4 Lessons Marketers Can Learn from Local TV News Reporters
This post was initially published on BostInnovation on July 28, 2011. To read the original post there, click here. Today – thanks to social media, smartphones and other new digital communications platforms and tools – what the savviest of consumers are asking of their favorite brands is almost as much as they’d expect from
The Importance of LinkedIn Recommendations
Given my outgoing personality, my obsession with the latest news and the fact that I’ve always been an early adopter of new communications tools, it’s no surprise that I’ve been enamored with social media from the get-go. I can’t tell you how excited I was to launch my own blog in early 2004, where I’ve written nearly
10 Ways to Succeed as a Copywriter, Parts 1-10
If you’ve been reading this blog for the last few months, you know I’ve been writing a series of posts on copywriting. Similar to the approach I took with my series on social media, I’ve looked at copywriting from a 30,000-foot level, focusing on the principles you need to be mindful of if you want to
10 Ways to Succeed in Social Media, Parts 1-10
If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you already know about the “10 Ways to Succeed in Social Media” series of posts I started writing on January 13 of this year and recently concluded on April 5. But what you wouldn’t know is how much I’ve been looking forward to stringing these posts together into one
The Importance of Character in Social Media
By now, most people involved in marketing, advertising and PR have put aside any skepticism they may have had about social media and are using such online communications vehicles as blogs, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube to reach out to and engage with others. They’re finally realizing that – as I’ve said before here on this
For some strange reason, however, more marketers and brands than not are still struggling to make heads or tails of social media. Whether they’re surprisingly misinformed or just plain lost, they’re wasting their time and missing the boat. They’re failing to take advantage of what may just be the biggest revolution in communications since the printing press.
To say that’s unfortunate would be an understatement.
After all, done right, social media marketing can be a big game changer. It can be an incredibly effective way to attract the attention of your target audience, engage with them and curry their favor. Far too many go into it without doing their homework, though, their false assumptions and inexperience undermining any chance they have for a successful social media program.
Are you making these same mistakes? Are you doing it all wrong despite your very best intentions? You most certainly are if anything that follows sounds even remotely familiar.
1. You don’t have a plan.
The last thing you want to do is overlook the first thing you should do. Take pause before launch to map out the route you’re going to take on social media. Identify your target audience. Research the competition. Determine your objectives. Choose your tools. Develop your content. Then act accordingly. Eat. Sleep. Tweet. Repeat.
2. You’re working alone.
While no one is saying you can’t be a hit as a solo act on social media, your chances of success are much greater if you belong to a team. There are only so many hats one person can wear well. Strategic direction. Writing. Design. Marketing. Branding. PR. Web development. Analytics. You name it. You’ll make a much bigger impact if you divide and conquer.
3. You’re not a writer.
Of course, you’re not writing the great American novel. Far from it. But the importance of quality content can’t be emphasized enough. Even in 140 characters or less, punctuation, grammar and word play reign supreme. Think like a good journalist or copywriter. Better yet, hire one.
4. You’re spread too thin.
While it’s good to be in more places than one on social media, don’t get carried away with the notion. It’s better to be active on one or two channels than to be conspicuous in your inconsistency on a handful. Don’t try to be all things to all people. Fish where the fish are. Strike a happy medium between quality and quantity.
5. You’re a one-trick pony.
Of course, what might be even worse than being all over the place is being painfully predictable. Putting out the same kind of content in the same place day after day is of little interest to those on the receiving end. It’s boring. It’s monotonous. It’s an easy way to lose an audience.
6. You’re not posting in real time.
One of the biggest distinguishing characteristics of social media is its real-time nature, the fact that it makes it possible for users to connect with one another instantaneously. Canned content written and scheduled in advance will only get you so far. You’ll have greater influence on your constituency if you share extemporaneous news and commentary on at least an occasional basis.
7. You’re not being yourself.
Don’t try to fake it till you make it. Keep it real from the get-go. Transparency and authenticity are not an option on social media. Offer your opinions, not just the facts. Win friends and influence people with refreshing candor. Mean what you say and say what you mean. Put a face on your brand every step of the way.
8. You’re not listening.
Don’t be the account that only talks about itself. Don’t be a self-centered know-it-all. Pay attention to what others are saying not just about you and your brand, but about their own products and services, too. Mine the media for knowledge and expertise as much as mentions, questions, criticism and praise. Thank people for sharing your content and don’t forget to return the favor.
