5 Creative Ways to Use Social Listening Tools

Every business needs to leverage social media if it wants to stay competitive and engage effectively with its customers. Social listening tools can give you an extra edge in understanding your audience. They also help you track the competition and keep up with the latest trends in your industry. The following are five effective methods to incorporate social listening into your social media management strategy.

1. Find Customers With a Problem You Can Solve

Many of your potential customers haven’t yet heard of you or they don’t realize you have a solution for one of their problems. Social listening is one of the best ways to identify such prospects so you can show them what you have to offer. When someone has a problem, they often begin their search for a solution by asking questions. They may do a simple Google search. They may ask a question on a site such as Quora. Or they may go to a discussion forum or Facebook group that deals with this type of issue.

Social listening tools can help you quickly identify relevant queries. It doesn’t matter if your business makes nutritious pet food, designs SEO software, sells real estate, or makes custom jewelry. When you find people who are seeking exactly the type of product or service you supply, you have a strong prospect. Social listening lets you find your customers as soon as they express a need. While ads are often seen as intrusive, when you contact people who are urgently seeking a solution, they’ll be glad to hear from you.

2. Ethically Poach Customers Away From the Competition

People do plenty of complaining on social media. Many of these complaints are directed against businesses. Twitter, Facebook, Yelp and other reviews sites are full of negative comments about poor service, defective products, misleading advertising and other issues. Monitoring these conversations can help you “steal” or poach dissatisfied customers to your business. While this may seem like a sneaky tactic, it’s perfectly ethical. You aren’t badmouthing the competition. Their customers have already done so. You are simply offering them an alternative. Social listening software lets you monitor the competition as well as conversations about your type of business.

When you apply this strategy, you have to be sure you can actually supply a better alternative. Keep in mind, you’re dealing with customers who have already expressed a willingness to post complaints or bad reviews. However, if you’re confident that you can offer a superior product, better customer service, a lower price or another desirable alternative to the competition you have every reason to reach out. Social listening can help you find disgruntled customers and make them happy.

3. Show Gratitude For Praise

Social listening is a powerful tool for reputation management. You always want to be aware of what customers are saying about you whether it’s on Twitter, Facebook or a review site. One mistake made by many brands, however, is to use reputation management mainly as damage control. While you do need to respond to criticism and negative reviews, it’s equally important to reward people who say nice things about you. When monitoring conversations, don’t filter out the positive comments and reviews. It can be very powerful to comment on complimentary posts. Even a simple “Thank you!” or “Glad you enjoyed your meal!” makes the customer feel rewarded. Everyone likes to be acknowledged.

Even neutral mentions are worth commenting on. For example, someone might casually post “Had lunch with Bob and Mary at Mario’s Pizza today.” This isn’t a review and doesn’t say anything positive or negative about the business. However, if you’re the owner you could take the trouble to comment “Glad you stopped by and hope you had a great meal!” This type of outreach helps you bond with customers and makes it more likely they’ll think of you next time they’re in the neighborhood or seeking the type of product you sell.

4. Find Influencers and Brand Ambassadors

Social listening helps you identify influencers in your industry who can help your brand grow. Search for discussions centered around popular keywords in your industry. Find out who people are following in these fields. You can then start subscribing to their newsletters, following them on social media and reaching out to them in other ways. It’s not always easy to connect with influencers who are world famous. You can start with micro influencers who may not have millions of followers but who have a smaller but loyal audience.

Another benefit of social listening is to find your own most enthusiastic customers. These can become your brand ambassadors. Offer them encouragement by reaching out to them and offering them rewards for spreading the word about your business. While social listening helps you find influencers and brand ambassadors, it’s still up to you to build relationships with them. Remember that the more value you offer people, the more willing they’ll be to do something for you in return.

5. Discover Ways to Improve Your Business

If you’re looking to grow your business, social listening can help you do this. When scaling up, you need to keep your customers’ needs first and foremost in your mind. You can and should question and survey your current customers about their needs and preferences. Social listening, however, lets you go broader and look at your target industry across social media and the internet.

