As many companies have already found out, having a business presence in
the social media communities (Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube) can have
a positive impact on the company’s bottom line. Being able to connect with
customers and prospects to build loyalty and community goes a long way in
today’s world, and social media marketing is changing the way customer relations
One of the main questions businesses ask when implementing their social
media strategy is, “Do we open this up to the company?” Some argue that
allowing employees to access social media sites during the day will result
in a productivity drain, and they encourage businesses to put website
filters in place and to ban social media sites from the workplace.
However, Australian scientists at the University of Melbourne recently
published an interesting study that found when employees take time to visit
websites of personal interest, such as social media sites, it provides them
a mental break and actually increases their ability to concentrate. The
scientists documented a nine percent increase in productivity among their
subjects. As they explained, “The activity helps keep the mind fresh and
helps put you in a better place when you come back to working on topic.”
Additionally, realize that people don’t work 100 percent of the time on
what they’re assigned to. They do other things, such as get a snack, go to
restroom, talk to co-workers, surf the web, etc. So they’re giving
themselves some distractions already. The question is, “Do you want to offer
a suitable distraction, or let your employees choose their own
distractions?” Clearly, giving your employees an acceptable distraction is
the way to go, especially if doing so helps the company’s bottom line.
With that said, you can’t simply allow everyone to post to the company’s
social media sites arbitrarily. You can’t rev the engine and then let go of
the steering wheel. Rather, you need to establish rules of engagement. The
following suggestions will help you do precisely that.
1. Put everything in writing.
Detail what is and what is not allowed to happen on your social media sites.
For example, you may want to specify such things as not sharing proprietary
information, keeping all posts positive, not sharing client information, not
divulging salary or benefit information, and not revealing any corporate
intelligence. What you allow or disallow is up to you and your specific
company culture. For example, some companies decide that they will talk
about their clients and customers (with the customer’s permission), while
others feel talking about customers invites competitors to try to steal
them. The main point for everyone to remember is that if you wouldn’t post
the information on your web site, then don’t post it on a social media site.
Make it clear in the document that if they break any of the rules outlined,
their job is in jeopardy. Additionally, reveal whether HR is monitoring the
emails, posts, and tweets. Have each employee sign off on the social media
rules and place a copy in their employee file.
2. Start by giving social media access to certain people to test the waters;
then open it to others in phases.
Rather than let everyone jump in feet first, start by forming a social media
committee. Send out an invitation to your staff for people to join the
committee (make sure they know it’s optional). Those who come to that
meeting will be the best people to represent you on the internet. Work with
them to help clarify the rules of engagement and to help define your
company’s purpose for being on the social media sites. Then, allow these
people to become social media advocates for your company. After a few weeks,
have them report back to you on what’s going well, what they’ve learned, and
what’s not working.
After you make policy or implementation adjustments based on their feedback,
open social media up to another group of people, and then another, until you
have everyone on the sites who wants to be there. Don’t force it on anyone.
If someone doesn’t want to tweet, blog, or do Facebook posts, that’s okay.
Forcing people to be your social media voice will backfire and cause more
harm than good.
3. Make it fun.
To get people excited about social media, have an internal contest. Give
everyone (or every department) a promo code for something happening in the
company, such as a special sale or event. Then, let people market to their
family, friends, customers, and social networks. Whichever person or
department has the most promo codes redeemed gets a gift or prize. It could
be a catered lunch or even a day off. The point is to engage the company
meaningfully so you can see some bottom line results.
One major retailer did this and had a $3 million bottom line improvement
during an economic recession. This company never opened social media sites
to its employees before. Now they’re a believer in the power of social media
marketing. So don’t be closed minded in terms of who can be on the social
media sites. Let everyone be a promoter of your company’s products and
4. Consider your IT and other staffing needs.
When implementing social media access company-wide, your IT considerations
are critical. You’re opening your company outside your corporate firewall.
Therefore, make sure you’re protecting your company’s assets and work with
your IT team to make sure you’re protected before opening those portals.
Additionally, while going doing social media posts can be a rewarding part
of people’s day, eventually you will need a full-time staff member to
oversee your social media activities. In fact, within the next two years,
every company over $2 million in revenue should plan to have that full-time
position as part of their company structure. Big companies already have such
dedicated positions in place; take your cue from them and start planning
5. Implement your social media activity and policy from the top down.
Your company’s top-level executives need to be willing to dive into the
company’s social media activities as well. If your employees see that the
CEO is on Facebook and posting tweets on Twitter and blogging regularly, and
that he or she is having fun doing it, your employees will embrace social
media as well. No matter what the company size, structure, or culture, the
use of social media needs to work its way down.
Contrary to what some people may think, social media — especially for
business — is not a fad. It may morph and change over time, but it’s
certainly not going away. Those companies that embrace it now and get its
employees involved will be the one to reap the most rewards. So set up your
social media guidelines and gradually phase it into your operations. Not
only will your employees’ productivity increase, but so will your company’s
Social media optimization (SMO) is the process by which you make your content easily shareable across
the social web. Because so many options exist for where people can view your content, the content model
for the web has shifted from, “We have to drive as much traffic to our website as possible,
” to the more pragmatic, “We have to ensure as many people see our content as possible.”
