Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Social media marketing is about conversations and not the platform

Social media is now dominating our lives. Every human activity, be it – shopping, family time out is now being shared on social platforms either as text or image. Each experience is made known to the world via social media.. We tweet, We Instagram. We upload to Facebook.
There is a cost to it though as people are now using social media lingo more. People no longer laugh they just “lol” and they appreciate less often than they “like”. They now spend a lot of their time “within” the screen that out of it and marketers have taken note and have started engaging their customers and prospects on social platforms.
Which platform to use
Most business who want to use social media for the first time ask this question. The answer to that one is simple, they must be where there audience is. For example, if their audience spends a lot of time on Yookos then it follows that they must create strategies that are based on that social networking platform. Posting content on the least used platform is like shouting at a wall.
Business must avoid corporate-speak when they are on social platforms  Your social media efforts seem more human, and this human touch is what people want, need, and look for.
Social Listening
One of the growing trends of social media marketing is listening. Any meaningful conversation is based on good listening from all the parties.They are some brands who employ a large team of social media staff who spend their day posting on social networks. This tactic does not work as it is like using a megaphone to communicate on platforms that are fundamentally meant for conversations.
Listening enables brands to understand their customers more in terms of their demographics and psychographics. This leads to a more intimate relationship that works very well in the long run for word of mouth marketing.
There are a number of tools that enable brands to listening to social conversations.
Conversations matter
As a rule brands must restrict their activities to two or three channels and invest time in participating, networking, sharing, listening to user-generated content and creating their own content.
Conversations produce incredible access to customer insights. Brands no longer have to guess when they can directly ask their audience about their choices via quizzes, polls, and discussions.
Make social listening the foundation of your social business. Stop resting on the laurels of ‘likes’ and ‘shares’ and start listening. You will be headed for a successful social media presence, built by learning your customers’ preferences and customizing your products and services around what you hear from them.

In a world where people want to make connections with brands through the people that represent them, the goal of social media has to be about starting, and maintaining conversations and connection through active listening. The platform you use is up to you!

The power of listening in social media marketing


According to an article that was released by The Wall Street Journal  The Myth of Social Media social media usage has grown incredibly. This is how social media usage looks like: 

·         Facebook users post 4.75 billion items of content
·         Twitter users send 400 million tweets
·         Instagram users “like” 1.2 billion photos
·         YouTube users watch 4 billion videos

In order to succeed in a world driven by so much social activity, brands must learn to be social and interact with their customers and prospects as they do in an offline context. Social media advertisers should not ignore the most important aspect of the platform: social.

Engagement is very important for success on the social platforms. Whether advertising with static ads or video, engagement is the key to success. For the advertising agencies which “grew up” producing television, print and radio spots, this has proven a hard concept to grasp.

 Scott Cook, co-founder of Intuit, says this of branding in the digital age: “A brand is no longer what we tell consumers it is – it is what consumers tell each other it is.” Exactly. 
Social media content must engage with social media users. In other words, it should be “social” and encourage interaction with the consumer rather than just preach. 

For example suppose we have two companies, A and B who are both running social media campaigns. Which company has more social media “clout”? Company A has 300,000 Facebook likes and 250 people active on their page, while Company B has 25,000 likes and 14,000 people active on their page.

 If you answered Company B, you’re correct! It doesn’t do you any good to have 300,000 likes or followers or friends if no one is reading your content. And, Company B, can potentially grow its audience by creating a well-informed digital strategy.

Why most content strategies fail

It is no longer a cliché that if you are not content marketing you are not marketing at all in the digital age. This is because content is no longer king but rather it is now the kingdom.
Content is key to be discovered on the internet. Search engines, especially Google, are regularly updating their algorithms to weed out what they term poor content. The emphasis on quality content has increased.

It is imperative that brands step up their game in terms of content marketing. From blogs to social media posts, the demand for high quality online content produced in a consistent manner has increased.
As is the case with all other forms of marketing, content marketing requires brands to constantly think of new ways to reach their consumer base. At the same time, it is imperative for brands to review past performance to determine what has or what has not worked. With the introduction of numerous new tools, it has become possible to automate many aspects of digital marketing. When it comes to content marketing, success requires originality, creativity, and customization.
If you have noticed recently that your content marketing strategy is not everything that it should be, it is possible that you could be making at least one of the following critical errors in your approach.

