The social media explosion generates an overwhelming flow of information. Fortunately, most of it you can choose to ignore — except what people say about you and your business.
That you never can choose to ignore.
To make it easier, there are simple tools you can use to monitor social media and keep track of what people say about you, your competitors, your industry, or any other topic you want to follow.
Recently Leslie Lee, an associate at the public relations and social media agency Inkhouse, put together a comprehensive list of social media monitoring tools.
Here are several I tried based on her recommendations:
TweetDeck. TweetDeck sorts social media mentions by keywords, twitter handles, hashtags… a number of options. Keep in mind searching for popular topics is like turning on a fire hose of information but, unless you’re Lady Gaga, monitoring your mentions should be manageable.
Social Mention. Social Mention searches for keywords on blogs, comments, news, videos, and microblogging services, and generates metrics for those keywords.
Trackur. Trackur sifts through sources like Twitter, Digg, Flickr, blogs, videos, etc. Try the free version and decide if you want to pay for a monthly plan (upgrade plans can get fairly expensive.)
Google Alerts. An oldie but a goodie. Enter keywords or phrases and when Google sees them mentioned it delivers alerts immediately, daily, or weekly.
BoardReader. Google indexes many discussion boards and forums, but certainly not all. BoardReader crawls blogs, forums, images, and microblogs.
Each of of the above works fairly well, but each also has limitations.
For example, a mention sometimes won’t appear in one tracking tool but will in another. And occasionally the “sentiment” — some tools categorize mentions as positive, negative, or neutral — won’t be accurate.
So try them and see how they work for you. (And for more options check out Leslie’s full post for descriptions of other tools like Topsy, Klout, and IceRocket.)
With a little testing you can determine which tools are best for monitoring conversations about your company, your band, your products — and your competition. (Or even an old girlfriend.)
After all, what you don’t know could kill your business.
Note to readers: Feel free to share any tools or strategies in the Comments below; my list is far from comprehensive!
Last week Denise and I recorded a video for one of our team members to give them instructions on how to perform a certain task. With our flip camera in hand, we quickly recorded our message and emailed the instructions off to them. It was super easy and literally only took 5 minutes.
Like us, many small business owners often create videos for employee training purposes. But there are numerous other ways you can also use video in your business, such as online video marketing.
Online video marketing is a very cheap alternative to traditional advertising. Plus, it is a dynamic and highly effective method to promote different products or services among your customers. Just one viral video can replace multiple forms of promotions, especially if the video educates and creates an interest among your customers so that they in turn promote your business.
So, why is video marketing exploding throughout the internet and becoming such a huge online marketing service?
Well, we all know it really started with the YouTube phenomena, but now has grown beyond just that. With video marketing, you can quickly highlight features and benefits of your products or services in the best possible manner in the shortest period of time.
For example, seeing a picture of a treadmill with a description is not nearly as effective as seeing someone on the treadmill in action. That’s why infomercials are so successful. Your customer gets to see exactly what the product can and will do in just a matter of minutes. The customer connects and can imagine how the product could benefit them.
If a picture is worth a 1,000 words, a video is worth much more. Your video can literally become viral with community submissions and social tagging overnight.
So, what techniques can you implement so that your business gets massive exposure with online video marketing?
Technique #1: Post Video To Your Web Site
A perfect way to please Google is to upload a video on your web site. Google has introduced a concept of “universal search” where videos will be listed along with the other links on the search results page. For example if you Google “how to tie a tie” you’ll see video thumbnail listings in Google.
When running a business, it is vital you do whatever it takes to get on page one of the top search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing and others. So, upload a video on your web site and help your site be found in more ways than before.
You can also have a video appear as soon as a customer opens your web page. A customer can watch your video every time they come to your web site, especially if you grab their attention with a catchy headline.
Once you have their attention, you can then pitch a product during the video for them to buy or you can simply introduce a product and ask the customer to opt-in to learn more. Once the customer opts-in to request more information, you can follow up with an email.
Technique #2: Send Out Video Emails
You can include a video link in an email to solicit new customers or to refresh ties with current clients. This allows them to connect with a real person, not just words on a page. If they haven’t met you, many of them will feel as though they have. This can go a long way to turning a potential customer into a long-term customer.
Just remember that your email still needs links, images and good compelling text. Not everyone will watch your video email. For example, some recipients may be at work and want to be discreet, some may not have a sound card in their computers, and some may simply not be interested. So, be sure that the copy in your email makes up for this.
For those who really connect with video email, you can then ask them to subscribe to a video email group. This can be done through a group announcement mailing or by simply adding a survey to your normal email asking if they would be interested in receiving video emails. If they are interested, they will subscribe, while others won’t.
With the advent of smart phones like iPhone, Blackberry and Android, it is easier to watch videos wherever you go. They key is to get your video out there for people to watch. A great way to do this is with video distribution software.
Technique #3: Distribute Your Videos Everywhere
To get as much visibility as possible, submit your videos to as many different places as possible. You can do this manually by placing a video on your web site, blog, landing or sales pages, as well as video sharing sites like YouTube, Viddler or Google Video.
You also can automate the process with software like Traffic Geyer that will distribute your videos to hundreds of sites. Whether you upload the videos manually or use video distribution software, it is a good idea to follow a couple steps to make sure to get the maximum results from your efforts:
Make sure you list your key words in the title of your video. In other words, make sure you name your video title using words that you want people to find your video under when searching by those key words.
