Month: October 2016

A Social Media Checklist for Businesses

There’s a right way for businesses to use social media and there’s a wrong way. The right way actively engages with customers and users. It involves creating and sharing engaging content. The wrong way uses a purely promotional angle. It creates posts full of random hashtags and doesn’t respond to or interact with others.

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Using a checklist to monitor your company’s daily, weekly or monthly social media tasks will help you use social media in the right way. A checklist will also help you make adjustments or change course as needed.

The checklist should include the following:

  •  Respond to Comments and Messages (Daily)

One of the most important things you can do on social media is respond to comments and messages from your followers, fans or customers. When people reach out to a company over social media, they expect a response, fast.

A survey conducted by Convince and Convert found that 32% of respondents expected a business to respond to their message on social media within half an hour. Forty two percent expected a response within an hour. Customers want a quick reply anytime, whether it is the weekend or midnight on a weekday.

Responding to any messages should be a daily social media activity. In fact, you should have someone constantly monitoring your social media profiles for messages or mentions, so that you can reply quickly. Additionally, it helps to do a search every day for your business’ name on social media. People occasionally post about companies without using hashtags or usernames. It can be easy to miss those quiet mentions, but if you catch them, you’ll win your way into the hearts of customers.

  •  Find and Follow Others (Daily)

Along with replying to anyone who reaches out to you, it’s worth it to find new people to connect with through social media on a daily basis. You can search for leaders in your industry to follow or you can reach out to people who look as though they’d be interested in what you have to offer.

To do that, search for phrases or keywords that are relevant to your business on your various platforms. When you find a conversation or post about a topic that’s relevant to your company, find a way to jump in and add your input or some advice.

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One thing not to do when you’re looking to connect with others on social: follow then unfollow once that user has followed you back. If you’re going to follow a lot of people, commit to following them. It’s just bad manners to unfollow once you’ve gotten the follow back, even though it happens frequently.

  •  Create and Stick to a Social Media Content Calendar (Weekly)

You can’t post anything or share anything on social media if you don’t have an idea or plan for what to post. Creating a weekly social media content calendar gives you an idea what you need to post and when. It also helps you see how much you need to post on each site you use.

While maintaining and updating your content calendar should be a weekly (or even monthly) task, actually posting the content should happen daily. You’ll want to post at least once a day on most social accounts, but at least six times a day on Twitter, where people tend to be much more prolific.

  •  Pay Attention to What Your Competition Is Doing (Weekly)

It helps to keep an eye on what your competitors are doing on social media and on how they are using their social accounts. You don’t want to copy what other companies are doing, but you do want to check in from time to time.

Doing so lets you see what those competitors aren’t doing, so that you can fill in the gaps with your own social accounts. You can also see what’s working for them and what’s not and use that information to shape your company’s own social strategy.

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  •  Check Your Data (Monthly)

Every month, check out how your business’ various social profiles are performing. Analytics available from each social network make this pretty easy to do. For example, Twitter will tell you how each of your posts performed, how many people engaged with each post and how many people it post reached. Facebook does something similar. You can also see how many new people liked or followed your page each month and whether you’re social presence is growing or shrinking.

  •  Make Adjustments as Needed (Monthly)

The social media landscape is always changing. As social networks update or change their policies, your company will need to adjust its tactics. Keep up with the policies for each network you use and adjust your plan as needed.

You might also want to set monthly social media goals. For example, you might aim to get 100 new Twitter followers a month. If you reach that goal, increase it. If not, take a look at what you are doing and figure out what’s not helping you or what’s standing in the way of you reaching your goal.

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Are Newswires Worth It?

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At first glance, newswires such as PRWeb and BusinessWire can seem like the golden ticket to getting your clients the coverage they deserve. The services claim to be able to put your press releases in front of tens of thousands of journalists, all of whom are eagerly waiting for a story to cover.

The reality of newswires is a little less exciting. While your client’s press releases will most likely make it to the email inboxes of many, many journalists and might show up on highly respected news websites (particularly if you are in the financial industry) the actual value of that coverage can be suspect. There are a few reasons why the effort involved in — not to mention the cost of — issuing a release via a newswire might not be worth it.

There’s No Sense of Exclusivity

Journalists, particularly freelance reporters, are often looking for a unique story to write and publish. If they need to pitch ideas to an editor or publisher before getting the go ahead to run with a story for either a print or online publication, they are going to want ideas that no other journalists will have.

When a reporter sees a press release on a newswire, the odds are high that many other reporters, covering the same beat, will have seen it too. Having everyone pursue the same story is pretty much the same as having no one pursue the story. Once an editor hears the second or third identical pitch, he or she is going to be less likely to want to assign it.

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The worst case scenario is that a journalist won’t even consider pitching a story based on a press release he or she saw on a newswire. That press release might come with the assumption that everyone is going to pick up it, so that no one ends up covering it.

There May Not Be Relevance

Another strike against newswires is that while they can lead to trade magazines, newspapers and other publications picking up your news, there might not be any “so what?” behind the coverage.

In a blog post on PR Daily, Katie Harrington, a blogger and PR professional, shares her experience of working for an agency that essentially only distributed press releases through newswires. The distribution did get her client coverage but mainly in “regions where my company’s product isn’t sold. Obscure, regional and small-town newspapers with no relevance to my company published the release.”

Although on paper, it looked as though Harrington’s client was getting a good deal of coverage and that using the PR newswire was worth it, that coverage didn’t actually translate to an increase in sales or interest in the company.

When Using Newswires Can Be Effective

While sending a press release to a newswire might not be the most effective way to get coverage, there are times when it can be a good option. Although it might seem like a budget-friendly way for start-ups and cash strapped companies to get some press, it’s often the bigger name companies that get results from newswires. Journalists are more likely to follow up on a story if they see a release from a company they recognize.

Other Techniques Worth Trying

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Often, the best way to get a journalist to cover your company’s or client’s news story is to put in the effort of developing a relationship with that journalist. Finding a relevant, engaging story by sifting through newswire press releases is the journalistic equivalent of finding a needle in a haystack. Who has the time to put in that much effort for such a potentially small payoff?

Instead of sending a press release out to the masses, directly connect with a reporter, ideally one who writes for a publication that your target audience reads. Connecting directly with reporters does take a lot more effort than simply sending out a release to the masses, as you need to take steps to actually develop a relationship with them. But, once you’ve gotten those relationships established and regularly get coverage for your clients that results in increased awareness and sales, the initial effort will have been worth it.