How To Take The Headache Out Of Starting Conversations On Social Media

How-To-Take-The-Headache-Out-Of-Starting-Conversations-On-Social-Media

By now, we’ve already established that social media as a whole is quite possibly the most powerful (and cheapest!) marketing tool you have at your disposal.

In fact, being on social media actually allows you to transcend the very simple and mechanical process of advertising your goods and services and getting your clients to buy from you instead of your competitors.

With social media, you’re actually forging a relationship with your followers : a much deeper connection founded on trust, respect, loyalty, and shared objectives and expectations.

Your followers will look at your brand and see that it’s far more than just a faceless, lifeless institution built with the intent of taking people’s hard-earned money; they’ll actually see that at the very heart of your brand is you, a human being who understands exactly what they need and can relate to your everyday problems as well.

Oddly enough, many seem to get lost in the shuffle, thanks in no small part to the convenience offered by the numerous social media tools that marketers use to curate content, schedule posts, and basically make implementing their social media strategy a lot easier.

In the mad rush to write tons of content and prepare visuals to stun and wow their audience, these people forget that social relationships are built on meaningful exchanges.

You’d be surprised at how important engagement is in terms of keeping your brand profitable (you can take a look at this infographic to learn more interesting facts about engagement across social media platforms).

Simply put, they forget that they’re supposed to be Iron Man… and end up being the Terminator instead.

My point is this: your work in engaging with your audience does not begin and end with you setting up your page and posting your content. After all, there’s no reason for people to have conversations with you if you’re the type who doesn’t seem to communicate in the first place.

Sure, you may occasionally (and I seriously mean “not all the time”) strike gold with an article, infographic, or even just a status message or tweet that sparks conversation and eventually goes viral. However, if you don’t answer back, there is no exchange of ideas, and therefore no real bond created.

It is in creating a real bond with your fans that your brand can inspire loyalty and a solid following, which in turn would lead to more conversions and increased profitability at the end of it all. And of course,to create that bond, you need to put some work into the process.

 

It’s normal to get complaints about your brand, services or products; it’s part and parcel of running a business. The added challenge here is that everyone will see what your dissatisfied customer has to say about you. As the old adage goes, you can’t please everyone.

However, what you CAN do is to make sure you don’t make them even more pissed off at you. The moment you get public complaints, address them immediately and discreetly — send the person a private message, do your best to deal with the issue offline, and present a personalized solution (or even better, a token or added benefit for the consumer to establish a resolution to the problem).

 

Spoiler alert: Social media conversations, much like conversations in real life, require an exchange of ideas.

Now, I’m not saying that you should write a long composition as a response to every single comment that your followers post on your profile; however, it wouldn’t hurt to say “thank you” to them every once in a while, or to give them a nice shout-out to let them know that you’re aware they exist and, more importantly, that you care.

 

3. It’s all in the names you use

Our names shape our identities and give us the social right to believe that we’re all special in our own ways and that everyone can aspire to be something more than what they already are.

Having a name makes us human, in short. That’s why it’s highly recommended that you have your social media management team sign off with their first names after every update.

It works the other way around, too: Address fans who give their feedback to you using their first names, and they’ll go crazy over it. Remember to tag usernames on Twitter — that’s another great way to personalize your conversation.

 

This is where social media monitoring really shines. It’s your manager’s duty to keep a close eye on your social media feeds and see if people are talking about products or services that belong in your industry.

Then, when an opportunity presents itself for you to join the conversation naturally — perhaps give advice, suggestions or recommendations, answer a question, or provide clarity on an issue you’re a known expert on — things just happen from there.

 

5. Ask questions (and make them want to offer answers).

Additionally, it also takes you showing (in concrete ways) that you actually want to know the answers to your own problems by asking your fans for meaningful input. The objective here is to get them to communicate for you to establish that they can count on you.

Why not ask fans for feedback on previously released products and campaigns, for example? This helps you build a stronger relationship with your consumer, which allows your bond to flourish and your mutual trust to grow stronger.

I’m sure you’ve heard about brand storytelling already — how it defines who your brand is and why it’s worth following. Well, all the stories in the world would not do a lick of good to your brand if you don’t show your consumers that there are people behind that brand who are working hard to deliver the product they want, need, or deserve.

Don’t forget that your one-on-one engagement with your target market is something that you ought to pay more attention to. Learn the value of communicating clearly and consistently.

You Too Can Become a Thought Leader on Social Media

“Thought leader.”

