It’s that time of the year again and I’m super excited to be checking out Neilson’s 2016 Social Media Report! If you’ve never read it before, the document highlights the social landscape of the past year, looks at trends and outlines interesting facts/stats. It’s a goldmine for presentation content and also makes for an interesting read, especially when you compare it to reports from years prior. There’s something exciting about watching your industry thrive, grow and develop over time!
Just a few pages in and the stats speak for themselves. Computer usage/accessibility has dropped while smartphone and tablet usage grows. Additional stats further strengthening the notion that mobile is here to stay and smartphone usage is taking over. The bottom line and underlying message of this year’s report: if your content isn’t mobile friendly, you’re in for a rude awakening.
Every single demographic has shown significant growth when it comes to time spent using social media and that’s all contained within the first 6 pages! The document outlines internet purchases, content ratings, engagement, simultaneous usage, TV versus social and so much more. Dedicate some time this week to go through the document and pick out some key facts that pertain to your business or how you use social media. To view or download the full 2016 report, click here.
It’s no secret that winter can be pretty dreary and painfully long but it does offer up a lot of joy during the holidays. As a brand, there are plenty of opportunities to sell, engage and inspire your audiences online but with so many family gatherings, parties and the desire to hibernate, when is best? As with any other time of the year, there are certain days of the week and certain times of the day that are best when it comes to gaining the attention of your followers. It’s also important to remember that every platform is different, not only in regards to what they offer but also how users engage with brands on those platforms.
Do you have any tips for businesses that want to engage audiences online during the winter?
Do you find you engage more or less with brands on social during the colder months?
Social media is about more than just selling and if I had a quarter for every time I had to explain that, I’d be rich! It’s no secret that businesses who achieve success online aren’t focusing on sales pitches, price structures and one-way communication. They’re investing time and effort into creating hubs online where customers (and potential customers) can come to learn something new. Providing valuable and insightful content is the key to social media but how do you know what your audience finds valuable? Instead of pushing sales, try listening for a change. You’d be amazed by the vast amount of information that’s available online when you take the time to stop speaking. You can learn so much about your industry, community and customers by simply making time to search related keywords and hashtags. There’s no doubt that it can be difficult to stay on track when it comes to content creation but before you push out content, always ask yourself “what value is this providing for my audience?”
There’s just something special about a new year! It’s a fresh start, a different outlook and a chance to do things differently. As we embark on what is sure to be an incredible year, I’m taking the time to lay out goals and really reflect on how Blab can grow in 2016. That being said, I think that sometimes motivation can be hard to come by when you’re a busy entrepreneur that’s trying to find balance in your life. It’s because of this that I’ve decided to start a weekly blog series that’s designed to spread positivity and help you to start each week with a fresh new outlook.
As someone who carries their phone around 24/7, I know first hand that it can sometimes feel more like a burden than a convenience. I’m constantly checking emails, getting notifications, listening to voicemails and fiddling around with one thing or another no matter where I am or what time it is. I don’t even want to know how many hours each day I spend looking at that screen and frankly, I could do without that information! Since I spend so much time looking at my phone screen, I decided to use that valuable real estate as a place to display my weekly mantra so that every single time I check it, I’m reminded of what I’m focusing on over the next seven days. The best part about these mantras is that their all customized by me and for me. On Monday morning each week, I take a look through my favourite wallpaper app (appropriately named Wallpapers) and choose a quote I feel will best sum up my weekly goal/vibe. Sometimes it’s silly, other times it’s business related or poetic. Either way, it guides me through each week and ensures I keep my head in the game so no matter how busy, frustrated, upset or stressed out I become, I can always keep myself on track.
So far I’ve really come to appreciate how much this simple process helps me stay focused and I’m looking forward to sharing my weekly mantra with you on the blog each Monday. But don’t just take my word for it, try it yourself! Build up a stash of good quote wallpapers (or make your own) and every Monday morning, before you dive head first into your busy schedule, choose one that you want to guide you through the week and then spend the next seven days owning it!
Check out my past mantras from January below and share some of your favourite motivational quotes/sayings in the comments. Have you started embracing weekly mantras on your smart phone? Share it with us on social via our Facebook Page or Twitter account.
2012 has been a crazy year for social media! The London Olympics, war and conflict around the world, a record-breaking IPO, the introduction and growth of Pinterest, a presidential election and multiple natural disasters gave social media users plenty of opportunities to share their perspectives this year.
Believe it or not, the first day of 2013 is quickly approaching. As January looms ahead, we’ve started to think about the new year and some social media resolutions moving forward. We’re all about being realistic and setting ourselves up for success. Keeping that in mind, we’ve listed three resolutions that will help any business kickstart their social media strategy in 2013.
