Rant Warning: 80/20 Rule of Self Promotion

Originally posted on Girl Tries Life:

You read the title. You’ve been warned. Prepare for the rant.

Authors, PLEASE, I’m begging you, stop with the unending self-promotion.

I get it. I know you’re trying to increase your readership, highlight your reviews or provide quotes from your books. I understand. And yet, my eyeballs scroll to the back of my head. Your constant self-promotion is the quickest way for me to hit “unfollow”.

In my experience, it’s the self-published authors who are the biggest abusers of self-promotion (feel free to disagree with me). This blog is my profound plea for you to change your ways.

The 80/20 Rule

At the 2013 Surrey International Writers’ Conference (SIWC), I had the pleasure of hearing Sean Cranbury talk about social media for authors. He was adamant, and I couldn’t agree more, that when an author engages through social media they need to implement the 80/20 rule: eighty percent original thought, twenty percent…

View original 375 more words

Social Media: the Customer Service Alternative

Customer service as we know it is changing. Social media provides the fast and convenient solutions customers are looking for and is becoming a viable alternative to traditional customer service.

Using social media as a customer service tool allows customers to get their questions answered in a more convenient manner than a phone call. Put yourself in the shoes of your customer. Would you rather spend ten minutes on the phone with a customer service representative or send a message and move on to your next task? Your customers will appreciate the amount of time you save them by being available through social media.

Allowing your customers to reach you through social media shows them that you are available any time they need you. Social media does away with the 9 to 5 business hour schedule and allows your customers to reach you at their convenience, which boosts loyalty. Your customers are more likely to buy from you if they know they can receive help quickly in the event that something goes wrong with their purchase at an inconvenient time.

Imagine this scenario: a customer buys a carton of paper from your store. The paper jams in his printer right before a big meeting. He doesn’t have time to call customer service, but has time to send a quick message. Knowing that he can have his issue resolved without having to miss the meeting to talk to customer service will put him at ease and will boost ROI. He will buy from your business again knowing that any issues that arise will be handled in a manner that is convenient to him.

When your customer is ready to buy from you, whether it is the first or the tenth time, he or she will most likely turn to social media to find out what products and services you offer. Social media provides a convenient way to showcase products, services, and pricing. Sites such as Pinterest and Dudepins are great ways to showcase all of your products and services in one place. Social media users love to share pictures and videos, especially on Pinterest. Shared images of your product and pricing will cut down on the need for customers to call your customer service line asking about pricing and product details.

Using social media as a customer service tool not only helps your customers, it helps your business as well. When your customers are spared time and effort, so are you.

Climb the Social Media Mountain!

Getting your brand to the top of the social media mountain can be challenging. On top of determining your audience, you must also determine the type of content your audience wants to see. SWOT and PEST analyses can steer your content in the right direction. They allow you to explore parts of your business that you may not have thought of, give you fresh content ideas, and position you ahead of the competition.

A SWOT analysis explores the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats associated with your business. Criteria such as unique selling points, seasonal and fashion influences, political effects, philosophy and values, and likely returns help create content that encourages conversation, which will increase social media ROI.

A PEST analysis is similar to a SWOT analysis, but allows you to explore a different set of content. PEST analyses focus on the political, economical, social, and technological aspects of your business. The criteria examples for a PEST analysis include lifestyle trends, media views, brand image, current and future legislation, economy trends, licensing, and patents. This set of content will help you focus on social media crisis management and can help create a crisis management plan.

Both the SWOT and PEST analyses encourage putting pen to paper and diving in to your business. This approach brings out the best parts of your business, allowing you to make your business shine, as well as the worst parts of your business, allowing you to tackle them before you are confronted with them on social media.

A SWOT analysis template can be found at: http://www.businessballs.com/swotanalysisfreetemplate.htm

A PEST analysis template can be found at: http://www.businessballs.com/pestanalysisfreetemplate.htm

Can Klout Measure Clout?

Klout claims to measure social media influence, but can it accurately measure the impact of every social media post? In short, no.

