Saturday, October 30, 2010

Social Media Triggers Us To Be Helpful!


Well at the start let me confess that I myself am glued to the world of Social Media Network Online. So much so that apart from my personal life I have made a profession out of it and am into freelance Social Media Network Online which also takes us to the Online Reputation Management System. And so I lead my life on the Social Media Network Online.

You may have received panic chat messages to loot a certain Bangkok bank on 'Mafia Wars' to which you simply cannot disregard but end up helping. Sometimes a panic message seeps in to help harvest in 'farmville' or for a pet that needs a home in 'petville'. To which you may start to search frantically and help. This help could be to a total stranger. Irrespective of time and day if you are online you are helpful. Your concern levels are high and you cannot ignore your own pet in 'petsociety' who is starving and needs food and a little cleanup as there are virtual flies all around it.

It is difficult for most to sleep and call it a day without a peek at the Facebook and Twitter status. And ofcourse what we login to for a quick peek ends up being minimum an hour and so on. We are logged in and very concern about someone else frame of mind. Our own state of mind is not understood by us till we broadcast a post and then we also along with the world understand what is happening to us, what we like and dislike.

Viewing the profile of friends and strangers has become our prerogative online and we even go to the extent to encouraging others to post, incase they have not for a long time we may even remind them by a simple click on Facebook that says 'reconnect'.

When we do not do the above, our mind unconsciously starts to remind us about our various online commitments; starts to make us a wee bit uneasy and we start off having withdrawal symptoms. Maslow in today's world would have added Social Media Network Online as one of the basics that one needs to survive apart from food, clothing, shelter, security etc.

Well the online world enables us to be what we could not. In web 2.0 online societies you can be an astronaut, a doctor and many other avatars. No need for anything just register and select your avatar and then go about daily activities online and get caught up in this too.

With such a state of mind and so much more openness would any brand or marketer dare to miss this world of opportunities? Online Social Network is all about meeting people in a state and scenario that they are most comfortable in. It is the right time to share with them and gently lead them to your end.

To discover, share, question answer sessions and converse on Social Media do join me at facebook.com/pervarakapadia
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Does 'Like' On Facebook Lead To Purchase? - Social Media

Many a times am asked by brand managers that, if a person clicks 'like' on Facebook Fan / Business Pages then does it mean that the person will buy also? Before we start to answer this lets as first step try to understand what exactly is 'like' and why people click 'like'.

What is 'like' and why people click 'like':
  • 'Like' is so far the only way to get an entry onto the brand / company / business Page. So basically it is a 'connector'. Had the 'like' word been anything else as connect, contact, join, same amount would have joined! What do you think!?
  • Just because the site has called the connector as 'Fan' and keeping this as the only connection button / click it does not mean that people clicking are Fans by the true definition of Fan.
  • It is universal truth that people like discounts and freebies - this is since the time currency came into society and barter system was out. Maximum people join Facebook Pages to receive these.
  • People also join to get inside information,to receive updates, to be the first to know, to be seen and to show that they support a brand / cause, for fun and entertainment and so on.
  • There are certain segments who find it convenient to complain, give feedback etc also.
  • There are those who join because it is recommended to them by someone.
  • And, yes there are those who would like to interact and share.
Coming back to the question does 'like' on Facebook lead to purchases - not really. However the good part is that it works extremely  well as influence and getting into consideration mindset. And this over period of time leads towards preferring the brand / business / company.

Now your turn: according to you would clicking a 'like' button take us to definite purchase? What is your take?

To discover, share, question answer sessions and converse on Social Media do join me at facebook.com/pervarakapadia
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Sunday, October 24, 2010

When To Use Facebook Pages And Facebook Groups - Social Media

We are aware that Facebook enables brands and companies to have connectivity to their customer sets respectively. With the recent announcement on Groups from Facebook quarters we know that Facebook Groups was in news in a big way. Facebook Pages has been around as well. Given this scenario I have been asked many a times that if we already have Facebook Pages then when do we need the Facebook Groups?

A justified query, the reason being that if you have put in time and energy in developing the Page then are we to dissolve everything and start getting people on-board onto Groups? And why so. The introduction of Facebook Groups is not done with any intent to dissolve the Facebook Pages. Infact Pages become more stronger with Groups as add on.

Groups can be used primarily for varied purpose. Like for instance:

  • Have family based Groups: so when you put up photos and messages not all of your Facebook friends / list can be disturbed and interfered with.
  • Have closed friends Groups: here you will have your privacy and just have your gang / group of friends communicating without the world really interfering onto your team.
  • Have colleagues team up on a task / project: If your work environment suggests that you have a team then enable the Groups to have updates and status reports come up on the Groups wall for all to view at same time; comments will be seen and interacted / acted upon as well. 
  • And so on, Facebook Groups have a reason to exists.
Coming back to the question - when we already do have Facebook Pages then why should we have Facebook Groups? To understand this we need to step back and recap on what is Facebook Pages. Add to this, we are to understand that Pages have people, I repeat all people, from all walks of life connecting to you via a single Page. Now lets assume [or maybe you have already experienced] a situation wherin your Facebook Pages has a broad value. Say for example if your Page philosophy / intent / purpose / reach is broad based and people who have joined your Page get very involved. You may now see that there is a reason to bifurcate into smaller groups. The reason being that certain people are addressing a particular issue. For this you need not create another Fan Page what you need now is to create small Facebook Groups. 

