Friday, February 22, 2013

Social Media is not a ‘One Size Fits All’

Welcome back guest blogger and EAFocus associate, Sara Przybylski! Follow Sara on Twitter @MichiganPRGuru.

You know your brand needs to be on social media to stay relevant in today’s market. So, you decide to create an account on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube. You waiver on the idea of Pinterest and Instagram but decide to ‘start small’ and look at expanding your social media presence in the future – great! Well, sort of…
The problem with assuming your brand needs to be on these social media sites (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube) is that all four of the sites might not be the right fit for your brand. You’re probably thinking, of course they are! You may be right, but let’s take a step back and fully understand the function and audience of each platform.

Facebook is a site that is no longer being used for the up-to-the-second updates on what people are doing (or at least it shouldn’t be used in that fashion). Facebook is a site to share photos, videos and really engage in two-way conversation. The audience of the site started as college students and has quickly grown to encompass everyone under the sun from grandparents and children to people making pages for their pets and cars. Brands should use Facebook as a platform to truly build a relationship with individuals by engaging in meaningful conversations.
While a brand still needs to update the page frequently to appear in the newsfeeds of its fan base, it does not need to be sending information every 15 minutes.

So ask yourself, “What age group is my brand looking to communicate with? What type of content will we be able to share on a regular basis? Will we be sharing photos and videos, asking questions and sharing other industry related information?” If you answered yes, then Facebook could be a social media site for your brand to build a presence.


LinkedIn is a professional networking site. Commonly explained as the “Facebook for the business community” the site allows you to post a profile explaining your work history, education, volunteerism, etc. along with connecting with fellow colleagues, other professionals in the same or similar industry and with companies.

As a brand, you want to have a presence on LinkedIn if you are looking to have more intellectual conversations with your connections than, say, Facebook. Brands can provide detailed information about the company, products and services offered and even open positions. Again, this is not a site to post an update every 15 minutes; instead, posting meaningful content approximately four to seven times a week is sufficient. LinkedIn is a platform to share company news, industry related articles, start meaningful two-way conversations and engage with professionals who have an interest in and need for/ desire of your brand.
So ask yourself, “Is my brand looking to connect with “the working world” (soon-to-be college graduates through seasoned professionals)? Will we be able to share industry news and articles on a regular basis? Are we looking to engage our audience in deeper conversation or are we looking to keep the conversation light?” Depending on how you answer the above questions, LinkedIn may be a social media site that makes sense for your brand participation.

Twitter is a real-time, up-to-the-minute (sometimes second) running feed of information. From breaking news and sports updates to the latest celebrity gossip and sales from retailers (okay, some may argue all of the above are ‘breaking news’), the individuals on Twitter are extremely diverse, meaning your potential audience is very diverse. 

Twitter is a platform that requires frequent updates in order to be successful. However, the content a brand shares on Twitter also needs to be meaningful and engaging. There is still no place for “We are open for the day”… “”First customer of the day just came to the store”… “The manager just drank a diet pop.” Instead, your brand should be sharing interesting facts, news and updates about the company, relevant industry news and articles, photos, videos and posing questions – all in 140 characters or less.
So ask yourself, “Is my brand looking to engage in real-time conversations with a wide range of audiences? Are we able to provide frequent updates (multiple tweets per day) of meaningful information? Do we want to communicate in fast paced, short messages?” If you answered yes, Twitter may very well be an excellent platform for your brand to build a presence on.

YouTube is all about video. Whether the video footage is of your cat or dog doing ‘amazing’ tricks to crazy stunts and demonstrations of the latest gadget, YouTube lends itself to be an interactive, informative and fun social media site (not that the others are not fun).

If your brand has the capacity to take lots of video footage, has complex ideas, processes or products that can easily be explained through video or are looking for a way to communicate your brand’s culture, video can be a great option.
So ask yourself “Is my brand looking to provide information in an entertaining fashion? Do we have the capacity to provide new videos on a semi-frequent basis (weekly, bi-weekly, monthly)?” Depending on how you answered the above questions, YouTube may be the right platform for your brand to participate on.