Not Being Selective of Publishing Opportunities

In the past, content marketing strategies often dictated that you publish wherever and whenever possible. This strategy was based on numbers. The more often you published and the more places you content was seen, the better. Today, that is no longer the case. In fact, failing to be selective of where you publish your content could actually harm your brand if your content is posted on a website with poor authority. Regardless of how well-written your content may be, if it is published on a website with content that is deemed to be low quality, your brand is going to suffer. Prior to accepting an invitation to guest blog on any website, take the time to scope out the site and determine whether publishing there will help your brand or harm it.

Not Branching Out from Social Media to Share Content

Social media has proven to be an effective tool for quickly and easily publishing content. Even so, it is important to recognize that social media is not the only source for disseminating your content. Taboola, a content recommendation website, is certainly one to watch. According to Fortune magazine, Taboola reaches approximately 400 million unique visitors each month and serves up 1.5 billion recommendations on a daily basis.

Not Considering Content Linking Authority

Linking to other sites can be a great way to boost your own content marketing efforts, but prior to doing so, you must first vet the other sites. Google is increasingly concerned with domain authority. By linking to a site with poor domain authority, whether it is through a guest blog post or even something as simple as a link mention, you could unwittingly drag down your own content marketing strategy.

Disguising Advertising as Content

Unfortunately, too many companies have been slow to make the transition to quality content. Far too often, many brands continue to churn out what amounts to advertorials disguised as articles. Today, this simply will no longer cut it. Not only is it important to publish high quality content for SEO purposes, but it is also vital for winning the trust of your consumers.

Not Measuring Content Marketing Results

Perhaps the worst mistake that marketers make today when it comes to their content marketing strategy is simply not measuring the results. Without gaining insight into what works and what does not, there is no possible way that you can correct your course. While click-through rates and bounce rates are important in terms of sales, when it comes to content marketing, it is important to focus on the type of media that interest your customers the most. For instance, which of your most recently published content did your customers engage with the most? Even a basic tool such as Google Analytics can provide you with this level of insight. Additionally, find out how your content was shared by using a tool such as Hootsuite.

There is little doubt that content marketing is growing increasingly sophisticated. As search engines continue to place enhanced focus on the importance of quality content, marketers of all sizes must learn to keep pace in order to remain competitive.

10 Ways Social Media Can Improve Your Customer Service

It's true that social media has opened up a whole new world for marketing and sales, and that's a wonderful thing for businesses. The more markets you have to peddle your wares the more eyeballs you can get in front of, and that means more sales.

The online social world offers much more than just sales opportunities, but many businesses seem to view it as simply another magazine to place ads in. One major way that social can help your business is through customer service, but there's a fine line there.
Doing customer service wrong or badly in a place where the whole world can see your mistakes can be devastating. Just ask Carnival Cruise Lines about the #CruiseFromHell.
Doing it well, however, can connect your company with its customers in a more sincere and intimate way than ever before possible. Great customer service almost always leads to greater loyalty and more sales, so let me help you out and give you ten best practices that can improve your company's customer service skills using social media.  

1. Have Dedicated Customer Service Channels

There's nothing inherently wrong with using your business profile for customer service inquiries, but maintaining a separate customer service handle offers plenty of advantages to make it worth the effort. One of those advantages is keeping your primary feed focused on engagement that promotes your business.
From the customer's standpoint, a dedicated customer service channel gives them clear direction on getting answers to their problems. In addition, you get the benefit of transparency in customer relations without advertising your issues to other followers who may not be aware of them. You don't want to hide customer issues, but there's no reason to advertise them either.


2. Blog Your Service

You should always keep an updated blog in order to share relevant and interesting content to followers. When you successfully resolve a customer issue, particularly if it's not an extremely common one, write a blog post about it. Using a customer service tag on these will give your readers a library of issues and resolutions, like an FAQ but with more personality and storytelling. This will let you share the customer service stories with followers without putting them in the middle of the complaint and resolution process, which can get ugly sometimes. You may also head off other complaints by addressing the issues they have before they even need to contact you.

