Listening Stations: Tune Into Your Fan’s Frequency

March 19, 2010
Listening_Stations

Are you tuned into the right stations?

“It is the province of knowledge to speak, and it is the privilege of wisdom to listen.”, said Oliver Wendell Holmes. Whether global brand, small business owner, or artist, there’s plenty of wisdom to be gained in taking time out from broadcasting your message and instead tuning in to those talking about it.

In the past this was a much more costly, labor intensive effort to undertake, with consumer surveys, focus groups, and outside agencies often involved in obtaining a diluted form of opinion. Thankfully, social media and  increasingly active bases of internet consumer opinion have flipped the game on its head, making it easier than ever to tune into the frequency of your audience.

For musicians, Indie Survival Guide just released a quick and extremely useful tutorial on tracking your mentions online. An invaluable resource for musicians, certainly, but the overall advice holds true for other groups as well, particularly small businesses with limited resources to invest.

As a 3 point program, this boils down to:

  1. Define your key search terms. As with web design and SEO, this comes down to the key words surrounding your industry the name of your organization, and other pertinent terms.
  2. Choose and set up your listening stations. From Google Alerts to Twitter search and beyond, there are innumerable free options on the web for monitoring your mentions. We’ll be focusing on the best of these in a separate post next week.
  3. Track & follow up. Set up a routine to monitor your stations on a regular basis and, most importantly, follow up with those talking about you, whether positive or negative. A thank you for a good review or an attempt to reach out and resolve a negative opinion can both build bridges between you and your audience.

.

When Chris Brogan encourages us to Grow Bigger Ears, it’s to recommend  developing a key part of the two-way street that is increasingly emerging as a natural part of online commerce and life. Our audience is going to be talking more and more whatever we do. It’s those that hear their message and respond effectively that will be the success stories of tomorrow.

.

How do you listen to what your audience or customers are saying? What tools work best for you?

Have you any success stories resulting from listening online? We would love to hear them!

Advertisements

Online Presence & Social Media Resources: Dive In!

March 15, 2010

diving_adriano

Taking the plunge into the ocean of online media tools and social media sites can be daunting, to say the least. Help is at hand, however!

Above The Static will be building to one of the most comprehensive online resources for finding the sites you need, a one-stop shop to sort the wheat from the chaff, subject to your specific requirements. Whether you simply need to automate some tweets on Twitter or build a completely new website, we will be there to recommend appropriate resources and their relative merits to comparable services.

With so many sites out there, this will take some time to build, but keep your eyes peeled here for developments and, please, send us suggestions on the types of site you as a creative individual or small business want to see road tested.

.

Do you have a particular site that you’ve been meaning to try?

Or have you been using a certain platform that you simply couldn’t live without?

Let us know in the comments!

.

Photo by Adriano Campioni


4 Ways to Fire Up Your Facebook Fan Page

January 28, 2010

.

Earlier this month, one of our suggestions for those just setting out on their online media journey was to create and develop an engaging Facebook Fan Page.

But how can you best utilize a standardized platform with

the potential to reach several hundred million people?

Got Facebook Fans?

In this post we focus on some specific actions that can be taken to transform the familiar – and slightly dull – wall of updates into an interactive forum full of compelling information and discussion around your chosen subject.

Fire Up Your Facebook

.

1. Any landing you can walk away from isn’t always a good one.

For most users, the Facebook wall is the first impression (or landing point) they see of a fan page. As this is an ever present sight on both personal profiles and fan pages, it doesn’t stand out and rarely communicates a summary of what you offer or stand for.  So what can you show your first time visitor instead?

Any tab of your Facebook page can be set as the landing point for your visitors. Add to this the ability to create your own customized tabs with the Static FBML option (something helpfully explored in this how to by Snipe.net) and the possibilities for an eye-catching, informative first impression are greatly expanded.

Musicians, for example, may choose to display the artwork and details of their latest release, as well as a link to their bio for those wishing to dig deeper. Alternatively, a music tab from an application such as iLike could be the landing point, placing the songs front and center. As the latter is one of the main issues for musicians when considering increased use of Facebook – in comparison to Myspace, which traditionally places music at its core – taking a step like this can significantly improve the standing of their Facebook fan page for promoting and converting first timers to fans, via the music.