So in business you need to create Facebook Groups strategically. Such that while you have your main Facebook Page as umbrella, the various Facebook Groups could be created to address more in-depth conversations  / issues. 

Share in your reasons as well to let people know how you use Facebook Groups and Facebook Pages.

To discover, share, question answer sessions and converse on Social Media do join me at facebook.com/pervarakapadia

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Meta Tags And Keywords In Social Media

While working on Social Media you will have heard about Meta Tags and Keywords.

These are the things you build into your web / blogs / Social Media pages so that the search engines find your site and rank it favorably. You should also know that there are many dozens of off-page criteria that the search engines (SE's) look at as well - this is more of technical side though.

How does a search engine know that a page has relevance to a particular search term? They use one or more of the following on-page criteria [this is also known as on-page SEO].
  • File Name
  • Page Title
  • META Keyword Tag
  • META Description Tag
  • H1 Headline
  • Keyword Density
  • Links
  • Image Alt tag

While various search engines rank the importance of the above criteria differently, you should be consistent in applying all of them to your pages for increased website traffic. 
Determining keywords that are profitable is one of the most important techniques you can master as you bring your small business online.

What is keyword?:
Any time someone uses a search engine, they type in a word or phrase. This word or phrase is known as a keyword. The search engine spiders [script / programme] goes out and retrieves all the web pages that focus content on that particular keyword or keyword phrase. 

The more relevant the web page is to the keyword, the higher the page ranks in the search engine. Each web page contains a place in the HTML coding to insert these keywords. This helps the search engines determine page content. This is a bit of a simplification as search engines use many other criteria to rank pages. However, keyword focused content pages are the most important on-page criteria. 

When you may write poor content that is not keyword focused and you will have a difficult time ranking highly in any search engine.

So, how do you know / choose the proper keyword for any particular web page? The answer is quite simple. You research keywords that pertain to your business and choose the ones that have a high demand and low supply. 

The Demand of a keyword is a measure of the number of times people have searched for that keyword in a particular period of time. The Supply of a keyword is a measure of how many total web pages focus on that keyword. Keywords with a high demand and low supply will allow your page to rank higher in the search engines and will drive more traffic. 

The best way of determining keywords is to use a good keyword research tool. The purpose of these keyword research tools is to allow you to enter a specific keyword related to your business and then see how many times people searched for that keyword [keyword demand] as well as how many web pages are focused on that keyword [keyword supply.] 

In addition, a good keyword research tool will come up with new keywords related to the initial one you typed in, giving you ideas for branching out and coming up with dozens of other high quality keywords. 
 
Find this interesting?  

To discover, share, question answer sessions and converse on Social Media do join me at facebook.com/pervarakapadia

Twitter Is Part Of Your Customer Care


Many a times we may observe that companies are trying to see how best they can use Twitter to promote their products and services. Unfortunately not many get the basics right. The fact is a few good tweets can also provide great customer service.

There are various topics that you could Tweet on. For instance:
  • Tips on how to maintain your products. Since you have been in your industry over quite some time you will know the nitty gritties of your product as well. Your years of experience can help you gain credibility on Twitter as a leader in your profession. 
  • If there is new arrival taking place provide a sneak peek. Announce new arrivals of inventory. These tweets can be particularly effective when targeted to customers who have registered their product preferences.
Twitter isn't the sole solution to beating the competition, but it can be one of the many strategies you employ to reach new and current customers.
What should you take care of when you plan your Tweets?; What are the various ways you can use Twitter in your marketing?: There are several ways you can use Twitter but here are some which can help you immediately:
  • Build an audience: This is most important as you want to build an audience of followers who are interested in what you're sharing via your Tweets. As suggested above if you have a special going on? Send a Tweet. Is there an important news event in your industry that you wrote about? Send a Tweet pointing to that article. Give lots of value and make conversation, not selling.
  • Monitor what they say about you / your brand / your company: Find out what people are saying about you and your industry. This is one of the best ways to stay on top of what is really happening.
  • Monitor what they say about your competitors: You need to be aware of what is happening in the world. Using Twitter is one of the best and fastest ways to keep up with what is going on today.
  • Become a resource, not a salesperson: One of the cardinal rules of marketing with Twitter and other Social Media sites is to be a resource of information and not an annoying, pest selling stuff. Hey, there's nothing wrong with selling and I believe everyone is selling something. However, today you have to do it in a conversational, problem-solving way. Provide lots of valuable information and people will want to be around you.You do not loose by sharing.
So go on, Tweet your way to customer's heart! How do you go about doing this?
To discover, share, question answer sessions and converse on Social Media do join me at facebook.com/pervarakapadia

Article Marketing - Social Media

Article submission is a great way to do propaganda about your business, your blog, your website, or yourself too. 

If you are writing about your business or your blog a good authentic article fetches you a great number of traffic.If you are writing about yourself then it gets you the 'expertise' value. Many search engines crawl and hook onto the keyword and keyword phrases of a site to put it in their results list. If your content contains a good number of keywords and keywords phrases, your site gets a higher position in the search engine listings. Ofcourse this does not mean that you keep stuffing the article with key words and phrases just about unnecessary. 