3. Keep Your Ears Open and Be Proactive

Don't ever sit around and wait for a complaint to come in before you address it, if you have the option. You should be using social media monitoring software to seek out potential issues before they find their way to you. In addition to monitoring your brand name, add keywords like "problem" and "issues", among others, to your software so that you can reach out to the customer before things get overblown. They'll appreciate that you care enough to listen before they've spoken to you.



4. Learn From Repeat Problems

In addition to writing blog posts that deal with customer issues, you should keep a list or spreadsheet of an issues that arise and regularly look for patterns, for several reasons. Any repeated issue should be added to your website's FAQ in addition to any blog post you might make on it. This also gives you additional keywords and phrases to monitor social media for, which becomes a new listening queue for customer outreach. Of course, any problem that seems to pop up regularly should automatically become something to be addressed within the company for improvements. Once or twice might be a fluke, but more than that means there's a real problem that needs addressing.

5. Keep an Eye on Competitors

Always learn from your competition, both the good and the bad. Monitoring competitors for the same customer issues that you deal with will let give you new ideas for helping as well as things to avoid - if they screw it up. Monitoring their customer service streams can also bring issues up that you haven't had to deal with yet but might, giving you a head start on the problems before they reach your inbox.

6. Use Delegation and Approval Flows

You may or may not have a dedicated team or person that handles customer service, but you want to make sure that you never send mixed messages or handle issues inconsistently. On method for ensuring service consistency is to have an approval workflow system in place, so that even if there are multiple people handing issues a central person approves any messages before they are posted. Often, an issue may be better addressed by someone in sales, or programming, or marketing than in customer service. They are the experts in their areas. Using an approval workflow for responding allows you to get the right answer from the right person, and then present the answer to the customer with the right words and tone.



7. Respond Now!

Customers expect a quick reply through social media. Checking for issues and complaints once per week and then responding days later doesn't cut it anymore. You should respond within 24 hours no matter what, and within a few hours if at all possible. If you have physical locations as well as an online presence, use the lessons you learn from quick responses to customers on social media to make your real-world customer service more efficient as well.

8. Ask For and Encourage Feedback

If you don't ask for feedback, people will think you don't care. Any and every sale should offer the customer a survey other form of feedback opportunity to voice their satisfaction or dissatisfaction. Even without a sale, regularly posting comments asking for feedback is a great idea. The customer may not always be right, but enough of them with the same advice or complaint usually are. The more feedback you can get, the better you can improve your product or service.


9. Avoid TMPI

TMPI is my own acronym for 'too much Public information'. People can be rude, belligerent, and downright mean. Don't let that happen in your publicly-viewable feeds. Use social media to find and address customers with complaints, but when you get down to specifics you should take it offline to email or private messaging. This should be part of your social media compliance policy. If you do get some ugliness in your feed, don't immediately delete it unless it is completely unacceptable. Deleting negative comments makes you look as if you have something to hide. Once the complaint is resolved to the customer's satisfaction, politely ask them if they would mind removing the comments. If they don't respond to them in the feed with comments explaining how you are so happy you were able to resolve their issue.


10. Be Social!

Just because it's a customer service channel doesn't mean that the same rules don't apply as a marketing channel. The number one rule is, of course, be social. Never, never, never forget that social media will only be helpful to you as long as you stay social and engage with followers. As soon as it becomes a broadcast medium instead of a conversation, the game's over. You'll lose followers much quicker than you gain them.  