Not only does the title sound nice, but it also means that, to a considerable number of people, you are a respected subject matter expert whose opinions concerning the industry where you belong are backed by deep wisdom and experience. It’s a moniker you earn by having both a wealth of knowledge about the ins and outs of your field and a willingness to share what you know with the rest of the community.

It’s a wonderful thing to be regarded as a thought leader. A thought leader commands a certain amount of respect, wielding the power to shape opinions, influence decisions, and compel his or her followers to act, ideally towards the greater good or a favorable outcome. Warren Buffett, Seth Godin, Mari Smith, and so many others like them are well-regarded in their respective fields, seen as the go-to experts for questions pertaining to their areas of expertise. (Here, you might want to check out this infographic I prepared — some of my favorite quotable quotes from thought leaders who are active on social media!)

Whether used for a non-profit advocacy or to boost a brand’s reputation, thought leadership is the key to establishing the reputation of a person or a brand as a credible influencer who puts a lot of thought into their messaging and rarely, if at all, says the wrong thing.

Basically, a thought leader possesses five characteristics:

  • A thought leader is a credible source of information.
  • A thought leader is a respected authority figure.
  • A thought leader has the power to challenge and even change opinions.
  • A thought leader fosters and nurtures relationships.
  • A thought leader attracts loyal followers (and thus generates leads).

A great deal of thought leadership involves talking. With the right messaging and sufficient skill in communicating, a person with valuable and sensible opinions to share can groom himself or herself to become a trusted thought leader. And of course, the easiest avenue to reach as many potential followers as possible is through social media.

There are a number of reasons why thought leadership and social media go as well together as chocolate and peanut butter. In addition to improving your brand visibility, making yourself known as an expert in the industry, and helping you make more business contacts, here are a handful of the best reasons for a person considering becoming a thought leader to put time and effort into his or her social media accounts as well.

1. Thought leadership increases one’s following even without much advertising.

Audiences and potential followers will flock to your social media page when they find out that you have important and sensible things to say. (Of course, a little humor helps, too!) It’s all about providing value to your target audience: laying down truths, sharing knowledge, and basically being a reliable source of information in a manner that keeps them entertained and engaged.

Being on social media helps you get found — even more so if you combine Search Engine Optimization techniques with your high-quality content (whether visual, original, or repurposed). I’m not saying, of course, that you should stuff your content with keywords; what I am advocating, though, is to continuously provide valuable insight on topics related to your field and posting your thoughts on the appropriate social media channels.

2. Thought leadership via social media brings convenience and facilitates engagement, ensuring a two-way conversation every time.

You’ll quickly find that it’s a lot easier to build a reputation as a thought leader on Twitter or other such platforms. As a matter of fact, all you really need to do to get started is to tweet your thoughts (with the right hashtag, of course!) or even just share an article on Facebook, along with your (short) take on the issue in question.

3. Being on social media helps you develop the traits necessary to become a better thought leader.

First and foremost, a thought leader needs to have a well-defined, genuine persona that truly represents what he or she is (and stands for). Secondly, a thought leader must know how to identify his or her true target market, and must also be familiar with the social media platforms they are most likely to be members of.

This helps in identifying common ground (for example, what the that segment of the social media world is typically interested in) which the thought leader can use as a starting ground upon which he or she can build a stronger connection with the audience.

Social media thus serves not just as a soapbox, but also as a training ground for the thought leader in further developing his or her persona and devising an appropriate strategy to truly capture the relevant sector of the market.

4. Social media presents multiple avenues for building thought leadership.

Your audience can be anywhere on social media, depending on what it is you have to say to them — social media platforms such as Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn or even YouTube. Your options for building your “street cred” are anything but limited, trust me.

5. Social media presents multiple avenues for building thought leadership.

Your audience can be anywhere on social media, depending on what it is you have to say to them — social media platforms such as Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn or even YouTube. Your options for building your “street cred” are anything but limited, trust me.

6. Social media allows you to leave a bigger impact on a wider audience.

Here’s an example: According to KPMG’s 2011 report on businesses and social media use, business adoption rates for social media have reached an average of about 70% worldwide. Furthermore, the research also supports the notion that social media plays a big part in helping consumers make informed decisions about what to buy.

By utilizing social media, you can share your thoughts with billions of users online — across all industries, fields, and walks of life — helping them make important choices with the knowledge you possess.

7. Social media allows you to keep track of important metrics.

With social media analytics tools at your disposal, you can accurately gauge your reach, level of engagement, and most popular posts; the data you get plays a critical role in how you can further improve your strategy.