Content for certain subjects need in-depth knowledge. This can be done with research. Today research is just a click away in most of the cases.
If you are bent on getting traffic to your site and you do not have the time to write the articles then you can take the help of ghost writers.
Keep in mind to not plagiarize. Copy and merely pasting of part or whole of the content is known as plagiarizing. This is definitely not advised. If you don't have the time or the right resources then wait. There is absolutely no need to hurry. Content is the key to getting the reader tuned into your article and retaining the reader too. 

Almost all of the time a plagiarized article submitted will never be released. Add to it if you have an account with that particular website then a plagiarized article can lead to suspension of your account. So be very careful.

To discover, share, question answer sessions and converse on Social Media do join me at facebook.com/pervarakapadia

Email Etiquette - Social Media

You know that online engagement is the core of Social Media. Engagement via the Social Media sites like Facebook, Twitter and others is very essential. Email would also be a good part to engage your customer sets. Would you consider email as part of Social Media? Well in all probability yes, people do interact via email, they do get involved and hence email does enable engagement.

An old news:
For most people who have access to personal computers, email has rapidly overtaken 'snail mail' as the preferred means of sending written communication, both business and personal. The near-immediate delivery and low cost of email are hard to beat, but the technology does have limitations when it comes to typographic finesse. Here are some dos and don'ts to ensure that your electronic communication is received with its message intact.

Fonts and Formatting
It's tempting to format outgoing email with different fonts, point sizes and colors, and to punch up your text with the use of italics and boldface. Unfortunately, what you send is not necessarily what your recipient gets. Some email programs don't read special formatting, including fonts that your reader's computer doesn't have. And many allow the user to set preferences for plain text instead of rich text, which includes styling. The result: your carefully formatted email is reduced to plain text, or worse, littered with 'alien' characters (more on that below).

What's the solution? First, stick to system fonts, such as Arial, Times, Verdana, Trebuchet or Geneva, which virtually all users have. And, unless you're certain that the recipient can read your formatting, keep it simple and use only keyboard characters and styling that won't get lost in translation. For emphasis, try surrounding your important text with *asterisks*. ALL CAPS is another option, but one to be used sparingly. Remember that CAPS are considered SHOUTING in the cyberworld!

These simple Social Media etiquette take you a long way. What do you think?

To discover, share, question answer sessions and converse on Social Media do join me at facebook.com/pervarakapadia

Simple Philosophy In Social Media

Watch your thoughts; they become words.

Watch your words; they become actions.

Watch your actions; they become habits.

Watch your habits; they become character.

Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.

To discover, share, question answer sessions and converse on Social Media do join me at facebook.com/pervarakapadia

How To Write A Blog For Better Engagement In Social Media!

Blog writing is a very important area in Social Media. You need to have a good schedule of writing blogs and have a good list of topics that you may want to cover. The most realistic way of writing blogs would be to concentrate on what is relevant to your reader. Once you have understood and know what is relevant your  reader you then need to have a focus on what is feasible from your end. Reason being that whatever focus you take up you will need to be consistent with your posts on your blog. For this you will need to select topics that you would be passionate about so that in critical and busy times also you can dedicate yourself towards blog writing.

So how do we write blogs?

  • Omit all unnecessary words
  • Aim at keeping your posts at about 250 words
  • Include complete thoughts in headlines
  • Keep sentences and paragraphs short
  • Never lose your sense of humor
  • Write like it counts
  • White space is your friend
  • Use the simplest possible word and sentence structure
  • Read your post out loud and make sure you don't get stuck on complex construction
  • Use bullet points whenever you can
  • Use subheads every few paragraphs, even in a 300 word post
  • Use bold text and italics for emphasis on words and phrases
  • Make sure your posts are easy to scan
  • Choose your voice and keep it consistent
  • Don't be afraid to voice opinions.
What is your take? Please add more parameters to this.

To discover, share, question answer sessions and converse on Social Media do join me at facebook.com/pervarakapadia

How To Use Social Media In Your Small Business

For small business owners the Social Media landscape could be slightly overwhelming and daunting. With other tasks at hand you may require a special person dedicated to your Social Media requirements.

