Why Businesses Should Be On Social Media

Social Media is Valuable to Businesses

So you already have a website. Do you need to bother with social media? The answer is yes, and the obvious reason is that it makes your business easier to find. But there’s more to it than that! Read on for why businesses should be on social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus.

Closer and More Personal Relationships With Customers

People like to feel important and they want to be heard. By using social media you have a major advantage in knowing what your customer wants, what they like, and how they speak.

And you are in an optimal position to speak back to your customers and engage in dialogue. You are not selling something as much as participating in an interactive community. This kind of interaction makes your company feel more human.

Instant Feedback – And Damage Control

Web FeedbackIf someone is unhappy with a product or service, these days they often bring their experience straight to the internet, in a public and vocal way.

This puts the spotlight on you to respond, and is your opportunity to turn lemons into lemonade. If someone is complaining, it’s because they want to be heard. Your properly-handled response to complaints can create dedicated followers and loyal customers.

Just remember not to be emotional or hostile when you respond to criticism – all eyes are on you to see what you do!

Learn About Your Customers & Expand Your Audience

Customer Interaction

When you get feedback from your customers you are gaining valuable data: their opinions, their preferences, what drives them, and how they operate.

This information is valuable, in that it gives you a greater opportunity to expand your audience and find more customers.

Create Interest and Awareness – For Less Cost Than Traditional Media

Product Awareness

If a potential customer doesn’t know you offer a particular good or service, they won’t think to go to you. If they see what you have to offer even when that is not something they’re searching for at this exact time, you’ve still made them aware of it. Because of that, when they do need what you offer, they know you’re an option.

Creating awareness and interest through social media does take time. But it costs significantly less than traditional media. That’s not to say you should give up on traditional media, but at the very least social media is a worthy supplement.

Share Your Content & Bring People Back to Your Website

Bring People Back To Your Website

Do you have blog articles, photos, imagery of your services on your site? Social media is a great way to get that info out for people to see. It’s also a great way to bring people back to your website.

Your website should be the hub of your internet presence that users can come back to for all things about your company. Social media is a great supplement. It allows for personal interaction, draws people to your website, and helps create conversation about your business. Take a look for more obscure social media outlets as well. Platforms like Tumblr, Alignable, Instagram and even Ello may have something to offer.

If you need help setting up your web presence, contact us at Appletree MediaWorks – we can give you a hand.


What are Hashtags ?

Hashtags: you see them here and there on the Internet, scattered around posts in all forms of social media. Some people loathe them, some abuse them, and most stand somewhere in between. Once considered just a trendy fad, they’ve caught on in a big way. But what are hashtags? How useful are they? And just what do they do?

The History of Hashtags

Once upon a time in the early days of Twitter, its users were looking for ways to sort and group things topically. One of their users snagged the # sign from IRC and introduced it as a means of contextualizing and filtering information. Not everyone was thrilled with using the syntax as a combination grouping and meta-data – Twitter’s cofounder, for example, thought it was too nerdy. But ultimately, the company embraced it, and the rest is history.

Since then other social media platforms have jumped aboard: Facebook, G+, Tumblr, and many others. Google has even made the hashtag searchable, though it has made G+ searches their priority.

Where Should I Use A Hashtag?

Those new to the use of hashtags might be a little mystified by their use, particularly since so many people use them wrong or abuse them in some fashion or another. Some people on the Internet have become enraged by the overuse of hashtags, developing an irrational distaste simply due to overuse. But there is a proper use and best practice; doing otherwise lessens their value.

  • Context: For social media with size limitations (such as Twitter), a hashtag will add context to a shortened URL or an ambiguous tweet. Think of the hashtag in this case as meta-data: it gives a bit of information regarding the post as a form of context and classification.
  • Conversation: A hashtag can let you join into a conversation even if the specific word or phrase is not used within the post. Sometimes, adding the word might be awkward, but adding the hashtag gets you into the conversation so you don’t miss out. They make it easier to follow the conversation, and to stick with it.
  • Trending Topics: Hashtags let you be part of a larger conversation on a particular topic, in which it is easy for users to find your post and others. Clicking on a hashtag will bring up a list of tweets or posts with the same hashtag. From there, scanning the topic is easy.
  • Memes and Punchlines: People will use a hashtag for a game or meme, just for fun and to see if it catches on. They can also be used as a one-time punchline to add context or emphasis to a post.

And How?

