AKRON (July 8, 2013) — We've hit the sixth-month mark for the social media blog, so I wanted to take a step back and answer some questions that we've been getting along the way as sort of a "recap" before we start branching out into some more complex social media topics.
For some answers to broader questions about the tire industry, check out the July 8 print edition of Tire Business. Questions answered include marketing to women, selling high performance tires, consumer research, etc.
GROWING ON SOCIAL MEDIA
Q: We are a small local family-owned business and started Facebook last summer and still have only 149 likes. We are growing, but very slow considering that we service 400 to 500 cars a month. Is that standard?
A: Sometimes on social media it's not the length of time that you are on a site, but rather how active you are on it. For instance, if you have been on the site for a year and a half, but only post once every couple months, that could greatly affect the success rate of your page. People want that social interaction. Such things could be something simple like posting a new recipe you are going to try over the weekend. With that, it's also important to factor in the 6:1 them to you ratio, meaning you want to post one thing about your company in comparison with six things for or about them, your audience. If everything is about you, you may turn people off from liking your page. Social media is a two-way street. Just like you would not just ignore a customer in your store, you don't want to ignore your followers on social media.
Q: I just created a Facebook for my business. What is the best way to get people to start liking your new page?
A: Like the above question, I suggest you start by staying active on the site. It is hard to build from the ground up, as with any part of business. You can start by sharing with your own Facebook account's friends to let them know you have a business page to help generate more likes to your page.
One other effective tool is to add the Facebook icon to your company website. Part of growing your Facebook/social media presence is to be visible, so if someone goes to your website and you do not have that button on your homepage, they may never know you have the Facebook account. If you want to add the Facebook icon to your website, visit www.facebook.com/brandpermissions.
I would also suggest starting to like other local businesses in your area. You want to grow relationships and part of that is being part of the community, whether local or industry. If you stopped by the local coffee shop on the way in to work and really enjoyed your morning cup of Joe, why not reach out to them on their Facebook page and let them know? The hope is that they'll return the favor sometime.
It might not seem obvious why this could help you, but it's making you part of the conversation. People who follow that coffee shop can say, 'you had a blueberry muffin from there for breakfast. Me, too.' This kind of community involvement puts your business' name in their brain and may drive them to your page.
Q: Are hashtags the key to getting more followers? How else can people "find" you? I share content, but wonder how more people will find and plug into it? It's frustrating to share great content, but feel like it's not getting to the "right" audience.
A: Hashtags are a big part of getting more followers because it helps get your name out there. Facebook used to not have this search function so it was more relevant for sites like Twitter, Instagram and Google+, however, Facebook announced on June 12 that it has incorporated hashtags into its platform. This means that the majority of the big names of social media right now have this search function, so you may really be missing out on a way to get more followers/customers.
A key to hashtagging is to think about what topic people may be searching for that you want to appear on. For instance, if you are a tire shop that is Ohio-based, than a good hashtag may be #Ohio. Or if you are big fans of the local sports team, using that hashtag will put your posts in the searches for that. Even if you are a shop with one location, you can still utilize hashtagging by tagging the city you are located in.
DIFFERENCES IN SITES
Q: How is Twitter content different than Facebook content?
A: Both Twitter and Facebook can have similar content because they are both designed as social sites, however, there are different demographics on the sites.
For instance Twitter has a younger demographic than Facebook, so that is something to consider when posting. As a point of reference, on Twitter nearly half of all users are under the age of 34 and only 30 percent are over 40. Facebook differs because 45 percent of users are over age 45.
Also, because Twitter has a 140-character limit, you have to get your point across with a short amount of words. It's also more of a "real-time" site, meaning that most of the action on one tweet is going to happen within one hour, after that the chances of people seeing it starts to go down. Whereas Facebook is more of a site where people can catch up in a day or two. So on Twitter, you may want to repeat postings of popular or relevant topics, but you don't want to follow that same rule on Facebook.
Q: I have had a personal LinkedIn page for many years and use it almost completely for business link use. Is there a need for me to create a new page just for my business?
A: LinkedIn is the site that is strictly business, but it offers different elements for personal and business pages, so it would still be advisable to set up a company page. With personal pages people can endorse skills you possess, but the company pages allow you to post products, which can have people recommend particular products not just the company as a whole. One other thing to note, if someone is searching for your company, they will be typing in the company name and not your name, so for search functions alone it's good to have a base. You can also list job openings and other important parts of your business on the company page instead of that personal account and job seekers are going to be looking there and not on personal pages.