In order to help you in working towards your brand exposure on Social Media am sharing a couple of pointers for your to start working towards:
  • People do business with people. Hence what you need to make sure is that there is human touch to your entire online activities. Social Media is not and should not be a constraining factor to any business. The logic is very simple here on how to determine if your business should take the Social Media path. First and foremost check on who is your target audience. Your target audience decides if you should be on Social Media or not: If your customers are online then you 'may need to consider Social Media'. However this plain understanding is not enough to decide that you should be on Social Media space.
  • Have a blog. Blogging is just not for personal usage. It is useful in business as well. Plan what is it that you will blog. Have a planed schedule as well of the topics that you will be blog about. Business blogging is a complex topic, and there will never be one magic formula that applies to all companies.
  • Let your followers feel special. Allow them a peek preview at various things happening at your organization / brand.
  • Share and be transparent. This is very essential in Social Media. Do not be anonymous, make it a point to reach out to your people online.
  • Have fresh content. Have  a schedule wherein you have  marked out well before hand on the content and be consistent at posting. While working on Social Media it is important to maintain integrity and ethics. Blatant copy pasting someone else's hard work is just not correct. It could mar your professional credibility. You could loose out on potential clients and start to give out an image of yourself as not being genuine. Content curation is about appreciating and synthesizing work of others. Allow me to repeat myself: it is not about copy pasting someone's hard work;  It is reviewing and filtering it is all about synthesizing. Content is the an additional main criteria. Know and understand what is relevant to your target audience. Mark out your topics well in advance on what you would want to discuss on the Social Media sites and blogs etc. Decide on what you want to be perceived as.
  • Decide on keywords. It is essential for your to know your target audience and decide on the keywords that you are to maintain throughout your interactions online. Use on-page SEO [Search Engine Optimization].
  • Have an escalation matrix to handle complain. Also have a plan of action for negative and rude language that people might use online with regards to your brand / business. When the comments are directly towards you at a personal level you may tend to re-act a little more strongly. When it is towards your business or brand then you at first step try to plan but yet could have a strong urge to re-act. Have a plan for spam that you will have to face.
  • Interact and respond to people on your blog / Social Media sites. If you do promise to revert then make it a point to get back with appropriate information.
  • Reward people. Your active and loyal members will enable your messages to spread. They will help you to see the correct perspective during discussion as well. They are precious, preserve them.
  • Encourage members helping each other. When members interact they get more involved. Allow them to interact. Encourage this.
  • Listen and monitor. This is extremely critical. Have tools and and have access to software that enable you to know who has written what about your business and brand.
  • Connect and bond with persons of your industry. This is essential. Share knowledge. Our knowledge does not decrease if we share.
  • Understand and know the various Social Media sites. To know their functionality and work within this is essential. For instance Twitter requires 140 characters however if you want that your matter gets re-Tweeted then you need to have 120 characters to be on safe side.
  • Note that it is not the amount of followers it is the quality that matters. Remember that we have human beings connecting to us, so we need to approach our contacts on a humane level. Avoid copy pasting similar messages.
  • Have tools to measure and track your activities. It is important to measure the ROI [Return On Investment].
  • Keep in mind that Social Media is a good investment though it starts to reward you over a period of time. It is not a quick conversion getter. Establish yourself and your brand on the relevant Social Media sites.
Social Media is a consistent and constant efforts. Let us 'never' think that once the basics are set up it will all generate talks on its own. People always need a little push and a little nudging. Social Media no doubt catches momentum, but one has to keep the momentum going. We cannot say that without an 'active driver' the Social Media will continue to create and achieve our objectives.

Your turn: share your pointers as well to enhance small business endeavor on Social Media.

To discover, share, question answer sessions and converse on Social Media do join me at facebook.com/pervarakapadia

Friday, October 15, 2010

Sidewiki Is Also Part Of Social Media

Hi! Have you used the Sidewiki facility? Do you feel comfortable with this?

Since some time back Google has set up an interactive tool that permits the public to comment about any web site in a side bar displayed in their web browser. 

The tool is integrated in the latest version of Google Toolbar and works with Firefox and Internet Explorer and Google Chrome. To use Sidewiki, download the most recent version of the Google Toolbar and set it to enhanced.

Once activated, Sidewiki glides across from the left and becomes a browser sidebar, where you can compose entries in a vertical column and read the entries of other people. To activate Sidewiki, you simply click on the Sidewiki button in your Toolbar menu or the little talk bubble on the left hand side of your screen.

What is your take on this facility? Have you used it?

To discover, share, question answer sessions and converse on Social Media do join me at facebook.com/pervarakapadia

Social Media Is CRM

Social Media lends itself to Customer Relation Management. Infact Social Media enables CRM to increase the brand and customer connect, get interactive and be more receptive. Thus increasing the brand awareness, creating a positive brand perspective and thereby encouraging loyalty. This then leads to more sell and up sell. It also encourages the existing customer to become the brand ambassador and introduce new members to the system.

Those organizations willing to invest the time and resources required to develop and support a strong virtual presence are gaining practically unlimited access to consumers' steady outpouring of raves and rants, toward favorite and disliked companies and products. Tying this invaluable data into a CRM solution generates sales leads, ideas for product direction and strengthens a company's image and brand. As a result, those companies that use the strongest social CRM integrations should increase revenue; expand market share; improve their corporate image and, maybe, even fine-tune product development to offer items with the most wished-for features or capabilities.

Unlike traditional CRM, which creates vast internal databases of clients and prospects, social networking sites are external repositories of direct communication and indirect comments about businesses, products, people, experiences and an array of customer sentiment. Therefore, CRM software developers are creating tools that allow companies to locate, absorb and use the thousands or millions of messages about their company, products, advertising campaigns or reputation.

At little cost or effort, a business now potentially can reach far more customers or prospects. Opinionated social networking users become a virtual focus group, praising or complaining about a company's offerings, and coming up with suggestions for improvements or new products or brands. Social CRM also allows a company to track - and interact with - those who are vocal in their displeasure with a given product, service or brand.

Service calls may drop, too, as consumers reach out to their personal networks as the first round of contact for a technical question or how-to query. Savvy responders also become a company's asset, perhaps becoming thought-leaders or go-to resources in product developments.The goal is to build on the success of CRM solutions, adding the 'social' capability and enhancing the overall customer experience and revenue-creation opportunities. To accomplish this, companies should create customer-focused online communities with well-established components like blogs, forums, chats and wikis. Businesses also need to monitor social networking sites, recognizing and rewarding - often with badges, stars or other low-cost measures - those who are most proactive and communicative about a company's products or services.