9. You’re erratic.
Whatever you’re doing on social media, do it on a regular basis. Disappear for even just a few days and you’ll be testing the loyalty of those who follow you. Your content stream should serve as a virtual extension of you and your brand, leaving an indelibly consistent, not scattershot, impression on your audience.
10. You’re careless.
Written communications is far more informal than it was back in the day. But that doesn’t excuse you from making typos or blatant grammatical mistakes. Some colloquialism and slang is called for on social media. But so is some measure of decorum and professionalism.
11. You’re no fun.
A good sense of humor goes a long way on social media. Accounts that are spirited, playful, irreverent, even mischievous (in a good-natured way) tend to be popular. Don’t hesitate to share a few laughs with your followers and fans. Social media works best for brands that take their products and services, not themselves, seriously.
12. You’re as bland as milk toast.
It’s much better to be safe than sorry on social media, but that doesn’t mean you can’t go out on a limb once in a while and express your creativity. Be colorful, not controversial. Bold, not brash. Avoid arguments at all costs and always take the high road. But show you have more than just a pulse, show you have a personality.
13. You’re not sharing any pictures.
It’s no secret that visual content on social media commands attention. It really doesn’t matter what kind, either. Stock images. Candid shots. Video. Instagram. Vine. Complement your words with pictures in any way, shape or form and stand out amid the clutter.
14. You’re not paying to play.
You may have the most compelling content imaginable, but you still may not be seen by enough people on social media. Organic reach is down. Attention spans are short. The best laid plans can easily go astray without putting at least a small budget behind your efforts.
15. You’re ignoring the numbers.
Branding is important, but like any other form of marketing, social media marketing is all about the results. Establish your goals and develop a methodology for measuring your performance. As Stephen Covey wrote in his book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, “begin with the end in mind.”
It was the word of the year in 2013, and last year it reached the tipping point. Yup. The selfie is more than just a thing now, it’s kind of a big deal.
No, really, the selfie is more than just a fad, a superficial exercise in narcissism. The selfie has gone from a silly little trend to a mainstream phenomenon, something almost everyone has embraced, from astronauts to athletes, Ellen DeGeneres to Tom Hanks, the president of the United States to the Pope.
Sure, the selfie is still mocked and subjected to ridicule by laggards and luddites, critics and curmudgeons. But most people get it. Most people see the selfie for what it is, a fun way to capture the moment up close and personal, and share it with the world.
If a picture is worth a thousand words on social media, the selfie may be priceless.
And smart brands know it. Look at Purina, Old Navy, Samsung and World Wildlife Fund, just to name four. Then there’s the advertising campaign that Shiseido, a Japanese cosmetics company, recently did with Lady Gaga, featuring 50 different selfies of the global pop star. Very cool.
How can you take advantage of this revolutionary, new way of taking pictures? How can your brand jump on the selfie bandwagon and capitalize on this craze?
Simply encourage members of your audience to take selfies that are associated with your brand in some way, shape or form. Their job is to tag you, include a hashtag ascribed to this marketing initiative (contest or not), and share their selfies on such social media channels as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. Your job is to thank them for their efforts and display their contributions on your website or some sort of social media wall.
It’s a win-win proposition. They get recognition from a brand they love. You get engagement with your most passionate fans.
Here are 20 different types of selfies to ask your audience to share on social media…
1. Group selfies. Forget the solo shots. Squeeze as many people into the frame as possible.
— IBM Innovate (@ibminnovate) May 28, 2014
2. Funny selfies. Challenge contributors to show off their sense of humor.
3. Cause-related selfies. Even if you’re not a nonprofit, you can do well by doing good.
— Radisson Blu Leeds (@RadBluLeeds) October 3, 2014
4. Scavenger hunt selfies. Participants don’t just have to find the prize, they have to snap it.
— The Wine Train (@winetrain) September 30, 2014
5. Celebration selfies. Rally caps. High fives. Victory dances. Perfect for spectators and players alike.
— Ohio State Buckeyes (@OhioStAthletics) January 17, 2015
6. Tourist selfies. Where in the world are your followers and fans?
7. Photo booth selfies. Treat your guests to a unique self-portrait experience.
— Brett Schmechel (@bschmech) October 30, 2014
8. Product selfies. It’s like show-and-tell – without the tell.
— Museum of Fine Arts (@mfaboston) January 21, 2015
9. Pet selfies. No words.
10. Fitness selfies. Gym goers aren’t shy.
— Planet Fitness (@PlanetFitness) November 6, 2014
11. Mirror selfies. Pause to reflect and say cheese.
Catching a movie at Cineplex Queensway? Take a selfie in our special mirror between today and Sunday for a chance to win a #BetterBedroom!
