Steve is the owner of a well known dental practice in his town and is having a hard time transitioning from traditional marketing methods that they used to rely on, such as Yellow Page ads and postcard mailings, to digital marketing methods like email marketing and social media.
Steve’s greatest challenge is getting his team (and himself) to think digitally. They participate in community events such as the Walk for the Cure, and several events to help at risk kids receive dental care each year. They attended their state fair recently as a team and even purchased 2 pigs from the 4H group, but not one of these events is featured on their social media sites, website, or anywhere for that matter.
Steve is speaking at a national dental conference in a month, as a thought leader, and they have 12 staff members who celebrate birthdays and work anniversaries, but you would never know about these things from their social media posts either.
So many businesses are “social” off-line, but their online community cannot participate, because the business and its team members are not thinking digitally. Today’s consumer is online 5.6 hours PER DAY consuming digital media and 51% of that time is spent consuming that media from a mobile device. Over half a BILLION Facebook users access Facebook from their mobile devices and all of this mobile usage has everything to do with your new consumer’s behavior. They are not reading your mailers and they are most certainly not looking in the Yellow Pages anymore. If you are wanting to reach this new digital consumer and nurture the relationships, you have to start thinking and acting with a digital first mindset.
When you are looking for the ROI (return on investment) on your social marketing, start by examining your “I.” If you are not going to invest in social you certainly can’t expect a return. When your current customers engage with you online, their friends and family see it. They are marketing for you!
It’s also important to remember that social media and digital marketing is not just the responsibility of your marketing department or an individual who has to pull information from everyone. Today, your entire business has to learn to THINK and BE SOCIAL!
Here are 7 things you can start doing to get your business to stop USING social and BE SOCIAL:
Each month discuss with your team the events coming up and how you want to share that information.
Discuss which platforms will be best for each piece of content and who will post that information.
Talk at every meeting about the need to take more photos of office and community events that are happening each week. If you really want to get crazy, see if someone feels comfortable shooting short videos of the events on their phone to upload to Facebook or to YouTube to share.
Discuss what makes a great share-worthy photo.
Close-up and clear
Showing a slice of the action, not someone sitting alone in a chair looking bored.
Consider adding a little fun competition to increase the likelihood of getting the focus on social and digital sharing. Give points for ideas, photos and more, to get everyone thinking social and digitally and reward with gift cards, coffee or other motivating prizes!
Print up fun cards telling all in-office customers to get social with you online. Ask them to share their favorite photos regarding your industry (Steve’s customers can share photos of their best SMILES or of their favorite healthy teeth snacks and recipes).
Run contests for your in-office customers to post their recipes, or photos of things that “make them smile” to your page and give away fun prizes.
You spend a significant amount of time communicating to customers and potential customers through marketing and sales campaigns, support contacts, and your company blog. You also take advantage of customer engagement opportunities through social media sites, as few other venues give you the one-on-one ability to start a conversation with your customers. While you can use whatever voice you want for all communication, establishing a unified brand voice for your communication helps you build consistency across your brand. It also helps you establish employee guidelines explaining acceptable language for communication, common phrases or terms you use for your company, and other details important for correctly conveying your company’s message. On social media sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, the ease of back and forth communication between yourself and your customers requires some shifting for your brand’s voice, due to the more informal setting.
Creating Voice Guidelines
The first step in adapting your brand’s voice for social media is establishing your voice guidelines.
Use this checklist to create overall voice guidelines for your organization:
Who is your audience?
What are the approved names for your company? Be specific with capitalization, especially if your brand name uses a lowercase as the first letter (i.e. eBay).
What sets your company apart from others in the industry?
What is your typical communication tone: funny, formal, informal, informative, educational, casual, etc?
What are common phrases you use in messaging? These phrases can include taglines, common industry terms and keywords, and slang used by your demographic.
Once you’ve created a document covering basic voice guidelines, it’s time to understand how they relate to your brand’s interaction with customers on popular social networks, the types of content these networks respond best to, and how to adapt your voice for your customers.
Facebook is the biggest social network, and it’s also the one that accommodates a wide range of content. Content length ranges from 50 to 200 words, with videos and pictures drawing more attention to your text posts. You don’t want to overwhelm your Facebook fans with long-form content, but you can provide substantial information to begin a conversation. Facebook supports threaded conversations, making it easier for everyone to follow along with comments compared to a platform like Twitter. You adopt a slightly more informal speech pattern on Facebook, but you don’t have to deviate strongly from your typical speaking patterns. You want to interject personality with some demographic and brand appropriate slang and humor to help get the conversations going.
Twitter is challenging for many brands due to the 140 character limit per message. Your social media managers learn how to distill messages into easily digestible tidbits. Effectively communicating on Twitter requires an understanding that you’re going to use abbreviations and Internet slang to get your message across in such a short space. Additionally, knowing how to sustain a conversation through appropriate hashtags is invaluable. Twitter is the most informal social network you may encounter, so you most likely need to adjust your guidelines the greatest for this network. It’s particularly important to mandate which abbreviations and shortened words are appropriate and which do not suit the brand.
LinkedIn is primarily used for B2B communication, so you won’t deviate far from your established brand voice on this network. You do want to keep your tone as warm as possible to encourage engagement and show your brand’s personality. Longer form content is welcomed on this network, although visual content still does a great job at attracting interest.
Pinterest is a visual-first social media site, and your messaging should reflect that. Infographics and DIY projects get significant attention, especially if you have a home or lifestyle brand. Product photos themselves are also welcomed, especially if you can create pinboards that speak to how your products are used in day to day life. Pinterest focuses on visual storytelling, although the picture and board descriptions are important places to further explain the story. A warm and personable tone gets the conversation and pins going on Pinterest, with mostly informal speech.
Niche Industry Social Media Sites
Niche social media sites pop up on a regular basis, such as Steepster for tea community or the niche sub-reddit communities on Reddit. While there’s no one size fits all approach to handling these specialty communities, going for a welcoming and relatable tone is an important first step. It’s also essential to truly understand standard terminology used by customers within your niche. If you go into a specialty social media site filled with enthusiasts and you don’t know the first thing about the phrases they use, it damages the trust they may have in your company knowing what the niche is all about.
Social media sites may seem intimidating when it comes to keeping your brand’s voice consistent across multiple platforms. Understanding the typical tone and content used on these sites helps you adapt your social media guidelines and effectively start conversations with your customers.
If you are needing help with this or other digital marketing activities, use your voice to call our voice and let’s connect!
Published on Feb 27, 2015
Do your videos sound as if you are reading from a script? Do you need to sound more conversational in your social marketing videos? We have 3 tips on how to create more conversational videos. How to sound more natural when making your videos.
Published on Aug 4, 2015
You might do a search on Facebook for your business and find several PLACES pages and wonder how they got there and, more importantly, how to merge them into your main business page. This video answers those questions.