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Archive for Social Media Guides

The Best Free Social Media Tools For Small Businesses

Best free small business social media tools
By leveraging the right small business social media tools you can ensure awesome results from your strategy - and these are the best tools around.

You could say that a social media strategy was only as good as its best social media tools. It’s not true; a social media strategy is ultimately only as good as the marketer who devises and employs it - but you could say that all the same.

Why? Well, every social media marketer makes use of social media tools to help streamline their processes and maximise the amount that they can achieve. For small businesses, this process can save heaps of precious time and energy that can be much better invested elsewhere.

This index of free small business social media tools is an updated version of a previous list that I combiled back at the beginning of 2016. Each of these small business social media tools I have tried and consider worthy of mentioning.

1. Coschedule’ Headline Analyzer

Nothing boosts a social media marketing strategy quite like the addition of an awesome content marketing strategy. That’s our jam here at Giraffe. Seriously, if you want to get more from social media, start writing awesome web content that your audience will value before posting and promoting it. You can thank us for the results later.

Coschedule’ Headline Analyzer provides quality scores on the strength of article titles and headlines in relation to social media engagement, particularly the likelihood of shares. It also helps to determine the likelihood that a blog title will be beneficial to your SEO.

2. Yoast WordPress Plugin

Yoast is the number one search engine optimisation plugin for wordpress. Users set their chosen keyword for each article they post and are given simple tips to increase the likelihood that they will rank well for that keyword. These include increasing the frequency of the keyword throughout different parts of the content such as headlines and alt text for images. It also gives you little coloured dots which signify the strength of each aspect of your article - and nothing compares to the feeling of turning all those tiny specks green.

Technically it is an SEO tool… Come to think of it, both of the first two examples weren’t really small business social media tools… However, articles put through Yoast commonly experience more click throughs from social due to the optimisation. So certainly worth using. Plus the extra benefits are definetely not to be sniffed at.

3. Socialrank

Socialrank is a simple to use platform that allows you to identify, organise and manage both Twitter and Instagram followers. As small business social media tools go, this is one that will help give you genuine insight into the strengths of your following such as who your best followers are and what they are about. With the use of filters you can see, amongst other things, who your most engaged and influential followers are.

4. Hootsuite

Hootsuite is the preferred social media management tool of millions that allows you to schedule, engage with and grow your audience across all of your social networks from one place. It also offers social analytics. Free features are limited but there is a selection of affordable pro plans available.

Although I have used Hootsuite in the past, it isn’t currently in our arsenal of in-house social media marketing tools. This is mostly down to the pricing structure which can escalate quickly once you start to add extra accounts and services. However, as small business social media tools go, the free version can certainly be useful if you only have a few channels to manage.

5. Tweetdeck

If Hootsuite isn’t for you, that’s completely fine. There are plenty of other social media scheduling tools out there of varying quality. While scheduling for Instagram may be a serious task (there are ways, but they are difficult), Facebook’s in-built scheduling tool is perfectly adequate. It may hiccup every now and then, but with that many users you can be sure that it will be fixed soon enough.

For Twitter, Tweetdeck is a great tool that allows users to create and schedule Tweets, alongside a bunch of other features like creating custom feeds. These can come in really useful for spotting opportunities for interaction. While it may not have as many advanced analytics as Hootsuite’s paid version, that doesn’t stop it being the preferred choice of many social media marketers.

6. RiteTag

Hashtag strategy - what is it? Well, it’s using hashtags. Sounds simple, right! It’s not. Shame. What makes RiteTag one of the best small business social media tools is that it gives instant feedback on your chosen hashtags to help you decide which to use as part of your strategy.

Using the right hashtags is integral to seriously expanding your reach, but left to our own devices we are all guilty of having a few that we always use. We do so mistakenly thinking that they are powerful when they are actually just a waste of characters. If that’s you, I can’t recommend RiteTag highly enough.

7. DrumUp

Depending on how important external content (that is, content from other websites) is to your social media strategy (and the likelihood is that it will be to some extent), DrumUp can be a great tool. It has multiple functions which recommend content for you to share or curate based on your keywords, direct to your dashboard.

The dream is that your content marketing strategy would eventally become so good and so frequent that you would never need to go looking for content to curate - you would always have a steady stream coming from your blog. But until then, DrumUp is a great tool.

8. Canva

I’m pretty sure we are sponsored by Canva at Giraffe… If we aren’t and you are from Canva, get in touch. We are always raving about it. Absolutely everyone in the office makes use of it to create professional looking graphics for social media posts. It’s simple, easy to use and comes with a whole host of graphics, layouts, fonts and images. Power users - hit up either of the two below resources to get more out of it…

9. Pixabay & 10. Pexels

If Canva is the sword of Giraffe Social Media, Pixabay and Pexels are the shield and… force-field? Something like that. Anyway, these two sites are perfect for finding images under Creative Commons CC0. In laymans terms, this means you can do absolutely anything you like with them. Seriously, anything. And you won’t have to thank anybody.

There are a few things to consider when making use of stock images though. Ideally you only want to make use of them as one-off graphics - don’t make them key to your brand such as a permanent placeholder for the homepage on your website. The reason is that many consumers have seen the majority of them before and can spot them a mile off. But one-off use is ideal.

11. Websta

For my sins, I have only just started using Websta and I must say it is fabulous. It provides everything you would expect from a social media management tool - key analytics and insights, custom feeds and the ability to explore content - while allowing you to view and interact with other users’ posts. Instagram’s in-app analytics are currently basic at best - Websta takes those one-step further.

12. Later

Marketed as “The simpler way to plan your visual content marketing”, Later is a scheduling tool for Instagram that allows users to schedule and manage their posts ahead of time. Is it that? Well, it is true that Later allows you to spread out and create a steady stream of content - but it does take some investment. That said, if you use Instagram a lot then these kind of small business social media tools can be a God-send.

13. Website Grader

Hubspot’s Website Grader gives a full report on the strength of your marketing efforts across all of your digital channels. This includes, you guessed it, social media, but also content and SEO. Certain information can seem a little iffy from time to time but it is still really useful if you are strapped for time and looking for immediate direction.

14. Uprank

Uprank is an advanced research tool that analyses and provides data on the strength of your brand’s digital marketing, including website architecture, SEO and social media. It then generates and delivers a digital marketing strategy tailored to your site in the form of comprehensive tasks. Great as a starting point - but lacks the creative and innovative aspects needed to develop an awesome social media posting strategy.

15. AdParlor

AdParlor lets you create free mockups of ads for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest. This can give you a much better idea of what your finished campaigns will look like to users on these networks. The brand new interface is sleek and easy to use. As small business social media tools go, this is one that can be perfect to help develop your social media advertising strategy, with scalable and downloadable mockups, instant previews and in-line character limits.

How to do Social Media for Authors

How to do social media for authors

Social media is everywhere; on our phones, on our computers and even in a follow request at the back of our new favourite book next to that witty little author’s bio. But why? Why has social media become such a necessity to the literary world that now even publishers recommend a high social media following? And how do you tap into the wealth of opportunity it provides?

There are countless reasons why social media is beneficial to any industry, but for now I’ll focus on those for all the writers out there.

The social media telephone

In the age of “Fan-Girls” and “Fandoms” fan bases are bigger than ever, this being no exception in the literary world. Novels are so entirely in one’s own head, that it’s hard not to create a personal, possessive bond to the books, characters and even the author. J. D Salinger, author of Catcher in the Rye said “What really knocks me out is a book that, when you're all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it.”

And that’s where social media steps in. Platforms such as Twitter act like said phone and allow you and your fans a direct line to one another.

Solidify and build your fan-base.

Being able to chat to someone you hero-worship or respect is amazing. It makes your readers feel acknowledged, special and valued. And so they should! It’s because of them you are who you are and you do what you do. Answering questions on what your character’s favourite colour is, where the inspiration came from for your newest novel, or even sharing fan-art, could solidify a fans status into super-fan.

This loyalty and commitment is invaluable – especially when your new book comes out. The bond and loyalty that can be created through social media may be the difference of “Well, I’m not sure on the blurb…” to “Of course I’m going to buy it! They’re my favourite author!” Prolific, best-selling fantasy author Neil Gaiman is an excellent example of this; take one look at Gaiman’s feed and nearly every post is in response to a fan, (one of his 2.43M), with a sprinkle of self-promotion in-between.

Still need proof that this dialogue and social media can serve to actually grow your fanbase? A number of questions for Gaiman happen to be “as a newcomer to your books, which ones would you recommend?” A clear indication that Gaiman’s social media presence alone is helping to build his considerable fan-base.

Book launches and making your fans feel special

Social Media is the ultimate space for promoting book launches or drumming up excitement pre-launch. In July 2011 Young adult, bestselling author John Green’s novel ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ hit the #1 bestseller spot - before it was even published. So how on earth did an unpublished book with no front cover fly to the number one spot?

Green - who at present has 5.14M followers on Twitter, Nearly 3M on Youtube and a strong Tumblr account - is no stranger to Social Media and he knows exactly how to use it. On a magical Tuesday in 2011 Green posted the title of the not-yet-finished book on both Tumblr and Twitter. A short while later he tweeted he would sign all pre-ordered copies, and to close up he read out a short passage of the novel on his Youtube channel. By 9pm that evening ‘The Fault in Our Stars” hit #1 on Amazon.

No gimmicks, no big bucks, no publishers; just the exceptional utilisation of a loyal fan base.

Now though this formula will not work for everyone, it does give a good indication as to what tricks and social skill authors can utilise. John Green spent a lot of time building his marketing platform, growing his followers and fans before he even began the process of a book launch. This is a necessity; a high social media following establishes your credibility as an author whilst building your brand. However social media followings don’t grow over night. Start as early as possible, before you have even started your book - and then when the time comes your audience is ready and waiting.

Sneak peeks and excerpts

Platforms such as Twitter and Tumblr are excellent for sharing sneak peek excerpts just as Green did, as well as offering little nuggets of updates to keep fans excited and eager for your next book. Turn every step in your publishing process into one your followers can be excited about.

New book cover? Encourage fan drawings or guesses as to what it will be, begin a count down until the cover is revealed. Sequel? Share an extract between two favourite characters or potential lovebirds your fans and followers are “shipping” from the first book.

Build your audience, drum up the excitement, and ensure a kernel is always fizzing to keep them desperate for more.

Inspiration and visualisation

Never underestimate the value of an image. Chances are your readers are fascinated by the inside of your head, where your characters came from, who they look like, what inspires you and endless questions. Pinterest is not only incredibly valuable to your creative writing process in order to find inspiration, but it allows you to share that inspiration with your readers.

Don’t overdo it

Remember who you are, and what your brand is. Authenticity is one of the most essential aspects of social media, especially as an author where you are effectively selling yourself, or at the very least your imagination. Don’t confuse readers by posting about things that are irrelevant to you and your brand. Readers are following you because they love the way you write and the way you think, social media is an extension of this; be you.

Pick the right platforms

Young adult author - Social Media is definitely for you, your main fan-base is from the millennial era, raised on a host of technology. Twitter and Tumblr are young, vibrant, and allow for easy two way conversations and sharing.

Specialist “How to Garden in Pembrokeshire” Author - Tumblr, most likely, is not going to be your friend. Find relevant forums, discover where your main target audience is and focus your effort on these platforms. Pinterest is visual and perfect for all ages.

Finally, don’t overdo the book promo. Yes, this may be your number one reason for having social media, but be smart. Unless it’s a book launch, less than 10 percent of your social-media posts should promote your book. Earn the right to ask for new readers by providing excellent content and conversation.

Writing comes first.

First and foremost, you are a writer. Writing should always come first. Writing, deadlines, press releases, book tours, blog posts, social media… all of this is stressful and time consuming, and when it comes to the hierarchy of importance; writing wins. Every. Time. Even so, it doesn’t mean you can’t maintain a social presence.

If you ever find yourself in this position don’t be afraid to give yourself a break and share fellow authors’ work, share articles, share fan comments, curate wonderful content that requires no more than a quick google search and keep the creative juices for your book.

Don’t Expect Sales

It’s not impossible to utilise social for sales, (John Green is irrefutable proof of this) but when it comes to publishing and social media, sales take the back burner.

Social media in the literary world is a community. Through social media you can acquire invaluable feedback from your readers, some well-deserved praise, meet other like-minded people who could potentially be interested in your book, and even strike up conversations with bloggers creating the opportunity for some excellent book reviews.

But best of all it allows you to interact with your readers, and share your world just a little bit more.

Always remember that what works for other people may not work for you. Research your genre, know your brand and find a formula that fits.

By business development manager - Laurie Fuller

How to do Social Media for Actors

How to do social media for actors

Social media has rapidly become an indispensable tool for providing exposure for aspiring creative professionals. Whereas a few years ago actors could get by without a social networking presence, nowadays it’s become something of an expectation for ambitious and emerging performers to be active online.

The key where actors are concerned, much like other industries, is to create a compelling and personal brand that reflects who they are and their aspirations, and is backed up by content listing their experiences. However, with such a wealth of social networks available (and even more industry-specific job posting and forum sites) it can be difficult to know how best to invest precious time and resources.

Why actors need a social media presence

It’s now clearer than ever that actors should be investing in their social media presence. As time has passed the way that new roles are acquired has become inherently digitalised. In order to keep pace with a busy global world, auditions have become increasingly video-focused. Casting agents have also caught on and are beginning to look to social media platforms to discover talent.

According to a study conducted in 2015 casting directors believe talent only accounts for 7% of casting decisions. While the aesthetics of an actor are undoubtedly important, directors are now also in the habit of weighing up the quality of talent online. This exploration actually surpasses just content; professionals look at the personality and influence of an individual by exploring rates of engagement and social followings.

So will social media get you cast?

The short answer is no. Social media is not about getting cast in a major role - it’s about keeping in touch with people in the industry, getting noticed and sharing your story in order to develop connections that could potentially assist you in the future. Casting is still very much something that happens through legitimate agencies and requires appropriate training and knowledge. Social media is just an integral marketing tool.

The unfortunate swing for actors on social media

Unfortunately, nailing social media for actors is something of a tightrope walk. On one side you have no social presence whatsoever, which in a digital age is something which will cause you to be easily forgotten about - and there is quite literally nothing worst than being a forgettable actor. On the other side, the side of over-embellished content and foot-in-mouth interaction, you risk being the ruin of your own reputation. In the centre however is where great things can start to happen - people will begin to notice you, spread the word and share your content. That’s the exposure you want to aim for.

To tread the line between the two takes a great deal of understanding from the get-go. Focus on having a clear understanding of how you want people to perceive you as a performer, and an awareness of the sort of networks that might help you achieve that, and you’re onto a winner.

Focus on creating a human brand

Before you get carried away in content, take time to define how you want to be perceived by your audience. For any brand to be successful on social media takes authenticity and humanity, because by its very nature social networking is a social endeavour that requires real people to work. This means swaying away from using your abilities and successes to merely promote yourself. Your personal brand should stem primarily from your personality and secondly from what you want to achieve - for example, if you’re a naturally jovial person who wants to become a successful comic actor, your tone needs to reflect that.

Share everything you do

Use quality content, such as videos on YouTube and professional shots on Instagram, to show people how great you are. Great content marketing is about displaying to the world what you can do, not telling them. This is where many actors fall short. We can sometimes have an overwhelming desire to share a clip purely because we are featured, but if that clip isn’t any good it simply can’t reflect you in a good light. Showcasing yourself is of the utmost importance, but keep your integrity and don’t sell out your talent before you’ve even begun.

Remember, it’s not all about you

Be sure to share and promote content that isn’t about you too. There’s a clear line between promoting yourself and being arrogant. By breaking up your features with other relevant content, including that of industry friends and contacts, you’re far more likely to stay on the promotion side.

Interact and engage

As you build your arsenal of videos and images and more people start to interact with you, your personal voice will begin to develop. In theory, the people who appreciate your personality will become your advocates. In the world of social media marketing, growth is big business, but also commonly misunderstood. Whereas a huge paid-following might look good on the face of it, it’s no use to you if it isn’t engaged.

Organic growth is key here. You want to be building a community of users who are interested in you as an actor. These are the people who will prove integral influencers to your reach further down the line. In order to encourage that engagement you need to be reactive and interactive. Bear in mind that behind every piece of engagement (like, share, retweet) is a real person. Say thank you, ask their opinion, just generally make them feel appreciated for reaching out.

Don’t ignore negativity

Nothing harms a brand more than ignoring negative comments. When you decide to glaze over negativity you also inadvertently make a comment about how serious you are about succeeding; people will see your radio silence as an inability to respond to criticism and thus a lack of passion and drive. Be humble, appreciate others and try to allow yourself to learn from these comments. Bear in mind that going on the defensive is dangerous territory, and it’s very hard to redeem yourself after losing your cool.

Choose your platforms and be consistent

It’s far better to be a superstar on one platform than mediocre on many, so in the early stages it’s a good idea to focus your efforts in one place. When you do interact across multiple networks, be sure to tailor your messages to each audience. Bear in mind the restrictions on what you can/cannot post changes dramatically from network to network - for example character restrictions on Twitter and visual content on Instagram. Develop a posting strategy for each you decide to use and stick to it. Consistent messages is key to revolution and evolution - just don’t be overbearing.

Be careful who you reach out to

Interacting and engaging with users across social networking is a great way to develop your following. It isn’t, however, a way to get jobs. Reaching out to casting professionals that you don’t have a personal relationship with is a potentially damning endeavour. You will become an annoyance and your name will be tainted.

Bear in mind that big names are now not only actors, they are influencers, brand ambassadors and social media gurus. Becoming social-savvy now will only benefit aspiring actors in the future. Any questions? Tweet us - @GiraffeSM.

How to do Social Media for Indie Game Developers

Social Media for Indie Game Developers

The game development scene has never been more accessible or inclusive. The tools needed to start learning the basics of dev are now available to pretty much anyone. Resources like Twine, GameMaker, or even Unity are just a few clicks away – often costing as little as zero pence.

The result of this has been a buzzing indie scene, with one or two person studios springing up to make and share their creations with potentially huge audiences around the world. With even the main players in the console race making overtures to the indie scene, we’re seeing more and more critical and commercial success stories from small studios. Sam Barlow’s Her Story scooped up a hat-trick of BAFTAs this year (Debut Game, Game Innovation, and Mobile & Handheld), while Psyonix’s Rocket League is possibly the most inspiring story to date, with the game achieving phenomenal success after a free giveaway on PlayStation Plus in 2015.

One of the results of this new found hysteria is a creatively exciting development landscape. However, due to it's popularity, things can sometimes feel a little crowded. Where release schedules used to boast a couple of titles per week, the list can swell to enormous proportions these days.

So how is an indie developer supposed to get themselves out there in this climate? Let’s explore the ways that social media can be used for communications.

Don’t Spread Yourself Too Thin

The focus in the early days should be on building your community. As such, it can be hard to maintain too many channels at a time – certainly with a small team on hand. With Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Steam forums, your own website (perhaps with its own forum) and more to monitor, your time can easily become taken up by checking in on these instead of actually developing your product.

In the early days, consider launching with just a channel or two, making it clear that these are the places your community can check in with you. Twitter and Facebook are ideal platforms on which to get started, building your audience before launching a million and one social channels.

Remember, You Are Not Ubisoft

Tone of voice is so, so important. As a small team, it’s important to relate to your community in the most appropriate fashion. You’re not a corporate giant like Ubisoft or Activision (just yet!) so be sure to engage with and speak to your followers. Never be shy about discussing elements of your game that you’re particularly excited about. But at the same time don’t feel pressured into divulging anything you don’t feel comfortable with.

A good piece of advice for smaller devs would be to remain friendly and approachable, while maintaining some kind of professional distance. Don’t go promising people the world. You may feel confident that you’re going to create a sprawling open­-world experience to rival The Witcher 3, and that ambition is great – encouraged, even – but keep it in the meeting room until you have something tangible to share. Few things shake faith like broken promises, so instead always focus on over-­delivering, rather than under­-promising.

Twitter

Twitter has massive potential as a customer support tool thanks to the instantaneous and concise nature of its communications. It’s also probably the place to garner followers the quickest. Twitter will be a great source for quick-­response tech queries, as well as an immediate tool with which to redirect more complex issues. This is invaluable, particularly in the early access market.

Facebook

Facebook is where you can get very visual, sharing sneak peeks, having more in­depth discussions with players, and organising events both in-­game and out. The audience will likely be highly engaged, so don’t be shy about giving them a call to action – ask questions, encourage them to share their thoughts and experiences, and be sure to foster that sense of community that is so important in the games industry.

There is no need to go for the hard sell – once again, you are not a AAA studio, so there’s no need to act like one. Instead, look to foster an environment where sales and shares will happen organically. Goodwill is extremely important in this rodeo.

YouTube/Twitch

Video​ is absolutely vital to any smaller player in the games world. The success of Markus ‘Notch’ Persson with Minecraft, the baffling but brilliant Goat Simulator, and the meteoric rise of eSports all have roots in Youtube or Twitch. While the very best results will come when a massive influencer notices and shares your game on their own channel, there’s real value in maintaining an official outlet.

YouTube will let you show off new assets, trailers, and dev logs in a controlled environment, while running an official Twitch channel can open so many doors. Streaming your own game brings the attention of more streamers -­ all you need is the next Pewdiepie to be on the hunt for a game to take them to the next level, and it’s game on. Of course, the under­promising rule still applies, but the bottom line is – don’t be shy, get yourselves out there!

Steam

If you’re on PC, then you’re going to want to be on Steam. It’s the largest game distribution platform in the world, and includes built-­in tools which are designed to directly communicate with the hordes of players out there just waiting to check out what you’ve been crafting at your desk for the last year. However, there is a vital code of conduct to be adhered to here. Steam forums can be notoriously vicious, so the temptation will always be there to dive in and defend your creative decisions, but be wary.

Always weigh up the PR implications of getting into a fight online against the scoring of a few points against a disappointed gamer. Efforts should be focused on using the suite of tools the platform provides, such as announcements and events. If a hundred potential players are following you prior to release, only to see a pop-­up announcing a live stream of some new, unannounced content in the next few hours, then you’ve got an exciting event on your hands. Explore Steam to its full potential, but follow the two golden rules – No spam, and absolutely no fighting.

Of course, these are just a few of the benefits that social media can have for a new game developer just starting out. We’ll spare you the dissertation for now, but needless to say there is such a huge depth of potential out there in the social media space.

By Sam Faulkner, social media manager

How to do Social Media for Musicians

Social Media for Musicians

If there are two things that have gone hand in hand since the development of digital media it’s music and social media. Social networking can be a vital communication and hype­-building channel between musician and fans. However, these are two constantly evolving industries, and so keeping on top of marketing yourself can be both stressful and time consuming.

Social media is a community­-building tool. That means that it should play right into the hands of anybody pursuing a music career. It doesn’t take a genius to recognise the importance of exposure and developing a fan base for musicians. Social networking gives you a platform that allows you to reach new potential fans, develop that base and keep them constantly clued in on new releases, gigs and news. However, a lot has changed over the past few years, and doing that well isn’t necessarily as easy as it once was.

The digital landscape is awash with people competing to be the next big thing, and many will stop at nothing to encourage users to back them. Therefore, just like any other business, social media for a musician requires nothing less than a careful and considered approach.

Focus your social media efforts

Before you get going marketing your music, there are few things you need to consider. Chances are that not being a fully­-fledged social media manager you won’t have the time to constantly post, engage and interact across tonnes of different networks. The majority of your time is probably taken up by other things ­- things like writing music and playing gigs we’d imagine!

Sporadic posting can look a little lacklustre and a little bit amateur. If users think that you don’t put the effort in on your social pages they might subconsciously think that you don’t put effort into creating awesome music too ­ and nobody wants that. Therefore it’s far better to identify where the majority of your audience hang out and spend time developing your presence their. A winning social strategy calls for consistency as much as it does quality content.

Which social networks should you use

Choosing the right networks depends on a number of contributing factors, including your genre, your location and your proficiency with each network. Back in 2015, musician come digital entrepreneur David Andrew Wiebe identified the top social networks for musicians as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+, Tumblr, Instagram, Bandcamp, SoundCloud and ReverbNation.

David’s points are awesome but we’d be inclined to say that out of these we feel the most appropriate are really Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the music networks. Unless you are a marketing guru, you probably won’t have much call for the others. We’d also certainly recommend that you consider adding YouTube and Snapchat into the mix, especially now that daily usage has overtaken Twitter. Soundcloud, Bandcamp and ReverbNation are important for obvious reasons that we won’t go into here, but the other three could prove incredibly lucrative in building hype and developing your fan base.

  • Facebook: ​As the world’s biggest social network, you really should be on Facebook. Your Facebook page is the modern day equivalent of what a band’s Myspace was back in 2006 ­ with the added bonus of an active user base exceeding 1 billion daily. That’s an awful lot of potential fans. A regularly updated Facebook page really is the bare minimum for any musician serious about getting discovered.
  • Instagram: ​Instagram has the bonus of a seriously engaged following, and the persistently high rate of hashtags (you are allowed up to 30 per post and a minimum of 11 is recommended for higher engagement rates) supercharges discovery by new users. However competition is high and Instagram users are seriously aware of the follower to following ratio, so growth can be a task in itself. That said musicians are interesting people doing exciting things in cool places, which is exactly the sort of person that users latch onto. So that puts you in prime position for organic growth as your popularity grows across other network and media. The trick is to be completely human and show the full behind the scenes story ­- from songwriting, to collaboration, to studio recordings, right through to live gigs.
  • Twitter: ​No matter what you might hear, Twitter still matters. It’s a great place to be human and get involved in conversations, be active and encourage interaction. It also gives you access to a whole host of different opinions that could (and also couldn’t) prove a great insight into what your audience likes about your set and what they aren’t so sure about. And now with Periscope, you can get people to live­stream parts of your set and seriously expand your live reach.
  • Snapchat: ​Snapchat has come a long way in past years. In terms of popularity among students it recently overtook Twitter -­ so if you are shooting for a younger audience (which a great deal of musicians are) it’s hardly worth overlooking. It is what it is ­- and what it is perfect for drumming up intrigue.
  • YouTube: ​So although YouTube is technically a video sharing site and not so much a social network, it’s nevertheless played an integral role in the formation of some successful music careers. So­-called “YouTube Musicians” seem to be everywhere nowadays ­- really these should be called “Social Media Musicians” as the majority owe it to a wide range of networks that they got noticed in the first place.

When it comes to your social media strategy, the most important things to bear in mind are that you need to be human, you need to be consistent and, just like your music, what you produce needs to be good. Deciding on the right networks and investing in them is just the first step -­ you need to be sure that you have a strategy that works for you.

Create your own social media workflow

This is a lot simpler than it sounds. Basically, you need to work out how each of your offline and online content is going to interconnect and flow into each other. Perhaps you want to do a snapshot of a new tune that you’re creating and share that video via Instagram, or you have a local gig coming up that you need to be sure is promoted well in advance -­ plan and schedule your content in advance so that you know it’s sufficiently marketed to your fans.

Think about how and when you naturally feel inclined to post, such as after a gig, and then think about whether you could benefit from retaining some of your content to post further down the line using scheduling platforms like Later, Tweetdeck or Hootsuite. This could help you to maintain that consistency we mentioned earlier.

Be sociable and get responsive

One of the biggest benefits about social media is that it gives you access to the views of real people. When you engage with and respond to your fans with your human, social voice you can encourage them to be your advocates. It’s the same for big companies, small businesses and self­-employed artists ­- a human voice breeds human interaction which gets humans talking to other humans about something. That something could be your music if you listen and respond.

Developing social media dialogues on Twitter can also be great to get involved with. Interaction is often the cornerstone for growth, and people love hearing the opinions of people they respect. Voice your opinions on industry news and views, and you’re likely to see some good engagement in response.

Don’t feel you need to change your voice

Social media is about being social. Don’t for one moment think you need to alter your human voice. On the contrary, authenticity is what hooks users in. Be genuine, be conversational and be human. A great social media management company will do their best to emulate your voice in scheduled posts but you simply cannot beat your personal voice every now and then.

Invest in creating and sharing great content

You wouldn’t settle for a sub­-standard demo, so it stands to reason that you shouldn’t settle for sub-­standard content on your social networking channels too. Your header and profile photos should tell your story and reflect your noise/style. People want to see something professional ­- remember that new users who have no idea who you are hear your music through the eyes first.

The videos, images and posts that you send out should all be of a good standard. If you start to let that slip either by repeating yourself too much or not investing in it, you will start to annoy people and lose followers. A successful artists settles for nothing less than perfection; let that be your mantra for social media too.

Keep at it

As is the case with everything else in the music industry, success on social media takes persistence, drive and passion. If you focus on making it as much part of your day-to-­day work as song writing or practice then you put yourself in the best possible place for success. If you’re a musician wondering how you can better make use of your social presence and have any other questions that weren’t covered here, feel free to tweet us @GiraffeSM. We’d love to help you out!

How to do Social Media for Non-profit Organisations

social media for nonprofit organisations

As a community building platform that fully enables campaigning, it goes without saying that social media can and should be a useful marketing tool for non-profit organisations. Indeed many organisations have displayed willingness and a proficiency on these platforms that has allowed them to grow their network exponentially.

Social media gives non-profits the unique opportunity to raise awareness of their causes in a place where people naturally feel comfortable and at ease. Users come to social networking with expectation - the aspect of discovering a wide variety of new messages that comes with it is part of its main appeal. The non-profit organisations that manage to get the most from these platforms are the ones who succeed in getting users to buy into their particular message through a specified content strategy.

Social media storytelling

Social media facilitates storytelling. Through it, companies and organisations have the opportunity to communicate their message in a completely human way, engage with their network. The key where non-profits are concerned is to focus on conveying real life examples of their work on raising awareness through the use of human experiences. In fact, that makes it one of the only examples of industries where focussing on their work is actually recommended.

How to do social media for non-profit organisations

The role that social media plays in a digital marketing or communications strategy can vary from organisation to organisation. The first step should always be defining what your primary objectives are from your social media strategy and how those objectives fits within the wider scope of your digital marketing strategy. These objectives will be a principal determining factor on the style of content you share and the rate of engagement you should be expecting as a result. However, with a baseline of donations in mind, social media for non-profits needs to aim to tick off three different objectives in a specific order:

Attention - Engagement - Retention

Social media strategies need to exist to compliment an organisation’s baseline. According to data provided by the Case Foundation, a considerable amount of non-profits still consider email marketing and websites their most important mode of communication even though at the time of surveying 97% were on Facebook. 47% of those surveyed considered the pinnacle of engagement to be a donation; and with this primarily happening through websites, their opinions on email and web are completely understandable. Therefore social media needs to exist to compliment this.

While generating brand awareness is always a positive thing, especially for smaller and newer organisations, non-profits want their social media strategy to transcend brand awareness and initiate a response from users.

Attention

When you post content focussed on brand awareness, you want to do so in a way that grabs users’ attention. The most effective styles of content are visual. Photos and videos of donors and of your community can have a great impact on engaging a new audience. Attention-grabbing content is where you are able to make specific appeals. Every non-profit is different - be unique and try not to rely on what works for your competitors. Non-profits are notoriously good at devising marketing strategies for appeals that reflect the individualities of their organisation and this should be no different on social networking.

Engagement

Your posts should endeavour to provoke a dialogue with social media users, making use of questions and asking people’s opinions. One of the most useful aspects of social media is that it enables an open conversation between users and organisations. The more engaged your audience is, the more likely they are to advocate and share your content with their own network. It is this open dialogue that can help to turn a social media user into a donor. While you shouldn’t always focus on getting people to donate, all of your channels and content should include information on how to do so.

Retention

Your social media channels are a great way for you to keep donors aware of the work of your organisation, and while email marketing and newsletters are still a very useful way to communicate this information, you should encourage them to follow your social channels for up to date news. Use your content to recognise and show appreciation for your donors and this will help keep your retention rate healthy.

How to do Social Media for Artists and Galleries

How to do social media for artists and art galleries

Active participation by brands and small businesses on social media can result in significant audience growth. For industries where the majority of professionals are independent, such as the art world, the lack of a dedicated digital marketing department can leave some feeling jaded at the thought. However, if these people are consistent with their personal efforts, social media could prove particularly lucrative in marketing themselves to relevant audiences…

The difficulty in marketing through social media for artists, particularly for those who have drawn blanks with it in the past, is maintaining the motivation for consistency. Many efforts fail due to a lack of awareness surrounding the importance of targeted content that is regularly posted and constantly monitored. This has been particularly prominent in the past - we’ve all witnessed sporadically updated pages with scattered content, whether we were merely a passer-by or the perpetrator ourselves.

A note on consistency

In order to begin to see any kind of ROI from social media, the social requires disciplined consistency. For creative professionals who are naturally prone to fits of creativity rather than structured planning, this can seem demanding and often results in questioning whether or not it’s really worth it. But the great thing about marketing through social media is that the hardest part is the strategy. In other words, once you have devised how you are going to meet your goals, you’re already the majority of the way towards achieving them.

If you decide to spend time considering that strategy instead of posting sporadic content on your social channels, you’ll soon realise that not only will these networks become more lucrative but also less work for you on a day-to-day basis.

Social media for artists and galleries

Social media can be the perfect tool for marketing for art professionals as visual content already receives more recognition by users than any other style of content. Not only that, creative networks allow artists a platform on which they can utilise their natural creativity to build awareness of their brand, grow their audience, and market featuring exhibitions.

Human activity breeds value

The most significant tip towards achieving this is being active. Social media is, by its very nature, a social platform. Artists have an edge as they already use their work to express something within themselves and social media users value transparency and authenticity. By focusing on actively engaging with their audience by sharing relevant and associated content that offers value, while not losing sight of their personality, artists stand the best chance of steadily building an engaged audience.

A small engaged audience is of far more value than a massive, uninterested following, especially to niche businesses. These people will play a crucial part in influencing their friends and peers and could eventually become an advocate for an artist's works.

Establish your personal branding and keep it crisp and consistent

While galleries are already required to have unique branding in order to succeed, it’s not always the same case where artists are concerned. While some time could have been spent in developing a signature or logo, much of an artist's branding stems from the art itself. In order to remain instantly recognisable, artists’ pages need to have a consistent branding that compliments seasonal art features.

Keep all of your content related and stop promoting

In order to offer value to an audience and ensure you don’t lose followers through indifference, you need to ensure that your content remains completely relatable and interesting. Self-promotion is a huge red flag waving over social networking. Everything that you post should contribute to building an active dialogue with your audience.

Be responsive to comments, especially provocation

It all goes back to social media being innately social. As you update your audience on new commissions and pieces, they will naturally have questions about stimulus and interpretation. Your responses to these questions will be crucial to building that dialogue.

When it comes to provocation, don’t allow yourself to be incensed in your responses. An engaged audience will have respect for brands who respond directly to ignorantly provocative and negative comments with an educated humility. It’s the perfect way to show off authenticity as it will allow you to seem completely human.

Allow your content to speak for itself

This article hasn’t focused at all on content strategy. The reason for this is that within creative industries, authenticity is of the most importance. Spend time devising a content strategy that speaks for your brand and tells an original story. Be provocative and you are sure to see a response.

Social media is a crucial network building tool that transcends gaps between communities - as a member of an industry that relies on the engagement of a niche and exclusive audience, it should undoubtedly be put to good use.

How to do Social Media for Restaurants

How to do social media for restaurants

Social Media allows for businesses to promote themselves to local customers and, while doing so, promote a conversation among them. Social Networking has quickly overtaken other forms of business directories to become the place that people turn to, when trying to discover something new, simply because on there they can witness real evidence of advocacy by real people. It’s this open dialogue that makes Social Networking the perfect tool for independent restaurants…

With the rise of review-based Social Networks, competition for restaurant customers has become highly contested in the digital marketplace. Studies have concluded that these sites, such as TripAdvisor, can have a huge impact on a consumer’s decision to eat (or not eat) in a certain restaurant. In 2014, over half of the participants in an independent study revealed that they used the site, reading around 6 -12 reviews before booking. What was more interesting however is that they also concluded a large proportion of those people were more likely to book tables at restaurants that responded to negative reviews.

Social Media Promotes an Open Dialogue between Restaurant and Customer

From studies it has become apparent that restaurants that engage with their customers are often the ones who are able to succeed in the digital marketplace and coax more people through the door. What’s more, big Social Networking sites like Facebook have begun to compete with review sites, allowing customers to rate their experiences at/with businesses on their pages.

Social Media allows for engagement on an unprecedented scale - but when it comes to restaurateurs, the baseline comes purely from the amount of people coming through the door. Much like in the past, word-of-mouth PR is paramount to building a steady footfall of patrons, and while negative reviews can damage reputations, Social Media does something different - it allows businesses to identify and act on issues, and ultimately turn that negative into a positive.

Using Social Media for Restaurants

Social Media can really help assist in increasing awareness of restaurants across the online community. When you focus on engaging with your customers, promoting your food and developing intrigue about experiences, you can begin to generate a motivation within those customers to get through the door. Couple that with the fact that Millennials are far more likely to advocate a businesses they like on Social Media and promote it to their own personal network, and it’s impossible to overlook the potential for growth.

That said, what does that actually look like? Here are our tips on how to do Social Media for Restaurants…

Tailor posts around what you serve up & focus on your customers

If you know your restaurant, Social Media content should be a doddle. There’s a reason for this - users value authenticity but dislike businesses that constantly big themselves up. The best restaurants know why people visit them, whether that is for the cuisine, the ambience or the esteemed Chef in the Kitchen. So keep this in mind when you post and engage with customers on Social Media. Focus on what your customers want to hear and see, not what you want to tell them.

Keep your branding in-line with who you are

Users who have previously passed or been to your restaurant are likely to disregard any page that doesn’t live up to your branding. It doesn’t take much to make your page look professional, just a banner and profile picture that are congruent with your brand. Keep in mind that these can be used to promote offers, but this should never be carried out at the cost of visual appeal.

Users love a good deal for their food

Most restaurants are well aware of the benefits of deals on increasing footfall. You should consider rewarding customers for engaging with you on Social Media by giving them access to exclusive deals. These are the perfect incentive to get people through the door of your restaurant. Use deals and competitions to encourage sharing and reach among your customer base. Use deals frequently and retain competitions if you want to win the long game. If users recognise you as a brand that often deal out offers, they will be more likely to engage with a competition as it will immediately carry an air of authenticity.

Get involved in conversations about local events

A local restaurant represents something unique and exciting within that community. Create deals and content that talk about local news and events. Get the kitchen to create exclusive celebratory dishes. Twitter is the perfect tool to get involved in conversations about local events.

Why not go live?

Streaming Social Media has become a force to be reckoned with in recent years with apps like Periscope and Meerkat. Live-streamed content is exciting and engaging because it is instantaneous. If you want to see how you could use it, check out our article on how to build your brand with Periscope.

Get human

Always acknowledge your staff on Social Media. The brand that succeeds is always the one with a human face, and if you have a team behind you, share their successes with the world. Post photos of them crafting cocktails or plating up. If people begin to see a team who love what they do, they will naturally feel good about your restaurant.

Respond to reviews, negative and positive

This is perhaps the most important of all points for restaurants that want to succeed at Social Media. Earlier on we explained that restaurateurs who take the time to respond to reviews can actually win back customers who weren’t sure about them in the first place. Be sure to respond to all reviews. Thank those who thank you and encourage them to tell their friends. Similarly, respond professionally and sensitively to negative reviews, ensuring that the user feels valued. Under certain lights, Social Media is a glorified customer service tool - so make use of it!

And, obviously, include food

Photos are among the highest-shared of all Social Media content, but video has quickly become the most engaged-with. You’re a restaurant. You do food. People love looking at food. At the very least you need to share photos of your food, but why not also post videos of your chef cooking the food or snippets of your evening service?

Restaurants who spend time on Social Media are investing in engaging with their customers on another level and encouraging awareness on a larger scale than any other traditional marketing avenue can offer. The evidence of real people supporting and promoting eateries on Social Networking is crystal clear. Now is the time to take advantage of it for your business.

How to do Social Media for Comic Book Stores

How to do social media for comic books stores

If there is one type of industry that naturally succeeds on Social Media, it’s the one that has a die-hard fan culture. These are the type of followers who are not only willing to engage with a conversation, but want to contribute to it. However, that doesn’t necessarily make it any easier for those businesses...

Social Media gives a voice to subcultures in a way that traditional Marketing avenues were never able to. It allows businesses to not only market to their specific target audience, but to actually engage with them. It’s also the perfect campaigning tool as far as those fan-fuelled industries are concerned.

Social Media and the Comic Book Industry

Social Media has seriously helped to bolster the comic book industry over the last few years. Throughout 2000 to 2005 it saw something of a downtrend in popularity and for all intents and purposes was in a slump. That all changed soon after. This was all down to the excitement produced by the launch of the Batman movies and Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, boosted by Social Media’s reach and hype-building potential. This boost in interest surrounding the comic genre coupled with the specific targeting that Social Networking lends itself to was the beginning of a new generation of comic book fans - and the industry has seen steady growth ever since.