Social Media Analytics: The Key to Knowing Your Customers


A decade ago companies knew very little about their customers, and most digital advertising was very loosely targeted. Then digital revolution brought an array of social data around customers’ conversations, preferences, and purchasing habits.
The science of customer insights has come a long way in recent years, but businesses still don’t fully understand what’s needed to execute on those insights.
There are several reasons for that. One, customers now use 30+ channels to collect information they need and engage with brands; it’s hard for brands to keep up. Using off-the-self targeting tactics won’t allow businesses to serve up the right information to the right customer at the right time on the right channel -- the approach that would drive consistent conversion.
Two, there is too much data to analyze and very little resources to map the insights against business goals effectively. Three, brands use a variety of disbursed (and legacy) technologies across the company that are not connected to each other.
In the era of the connected and empowered customer, it’s no longer one size fits all. Our customers expect a tailored solution, a real-time support, and, most importantly, a great experience. They want to be able to build a relationship with a brand that is based on trust and long-term engagement.
But to become truly customer-centric, companies need to build a comprehensive 360-degree view of their current and potential customers. They need to understand their preferences, interests, and needs.
 Social media analytics gives us the opportunity to do so. By listening to the voice of the customer and analyzing, filtering and organizing the data into the insights we can create customer segmentations that would allow any brand to be relevant at any touchpoint. It allows us to go beyond traditional CRM and audience targeting techniques and find out what is truly important to consumers.
And it is that knowledge that will enable companies to create remarkable customer experiences in a sustainable manner, no matter where the customer comes from and where they are in the purchasing journey.
Traditional segmentation relies on the demographics, purchasing history, website interactions, and email preferences. The nuances of social data, however, allow us to understand behavioral trends, sentiment, intent, and more. Not only that, social data can be collected and modified in real-time and better placed to maximize the return on your marketing efforts.

To be able to achieve all that, though, businesses need to have an integrated technology in place that would break silos within the organization and allow for a connected, 360-degree view of a customer. So that no matter where the customers comes from and which department they interact with, they get the service that delights and continues to nurture the valuable relationship, and hopefully leads to loyalty and advocacy.

Monday, 1 December 2014

Yookos 4 Business

Social media has disrupted the traditional way of doing things in virtually every area of human endevour. The business world has been affected the most as it is at the centre of most societies. 

Social media presents a plethora of opportunities for businesses to connect and engage with their customers in a personalised way. It also enables them to glean customer insights that leads to improved service delivery and product improvement.

Customers spend a lot of time on social networking platforms chatting with their friends or reading their status updates. Brands should meet their customers at their favourite playgrounds and Yookos is one such popular destination for social networking users.

Yookos, being Africa's leading social networking platform with over 30 million registered users, recently launched its pioneering Yookos4Business service that offers brands a great opportunity to grow their businesses.

Yookos4Business consultants help brands create a comprehensive online marketing strategy that leverages social media marketing best practices. What makes this service remarkable is that it is provided for free. No other social networking platform actively helps its users to create a marketing strategy.

Users also receive assistance from technicians to set up their page in a compelling way. Graphic design and copywriting services are provided under this initiative.

The jewel on the Yookos4Business crown is the searchable Business Directory under which brands can list their products and services as well as contact details and URLs. This directory is indexable and therefore business details appear in search engine results pages when matching search queries are made.

Yookos4Business is ideal for those businesses that want to enlarge their market penetration across the African continent. The brands can also engage with their customers in more meaningful ways, understand what they want and be responsive to their queries.

Contact Yookos for more information on how you can register your business on Yookos.

The benefits of social listening for brands

Social media is about conversations and social media managers are nothing but social media managers. Just like in any other conversation, the ability to listen is key to generating understanding.

Social listening is the process of identifying and analysing what is being said about a brand on various social media platforms. 

This monitoring of social media conversations ought to take place along the customers’ entire lifecycle. This is very crucial as an attentive brand manages to maintain relevancy with its customers.

 Valuable customer intelligence is gathered also in this way. Marketers can interact with their customers in a better way than hitherto possible.

The market
Brands can glean useful insights about a market for a new product or service. By mining user-generated content on social networks marketers can discover what their customers and prospects are saying about new improvements they would like to see in a product or service.

Competitive Intelligence
Social platforms have made it easy for brands to identify who their competitors are how the market reacts to their products and services. Brands can also gather critical intelligence about what customers are looking for that is not being offered by their competitors.

Customer service
Social listening improves customer service delivery. Due to the avalanche of digital tools and social conversations, brands can quickly respond to the enquiries and complaints that are made by their customers. It is 6x more expensive to get a new customer than keep an existing one. In this regard, social listening plays an important role in customer retention.