In addition, social CRM should incorporate the strong workflow capabilities of traditional CRM software systems, otherwise all this important data may be relatively useless. Businesses must ensure all relevant departments and individuals have access to the information streaming into their computers via active social networks. Likewise, executives want results, they want to see if their investment has a direct correlation with the goals of increased revenue, decreased support, expanded market share and enhanced brand. So it is imperative that social CRM includes business intelligence or analytical tools that measure success and help guide any corrections or enhancements along the way.

Unlike a strong corporate website, businesses should tap the boundless, less structured and uncontrolled world of social media. Those communicating about a company or brand may never visit the company's home page, preferring to disseminate their comments, opinions and suggestions from LinkedIn to Facebook. Social CRM then, must go to the source, not try to bring the source to it.

Your turn: What is your take?

To discover, share, question answer sessions and converse on Social Media do join me at facebook.com/pervarakapadia

How To Avoid Mind Blocks And Write In Social Media

Working in Social Media could be time consuming. Writing with creativity and still adhering to the brand personality is a skill that one learns over a period of time.

You need lots of skill to get your writing to a higher level. This is feasible. Yes very much possible.

The keyword here is exercise. So, how does one do this? Just the way you need to do exercise to maintain and enhance your body, similarly, for the brain you need brain exercise.

What is brain exercise? Simply put it is a constant effort to keep your brain active and 'in shape'. What this means is that the cells in the brain need to have a good interchange of fluids.


Writing requires the interaction of various parts of your brain. This interaction isn't developed without practice, nor does the interaction stay constant unless you consistently practice.

The reason it works is because writing is a skill that you get better at with only by practice. And writing consistently to a certain level builds your writing muscles.

This takes place when you write an "article a day". Just write an article a day, of around 400 to 800 words, every day for a week. At the end of the seven days you will be a better writer. You'll write much more easily too. You will soon notice that you write better. The thoughts will flow with ease. What is interesting is that you will start to realize how you think and how to sort your thinking out to pen it. This is usually very helpful when facing deadlines. It prepares you to understand yourself and go about smoothly with your thoughts.

Not only does this give you good amount of material that you can sell, it also takes your writing skills to a new level.


How long should your articles be?

Aim for a reasonable length: around 600 to 800 words is good, but shorty articles of 250 to 500 words work too.


Happy writing!


To discover, share, question answer sessions and converse on Social Media do join me at facebook.com/pervarakapadia

How To Do Welcome Tab On Facebook - Social Media

Hi! When your customer comes to your Facebook Business / Fan Pages what is it they see first? Naturally a welcome note. However is this having any kind of synergy with your brand? Is there any kind of similarity between your site / blog and your Facebook Pages. Do your customer set feel that they have navigated to your 'same brand'? or is there a feeling of miss match?

Social Media requires consistency and synergy in Brand Identity:
It is essential to maintain brand identity throughout all touch points. For this Facebook has provided a handy tool call FBML. You could try page making from this. However is working on FBML slightly confusing and difficult? I have recently come across a site that enables you to have a great welcome page for your Facebook Business / Fan Pages. It is simple and easy to prepare. You can check its output at: facebook.com/pervarakapadia click on the 'Welcome' Tab and experience this.

For your Social Media endeavor to get a step ahead you do need to have good and relevant tabs on Facebook as well.

What do you need to have a brand tab on your Facebook Business / Fan Pages:
Pagemodo's site enables you to have the facility in free. What's more you need not have any graphic skills. The site is amazingly user friendly you need not know programming nor FBML. Easily you can embed photos and videos. You can also have a link to your site or blog. You can type your text and upload your images that you want to. You can select from a good variety of page layout as well dependent on what you want to portray. You have options to select a complete colour range as well. Pagemodo's automatic page maker for Facebook works well for people who want to have great welcome pages for their customer sets. This means that you can actually have a brand continuity on Facebook as well.

Pagemodo's page builder enables you to design and customize your own Facebook Pages in minutes—and you don't need any technical or design skills.

Do join in here. Share in which other such page / tab makers you rely on.

To discover, share, question answer sessions and converse on Social Media do join me at facebook.com/pervarakapadia

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Do They Really Like When They Click Like? - Social Media

Hello Folks, it is good to have a space on the internet being clicked and rated. It gets better when our brand is rated positively and liked. It gets many to conclude that your brand is really being followed and liked.

Lets just take a step back. Merely being followed and liked does not always necessarily mean that our brand is really 'wanted' and that we are actually reaching brand loyalty. The reason being that sometimes the only way to connect is to click the 'like / fan / follow / recommend' buttons. So does this really mean that we are closing the gap between the brand and customer mind and are we reaching closer towards the much 'preferred brand' criteria?

Have we checked on what is the activity on our brand Social Media Page after we are connected? Is it that the person is upset and has joined us to express this? Hoping that if the complain is put forth in an open environment then perhaps it will be attended to with urgency!

What am trying to drive across here is that just the number of people on board is not the main criteria. Their sentiment and 'nature of involvement' is what should drive the matrix and calculation of whether we are anyway close to brand loyalty or not. 

It is essential that we create different segments and clusters from who we have on our Social Media pages. There would be different type of people.

For instance we may have the 'dead group'. They have connected and never responded / commented / posted / shared / re-Tweeted etc.

We may have an active group that has 'obsessive compulsive spamming activities'. These are the dear ones that could only copy paste their advertisement and hope that all persons reading it would jump onto their URL that they have shared. While no doubt they are creating negative impact for their brand they definitely are hindrance to the ongoing conversation.

