How to Convert Social Media Followers to Buyers

Since the rocket-like launches of Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest years ago, organizations have been asking the million dollar question in regards to social media, "How can we convert fans into buyers?"

Social MediaCountless books, seminars, blogs have been devoted to the topic of social media ROI, but (sadly) most seem to miss the most obvious point.

While I don't proclaim to have all of the answers, the answer to the question of converting social media followers to customers seems a rather obvious one:  The same way you converted your existing customers.  

From my perspective, there's too much status placed on 'fans' and 'fan counts' by most social media "experts". The people who "like" your brand are essentially giving your company a virtual high five. Click to Tweet They appreciate something you've done or a perception you've created about your products. They may or may not be your current customers. And – unless you work to convert your followers into buyer – they may or may not be your future customers.

In a traditional sense, your Facebook fans and Twitter followers are the digital equivalent of window shoppers. Click to Tweet Some of them know your brand well, they enjoy your products  and actively share their experiences with their friends.

But some ¬†of your fans – a large majority – are standing on the sidewalk. ¬†They like your window display, but it hasn't compelled them to open the door and try your brand.¬†And this is where your business acumen and experience –¬†more so¬†than your social networking skills – come into play.

Social media is a tool for increasing your sales, not the solution. Click to Tweet

So ask yourself and your team: What do you do as a brand that brings potential customers in off the sidewalk?

If you can answer that question, then you can convert social media followers into buyers.

5+1 Changes to Make to Your Resume NOW!

I read an interesting article on Glassdoor entitled, "5 Changes to Make to Your Resume NOW" in which some often overlooked points were resurfaced. It's worth a read. 

One point that was not mentioned and should be emphasized is how important it is to communicate your social media handles along with your contact information. Your social media standing is a direct reflection of your professional interests and network. and can demonstrate industry engagement

This important engagement element should not be overlooked. After all, there are (literally) hundreds of studies showing that prospective employers are going to seek you out through social media. If this is a point of distinction for you, then you should showcase it, right? 

If you're actively promoting yourself professionally through a blog, Facebook page, or Twitter, you should definitely include a handle or link in the header of your resume. Don't miss a chance to make this positive impression!

How To Make Press Releases "Twitter Friendly"

PRNewser had an interesting read this week on the importance of making your press releases Twitter friendly. Why should you tailor a press release to be easily distributed via Twitter, you ask? Simple. Twitter drives more traffic to press releases than any other top-level social media resource.

So, how do you make your press release "twitter friendly"? PRNewser has some obvious steps as well as some a-ha steps that can greatly impact how your release gets distributed via social networks.  

“It starts with the headline,” says Sarah Skerik, PRNewswire’s VP of social media. “The press releases that got the most shares and views were those that had headlines that were in the range of 120 characters, which makes them the perfect tweetable link.”

twitter logoObviously good headlines are important, but it's equally important to monitor the length of the headline. Since Twitter users will want to retweet your post and (potentially) add comments, you need to leave enogh characters to support the "RT @[yourusername]" device, at a minimum. A good rule of thumb would be to limit the length of your tweet to 110-120 characters maximum. 

Using twitter best practices is also important in making your press release twitter friendly and ensuring that you are hitting your core audience. One obvious device is through the use of appropriate hashtags. Hashtags make your content easy to find through twitter search, lists, and dedicated industry feeds. 

Another great tip is to make your pullquotes tweet-able. 

Why not make the quote more interesting and substantive? “If I knew my audience was active on Twitter, I would make sure that quote is tweet-able, and include the brand’s or person’s Twitter handle….”

Including a twitter handle within your press release (or within the pullquote itself) is a really clever idea that could pay off in many ways. Not only will it get your important themes noticed and retweeted, but it could help to gain followers for your internal twitter accounts, further enhancing your brand's credibility in the marketplace. 

For more ways to make your press releases twitter friendly, check out the rest at PRNewser.

The Unparalleled Importance of a Crisis Management Plan

As the stories of the Casa Monica Hotel firing an employee for wearing a US flag pin began to break this weekend, I was struck by just how unprepared the hotel and Kessler Collection were for the public relations firestorm which erupted in response to the media coverage. 

(DISCLOSURE: I once worked in Sales & Marketing for the Kessler Collection and, as I said on Twitter this weekend, it was troubling to see former colleagues in such a position.) 

Instead of arguing the merits of uniform policy versus patriotism versus two-year history of wearing the pin, it's important for hoteliers (and businesses in general) to take note of how this incident escalated from a policy decision to an immeasurable public relations incident.

Buoyed by (literally) tens of thousands of tweets, facebook posts, and hotel reviews through social media channels, the story grew from a local Jacksonville story on Thursday into a top five feature on nearly every broadcast and cable news channel in just two days time.

As this groundswell grew against the Casa Monica Hotel's decision, the Kessler Collection was notably silent on the issue. Neither the hotel nor the company responded to requests for comment by the local and national media. Neither the company nor the hotel made any posts to their official websites or social media pages to address the questions. In fact, the only tangible response the company seemed to undertake was to attempt to delete a number of strongly worded posts and comments from the hotel's Facebook page.

The Casa Monica Hotel finds itself at the center of a textbook public relations crisis – albeit one that it should have reasonably anticipated and managed – that threatens to damage its brand. The lack of preparedness and response beg the question: Does the hotel or company have a crisis management plan? 

Crisis management is not and never should be an extemporaneous endeavor. It involves forethought, resources, planning and practice. There are thousands of books, blogs, degree programs, etc to pull from but to briefly summarize, there are three active stages in a crisis – all of which need management:

  1. Before all hell breaks loose
  2. All hell breaks loose
  3. After the crisis

Before all hell breaks loose is the "simple" phase, although it is the one that requires the most work. The "voice" of the company must to be defined. Rules around when different members of the organization will be made available to the media must be written. Responses to reasonably anticipated situations (accidents, acts of God, etc) should be drafted. The channels by which the responses will be routed should be tested. And – most importantly – the entire act of responding to a crisis must be simulated and practiced by the entire organization. 

Once all hell breaks loose, which is where the Casa Monica currently finds itself, the work investing in stage one will begin to bear fruit. The most critical elements are the seemingly contradictory goals of speed and calm. Timely statements and media responses must be effectively managed to turn (and eventually tame) the crisis. 

After the crisis, there are two parallel, urgent paths – reputation management and response review. The company must review the root cause of the crisis and how it was responded to by the public relations team. Efforts must be undertaken to repair the brand's image both internally and externally. 

 

For those of us who are not involved in the Casa Monica / Flag Pin debate, it's important that use this opportunity to learn the unparalleled importance of having an effective crisis management plan. The inability to deliver timely statements and respond to requests for comment can do immeasurable harm to your business.

We will all have crises to face. The key is to remember the old Boy Scout motto: "Be Prepared."

 

 

Who uses social media?

Pew Internet has released their updated social networking study and several of their findings are quite remarkable:

  • 47% of adults in the US use social media sites versus only 26% in 2008
  • The average age of social media users is now 38, up from age 33 just two years ago
  • 52% of Facebook users and 33% of Twitter users engage with social media daily
  • Myspace users tend to have the lowest level of education; LinkedIn users are the most educated

 

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Within these findings, I'm most intrigued by the growth of middle-aged and senior users. While adoption by younger users tends to mark the start of trends, the growth among older users indicates mainstream acceptance. In other words, it's clear that social networking – particularly on Facebook – has officially arrived.