Identify products you don’t currently sell or services you don’t currently provide that people in your field might be seeking. For example, if you have a fitness center you may identify a type of exercise class that’s popular but you don’t yet offer. If you run a salon, look for products and treatments your customers would appreciate. This is another way that monitoring the competition can be fruitful. Find out what they’re offering that you aren’t. By listening to conversations you can determine how popular these offerings are and whether it’s worth it to add them to your own business.

These are some of the top ways to get the most out of your social listening tools. To succeed on popular social media platforms today, you need a variety of social media management tools that let you monitor conversations, track your results, post on a schedule and perform other essential tasks. Social listening is a crucial component that can give you an edge over the competition.

 

Writing a Press Release? 8 Awesome Tools That Will Help

Writing a press release isn’t rocket science — but when you don’t do it on a regular basis, it can be a bit challenging. But with the right tools, you can avoid any pitfalls and make your press release writing a lot easier.

Before we look at the tools that will help you to create better press releases, let’s focus on some of the major mistakes you should avoid in your writing.

The 4 Culprits of Sucky Press Release Writing

1. Euphemisms

Euphemisms are innocent words that we use to replace ones that might be more offensive. A great example would be replacing “She died” with “She passed away.”

In press releases, this kind of wordplay could raise more questions than answers — or just seem blah. This could be problematic for journalists. In the end, if a press release is too confusing or just plain boring, it is tossed aside in favor of a more straightforward, engaging option.

2. Hyperboles

This term, often used in poetry, uses exaggeration to make a point. A common way that this works its way into press releases is to endow human characteristics to a product to make it more appealing. For example, “It’s so intuitive that it knows what you’re thinking before you do.” It definitely catches your attention, but often comes with a healthy dose of skepticism.

In the end, it’s better to leave the hyperbole to the poets. When writing your press release, don’t exaggerate anything. It will only harm your reputation as a trustworthy source. Give it to them straight, with no overstatements.

3. Industry Jargon

Outside of your industry, few if any will understand your lingo. For instance, if you’re not plugged into the business world, will you understand what “core competency” or “buy-in” is? Chances are no — and you’re not going to want to google every unfamiliar term you come across.

So skip the jargon and focus on making your press release accessible to everyone, inside and outside your industry.

4. Gibberish

We can basically boil this term down to nonsense. This is when you use pretentious terms that weigh down your press release. “Streamlined technology.” “Precision targeting.” “Innovative design.” At first, these terms may look flowery and attractive, especially to a marketer who is trying to hype up a product. But when you’re reading a press release, it just gets in the way.

Instead, stick to the facts. Be detailed but steer clear from the pretentious wording and hyped language.

Now that you know some of the hazards to avoid in your writing, let’s talk about some of the free PR tools that can help you make your press release the best it can be.

8 Free PR Tools That Help When You’re Writing a Press Release

1. Grammarly

There are few elements that are as important to your press release as spelling and grammar. Such careless mistakes appear unprofessional — and could mean the bitter end for your release.

This tool makes it easy by giving you helpful suggestions for spelling and grammar — and keeping a running tally of mistakes so that you always know where you stand. It also integrates with most writing programs and apps.

2. Hemingway Editor

Looking for another editing tool? This one might be more to your taste — especially if you’re more visual and want more detailed correction.

The Hemingway Editor color codes each grammar and spelling mistake as you go so you can see exactly what’s wrong and how to fix it. From run-on sentences to adverbs that could weaken your sentences, it has helpful suggestions to improve your writing.

3. OneLook Reverse Dictionary

It’s easy to fall into a word rut — using the same word over and over again. This can be dangerous when it comes to press releases. if you do it too much, your audience will likely notice and lose interest.

This tool goes beyond a simple thesaurus — it can look up words based on their definition. For example, if you enter the phrase “speak softly,” it gives you such options as a murmur, whisper, coo, etc. This allows you to avoid redundancy and spice up your press release with new words that engage your audience.

4. Cliche Finder

Cliches can add a whimsical touch to your writing. But when you write press releases, cliches can get in the way and muddle your main message. After all, you want to differentiate your company or yourself in a release.

Just enter your press release into Cliche Finder’s editor and it will conveniently list all of your cliches. This helps you to improve your writing and avoid the cliche pitfall.

5. PR BuzzSaw

Buzzwords: The bane of every industry. And for journalists, who have to comb through press releases every day, these buzzwords can be like nails on a chalkboard.

I appreciate the description that PR BuzzSaw uses to describe its product: “This free tool automatically hacks PR buzzwords out of press releases to make life more bearable for Britain’s hard-working journalists.”

Use this tool to clean up your press release of the most annoying buzzwords, and present a final copy that journalists will happily devour.

6. StayFocusd

Ever wish you could just sit and write, without distractions? StayFocusd allows you to figuratively close the door to the hectic world of the internet, and focus on your writing.

How does it work? This Google Chrome extension allows you to disable web browsing so that you can focus on the task at hand. You can set it to block every web page or leave select ones available. You can even pre-set what kinds of pages are open to you, leaving distracting games and other distractions out of reach.

7. Wordcounter

Word count is an important part of your press release. You want to make sure it is a reasonable length without being long-winded. While most writing programs come with a word count feature, they can be buried in the drop down menu; besides it’s a hassle to constantly stop writing to check your progress.

Wordcounter is an easy solution that enables you to keep track of your word count with a mere glance at the top of your screen. Write your press release in its editor, with a big, bold word and character counter at the top so you never have to leave your work to check on it.

8. Answer the Public

It won’t matter how much work you put into your press release if no one reads it. People will read your story only if it interests them and touches their lives. So what can you do to make your news more appealing, short of reading minds?

This free tool will tell you what is on people’s minds by telling you the most common things that they’ve searched for on Google. This can be a great way to make your press release more relevant to your target audience.

For instance, if your press release is about a new launch of your accounting software, you might enter the term “accounting software” into this tool, and see what people are asking or searching for on search engines — and incorporate that information into your release.

Takeaways

Simple and free press release tools can really kick your press release writing into high gear. So the next time you’re writing a press release, remember to take advantage of these and other press release tools.

When you’re ready to assess and send out your pitch, watch our webinar on how to stand out from the crowd. And to ensure you’re up to speed on all the tools needed for a modern PR pro, download our ebook on the topic.

This article originally appeared in The B2B PR Blog. It was written by Wendy Marx from Business2Community and is legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

5 Mistakes to Avoid in B2B Social Media Marketing

In many aspects, social media has changed the way we live. We go to a new restaurant based on positive online reviews, interact with friends without the constraints of time or location, and can access a worldwide audience like never before. Here are a few statistics to consider:

  • The internet has 3.17 billion users, and there are 2.3 billion active social media users.
  • 91% of retail brands use two or more social media channels.
  • Internet users have an average of 5.54 social media accounts.
  • Social media users have risen by 176 million in the last year.
  • 1 million new active mobile social users are added every day – that’s 12 each second.
  • Facebook Messenger and Whatsapp handle 60 billion messages a day.

With so many messages, images, and advertisements on social media, how can your business-to-business (B2B) social media marketing stand out amidst the noise?

Here are five mistakes to avoid to ensure your message is heard.

1. Posting Too Much

Do you have that friend on Facebook that posts a few times a day and it starts to get annoying? That one friend who uploads pictures of her morning latte, her dog Chloe, and the lunch out with friends? If comments were anonymous, you would probably be tempted to write something sarcastic. Social media marketing certainly is a balance between promoting brand awareness and not overwhelming your potential customers.

Here are some general guidelines for how often you should post from online marketer, Keran Smith:

  • Twitter – three times a day
  • Facebook – no more than two posts per day
  • LinkedIn – one post per weekday, or 20 total posts for the month
  • Pinterest – at least five posts per day
  • Instagram – one post per day

Posting anymore than the above numbers listed will cause your audience to tune out, Smith argues.

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2. Posting Irrelevant, Inconsistent Content

Your audience is busy and easily distracted. Therefore, your content should be relevant, consistent with your brand, interesting, and eye-catching. Never post without an image and always test your links before you post. In fact, a survey on social media marketing best practices found that videos and images perform best for companies. The content you choose to share and promote should reflect these trends–match what your audience wants to see.

3. Not Optimizing Your Profile

If the main purpose of your social media posts is to increase brand awareness and drive traffic to your website, it’s important to consider what customers will see when they click on your link.

“Social media marketing provides a tremendous opportunity to drive traffic to your B2B website. You can optimize your profiles with a detailed description of your company and a link that directs back to your site,” advises Emily Ahlbum of online marketing company Emagine.com. “It’s also important to know that social media content is now indexed by search engines. So be sure to consider each tweet or status update as a piece of content that can be optimized for search engines.”

4. Not Knowing Where Your Clients Are

Depending on your industry or the services you offer, your audiences’ demographics may vary vastly. Tech start-ups tend to comprise of a younger audience, while established local business owners may skew a little older. For example, the 25-34 age group is the largest age group on social media but not by much.

“Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest fall into this category. Millennials age 18-24 consist of the most users on SnapChat, and Tumblr. LinkedIn is the odd-one-out, with 35-44-year-olds leading the way,” explains Tyler Becker on Social Media Week.

Knowing who your audience is and where they are can save you time and money.

5. You Get What You Pay For

In this day and age of social media marketing, many times you never get to see your client face-to-face. Your calling card is your social media shares, and your storefront is your website landing page. With this in mind, consider working with a social media marketer to get the cleanest campaign with the best results. Sloppy posts, not scheduling posts, or an inconsistent message invalidates the integrity of your company and decreases viewer click-through rates.

Final Takeaway

Social media marketing can be one of your best assets or your greatest struggle. Avoiding the five mistakes outlined above and reaching out for additional help can help you attain your goal of reaching more clients and generating more leads.

And, if you’re ready to build a robust social media marketing program, on any budget, download our ebook on the topic.

This post was originally published on this site on November 20, 2016. We republish posts on Saturday for readers who may have missed it the first time around. This post is by Eleonora Israele from Business2Community, it originally appeared on The Salesforce Blog, and is legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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Psychology of Social Media: The Science Behind Why People Share Online

Have you ever wondered why some content on social media goes viral? Or why seemingly strange social media trends catch fire and others fall flat?

Believe it or not, there’s a whole lot of science behind why people like, comment, and share online.

Understanding the psychology of social media and why people share online is the first step in creating better experiences, stronger relationships, and exponentially greater marketing content.

Psychology of Social Media: The Science Behind Why People Share Online

As businesses and brands, we’re all looking for ways to drive more engagement to our content online, whether that’s on social media or elsewhere. 

Luckily for us, the New York Times conducted an incredible study that is still as relevant as ever today about the psychology of online sharing. They named five primary motivations for sharing:

  1. People want to better the lives of others (94%)
  2. People want the content to reflect their online identity (68%)
  3. People want to grow and nourish relationships (80%)
  4. People share because they like the feeling of having others comment on it and engage (81%)
  5. People want to spread the word about something that they believe in (84%)

Top 5 Reasons People Share Online.png

UCLA professor of psychology and of psychiatry and author of the book Social: Why Our Brains are Wired to Connect, Matthew Lieberman, observed that:

People are regularly attuned to how the things they’re seeing will be useful and interesting, not just to themselves, but also to other people. We always seem to be on the lookout for who else will find this helpful, amusing or interesting, and our brain data are showing evidence of that.

Looking at some of the most successful social media posts of 2017, it might be unclear to the untrained eye what made them so popular. However, from a scientific perspective, we can begin to understand why. 

The New York Times, for example, posted a behind-the-scenes video about how Ed Sheeran’s ‘Shape of You‘ was made:

This video incredibly effective from a psychological standpoint for various reasons, including: 

  • Shape of You was one of the most popular songs of 2017 and so people were looking to identify themselves with that song on social media – a reflection of themselves and their taste in music.
  • People were looking to nourish their relationships with others (friends and family) by sharing a video they knew they would enjoy as well – due to the popularity of the song.

Why Emotions are a Powerful Tool in Online Sharing

In a wonderful study titled, “Why Content Goes Viral,”Jonah Berger, assistant professor of marketing at the Wharton School of Business (and author of the book Contagious), and co-author Katy Milkman looked at 7,000 articles published at The New York Times to see which ones got the most views and social shares and why.

Berger and Milkman found that the more the content evoked a high-arousal emotion such as awe, anger, anxiety, fear, sadness, humor, or wonder, the better its chances of being shared repeatedly and even virality.

Humans are full of emotions. By tapping into emotion, we as brands and businesses have the chance to connect with our customers (humans) on an impactful level. Not to mention increase shares online! 

Robert Plutchik’s famous “wheel of emotions” shows just how many emotional layers humans are capable of feeling:

Emotional Layers social media sharing.png

Referring back to the New York Times article we discussed earlier, perhaps the most powerful emotion of all is happiness.

Researchers found that happiness is the main driver for social media sharing. Emotions layered with and related to happiness make up the majority of the most successful and viral content online. 

Still not convinced?

Google’s Abigail Posner describes happiness sharing as “energy exchange”:

When we see or create an image that enlivens us, we send it to others to give them a bit of energy and effervescence. Every gift holds the spirit of the gifter.

Giving Your Audience the Motivation to Share

From viral golf tournaments and film festivals to the most successful television series on social media, today brands and businesses are faced with the never-ending challenge of finding and creating content that people actually want to share. 

By considering the psychology of why people share online, you’ll be able to strategically identify a winning formula for marketing content on a consistent basis.

If you’re interested in going down that path, we can help you on your journey.

Big Idea Marketing Trends That Can Transform Your Brand

Marketing trends come and go, sometimes as swiftly (and pitilessly) as the evening tide. Experts croon about them at the beginning of a year, and in the middle of the same year bloggers cheerfully take joy on those that fail to catch fire. It’s just not easy to catch the right trend wave. Should your company jump on the Instagram advertising bandwagon and what happened to Snapchat as the next big thing? Maybe virtual reality is not blowing up, but can’t we trust augmented reality? What exactly is going on with bots and artificial intelligence? I know we’ve tried a few here at QuestionPro.

AND THE BAND PLAYS ON

With all this said, we can rely on some “big idea” marketing trends that transcend the yearly sequence of products and services—mainly because they have worked very well with established brands. These ideas are hard to measure with short-term analytics, perhaps frustrating financial departments because they are so psychological or “meta.” But in many ways, these trends are priceless because they deeply motivate consumers into action. As research reveals:

  • Ninety-five percent of our purchase decision-making happens in the subconscious mind.
  • We employ emotions rather than facts to evaluate a product, and those emotions influence our loyalty, trust, and intent to buy from that brand.

Let’s look at these high-horse notions that have helped create many unicorns.

THE “WHY”

Author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek took the business world by storm with his 2009 book, Start With Why. Sinek admits that he wasn’t conveying anything innovative, but distilling what made famed brands or individuals successful, from Apple to Martin Luther King Jr. Sinek’s formula is simple: Most companies go sequentially with the “what,” “how,” and “why” as their business model. Instead, they should reverse it to the “why,” “how,” and “what.” As an example, both Apple and Dell make the right electronics for their audiences. “We make great computers,” is the “what,” which Dell embraced. Apple, on the other hand, started out with “why.” We all know which brand is more popular.

WHAT EXACTLY IS APPLE’S “WHY”?

The answer is that everything Apple makes is designed to challenge the status quote and make people think differently. This core message (or “why”) then infuses the company’s “how” and “what,” regardless of product. As Sinek explains, people buy “why” you do something, not the “how” or “what.” Consumers subconsciously want a company that believes in what they believe in. With Apple, that’s a whole generation of geeks, artists, and trendsetters.

The truth is that most companies don’t worry about the “why” until way down the branding road, and audiences often smell that as disingenuous rat.

Oh, making money is a result, never a “why,” in case you were wondering.

DESIGN THINKING

Design thinking is increasingly popular today, embraced by companies like Google, Samsung, and GE. It is a form of visual strategy that actively incorporates empathy, imagery, and success/failure predictive models. Design thinking sees all possible roads, with the starting point a deep understanding of audience needs and the ending being success with a disruption in traditional assumptions.

Here is another summary of design thinking: “Design Thinking is an iterative process in which we seek to understand the user, challenge assumptions, and redefine problems in an attempt to identify alternative strategies and solutions that might not be instantly apparent with our initial level of understanding. At the same time, design thinking provides a solution-based approach to solving problems. It is a way of thinking and working as well as a collection of hands-on methods.”

Design thinking almost sounds like sci-fi, something a computer on the Star Trek Enterprise could handle; but the reality is that it’s been used for decades by the military, admitted and explained by a former Lieutenant General of the U.S. Marine Corps:

“Design thinking creates a mental imagery of what an operation should look like — again, even before actual planning. It’s that squishy area of the conjunction of visualization, projection, and all manner of creative thinking that most people in uniform are not comfortable discussing. It’s not easily quantifiable, you see, but every commander should have a mental imagery of what the operations should look like, as well as the skill to make that mental imagery into a plan. I believe that bridging that gap is critical to developing and executing coherent plans and operations.”

Along with instant coffee and duct tape, add design thinking to useful things the military gave society! And in market research, we’ve shown how design thinking can transform research surveys for superior data.

STORYTELLING

I’ve used it before in articles but let me repeat this quote by Seth Godin: “Marketing is no longer about the products we sell but the stories we tell.”

Why is storytelling important? Because the old legacy ways are dying and a new generation of consumers wants things differently. As Seth Godin once said, “Marketing is no longer about the products we sell, but the stories we tell”.

We live in an era where millennials are very frugal and Gen Zers are radically cynical. Robust advertising, alluring deals, and sultry selling just aren’t going to work with these two demographics (who will soon hold a majority of the spending cards). Beyond these younger demographics, most consumers have learned to ignore intrusive marketing and want to make meaningful connections with brands.

What’s more, storytelling works: we retain 70 percent of information through stories, but only ten percent from data and statistics.

The “why” helps in establishing a rapport between a brand and audiences. Design thinking offers a map of possibilities that optimizes the buyer’s journey. But a story needs to be told as consumers increasingly want products and services that provide experiences and moments they can share with the world.

Effective storytelling should connect the story of the brand with the story of audiences, and how both are on a fantastic adventure of self-discovery and just a better life. This involves plenty of interaction and mutual growth on various channels.

Back to Apple again, we can see how the mystic and counterculture story of Steve Jobs was relatable to those audiences I mentioned above (geeks, artists, and trendsetters). As another illustration, we can see how the story of Google attempting to organize all the world’s information resonates with a global population craving for free information on the internet.

Does all this sound like it should be in a Tarantino movie and not your marketing campaigns? When expressing your brand, all you must do is simply consider these thought-leader tips:

  • Add a human element to your brand story.
  • Keep it simple and universal.
  • Introduce a hero with unfulfilled desires, who will reach the goal thanks to your brand.
  • Make sure there’s a connection between your customers and you.
  • Don’t be afraid of combining (seemingly) incompatible elements if they are relevant to your brand and its mission

With a healthy mixture of these “big idea” marketing trends, your brand can rise above the many yearly trends (or leverage them better) and do what it was meant to do: directly and meaningfully interact with audiences.

This article originally appeared in qSample.

This article was written by Rudly Raphael from Business2Community and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.