Have we come across the 'Devil's Advocate'? Yes these are personalities that make it a point to show us the other view point that we have missed or may have thought not so important.

The 'joining all recommendations'. These are the sensitive and obliging people. They would join practically all pages which their friends have recommended to them. 

There are further clusters / segments which we would all look forward to: those that interact with the brand on the page, those that enable engagement in positive and healthy manner. That which subsequently translates into conversion and business.

A point to be kept in mind is that not all engagement leads to conversion and business. So within those who are great participants we need to further check on their purchase recency, frequency and monetary value. However the active ones are to be respected and taken seriously. They are the reason why we could be in news and come up good on search engine rankings. They are precious to us on our pages. They probably will convert as we would be in their consideration set in their mind.

And, ofcourse we have the RFM [recency, frequency, monetary] cluster / segments who necessarily are important and crucial to us.

What do you think? What is your experience?

To discover, share, question answer sessions and converse on Social Media do join me at facebook.com/pervarakapadia 

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Social Media - Where Competitors Become Allies

When you need help on some topic what is it that you do now-a-days? When you need a quick help on your professional side say for instance some data, facts and figures what is the most likely help you look at?

You naturally go about searching for answers on Google and other search engines. You may also be putting up the question on spaces like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.

Do you think you will receive an answer? Well yes you most probably will. Who do you think answers you? It is people from your field that share answers. It is people who normally would be your competitor who may end up providing you with an answer. You get help from people whom you may not know at personal level. This is the new [not so new though] era of people really helping. If they are online they are concerned, and express this by helping.

You will have seen someone giving a shout towards something that may be frustrating them, matter of concern. Have you seen people responding? Well sometimes you too may have experienced this. People responding could be your immediate contacts whom you would know and those who you may not know personally as well. So, what would you say for all this? This is feasible due to Social Media access.

What do you think? Did you face such a situation where you asked for help and pronto! you received it?!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Parameters For Business Who Want To Go The Social Media Path

Many a times am asked if business could do their own Social Network and how should they go about the much talked about Social Media path. Well it is not very difficult, as a business / brand / service you could venture into the world of Social Media with a little planning and foresight. Ofcourse at the very initial stage you need to have an objective. This objective is to be in tangent with what your marketing objectives are and what is feasible with Social Media. Just the way we would not directly put the print advertisement onto the TV commercial we cannot think of having any copy paste ideas on Social Media as well. You would plan out a script and a story-board for TV commercials similarly you need to plan out specially for Social Media as well. Taking the TV example a little ahead - you would have the same brand personality stretching into TV and print and other mediums similarly within the Social Media space also you need to have the same brand personality flowing.

The reason to have a single brand personality is so that when the consumer comes across your brand on any platform they relate to you and thereby you become more familiar to them. Thus you go a step further in their mindset to be considered and preferred brand. Hence you maintain the same tone of voice that you have maintained for your brand across other mediums.

There is no use talking about your product and how good it is and that people should be purchasing this. Social Media is a path to grow your brand affinity and associations. It is to go higher towards brand loyalty. It is not to do a monologue of hard sales. Your sales will eventually take place, but first you need to establish yourself. People do not join Facebook Fan / Business Pages, Twitter and other web spaces so that they can be bombarded with our sales pitches.

So the next crucial step is understand your target audience. Understand why would they join you on a Social Media site. Remember you are not only competing with your competitors but you are also competing amongst things that your target audeinece is connected to. For example it could be their friends chatting, posting, and sharing of their life which creates a rapport and a conversational point. Your target audience could be on sites that enable games and other time passing / knowledge gaining activities online. This is the world you are competing within. It is rightly said that web is now second life. People spend countless hours online. This is a great opportunity but if used only for hard slaes then you loose out and miss the bus.

Next is you need to plan out what will your content be. Try to avoid as much as sales talk as feasible. Hard sales talk is a total nono. You need content that 'engages your target audience' at the same time 'enhances your brand personality'. You need to get your target audience to 'look forward' to interacting with you [your web page]. Having said this you also need to be consistent in your efforts. Today with so much of online activity you cannot restrict yourself to being announcing something as a monologue once a week. This does not work.

This brings us to scheduling. Scheduling and posting your content often is very important.Ofcouse you need to be careful that you are not crossing the line and annoying your subscribers / community people online. This also brings us to another pointer which is freshness of content.

We need to post what is relevant to our target audience and we need to communicate fresh content. Copy paste will not work here. What will work is rinse and repeat. Which means that many a times you may run out of content thoughts however you can re-freshen what you have already published and share this. You could also synthesize and approach other people's ideas in a different manner and share that too. This is content curation.

Thus, you need to know clearly the nature of the various Social Media sites. A Facebook and Twitter for example would be utilized in slightly different manner. Understanding the site functionality is critical.

When you do the above what takes place over a couple of months is that people start to interact with you on that particular web page. Bringing us to a crucial matter that listening, responding and conversing with our members is critical. For this you need to have the monitoring / listening and measuring tools. They will enable you to know who has posted a comment / request etc.

When we are onto this the main factor of negative comments handling, you need to have the capacity to conduct and behave as per your brand personality incase you meet with negative comments. Handling negative comments is the deciding point many a times if you can make the angry person stay with you or unsubscribe to you.