1. Go Mobile
Smartphones, tablets and e-readers will likely once again be the hottest holiday gifts. Whether you’re developing social media campaigns through mobile applications or adding social media integration to mobile sites, a social media strategy is incomplete if you’re ignoring mobile users. If you’ve never viewed your website on a tablet or smartphone, you’re in for a real surprise so get it over with at the beginning of the year so you can spend the rest of your time making the necessary changes. It has been predicted that 2013 is the year that mobile web browsing will likely surpass desktop browsing so don’t get left behind!
2. Explore Video
Producing and sharing more videos will open you up to a whole new world of viewers. There are more than 3 billion videos viewed each day on YouTube alone so take the time to really explore your options. If you can, hire a professional to write your copy, shoot the video and edit the final product. Just because video is a fun way of communicating doesn’t mean it deserves to look any less cohesive and polished than your other forms of branding. You can start by looking into your options with podcasts or creating a valuable video series for your customers and potential customers.
3. Get Your Learn On
Staying up to date and current with all things happening in the world of social media is essential for success and growth. In the same respect, improving your technical knowledge, equipment and software will also be greatly beneficial. There are plenty of ways you can expand your knowledge; subscribe to new RSS feeds, explore HTML coding, or sign up for Google alerts.
The restaurant business can be extremely competitive so leveraging social media is imperative to stay one step ahead. When it comes down to it, restaurants using social media are receiving much more than monetary gain. As a restaurant, your business revolves around an extended interaction with customers. You’re providing a service as well as a product and fine-tuning this experience takes more than a dose of “practice makes perfect”. It’s important to remember that although social media takes time to turn non-revenue producing activities into revenue producing activities, it can and does happen!
Consider the following ways in which social media can help you effectively maximize your time, effort and resources:
1. Gain insight and gather feedback on menu items, events and service
2. Promote specials and events
3. Encourage new customers to try your restaurant by offering exclusive discounts or specials
4. Monitor your online reputation and provide complaint resolutions in real time
5. Using employees as brand ambassadors to create awareness
6. Keeping the community and customers informed about new projects (remodels, new locations etc)
7. Finding new employees
8. Having a direct conversation with your current customers and potentially reaching new customers
9. Sharing information such as contests or giveaways to increase foot traffic and generate excitement
10. Using social media to connect with your franchises (if applicable) to create an online support community
People go out to eat and drink at restaurants to interact and be social. Those who enjoy this concept are bound to enjoy the interactivity that social media offers as well. There are many different ways to leverage social media but there is no doubt that overlooking its potential for the restaurant industry is a mistake. It will take time and effort, like most marketing initiatives, but it’s possible and it can be done successfully if the proper steps are taken to strategize.
When we first caught a glimpse of Facebook’s Timeline layout for business pages, we were immediately excited about the new opportunities this layout would bring for brands and businesses of all sizes. While there are some big changes in terms of functionality, there is no reason to worry. Be one of the first businesses to embrace Timeline by becoming familiar with new features and how best to leverage them for success.
The Cover Photo
Previously, profile photos were a standard 180×540 and while they have now become smaller, they are supported by a much stronger visual area (851×315) designated to the cover photo. The fun part about this new layout is that the images overlap so there’s the possibility to create some seriously fun and creative designs that flow from one photo to the other.
Facebook has made it clear that there are some serious restrictions when it comes to cover photos so be sure you’re not in violation of any terms before you get too attached to a certain concept or idea. Use this space to promote who you are and what you do. Keep in mind this image is public and as a business using Timeline, you no longer have the option to send new visitors to a unique tab to share information. When new users visit your page, this cover photo is the first thing they’ll see so make it count!
Cover photos must be at least 399 pixels wide and may not contain:
-Price or purchase information such as “50% off sale” or “download this on our website”
-Contact information such as web address, email, mailing address or other information that is intended for your page’s about section
-References to user interface elements such as the “Like” button or any other Facebook site feature
-Calls to action such as “tell your friends” or “get this giveaway now”
Views and Apps
All the tabs that once appeared on the left hand side of your brand page under your profile photo now have a new home. Each tab is also accompanied by a featured photo allowing for further customization. This is the area where all your custom tabs have been dropped and before you go live with Timeline, you’ll need to sort through your options and decide which you want to feature and if there are any that need to be added or removed. Is that custom landing page still something you want to have available for visitors to see? What do you want to feature that you can’t include on your cover photo? These are a few of the questions you’ll need to ask yourself before you know how to move forward.
Pinned, Highlighted and Hidden Posts
If you post something important that you want visitors to see first and foremost, you can use the pinned posts function to “pin” this update at the very top of your Timeline for up to seven days. This feature can come in real handy for event listings or time sensitive material!
