30 Simple Social Media Conversation Starters

Now that you’ve worked hard on getting people to ‘like’ your Facebook page, Follow you on Twitter and Instagram through some exciting Facebook contests, social sweepstakes, a couple of interesting guest posts and other branding exercise, you may wake up realizing that you’re not quite sure how to keep all the fans that you now have. And this is just the beginning; the next road is a long one where you’ll need to keep talking to your audience while keeping them interested and engaged with your page.

Some say that social media is like your first date. You may be good at getting dates, but once you’ve actually get them, you’ll need to keep them from leaving… you..

There are many ways of keeping someone engaged with you, but one thing’s for sure – if you want to start a conversation, you’ll need to ask the question. Questions are great to get your audience to comment and contribute to the topic. That is why I’ve come up with a list of questions that you can ask your fans.

There are many different types of conversation starters. Here are a few conversation starters and how some great examples of using them.

Types of conversation starters. 

1. Related to your industry

If you’ve targeted your fans correctly, then it is likely that your fans had liked your page to keep in touch with your industry.  Keep your audience listening by sparking conversations about your main industry.

2. Random Questions 

It’s the element of surprise – that brilliant randomness, those silly questions, and that Gangnam Style. Surprise your audience and spark their interest with some out of the world questions.

3. Personal Interest

Got an interest? A hobby? A game of football? A bite to eat? A pint to drink? Share personal interests by asking your audience what they do when they’re off-duty. Get up close and personal and build stronger relations with your audience by listening to they’re up to.

4. Helping others

Help your fellow community member by asking frequently asked questions and helping a fan out. Present questions to the rest of the audience and help solve their problems. It’s all about community spirit! Alternatively, you can help others by putting the spotlight on them and allowing them to share their page, blog post for others to check. Here is an example by Social @ Blogging Tracker

 Below are 30 conversation starters for your social media accounts. 

  1. What’s your biggest question about ______. Our experts will answer them.
  2. What’s your #1 goal to achieve in ______ this month/year?
  3. What books are you reading this week?
  4. What is your favorite _______ blogs?
  5. What do you usually share on social media?
  6. What is your biggest challenge in ________
  7. What excites you every day?
  8. What’s the best article you read today/ this week?
  9. If you could be anywhere right now, where would you be?
  10. My favorite thing about ____ is _____
  11. What are your plans for the weekends?
  12. What’s in your book list that everyone should read?
  13. Where do you usually blog / tweet?
  14. What are your biggest mistakes in ___ when you started?
  15. If you could have dinner with anyone, who would it be?
  16. What Facebook page would you like to share with us?
  17. What song / quote describes YOU?
  18. What’s number #1 on your to-do list today?
  19. How often do you check your email / Facebook / Twitter?
  20. How many times do you log into Facebook a day?
  21. Who’s your biggest role model?
  22. What is the first book that you read that changed your life?
  23. Coffee or tea?
  24. Chocolate or cheese cake? (one of my most responded questions, best answer was … chocolate cheese cake)
  25. If you could re-invent something, what would it be?
  26. What do you love most about _______ ?
  27. When was the last time you were really nervous?
  28. Whose life do you wish you could live for a day?
  29. What film have you most enjoyed this year?
  30. What’s the thing/page/ would you consider yourself a “number one fan” of?

Hope you like the list and don’t hesitate to share it out if you do. If this is something you would like more of, then I’ll come up with 30 questions every month in the hope that it will inspire you to post more questions and get your fans to engage with you.

What would you add to the list? Share them below and it will be in our next post.
Original post by Adam.


Start Thinking About Summer Themed Promotions

We know, we know…  Summer is still a few months away but the weather is changing and the anticipation is rising.  Now is a perfect time to begin thinking about summer themed promotions and to introduce your fans to products geared for the summer season.  Tailor your product or service to the summer season and create a fun promotion that encourages them to use your brand.  Take advantage of what is top of mind for your fans and incorporate these ideas into your prizes. This could be a free beach getaway, fun and practical ways to stay cool, summer concerts and barbeques, and summer clothing.