Making a hashtag is easy. You start with the pound sign (#) and then add a word or phrase – there are no set hashtags you must use. Spaces are not allowed, but underscores are. You can make up your own, but be aware that many have been used, and if you’re curious about the context others are using, do a quick search in the search box of whatever platform you’re using, or even Google. You’ll find lists of what’s trending in the world of hashtags – what’s most popular.

Think carefully about what you’re posting, and the context you’d like to add – this will produce the best hashtag decisions.

Best (and Worst) Practices

One or two hashtags per post (and perhaps not even every post) is usually sufficient to take part without getting excessive. You can use multiple hashtags to make your post more specific, but just adding extra hashtags in hopes of more exposure tends to have diminishing returns. Three or more seems to lose attention and makes your post difficult to read.

Hashtags are not case sensitive, so the platforms don’t care if you’re using capitalization or not, but adding capitalized words helps to make a hashtag easier to read in cases where more than one word constitutes a single hashtag.

Do not go crazy with the hashtags, either. Sometimes, people will use a hashtag as each word in a post to add emphasis. This destroys the point, and also makes reading the post difficult at best. This kind of overuse also gives fodder to the vocal anti-hashtag advocates.

Hashtags don’t have any sign of going away, and with their simple and common use, it’s easy to embrace the pound sign and join in on the conversation. Adding context and depth to otherwise short and limited posts, hashtags help to link your posts up with broader communities and to the web as a whole.

Google Plus: First Impressions

google-Plus-iconIn an already crowded online social media world, it seems like the last thing anybody wanted to see was yet another place to share information with each other. In a very “we know what you want better than you do” Apple-like move, Google has now done just that, unleashing its second attempt onto the scene in June (remember Orkut?).  Launched initially as an “invite-only” network – a deception considering that anybody with a Google Account is already part of the database – it will soon allow its flood gates to open. We are already seeing the effects of this network across the vast reaches of cyberspace. But what sets this new network apart from its competition? What does this mean for the marketing world? The time to answer these questions is now, while it is still gathering momentum.

Let’s begin by exploring the differences between Google+ and its largest competitor – Facebook. What will draw the market to this new network, and perhaps draw attention away from the old? Although Google has never been a vocal proponent of online privacy, perhaps the most notable difference is how Google makes privacy feel controllable to its users. It handles its content flow completely differently than Facebook – making it much simpler to hide information from certain individuals in your network, while showing it to others. Utilizing a feature called “circles”, Google hopes to replicate how real life social networks work, whereby you may wish to share your weekend party photos with your drinking buddies, but not necessarily your mom. It remains to be seen how powerful a draw this new content flow will prove to be – whether people value having precise control over who may access their online content enough to make the switch – but it remains a compelling argument nonetheless.

While social networks – by their very nature – primarily focus on connecting individual people, the very fact that it gathers so much attention makes it a powerful marketing tool. Facebook allows businesses to have Pages which people can then “Like”, allowing them to read posts from the business, and share it with their friends. Google+ introduces a new feature called “sparks” whereby a user can input what their interests are and Google will automatically create links to sites that relate to that specific interest. These links can then be shared with other people in the user’s circles.

The Google-addicted Internet is also becoming accustomed to seeing the new “+1” button that is permeating not only Google’s search engine, but also many forward-thinking websites across the web. Clicking this button is a sign of approval or validation that the content is a good source of information. This little button – according to Google – is aimed at transforming the entire landscape of the Internet into a giant social network, with Google+ positioned comfortably at its core. Google is already beginning to incorporate “+1” clicks into its organic search results. It aims to affect a user’s personal version of Google’s algorithm – furthering its trademark “filter bubble” phenomenon – a controversial reality.

It will be important in the coming months to keep an eye on how the “+1” button terraforms the web – and how this affects your business’s web presence. While Google+ promises to help connect individuals in new, potentially exciting ways, we have yet to see a fully functional plan for incorporating businesses into the mix, though Google states that they are hoping to add this option later in the year. Google+ Product Manager Christian Oestlien states, “How users communicate with each other is different from how they communicate with brands, and we want to create an optimal experience for both. We have a great team of engineers actively building an amazing Google+ experience for businesses, and will have something to show the world later this year.”

In the meantime, does your web page have a Google +1 button? Make sure to stay ahead of the game. Appletree MediaWorks will be more than happy to get you started on this important network. Reach out today and let us know you’re ready to take the first step.