How do you go about managing your Social Media space. Is there anything you may wish to address here? To discover, share, question answer sessions and converse on Social Media do join me at facebook.com/pervarakapadia

 

Monday, October 4, 2010

Social Media Is A Path To Achieving Brand Objectives

Many a times we may wonder where is Social Media taking us. Is it really going to benefit the brand that we are looking at? What are the tactical tools to be employed? What could be the objectives to be achieved?

Most of us have heard that we need to have Facebook and Twitter for business. Well by setting up your profile page does not get us any business. We need to look at this as a very long term community event. At the start we are to have a plan of action. Social Media is like an investment. What you do today leaves footprints on the internet that enables you to draw positive fruits later on. Ofcourse if you do not use it wisely then you could suffer as well. Social Media requires focus, planning, adherence to plan, continuity, consistency and freshness.

Social Media comprises of various elements which I have shared below. Together they start to form the complete picture for our target audience.
We need to understand that there's a high degree of correlation between good customer / stakeholder experiences and their willingness to associate with the same organization, brand, product and service. Social Media Networking is part of the overall marketing scenario. It is not a separate silo that one works within. Our Social Media efforts are an extension of the brand's overall marketing efforts. Just like any other aspect of marketing like advertising [print, tv, radio, outdoors etc], Social Media is also one of these. Ofcourse the modus operandi would be different. However our target audience would be part of the overall target audience itself.

Social Media needs SEO [Search Engine Optimization] Management. The reason to work on SEO while managing and handling Social Media is so that your brand comes up ahead on the Google and other search engines. This is not paid for and it is known as chronologically high ranking on the search engines. It is similar to Page Rank. The higher your page rank the more plausible is good ranking on search engines. SEO comprises of on-page method and off-page method.

Social Media efforts like any other marketing effort requires that it be measured, monitored and be accountable. This is simple business practice not restricted and not limited by marketing efforts alone. Typically in business terminology called Return On Investments or ROI.

Add to all this we definitely do need to be ethical and not start to spam every online page that we come across.
Monitoring Social Media can be overwhelming. From the outside it looks like a mayhem. Lots of people chatting, couple of praises, many silent monologues that could lead the Community Manager themselves into utter silence and the rest of the time stressing with negative feedback. Add to this some person posting an affiliate programme link and someone else venting out their frustration.

Below am sharing some tactical pointers that would enable you to work towards a Social Media strategy so as to achieve your Brand's objectives:
  • Setting Of 'Alerts' 
    • To track your brand and your competitors
      • To enable us to understand the positive and negative mentions online
  • Blogging 
  • Online Community Management 
  • Networking on Social Network Sites Like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn 
  • Article Writing 
  • Press Release Writing 
  • Submission To Search Engines, Articles Sites, Directories For Sites, Blogs
  • All Writing Will Be Done Keeping Search Engine Optimization [SEO] In Focus
When we employ the above and more of Social Media touch points what you, your brand and company would benefit in is shared below, ofcourse it varies based on the brand, category and the Social Media task taken:

  • Acquisition
  • Retention
  • Customer Value Enhancement
  • Referral [Friend Get Friend] Programme, Member Get Member Programme, Viral Marketing
  • Encourage Non Active Members To Participate
  • Brand Awareness
  • Brand Personality Re-Enforcement, Build Brand Identity And Thereby Brand Recognition
  • Bring In Positive Brand Perceptions
  • Progress Towards Brand Associations, Familiarity, Attitudes, Identity, Personality, Image And Brand Preference
  • Increase The Brand - Consumer Bond, Loyalty Towards Your Brand, Service, Product, Company Etc
  • Over A Period Of Time Customer Intelligence Can Be Built - Who They Are, What Interests Them, And So On Based On What Is Feasible From The Connection Online
  • Create Brand Difference
  • Consumer Insights
  • What Does Your Customer Like And Not Like About Your Brand, Product, Service Etc.
  • Enhance Brand Proposition And Positioning 
  • Try Preventing Attrition
  • Nurturing Brand - Customer Relationship Over Time Thereby Deepening Relationships
  • Identify Active Participants To Give Them More Benefits And Thereby Get Them To Feel More Belonging Towards Your Brand, Product, Service Etc
  • Facilitating Cross Sell And Up Sell
So what is your opinion? How does Social Media take you closer towards your Brand's objectives? Share your thoughts here. Let's discuss.


