Recently I was an audience member on a Spreecast with the person I consider the foremost expert in social marketing, Gary Vaynerchuk. A big high-five goes out to Vaynerchuk for all of the value he continues to give out for free. If you don't know Gary's story visit his website to experience his success in business. In this clip Gary goes on an exceptional rant about how thought leaders should be giving away their smarts. If you're a Vayniack (his hardcore fans) like myself, you know that Gary practices what he preaches. Vaynerchuk has probably given away thousands of hours of free advice over the years. In the clip he calls a few of us out because he has given us the recipe for success. Yet so many of us have trouble veering back to tactics that don't work on social and holding back on our knowledge. The rant inspired me to stop holding back and to give away more of my own knowledge on some premium social tools that I have found success using.
I have spent the past seven years studying social marketing for business, and in that time I have tried a lot of tools and services to reach my goals. Many of those tools have been free, but today I want to focus on some of the premium solutions for growing your connections and social audiences for your company and brands.
When it comes to social media for business, brand managers are all looking for that competitive edge, and sometimes it is worth going with the premium version of a product or service. Many of these services let you get a taste for free and it is a great way to see if it is the right fit for your brand. The following are premium services that I have used successfully to promote and network.
1) LinkedIn Premium
I really like LinkedIn's Premium version of their networking service. There are several plans you can choose from and you can pay on a monthly or annual basis. Some of the premium plans allow you to send a limited number of InMails to people when you do not have a connection. Other benefits include introduction requests and advanced search filters. Another cool feature is being able to be in stealth mode, which is when people cannot see that you looked at their page, but you can still see everyone who looked at your profile. Try finding the people you need to connect with using Google or Twitter and then reach out to them with a message on LinkedIn.
I always urge people not to only focus on the amount of likes that Facebook pages have and focus more on the interaction. However, the fact remains that your boss most likely will be looking at the number of page likes as the indicator of success when it comes to Facebook. Additionally, if you have ever been an admin of a Facebook page you know that the initial growth of your page can be painfully slow.
When you are trying to build a community, a low number of fans can make the page seem small or insignificant to the people considering liking your page. That is why I suggest exploring a website called Boostlikes.com. The team at Boostlikes connects your page with fans, and it really does add to your page likes very quickly. They have a variety of packages for all different budgets.
Manalto.com is a new social media management tool with the capability of managing not only multiple platforms but also multiple pages on the same platform. This means that if you are a franchise with regional Facebook pages across the country you can post a status update to those pages or change out the cover photos with one click. If you just want to manage one brand across multiple social sites, it is great for that as well. Manlato is also currently adding page management services to include the following platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, Foursquare, LinkedIn and possible more with future releases.
If you are like me you are a visual thinker and really love consuming information via infographics. Any graphic designer knows the amount of time that it takes to make data look pretty can limit the amount of time you display content in a visual manor. Piktochart.com is a tool used for making infographics out of templates. The site's templates are easy to manage and make your own. The company continues to add new templates to their library. Once you pick the template that works for the project, you plug in your data and before you know it you have a customized infographic that you can share across your social networks and on your blog.
Successful social marketing is all about reaching people on an individual basis. That is why managing your connections are very important. Contactually.com helps businesses follow up with the right people, at the right time, to maximize relationship ROI. It pulls in your contacts from your email and social sites and helps you manage your connections. This service offers pricing for both team and individual use.
Social marketing for business is a long-term business strategy that takes years to perfect regardless of whether you are using free or premium tools to execute your goals. Remember it is extremely important for your brand to remain honest and authentic in your storytelling, as well as to give your brand a human voice. Without that important base, no premium tool or strategy will help your brand grow. Do not treat your social strategies the same way that you did with print, television, billboard, radio or PR. Social media is a conversational platform that requires a brand new approach for communicating, which transcends previous forms of media.