Klout only measures Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google +, Last.fm, Foursquare, Tumblr, YouTube, LinkedIn, Blogger, WordPress, Flickr, Bing, and Yammer. It leaves out essential sites such as Pinterest and Vine. How can Klout accurately measure social media influence if it can’t keep up with the latest social media trends?

In addition to not keeping up with trends, Klout neglects offline influence in their calculations. Klout is meant to measure online influence, but online influence often has an offline impact. With the fast pace of everyday life, followers may bookmark a post to read at their leisure without liking or sharing it. The post may influence several followers, but as far as Klout is concerned, those followers were never reached.

Score activity measures the most effective posts on a five point scale. In theory, score activity is a valuable asset because it allows you to compare the effectiveness of different status types. The problem with score activity is that results are not immediate. Results are only updated every 72 hours. Social media managers need to stay on top of their campaigns and make sure that all updates are impacting their fans. A three day delay could cause severe damage to a campaign.

The network breakdown chart is the most useful function of Klout. The chart provides percentages of each social network’s contribution to the Klout score and allows users to see which networks need more attention. A quick glance at problem areas can significantly alter the course of a campaign.

Signups appear to be more important to Klout than statistics. Instead of focusing on the likelihood of influencing friends on certain topics, the friends landing page focuses on the likelihood of influencing friends to join Klout. The influencer landscape is a useless tool that repeats the information on the friends landing page. The most effective tool in the friends section is the compare friends tool, which allows users to compare scores and topics and allows influencers to know they have made an impact.

Klout can be used as a stepping stone to make sure your social media efforts are going in the right direction, but it should not be used as the only method of measuring social media influence. Slow activity updates and a lack of supported sites prevent Klout from becoming a powerful ROI measurement tool.

Sprout Social or Sendible? How to get more bang for your buck.

Setting up and maintaining a presence on the social media sites that are relevant to your business can be time consuming. On top of creating and posting content, businesses are expected to answer questions and respond to comments and concerns via their social media channels. How can a business keep up with their followers and still produce quality content? Social media dashboards allow businesses to schedule content, freeing up time to truly connect with followers.

Two of my favorite dashboards are Sprout Social and Sendible. Each platform has numerous time saving features, but I dove in to find out which one offers more bang for the buck.

Pricing is significantly different between Sprout Social and Sendible. Sprout Social has three tiers of pricing ranging from $39 to $99 per month for ten to fifty profiles while Sendible has seven tiers ranging from $9.99 to $899.99 per month for eight to unlimited profiles. The pricing structure for Sendible is considerably more flexible than Sprout Social. For an extra fee, Sendible offers email and SMS credits to expand marketing efforts. Sprout Social does not offer email or SMS support. Payment for both platforms can be made by credit card or PayPal and both platforms offer a thirty day free trial.

Businesses who need to manage content outside of Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and LinkedIn should consider Sendible. Sprout Social is limited to four of the biggest social media networking sites while Sendible offers a wide range of support including location based services and photo and video sites.

Sprout Social and Sendible differ in several areas. Sprout Social allows analytics to be exported in PDF or CSV format while Sendible only allows analytics to be downloaded in CSV format. Sendible offers alerts for Yelp, CitySearch, and Trip Advisor, allowing you to promptly respond to customer reviews. Sendible also offers video tutorials and a user manual, saving a phone call or email to customer service. Sprout Social offers a better demographical breakdown. The platform offers information on gender, age, new followers, location, and numerous other statistics.

Even though the platforms differ, there are significant similarities. Both platforms offer a free mobile application, which is important for managing content on the go. Both platforms offer message drafts, allowing other users to check the message content before it is posted. Reoccurring messages are another service that both platforms offer. Reoccurring messages allow businesses to promote contests, fundraising efforts, and services on a consistent basis. Both platforms also allow users to assign tasks to other users. If a person cannot complete a task, he or she can assign it to someone who can complete it, which is very useful in time crunching situations. Monitoring what is being said about your brand is easy under both platforms. Sprout Social and Sendible also offer insights into social media marketing techniques and news.

Although I believe Sendible offers more bang for the buck, I strongly suggest utilizing the thirty day free trial on both platforms to find the right fit for your business. Both platforms are great time savers, allowing you to be more engaged with your followers.