Social Media: The Practical Social Media
You’re too old-school. Why don’t you retire already?”
Ahhh … another day, another client meeting. Another fresh-faced punk who thinks he’s a social media expert because he has accounts on Facebook, MySpace, Digg, Twitter — and his ever-so-charming personality on about 50 online dating sites.
I sit stoically, replaying in my head the scene from “Fried Green Tomatoes” where Kathy Bates smashes her big ole boat of a car into the teensy automobile of the two young girls because they “stole” her parking space. Much older, she figured she had better insurance.
Feeling confident that I have much better lawyers, I know I could smack him like Kathy Bates and get away with it. But I restrain myself.
If every Tom, Dick and Harry professing to be some social guru gave me a dollar, I’d top Bill Gates on this year’s Fortune 100 list. Unfortunately, most of these so-called experts can’t afford to give me a dollar without a paycheck advance.
Yes, everyone’s buzzing about the social space. It’s hot, it’s sexy and you can’t watch the news without someone like Barbara Walters talking about “MyFace.” But the truth is, it’s also a lot of work. Not to mention, most marketers don’t need more traffic — they need to figure out how to convert the traffic they already have.
If you’re pondering whether to fix your abysmal catalog quick-order form or spend the time on Sphinn or Facebook, it’s a no-brainer: Perfect the form first. If you have the bandwidth, however, here are some social elements worth trying on your own site.
YouTube is the second largest search engine, and now, unlike a couple years ago, if you produce your videos properly, it really can increase sales and conversions. You don’t even need a fancy-schmancy production studio; an ordinary Flip camera will do.
The key is to keep your videos short. Two minutes to four minutes tend to work best on e-commerce sites unless you really have something interesting to say. Promotional videos must have calls to action throughout. Your goal is not to create a documentary of your product; it’s to sell it. Be aggressive, and ask for orders often.
If your videos are customer service-oriented — showing, for instance, how to use a product once the customer gets it — mark them as such so people who don’t already have the product don’t waste their time.
Add, Enhance User Reviews
User reviews are very four years ago, for sure. But there are still very few marketers who use them — or at least use them well. If you don’t have a review program, or even if you do and want to improve it, set one up with a little “secret sauce” to jazz it up.
Organize reviews in order of priority, with the most helpful ones first. Use a star system, which easily outperforms straight reviews.
A lot of companies just let users run amok with reviews. If you want to get more out of your reviews, work them just like you would a blog, and try to respond to them. Mark your comments with a different colored background so consumers easily can see which ones are yours. You don’t have to comment on every review; just add your two cents where you can make a difference — and an impact.
Effective Chat Practices
I wasn’t a fan of live chat when it first started. I loved the concept, but didn’t care for how my clients actually implemented it. They were putting customer service reps (CSRs) on chat duty, which takes a much different mentality than talking on the phone. Chat reps have to write, spell, get to the point and sell fast.
These days, companies excel at live chat when they:
- respond quickly;
- cut the drama — i.e., CSRs know how to cut to the chase; and
- communicate well when no CSRs are available, so customers don’t keep holding on forever.
If you’ve mastered the art of live chat, consider instigated chat. In live chat, the user initiates the conversation. With instigated chat, you start the conversation. Useful places to try instigated chat are in your shopping cart or after the user has searched — either successfully or not.
Try Trigger E-Mails
By far, this is one of the best ways to learn about social marketing, because you have real, one-to-one conversations with people. Trigger e-mails — aka “good dog” e-mails — are very different from thrust e-mails because they’re sent to individuals based on actions. Thrust e-mails are deployed to everyone and their brother based on your whim/fancy/schedule.
Trigger e-mail actions can be positive, such as thanking the customer for an order, or not so good, like an abandoned cart or search form. They also can be indifferent, such as confirming a vote in a poll. But they always react to happenings, events or other situations. They work because they typically have higher response rates, better deliverability and improved lifetime profit.
Distinguish Your Blog
A lot of companies have added blogs to their repertoires, but about 99.9 percent of them really suck. How can your blog be better? For starters, don’t confuse a personal blog with a business blog. If you’re going to start a business blog, use it for selling and search engine optimization purposes. But whatever you do, don’t use it to pontificate your navel.
Keep It in Site
Make sure you can go back and forth to your Web site without any hassle. The biggest mistake a lot of companies make is they promote their blogs and then take customers through to it, but once there, customers are taken to a separate site where they can’t easily return.
Present a combination of selling goods with personal anecdotes, but make the balance right. When you aren’t promoting a specific product or category, per se, don’t be afraid to add a P.S. of your latest offer and a deadline. Also, ask for a friend’s name, and promote your e-mail sign-up. What’s more, don’t be afraid to use selfbanners and plugs on the right-hand side of your blog to advertise your products.
Amy Africa is president and chief imagin-8-tion officer of Web consultancy Eight by Eight (firstname.lastname@example.org).