Make sure you put your URL at the very beginning of the description field. Most description fields will be abbreviated so that the viewer can only see the first few characters. You want to make sure that the viewer can click off your main site even if they don’t click to expand and read the detailed description.
Regardless how you distribute your videos, just do it. Videos are an inexpensive way to get tons of free exposure for your business. The more you diversify your marketing strategies, the more effective your efforts will be and the more customers you will reach.
Ticketmaster estimates that every time one of their customers posts on Facebook that they’ve bought a ticket, their friends spend an additional $5.30 with the site. When last year’s Google conference was taking place, they tweeted the morning of the conference: “100 tickets left, 550 bucks a piece, use this promotion code”. 11 minutes later they tweeted, “Sold them, thank you.” That’s $55,000 in sales with one tweet in 11 minutes. E-commerce sales are expected to top $1.4 trillion by 2015. And IDC estimates that in five years, 10-15 per cent of total consumer spending in developed countries may go through sites such as Facebook.
Given the overwhelming evidence that social commerce works, why are big businesses so slow to take advantage? Could it be because senior marketing directors don’t understand it and don’t want to admit it?
Your typical 40-year-old marketing director would have left school in 1988. More than likely their last maths lesson was when they were 16, and they were glad to see the back of it. Computers weren’t even available at school then. The brightest graduates interested in marketing studied English, foreign languages, or history.
The fast trackers went into advertising agencies to do planning and account management. Life was a lot of fun and not a computer in sight. I recall being phoned by an account director friend the night before a big pitch asking me to “explain again how a percentage works”. She was an Oxbridge graduate and it had been 9 years since she’d last had to do any maths.
Our 40-year-old marketing director probably spent four years at an agency, before going to work on the client side. They spent the 1990s pulling together billboard campaigns, debating what they could say with the Advertising Standards Authority, agreeing joint promotions with other big businesses, and sponsoring celebrity sportsman. Life was still a lot of fun.
They turned 30, the dot-com bubble came, and a small number of the more enterprising ones became entrepreneurs. Most kept rising up their businesses, learning to take eighteen months to launch a consumer product, and working with retailers to plan their Christmas sales nine months in advance. The really good ones rose to the top and had teams to look after all this stuff for them.
And all the while, those computers and the maths they thought they’d avoided at school were catching up with them.
Ten years ago marketing meant spending millions on a TV campaign that would be seen by 10m people of whom maybe 200,000 bought something.
Then Google came along with Adwords and let you “buy” customers on a cost per click (CPC) basis – you agreed to pay a certain amount per customer, and Google connected you. Marketeers had to learn about search engine optimisation, paid-for-search, and affiliate sales. Most of them didn’t.
Then Facebook came along and transformed things again. Now you only need to target 5,000 people, and they in turn influence 20,000, who influence 200,000.
Marketing has become all about analytics and maths and measurement and making targeted investment decisions on a daily basis. It’s about data – lots of data.
It requires totally different skills than the senior marketing director spent the last twenty years learning. But the guy who didn’t want to do maths is still making the decisions, and he can’t admit that he doesn’t really understand sponsored stories or Open Graph or hashtags.
The limiting factor in the adoption of the internet and social media by businesses is not the technology, it’s the people in charge.
Most large consumer businesses have someone responsible for social media. They are 26 and have a job title like Community or Social Media Manager. Because they are 26 and they work in a large business, it’s difficult for them to change the way things work. They can see that it’s costing four times as much to get a new customer on TV compared to Facebook, that paid-for search isn’t cost effective, and that the marketing agency is clueless online, but they can’t do anything about it.
I’ve got some good news for those Social Media Managers: you may be exasperated today, but you’re about to inherit the earth.
We’re all slaves to email. It’s unavoidable, since we rely on email to get the information we need to do our jobs. So what happens when we send a message and get no reply, or — perhaps worse — an irrelevant reply? Often our work comes to a grinding halt.
Here’s a dirty little secret, though: It’s not always their fault. You might be crafting your emails in a way that makes it easy for your recipients to ignore, deflect, or avoid answering you. Here are some tips, reported by Stepcase Lifehack, for crafting messages that can help you get the information you need, more quickly and effectively.
Keep your email short. As I’ve written many time before, the best emails are short. Long emails are far more likely to be ignored or deferred, and details about what you need can be lost if your recipient only skims the message looking for the highlights. If you practice the art of writing short messages, no one has any excuse not to read the whole thing as soon as it comes in. (Well, okay… fewer excuses.)
Indicate the action required. Lifehack actually says to “ask for a response,” which is common sense but often overlooked, but I’ll take that one step further. Be clear and explicit about what you need in the subject line or the very first paragraph of your email. This is known as the Bottom Line Up Front (BLUF) approach, and prevents your key message from getting lost at the end of the email.
Specify a deadline. When do you need your reply? Be clear about that in the beginning of your message, and — if your email client supports it — set a reminder so that your recipient gets a ping the day of the deadline.
Only email one person at a time. Or, at the very least, include the fewest number of people possible. There’s a well-known psychological behavior in which responsibility for taking action gets diffused in a crowd. If you ask a single person a question or assign an action item, it’s likely to get done. Send the same message to 10 people, though, and everyone might assume someone else will take care of it.
Send fewer mails. If you are a chronic spammer, each of your messages has less relative importance than if you reserve email for issues that can’t be handled via the phone or face-to-face.