It is a great idea to use the many summer holidays as a theme for your campaign.  There are many different audiences you can target when focusing on specific holidays or events.  One event that has a large target audience is graduation and the end of the school year.  Students anticipate the summer holiday all year and it is a perfect opportunity to capture their attention with a fun contest or sweepstakes.  Father’s Day is another holiday that provides a great opportunity for a promotion.  These promotions can incorporate photo or video contests that capture a father-son or father-daughter moment and can include great gifts and products for Dad to enjoy. The 4th of July is also another holiday that has a huge audience. The 4th of July is a holiday that incorporates events such as fireworks, barbeques, and parades.  These events are great opportunities to focus your promotion on.

Get your audience involved with summer themed photo or video contests that encourage them to document how they are enjoying the sun.  For more information on fun ways to engage fans contact us today!


The End is Just the Beginning

Just because your promotion has ended doesn’t mean you can drop the ball; there is still plenty of work to be done.  It is important to follow through with your promotion and continue to connect with your fans.  Your promotion has most likely established new or stronger relationships with your fans and it is important to act on these relationships.

One way to celebrate your fans is to send out an email to all of the participants and offer them a reward for engaging with your brand. This could be in the form of a coupon or a discount code, a preview of an upcoming product, etc.  It is also important to celebrate the winner of your promotion by announcing their win on your social media channels and displaying their entry in a gallery, a blog post, or your personal website.

Your next step should be to follow up and study the results of your promotion.  Measure your success by measuring the Return on Investment (ROI).  This way you will understand the impact of your social media marketing efforts.  Identify any trends to understand how your audience interacts with your business. Find out what resonates well with your audience and what information was disappointing and unexpected.  The research process is equally as important in this stage as it is in the planning stage.  All of these results can help you to optimize your social marketing campaigns in the future.


Maintaining Momentum for your Campaign

Interacting with consumers and fans in ongoing dialogue is what social media marketing revolves around.  When launching a campaign this dialogue remains a priority from beginning to end and is essentially what will keep the campaign going.  One of the big challenges when running a campaign on social media is that it is easy to start the conversation and just as easy to stop it.  Running a successful campaign relies on maintaining momentum; but how do you do this successfully?

Here are 5 tips to help your campaign maintain momentum:

  1. Design for participation- Make sure that your promotion is designed to fully engage your fans and to encourage them to actively participate with your brand. Photo and video contests are a great way to ensure creative engagement.
  2. Get Personal- Create personal conversations with fans that enter your contest by tweeting to them, posting to their Facebook page, or by writing about their entry in your blog.  This social media communication shows your fans you notice and appreciate their entry and engagement.
  3. Constantly update your fans- Post updates about the promotion on your social media channels and personal website.  In order for fans to stay engaged they need to have all the facts. This can include sharing key milestones such as finalists being selected, just reached 100 or 10,000 entries, or even fun facts about the brand.  Post quality content about your campaign and your brand on a consistent basis.
  4. Announce daily giveaways and winners- by posting the winners on your social media channels you are encouraging your fans to continue to visit your social media pages and check in with the brand.
  5. Schedule posts- set up posts ahead of time and schedule when you would like them to go live.  This is a great way to ensure that all of the information gets posted and that the posts are spread out.

It is important to keep your fans interested in your promotion and in extension, your brand.  By incorporating these ideas into your marketing strategy you will create a continuous conversation that is rewarding for both you and your fans.


Building Excitement Before You Launch Your Promotion

There are many steps to take when creating a promotion.  One important step to highlight is engineering the success of your campaign from the very beginning by getting the word out and building excitement before the promotion launches.  A promotion does not go viral on its own, the strategy goes further than just creating the promotion and letting your fans do all of the work.

In order to generate maximum awareness of your promotion it is a great idea to plan a media strategyPlanning posts across social media channels is a great place to start.  These posts should be easily shareable so fans can spread the message on their own social media. They should be an exciting announcement of your upcoming promotion offering all of the essential information and should include an incentive for your fans to become involved.   One great idea is to offer extra opportunities to enter the promotion and win prizes that coincide with their sharing activity.  For example, offer an extra entry into the contest if your fans share the promotional message with five friends.  This is a great way to get your fans to spread the message before the promotion begins and to get them engaged and excited.  If your message reaches enough people at the beginning it will eventually begin to spread itself.  The most important thing to remember is to make your announcement post exciting and worth sharing.  Using imagery can be useful in this step.

