Tapping into the Valentine’s Day trend on social media

Taking Advantage

As business owners who want to stay relevant with current trends, you plan ahead of time to take advantage of holidays. But maybe you struggle with Valentine’s Day because you don’t see how it fits in with your business. Further, you see the advantage in using social media, but don’t know where to start in contributing and drawing attention to your brand.

First of all, have something to say. We always want to add value to the consumer’s life. This is what gets us shares. Especially on Valentine’s Day when we are competing against hundreds of other companies for consumer attention, we have to come up with something unusual, creative, and completely shareable.

Whether or not you personally want to “buy in” to all the Valentine’s Day hoopla, it’s smart business to encourage what consumers see as a day of hope for humanity.

  • Set up a series of inspiring quotes with trendy graphics relevant to your business. For example, if you own a computer store, your quote could be a cute quote on love or a corny romantic-themed joke, but your graphic should be of something like two computers running off together holding hands. Check fiverr.com to get something drawn up quick. Post your graphics on social media throughout the day. These should be completely shareable and only include your website in a discreet way down at the bottom somewhere, if at all. Selling your business to the consumer is only the remote goal of what you’re trying to do here. The proximate goal is getting them to agree and love whatever it is you’re sharing.
  • Highlight your business’ support for couples and participation in Valentine’s Day festivities by offering couples-centric discounts. Or offer freebies for those who stop by your business between certain hours. Your participation in Valentine’s Day with a discount for the public is the bare minimum of what the consumer expects. Graphics are cute, and you’ll get clicks for something shareable, but you need to cement people spending money for your product, not just have them like your page.
  • In all social media posts, include appropriate hashtags. #ValentinesDay and #Valentine are obvious ones, but other hashtags, like #WhatIsLoveInFourWords, are starting to show up. Check out hashtags.org to see what is trending from hour to hour. Appropriate hashtags would also refer to hashtags common to your target market. This post will be shared with the Valentine’s Day tags and #SmallBiz.
  • It’s probably too late for your small business to get a short video together, but if you have that kind of ability, don’t underestimate the power of the video. With Facebook, if you promote a short video – something humorous, something moving – your traffic can increase a ton because users will now see your content streaming in their feed, regardless of whether or not they click. Seeing a bit of what they are getting provides incentive for them to engage.
  • Instagram, a picture sharing site, is more heavily used by the younger crowd, so if you’re wanting to tap into this market more and use Valentine’s Day to do it, try ramping up your editorial style pics and making a social commentary on love with photos. Even if this only means taking your camera and randomly taking shots of occasions that remind you of love, romance, etc.  If it’s inspiring to you, it will probably be inspiring to others. It doesn’t matter whether it’s connected to your business specifically. The point is that your company believes in and encourages love, commitment, and hope for the future. Best of all, Instagram is free.
  • Use Valentine’s Day as a way to encourage people to engage with your business. You could ask users to post a pic from their journey to love and offer a discount code to anyone who does. You could participate in the trending hashtag #WhatIsLoveInFourWords and host a contest with a “basket” or gift card as a prize for the best one. Or do the same thing with a romantic haiku.
  • Make use of the personal story. Whether it’s an inspiring personal love story, your grandparents’ story, or your love story with whatever product or service your company produces, sharing something concise and inspiring can up your traffic. Video is the ideal vehicle for such a story, but this late in the day, a slideshare.com presentation is your next best thing. Failing that, use an article. Just make sure that the update announcing your story is pithy and will create curiosity in the consumer.
  • Service or product, have something crafted specifically for Valentine’s Day weekend. Limited edition items sold for a limited time create urgency in the user to take advantage of the moment. Use the obvious themes – hearts, flowers, romance. Even if your product or service isn’t romantic per se, having it wrapped in Valentine’s Day packaging (literally or figuratively, depending on what you are offering) or giving it a Valentine’s Day inspired name, is enough.

Valentine’s Day is coming up fast so you might not have time implement as many marketing strategies as you’d like. If coming up with content for your business isn’t doable, the least you can do is engage and participate with the existing content on the day of. Promote the business of other small businesses like your own and retweet and share the Valentine’s Day quotes, pics, and vids that put a smile on your face or in your heart.

You might not think your business has anything to do with Valentine’s Day, but that’s no reason your business can’t support love and romance.

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The Far-reaching Effects of Social Media

The following post is not intended to endorse or support the actions or in-actions of those whom it discusses.

If you ever had any doubts of the power of social media, lay them to rest.

Recent events triggered various social media firestorms which lead to raised conventional media awareness. News agencies, wise to the utility of Twitter and Facebook as an indicator of “the people’s voice,” further fomented discussion by continued coverage and sometimes baiting. This, in turn, resulted in a call for action and authorities becoming more involved than they might have otherwise.

hello!According to the New York Times, #Ferguson is what thrust the Ferguson, MO shooting incident into the national limelight.

It has spurred a new iteration of discussion with the hashtag #iftheygunmedown, which had hundreds of participants posting dual photos of themselves on twitter. One, in which the participants were dressed in clothing and posing in ways that might indicate they were a gang member, and another which indicated they were upstanding, law abiding, and community contributing citizens. All this posing the question, which photo would the media use “#iftheygunmedown”?