As a business, you can highlight important stories so they are featured on your Timeline and in the same respect, you can hide less important or less-engaging posts from visitors. Often times dull or stagnant posts can take away from the overall vibe of a page so don’t be afraid to hide certain content to improve the overall feel.
Gone are the days when all posts look identical. A new feature allows you to make posts on your Timeline look larger than the typical size. Enlarging posts can be very beneficial when bright visuals are involved or when you really want to make something stand out. Keep in mind that it’s important to use this feature wisely! A timeline full of larger posts will be annoying to navigate and unpleasing to view so be sure to choose wisely when it comes to which posts deserve to be made larger.
Since Facebook’s new layout is designed to resemble a literal timeline, milestones play an key role in highlighting important events and accomplishments throughout the life cycle of a business. Some businesses that have been around for a long time finally have an ability to boast about their rich history and share it with visitors. Highlighting when your business started, when you got your first office, your first employee, won your first award etc is a great way to show people how far you’ve come. In the same respect, let’s keep in mind that sometimes less is more. Find a balance when it comes to creating milestones and know what is best left as a milestone celebrated in your own mind.
Your visitors may be customers or potential customers so offering them the ability to contact you directly without leaving your business page is essential. This is the first time brands will be able to speak directly and privately to their networks on Facebook and it’s sure to have a positive effect on their customer service. Be sure to keep an eye on your private messages. It may be an excellent new feature but if messages are being ignored, it can just as quickly turn into a burden or a catalyst for negative feedback.
Opinions and perspectives can be mixed, but generally, many restaurants have jumped on the daily deal site bandwagon to provide their current and potential new clientele with meal deals. Deal sites such as Groupon, Living Social, Kijiji Daily Deals and locally based businesses like Swarm Jam and Smart Betty, allow businesses to provide daily offers to the public. These bargains are available to subscribers based on their location and they change on a daily basis. These deals can be anything from 50% off an entire meal purchase to discounted two-can-dine options. These sites operate through the power of group buying. Each daily deal will become active as long as the number of purchases reaches a certain pre-determined quota. Various methods of promotion such as email, website, social media platforms (Facebook & Twitter) and even mobile apps, provide subscribers with daily deal notifications. Each day these sites offer a new featured deal that is purchased online directly through their websites or mobile apps. Once you have purchased the deal, your voucher/coupon can either be printed or presented via your mobile device at the time of use.
These group buying sites are mutually beneficial to all parties involved in the sense that both the business and customer reap the advantages from the daily deal. It’s an especially unique opportunity for new, small or unadvertised businesses because it allows them to promote their restaurants and persuade new clientele to try their offerings by providing them with a deal that’s hard to turn down. Not all businesses are marketing or social media savvy, so these sites are able to do all of the promoting and advertising, as well as create the media ‘buzz’ needed to sell your deals. Additionally, when you decide to work with daily deal sites, you gain access to their mailing list and members in your particular local market that you could not otherwise obtain on your own. Any restaurant knows that they are only as strong as their customer base. Obtaining new patrons, as well as showing appreciation to their existing ones, is extremely vital to their existence.
Considering that working with these sites is commission based, you want to be certain that you make a positive return on your investment. In order to do so, there are some things to be aware of before you decide to pursue. You must be able to:
1. Turn as many new customers into return patrons.
2. Create a positive experience for customers so it can elicit the spread of positive reviews to others (word of mouth).
3. Handle the increased volume of customers while continually providing the same high level of superior service.
4. Continue to provide your regular and loyal customers with the same level of service they are used to.
Keeping in mind the combination of today’s consumer who frequents restaurants and the low recession-induced spending power, these deals meet the needs of the general public. Individuals and families on a budget or those simply looking to save on their frequent dining habits are given an opportunity to save significantly. Deal sites also make committing to trying a new establishment a lot less risky and therefore reduces the amount of post-purchase dissonance. There is no doubt that a demand for these deal site offerings exists so the response and traffic that a restaurant will receive through participating is promising.
Whether you are a new or established business in need of advertising and a new audience, deal sites might be the answer for you as long as you take into consideration the risks involved and be prepared to overcome them.
Customer retention is a top priority for most businesses as acquiring new customers is significantly more expensive than retaining the ones you already have. With advancements in social media, customer loyalty programs are adopting new concepts. Here are some of the ways social media can help your business build customer loyalty:
Creating A Personal Bond
Customers enjoy knowing that they can create a direct relationship with your business. Being able to directly communicate and “bond” with customers through platforms such as Facebook or Twitter can provide them with a feeling of closeness. The customer will feel personally connected, thus forming a loyal business relationship for the future.