Other organizations may choose to emphasize some other compelling content on their fan page, whether a video, informative article, or a discussion around a new product or service. As well as providing a more eye catching landing, it also offers more control to the page admin as to how their visitors move through their content, which is often a major concern of those just starting out with online media, particularly social networks.

.

2.  What’s in a name? Create a Facebook page vanity URL.

Another confusing element of starting a fan page can be where to direct potential fans, as the web address (URL) for these pages starts off quite large and unwieldy. Though embedded text links or abbreviated linking can assist online, attempting to communicate this URL over the phone or in print can be more frustrating.

By far the best option is to amass over 25 fans and create a custom (or ‘vanity’) Facebook URL, which can often be something as simple as Facebook.com/yournamehere. Initially this issue requires a workaround until the fan count is reached but, once up and running, this step makes your fan page much more memorable and easy to access.

.

3. Two’s company, three’s a crowd. Engage the crowd.

As far reaching as social media networks can be for broadcasting to your audience and potential clients, by far its greatest power lies in attracting this crowd – your Facebook fans – to your content and engaging them to become a part of it.

Facebook allows you to include links, photos, videos, polls, and plenty of other media to expand your fan page beyond a simple wall of service updates. Share an article with a link and compelling picture, encourage your fans to read it and comment back with their related opinions and experiences. Design competitions aimed at having them upload their own content involving your product or service (for example, a photo of them having fun using a product at home or a video testimonial on their successful use of your services) and ask them to tag their personal profile so that the message spreads to their friends as well.

Unsure what kind of content your fans might enjoy? Place a poll on your page to ask them and encourage their comments after doing so. Anything that gets your fans invested in and a part of your page, rather than just an audience member. The added benefit of this lies in the increased activity associated with your page as fans interact, raising your visibility in both personal user feeds within Facebook, as well as externally for search engine rankings as they index the site.

.

4.  Got any plans tonight? Add events for your fans to attend.

One of the key social aspects of using personal profiles on Facebook is the ability to see what events friends are attending. Anyone can create an event and invite their connections to it, as well as requesting they pass on the invitation to their own network. If approached in the right way, this can boost awareness and attendance of the occassion as the news is quickly passed from user to user and a buzz grows. In addition, the date and time is placed in the user’s Facebook calendar and a reminder appears next to their personal news feed as the big day approaches, helping even the most disorganized of fans to keep you in their plans.

Event pages also offer the equivalent of a mini fan page, on which attendees can discuss it and post related content. Organizers can then interact and encourage this activity, once again building anticipation for the occassion and increasing the activity associated with both the event and the fan page behind it. Musicians can discuss set lists, special merchandise they will be selling, song requests, and all manner of topics that get fans even more excited to be a part of the whole thing.

Keep in mind too that events need not be restricted to set dates and times at a physical venue. Special offers and promotional periods or the release date of a new product or service can also be set up as events to raise awareness. These require a little more creativity in getting fans to RSVP their attendance to a non-physical event, but the same logic holds that if the organizer is able to create compelling content and engage their fans to interact, then excitement and an attendance base for such events can be built.

.

These are just some of the sound starting points from which you can create an exciting, engaging fan page. A place where your audience feels informed and involved enough to transform themselves into particants, interacting with others interested in your message and offering their own insights and knowledge to further increase the appeal for new visitors to perform that much sought after ‘Become a Fan‘ conversion.

And the fact that this increases visibility for you in all the places you need to be seen? Well that’s something that you’ll just have to deal with, right?

.

Have you moved beyond a standard page to really fire up your Facebook fans? What steps have you taken to achieve this?

What limitations do you see on such Facebook pages that restrict your use or, worse, prevent you from joining at all?


5 Reasons To Enhance Your Online Presence With A Blog

January 13, 2010

Start a blog today

One of our tips earlier this week for jump starting your online presence is to start a blog. But why would you want to add yet another site to update when you already have your own website and a Twitter account to funnel out your thoughts through the day?

We knew you were going to ask that……………

.