— IKEA Canada (@IKEACanada) September 23, 2014
12. Store selfies. Never mind coupons. Accept selfies instead.
13. Game selfies. Ask fans to show you where they’re sitting.
— Mean Green Athletics (@MeanGreenSports) November 22, 2014
14. Celebrity selfies. Like an autograph, only better.
A photo posted by Taylah (@jenna_bean_is_the_queen) on
15. Sunrise and sunset selfies. Color your selfie beautiful.
Watching the sunrise over Crater Lake. Photo by Morgan Oliver-Allen. pic.twitter.com/6A8t7cX2oM
— GoPro® (@GoPro) February 12, 2014
16. Weather selfies. Like storm chasing, only easier.
A photo posted by Met Office (@ukmetoffice) on
17. Photobomb selfies. Surprise!
18. Family selfies. What’s more awkward than an awkward family selfie?
— Heather Schisler (@passion4savings) October 7, 2014
19. Team selfies. That’s the spirit.
20. Selfie Stick selfies. Picture perfect.
— AngelMe (@AngelMeApp) January 22, 2015
As ubiquitous as social media in this day and age, more people are turning an apathetic ear to what brands have to say rather than hanging on their every word on these channels.
That shouldn’t come as a shock to you, though.
After all, like direct mail, email, print and broadcast, social media channels are far from immune to audience fatigue. Regardless of the medium, customers and prospects grow tired of a barrage of the same old marketing messages. They become skeptical, jaded and impatient over time. They turn off and tune out.
Fortunately, there’s no shortage of ways to reinvent the wheel and take your social media program to the next level. Contests. Paid advertising. Bigger staffs. Better strategies. Those are just a few quick ideas.
But what about taking your online activities offline? What about connecting the dots between the inanimate computing device and real life? What about engaging people wherever they are, whatever they’re doing, in the physical, not the virtual, world.
Here are five ways to bridge the social media communication gap between online and off, tactics that promise to go a long way toward establishing a mutually beneficial dialogue between you and your constituency.
1. Hold a Scavenger Hunt.
If you have something to give away, make a game out of it and use social media to point people in the right direction – on land, not the Web. That’s what @BostonTweet does on Twitter. Every once in a while, he tells his 100,000+ followers he has tickets to some such event, and takes a pic – including identifiable clues – of where he’s hidden the free prize. First come, first served. A scavenger hunt is a great way to not only engage and reward the most loyal members of your audience, it may attract new connections as well.
Example: Boston Tweet
— BostonTweet (@BostonTweet) December 14, 2014
2. Have your Own Orange Room.
Do you watch NBC’s TODAY show in the morning? Then you’ve probably seen the Orange Room, where the likes of Carson Daly, Tamron Hall and Dylan Dreyer take a few minutes to address the latest trending stories on social media. Not only do they give members of their traditional TV audience this unique online perspective, but they also give occasional shout-outs to followers, fans and, of course, celebrities who have weighed in on social media on a particular hot topic.
Example: TODAY Show
3. Set Up a Selfie Station.
2013’s word of the year was all the rage in 2014. And that’s putting it mildly. From Ellen’s (@TheEllenShow) epic group selfie at the Oscars to the Boston Red Sox’s David Ortiz’s with none other than President Obama, almost everybody was getting into the act. So don’t worry about hiring a professional photographer. Set up a selfie station at your next special event. You’ll give your guests the opportunity to make fun memories for themselves. They’ll give you props on social media in return.
Example: Screen Actors Guild
A photo posted by SAG Awards (@sagawards) on
4. Build a Social Media Wall.
There are many reasons to display a steady stream of content on a big screen. If we’re talking about a conference, concert or sporting event, it’s a convenient way for those in attendance to stay informed and entertained. It’s also a nice way to give contributors a few seconds of fame. A wall of tweets, posts and pics calls attention to the so-called “backchannel,” the online chatter among spectators during the event itself. It’s a unique feedback loop, a very cool meta experience for members of the audience. More people than not will be inspired to socialize the moment if they know their words and pictures are going to be up in lights.