Feedback And Responses
Customers love to leave feedback, both good and bad, in relation to their experiences with businesses. Social media has made it possible for businesses to connect with their customers and not only receive feedback, but provide direct responses. Not only is it great to receive a response, but thanks to social media, you can now expect a response in a much more timely manner. The customer will receive a sense of appreciation when a response is elicited and will enjoy further conducting business with you.
Usage of social media platforms such as Groupon, Foursquare, Twitter and Facebook has been on the rise. These platforms provide customers a direct link with benefits to using a businesses’ services or connecting with a business online. Customers enjoy receiving a “little something extra” in addition to conducting regular business with you. It acts as an incentive to remain loyal rather and deters them from exploring the competition.
Social media provides new venues for customers to access your business. The more convenient it is, the better. Increased accessibility equals increased reach and exposure. If your business is available on various social media platforms, it increases the number of ways your customers can form an attachment with you. The more ways that a customer can connect with you, the more likely the exposure will create a long lasting relationship with your business.
Businesses are now better able to track the behaviours, likes and dislikes of their customers through the use of social media. If businesses are better able to track this valuable information, they can then better provide their customers with what they want. By providing them with current, popular and desired products and services, the customer will feel understood and want to continually conduct business with a company who directly suits and adapts to their evolving needs.
As described in McClelland’s Theory of Needs, ‘need for affiliation’ is “the need for open and sociable interpersonal relationships.” Instinctively, people want to feel included. If the customer feels included as part of your business (i.e a follower on Twitter), they will likely remain loyal to your business based on the attachment. The feeling of being included in a group or having membership with your business will solidify the relationship and result in a long term sense of belonging for customers.
Businesses often find themselves bombarded with comments in reference to their business, services and products. Most fear the dreaded negative comments or remarks that customers post on the internet for all to see. There are two ways to go about dealing with these comments, the right way and the wrong way. It would be easy to simply ignore, delete or lash out at the comment or customer, but the repercussions of these actions would be far more damaging than the negative comment itself. Here are some steps to help you properly and effectively manage negative comments.
Stop And Think
It may be instinct to react quickly, but it’s important to remember to stop, think about the comment and absorb what’s being said. This is when you should take a moment to understand where the comment is coming from and what the intent of the poster is.
Determine the type of criticism. Not all negative comments are the same, so it’s important to determine what type of criticism you are dealing with. Is the comment a legitimate complaint, a suggestion for improvement or an attack on your business for no valid reason? Does the customer just want to be heard or are they maliciously criticising? Identify what the comment’s target is before you decide on the appropriate plan of action.
Respond In A Timely Manner
When a customer takes the time out to express how they feel about your business, it’s only fair that you should return the favour. Not only should you always respond to comments, but you should do so promptly. Responding within an appropriate time frame lets the customer know that you care about their input and want to address the situation. This demonstrates that the customer’s feedback is important to your business. The only exception to the rule is when a comment is made without reason or solely made to be damaging (known as trolling or spam); these should be removed to avoid further confrontation.
Be Approachable For Further Conversation
It is important to reply to comments made on the platform they were originally posted on. This not only provides a direct connection, but looks good in the eyes of other customers who can see that you have addressed a fellow customer’s comments. An important lesson here is to always leave additional contact information so the customer can contact you personally to further discuss an issue. This way, if necessary, you can handle the issue in a more private and personal manner; away from the eyes of other online viewers.
Be Both Helpful And Apologetic
We have all heard the saying “the customer is always right” and at times like these, they are words to live by. You will gain respect and maintain a good reputation by apologizing for the situation or issue which ignited the negative comment. A sincere “We’re sorry” will not only defuse the situation, but will put the customer at ease knowing that you understand where they are coming from. Additionally, advise them that you will address the issue mentioned and will do your very best to find a solution (within reason) that suits both sides. They want to know that action is being taken.
Maintain Your Composure
Do not damage your reputation by lashing out at the customer who made the negative comment. Although these types of comments can be frustrating to deal with, always maintain control of your emotions and deal with the comment or customer accordingly. Inappropriate responses or actions will be much more damaging in the long run and will result in a loss of respect for the way in which you handle business. You do not want your tactless actions to reflect poorly on your business.
Value what customers have to say about you and your business. Even though negative comments can be hard to swallow, take it as a lesson learned or view it as constructive criticism. Don’t be quick to go on the defensive or react negatively; there is always something to be learned, and you should see it as an opportunity to work towards fixing any flaws. Always investigate what the customer has to say and try to improve upon the issue. Reassure the customer that you are doing everything in your power to address and fix the issue.
Not only should you address the negative comments posted by customers, but also show appreciation to those who have taken the time to leave you positive remarks or compliments. These types of comments are just as important to respond to as the bad ones so show some acknowledgment and gratitude towards them as well!