Their point to conventional media outlets? One hopes their point was that they now understand the media’s attempts to manipulate the populace and whip them into a frenzied race-based flame war. Because controversy sells. But it’s possible that such techniques on the part of money-hungry news agencies have only confirmed to blacks that white bias exists on a large scale.

A month later, we are still seeing that the incident is fresh on people’s minds as social media and conventional media feed off each other. Protesters attempted a shutdown  of I-70 and Attorney General Eric Holder has promised to launch an investigation. One has to wonder if such efforts would have been expended if news social media discussion of the incident had faded away.

The recent rash of NFL controversies have sparked social media outcry, as well.

As news of Adrian Peterson’s suspension for alleged child abuse broke, the world was still reacting to the interview Reggie Bush gave for WFAN’s Boomer and Carton Show. Social media users have had plenty to say about Reggie’s less than prudent words. (#ReggieBush)

The indefinite suspension of player Ray Rice from the NFL only came about after public pressure via social media was brought to bear on NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. The populace is enraged at the thought that the NFL hoped to brush the incident under the rug. Paul George, who tweeted a comment in support of Ray Rice, felt an immediate social media backlash that had him scrambling to apologize.

All of these incidents are cautionary tales for both businesses (of which the NFL is one) and individuals alike.

If business practices are anything but above board, one would do well to view social media with a wary eye.

Before social media came along, businesses and high profile individuals could afford to anger people to a degree. They could count on the powerless isolation of consumers. But social media allows people to find, interact, and discuss with strangers, like-minded and not. All of a sudden, consumers aren’t so isolated and the people’s voice has more economic and political clout than it ever had before.

Many businesses and bureaucratic powers that be are still trying to play catch up. Some might be mystified at the immense pressure that can be brought to bear via the seemingly innocuous social media platforms.

Will social media change how businesses do business?

If the Goodell case is any indicator, we the people want transparency. It upsets consumers to realize that business owners (or government officials) might be looking at preserving their own interests over preserving their integrity.

To rehash an over-used parallel to ancient Rome, we can say that modern social media has shrunken the nation to such a degree that the star movers and shakers of this world can rise and fall as easily as the politicians of ancient Rome rose and fell by the voice of the mob.

Nevertheless, there is no way to guarantee your business will never experience a stock-shaking scandal. At that point, all you can do is act with integrity and hope that you have built up enough of a relationship with the public that they are willing to believe any apologies made or mistakes owned.

Look for Part II of this article next month: The Social Media Takeaway on Recent Events

Tales of Failed Google Social Networks

With every successful social media network (think Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn), there is a social media network flop. You might have trouble remembering the ones that didn’t make it since you may have never heard of them or heard of them only in passing. What makes a social network take off and what makes a flop? The best social networks make sharing with the people you want to share with easy. There are ways to easily identify privacy (although this is a touchy subject with Facebook) and it is clear how to share. Connections are made and users have fun playing with the different settings. To me this describes the social networks I enjoy using. When planning for new social networks, it’s not that this isn’t considered, but for one reason or another, timing isn’t right and the network doesn’t take off.

In this post, I’ll share a few Google social network flops and my opinion about what didn’t work with each. There may be more opinions on why each network was passed over by the masses, so please share your opinions below in the comments. I’d also love to hear what you think makes a social network stick.

Google Buzz

BuzzWasn’t this essentially Twitter? Yes! (at least that is what it felt like) Launched in 2010, Buzz was the social network that worked in tandem with other sharing tools, alongside your email contacts. Using Buzz, you could share to networks including, Twitter, FriendFeed, YouTube, and Blogger. It even integrated so that you could like an article on Google Reader straight from your Gmail account or mobile. Poor privacy control, alongside the idea that users want to share social content with their email contacts, quickened Buzz’s demise. Just days after Buzz launched, Gmail users realized their email contact lists were public without their consent (they never explicitly signed up for Buzz). This sparked a giant privacy controversy that caused many to not even give Buzz a shot. Google ended up in a lawsuit and paid a fine to the tune of $8.5 million. Lesson learned: keep privacy policies clear and make sure users understand the goal of the network.

Google Orkut

OrkutOrkut could have been Facebook. It even could have been Google+, but it never had that chance in the United States. Facebook launched a month after Orkut in 2004 and the rest is history. Orkut is the social network of Brazil and India, however. So timing didn’t ruin everything, although Facebook has been gaining in traction for a while now in those countries. If you visit Orkut.com and are logged into your Google account, you can check it out. Feels like an outdated Google+ to me!

Google Dodgeball

DodgeBallAcquired in 2005 by Google, Dodgeball was ahead of its time. Essentially a mobile check-in service,  users weren’t ready for mobile location awareness. In 2005, we weren’t using our cell phones like we are now and people may not have understood the value of sharing places and locations with others. Google shut down this service in 2009 and replaced it with Google Latitude (which if you weren’t aware, was shut down in August of this year). Also, in 2009, the founder of Dodgeball created FourSquare and the mobile check-in app took off like wildfire (which coincidentally, is another name of a social product acquired by Google).

What do you think?

Would you have thought these products would have lasted for such a short time? Why did they not make it and others did? Share your opinions by commenting below!