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April 29 2009

Facebook is the New Grapevine

by Katherine Bennett

You’ve heard the phrase “You snooze you lose” and the “Early bird gets the Worms.” These phrases are true not only in the real world but in the world of social media. Facebook as well as other social media platforms are becoming the dominate way for people to communicate and stay informed.

I was recently at a friend’s wedding reception (we’ll call her Susan to protect the innocent) when one of my former college friends asked if I was on Facebook. I told her I wasn’t really into it, but had thought about opening an account. She basically said all our friends from college were on it and staying connected. I nodded and didn’t really give it another thought. A few weeks later, I sent another college friend an e-mail and told her about the wedding that I had just attended. I thought she would write back surprised, but to my amazement she wrote back that she knew about Susan’s wedding because it was on her Facebook profile. Hmmm, no big deal, some of my friends are really into the internet. Then about a month or two later one my friends mailed me a picture of their new baby daughter. She’s almost a year old! I called my friend to tell them how cute their baby daughter was and guess what I heard. We’ve posted her pictures on Facebook. Do you have a Facebbok account? Okay, I can take a hint. 

Facebook is starting to become like a cell phone, only you don’t have to sign a two year contract or be concerned about going over your minutes. You have to imagine the person’s voice but that’s not hard. Think I’m joking. This past Sunday I was with some friends and one of them asked the other “How was your weekend, other than…….” To which my friend responded, “I guess we don’t need to talk since you can check everything on my Facebook profile. Do you get the feeling everyone’s on Facebook. Yeah, so do I.

So how can businesses use Facebook for a profit? Facebook is a great way to interact with your customers. Many companies have created Facebook pages that people can “fan.” Burger King capitalized on a Facebook weakness a few months ago. They offered a free whopper for every 10 friends that you dropped.  Facebook can be used to keep customers informed and offer them special discounts or incentives.

Not only can businesses keep customers informed, but it’s a great way to see how people feel about your company and what they are saying.  If you start to get negative posts about a certain product or service, you can quickly find a solution and post a note addressing the situation. This makes people feel good about your company. It seems that social media is here to stay, so get on board and start communicating with your fans (customers).

Posted in: Social Media

April 28 2009

Facebook…It Just Makes Cents

by Ryan Faria

It’s pretty hard to ignore the impact Facebook has on our society; mothers, fathers, children, grandparents and everyone in between seems to have a Facebook profile.  But, the question advertisers seem to keep asking is, ‘How can I use Facebook to generate more sales or leads?’

Recently, I have had several hotel clients mention that they were running special deals due to the recent slump in the economy.  One option that I suggested was to advertise on Facebook.  Although, these clients were skeptical as to how this social media channel could drive sales and bookings, they trusted our expertise.  I explained that by using Facebook they can specifically target an audience with interests that closely matched activities either in or nearby the hotel.  For example, if the client was located in Aspen, Colorado, such interests worth targeting would be skiing, snow tubing, sledding and even Aspen.

In addition to selecting interests that match your company’s profile, you can also select age ranges as well as the gender you wish to target.  Best of all, advertisers can choose exact cities in the surrounding area; this leaves a huge opportunity to offer specials to local residents.

By having so many options to target your audience, Facebook makes it easy to find customers who are interested in the products and services you offer.  Many of the clients I have moved into Facebook are experiencing superb results. 

When starting your Facebook advertising, remember to set your budget small and see the results you receive before allocating more funds toward your advertising efforts.  Be sure that your message is clear and concise with a strong call to action.  Another extremely helpful hint is to include an image with your advertising copy.

Remember, Facebook is not just for ‘tweens,’ teens and college students; there are a huge spectrum of ages and interests waiting for you to target.

Posted in: Social Media

April 21 2009

Social Network Theory and Optimal Social Media Marketing Campaigns

by Marjory Meechan

With the rise of social media channels like Facebook, Twitter and countless others, everyone is working hard on social media marketing campaigns to maximize their followers, fans and members in these networks and spread their message as widely as possible. This is really nothing new. Marketing has always been about spreading the word and networking should always have been part of anyone’s business plan.

To maximize the opportunities afforded by this new way to network it is a good idea to have an understanding of how social networks work. Luckily sociologists, anthropologists and other social scientists including those in the field of marketing have been busy studying social networks for years, so we actually know quite a bit about how people organize themselves and how social behavior is spread. There is a great article on this in Wikipedia that describes it in detail.

One thing that I’ve always found fascinating about the way social networks work is the differing values of social network relationships. In dense social networks, people have lots of close connections between each other and regularly interact. Because of this, participants in dense social network connections tend to strongly influence each other. As a result, they are also usually very homogenous in their attitudes and behaviors, so much so that it can be difficult to get the group to change. However, when you do, they all change, which can be very valuable if this change involves the adoption of your product or service. For example, when I was in high school, we all had to have Lee jeans with the little leather brand label intact and alpaca sweaters. I have no idea why – everybody just did. Members with many connections in a group are said to have a lot of social capital in that they have great social influence within the group. However, at some point, somebody had to start the trend and that’s where understanding social networks is important. In particular, understanding which members of networks spread new ideas and behaviors is critical for a good social marketing campaign.

It might seem that the person with the most connections and therefore, the most social capital in the group would be the most influential in spreading change. The emphasis in social media marketing which is on getting lots of friends and followers would seem to follow that theory. However, it turns out that sheer numbers of connections does not necessarily signal the most valuable members of the network for spreading a message. In fact, it is the people with the most direct connections between groups that have the most influence on spreading change. These people have “bridging capital” in that they serve as bridges between groups.

What this means for using social networks to spread your message is that the best people to have in your network are those that have many direct connections to a number of dense social networks, not just lots of connections within a dense social network. These are the people who will be the innovators and will have the most value for spreading the message.

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