River City Social Media Talks Unique Ways to Market to Teens, Twitter Enhancements and My Reading List!

There were a few things that I discovered last week in the worlds of social media and small business that made me a pretty excited! First are the social media platforms of Yik Yak and Whisper. Both of these platforms have been around for at least a year now and both are posting sites with at least one making the list of the top 5 most dangerous apps for kids.. Nonetheless, any small business looking for an exciting and unique way to reach a geo-targeted, teenage demographic (Valentine’s Day, Proms etc. are around the corner), should definitely explore these apps! Warning, Yik Yak employs geofencing technology, which is intended to disable the app on high school and middle school campuses, but I’m often shut out at my home which is approximately 2 miles from a middle school.
The next thing I’m excited about is gaining access to the Twitter’s enhancements – video and group messaging! I have to admit I was disappointed about not being part of the first wave of users to get the enhanced features, but the new features are very cool so I can forgive the oversight.. No more spending hours figuring out how to squeeze a compelling story into a 6 second Vine video, Twitter is giving us 30 seconds to record a video directly onto the platform. Further, you can also send direct messages to multiple users instead of just one at a time. The one funky part of this is that you must enter the names of the message recipients individually. In a perfect world I would be able to open my lists, select multiple recipients and Twitter automatically populate the message box with my selections. Nonetheless, group messaging is still a welcome addition.
My final exciting items of note from last week are 2 books that I feel in love with and I thing anyone who wants to take their business to the next level should check out. The first is Zombie Loyalists: Using Great Service to Create Rabid Fans by Peter Shankman. This is a very easy read with Shankman’s advice for turning customers into fervent fans that will help a company massively increase their customer base, brand awareness, and most importantly, revenue. The second is Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? by Seth Godin. Linchpins are the people who figure out what to do when there’s no rule book. They delight and challenge their customers and peers. They love their work, pour their best selves into it, and turn each day into a kind of art. This is also a very quick and simple read that’s packed with insight and inspiration – you know, like what I do here!
Oh and one more thing, I am moving to WordPress from the Blogger platform in the next couple weeks. Please visit me on WordPress and subscribe! There are no free e-books, no gimmicks, just my short and sweet thoughts on the world of all things social media!

Quietly Creating Loyal Brand Ambassadors

Recently, a former co-worker invited me to receive a “free” facial and in-home cosmetics trial with products from her direct sale cosmetics line. I like this coworker and have given her a lot of business in the past, but my immediate response to her latest offer was no way, I’m a Philosophy girl. Wow, did I really just say that? At that moment, the true definition of a brand ambassador hit me square between the eyes because somewhere along the way, hard-nosed, eagle eye Terilyn had unwittingly become one! Philosophy is the skincare line I fell in love with a few years ago while watching an infomercial on late night television. The question that plagued me was how had I become so loyal to this particular brand that I would pass on a free facial and a visit from an old friend? Here are a few of my insights:
The company told a relatable and inspiring story. The storyteller, who happened to be the company founder, wasn’t selling that night. Instead she simply told an inspiring and relatable story about being a working mom who struggled to find time to properly care for herself. She also seemed honest and sincere about offering a high quality product. She was convincing without giving an overt sales pitch and that piqued my interest and planted seeds of trust.
The company acknowledged and actively sought the attention of potential customers. Many skincare and cosmetics companies either ignore or forget about women with dark skin. It was refreshing to see beautiful models with a wide range of skin tones showcasing the products. This inclusion spoke of the company’s appreciation of diversity. This caught and kept my attention because I appreciated being represented as a beautiful consumer instead of an obvious afterthought or not at all.
They actively sought ways to accommodate their customers before, during and after the purchase. There are no hoops that I have to jump through to purchase the product. Things like auto delivery, full money back guarantees, immediate customer response through social media and telephone eliminate the likelihood that I will even think about buying skincare products anywhere else.
Finally, they have a solid product with outstanding customer service. I took a chance purchasing skincare products from an infomercial, but it ended up being a good risk. I like the product and have shared it with family and friends who have also come to love it as much as I do. Nothing takes the place of an outstanding product that is combined with amazing customer service. People want to patronize a business that has that winning combination.
All of these steps can be adopted by any businesses large or small. It just takes creativity and an open mind. Consistently incorporate these steps into an active social media marketing strategy and you just might be amazed by the number of loyal followers who start singing your praises!