Another great way to spread the message is to send out an email to all of your fans and customers who have an email subscription.  This email should be similar to your social media posts in that they include the important information on the contest and where to find it when it launches.  This email can also include links to your website announcement and here they can share the message on social media.

A press release is another great way to reach a large audience and get the message out about your upcoming promotion.  It is also a great way to display all of the information about the promotion and talk about how the promotion relates to your brand and products.  Search advertising, display ads, and Facebook ads are all great ways to spread the message about your promotion as well.

After posting about the upcoming promotion on your social media channels and spreading the message via email and a press release, you can go a step further and find bloggers or other brands who will write about your promotion and your story on their own blogs and websites.  If you have made your story and your promotion exciting and shareable than the promotion will be easy to find when the time comes for the official launch.  It is up to you to make the initial efforts to create awareness.  You can reach new fans and followers by utilizing ads and reaching out to influential people in your community who can help spread the word. Remember, any touch point you have with a fan or potential fan is an opportunity to promote your contest or sweepstakes.



How to Use Social Media for Business

Social media has changed the way the world communicates, creating real time interconnectivity between people, businesses, and geographies. As social media continues to grow in popularity, brands are looking for ways to increase their fan base and leverage their social presence to increase sales and brand affinity.

Here are 5 ways to leverage social media for business so that you can maximize your social marketing efforts.

1. Drive Conversations: 

Social media is a powerful tool for engaging your customers and fans in a conversation. Open up two-way communication between your business and your consumers to provide a way to stay connected with your fans and to introduce your brand to those who are less familiar. Interact with your fans and reply to what they have to say. By engaging in conversation, you’ll gain exposure on social channels and increase credibility by getting your customers to refer your brand or talk about their experience with your company.

Everyone has experienced the amazing ability that word-of-mouth has to spread a message instantly and to a large amount of people. Social media does exactly that. It acts as a catalyst of word-of-mouth, making it easy for your fans to recommend your brand to their peers. Social media is a vehicle that allows and encourages your customers to connect and interact with each other, sharing details about your company and products. Statistics show that 53% of active social networkers follow a brand on social media, and 60% of those who use digital methods to research about the products they intend to buy, learned about it on social media sites. Get your fans talking about your brand and you’ll be rewarded with better brand awareness and sales.

2. Get to know your audience better:

Not only is social media a great tool for allowing your audience to get to know you, it is also a way for you to get to know them. Social media can be used as a way to gather consumer research. Many of your fans are using social media as a way to show the world who they are. Observe what information your fans put out there and use that information to get to know them and their expectations in regards to your brand or products. Consumer research can be used in every aspect of your marketing efforts; it is imperative to know who you are marketing to and what they anticipate. By listening to your fans, you’ll have a better understanding of how to be successful marketing to them.

3. Provide customer service:

Before the boom of social media, customers would have to write a letter or call the company’s customer service line if they were unhappy with a product or service. Today, with the growth and pervasiveness of social media, these customer service complaints can be resolved online almost instantly. Customers can access the Internet everywhere and at anytime, therefore making it easier to communicate and receive responses to their questions in a more efficient manner.

Immediate response through social media is the kind of service customers are beginning to expect and demand. This is an example of how social media marketing can help increase brand loyalty and customer retention. If you provide excellent customer service, your customers will be more likely to buy from you in the future.

4. Educate and inspire:

To help build a relationship with your fans, you need to offer them something compelling – an incentive to engage with you. Creating and sharing great content that is relevant to your brand can help build a sense of trust with your audience and keep people interested in following your brand. People are often looking towards brands for information. Determine what type of content your audience responds to by trying out different types of content and experimenting. Think about how your brand fits into your audiences’ lifestyle and try to create and share content that your fans will be excited about. If you are able to educate or inspire your fans, you’ll build affinity, trust, and most importantly keep them interested and engaged with your brand on social media.