Q: Is YouTube safe to use for a company or would Vine be better?
A: Both are safe to use for business, it just depends what you would like to use it for. Vine teamed up with Twitter, which makes sense since both have space restrictions—six seconds for Vine videos and 140 characters for tweets.
If you want something fast and fun, then Vine might be for you. YouTube does not have a time restriction, so if you were looking to post commercials or do-it-yourself type videos—which are big hits on the site—than that would be the more appropriate route.
SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION (SEO)
Q: How much does social media help with SEO and search rankings?
A: There are several SEO benefits of social media. Social media helps content get indexed faster and reduce the time Google takes to find your content. Social media increases ranking for terms in a shared post and active social media use shows the search engines that you're a reliable source of information worth recommending in search results. If search engine optimization was a neatly cut pie, about a fourth of it would be social media. Regardless, the pie isn't complete without all of the pieces.
Q: I have built custom iFrame tabs linking back to my company website. What is the best way to track the traffic driven to my website from social media (Google analytics, etc.)? Do I need to create a custom landing page in Facebook for this?
A: First, you do not need to create a custom landing page in Facebook for this because Facebook's domain will be used to determine how much traffic is generated from the site to your own. Google analytics, Omniture, Piwik, ClickTale are among some of the most widely recommended website analytics tools. These have a tool for traffic sources or traffic referrals and you can set to see the top or all of the sites from which your audience came.
Q: Google has been known to blacklist those who publish duplicated content. Recently, tire distributors offered social media posts & updates for dealers. These posts are identical. Is that going to hurt the SEO ranking?
A: This is actually up for debate, but the same rules for your website do not apply for social media sites when duplicate content is at hand. Sometimes, though, Facebook doesn't show posts made by outside apps in the feed as often as it does if users post them directly.
Q: Can you explain why using PR rather than sales promotions is important when using social media.
A: If you are going to use social media to strictly make sales pitches, you are not going to be successful. Companies who do that completely miss the boat on the social aspect of social media. People who gravitate to these sites want to be engaged; they want to form relationships with you. Sure, if you have big sales going on at your store or social media campaigns, you can include them. However, you want the majority of your posts to be for or about them—your followers; your customers.
Q: We are preparing for a huge recycling event at our tire dealership. What do you recommend for Facebook marketing?
A: "Upcycling" is a huge trend right now. Some of our most popular posts on Facebook have been my journey through making a tire planter. There has definitely been a push in the industry for more "eco-friendly" products so that is all stuff that you can touch on. Is the recycling event tied to anything? For instance, April deals a lot with recycling because of Earth Day and Arbor Day, so it's a good month to be able to hold those events. Hashtags of #EarthDay were all over and helped connect those searches, but people care about the environment all the time.
As far as Facebook marketing, remember people generally are more interested in photos or videos than just worded-posts. So what type of visual aids can you give to the event? Go ahead and post those on Facebook. Maybe you are running some sort of content in store, maybe a coloring contest for kids. Why not put some of the top contenders up on Facebook. You are showing your community that they can relate to you, and also showing people what you are up to at your shop.
Q: I'm in manufacturing and see from our insights the post with the most reach is when we had someone dressed as an "Easter Bunny" in a photo wishing a Happy Easter. What other fun ideas do you have for a dry manufacturing subject? Seems the "fun" things get shared!
A: I think it's great that you are using the insights that Facebook offers. It definitely helps you see what posts are more popular, so you can strategize. I've said it before, but it's really important to remember the social aspect of social media. If you are on a site like LinkedIn, than people want to know the more mechanical, strictly business side of your company, however, people who are on Facebook and Twitter are most likely to be scrolling through their NewsFeed when they are waiting in line somewhere. What would catch your eye more: a riddle, joke, a funny picture, or article about proper tire maintenance? Both are important for you to share with your audience, but without the fun parts, you might not get as many people clicking on your page. It's that 6:1 ratio I mentioned — six things for/about them and one thing about you.
It also depends on what your core audience is. As a tire dealer, most of your followers will be consumers, but if you sell merchandise to other businesses, than you may want to focus more on some industry-specific links that are really relevant to your industry.
Online Manager Alaina Scott also contributed to the answers in this blog.