After all, what better way is there to ensure that you’re on the right track than to set measurable objectives?

Livestream Your Way to Success on Social Media with these Essentials

If  you’ve been following this blog (and I’m keeping my fingers crossed and my hopes up that you have been!), you already know about why I think livestreaming and social media are a naturally good mix.

I’ve also shared with you some tips and best practices that you could apply when you decide to go ahead and incorporate livestreaming into your social media management strategy.

Today, let’s take some time to talk about the elements that comprise a successful livestreaming campaign on social media. Breaking down livestreaming into steps will make it a lot easier for first-timers to fully grasp the scope of the tasks involved in the process.

Here’s a fact: Livestreaming is not as simple as just picking up a camera and taking a video of yourself or your event for the entire Internet to see (as much as I wish it were). Still, by knowing what you need to do, you can prepare everything and carefully plan how you’ll go about livestreaming your event.

Essential Components of a Successful Livestreaming Campaign

1. A recording device

Well, to start off, you need a digital camera, laptop, tablet, mobile phone… basically, anything that can record your activity. Heck, even a simple webcam would work. If you have an iOS or Android-enabled phone, you can use that to stream your videos directly to your followers on Facebook or Twitter using apps such as Meerkat or Periscope (which makes the whole process easier and lets you breeze through a step or two in the overall procedure).

Other folks would recommend using multiple cameras positioned at different angles to give your viewers a more comprehensive look at your event. Most people I know use two cameras to provide viewers with multiple angles and keep the production from getting stale or boring. Ultimately, it depends on what you think would work best for what you’re trying to show your audience.

2. A stable Internet connection

The second thing you need, of course, is an internet connection with enough juice to support your live stream as seamlessly as possible. You can check your connection via speedtest.net to see if it’s enough for you to successfully pull off your live streaming event. Otherwise, your livestreaming event might end up becoming a (very) delayed telecast!

3. An online video platform (OVP)

This is the livestreaming platform you’ll use to allow your audience to watch your event. Some popular examples are Livestream, Ustream, the aforementioned Meerkat and Periscope, and the ever-popular YouTube.

4. An encoder

Encoders serve as the capture point for your content (from your recording device), where it is where your video is processed and prepared for sending to your audience. Some examples are Adobe’s Live Media Encoder, Telestream’s Wirecast, and Cisco AS Range. If you plan to use YouTube, it has its own list of verified encoding software that you can use. You can get either a free encoder or an encoder that requires payment; naturally, the price varies depending on the features it offers.

5. Content

This is the part that really comprises the meat of your livestream event. When it comes to livestreaming, content is what truly matters to your audience. You can have all the necessary equipment for a livestream session, but if your content isn’t useful or compelling, there’s no reason for your audience to tune in.

Here are some important questions that you need to be asking yourself before or during the course of your livestreaming event:

  1. What is my maximum budget for this livestream campaign?
  2. What am I expecting in terms of monetization/ROI? What are the requirements for me to get my desired monetization levels, and do I have them?
  3. What is my livestreaming content strategy? Is it relevant to my objectives?
  4. Will my content be readily accessible wherever and whenever I need to?
  5. Will my content appeal to my audience?
  6. Will I be providing value to my audience through my content?
  7. Will I be able to interact with my audience?
  8. How is my audience distributed, in terms of demographics and geographical location?
  9. Have I surveyed the site where the livestream event will be broadcast from?
  10. Do I have a date and time set for the event?
  11. Do I have all the necessary tools and equipment on hand?
  12. Will I be working with a team on this project, or will this be a one-man show?
  13. How confident am I that I can handle all tech integration and stream configuration issues? Should I hire a professional to help me out?
  14. What is my overall marketing plan, and will livestreaming truly be beneficial for it?
  15. Am I presenting my content in such a manner that leaves it accessible to my Viewers, allowing them to make the most out of my livestream?
  16. Will I be able to derive meaningful statistics and data during and after the livestream?
  17. Will I be able to communicate with my audience during the livestream?
  18. Will my audience be able to chat/interact with one another during the livestream?
  19. Can my content be accessed from all the devices I should be targeting?
  20. Will my content be able to provide the same experience for my audience regardless of the time they tune in or the place where they’re located, given that they won’t all be tuning in at the same time?

One more thing: if there’s anything about the technical aspects of your livestream that you don’t completely understand, don’t be afraid to call a professional. It’s better to spend a bit of money on getting it right than to experiment and potentially cause more harm or waste more time than you’re ready to lose.

