Five Tips to Reshape your Social Media Plan in 2013


[This is an article I wrote for my book, Face2Face – I thought it would make a great post here, too – enjoy! DLK]

Social media has been around for over ten years. My guess is that by now, your organization is probably involved in some way with social media. Maybe you have created a Twitter or Facebook account. Maybe you even have some friends and fans on those accounts, and you share things with them when you have time.

Let’s rework this in 2013. Social media is now mainstream, and your customers are using it to connect. They connect easily to each other, and since the tool is the same, they’ll find it easy to connect to your organization, too… if you make a few easy-to-do adjustments in your approach to business-facing social media.

Here are five simple adjustments you can make to kick-start your organization’s social media efforts in 2013:

1. Focus on Conversations

First off, let’s focus on conversations. Many organizations and businesses have been using social media status updates as a broadcasting tool. They send out notices of events, sales, or coupons. Possibly, they have used social media as an easy outlet to send out press releases and important corporate announcements.

My new book - Face2Face: Using Facebook, Twitter, and Other Social Media Tools to Create Great Customer ConnectionsGuess what? If your organization focuses primarily on sending out corporate communications, your customers will tune out your organization and unfriend you in a heartbeat. In 2013, instead of using social media as a one-way broadcast tool, work on starting and continuing conversations with your customers.

This will require your organization to do three important things: 1. Listen before you speak. Set up some listening tools (Google alerts and Twitter search alerts are good places to start) to see what your customers are saying about you; 2. Respond, using colloquial, conversational language. This will feel weird if you’re used to more formal marketing-speak. Make it feel like you’re talking to a work colleague at the water cooler – do this, and people will start talking to you. And 3 – figure out what types of conversations YOU want to start. Do some brainstorming on the conversations your organization needs to hear in 2013, and start those conversations.

2. Focus on the Visual

For the most part, many businesses and organizations have been posting text-heavy status updates in their social media accounts. That makes sense in text-based Twitter, but not so much in Facebook. In fact, Facebook best practices show that when you do one simple thing – add a photo or a video to your post – engagement increases by 100% or more.

So get those cameras out of your pockets (yes, that iPhone or Android smartphone makes a great point-and-shoot camera), and start taking photos around the office, the warehouse, or the store. Maybe think about the three most important things that your customers should know about your organization, take photos of that, then share those photos with customers.

3. Focus on Video

That smartphone I just mentioned in #2 is also HD quality video recorder, and we can put it to good use! There’s a reason YouTube is so popular right now – people love watching short videos. Studies show that people engage more with video posts than with text-only posts.

Here’s my guess – most likely, you haven’t made many videos for your organization. If you have created some videos, it probably resembled a TV commercial. That’s not what your customers want to watch. Instead, get to the point immediately – YouTube suggests that the first 15 seconds are critical to connect with viewers. So don’t waste those seconds with titles, fade-ins, and credits.

Just start sharing your main points. Then post that video to two places – YouTube and Facebook. Use YouTube to share in most places, and use the Facebook upload to share with your Facebook page fans. Facebook’s algorithm favors videos uploaded to Facebook, so those will get seen more than a shared YouTube video.

4. Focus on Next Steps

Many times organizations post information to their social media accounts, but don’t include anything for customers to do. They don’t include a next step. Let’s change that in 2013. Make sure that everything you do includes some type of “ask.” That ask can be as simple as asking customers to “friend or fan” a Facebook Page, or the ask might be to click a link that takes them to a new product or a buy-it-now page.

More people will click if you actually ask them to click. Because of this, make sure to provide customers with some next steps, and actually invite them to take that next step. Do that, and your organization will be one step closer to continued engagement with customers.

5. Focus on your Customers!

Finally, most businesses and organizations, believe it or not, don’t actually focus on their customers! Instead, they focus on their stuff, on their showroom floor, or on their sales staff. In 2013, let’s focus on our customers. Engage them in conversation. Ask them if they like what they’re seeing. Ask them to take next steps, and invite them into your organization.

Follow these five simple reshaping steps, and you will be well on your way to having a great 2013 with social media, and with some really engaged customers, too.

pic by Tintin44

Turn Your Blog Readers into Die-Hard Fans

Great post by Jonathan Cooper over on the Thesis Statement blog7 Critical Ways to Turn Readers Into Die-Hard Fans.

We’re library workers – we get that to succeed, we need to connect with our readers, and we know how to do that in the print world pretty well. How about connecting with your library blog readers?

Here’s Jonathan’s 7 ideas:

  1. Respond to every comment.
  2. Comment on your readers blogs
  3. Find influential readers
  4. Send your readers a quick “thank you” email
  5. Reader Hall of Fame (or a “reader of the month” mention. Cool thought!)
  6. Surprise your readers
  7. Give away free stuff (ok, we sorta kinda already do that, don’t we?)

Go read the rest of Jonathan’s blog post to get the details. While you’re reading it, think about this – these ideas work for your Twitter and Facebook accounts, too. Give them a try!

image by Bigstock

Librarians were trained to Write the Wrong Way

Just thinking about writing for the web. My writing developed this way: I went to school, and learned to write academic papers and speeches. Ok, I also took some poetry and creative writing type classes. And a couple of journalism classes so I learned the inverted pyramid thing.

But other than that, it was pretty much formal academic-type papers. I also learned highly useful stuff … like how to graph out a sentence to discover proper sentence structure. Yikes.

I learned to write in a way that required citations and quotations, which I refined in grad school (I even used one of my class papers as my first official published article). Then the web hit, and I had to learn to write in a new way.

So now, I work hard at writing like I speak. I try to “write it like I say it.” For some people, actually reading what they just wrote out loud can help develop that voice.

Why work at this? Because that type of writing is conversational, social writing. And that’s the type of writing we want on the web – especially in places we are looking for conversations (think blogs or social media spaces).

We are now writing out our conversations, and asking our patrons to respond. To continue the conversation.

How are you learning to write for the web? Have any resources to share?

pic by vial3tt3rs

Facebook from a Patron’s Perspective

A day or two ago, we invited a couple of our patrons in for a focus group session on our website. The goal was to gather insights about our current website that can be incorporated into our redesign … but in the process, one patron in particular shared some eye-opening insights into how she uses Facebook.

This patron shared that she sits in front of a computer for 8 hours a day at work, and starts her morning out by opening up Google Reader, email, and Facebook as separate tabs on her web browser, and keeps them open all day long (while she’s working).

What does she do in Facebook? A lot. She follows co-workers, friends, and family there. The keeps up with the news and other organizations she’s interested in … through her Facebook news feed.

And the library? She primarily keeps up-to-date with the library through Facebook, too. Yes – through status updates and links within those status updates to interesting things.

OK. She was just one person who works in front of a computer all day. But I’m guessing she’s not alone – in the last three months, my library’s Facebook Page has added almost 900 fans.

Implications?

  • We need to not treat our Facebook Page as an afterthought. Some of our more savvy, active patrons are using Facebook as a primary source for library news.
  • We need to develop strategy and goals around our Facebook Pages (and any other social media tool our library incorporates).
  • We need to be actively sharing and conversing. Not just broadcasting press releases, but actually holding conversations with our patrons (just like we do in our physical spaces)

Are you seeing a similar thing with your customers? Your friends? How are you talking with patrons using a Facebook Page?

Photo by Paul Walsh

Allen County’s Newest Conversations Video

Allen County Public Library has been creating a “Conversation” video series when they have speakers out to their library … and I’m in the newest one!

I’m very honored to be in good company – others in the series include: