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American Airlines Takes Social Media First Class

As a frequent flyer, I understand the frustrations of flight complications. So when I read this article on the Huffington Post about a nightmarish sequence of

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flights, I empathized. “There were maintenance problems, massive delays, wrong gates posted and flight times changed without proper notice,” laments the author of the article, Lauren DiMarco. “These are several of the reasons that people complain about flying the friendly skies.” But American Airlines is a savvy company with a fantastic social media presence and strategy. Twitter, in particular, is a fantastic example of American Airlines’ customer interaction. DiMarco actually prefers Tweeting with AA instead of calling their automated hotline. It got her the results she needed quickly and conveniently. And we’re talking about getting flights switched with special arrangements. If you’ve ever had to call an airline looking for a last minute adjustment, there is a good chance it didn’t go over well. What is great about this article is that you can apply the lessons to your own company’s social media efforts. How can you become more engaging on social media? Here are three quick guidelines to help you get started.

1. Be Thorough

How fortunate for American Airlines to make the effort to help a customer who happened to be a travel writer for a major website. You never know the influence any of your customers have. But never underestimate the power of word of mouth. Respond to everyone. American Airlines was the cause of so much of DiMarco’s strife, but thoughtful responses on Twitter diffused the situation and established her loyalty towards the brand.

2. Be Sincere

No one wants to be treated poorly by a sprawling, faceless corporation. Using social media as a mechanism for response is a step up from anonymous hotlines. Keep in mind, however, that folks hold their social media accounts as items of legitimate personal importance. Your company has a chance to offer a thoughtful and carefully-crafted response to any and everyone who reaches out to your brand. Take advantage of this.

3. Be Speedy

There is a reason people will Tweet before they call you. They aren’t looking to spend their day on the phone, talking in circles and getting a healthy serving of red tape to chew through. If you get a Tweet or Facebook comment, don’t let it sit for too long. Be ready to respond in a timely manner. Being reactive to your networks’ needs is a critical part of a healthy social media strategy. If your followers are taking the time to reach out to you, it is very important to extend your gratitude back to them. Being reactive leads to being proactive. And your audience will thank you for that. Follow me on Twitter @JohnFoleyJr!   Photo Credit

How Publishers Can Benefit from Social Networking

There is no doubt that social media has changed the way that people consume information. Many publishers have certainly felt the effects of that. People are searching, finding, and reading content on more channels than ever before. However, there is a way for publishers to use social media to actually grow their business. How so? I’m happy to provide ideas and inspiration in the presentation below:

I hope that you find the content within the presentation helpful. Some of the main topics covered included:

When is the Best Time to Tweet?

Tweet

Much like any other marketing campaign, Twitter shares one critical ideology:  maximum exposure. When you Tweet, are as many people seeing it as possible? If we put in the effort to carefully craft influential and noticeable Tweets, we certainly would want to make sure that they are being sent out at the times of day that will have the most impact.

A blog on theSocialMediaGuide.com says that the best time to Tweet, as a general rule, is 9:00 A.M. Pacific time. This is because West Coast workers are just arriving, East Coast workers are on lunch break, and the work day is ending in Europe, specifically London. If you have that much reach, this certainly sounds like an effective time to Tweet.

Of course, there are many studies and statistics on this topic. Fast Company posted a graph that indicated the best time to be retweeted is at 4:00 P.M.

It may be worth taking the time to review tools such as whentotweet.com for possible suggestions as to when you personally should be tweeting.

Guy Kawasaki has also had many things to say on this subject. Here’s one quote:  “Try this experiment: take your most interesting tweets (as measured by how many people retweet them, perhaps) and post them again three times, eight to twelve hours apart. I used to think that people would complain about repeating tweets, but I’ve never had a complaint. My theory is that the volume of tweets is so high and most people check in at about the same time every day, so people don’t notice repeat tweets.”

Mediabistro.com offers another perspective on the subject. “Of course, often this stuff is more art than science, and you could argue that it’s more The new benefits, rights and protections include the mandate for health individual health insurance companies to cover everyone regardless of pre-existing conditions (which 1 in 2 Americans have), stops insurers from charging women more than men or from dropping coverage for any reason aside from fraud, mandates that insurers cover a bunch of essential health benefits, wellness visits and preventative services with no out-of-pocket costs and generally increases the quality of your care. important having the right people reading your content, inasmuch as influencers and power retweeters, and they might be active at a completely different time.”

