A&E Asks with Rags, Part 3

A&E Asks: Kelly 'Rags' Ragland on Social Media Platforms for Business

Welcome to A&E Asks: Five Minutes with… where one-on-one interviews with industry professionals are featured in a Q&A format. These interviews share the experiences, opinions and ideas of some of the industry’s best-known individuals.

In Part Three of this series, we discuss trends and insights on different social media platforms with expert Kelly “Rags” Ragland of Rags to Stitches Productions. Stay tuned for Part Four, where we’ll discuss best Facebook and Twitter practices.

What is the function or role of the different social media platforms in business? (For example, is LinkedIn geared more toward B2B companies? What’s Facebook and Twitter’s role?)

I view all of them as a simple study in demographics and appeal rather than areas with specific features, pros, and cons. Different age groups, for example, will fall into places that cannot be projected as the internet evolves. Remember when MySpace was relevant? Now that has gone by the wayside with the introduction of other platforms such as Pinterest and Google+. The youngest of internet users are all using Snapchat, where posts vanish from cyberspace within 24 hours. What will be popular in two or three years from now?

All social media users have their own individual preferences, which change over time. Each platform also changes the way it presents features, functions, and activities. There is no clear answer to distinguishing them from an online marketing perspective. Because users move around and each form of technology changes, my advice is to use them all. Consider the possibility of Facebook crumbling five years from now. What if everyone moved over to Google+ or Twitter? Establish a presence on all platforms so you don’t have to start from scratch.

What are some new social media platforms awards retailers should capitalize on?

Pinterest has been the latest one to really make an impact. As it has grown in popularity, there is a wider range of demographics within its users and search engines like the way content is presented. With a site that is image-driven, your products have a spotlight to sell themselves. It’s a great way to create online catalogs and improve your SEO ranking and online presence.

What advice would you give to an awards retailer looking to create an account on Instagram?

Having little personal experience with Instagram, I am currently applying simple strategies—using keyword-friendly image captions, relevant hashtags, and eye-catching, sharp images.

What, if any, are the benefits of a business using Snapchat?

Not too long ago, my research on Snapchat led me to the conclusion that, demographically, its users range from young to younger. Because posts disappear in 24 hours, I formed the opinion that it has little value for internet marketing unless your business targets the younger demographic in what is almost a real-time chat environment such as live events such as some televised awards show or sporting event. People on Snapchat post back and forth in real time; to catch them, you must be there with them in real time. Jump into a conversation and quickly decide a strategy for engagement.

Is LinkedIn still relevant?

Certainly. Many internet users view LinkedIn as a professional, business-minded place to be. For some, it is a sign of credibility.

Whatever happened to Google+?

Google+ is still there and is still connected to your account. And while it has far less daily users and engagement than sites like Facebook or Twitter, it is a Google property and Google likes it. With that, ignoring Google+ is a mistake. Consider this: who knows when your social media posts will be crawled or discovered by search engines and bots (if at all), but when you post something to Google+, their machines know it is there immediately. If there is one thing that has remained stable and true in internet marketing over the years, it is the fact that the more Google knows about your business, the better off you’ll be.

How can businesses stay up-to-date in the ever-evolving practice of online marketing?

You have to read quite a bit—whether it’s through a magazine subscription, email newsletter, or following the right accounts on social media. The internet changes rapidly and that information doesn’t just land in your lap. I spend an hour or more each day monitoring things as they go and bookmark longer reads for the weekends. A business owner could stay informed by reading a monthly publication or a few emails per week with their morning coffee.

What are some educational resources?

Constant Contact offers a fantastic email marketing tool for creating and managing email campaigns. It also provides a steady flow of tips, tricks, email templates, marketing strategies, and ideas to help you along the way.

HootSuite is an online tool for managing multiple social media accounts. By following it on social media or subscribing to its newsletters, you can have a constant supply of current social media trends, news, marketing tips, and more.

Finally, follow Google. Keeping up to speed on the latest trends and algorithms is vital to stay relevant in its house of technical mayhem.

Want to learn more about the latest trends and best marketing practices online? Check out Part One and Part Two of the A&E Asks series with expert Kelly “Rags” Ragland as he dives into online, social media, and mobile marketing, as well as how to blog as a business.