5 Useful Tips on Developing Social Media Conversations with Your Customers

by: Kenneth Cossin

As marketers, we have heard so much about how social media allows us to rapidly build our brand, get the word out regarding our products and services, target different demographics, and optimize consumer engagement. Yet we need to take social marketing to the next level.

Thus, I pose the question: Is your company simply using social media channels to create an online marketing presence, or is it creating social media conversations with your customers?

For example, as a professor at Full Sail University, my students are my customers. I use many different social media channels to get each student to “buy into” my courses. I develop student engagement, but then I also intentionally develop a professional relationship with each individual student. By doing so, each student gains a sense of personal investment in my courses.

Here are my five tips for creating social media conversations with your customers:

1. Your attention, please! Gaining our customer’s attention is pretty simple for us marketers. It is something that we have been doing since before the days of social media. Thus, continue to bring attention to your brand and develop your brand story through your social media channels.

2. Get your customers to opt in. Remember, everyone loves a good story. Therefore, the better your brand tells your business story, the more customers you will get to opt in. Once you have an engaged consumer, it is imperative that you learn what attracted him/her to your business. Traditional marketing methods of gathering metrics on your customers remain important. And with social media, you can discover why a customer is choosing you.

3. Determine your customers’ individuality. Find unique ways to get your customers to tell you how they found you. What about your customers makes them choose you? How are you fulfilling their unique wants and needs? What incentives do you provide to keep your customers engaged?

4. Focus on conversation. Typically, businesses will ask customers a series of questions through the use of impersonal surveys, questionnaires, or cold calls. At this point, many marketers usually stop. With social media, you cannot stop here. You must follow through and build a personal conversation by leveraging social media in new and unique ways. So what are we to do?

5. Develop interaction. Through the use of social media interaction, periodically make intentional contact with your customers. Remember to treat your customer as you would a good friend. We do things for our friends because we care about them; thus, demonstrate to your customers who connect with you through social media that you care about them. Communicate with them. Give them the service they deserve: prompt responses, incentives, and other cool offers. You will receive in return the continued trust and loyalty you need and desire to grow your business.

Reposted via permission of Social Media Marketing Magazine dated 11 January 2011.


Freeze Frame!

by: Kenneth Cossin

Poor Photo

Have you ever been somewhere with friends – on vacation, at a party, or at a family reunion and were asked to take a photo?  You hate taking photos, because you don’t know how to use their camera, you just really don’t have a knack for taking photos, or maybe you just hate people?  Well, here are some helpful tips to make those slanted, out of focus, dark, and just darn awful photos into decent ones!

Who’s Camera is This?

You’ve been asked to use someone else’s camera to take a picture.  Ah!  What do you do?  Well, my solution is simple.  Ask the person that handed you the camera three important questions: One, how do you set the camera on full auto?  Two, when I press the shutter button partially, will it auto focus?  Three, is the flash set to go off when the shutter is fully depressed?  These may seem like no-brainer questions, but how many of us actually think of these questions when we’re put on the spot to take a picture?  Oh, and I suggest that you resist the urge to smash the camera on the ground.  The people you hate really won’t like you any better.

Framing Someone

When taking a picture of a person, or my dog as in the photo above, be sure to frame the individual in the center of your shot.  Typically, you do not have to concern yourself with the background.  But note, if there are tall objects in the background, make sure that they do not appear to be growing from the subject’s head.  In addition, if you have something in the foreground, make sure that it does not interfere with the subject’s face.  Alternatively, shooting a photo with the subject off center can make for a great photo, but this option is best left to advanced photographers.

Getting Framed

When taking photos of people that contain objects of substance in the foreground or background, know that these objects are key elements that make up the composition of the photo.  Thus, you want to be sure to include them in the photo in such a way that is aesthetically pleasing.  Allow me to use an example.

© Fotosearch

Let’s say that you are at a birthday party, and you have been asked to take a picture of the birthday girl and her cake.  You could take the photo with the cake centered right in front of the subject or you could offset the cake a bit to the right or the left.  Which would make for a better photo and why?  The answer is the photo with the cake offset to either side.  Why?  Because the most important element of the photo is the person, not the cake… despite how you may feel about the person.

Keeping Things Straight

There are many straight lines that you can use as reference points when taking a photo.  A table, couch, chairs, floor/ceiling lines, and the list goes on.  Incorporate some of these items to line up your camera shot on the top, bottom, or sides when taking your photo.  It’s that simple!

Staying Focused

Always make your subject stays still.  Do or say something to get their attention, and then provoke an emotion, typically a smile, with a word or phrase.  Count them into the photo, but don’t give them more than two or three seconds; most subjects do not have the attention span to hold still that long.

A blurry photo may not be at the fault of the subject but of you.  How can that be?  You’re perfect, right?  Well, remember that you don’t have to press the shutter button that hard to take a photo.  Therefore, you should be able to hold the camera steady while taking the photo.  Remember this – if the picture turns out clear and in focus, the people you hate will love you!

Lights Please!

Yes, the camera has a flash on it.  Isn’t the flash supposed to be the light source?  Well, technically, the flash’s purpose is to additionally illuminate your subject.  Therefore, be sure to have additional light sources on either side as well as behind the subject.  Even when using ambient lighting, it is helpful to use the flash when in the shade or if the sun is low in the horizon.

Personal Space

Your distance from the subject is very important when you are taking a portrait.  Typically, you want to maintain a minimum distance of about five feet but not exceed more than ten to twelve feet.  Overexposure of the subject happens when you’re too close, and underexposure happens when you’re too far.

What Happened to My Tan?

Good Photo

Ok, this tip is very important when taking portraits, because you don’t want your subject looking like a whitewashed fence.  Point the camera directly at an object that appears the whitest in your field of view.  Depress the shutter half way to force the camera and to perform a white balance.  Then, keeping the shutter depressed half way, re-center your subject and count down the picture.  Don’t forget to provoke an emotion!

You Will Be Loved

Yes, you will be loved by the people that now view your photos once you have mastered some of these basic skills!  Try out some of my suggestions to see if you can take better photos.  These basic tips on shooting portraits can help even the worst photographer look good!