When in the process of creating interesting content the most important thing to be thinking about is your target audience. When creating content it is not only about writing, it is important to read what is out there already and what has been getting your audience’s attention. Find out what your audience finds interesting and adapt this so that it works in conjunction with your brand or business.

Another way to create content that is interesting to your audience is to create content that answers their questions. This can help your customer service as well, because you’ll be providing answers to commonly asked questions without having to address each customer individually.

An added benefit of creating great content is that it can help your SEO efforts and drive traffic to your website. By conducting keyword research and determining what your customers are searching for, you can better understand what they are looking for and tailor your content to their needs.

5. Run a promotion:

Promotions such as contests and sweepstakes are a fun and simple way to engage your fans and customers, allowing them to interact with your company. Promotions help create buzz and excitement around your brand, generating awareness and exposure.

When choosing what type of promotion to run, such as a photo or video contest versus a sweepstakes, you should analyze which type of promotion better suits your goals. For example, a photo or video contest is a fun way to get your fans involved and engaged, however this type of promotion requires more time and effort from your customers and fans. This means that while you are engaging fans with your brand or business, you may also receive fewer entries. It is a good idea to invite users to stay involved by allowing them to vote on the best entry. Sweepstakes, on the other hand, have a lower barrier to entry with the only requirement being to enter your email. This allows for more fans to be inclined to enter, but also means there is less engagement.

Both forms of promotions are beneficial in different ways; it depends on what end goal is more important to your marketing efforts. It is possible to run a sweepstakes and a photo contest simultaneously, but you must make sure to do so in a beneficial and smart way. You want to make sure that the two promotions vary enough so that they are not repetitive. An example of this would be to run a weekly trivia sweepstakes with a question and winner of the week, alongside a shorter photo contest.

For your promotion to be a successful marketing tool, it is important to offer prizes that relate to your brand, business, or products. It is often a good idea to offer your own products as the prize; this is a cost effective way to ensure that your customers will try your products and build excitement around your brand. If you are a travel company for example, you could run an effective promotion that offers a free vacation or a free stay at a resort.

Social media continues to grow and evolve. With this in mind, the role social media plays in marketing will continue to transform the relationship between brands or businesses and their audiences. The great thing about social media marketing is that as a marketer you have the ability to transform how social media is utilized. The ideas outlined in this guide can act as a starting point for you to develop a social marketing strategy and plan.


Create A Social Media Marketing Plan

It is worthwhile to create a social media marketing plan to determine your goals and objectives when marketing on social media. Your goals may include expanding your audience, creating engaging content, increasing your brand visibility, or increasing sales.  Whatever your goals may be it is critical to establish a timeline for executing your social promotions and achieving your goals.

Research is an important step in the planning process.  Once you have established your marketing goals, take the time to define your target audience and then find out where they hang out.  What type of social media does your audience gravitate to and what kind of information and content are they responding to. It is also a good idea to research what your fans and customers are saying about your competitors, as well as the dialogue that may already be going on about your own brand or business. It is important to know how your brand or business is perceived in the social media world in order to make improvements and tailor your marketing strategy to fit their needs.

After the research process you should have an even better idea of what your goals should be and how you can make these goals a reality.  At this stage it is important to communicate with those who will be involved in the social media marketing efforts. Designate a team of people who will be accountable for carrying out the promotion.  Make sure everyone in the company has clear line of site to the goals of the campaign and understands their responsibility in achieving these goals.

Once you have done your research and established measurable goals for marketing on social media, it is time to choose which media channels to utilize.  Choose wisely, more is not always better.  It is more important to choose the channels where your target audience is and the ones that will coincide best with your marketing goals.  Remember, being constantly active and timely on social media is one of the most important ways to market successfully.  This becomes more difficult as you add additional channels to your marketing plan.  It is neither practical nor efficient to try to participate in all of them.  So find where your target audience is, choose the best social media channels for your brand or business, and then start the ongoing conversation that is happening now on social media.



