Part 2: Beyond simple posts – What capabilities do social platforms provide that can differentiate you from your competition?

More and more brands are flocking to social media with high hopes of leveraging this new medium to engage users and increase brand recognition. Unfortunately, most brands don't fully understand the dynamics behind social media, and end up running a campaign that gets mediocre acceptance and fails to meet expectations.

To expand upon this, most brands flock to Facebook and Twitter specifically because they see their competitors there. While I can appreciate not wanting to be leapfrogged in the market, but there's a lot to take into consideration before initiating a social campaign. Over the course of five posts (this is part two) I will be diving into the social fundamentals to help you better understand, plan, implement, and measure your next social campaign.

1. Why do your customers use social media?

2. Beyond simple posts - what capabilities do social platforms provide that can differentiae you from the competition?

3. Why would your customers want to engage with your brand on a specific social medium, and what should you say?

4. How do you successfully plan out a social media content calendar?

5. How to measure the success of your social media campaign, and what tools should you leverage?

Beyond simple posts – What capabilities do social platforms provide that can differentiate you from your competition?

Overcoming the social noise and ensuring your voice is heard is becoming an increasingly more difficult task for brands. Luckily, social platforms provide additional functionality beyond simple posts via an application programming interface (API) brands can leverage to engage their audience at a deeper level. Developers have been building tools on top of social APIs for years now, so there's an abundance of apps you can immediately implement.

Just about every social network has some sort of API, but for the sake of this post we are going to focus on Facebook and Twitter. It's important to understand the difference between Facebook and Twitter when it comes to 3rd party applications. Facebook apps tend to be more about enriching content, expanding user functionality, and adding additional social touch points and increased organic growth. Twitter apps, on the other hand, are more focused on understanding your audience, trends, and discovering followers like you.

Facebook – Basic Apps

A ton of Facebook apps have already been developed; you can find a complete list in Facebook's App Directory. While most don't apply to brands, there are a few that make a perfect addition to a brand's page. While I will be covering a few apps to take a look at, it's important to understand your brand's goals and objectives first.

YouTube: If you host video content on YouTube, this app is a must have for your Facebook Page. Adding this app will create a new tab in your Facebook Page and will pull all your YouTube video clips.

Poll: A great way to engage your users while finding out more about them is through polls. The Poll app provides brands the ability to quickly and easily create and deploy a poll within its Facebook Page. Users can also share polls with their friends.

Livestream: The simplest way to broadcast your events live on the Internet, Facebook Page, and to mobile devices. Facebook chat and an integrated video library have also been integrated ensuring your audience is engaged before, during, and after your live broadcast. Fans can invite friends, share, and even add your channel to their profile tabs for maximum viral distribution.

Reviews: This app allows your fans and customers to leave honest opinions about your business. Reviews lets your prospective fans know what to expect with you and can influence people interacting with your business.

Static FBML: This app allows your brand to create a custom tab within your Facebook Page. This application will add a box to your Page in which you can render HTML or FBML (Facebook Markup Language) for enhanced Page customization. Some good examples of Static FBML apps are: Oreo, Disney, and Skittles.

Facebook –Social Plugins

Facebook also has a suite of tools that help promote your Facebook Page on your website and other web properties. These Social Plugins allow your users to see what their friends have liked, commented on or shared on sites across the web. From Facebook:

Like Button: The Like button lets users share pages from your site back to their Facebook profile with one click.

Activity Feed: The Activity Feed plugin shows users what their friends are doing on your site through likes and comments.

Recommendations: The Recommendations plugin gives users personalized suggestions for pages on your site they might like.

Like Box: The Like Box enables users to like your Facebook Page and view its stream directly from your website.

Login Button: The Login Button shows profile pictures of the user's friends who have already signed up for your site in addition to a login button.

Registration: The registration plugin allows users to easily sign up for your website with their Facebook account.

Facepile: The Facepile plugin displays the Facebook profile pictures of users who have liked your page or have signed up for your site.

Comments: The Comments plugin lets users comment on any piece of content on your site.

Live Stream: The Live Stream plugin lets your users share activity and comments in real-time as they interact during a live event.

Twitter Apps

Twitter apps are more focused on understanding your audience and conversation. I've found Twitter apps to be more time consuming to research and harder to quantify from a value add perspective. One post that has helped me in this process is The Only Twitter Application List You'll Ever Need. A more detailed list of Twitter apps can be found on the Twitter Fan Wiki.

Wefollow: Provides a good understanding of influencers based on category. Additionally, WeFollow allows you to identify influencers based on topics. The first step in building a successful Twitter following is to follow the right people and inject yourself in the conversation. Wefollow is a great tool to achieve this.

Klout: This is a great site for understanding the social influence of specific Twitter users. Klout breaks a Twitter user down based on a number of criteria – score, amplification, true treach, etc.

Tweetdeck: Tweetdeck is a great desktop application for monitoring Twitter usage, trends, and keywords. Additionally, Tweetdeck offers a directory identifying influencers based on specific categories.

TweetRiver: TweetRiver is a powerful tool by Mass Relevance for displaying curated Twitter content. If your brand has a store location or does local events, TweetRiver is a great tool to create relevant engagement for your audience. TweetRiver lets you bring in Tweets based on keyword, geographic location, Twitter accounts, Twitter lists, followers, and other user specified criteria.

Twitter – Web Plugins

Similar to Facebook Social Plugins, there are a number of 3rd party Twitter plugins that allow you to inject the conversation into your blog or website. If your blog is built on WordPress, there are a number of Twitter plugins that are specifically designed for this platform. If you're looking for a web plugin for your website, Juitter is an easy plugin that doesn't cost any money.

Make sure to tune in to Part 3: Why would your customers want to engage with your brand on a specific social medium, and what should you say? You can read Part 1 here.

Ryan Huber is an entrepreneur, high tech marketer, salesman, product guy, and a bit of a dreamer. There's nothing more exciting, in my eyes, then taking an idea and making it a reality. He can be reached at

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