The words “isolated” and “fragmented” have no place in social media. That’s the reason General Mills knew it needed to bring together its brands, which were “doing their own thing” in the social sphere, and stop letting agencies manage brand communities. To do it, the company needed community-engagement managers to bring ownership, accountability and real involvement to the company’s social media platforms.

In his presentation at SocialMedia.org‘s BlogWell conference in Los Angeles, General Mills’ social media engagement manager, Aaron Miller, explained the reason the company thought community managers could help the company learn and grow — and even how the company hired them.

More big ideas from his presentation:

  • Food is personal. General Mills quickly realized that people who were engaging with company brands via social media were passionate and opinionated. The company needed someone on its team who could respond with the same personality, passion and loyalty — not a disconnected agency.
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SmartPulse — our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Social Media — tracks feedback from leading marketers about social media practices and issues.

This week, we asked: Is your company revising its social media policy after the National Labor Relations Board’s ruling on employees using social media to discuss workplace conditions?

  • No: 48.19%
  • We don’t have a policy: 37.35%
  • Yes: 14.46%

The NLRB’s ruling might affect your company, if the company’s social media policy delves into acceptable employee uses of social networking. The best social media policies take a fairly common-sense approach to employees’ personal social media activities. After all, it’s not productive use of a company’s time to micromanage employees’ personal tweets, aside from restricting disclosing trade secrets and the like.

Some companies, however, took their policies a step further and tried to restrict employees’ discussion of working conditions — and that’s where the NLRB’s ruling comes in. If your social media policy deals with employees’ personal social media activities, you’re going to want to have your lawyer look over your guidelines to make sure you’re complying with the ruling. (read more…)

Research plays an important role in marketing your small business effectively. You can use an audit to improve your marketing throughout the life of your business. Don’t just perform an audit when embracing a new tool, such as social media, but also at regular intervals, to help measure your performance.

A marketing audit considers internal and external influences on marketing planning, as well as a review of the plan itself. Scanning your environment internally and externally enables you to identify opportunities and threats and then adjust your company’s position and resources based on the outcome of the analysis. Research can offer valuable insight into what your competitors are up to — as well as how your customers and team members react to your brand.

Begin with an internal marketing audit, which involves having a conversation with all company employees, from management right on down to workers who interface directly with customers or clients. (read more…)

Brands are accepting Facebook as a key marketing tool to generate engagement and improve branding. The question is whether Facebook creates more engagement, visibility, traffic and experience than other tools. Searching for an answer to this question for some time leads to understanding how the different attributes of Facebook posts have an effect on the number of “likes,” comments and “shares” that a post gets.

How to increase the number of likes in Facebook posts

  1. Focus. Stay up to date. I’m talking about messages that relate to holidays, festivals, gigs, world issues, relevant events and anything related with current affairs. Perhaps they won’t be directly related to the product’s or company’s essence, but they will be perceived as something more personal and, hence, better accepted (more so, even, than promotions).
  2. Express yourself through photos. Every picture tells a story. A photograph communicates something personal in a fast, easy way. You also have to make an effort to match a suitable text to the picture.
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Social tools help you connect with readers in a more personal way. This not only gets people to trust you but also lets search engines, such as Google, know that your website is important. This results in a much higher ranking on Google, making your website easier to find. It’s important to include social networking in your daily search engine optimization and to be a leader in your niche.

Use Facebook or Foursquare to show Google your location

Location plays a vital role in Google’s algorithm. If you are on Facebook or Foursquare, the good news is that both networks allow users to check in to a location. Remember that Google uses Web citations from your physical address to verify your location on Google Places and to do your local organic ranking. This indicates that Google does use your location to rank your website.

Google keeps an eye on your Twitter and Facebook activity

Your level of influence on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, along with the authoritative value of reviews you receive on websites such as Yelp, are combined to determine how Google ranks websites within a particular location. (read more…)