If you thoughtfully select who you follow on Twitter, then that may alleviate some of the stress of this notion. If you follow professionals and influential personalities, then someone of value may see your Tweet no matter what time of day it is.

Take note of when people reply to your Tweets and when you are retweeted, and take these figures into account when you are planning out your Tweeting schedule. You may want to save certain Tweets for these certain times, depending on how much you want it to be seen. A consistent and steady Twitter stream is always your best bet for reaching the biggest audience, but it might work in your benefit if you know when your audience is most engaged.

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Use Social Media for Online Press Releases

News image -- Hot off the Press

Not long ago, when a company was looking for affordable, broad publicity, they would turn to a newspaper and a press release. Those days have certainly changed, as social media has now become one of the greatest weapons in a PR practitioner’s arsenal. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other social networking channels all can be used as an inexpensive way to spread company news to a wide audience, and as a way to disseminate your uniform mission statement to all of your targeted publics.

How Social Networks Can Help Your PR Efforts

A social media press release can do the job that two printed publications are needed to do. Social media can reach an external public by promoting new offers, announcing new products or store openings, and also garnering followers and Likes. It can also act as a corporate newsletter. Announce new hires, retirements or promotions with an email blast, or a Facebook message to all employees.

And social media allows for more aesthetic value that traditional press releases sorely lack. A normal press release is often stuffed into the bottom of a newspaper page, replete with hyperbole and plain font

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that make it look like printed spam. An article on social media can be interactive, filled with examples and pertinent information that a reader will actually want to read. And you can optimize your headline and keywords for search engines to pick up. Your scope is far wider than any local newspaper could ever encompass. You can also take advantage of sites like Digg that compile news from all over the Internet.

PR professionals can also utilize social media as a conversational tool. They can tune into conversations that consumers are having as a result of their press releases, and they can participate and offer information on behalf of the company they represent. There are multiple tools out there for monitoring Tweets, use them to track feedback about your company and thank those who are praising your efforts and work to pacify those who are upset.

Moving Forward

The old idea of a press release may be fading away. But the general principle of a press release will always be a staple of classic public relations. Your company, like any other, will always need affordable ways to reach an audience without using an elaborate advertising campaign that can cost boatloads of cash.

Being social media savvy and knowing when to send out a message, to your internal and external audiences, can be a highly effective and efficient tool for you to use.

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Get Your Employees On Twitter

No business would survive if it were not filled with dedicated, persevering employees who understand the mission of the company. Regardless of the industry, they are the backbone of any successful business.

When it comes to social media marketing companies, however, employees have a slightly different role. They are very visible and engage in their own social media circles, which can at times be very large. Your employees can all be brand ambassadors. Have your employees get on Twitter and engage with industry professionals, potential clients, and other businesses.

The more engagement your employees participate in, the higher their number of followers. Twitter is unlike Facebook in that you can just accrue friends because you will already know a good deal of people using it. You have to do a little legwork to get Twitter followers. And if it’s done right, the followers your employees can acquire will be relevant people to your work and they will actively engage in conversation about your industry and new trends. And your employees should be Tweeting links to new blog posts that go up on your company blog, linking to new videos or podcasts, or any new content at all. Use Twitter, and your multiple employee accounts to build a strong network.

With great power, of course, comes great responsibility. And not just for Spiderman. Make sure all of your employees take care of their social media accounts and keep them clean and professional. Understand that irresponsible social media accounts can be very bad PR for your company.

Don’t be afraid to be personal as well! Connect with friends and share personal interests. You may have the same interests as your followers which could act as excellent conversation starters as well!

Twitter can be a very important tool for companies. Having a genuine, unforced interaction between employees, the company and followers can create a positive and connected network. There is value in promotion that isn’t directly from the brand. Having ambassadors to the brand is a successful strategy for you to promote the company and the mission.

Ignite Your Growth Heading to Windsor, CT

I am excited to share the news that I’ll be participating in another stop on HP’s Ignite Your Growth tour. On Thursday, May 19th, I’ll be speaking on the subject of “Using Social Media Marketing to Grow Your Business” in Windsor, CT.

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This event is being held at the Integrity Graphics building. Registration information can be found on HP’s website. If you’ll be in the area, I hope to see you there!

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Overwhelmed by Social Media? Download Grow Socially's guide book here! Download Grow Socially’s “Facebook For Business” White Paper Today!