When brands respond to customer queries in a timeous and conclusive manner, they are able to foster recurring business.

Purchase Signals

Another key insight businesses are often seeking is what are the last signals of a purchase, both of their product and others. What leads one to buy and one to stray? Social listening tools enable companies to monitor those purchase signals and ascertain what a serious buyer is looking for.

The role of blogs and social media in content marketing

Blogging has gained ascendancy in direct proportion to the rise in domination of content marketing. Whilst blogs are a trending concept, very few people understand what they really are.

I like the Wikipedia definition that states that a blog (a truncation of the expression weblog) is a discussion or informational site published on the World Wide Web and consisting of discrete entries ("posts") typically displayed in reverse chronological order (the most recent post appears first).

Blog posts can either be videos, pictures, text or the combination of both.

Blogs and SEO
Blogs are very important for search engine optimisation purposes. Search engines, especially Google, have made changes to their algorithms to penalise websites that have thin content and reward those which publish compelling and relevant content.

The logic is really simple. Search engines were created to help users discover content and therefore, websites that have great content actually help the search engines to fulfil their mission. Blogging enables brands to create huge volumes of content.

Blogging leads to link building. Every post that is published online represents a link to the main site. Links are a very important ranking signal that search engines use to rank websites on the search engine results pages.

Blogging and thought leadership marketing
There is no better way that companies and individuals can use to set themselves apart than through thought leadership marketing. People ascribe market leadership to the people and brands that demonstrate their expertise through content. This is how answers to the target audience’s biggest challenges are addressed. Answered questions translate to improved trust between the brands and customers.

Thought leadership is an entry point to a relationship. It should help start a relationship where none exists, and it should enhance existing relationships.

An accountant who consistently writes high value and high impact blog posts will gain traction in the market more than those who do not.

Blogging and social media
Social media and blogs interact in what it is known as the Hub and Spoke model. The basic hub-and-spoke model is a system of connections arranged like a chariot wheel, in which all traffic moves along spokes connected to the hub at the center.

At the centre is the content hub that is then connected to the social media platforms like Yookos, Facebook, Tumblr, Youtube and Twitter.

Traffic flows along the spokes in both directions leading to increased traffic to the content hub and improved engagement on the social platforms.

Blogging lends authority to brands and individuals and in turn this gives them market leadership. Blog posts makes a website to have relevant and search engines love this. The result is higher ranking.

The power of visual content in social media marketing

We are living in an age in which those companies which are not content marketing are not marketing at all. Visual content is the most popular type of content and it is set to dominate for a very long time. The reasons are simple. A story paints a thousand words and a minute of video conveys 1.8 million words.

So why should brands be adopt visual content?

1. Visual Processing
Humans are wired for visual content. Visuals help the mind to quickly understand and grasp a message. Research shows that over 90% of information that is sent to the brain is visual and it is processed 60 000 x faster than text.

2. Conversion rate optimisation
Brands that want to increase the conversion rate of their landing pages should upload videos. Oftenly, people are lazy to read text and they prefer to watch videos instead. Videos thus provide a passive engagement medium and they also increase the duration a visitor stays on a website or any other content hub. The trust factor is also lifted through videos that feature employees of a company.

3. Social media readiness
Social media and visual content is a match made in heaven. Most social media users access social platforms via their mobile phones. The benefit of visual content in this regard is that it is snackable and can be consumed on the go. The other good news for marketers is the power of visual content in triggering higher engagement in comparison to text. This is powerful in the context of the latest algorithm changes of most social platforms that limit the reach of those posts with greater engagement and reward the ones with the right metrics.

4. Power of infographics
There is also another major shift in how people are consuming content. Infographics are getting increased preference from customers and leads alike. A great infographic is an instant revelation. It can compress time and space. It can illuminate patterns in massive amounts of data.  It can make the abstract convincingly concrete. 

5. Images in search results
A business whose images appear in search engine results pages enjoys a greater click through rate to its website and this consequently leads to increased traffic. This has a direct influence on the lead generation initiatives.

Visual content is not a king. It is the kingdom. It leads to more content being consumed, improves social media engagement, conversion rates and traffic flows.

Savvy marketers have mastered it to good effect!