Experiment with Social Media

Remember to Experiment. We are all bombarded by thousands of messages, helpful advice, and expert opinion each day on how to be more successful at communicating.  This daily barrage can leave you wandering in a wilderness of confusion – pondering: which path to take, where to effectively spend time and resources and what to try first, do next, or avoid all together.  That leaves no choice but to mess with the variables; experiment, and see if you can get a reaction — figure out what works.

I’d like to share two possible experiments to tweak the dials of social media — to give you some ideas that you might try and incorporate into your efforts.

Tagging: No, it’s not about wielding a can of spray paint with reckless abandon.  Tagging, in the social media world — like everything else there, it seems, is about garnering interest and sharing.  The theory is that linking to a fan page (basically, posting a Facebook comment with the “@” symbol preceding the page name, i.e. @Ford) will share fans and drive traffic.  The technical effect of a successful tag is that the link will deliver content from the page doing the tagging to the page being tagged.  The hope is to reap the rewards of fan awareness by connecting to a large, related or interesting community.

In an attempt to figure out the secret sauce of visitor traffic, our office tried our hand at tagging.  The result of the experiment provides some helpful observations.

We posted the following question to our Facebook page for the Marine Corps: “The typical Marine will consume one energy drink a day. Which energy drink do you prefer; Red Bull, Rip It Energy, AMP Energy or Monster Energy?

We tagged all four associated Facebook fan pages in the post.  Although it’s unclear how the tags may have affected our long-term fan-base size (growth or decline), we received return tags from Rip It Energy and Rip It Military fan pages.  These reciprocal transactions resulted in us being included in their news feeds – result achieved.  The experiment also scored us 418,463 impressions and 1,367 Comments from Marines stating their choice of drink.  (For those that are curious, it looks like Monster Energy may be the Corps’ winner).

The point of the experiment was not to gain Facebook traffic. In this case, the social media experiment was about broadening outreach and influencing others.  We can infer, based on the numbers, that we achieved that goal.  The added positive side effect was a possibility that our tag may have benefitted the drink pages more than us.

Landing tabs: If you decide to visit a party, invited or not, the first place you’ll probably try to join in the fun is through the front door.  Customized landing tabs on Facebook are the equivalent to physical party crashing by guiding would-be fans inside your online community party.  Some of the more prevalent landing pages that are touted by many as great examples to emulate include: Lacoste, Starbucks, and Red Bull.  There are tools available on Facebook and many resources to help you set up a custom landing tab.  The tab can be the default destination for newcomers or a way to establish periodic public campaigns for awareness, notification, collaboration, etc. (How To Build a Facebook Landing Page for Your Business).

The intent is to use landing pages and interactive tools on all your products to cross-promote each.  The experiment in this case is to capture the swath of differing visitor traffic and demographics with the intent to build awareness of your messages and your community.  For example, our digital magazine links to our Flickr photos, our website links to our social media properties, our blog links to our Twitter feed and YouTube videos, and our Facebook landing page links to all of the above.  For each complimentary, connection, there are increases on overall traffic on both resources that are linked.  Combined, the traffic outperforms what each would have been able to individually accomplish.  Capture eyes everywhere you can.

Keep experimenting.  Trial and error are the keys to feeding the social media beast.

Recommended Reading:

HOW TO: Back Up Your Social Media Presence Before the Ball Drops

http://mashable.com/2010/12/28/back-up-social-media/

HOW TO: Get the Most Out of Facebook Insights for Small Business
http://mashable.com/2010/12/27/facebook-insights-small-business/#

19 of the Best Infographics From 2010
http://mashable.com/2010/12/27/best-infographics-2010/#

Top 10 Digital Advertising Innovations of 2010
http://mashable.com/2010/12/23/tech-advertising-innovations/#

HOW TO: Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile
http://mashable.com/2010/12/15/optimize-linkedin-profile/#

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