You’ll still want most people to see your content on your site — and if you’re doing it right they will
— but helping people view content through widgets, apps and other social media entry points will
accrue positive benefits for your brand. The more transportable you can make your content, the better.
If you’re ready to get started with a social media optimization plan for your organization, read on for an overview.
Before we get to the practical, let’s start with the “Why,” as in “Why you should care about SMO?” As you can see
from the chart below, social networks are driving an increasing amount of traffic to an increasing number of websites.
Sites like Comedy Central, Forever 21 and Etsy are seeing more traffic from social networks than they see from
Google. How social referral traffic is performing for you most likely depends on two factors:
1. How interesting your content is; and
2. How easily shareable you have made that content across a variety of networks.
Image credit: GigyaIn other words, SMO can lead to increased traffic to your site, as friends encourage their
digest specific content. If you can appeal to a given person, their friends are statistically more likely
to be interested in the same thing, so you’re likely reaching a well-targeted audience. Further, it also
leads to improved search engine optimization, as major search engines count links as if they were
votes for your site.
SMO isn’t just about building a bigger social media presence for your brand. Whether or not your
organization has a strong social network presence, the social networks of others can be leveraged to great effect.
1. Widgets and Badges
Before the sudden ubiquity of Facebook’s Social Graph, widgets were the go-to tool that allowed others
of other smaller social sites or programs like iGoogle.
The NBA is a good example of an organization that has used widgets to great effect, allowing passionate fans
to spread branded content across their social networks without ever landing on NBA.com to get it. At my
company, we had one client who produces a lot of video tell us their video views doubled when they stopped
forcing people to come to their site to see them.
Below is an example of what a simple widget might look like before and after a user activates it to share content.
consist of an embed code that allows the user to add an image to their blog that links visitors back
to your content. This is obviously harder to implement than a simple share button, but there are several
advantages. For example, each badge can have its own unique identifier connected to it, so a contest entrant
can drive visitors back to their specific entry page, rather than to a general site. And each placement of the
badge counts as a backlink to your site, as long as the person keeps the badge up.
2. Content Sharing
While most experienced social media marketers now understand the value of social sharing, there are
some key points to be made here.
one place where people share content through their widget, taking 38.52% of the pie. But that means that
over 61% of shares are being made elsewhere. Having said that, I’m not a huge fan of those “Share This”
and “Add This” buttons, unless they are supplemented in a way that features only a few major services.
In fact, AddThis’ own data shows that its toolbox (which displays only a few major networks, instead of
an expandable box of hundreds) performs 40% better than its regular widget. AddThis has even added
functionality to that toolbox that shows different buttons for each user based on what sites they personally
share to the most — even more targeting.
Gigya, meanwhile, has a handy tool that allows people to share to multiple networks at once without even
leaving your site. This is an excellent way to socially optimize your content.
3. Social Sign In
The goal of most websites is to attract visitors. Beyond that, you want the visitor to register. Why?
once by registering, after all. So if you can get the visitor to connect, you’ll likely see more time on
site, more pageviews, lower bounce rate and, if you’re operating an e-commerce site, increased sales.
The traditional long and cluttered registration form is a bit of a pain in the neck for users, and you may
be asking the visitor to marry you when they’re not yet sure they even want to date you. Social sign-in
can help solve this.
For sites that already have a large database of registered users, however, social sign in can make things
confusing, as you end up with duplicate records. To eliminate duplication, advanced sites are “sniffing”
when a registrant may already have a conventional account, and asking those users to sync the accounts.
This is something you should be thinking about now, before you end up with tens of thousands of split records.
Similar to sharing, remember that Facebook is important, but you shouldn’t put all your proverbial eggs in
one basket. Gigya reports that 46% of users sign in with Facebook, beating out Google as the preferred social
profile for making connections to other sites. Echo, a multi-platform sign-in module you can use, reports that
Yahoo is number one (34%) for sign in, ahead of Facebook (25%) on the top 10 sites they serve. Whatever data
you believe, it’s clear that providing choices will increase your chances of success.
Leaving a comment on a site is nice. Sharing that comment with your social network is a traffic driver.
Today, through programs like Echo, Gigya and Disqus, you can easily encourage people to share
their comments more broadly.
Facebook upped the ante dramatically when they added the “wordless” social comment, the Facebook
“Like” button. And people who click the Like button typically have 2.4 times more friends than people who
don’t, and they click on 5.3 times more links within Facebook than others.
Levi’s implemented Facebook Likes across its site to great success. Jeans, of all things, went through
the roof in terms of social commenting, and Levi’s quickly found that Facebook became its number one site
allowing people to share content without “liking” news articles about crime, for example.)
Since Likes show up as one line of text, and Shares show up as a link with a comment, progressive sites
are encouraging Shares immediately after someone presses the Like button.
Unless you’re a news site or a blog, part of the art of this is figuring out where to implement social
commenting and where to implement Facebook social plugins such as the Like button on your site.
When you get it right, it can drive traffic, but it can also provide social proof that your content
(be it a blog post or a pair of jeans) is “Like worthy.”
Given the importance of the referral traffic and the fact that many search engines, including Google,
strategy for socializing your website and your content is increasingly important.
What do you think? Have I overlooked any aspects of social media optimization that you think are
important? Be sure to leave your strategies in the comments.
Article by Jim Tobin
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