The social media platform(s) where your brand needs to be present is determined by your audience and the purpose social media plays in your overall business strategy. Your response should not be “we need to be on social media because everyone else is.” Instead, your response should be tailored to the function and audience of each platform as well as how it relates to the overall business goal: “We need to be on LinkedIn to build a presence among the business community to engage with them on a more intellectual level and in a medium where they are already participating.”
Maybe the above four social media sites aren’t the right fit for your brand. Pinterest and/or Instagram could make more sense depending on your business strategy. Whatever the site(s), just make sure you have a sound reason for being there - and your content reflects that.
Remember: Your brand needs to keep a consistent tone, reflective of the brand, across whatever social media platform(s) you choose, while tailoring messages to the specific audience of each site. This means you cannot copy and paste the same content posted to Facebook on LinkedIn and Twitter. If you have individuals who follow you across a variety of platforms, they are going to want different information on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube. Lastly, don’t just post content because you feel you need to post another update; make sure the content has a purpose and is meaningful. Happy socializing!

Friday, February 15, 2013

The Web Ecosystem: Why Websites and Social Media Sites are Vital to Each Other’s Survival

Introducing Sara Przybylski - new EAFocus associate and guest blogger! Follow her on Twitter @MichiganPRGuru.

It seems the next big thing in social media is introduced every week. With the ever changing social sphere, many are questioning what online platforms are best for their brands. Is it just social media? If so, what social media sites? Or is it a combination of a website and social media?

As people spend more time surfing social media sites for the latest news on world politics, business, fashion and celebrity gossip, are websites even necessary for a brand to survive?While some may argue that brands don’t need a website to create a strong community and loyal customer base, I beg to differ.

Websites are the center of the online universe; the online platform that houses all information about a brand from the brands perspective. Websites are the starting and ending point for a company trying to develop a presence in the web ecosystem. A brand’s website is where anything a customer or potential customer can learn about the company is (well, should be) located.

However, in a day where your customers expect to be able to engage with you in conversation via the Internet, websites alone won’t keep you afloat. People expect to feel like they are important to a brand, that they can have two-way conversations and feel as though their opinion and voice count - and are being heard. It is for these reasons that social media sites are an important component to the web ecosystem. Yet social media sites supplement the branded content on the website, they don’t replace it.

Social media sites are the medium where the customer or potential customer engages with the brand to build a relationship and connect with other likeminded individuals who share a common interest in the brand. If someone lands on your website and wants to engage in a conversation about your brand but there are no social media sites connected to it, she will likely look for another similar brand to potentially build the relationship, i.e. the brand’s competition. Conversely, if the customer is engaging on a social media platform of the brand and wants to learn more about a specific product or make a purchase, she will seek out a website. 

Consider this example: as a company, you share information about a new feature added to an existing product via a photo on Facebook. An individual sees this photo because a friend of theirs “liked” the photo and it appeared in their newsfeed. Out of curiosity, the individual clicks on the photo to learn more. She is intrigued after reading a little more about the product but doesn’t fully comprehend what this new feature means as it relates to the brand as a whole. This photo has piqued the individual’s interest enough to visit your website to learn more about the product and, ultimately, your entire company.

This scenario presents the perfect synergy of the social media site and website working together in a thriving web ecosystem. The information you shared on the Facebook page piqued the interest of an individual who then visited your website to learn about other products and potentially make a purchase. In addition, this individual could decide to like the Facebook page, look for other social media pages to connect with to keep getting updated information about the brand, share this information with their social media networks and ultimately again, make a purchase. It is this viral and web like sharing that keeps the web ecosystem alive and thriving. Without a website to learn more about a company and the social media sites to engage with the brand, individuals are not being given the outlets and information they desire.

What do you think? Are websites at risk of extinction  in the web ecosystem?