Suzuki Sweepstakes: 50 Years of You

Engaging fans with a social promotion or sweepstakes is a great way to raise awareness for your brand and products.  However, this is only one part in a larger campaign strategy to increase enthusiasm and sales.  One great way to extend the promotion into a larger campaign is to include an initiative for your fans to engage with the brand and products in person.  This in-person engagement can connect to your social promotion and will allow your fans to have a tangible experience with the products and services you are promoting.

Suzuki provides a great example of how to execute a promotion that incorporates in-person activity as an extension of their overall campaign.  Suzuki is celebrating 50 years in the USA and is offering their fans great prizes for their support and to generate excitement for their next 50 years.  Suzuki’s “50 Years of You” sweepstakes does a great job encouraging fans to visit their local dealer as well as to engage with Suzuki’s Facebook page and online sweepstakes.  In order to enter for a chance to win a monthly prize, fans must go down to their local dealer to receive the monthly promo code.  This is a great incentive for fans to physically visit with Suzuki on a monthly basis and to allow fans to see the prizes they could win in person.  The sweepstakes homepage offers an easy way for users to find the Suzuki dealer that is closest to them.  Suzuki’s great prizes include the latest motorcycles, ATV’s and accessories and the sweepstakes is offered every month for the rest of the year! Suzuki celebrates their fans by allowing users to enter to win every month.  February’s lucky fan will win a 2013 RM-Z450!

Suzuki does a great job offering fans a way to interact with the products online and at the dealership.  This interaction encourages fans to really get to know the products and the brand, creating a more personal experience and a lasting impact in the minds of your customers.


5 Steps: Make Your Promotion A Social Campaign

If you’ve experienced success with social promotions-Facebook promotions, YouTube video contests, a photo-driven Twitter giveaway- its time to graduate to the next level of social marketing. Stop running promotions and start running social campaigns!

What’s the difference?

Promotions are a marketing event. Vehicles for generating brand buzz, making an announcement, introducing a product, extending an offer. They are the single best tool for converting social followers to customers, getting them to take action. Countless research efforts have shown that about two-thirds of your audience follows brands on social channels mostly to receive some kind of an offer. So promotions are the fundamental building block of your social strategy

And a promotion is part of a campaign. A campaign includes the components that ensure more people see your promotion, share it, come back to it, and more likely become customers.  A campaign leaves you with a metrics-driven understanding of the promotion’s success, and definitive next steps to continue engaging and monetizing your audience.

We are laser focused on adding the features that help you turn your promotion into a complete campaign. Earlier this week, we released expanded Campaign Analytics into our Standard Apps editions. This is the latest capability we’ve adapted from Votigo’s complete Social Marketing Suite, enabling our DIY users to build a campaign around their promotion.

With that, here are 5 Steps for Turning Your Promotion Into A Social Campaign- plus which Votigo features you should count on at each step.

1) Pre-Cultivate Your Audience

It’s not ideal to START with a promotion. If you’re just getting into social marketing, or a new social channel (Pinterest for example), begin by inviting people to follow you there. Your email list, your in-store customers, your website visitors.  Then, engage them for a while. Offer great content, free ideas, photos and more.  Post, ask questions and respond. There’s no substitute for this fundamental, authentic work.

>Social Conversation Manageravailable in Votigo’s suite- makes it easy for you to schedule, moderate and respond to posts and messages with your audience on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+.

2) Build a Great Promotion.

Think of the promotion as the core of your campaign.  Come up with a compelling theme, a great prize, awesome design and crystal-clear calls to action. We continue to introduce innovative, viral features to make our promotions apps more effective (check out our Twitter Sweepstakes).

>Votigo Standard Promotions Apps include viral contests and sweepstakes for Facebook, Twitter, mobile and the web.  Additionally, our Premium Apps integrate YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, and virtually any digital destination where your audience congregates.

3) Seed The Message

Too often, we see social brands set-it-and-forget-it.  They build a great promotion, publish it to Facebook and leave it at that.  You want to get the message out in any forum you can. Facebook posts, tweets, emails, your homepage, word-of-mouth, in-store and more.  Don’t be shy and don’t be afraid of letting current customers see it- if anything, they deserve a reward for being in your customer base already.

