Archive for the ‘Engagement’ Category
After a few days of playing with the new Google + Pages, I am cautiously optimistic that it will provide some unique opportunities over Facebook and Twitter, specifically with Hangouts. However, I am a bit disappointed at other limitations, such as Google’s policy not to allow contests and promotions.
Here are the basic steps to getting started with Google+ Pages:
Step 2: Pick a category and add your info. If you have a physical location and a Google Place page you should select “local business or place” because it will integrate some of your Places information to your Page. Google allows you to set up both a local business and a brand, but don’t do this unless you want to dilute presence on Plus and manage multiple accounts.
Step 3: Customize your page’s public profile. Not much you can do here, but add a short tagline and a profile photo. Don’t expect to do skyscraper image here. Unlike Facebook, the image size is fixed at 200X200 pixels. One interesting feature here is a fairly sophisticated photo editing option during the upload process.
Step 4: Get the word out. Google encourages you to do four things to build your business’s Google+ presence: start posting, build your circles – in other words start adding a bunch of people to your circles, link directly to your profile and connect your website to your Google+ Page. This last piece is probably the most interesting because of the use of the rel=”publisher” link, which will “confirm ownership of a site” for Google. Google requests that you put this link which points to your + page from your website in the section of your site.
Now it’s time to start posting, interacting and building a following. Here a few important things to note:
When you go to your Google+ home page you will notice a drop down to the right of your profile image and directly below your name. This is where you can toggle between your personal profile and your pages. Be careful. Once you switch to a page your all of your posts and comments will be from that page. Moral of the story: before posting pictures from your recent trip to Burning Man, make sure you are on the right profile/page.
Unlike your personal Google+ profile, your Page cannot add individuals to Circles if your Page is not in their Circles. Pages can however add other Pages to their Circles without reciprocation.
Pages do not appear to have the capability to be managed by multiple accounts. It took Facebook a few years to add this functionality, and I am not entirely surprised that it is not in the first release of Google+ Pages.
I have a long commute to work, at least by Portland standards. Although I only drive for about 30 – 45 minutes, the fact that I pass farms, barns and stables qualifies it as a sizable commute. Cue eye rolls from NYC, LA, ATL commuters. Having three-quarters of an hour to myself leaves me with plenty of time to listen to sports talk radio and think. Well, the other morning I happened to be doing both at the same time.
I was listening to a syndicated broadcast of The Jim Rome Show and he was asking his listeners a question about what they thought about Tiger Woods and his chances of becoming the golfer and celebrity he once was. I wasn’t too interested in the question, but it got me thinking about the similarities between engaging audiences on a radio talk show and engaging audiences in social media.
Talk show producers have a pretty simple model: create a show that attracts listeners by providing value in the form of entertainment or information and sell ads and sponsorship to companies who want to reach that demographic. They have been refining these business practices since early last century, and social media marketers could learn a thing or two. I have identified five tried and true methods of talk radio that should be applied to engaging audiences online.
1) Ask a lot of questions. If you are a regular listener of talk radio you have undoubtedly noticed that the host will constantly pose questions in an attempt to get people to call in and start a conversation. The host is putting the conversation in the hands of the listener and letting the audience lead. A moderator of a brand in a social media channel should do the same: moderate the conversation, don’t overpower it. If you ask the right questions, your audience will do the heavy lifting. Social media has the enormous added benefit of conversations spreading within your audiences’ personal networks. When Facebook fans actively participate on a brand’s page, their personal network knows about it via wall reposts. This is obviously not the case when someone calls into a radio show.
2) Have an opinion. Most talk radio hosts are highly opinionated. Whether it is Jim Rome talking about sports or Rush Limbaugh politicking, there is always an opinion about the subject at hand. This is important for radio hosts and brands on social networks for two reasons. First, it establishes a position and provides context for what the brand (or host) is all about. Second, it creates a foundation for a healthy debate. People are more likely to engage if they can agree or disagree with a stated position.
3) Create meaning and be relevant. Radio audiences choose to listen to a specific talk radio show because the subject is meaningful in some way. If the program is irrelevant or lacks meaning, they change the channel. Online audiences are even more fickle and instead of changing the channel, they will simply not engage with your content or worse un-follow or un-like. Online audiences are bombarded with information every second they are online and most people have a limited attention budget. Its spread even thinner for each new friend or brand they follow, fan or like and relevance becomes that much more important.
4) Give stuff away. …and if you are the 9th caller you win… People love free stuff and radio producers have used this tactic for years to engage their listeners and promote their sponsors. Brands have been doing this since the very early days of Facebook pages because audiences respond well to incentives. That being said, point number three should be considered here: the prize and the method to win the prize should be relevant and meaningful to your brand. For example, when I was at Card Player we ran a few Facebook contests giving away a trip to Vegas to play in the World Series of Poker. People who read poker magazines typically like coming to Vegas and playing poker so the prize was very meaningful. The contest itself also had meaning in that we asked people to design a cover of the magazine. Their friends and our fans then voted on the winner.
5) It’s OK to talk about yourself, but don’t overdo it. The best talk radio hosts can walk the line between relevant introspection and narcissism. Those who discuss their life experiences in context of the subject of the program have a positive impact on engagement while those who stray and just talk about themselves do not. The lesson for brands here is that your audience doesn’t just want to hear about your new product releases, blogs and accolades. They want to hear why it is relevant to them.
Back to Rome. He does a really good job engaging his radio audience. Ironically though, he doesn’t really practice his refined audience engagement methods on the Internet. Check out his Facebook page. There is a lot of regurgitation of news and opinions, but not much else. However, he is definitely not afraid to state his opinion which is good to get the conversation going.
Although your objective for your social media strategy may be to increase leads, generate more site traffic, increase branding or provide customer support, your audience doesn’t necessarily share those same objectives. They want to participate, not be vomited on. Treat your fans as if they are listening to radio talk show about your brand, and do everything you can to prevent them from turning the dial.