Social Media has seriously changed the dynamic of the relationship between fans, artists, writers, publishers and stores. While in the past they could only expect to connect with their favourite writers/artists at conventions, Social Networking allows them to communicate in real time and have their opinions heard. These insights aren’t only valuable to the creators, they also help promote a new conversation that can be beneficial to the industry as a whole.

Social Media for Comic Book Stores

While it’s obvious how Social Media can be used by publishers to promote new releases and build their fan base, local independent stores don’t necessarily have it as easy. With the rise of digital publishing a significant proportion of fans now spend their money predominantly on digital downloads through publisher’s apps. Therefore stores need to be using their Social Media pages to build awareness locally and encourage fans to support their store instead of downloading. This way they can look to building and maintaining their own pool of loyal customers.

Social Media can do wonders for comic book stores. Here’s how you should be using it…

  • Keep Your Branding Tight
    The most successful independent stores have a personality all of their own! The reason that many Social Media Digital Marketing efforts fail is down to businesses being unwilling to spend the time investing in making their pages look appealing. Remember that comics are a graphic medium and fans are stimulated by graphics, so make use of your banners to promote deals, releases and upcoming signings/fan nights.
  • Promote Fan Nights
    If you host fan nights, these can make for the ultimate Social Media content that will help build some awesome engagement. Nothing fascinates people more than the sight of their hairdresser dressed in a skin-tight Flash costume. Posting pictures of fan nights and tagging those present will help maximise your reach within your local community and hopefully encourage some more potential customers.
  • Exclusive Special Offers and New Releases
    Make your Facebook and Twitter pages an “exclusive” community for your fans to hang out and discuss new releases on. Offering them first-look news and exclusive offers will encourage them to like and engage with you both on and off-line!
  • Play on the Fandom to Increase Engagement and Reach
    Comments get a much better reach than normal posts. The good thing about comic book fans is that many of them love to have their voice heard! Craft your posts to begin discussions among your Social Media followers and you reach will blow up as a result.
  • Instagram Competitions
    It goes right back to that idea of comics being a visual medium. Instagram competitions could be right up your alley, and are a perfect way to get you some user-generated content.
  • Get Involved in Conversations
    When a new movie is announced Social Media goes crazy with speculation and conversation. Your brand needs to be getting involved with these conversations, as it will help you garner some awesome reach.
  • Monitor Engagement on Posts
    There’s no doubt about it, unless you’ve got something terribly wrong somewhere you will be posting about comic book characters. By monitoring engagement you can see which franchises are the most popular with your audience - which works as some great customer research too!
  • Incentivise your Audience to come down to your Store
    The primary aim for your Social Media should be to make your audience want to come in to your store. Reward them for doing so! If they see that you offer a friendly and fun local service that they simply can’t get from downloads, they will come.

How to do Social Media for Zoos

How to do social media for zoos

We need to have a serious talk about Social Media. Last year the amount of active UK Social Media users shot up by 4.6% to 32.3 million. Social Media usage on mobile also grew by 17% and is expected to reach a record 50.8% of all UK mobile users this year. On a global scale, Social Media usage worldwide increased by 10% to 2.307 billion users - over 31% of the population of the world. Some of those users are your audience - and it’s high time for you came after them.

Social Media is a platform on which your audience feel comfortable and that makes them far more willing to listen. The problem is that many companies still aren’t entirely sure of the correct way to go about encouraging their particular audience to engage with them. Social Media can be especially difficult to get right as there is no catch-all method to success. The susceptibility of consumers to engage varies immensely from industry to industry and depends entirely on things like type of network, tone of voice and style of content.

We believe that businesses of all shapes and sizes can and should benefit from Social Media - so we want to give you a better idea of Social Media best practice specific to your industry.

Social Media for Zoos

Zoos occupy a magical position in the minds of many. They are fortunate because their brand is something that is intriguing and exciting. The modern Zoo is now also incredibly important to the conservation of endangered species of animal, a cause that is of great importance to a great deal of people. Therefore, when it comes to Social Media, users are naturally more susceptible and willing to engage with them. However, when it comes to content, Zoos have to make sure that they are living up to expectations. Due to their primary revenue coming from visitors, Zoo Marketing is taken very seriously - and Social Media should be no exception.

Walk and talk with the animals

Social Media has shown us time and time again that it isn’t a channel for brands or products to constantly big themselves up. Because your audience love your animals, give each of them a voice of their own specific to their characteristics, and craft your posts around their lives. And remember to be sure you don’t fall into to using stock images - your audience can spot them a mile off.

Video content will do you wonders

Video content has become an increasingly important aspect of Social Media across many Social Networks. Internet users have become inherently video-orientated. According to a report by Cisco, by 2019 Video could very well account for 80% of global Internet traffic. Using video to show your audience snippets of their favourite animals’ days, give them updates of conservation efforts, and show off new enclosures is likely to get you some serious reach and engagement.

Go live

Gone are the days when live streaming meant a heavily pixelated image that refreshed itself every 1.5 seconds. Live streaming apps like Periscope will allow you to expand your Social Media reach tenfold. Consider things like behind-the-scenes footage of keepers making dinner for big cats, or the first appearance of new arrivals. Live streaming is going to become more and more popular in 2016 and all it takes for a business to succeed on it is a cool workplace - and nowhere is cooler than a Zoo. Periscope could also serve a dual purpose for Zoos as it have received praise for being a great tool for encouraging awareness of causes.

Get competitive

Competitions work on Social Media. Because they are easy to enter and easily shared with friends whom they might be of interest to they can drive up some real engagement. Interactive competitions are the best as they can help you to command some user generated content.

Let your Social Media audience be the first to hear about seasonal offers

Reward your fans on Social Media for following you by giving them early access to deals and vouchers. Remember to alter your page design during holidays as well. For example, you can always give your profile and header photos a festive zing during Christmas, or a freaky edge during Halloween. This will help keep your audience engaged during the low season.

Don’t lose sight of your brand

Most Zoos have worked tirelessly to create branding that reflects the nature of their work. Don’t let this slip on your Social Channels. Keep your profile well branded and any content such as images or video should reflect this as well.

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