>Promotions Messenger is a dead-simple tool for scheduling mobile-optimized posts, with messaging and visuals of your choice, to Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn. Find it under “New Posts” on the Publish tab. Power users:  Ask our Premium Promotions team about integrating your ads services, from AdWords to Facebook Ads, into your promotion.

4) Follow Through

When your promotion is over, there’s still work to do. First, celebrate the winner. Announce them, interview them, get a testimonial. If the promotion included photos or videos, post those in a gallery, on a blog post, or on your webpage.  More importantly- send an email to all participants.  Offer them a reward just for engaging- a discount code, a sneak preview, a coupon, an invitation.

>Standard Promotions Apps already include several key features that help you follow through. Customize the confirmation page for sweeps and contest entrants- sharing a coupon code or sending them directly to a special landing page. Engagement Apps include several useful tools for follow-through. Post top submissions in a Photo or Video Gallery.  Or build an iFrame app to announce your winner, thank your participants, and share an offer for all entrants. Also, right from the Manage tab of your Votigo-powered promotion, you can download data and email addresses from all entrants and plug them into your email software  (ConstactContact, MailChimp, MadMimi), inbound marketing software (Marketo, Hubspot), and your CRM database (Salesforce, Nimble), too. Do it from day one of your campaign, and treat these new social contacts as the potential customers they are.

5) Measure & Repeat

Wrap up your campaign by studying the metrics of your promotion. How many people entered and voted?  Who engaged the most new participants by sharing their entry or your sweeps?  What are the basic demos and geos of your participating audience? Knowing more about your customers is as valuable as the direct benefits of the promotion.

>Campaign Analytics are our brand-new, expanded metrics offerings. They are included in every Votigo-powered promotion, including our Standard Apps. Power users: Premium Promotions offer the capability to integrate with virtual any third-party data source, from your social ads provider to Analytics to other leading data services to your CRM system.

Now you’ve run a successful Social Campaign, anchored by an audience-engaging, participant-rewarding, customer-generating promotion, but supported by a host of useful tools and features that give you a more comprehensive result. Better knowledge of your audience.  More clarity about what works best for your social brand. Please let us know how it’s working for you.


Holiday Social Media Marketing: 5 Trends For Retail Brands

Black Friday is in 4 days, kicking off the massive holiday season that makes the year for many retail brands.  Odds are, social marketing is a bigger part of your Q4 strategy this year than ever before.  Here are 5 big themes that will dominate holiday social media marketing campaigns for retailers in the remaining holiday weeks of 2012:

Social Launches:  New product introductions and sales events are a staple of Q4. They’re a great way to create buzz and generate customer interest through social marketing.  Watch for (and plan) product debuts or events on Facebook, Pinterest, and YouTube.Brooks Running illustrates holiday social media marketing campaigns in 2012

Recognizing Great Customers: Even for brands with millions of customers- and definitely for boutiques and local businesses- there is a movement to recognize your best customers.  Loyalty programs,  membership clubs, even a Customer of the Day promotion. All are simple ways to earn repeat business. Social channels are a natural distribution channel for these programs.

Rewarding Social Engagement:  All evidence continues to show that consumers follow brands on social channels to earn an exclusive, an offer, a discount, a preview.  Retail brands are in prime position to capitalize.  Even for social followers who haven’t converted to customers yet, it is worth the effort to offer a unique opportunity through Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and where ever you have followers.

In-Store Activation:  In retail, it’s all about the cash register.  Even as holiday spending shifts online, there is still no substitute to brick-and-mortar retailers for motivating the in-store experience.  A social promotion that results in a coupon, invitation or other store-driven event doesn’t need to be complex. But it will help convert social fans to visitors who can see your store environment, touch your products, experience your service and convert to new customers.

Mobile Enables Lasting Brand Engagement:  Most consumers will be using their smartphones gratuitously in the next 6 weeks. They’ll share wish lists, compare prices, pass along gift ideas and more, using photo, video, text and social updates.  Savvy brands will find unique ways to encourage and even facilitate those interactions. Even though the holiday season ends in a mere 6 weeks, try to find clever ways to weave impressions of happy customers into your ongoing brand storytelling.

For specific ideas and strategies to tackle each of these trends, click here.