— Postano (@postano) November 19, 2014
5. Use a Vending Machine.
If you want to be a huge hit, do what the Boston Red Sox did recently and trot out a vending machine to engage your fans. To help promote ticket sales for the 2015 season, they installed one at both The Shops in Prudential Center and Faneuil Hall Marketplace, enabled by Twitter and Instagram, respectively. People waited in line to find out what they won from the team thanks to their posts tagged #TheGiftOfSox. Bobble head dolls, autographed souvenirs and tickets were just a few of the prizes given away.
Example: Boston Red Sox
— Boston Red Sox (@RedSox) December 11, 2014
Note: This post, “5 Ways to Use Social Media to Make a Huge Impact in Real Life,” was originally published on ClickZ on January 6, 2015 here and on the Overdrive Interactive blog on January 13, 2015 here.
Having recently turned four years old, Instagram’s user base of just north of 200 million may pale in comparison to Facebook’s 1.35 billion, but the engagement rate for brands on this visually oriented app is hard to beat in the social media ecosystem.
In fact, pretty much anyone who uses Instagram knows just how superior the ratio of likes and comments to followers on it is compared to other comparable online communities. Instagram makes it easy for businesses and consumers alike to share high-quality photos and videos with one another whenever, wherever.
What’s not to like?
Maybe that’s why such a tech behemoth as Microsoft didn’t just dip a toe into the Instagram waters, but jumped in with both feet last month, announcing they’ve hired a photojournalist who “will travel to multiple contents to show how artists, inventors, scientists and entertainers are using Microsoft technology to do more and achieve more.”
Instagram. It’s not just for cute puppies and grumpy cats anymore.
So which brands have not only established a solid presence on Instagram, but are kind of a big deal there? That number is countless, of course – or at least subjective, as success on social media is often in the eye of the beholder). Some may be there for branding purposes, while others may be counting on actual leads. But focusing on engagement levels and the number of followers alone, here are six brands that, if you ask me, are killing it on Instagram…
With more than 21,000 stores all over the world, Starbucks clearly has a diverse range of material at its disposal to take pictures of and share. Which is just what you’ll see on their Instagram account – a celebration of an iconic brand’s products, not to mention a testimony to just how passionate customers are about this third place between work and home. From different stores tagged #WhereInTheWorld to people from all walks of life with their lattes, cappuccinos and smoothies in hand, everyone everywhere seems to be enjoying the Starbucks experience.
A photo posted by Starbucks Coffee ☕ (@starbucks) on
You might say there isn’t a better fit for Instagram than this legendary scientific and educational institution renowned for the spectacular photography in its magazine. The numbers would certainly support your argument. With over nine million followers, more than any other brand, and almost five thousand posts, National Geographic is all in on this channel. Their pictures are incomparable. Their captions are illuminating. Following them on Instagram is like going on a guided tour of the world.
A photo posted by National Geographic (@natgeo) on
If you like the feeling of living on the edge, you’ll love this account. Seriously, you’ll get your fill of vicarious thrills here. Makers of those small HD cameras that are so wildly popular among extreme sports enthusiasts, GoPro does a nice job leveraging user generated content (UGC) on Instagram, featuring plenty of both pictures and videos submitted by their zealous fans. Skiing. Surfing. Sailing. Skydiving. If it’s an adventurous activity, there’s a good chance it’s captured here.
Zdjęcie zamieszczone przez użytkownika gopro (@gopro)
No one has to tell me about the popularity of their classic leather boots. I have two teenage sons, after all. Besides, Timberland’s been around for a long time. Who hasn’t heard of them? But I was pleasantly surprised to see just how well this brand works the scene on Instagram. We’re talking about some very cool pictures of not just boots made for walking, but of a large variety of shoes and outdoor wear being modeled amid some very picturesque settings.
A photo posted by Timberland (@timberland) on
Okay. So there appears to be far less B2B brands on Instagram than B2C. Such a shame. Instagram presents them with a perfect opportunity to let their hair down a little and show they’re human, not just corporate monoliths. That’s not to say that B2Bs are totally missing from this channel, however. One brand in this category that caught my eye is Intel, one of the world’s largest semiconductor chip makers. Not that they have a lot of posts. But with more than 25,000 followers, they’ve got a decent audience for their pictures of gadgets, doodads, electronics and various technological apparatuses.
A photo posted by @intel on
The Ellen DeGeneres Show
If you want a good laugh or just a reason to smile, you want to follow this account. Whether she’s posing for a selfie with one of the guests on her show, sharing an otherwise personal moment or cracking a silly joke on #ClassicJokeFriday, every post here will make you feel good all over. Taylor Swift. Bill Clinton. Sofia Vergara. Celebrity shots are common here. But so are some very random impromptu moments. Like the mega-talented superstar herself, this account is a lot of fun.