Calling All Service Providers – Make Social Media Work for You!

Work Ahead Sign

If you’re in the business of printing, mailing, or fufilling marketing materials for other businesses, you absolutely need to be utilizing the power of social media to promote your company and build your business. The Internet doesn’t replace print media, no matter what anyone says. It doesn’t operate independently of print, it doesn’t function in a different business world than print. In fact, Internet businesses have a huge need for printed materials- brochures, flyers, invoice materials, packaging materials and dozens of other hard copy paper materials with text and images printed on them. Where do Internet entrepreneurs look for business partners? On the Internet, of course- and they are using social media to find them.

So… it’s time to do an inventory of your social media presence. Can people find you on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube? If not, here is a brief overview each of those channels.

Facebook

Facebook is the big daddy of the social media sites. This platform allows you to create a profile or even a fan page. The difference between the two may actually seem quite negligible to the average use, but they make a difference to you as a business owner. The Facebook Fan page allows you to have a professional business page where you can announce information, promote special deals or provide other information about your business. You can target your posts so they are broadcast to all of your fans or just to those in specific demographics, such as location or language. Pages don’t utilize the inbox like personal profiles do, so you cannot send or receive individual messages. Only the administrator or owner of a business can create a Page, but you can assign other administrators to help you maintain and manage the page. You invite people to become fans of your page and build your following when those fans invite their own fans and friends.

Twitter

Twitter is another big player in the social medial game. Twitter plays a little differently than Facebook by limiting each post to a maximum of 140 characters. While it may seem like the restriction could impede communication, the truth is many people love the challenge of saying what they need to say in a short, concise message and find it a time saver! Twitter is a great way to share links, posts to blogs and short messages with your customer base. One of the key features to remember with Twitter- and all social media platforms- is that you need to make sure you are actually being social and not just promoting your products. If all you do is hard sell, you will lose your followers or at best, simply be ignored.

YouTube

You Tube is another popular social media outlet. On You Tube, you post video for people to watch and share- they even share it on other social media networks like Facebook and Twitter! By utilizing video, you can show your products and demonstrate unique ideas, let your customers see the person behind the name, and let people see your facility, equipment, staff or anything else that makes you stand out from your competition.

P.S. If you are looking for more information on how service providers can use social media to grow their business, I devoted quite a few pages on the topic in my book Business Transformation: A New Path to Profit for the Printing Industry.

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Building Your Social Reputation

I wanted to take a quick moment to share this graphic with you:

Building Your Social Reputation

There are hundreds of millions of people on social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, and more

However, there certainly are quite a few holdouts too. I’ve recently had the chance to spend some time with people that know they need to be on social media, but just don’t know where to start.

During those discussions, I’ve used this picture to explain how some people can get started.

Here’s the bottom line: If you are going to get involved in social media, you must be willing to commit! Be determined to create content that helps to expose YOU to the world. Be determined to share helpful content, to participate in conversations, and to engage prospects and customers through multiple channels.

If you can follow-through on those efforts, your social reputation will certainly grow and prove to be beneficial.

The Changing Face of Tourism

Want to know what events are happening in your city or town this weekend? Most likely, the information is no further than your Twitter or Facebook account. Gone are the days when local newspapers, grocery store bulletin boards and local access television were the only options to inform the public about cultural events going on. These days, local planners, tourism boards and municipal coordinators are turning to social media as the preferred method for driving attendance. Using social networks to spread the word of a music festival, art walk or sporting event is not only an effective way to reach a local audience, but to showcase events and activities to an entire network of potential visitors, weekenders and out-of-town tourists looking to take advantage of free or low-cost cultural activities.

Municipalities are recognizing the value of social marketing in advertising, and reaping the rewards of increased revenues for local businesses. Visitors to cultural and sporting events bring valuable income to the community by dining in local restaurants, browsing through retail outlets, and in some cases staying the night in area hotels. Through consistent advertisement of upcoming events through Tweets, Facebook page updates, and through optimized promotional websites, cities and towns can enjoy increased attendance at events on a very reasonable budget. The increased revenue from these marketing efforts can benefit future events, creating a positive cycle of improvement and increased attendance over time.

Relationship-based marketing is especially effective in fostering a sense of community involvement. Many users of social media platforms feel this sense community within their circle of followers and online friends. By joining this trusted circle through social interaction and consistent updates, municipalities can spread the local message far and wide.