If done right, livestreaming can boost your social media presence tremendously. Need proof? Check out some interesting facts on livestreaming and see how powerful it has become over the past couple of years.

Livestreaming on Social Media: Tips, Tricks, and Best Practices

Unless you’re the kind of person who tends to be camera-shy, you’ve probably considered adding livestreaming to your social media marketing strategy, or perhaps you already have.

After all, what better way is there to attract audiences than to let them actually take part in your event, regardless of where you (or they) are in the world?

However, livestreaming really isn’t as simple as just picking up a camera and shooting whatever is going on at the moment. Like every good social media management campaign, your livestreaming campaign requires a lot of preparation, testing, and skillful timing.

Here are some of the best tips, tricks, practices, and precautionary measures before you do your first live streaming broadcast.

1. Be creative with the format.

There is really no such thing as a single right or “proper” way to live stream an event. It all depends on your target audience’s preferences, your brand, and your own input.Take advantage of the flexibility of the medium to gain a larger audience and more social media buzz. For example, you can host a Q&A session or simply walk them around a beautiful yet presently inaccessible place for them, all via online communication.

2. Be prepared with a backup camera.

Don’t rely on just a single videocam — if that one suddenly breaks down, your efforts will only end up in flames! Get or borrow a second camera of the same or similar type, so that you won’t have a hard time matching the settings on both in case you need a replacement immediately while you’re walking around for the video.

3. Take note of the quality of the audio and the video.

Have decent audio and video quality, as well as good lighting. This is absolutely important if you want your audience to keep watching, and not just lose them as soon as the bus stops.

4. Set important time schedules for setting up equipment and packing up afterwards.

One of the things you absolutely do not want to happen to you is to be forced to rush your setup operations — this is a guaranteed recipe for disaster! Instead, set aside about two to three hours extra, just for setting up and making sure that everything there is in proper working condition. The same goes for when your event is over: make sure that everything still works properly as you pack up. Also, set aside some time so that you can address whatever’s missing on your set and get it/them, if you really need to.

5. Don’t skip the testing phase!

I can’t emphasize the importance of this tip enough. You can never really predict if everything will go exactly the way you planned, especially not with technology. Testing not only allows you to check if your equipment is working, but it also lets you identify problems before they even manifest. Test early and often with the actual gear, location, and actual subject matter. One more thing: Know your upload bandwidth limit.

6. Plan out your broadcast carefully.

What will you be doing? Who will be joining you in front of the camera? Will you even be in front of the camera, too, or do you have a different host lined up for it? Also, do you want it to have a more professional vibe, or would you rather go for fun and relatable (and maybe invite some of the folks behind the camera to join you there as well)?

7. Be sure to record your broadcast.

The key point here is to get as many people to watch your stream as possible. Keeping a record of your broadcast and giving people access to it via their television sets is a very good idea, especially if you want more people to recognize your brand and content.[

8. Lead people towards watching your broadcast — spread the word!

You have so many tools at your disposal — in addition to your social media accounts, you can also use your email address and cellphone to invite attendees, promote your event, and even answer inquiries.

You can even create a landing page for your event, containing all of the relevant details so that your target market can easily find you and tune in and listen to what you have to say. Oh, and if any well-known personalities somehow find their way to your event and participate in it, there’s a more than likely chance that they’ll post about it on social media. Follow them and share (or retweet) away!

9. Get an early head start.

Don’t wait for the clock to hit your designated time schedule before you start your stream. The best course of action is to start it 15 to 60 minutes before the event even actually begins. This will allow you to ensure that everything is working properly, and will encourage viewers to also show up early and start spreading the word about the live stream.

10. Always have an alternate plan.

I’m speaking from experience when I say that it’s really hard to anticipate when things will go haywire. It is thus important to always have a backup plan, especially when it comes to livestreaming. You must be able to anticipate any machine malfunction during our meetup.

With these simple but effective steps, you can guarantee that your livestreamed event will be a smashing success, regardless of which streaming site you decide to use. Which reminds me: Which ARE you planning to be on? Have a look at this infographic featuring A Quick Look at Popular Livestreaming Sites to get a good idea of the features and advantages of some of the most popular livestreaming options out there.

A Wider Scope: Integrating Livestreaming with Social Media

One of the most valuable (and consistent) things I’ve learned from speaking to marketers and social media managers is that video content tends to have an easy time finding an audience.

