New (or improved) social media trends and tools crop up every single day. And to hear some people tell it, every single one is the next big thing. I don’t actually agree—the real secret to social media is creating a strategy that works for you, which may or may not include the latest new tools. But you don’t want to get left behind, either. The trick is figuring out how to simplify the actions you DO take to avoid overwhelm.
With that in mind, here are 3 specific actions (with tips and examples) to help you get ahead of the latest “big things” in social media: Pinterest, Facebook Timeline for Pages and Google+ social search.
#1: PINTEREST: Add a “Pin It” button to your blog and your bookmark bar.
It seems like everyone’s talking about Pinterest. I think I may have even heard someone talk about it in the grocery store! But they’ve got a good reason: studies have shown that it’s driving more traffic to websites than Twitter—which is to say, A LOT!
So how do Pinterest newbies leverage some of that value without stressing? First of all, the same social media rules still apply on Pinterest: be nice, don’t be overly promotional, and share a good mix of content—including content from influencers in your field and content your followers are sharing. But the visual nature of Pinterest is new for a lot of business owners. Here are a few steps to get started:
1. Set up your account using your brand’s Twitter or Facebook account (right now you can only login with your FB Profile, not your Page – I hope that changes soon!), and then update your photo and brand description. Pinterest is a highly social site, so the more personable your approach here, the better.
2. Get the “Pin It” button for your blog AND bookmark bar. You want people to share your content, product photos and even book covers on Pinterest to drive incoming traffic. But you also want to have a “Pin It” button for yourself, so you can pin things you find interesting in a snap. Find them both here: http://pinterest.com/about/goodies/
3. Share visuals with your audience’s lifestyle in mind. Think of Pinterest as a lifestyle-marketing hub, where you curate images, not just post them. Sure, you can have a pinboard of product images or services, but people on Pinterest are looking for pins they can relate to visually, that reflect their lifestyle and values. Look to balance fun and content. For extra punch, use keywords or hashtags.
For example, I have a pinboard of “Books Worth Reading” that all appeal to my target market (but also allow me to show some love to the influencers in my field—and include my own book cover!). I also have “Crazy About Infographics” board—mixing my expertise (social media marketing) with valuable information (cool infographics). If you have a product, obviously, this is a good spot to post tutorials or product images. But the general rule for Pinterest is the same as on all networks: pay attention to your audience’s needs. What interests them? How can you share, participate, and create value?
For a helpful primer, check out “How to Use Pinterest for Business,” an easy-to-follow HubSpot guide that fills you in on everything from Pinterest lingo to search impact.
#2: FACEBOOK: Create several Timeline cover photos so you keep your new Page fresh and fun.
There’s SO much hype, buzz and frustration around every Facebook rollout. I say we embrace this last one—the shift to Timeline for Pages —if only because it gives us all a BIG canvas to get creative and stay top-of-mind with our fans. Literally, through the Timeline cover photo—an 851 by 315-pixel canvas to be exact!
What should brands do with all that space? First, the bad news: there are a lot of rules for using this space. You can’t call out price or purchase info, promos or ads, use calls to action, or include contact info or reference user interface elements (e.g. “like” or “share”). Disappointing? A little. But the opportunities for promotion are still there—they’re just subtler. Here are a few specific strategies to keep your Timeline photo fresh:
- Brand creatively: Think outside the box. Use eye-popping photos with plenty of color. This is a chance to be different and command attention—though I still recommend you stay true to your brand. Simple but bold is key, as you’ll see in this example. I love how this brand spotlights their product in an fun and eye-catching way. Check them out at https://www.facebook.com/GoodPops
- Promote an event or product launch: Use images and minimal copy to let people know what’s coming up. Without promoting or adding a call to action, you can still let people know how they can do business with you. The timeline cover below does a great job of promoting an event with a good mix of images and copy. Check them out at https://www.facebook.com/agentsofchangecon
- Create curiosity: Use images to tell a story and compel people to find out more about you. This might mean a striking macro photo of something you do well—like a food blogger with a close-up of something tantalizing, but complex. This Timeline cover grabbed my attention the minute I saw it! Now I always check out Amanda’s page. You can too at: https://www.facebook.com/ConfidentCooking
- Spotlight your fans: Humanizing a brand is always a strong strategy. Showing appreciation to your fans is a great way to let them know they are important to you. Alternate creative photos with photos of your fans to keep the images new and fresh. My good friend, Mari Smith, does a great job of this on her own page. Mari changes her Timeline cover often. Check them out here: https://www.facebook.com/marismith
- Show your ideal audience: Want to really connect with your audience? Show them pictures… of themselves! Think smiling, happy photos of your target audience. The idea here is to show your audience who they will become by interacting with your Page—a strategy that always gets results when done well. https://www.facebook.com/dove
- Highlight a unique feature: This works particularly well if you have a product—think close-ups of cool features unique to your brand. But it can also work with brands and services. What’s special about what you do? Show it! That’s just what Better Voice has done on their Timeline cover: https://www.facebook.com/bettervoicemail
#3: GOOGLE+: Leverage social search to improve your visibility and traffic.
Google’s Search, Plus Your World feature is a revolutionary approach to “social” search that all online businesses should really pay attention to. When users are logged into Google+ and searching for something using Google’s engine, all the Google+ content that’s been shared with them gets highlighted in the search results—resulting in potentially enormous traffic surges for businesses using Google+ well. Take a look at the new search—the “social” results are marked with a little blue person icon:
From a business perspective, this is the #1 reason to get on Google+ and start optimizing your business page and/or profile (even if you’ve resisted it so far). To make sure you’re getting the most out of Google+’s new search features, make sure you:
- Fill out all your important data on your profile. At a minimum, include your relevant links around the Web. But don’t forget to fill out your business’ description using keywords wherever possible. What you fill out here will be crawled for search results, so it doesn’t hurt to be thorough.
- Include Google+ icons and badges both on your content or blog, as well as your website—and pretty much any other social media network you have. This way, followers you already have know how to find you—and share your content with their own circles.
- Grow your presence on Google+; the more followers you have, the better your search ranking (no surprises there). If you use your profile for business, this will be easy—but business pages need to be added to someone else’s circle first in order to circle fans back. So make it a point to ASK your fans to do so!
For more information and specific examples, read “5 Ways to Use Google+ to Improve Your Search Engine Optimization” by Kristi Hines. She includes some great examples of how social search can impact your results—and how to take advantage of the new features.
Remember, when it comes to social media trends, it’s never one-size-fits-all—social media is about honing in on the networks and tools that work for YOU.
Now it’s your turn—what’s one successful way you’re currently using Pinterest, Facebook Timeline or Google+ search?