Restaurants Use Social Media Platforms to Bring Food Allergy Sufferers Through Their Doors

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The prevalence of food allergies has increased substantially in the US in recent years.  According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, food allergies among children have increased 50 percent between 1997 and 2011.

Eater.com recently posted a great article titled, “How Restaurant Pros Are Handling the Surge of Food Allergies” which details the efforts of a few restaurants that are committed to accommodating customers who are allergic to everything from seafood to tree nuts.  If you are the proprietor of an establishment that takes the time to create customized menu options for allergy sufferers, bravo for you! Now, make sure the word gets out that you have a true commitment to providing a great culinary experience to everyone who crosses your threshold.

One way to do this is the strategic placement of allergy accommodation statements on all of your business social media pages.  Hungry locals with food allergies can search Yelp for “gluten free restaurants” and if your delicious, gluten free treats are included in your business description, you’ve opened your doors to a new customer base who are likely to become loyal advocates for your business.  Similar searches can also be performed on Foursquare and Facebook.

Next, honor your allergy friendly menu items with high resolution images that will be appealing all of your customers, not just the allergy sufferers.  Customer images that are generated from a smart phone camera are fine but they do not take the place of professional images taken by a photographer who specializes in food shots.

For more ideas on how to celebrate your allergy friendly menu items, and on how to use these items to boost your social media marketing strategy plan, contact me at River City Social Media on Twitter @gorivercity, or send me an email at rivercitysocialmedia@sbcglobal.net, I’d love to hear from you!

 

4 Signs It’s Time to Hire an Outsider to Manage Your Company’s Social Media Presence

 

For some business owners, managing the company’s social media presence is just another one of a

I need help with my social media marketing!

I need help with my social media marketing!

million tasks that must be completed during the course of a business day.  They are comfortable with the various social media platforms, they enjoy interacting with their customers online and they are able to carve out enough time to build a strategy and maintain a consistent presence.  This is great for the few who can manage it.  However, managing a company’s online presence requires a lot of time, energy and some pretty tough skin; in other words, it may not be for everyone.  Here are a few points to consider that may indicate it’s time to hand over the laptop.

  1. There is no plan, no strategy, you’re just there.  You set up a Facebook account because, that is the thing to do.  You have some nice pictures on the page, and you even post a few witty comments every so often.  This is a great start, but there’s a lot more work to do.  First, it’s imperative that you know exactly who your customers are.  Identifying your current (and potential) customers is key to developing a targeted marketing strategy. You also need to know which social media platform your customers are most likely to frequent and when is the best time to engage with them.
  2. You can’t take negative feedback.  You’ve created a kick ass business with the best food, service or product this side of the moon and whoa to anyone who dares to say otherwise!   The only way to ensure your business is immune from negative reviews or comments is to close shop. Being able to divorce yourself from the need to have everyone love everything your business produces is a must.   A quick, heartfelt response that attempts to rectify an unpleasant experience, can turn an unhappy customer (with a large social network) into a loyal, happy customer with friends (who also have large social networks).   Ignoring your social reviews and comments is a no, no, that should not even be an available option.  That goes for the positive as well as the negative reviews.
  3. You don’t like social media and think it’s a waste of time.  It amazes me that everyone isn’t as crazy about social media as I am.  For me, it’s right up there with sex and chocolate (not necessarily in that order).  But that is not the case of everyone.  If you don’t enjoy learning about the newest Twitter change, or Google+ update, and you don’t care if you’re among the first chosen to get a new roll out, you may want to find someone who is to manage your online presence.  If you find someone who is knowledgeable and passionate about social media marketing, you probably have someone who will do a great job managing your company’s brand and image.
  4. You don’t have time to be committed to a consistent social media schedule.  I recommend devoting at least 15 minutes a day to monitoring, updating and analyzing your company’s social media presence. Also, at least 30 minutes a week should be devoted to learning about platform updates, trends, and policy revisions.  You want to get optimum results from your social media marketing efforts, so it’s important to know how to effectively utilize all of the tools available on your social media platform(s) of choice.   A good social media strategist is on top of all of the revisions and trends that affect multiple platforms and can effortlessly find ways to work them in your company’s favor.