A photo posted by Ellen (@theellenshow) on
There’s both an art and a science to writing for Twitter. To stand out from the crowd, you want to be creative and clever, but you also need to be smart and strategic in order to drive a high level of engagement.
It’s not easy for even the best copywriters to strike such middle ground in 140 characters or less.
But many brands today manage to capture the right voice on this online communication channel, in many cases enhancing the impact of their words with equally compelling visuals. They’re able to come across as entertaining as they are educational, as personable as they are promotional.
Culled from a custom timeline (which you can see here) I’ve been curating on Twitter, here are 10 terrific tweets that would appear to go more than a long way toward commanding the attention of followers amid even the most cluttered Twitter streams. Read them. Enjoy them. And learn from them.
1. Ask a question.
One of the best ways to capture the attention of your followers and increase the level of engagement with them is to ask a simple question. Tie it into the use and enjoyment of your products and services, though. That way, you’re also getting good feedback and potential glowing testimonials.
Tea time, me time. How do you enjoy Single Serve Steeped Tea at home? pic.twitter.com/viPpk7QuFM
— Tim Hortons (@TimHortons) October 19, 2014
Example: Tim Hortons
2. Provide timely information.
Twitter is rife with commentary and opinion, especially during a breaking news cycle. So why not deviate from the norm and share some good, old-fashioned common sense? Educate your audience. Arm them with facts, figures and information they can put to immediate use.
— UNICEF (@UNICEF) October 18, 2014
3. Give people the stage.
Highlight content other than your own in your social streams. Recognize your constituents’ contributions. They’ll not only appreciate their work being placed in front of a larger audience, they’ll feel like rock stars.
— The Ritz-Carlton (@RitzCarlton) October 19, 2014
Example: The Ritz Carlton
4. Include a Call to Action.
Don’t be shy. Make a bold statement. Be abundantly clear what action you want readers to take by using Twitter Lead Generation Cards <
Explore Alaska's must-see wilderness. Enter to win a free 10-day Alaska Cruise and Land Tour vacation for two! https://t.co/l9mkuKetm3
— Holland America Line (@HALcruises) October 16, 2014
Example: Holland America Line
5. Be conversational.
A bevy of brands are providing customer service on Twitter. But not all of them are reaching out to potential customers quite like Staples is in this tweet. Don’t hesitate to let your hair down. Be colloquial and catchy, if that’s what it takes to connect with your constituents.
— Staples US (@Staples) October 15, 2014
Example: Staples US
6. Motivate your followers.
Almost anyone can do this on Twitter. Say things to lift people’s spirits and move them to act on their own behalf. Self-help affirmations play well in just a short sentence or two. If there’s an association with your brand, even better.
— Degree Women (@DegreeWomen) October 20, 2014
Example: Degree Women
7. Support a good cause.
Do good by doing well. Donate a portion of your proceeds to a well deserving nonprofit organization. You and your constituents get to feel like you’re making a difference, while the beneficiary of your largesse gets a nice financial boost. Everybody wins.
October is breast cancer awareness month, so come on down to Lucky Strike and help support the cure! pic.twitter.com/jI8lg5LWO4
— Lucky Strike Boston (@LSJillians) October 17, 2014
Example: Lucky Strike Boston
8. Offer a choice.
Don’t give people a chance to say no. Have them tell you which of two or more choices gets their vote. Don’t give them an easy way out. You may not be able to control the conversation on Twitter, but you can certainly steer it in the right direction.
Which do you go with? pic.twitter.com/xAeXCbACut
— Hess Express (@HessExpress) October 17, 2014
Example: Hess Express
9. Celebrate the weekend.
What can you do to identify with the largest possible audience? What does almost everyone have in common? Anytime you can address something of near universal appeal, your content has a far better chance of falling on interested ears.
— Avis Car Rental (@Avis) October 17, 2014
Example: Avis Car Rental
10. Illustrate your point.
Twitter, like most other social media channels, has become a much more visually oriented medium. You might say a picture is worth a thousand words there. Accompany your text with supporting imagery. Reinforce your messages with bold, colorful graphics that practically jump off the screen.
You are what you eat. pic.twitter.com/TyphOPNPlN
— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) September 30, 2014
Example: USA Today
Unless you’re a popular celebrity or a big, iconic brand, a lot has got to come together in order for you to succeed on social media. Not only do you need to have an engaged, loyal audience and something valuable to offer them, you need to be able to maintain a strong social presence by sharing timely, relevant content on a non-stop basis.
