Happy New Year! Now that the holidays are mostly behind us, it’s time to take a close look at what’s new on the social media horizon for 2013.
Make Your Website Easy to Browse on Any Device
It all starts with the basic social media marketing tool that every business must have: a well converting website. We’ve been talking about it for some time, but 2013 is the year that it finally happens – web browsing from mobile devices (tablets and smartphones) is poised to overtake PC-based browsing. It’s already happened in some parts of the world, and North America is about to catch up.
So a mobile-friendly website is essential for 2013. For some companies who rely on web-based ordering and sales, this means launching a separate mobile website via a dedicated mobile app – think eBay Mobile. For most companies, however, it means making the company website mobile friendly.
What’s a mobile friendly website? Mobile searchers want a super fast load time, mobile-friendly content and images, and easy “thumb navigation”. The key is making it easy for them to find your site, and once they’re on it, to find what they’re looking for – quickly, with as few keystrokes as possible.
The goal of creating a mobile-friendly website for 2013 is to optimize your existing site for tablets and smartphones – without creating a maintenance headache. The basic must-haves of a well-converting website apply regardless of how your prospective customer accesses your site – you need solid SEO, great navigation, and engaging content with clear calls to action. If you’re not sure how mobile friendly your website is, we’d be happy to help.
Answer Questions to Build Credibility
LinkedIn‘s Answers section has long been a great place to showcase your expertise. As the name implies, LinkedIn Answers is an area where you can ask and answer questions. The LinkedIn member who asks a question gets to choose the best answer, and LinkedIn uses a rating system to award points to the person whose answer is chosen – and awards a badge that can be displayed on a personal or company profile page.
Sometimes companies that use this feature are also looking for referrals. If your company is a fit for what they’re looking for, you can definitely approach them.
But above all, the LinkedIn Answers feature is perfect for market research and showcasing your expertise in a particular area to build credibility.
If you haven’t explored LinkedIn Answers yet, now’s the time to start. But there are other places where you can demonstrate your expertise, too. If you’ve got a great website, and are pleased with your Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn results, 2013 may be the year when you’re searching for new social media opportunities.
Here’s a list of six other sites where you can answer questions, build thought leadership, or showcase your knowledge.
- Squidoo: Squidoo’s motto is “everyone’s an expert on something”. Companies and individuals can design a profile page and answer questions from other members..
- Wikipedia: Start by creating your own business reference page on Wikipedia, and then connect with other users on Wikipedia’s Community Portal and at the village pump, where you’ll find professionals who are eager to discuss news, business, research and other topics.
- Newsvine: A free account on Newsvine gets you your own “column” where you can upload articles, case studies, or news about employees and trends in your industry. You also get access to the community, where you can network and share information.
- 43 Things: Called “the world’s most popular online goal setting community,” this site is designed to connect businesses with customers, investors, and promoters who cheer them on as they achieve business milestones.
- Yahoo! Answers: Yahoo! users post questions, and anyone can answer them on this growing social-media Q&A service. It’s simple to use – just search for questions in your particular areas of expertise by clicking on the relevant categories. Then answer the questions, and link your answer to your company’s Web page or blog to gain a new following of potential customers.
- Quora: Quora’s format is simple: users ask questions on various topics within themes, and others answer them. Answers are up-voted by the community to determine the best responses. Users can also collaborate on answers, suggesting edits and updates to responses posted by others. What makes Quora particularly helpful, however, is the ability to follow particular topics that interest you on your Quora homepage, so relevant questions – and answers – are easy to find and automatically displayed to you.
Share Content on Social Bookmarking Sites
If you’re actively creating and promoting new content on your website and blog, and sharing links to it via Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, then 2013 may be the year when you add the social bookmarking sites to your social media marketing mix.
2011 and 2012 were “shake-out” years when many ambitious social bookmarking sites came and went, leaving the field to established, strong players like Reddit, StumbleUpon, Technorati, and Wiki-How.
This time-consuming strategy may not be for everyone – although partnering with a social media marketing agency can make it worthwhile for most growing businesses.
Add Video to Your Marketing Mix
“Spending on online video advertising will grow to $4.6 billion in 2013, representing a more than sevenfold increase from the $587 million spent on the format in 2008.” eMarketer.com
That’s the chapter heading for Chapter 11 of the 3rd edition of Zen Media Group CEO Shama Kabani’s best-selling book The Zen of Social Media Marketing, which was recently released. If you aren’t already using video as a key part of your online marketing strategy, then 2013 is definitely the year to take the plunge.
Yes, we know there are many reasons why companies are reluctant to add video to their marketing mix, but the truth is that video is the most powerful social medium of all. 82% percent of internet users watch web video regularly, and that number is growing. Almost 8 billion videos are viewed each month across Google’s network. More than 40 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. Cisco predicts that video will drive 80 percent of web traffic within the next four years.
One of the best things about video is that you can take the online video you create and share it across the board from your own blog to social networking sites. If content is king, video is the king of the bigger country.
Get Help for Your Online Marketing
There’s a myth out there that social media marketing is free. Of course, it isn’t. Social media and online marketing consumer that most non-renewable of resources: time.
A lot of companies start out by assigning social media marketing as an extra responsibility for the PR, marketing, or even business development team. And that can work…up to a point. But as the number of communications channels and platforms continues to grow, and maintaining the online relationships you’re building continues to take up more time, it soon becomes more than a full-time job.
We’re seeing an increase in the number of companies who are seeking outside help with their social media and online marketing efforts for the first time. For most, it’s simply a matter of realizing that do-it-yourself can only take you so far before you need specialized help. A lot of those companies are looking to outsource one or more specific task.
What do you need help with during 2013? If your goal is to drive more qualified traffic to your website, then search engine optimization and marketing may be the first place to seek outside help. Of course, if your website isn’t mobile-friendly, and doesn’t convert traffic at the rate you want, then perhaps it’s time to take a look at website and blog design and development.
One growing area of our business is PPC (pay-per-click) management, because for most businesses, it’s the fastest way to generate qualified leads. Setting up and maintaining your online ads isn’t as simple as the search engine companies make it sound, and working with an experienced team can take it from the realm of speculative and risky into planned and measured – so that you know how many qualified leads you’ll get for every dollar spent.
And, of course, if you’re not already achieving the social ROI you want from your online PR and social media marketing, then contracting with the right team can make a huge difference that allows you to fully leverage the vast world of social media more effectively in 2013.