It’s not really that surprising: A lot of users prefer watching videos over just reading plain text  (hence the rise of YouTube and its subsequent transformation into the content-sharing giant it is today).

If you recall what we talked about in the past few blogs (which I hope you read!), visual marketing is a strategy worth employing if you’re after building your community of followers and increasing your audience engagement. Video content tends to be especially effective in that regard, and when you take it up a notch with livestreaming, the results can be quite amazing.

Simply put, livestreaming is the process of shooting a video of an event or activity as it happens, simultaneously transmitting it over the internet and making it available for online users to watch. The concept is pretty simple; at its core, it’s basically you making a video, except you skipped all the parts in the middle where you splice clips, add music, and make edits, opting instead to keep things natural and, more importantly, live.

There are plenty of livestreaming options currently out in the market. Some of the more popular options are UStream, Bambuser, YouNow, Blab, and (the appropriately-named) Livestream. On the other hand, there are other platforms, such as Periscope and Meerkat, that set themselves apart from the competition with their mobile-first approach. You’ll never run out of options, basically.

Here are a few of the most important reasons why you should consider adding livestreaming to your social media strategy:

1. Livestreaming allows you to share events live (which is something you can gather from the name itself, I believe!)"

It’s difficult to overstate the significance of sharing what’s going on in an event, right as it happens. Have you ever been to a pay-per-view event where you got to watch, say, a boxing match with other fans, seeing every punch, dodge, block, and footstep as they happen? Well, think of livestreaming as that, except you actually get to give your own commentary on how punches were thrown or provide comments on why you think your guy would win. Pretty exciting, right?

2. Livestreaming keeps things fresh and new.

Among the many great things about livestreaming is that it grants you complete control over what you show your audience. It prevents them from getting bored because they’ve been staring at the same thing for quite some time already, and also relieves them of the burden of having to use their imagination to visualize things if they were to just read a blog post about an event. You can even communicate directly with your audience and ask them what they want to see, which in turn helps you learn more about them and establish a deeper connection with your target demographic.

3. Livestreaming makes your exclusive content even more appealing.

We love the feeling of exclusivity. Society loves premium items and special things, and online users are no exception. Livestreaming can create the notion that what you’re showing is of great importance, and that people should be tuning in because it’s not a pre-recorded thing, but an actual live event where they can even interact with you or whoever is featured in the presentation. Livestreaming content can also be seen as a reward of sorts for your followers, in the sense that they’re getting updates live from you because they chose to follow you on social media (and were thus made aware of your event).

4. Livestreaming can be used to help build confidence in your brand.

If you’re willing to show the side of you that can’t be construed as manufactured or pre-planned, your community will see you as a provider of products or services who is sincere in wanting to help them solve their problems. This humanizing effect on your brand is a fantastic way for your target market to see that you’re genuine — and that your brand cares about them and deserves to be trusted.

5. Livestreaming is cost-efficient.

There was a time when shooting a video to show your audience would cost you a lot of money. With livestreaming, however, all you need is a camera, a computer, and an internet connection. No ad dollars spent, and no extra expenses in hiring people to help you produce your visual content.

6. Livestreaming can help you establish yourself as a thought leader.

If you make an instructional video, a helpful guide, or a live demonstration of you and your team as you work on a specific product or process, this would greatly help your status as a genuine thought leader in your industry. You can, for example, take a video of yourself while discussing the implications of current political trends on global affairs, or even do something as simple as demonstrating how to fix a broken watch or glue the pieces of a broken vase back together. Regardless of the subject matter, livestreaming can be a valuable ally in persuading people that you actually know what you’re talking about.

7. Livestreaming improves engagement with your audience.

Another advantage of livestreaming on social media is that, as I’ve mentioned earlier, you can actually communicate with your audience and find out exactly what it is they want to see, or if they have any problems that you can help solve. By giving a real-time means of finding a solution, your audience will be more convinced that you actually do care about their time and input (which is definitely a big boon in anyone’s case).

In summary, livestreaming is a highly valuable ally in social media marketing, especially since it was developed for the purpose of creating shared experiences among consumers. With the right push and a clear idea as to where you want to go and what you want to accomplish, merging livestreaming and social media will yield great results (as illustrated in this handy infographic below) and help you discover how to really make things click between you and your audience.

Of course, adding livestreaming to your current content lineup doesn’t mean you should forget about writing entirely! On the contrary, having different kinds of content for sharing will greatly benefit you in identifying the needs and preferences of your audience.