There’s no rest for the weary on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and other such online communication channels.
If you make the development of a solid strategy a top priority, however, everything else should fall into place. A comprehensive strategic plan articulates the action you’re going to take during the course of your campaign. It explains the who, what, where, when, how and why of what you’re going to do on social media.
No one plan fits all, of course, but to not have one carved out from the outset is like attempting to walk across a high wire without a safety net below. Proceed at your own risk.
So to minimize the chance of falling short of your expectations, here are a number of steps you can take to put together your own social media strategy, one that you and your colleagues can follow with the utmost confidence.
1. Establish a team.
Such a broad range of skills are required to succeed in social media that it only makes sense, budget permitting, to have a handful of collaborative, cross-functional stakeholders on the case. Marketing. Sales. Creative. Analytics. The more representation you have from all corners of the company, the better.
2. Agree on your objectives.
Are you using social media for thought leadership? Branding? PR? SEO? Or do you intend to increase sales? Develop a list of goals you want to achieve and an accompanying timeline. Make sure every member of your team is on the same page from the get-go, including how you’re going to define success down the road.
3. Understand your audience.
In direct marketing, it’s understood that a bad offer to a good list works better than a good offer to bad list. Same in social media. If you’re not connecting with your constituency, you’re wasting your time. Know what makes your customers and prospects tick. The last thing you want is to have your tweets, updates and messages falling on apathetic ears.
4. Research the influencers.
It’s one thing to have a large quantity of fans, followers and friends. It’s quite another to have a quality audience, a select number of people who have the clout to help spread the word on your behalf to their own respective networks. Identify those who wield the greatest influence in your space and forge mutually beneficial relationships with them.
5. Study the competition.
Something too few brands take advantage of is the opportunity to monitor what others are doing on social media, especially those in similar circles. Don’t hesitate to examine the behavior of those who are trying to attract the same customers. What are they doing better than you? What can you learn from their strategies and tactics?
6. Develop your content.
Tap into a library of continuously refreshed content to flaunt not just your knowledge, expertise and unique sales proposition, but your personality as well. Work off a creative brief. Leverage all pertinent assets. Show off your brand in words and pictures. Today, every company is a publishing company.
7. Consider paid activity.
If you’re lucky, it may happen, but you can’t bank on even your best content to go viral. There’s just too much competition for eyeballs, not to mention the fact that social media algorithms aren’t working in your favor. Sometimes you have to put your money where your posts are and turn your owned media into paid.
8. Identify your channels.
Don’t think you have to be on every single channel to be successful. Don’t fall prey to the fear of missing out (FOMO) and spread yourself too thin. Establish a presence where your content has the best chance of being seen. If that’s on half a dozen properties or more, fine. But if your audience is only found on Facebook and Twitter, don’t lollygag elsewhere.
9. Choose your tools.
While there’s a seemingly infinite array of tools at your disposal that will not only support, but amplify your social media efforts, it isn’t always easy to differentiate between them. There are tools for everything from curation, publishing and editing to listening, monitoring and measurement. There are tools to help you attract more followers and tools to help you create compelling graphics. Deciding which ones to use is an ongoing chore in and of itself.
10. Deploy your tactics.
Planning is one thing. Execution is another. This is where the rubber meets the road. Don’t take your foot off the pedal. Share a strategically sound mix of quality, relevant content – some of it promotional, much more of it conversational. Take advantage of real-time engagement opportunities and respond to others promptly, all the while keeping the human side of your brand front and center.
11. Monitor your activity.
If you expect to succeed in social media, you can’t just set it and forget it. You need to immerse yourself in the scene as often as possible. Pay close attention to your audience’s reactions. Are they commenting on your content? Do they like it? Do they share it? Thank loyal constituents for their interest and time.
12. Measure the results.
When all is said and done, the bottom line is what counts. Are you realizing your goals? Is the ROI acceptable? Have you seen an uptick in connections, engagement, chatter, traffic, leads and sales? If not, make adjustments. Test and learn well. Fine-tune your strategy until the results not just meet, but exceed expectations.
More than 50 million people belong to over 30,000 health clubs in the United States. They join these clubs to get in shape and stay healthy, to play sports and socialize, to pass the time and relax. When they’re working out, they’re essentially a captive audience to club owners and staff, there primarily for the exercise, of course, but in the right place and mood for chitchat and conversation.
