July 18, 2013
Recently, a few of Shipwire’s social media outlets have gotten a serious dose of TLC. Why does it matter? Unifying your business presence across platforms helps you build your brand in a cohesive way. Among the benefits of consistent involvement in social media are the value of discovery, access to conversation with users, and the opportunity to contribute expert knowledge to your field. Tuning in and participating in discussions also leads to organic benefits and connections. And don’t forget that Google also produces search results based on social signals for SEO, which can improve your rankings when used strategically.
1. Benefit from your LinkedIn audience
As of January 2013, the network reports having 225 million users, so don’t ignore the opportunity to represent your business there. It’s a smart place to connect with and leave an impression on a professional audience, and the potential to stand out is strong because many companies have yet to optimize their pages.
LinkedIn business pages include options to collect followers, post status updates, feature products and services, and view analytics. Different methods of calculation make engagement statistics hard to compare between networks, but for us, LinkedIn provides higher quality engagement than Facebook, which makes sense considering our industry (brands focusing more on B2C will likely find this to be the opposite). Since it’s not possible to request followers on LinkedIn, it’s more likely that engagement is more deliberate and meaningful (i.e. not a result of friends of employees ‘liking’ content). We can also gain insight into who is engaging by looking at the follower demographics graph, which categorizes followers by industry, seniority, etc., and this allows us to shape content to fit audience interest.
As mentioned, LinkedIn and Facebook measure engagement differently, so for a more direct numbers comparison, we can refer to LinkedIn impressions, defined as the number of times each update was seen by LinkedIn members, and Facebook total reach, defined as the number of unique people who saw a post. Linkedin shows significantly higher impressions; that the network records total views rather than unique views plays a part in this, but the difference is still significant.
When comparing apples to apples in terms of social interactions, we found that the exact same posts received 4x as many impressions on LinkedIn as they did on Facebook. These are very significant results and depending on your industry may be a good indicator of which social network to focus on.
In fact, simply posting relevant content from your blog immediately does two thing for you: 1) it spurs engagement through impressions, comments, and shares, and 2) it gives you lots of insight about people interested in your brand:
What this means for LinkedIn Ads
Going a step further, knowledge of our audience combined with the ability create a targeted campaign (company size, title, industry, geography) through LinkedIn Ads means that we could run an ad that appeals to the people following us and direct it at them.
You can read a great guide on LinkedIn ads here.
2. Make the best of YouTube
Social media for companies should be purposeful and content should be packaged in a way that makes sense, and video offers some unique possibilities. YouTube recently announced that it now receives a billion unique monthly visitors, so it’s also great for SEO and discovery. Due to the diversity of various products, services, and brands, video marketing looks different for every company, so you should pick the strategy that makes the most sense for you. Here are some examples:
Blendtec Blenders — Kitchen appliances don’t immediately lend themselves to exciting video content, but you’ve probably seen Blendtec’s series of videos demonstrating the power of their product by blending various Apple devices and other impressive non-food items. They received millions of views, proving that a small budget and a simple product can generate a lot of buzz when marketed well.
Shipwire — As a software and logistics company, Shipwire is functional, but not flashy (though we do try and wow you!), so we use YouTube to host the recently-released Shipwire University, a series of video tutorials that educates customers through quick demos, rather than lengthy written tutorials. We branded our channel and polished it up by setting custom thumbnails so our videos were more easily recognizable, and adding a banner with our logo (tips below). It’s designed to be used by our customers, not for viral sharing, but it’s serving a purpose and simplifying the process of learning.
Other great examples are The Home Depot (how-to series) and Etsy (markets their users and community more than their platform). For something much different and geared towards smaller business, check out Graham Hunt’s channel. When real estate sales slowed, he started teaching people about the process of buying property and selling a lifestyle through YouTube, which led to an increase in business without increasing his budget.
Can’t create custom thumbnails? Here’s a workaround
1. Log in to your YouTube account and go to the Video Manager to view your Uploads. If your account is set up to create custom thumbnails, there will be a button to do so, as seen below. If it’s not, here’s how you can work around it:
2. In Account Features, navigate to Channel Settings. You’ll see a monetization option. Click the Enable button (you can disable later once you customize the thumbnails).
3. Next, accept the terms, etc. and return to the Uploads section of the Video Manager. You’ll know you’re on the right track if you see a ‘$’ next to your views. Click the drop down Edit menu and select Info and Settings.
4. Once here, there should be a button to set a custom thumbnail and change the image however you want.
5. As long as the ‘$’ buttons are grey, your videos aren’t being monetized, even though monetization is enabled. If you’re satisfied, you’re done. However, if you want to officially disable monetization, you can go back to Features, click the link to View Monetization Settings, and disable it from there. Your thumbnails will not change.
Time saving tips for banner art
If you’ve tried to run a company page on Google (and YouTube), you’ve been frustrated by how often they make design changes. The banner art for YouTube recently shifted to a new format and is viewable on different devices, which you should keep in mind because your images may not be one-size-fits-all. For example, we began with a more detailed image, but as you can see, the images aren’t automatically resized proportionally and instead the crops for desktop (see below) and mobile looked wrong:
After a few attempts using our original image, we decided to we strip the design down to our logo, which displays nicely across all devices. Text and empty space is easy to work with, while images are difficult unless the crop doesn’t matter:
3. Improve search results with Google+
The longtime underdog of social networks, Google+ may be hard to get excited about and the frequent changes can be tiring to keep up with, but it’s proving its value more and more, so you risk missing out if you ignore it. Keep in mind that pages are for businesses and profiles are for individuals. The +1 feature influences your company’s PageRank in search results, and a Hubspot study shows that websites with a +1 button button generate 3.5 times as many visits as those without one. Bloggers can also receive +1 clicks through the author ranking system, which offers the opportunity to establish authority, increase visibility, and get some SEO value for your brand when they write on your behalf. Unlike feeds in other social networks, pages are accessible to the public, not just people connected within circles, which means you can spread influence outside of typical networks. (The Social Reports feature allows you to measure engagement).
Stake your claim
Once you’ve created a Google+ page, there are a few tricks to optimize it.
1. Verify the associated email address by logging in to Google+, navigating to About, and looking at the Contact Information section. If you’ve filled it out, you’ll see a link to verify the associated email address. Click the link and check your email.
2. Click the red Verify button in the verification email. NOTE: This is a little confusing, but you must be logged in to the Gmail account used to create the Google+ page in order for verification to work (may be different from the email address being verified). Select the account, and a confirmation message will appear on the screen if you’ve done it correctly. Looking back at the Contact Information box, you’ll see a check mark next to the newly verified email address.
3. Add social media links and link your company’s website and YouTube account to the Google+ page. This will result in check marks beside the URL and YouTube icons and will enable eligibility for Direct Connect, which increases the searchability of your Google+ page.
If your page is listed in someone’s circle, you’ll show up like this when they do a Google search:
If you’ve collected what Google counts as a ‘meaningful number’ of followers, you can apply for page verification (different from email verification), which will provide you with some nice real estate in Google searches, regardless of whether or not you’re in someone’s circle.
Whether you are a consumer- or business-facing company, smart use of social media for companies is advantageous. Put in the time to make your social media pages complete, contribute to networks by presenting followers with content that’s valuable, and listen to how people react to news within your industry.