This is my short list of indicators, I’m sure there are more!  If you think of anything I missed, please let me know.  I welcome your comments!

Social Media Marketing Tips For Reaching the Millennial Consumers Facebook Lost

  If you’re looking for fresh ideas for online marketing geared specifically toward the millennial consumer, check out Weheartit.com. As of December 2013, Weheartit had more than 25 million users a month and more than 80% of those users are 24 and under and use a mobile device to access the site. Those aren’t numbers to sneeze at with Facebook losing more than 11 million of its young users since 2011.

Weheartit is like Pinterest, but funkier, pinker and if you’re a teenager, your mom isn’t on it. It’s an image based network that has none of those nasty comments that can spoil the free flow of creativity and take the fun out of posting unique content.  Weheartit describes its users as “culture-obsessed, fashionistas, media-makers, and digital influencers from around the world, our users are highly-engaged, tech-savvy, and consumption-focused millennials” and I might add, more than 70% female.

Advertising on Weheartit is not expensive. However, developing eye popping content that catches the attention of the young users, and inspires them to share that content with their networks, will require a slight degree of creativity and maybe even photographic expertise.  Designers like Michael Kors, Kate Spade and plus size fashion boutique, Lane Bryant have discovered some of the potential wins of reaching out to their young consumers on Weheartit.

Weheartit is still a relatively new player on the scene and they are not yet integrated onto some of the more popular third party social measuring tools. Meaning that tracking the success of your advertising campaign on Weheartit, may be limited to the use of site analytics. But don’t let that discourage you!  The possibilities of this platform are amazing and I’m willing to bet, well worth the effort!

Tips to Make Yelp Work For and Not Against Your Small Business

Yelp has taken a lot of heat lately from business owners who accuse the company and its reviewers of extortion type tactics. Reviewers are accused of demanding free meals and services in exchange for more stars and positive reviews. Yelp itself is accused of putting the squeeze on businesses by strongly encouraging the purchase of a monthly subscription to one of their business advertising packages in exchange for the removal of bad reviews. 

As a consumer, I appreciate Yelp.  I like being able to use the experience of others (good and bad) before deciding whether or not to part with my hard earned cash; and apparently, I’m in good company. A recent survey found that 85% of consumers check an online review site before making a purchase. As for a bigger view, Yelp averaged more than 120 million unique visitors each month in 2013. So it’s probably safe to say that Yelp and other online review sites are not going away any time soon and a successful business must have a plan for dealing with them.  

No matter how amazing your business may be, there will be some negative reviews. A chef’s off day, a trainee error, a staff shortage or even a disgruntled former employee – are all fodder for bad reviews.  This is why a strong social media strategy plan that includes a proactive approach for addressing reviews is imperative. Sticking to your well defined strategy will help you resist the temptation to engage reviewers in a virtual fist fight or shove your head in the sand and ignore the sites altogether. Remember, bad reviews often contain valuable customer feedback that can be essential to your business success.

Business writer, Seth Goden once said “You can spend your time on stage pleasing the heckler in the back, or you can devote it to the audience that came to hear you perform.” According to Yelp, 80% of their reviews are 3+ stars, so don’t spend your energy focusing on the occasional negatives. In fact, your social media strategy should include a plan for acknowledging positive reviews as well as engaging constructively with the writers of the negative ones. Knowing that a business cares enough to make the effort to turn an unhappy customer into a happy one goes a long way in the eyes of a potential customer.

46% of Yelp reviews are done on a mobile device, which means there’s no cooling off period for unhappy customers.  Mobile devises allow consumers to pound out a review or perform a “check in” before leaving the parking lot. So remain calm when reading and responding to online reviews.  Don’t allow yourself the luxury of grabbing your keyboard and pounding out your own “rating” of the reviewer.  Remember, any online communication has the potential to become public, even if you chose to respond privately. Calmly reaching out to an unhappy customer to make things right can have tremendous results! Also, most online reviewers are not averse to writing a follow up review. These are a double win for a business; you’ve kept an existing customer, and will likely gain new ones.

Negative Yelp reviews definitely have the potential to bruise a business’ reputation but the way these reviews are handled can be the difference between a minor bruise and a game ending injury!

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