What about all the time when they’re not at the gym? How do health clubs stay in touch with their customers when they’re not on the premises? How do they keep them coming back for more action and fun? How do they ensure that they’re not both out of sight and out of mind?
Enter social media. Just as they’re willing to make a commitment to a membership, many people are glad to cozy up to the clubs they belong to on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and the like. After all, as fans and followers, they feel a special bond to their third place, their destination of choice if they’re not at home or the office.
Today, health clubs, fitness centers and gyms are using social media in a variety of ways to not only attract the attention of prospective members, but to remain engaged with their existing customers. Here are 10 different ways they’re flexing their muscles on these online communication channels – and how your facility can, too.
1. Contests. Almost everyone is up for a challenge or competition, especially those who are already motivated enough to work out on a regular basis. Put a prize up for grabs and watch your engagement rates soar. Encourage participation. Ask for fan input. Show people how much you appreciate hearing from them by rewarding them for their feedback.
2. Inspirational Images. The goal of any post on social media should be to appeal to the audience’s interests. If you can strike common ground with your customers and prospects, you can earn their trust. After all, like minds stick together. Memes. Graphics. Visuals. Add a few words of inspiration to a strong image of any kind and you’re in your audience’s wheelhouse. You have a chance of going viral.
3. Tips. A hard sell doesn’t work on social media. People don’t want to be promoted to by your account. They want to be informed, entertained and educated. They want your knowledge, expertise and advice. Share everything you know about injury prevention, weight lifting, cardio exercises, running, stretching, nutrition and more. Treat your fans and followers to a ton of terrific tips.
4. Recipes. Food plays well on social media for a variety of reasons, but mainly because it’s such a universal pleasure. Who doesn’t like to eat? Pictures of food can be particularly colorful as well, so they stand out in a cluttered news feed. Healthy eating? Now that’s the perfect combo for this particular audience, people who can certainly appreciate good food, but who know that food that’s good for you…well, that’s even better.
5. Profiles. With so many clubs competing for attention, sometimes the best differentiator are the employees behind the scenes. Showcase the human side of your brand. Put those who work for you front and center. Introduce them. Interview them. Include them prominently in your social media stream. Remember that people do business with people, not brand names and corporate logos.
6. Polls. Do you ask your social media audience for feedback? When’s the last time you asked them a question of any kind? If you show an interest in what those on the receiving end of your communications have to say, not only will you boost the level of engagement you have with them, but you may even receive feedback that you can actually use to make your business better.
7. Promotional Offers. While there should be far less promotional content in your social media stream than informational, educational and other types, that doesn’t mean you can’t tout your products and services on a regular basis. At least 10% of your content should be driving traffic to your business, maybe more, depending on your audience’s receptivity to such offers. Test for yourself. Incorporate discounts and deals into your messaging and see what sticks best.
— Commonwealth Sports (@CommSportsClub) August 9, 2014
8. Customer Service. Using social media to answer customers’ questions and keep one step ahead of their requests for support is a great use of these channels. As opposed to a phone call or live chat, it’s often a quicker and easier way to put out a fire. Prepopulate your streams with answers to FAQs. Enlist a variety of listening tools – such as Radian6 <
9. News and Information. Think of yourself as a publisher or broadcaster with each social media channel representing a near instantaneous way for you to get the word out about what’s going at your club. Hosting a road race on the weekend? Talk about it. Changing your hours of operation for the big holiday break? Announce them. Hiring a new fitness instructor? Introduce her. Don’t be shy with your updates. Stay top-of-mind with your constituents.
10. Philanthropy. Your facility may be involved in a number of different fundraising campaigns already, but you may not be publicizing such benevolence. Are you connecting with those local nonprofits that have a social media presence themselves? Are you leveraging online fundraising sites such as Firstgiving, Crowdrise and Fundly to raise money among your network? Don’t hesitate to announce your cause marketing efforts to your social media connections. Doing well by doing good is the best of two worlds.
— The Atlantic Club (@theatlanticclub) August 18, 2014
Note: This post, “10 Ways for Health Clubs to Flex Their Social Media Muscles,” was originally published on ClickZ on September 9, 2014 here and on the Overdrive Interactive blog on September 16, 2014 here.
Engagement rate. It’s one of the most important metrics in social media. After all, you could have a boatload of fans and followers, but if only a few of them are engaging with your content, they’re worth next to nothing to your brand.