1 – The personal touch

Blog is the abbreviation for weblog, which more or less started out as online journals for individuals to record their thoughts and opinions. Although the medium has developed a much broader form as more professional organizations have adopted it, blog readers still accept (and often expect) a more personal style of writing and content. Websites are generally designed to communicate information more formally and Twitter, while frequently informal in style, emphasizes short, snappy communication, often as a jumping off point to other sites with more detailed content. A blog fills that space very effectively, providing an opportunity to write and engage your audience as an individual while still spreading the word on your desired topic, product, or service.

2 – Two (or three, or four) heads are better than one

Having established that injecting personality into your blog writing is a requirement, it follows that having a variety of personalities contributing will keep content fresh and entertaining. The more you keep readers on their toes and offer a variety of insights into your particular world, the more they will want to check back and engage with your blog and, by extension, your organization or group. Again, a website is generally expected to be more functional, with a standard tone and style adopted throughout. A blog offers you the chance to involve employees, other group members, friends, or anyone else you believe might have a valuable and entertaining insight to share.

3 – Optimize yourself

Even more than social media, the online world has an overwhelming obsession with SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and climbing ever higher on that first page of Google. Though not a standalone strategy to do so, starting and regularly updating a blog will healthily contribute to that overall objective. Blogs encourage link sharing to your other online media, as well as creating reciprocal links in the form of trackbacks, blogrolls on other sites, and any number of unseen connections beyond that. Even more so, if your blog is so well written that it inspires readers to comment and build a form of community. This again helps with return visits and potential link exchanges, all of which contribute to your all consuming desire to make friends with Google (and, yes, Bing too, despite its slightly-too-chipper name).

4 – Simplicity breeds frequency

Why do people tweet so regularly? The cynic in us all would certainly offer a snap judgment as to whether they have anything better to do, yet the real key lies in the simplicity of the tool. Type, link, send. Often there should be a ‘think’ stage before the final action but this ease and speed of use breeds regular content nonetheless. Though a blog has more complexities than Twitter, it offers a far simpler platform from which to broadcast your message than most website interfaces. Both WordPress and Blogger have a very similar feel to standard word processors in their appearance and use, meaning that anyone familiar with the likes of Word is able to jump into blogging with little difficulty. Furthermore, sites like Tumblr add an extra layer between Twitter and the main blogging platforms, emphasizing brevity and speed but retaining the ability to post more detailed content like photos, video, and music.

5 – Unleash the creative design in you

Most effective websites require some knowledge of HTML or other technical savvy to get up and running, hence the huge number of freelance web gurus living here in Brooklyn (and elsewhere, we just notice them a lot more here!). Although we have no wish to hinder the business of these skilled individuals, it should be emphasized how uncomplicated it is to switch and tweak the design elements of your blog. Themes in WordPress and templates in Blogger both provide relatively simple ways to amend your layout elements for free, with little risk of damaging the site beyond your ability to repair it if you implement something you later dislike. This makes it easier (and cheaper) to create a distinctive looking presence for yourself on the web without the need to trawl through code that makes learning Latin look like a more appealing alternative.

.

Are you convinced? A well written, regularly updated blog can be a simple, cost effective way to enhance your online presence in so many ways, but we would love to start some discussion around this point and the pros/cons of blogging for a small business, organization, or group.

Do you write a successful blog that others can visit and learn from?

What other benefits are there to blogging that we have yet to cover?


Introducing….

January 5, 2010

Above The Static

Raising you above the industry static

Specializing in the implementation and management of online media, with a primary focus on its application for those operating around the music business, Above The Static aims to raise you above the online static of your industry.

In the coming weeks and months, we will establish a comprehensive online presence that exemplifies the best practice use of online media tools. From the social media networks (Facebook, YouTube, Twitter etc) to self-publishing platforms (blogs, websites, e-mail marketing etc) and beyond, our objective is to assist you in selecting and developing your own use of the many tools available.

The end result will be an unrivaled online identity in your chosen industry, efficiently linking together all platforms, driving increased traffic to your chosen web resources and opening up new routes to reach your audience.

Keep an eye on this blog for ongoing updates and free advice articles on the best methods for extracting value from your web presence. Together we can make online media simple, fun, and, most importantly, extremely productive for your business!

Twitter - @AboveTheStatic

Follow us on Twitter @AboveTheStatic