals and must be held under an individual name, while Pages allow for an organization, business, celebrity, or band to maintain a professional presence on Facebook.”
In fact, if you have your business functioning under a Profile rather than a Fan Page, Facebook can shut it down, and all of your “friends” will literally disappear. (Trust me! This happened to one of my clients who insisted on using a Facebook Profile page rather than Fan page)
Fortunately, now its easy to convert your existing Facebook profile to business fan page. Facebook recently released a new tool allowing businesses to instantly transform their Facebook Profile to a Page. Its called the “Profile to Business Page Migration”. Check out the details here: http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=214139221935487 and follow the instructions carefully.
After you make the switch, you will start seeing some immediate advantages to the Page over the Profile. First off, you’ll gain access to Facebook’s analytic tool called Insights. Now you’ll be able to see how much exposure your posts are really getting, and which topics attract the most attention.
With a Facebook page, you will also have access to the latest promotional tools, such as “Like” buttons and Facebook apps designed to give you more control over the look of your business Facebook page.. You’ll also have the ability for unlimited growth (unlike a FaceBook profile that is limited to 5,000 friends.)
Another important advantage: Google likes Facebook. While Facebook profiles are hidden behind passwords, fan pages can be set up to be viewable by everyone – including search engines like Google. This means, every post you make to your fan page can be indexed by search engines and boost your overall ranking.
Need more incentive to make the switch? In March 2011, Google changed its algorithm to give even more weight to social authority and online reputation. Now the number of “likes” a company has directly impacts its overall Google ranking.
Many business owners are able to increase “likes” by offering customers immediate discount codes and coupons when they “like” a company page. When coupon codes and sweepstakes don’t make sense for your business, try offering information. B2B companies can encourage “likes” by giving away a white paper or access to some research or article written by one of your company thought-leaders. Finally, the amount of “likes” your individual posts receive impacts your “social authority” as well. Many companies are using a tactic called “like-gating” where they require users to "like" something before revealing content.