Sunday, October 3, 2010

Spam Is Not Social Media Ethics

To spam is not ethical. What else is not ethical within the online social media space? Lets have a quick understanding of what takes place within the online space and then understand what perhaps would be good ethics for you as a Social Media person to flourish.
  • Spam: As a Social Media personnel you have a task to work on. For instance to make more people aware about your page / blog / site making it more available, accessible and so on. Well we would be tempted to go about copy pasting a message onto as many blogs, forum etc. However as Social Media person we understand that will only lead us to negative publicity and infact people will not do business with us. Still we see people are simply giving out messages that are not relevant to the ongoing conversations. This irates people who are active and interested in the ongoing conversation.
  • Negative comments: Well there is always a way of putting a point across in positive and healthy manner. However we will find people throwing their angst across. Ofcourse if someone has invested in a particular product / service and they find that they are not met with proper treatment then they are bound to flare up. What should we do as Social Media people. Naturally not retaliate. Neither do we need to be have a page full of apologies flowing. There are lot of sophisticated way in which we could deal with them. We need not retaliate in the similar tone.
  • Reply: When people post a comment, address you / or your page, blog, site lets try to reply and reply as soon as feasible. And lets reply appropriately - in a relevant manner. If possible try to have a dialogue. Here is your chance to reciprocate and take a small step towards your objective.
  • Timely reply: The previous point covered the fact that replying is critical. Let me emphasis that timely reply is critical. This does not mean that we sit 24/7 in front of our page on the world wide web. What this means is have a plan. Have a definite schedule of running through your various pages. There are many online tools to enable you to know what comment you have got pending.
  • Drive towards the main topic: Many a times the conversations and dialogues can go beyond the purpose of the page you are administrating. This could be as number of persons are communicating and they could start to chat about common topics that they may have found out as common interest. This is a tricky situation. While having emotional connect is great however we need to draw the line. You need to be politely taking the conversation right back to where you want. Since the people are willing to communicate lets not truncate the messages. Lets instead have the steam flowing towards in the right direction.
  • Revert: In case you have informed that you will get back with certain information then lets make it a point to revert. And yes, revert as soon a possible before we loose the person's tempo.
What are the other good manners that we can add onto this. Do share in here.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

How To Prepare To Start A Social Media Community


Most of us have heard that we need to have Facebook and Twitter for business. I have been asked a couple of times how will this bring in business. Well by setting up your profile page does not get us any business.

We need to look at this as a very long term community event. At the start we are to have a plan of action. This plan would comprise of:
  • Community Members: Who is going to be joining your community. Defining your target audience is crucial. Determine your target audience behavior, attitude and usage on the internet.
  • Brand Personality: It is important that your target audience views and interacts with your brand in a cohesive manner. What personality they would see around of your brand is what they should see at your Social Media site as well. This would include competition understanding as well.
  • Understanding the nature of the Social Media site: It is important that one see and understands the various sites and what they have to offer. For instance Twitter would serve a little different purpose than what Facebook would help in. The various Social Media sites have slightly different functionality. And this difference is to be understand.
  • Content is very important: You need to understand and know that content is critical. This is what will get people to come back and re-visit you, this is what will start interaction and thereby lead the members to engage with you deeply. So whether you are on Blog or Social Media sites you need to have content defined and scheduled. The content will flow from your brand personality, marketing objective, customer mindset and the Social Media site itself.
  • Tackling negative comments: It is essential that you develop an escalation matrix to attend to your angst and angry customer set.
  • Monitoring / Listening and Measuring Tools: It is essential that you have procured and understood what tools you will use to monitor and measure the Social Media efforts. There are free and paid tools that you can avail of. It is critical that you have a system and parameters to measure. Social Media efforts like any other marketing effort requires that it be measured, monitored and be accountable.
  • Dedicated Person: Who would be the one dedicated person on this task. We cannot think that a general marketing personal will take care here. This person is to be as far as feasible online and attending to the community. This person is to be conversant with the above parameters. This person is to be a part of the core team and requires to understand their reason for being on the task.
  • Change: To change and meander as time passes is critical. For instance the content may need to be re-looked at. The measuring parameters may need to be tweaked. And so on.
  • Consistency and freshness: Social Media requires focus, planning, adherence to plan, continuity, consistency and freshness.


Social Media is like an investment. What you do today leaves footprints on the internet that enables you to draw positive fruits later on. Ofcourse if you do not use it wisely then you could suffer as well. Social Media requires focus, planning, adherence to plan, continuity, consistency and freshness.

When we do all of the above we can then be ready to start our venture into Social Media. Any other parameters that come to your mind share them here.

Friday, October 1, 2010

URL Shortening From Google To Manage Your Social Media

Google has just released a dedicated site for URL shortening. Your long URL can now be shortened. You can find this at: http://goo.gl/. Here you can not only shorten your URL but also track the click through as well. This promotes it right into being a competitor to Bit.ly

Since it is from Google you need not worry about malicious software that subsequently masks your shortened url and put forth its own link. Being Google you can be sure the tracking device is in place.

So? have you tried this? What is your experience? Share in your views here.

In Social Media You Invest Today For Rich Dividends Later

Social Media is like an investment. What you do today leaves footprints on the internet that enables you to draw positive fruits later on. Ofcourse if you do not use it wisely then you could suffer as well. Social Media requires focus, planning, adherence to plan, continuity, consistency and freshness.

If any of these criteria are missing then you may lose out with your target audience. Many a times you may get the feeling that no one is responding to you, but do not give up here. You need to understand that as time passes the search engines will start to index your page and then you can hope for traffic towards your page. To enable this you need to be consistent with fresh matter.

Search engines take time - around 3 mths to start to show your pages on search sites. Thus the earlier you start the better. Social Media enables you to achieve personal and professional objectives. The on-page SEO will enables you to reap benefits.

Many a times you may wonder if Social Media is really for you and your business. Social Media cannot be constraining factor. There is a simple way to understand if Social Media is meant for you and your business. There are various tools that you could employ to enable you to practice Social Media.

Social Media would be new in terms of technology; however it is a principle that is used since over decades. If you would like to keep yourself upto date with Social Media you can connect with socialmediatoday.com. This is a good resource to understand how Social Media can be worked upon. The other source is socialmediainformer.com. Both of these share what real experts have to say giving you an actual working experience based knowledge.

While working on Social Media you also need to have an open mind and be able to attend to negative comments.

So are you all set and ready to manage your Social Media? Share your views here.