What you want from your social media audience is a lot of positive chatter and buzz. You want likes, shares, comments, mentions, retweets and replies. The more interaction between you and your constituents, the greater the chances are of them doing business with you in the long run.
Of course, there are many different communications strategies and tactics for capturing people’s attention and triggering a response of some kind. You can make a lot of noise and be interruptive. You can get creative and stand out among the clutter. You can pay to play and put yourself in front of more eyeballs. But as any sales and marketing pro would tell you, probably one of the easiest and most obvious methods of engaging others is to show an interest in what they have to say by asking them to share their opinions with you.
Here are 10 good questions you can ask your connections in the world of social media, each of which promises to go a long way toward increasing your engagement rates across the board.
1. How was our performance?
It’s one of the best questions any brand can ask its customers, clients or guests. It shows you value their patronage and welcome their feedback. Thank them for their support. Ask if you’ve met their expectations. If they have anything negative to say, you’ll have the chance to turn things around. Any praise you receive is akin to a testimonial that could help you bring in more business.
@cargillcreative Thanks for checking in! How was your night?
— The Harp (@TheHarpBoston) July 22, 2014
Example: The Harp Boston
2. How can we help?
Wondering what to say in that next tweet? Ask your audience how you can be of service to them. They’ll appreciate the random words of kindness. Pay close attention to any legitimate criticism, though. After all, according to a recent Lithium Technologies study which you can read about here, over 70% of consumers expect brands to respond to their complaints on Twitter within an hour. So don’t hesitate to be proactive on social media. Make yourself available – even on short notice – to your customers and prospects. Respect the immediacy of these channels.
— 101.9 AMP Radio (@1019ampradio) July 23, 2014
Example: 101.9 AMP Radio
3. Who wants to win a prize?
Contests. Sweepstakes. Giveaways. Provide people with a chance to win something and you’ll get their attention. It doesn’t have to be an expensive prize, either. You’d be surprised how much demand there is for even the simplest swag, trinkets and tchotchkes. A free t-shirt is like a carrot on the end of a stick. It’s incentive to take action.
— ESPN (@espn) July 15, 2014
4. What do you think?
Many people relish the opportunity to express themselves in public. Give them an inch and they’ll take a mile. It’s human nature. Take advantage of this urge to rant, rave, gloat and glorify by taking a poll of your audience. Ask them anything. They’ll appreciate the fact that you care more about their thoughts and interests than your own self-gain. They’ll be glad to have the forum.
Example: Mohegan Sun
5. Did you know?
Another way to elicit a response from someone is to pique their curiosity. Challenge them with a question they’ll feel compelled to answer. Tease them with a piece of trivia that’ll make them think twice. Tie the content back to your brand and even better. Any new knowledge you can impart to your audience is bound to be appreciated.
6. Have you seen this yet?
A question such as this is best accompanied by a photo. You’re giving readers a peak behind the scenes, suggesting that they really don’t know what they’re missing until they’ve not only seen, but actually tried what you have to offer.
Example: Eagle Mountain House
7. How do you use us?
Crowdsourcing is a way to not only get some constructive feedback on your products and services, but a mass of nice content as well. Consumers are flattered when brands repurpose their pictures and messages. It’s a mutually beneficial scenario.
Example: L.L. Bean
8. Are you watching?
More and more people aren’t content to merely watch a TV program or live streaming event. They’re compelled to use a second screen – their tablet, smartphone or computer – to simultaneously take in the social media chatter about what they’re watching. This is a chance for you to engage with some of your most passionate fans while they’re especially excited about your programming. Don’t miss the opportunity.
RT If you’re tuning into the LIVE eviction episode right NOW! #BB16
— Big Brother on CBS! (@CBSBigBrother) August 1, 2014
Example: Big Brother on CBS!
9. What’s your favorite book?
Pick a universally popular topic and pop the question. It’s that easy. USA TODAY’s example below is just one idea. Ideally, your question will be associated with your brand attributes. But if your goal is to simply engage with your connections, any topic will do. Books. Movies. Music. Sports. You name it, they’ll respond to it – hopefully.
What's your favorite book? pic.twitter.com/Ql6D0IcBvf
— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) June 1, 2014
Example: USA TODAY
10. What motivates you?
Getting personal with your audience – especially if you’re talking about their interests, not yours – can lead them to open themselves up to you. Think like a good psychologist. Your job is to learn more about those on the receiving end without appearing cheesy or contrived. Asking them what motivates them is one way to increase engagement.
Example: Jazzercise Inc