Archive | May, 2015

SMM 101: How To Create a #SocialMedia Marketing Plan From the Ground Up

25 May

We all know that digital marketing is important, but with so many different strategies and techniques being used today, how can you possibly manage to implement them all?

When you’re just getting started with digital marketing, it’s best that you don’t try to tackle everything at once. Instead, to keep yourself from feeling overwhelmed, start with a single tactic and add more as you feel comfortable.

And of all the different marketing strategies out there, social media marketing is a great place to start. Social networking is one of the top online activities in the United States, with the average American spending 37 minutes per day on social media.

When you make it a point to spend time on these networks, you’ll be putting your brand in front of prospective new customers, as well as those that are on the fence between your offering and your competitors.

But just like you wouldn’t set out on a road trip without a map, you shouldn’t dive into social media marketing without a plan. Creating a social media marketing strategy from the ground up can seem intimidating, but when it comes down to it, there are actually only three steps required:

Choose Your Platforms

Although the first step in creating a social media marketing plan is to choose the social platforms on which you’ll be active, there are two important considerations you’ll want to take into account when making this decision.

The first is what you know about your company. What platforms make the most sense for your voice? Are any of your marketing team members particularly skilled at building an audience on one platform over another? How many staff hours do you have available to maintain your efforts? Answering these questions will help you determine how many channels to start with, as well as which ones fit your needs best.

The second consideration is what you know about your target customer. If you haven’t yet created a buyer persona, start there. Once you’ve got a better understanding of the kinds of people who are buying products, research where these people spend time on social media (and, since demographics often shift, do this at least once a year).

For example, while Facebook is still the top social media network for teens, the teens themselves think Instagram is more important. Similarly, LinkedIn is more popular than Twitter among adults, while Twitter has begun to skew toward male users.

Engage Your Audience

Once you’ve decided where you’ll post your content, the obvious next step is to post your content! Of course, social media marketing is about more than just posting updates for the sake of sharing. If you want to attract a following and use your social profiles to engage with your target customers, there are several factors you’ll want to keep in mind.

The first is your company’s voice. Before you begin posting, it’s vital to know what type of image your business is attempting to portray. Are you trying to be hip? Irreverent? Highly professional and authoritative? There’s no right answer here; your company’s voice online should be determined by what you believe your customers are most likely to respond to. The research you conducted earlier to complete your buyer personas should help shed some light on how you should address your followers.

You’ll also want to put some thought into the types of content you’ll post. Too many businesses fall into the trap of simply pasting blog post links onto their social profiles, but doing so doesn’t do much in the way of providing value to your audience. After all, if they wanted to read your blog posts, they could just go to your website in the first place!

So what should you post? While you can share anything from images to quotes to promotional offers, you might find it helpful to use the popular “80/20 rule” to plan your content. Following this model, 80% of your content should be informative or fun, while just 20% of your sharing should be related to your sales, product,s or services. When properly applied, this rule should help ensure that your social media efforts will be engaging without coming across as too self-promotional.

Finally, be consistent with your content posting calendar – having an irregular social network presence can be worse than not having one at all! To help maintain your schedule, be cautious about committing to more than you can consistently keep up with. Half-hearted and abandoned social media accounts say a lot about your company – and not in a good way.

Measure Your Results

Don’t just assume your social promotions are running effectively. You never really know the effects of your activities unless you measure them directly. Social media can seem like one of those “unknowable” benefits, as some claim that engagement and brand awareness can’t be counted. Nonsense! Everything worth doing can be measured in some way. And if you don’t take the time to put these measurement programs into action, you won’t know where to increase your efforts or where to quit investing time and money in things that aren’t working.

So how do you put a measurement program into action? First, you need to start by identifying the goals of your social media campaigns. Are you trying to create buzz around a new launch? Or are you using social media to build engagement and relationships? If so, what does engagement look like for you? Is it an increase in followers, a greater number of social mentions, a higher Klout score or some other metric? Without specific, stated goals, the data you capture won’t have any meaning.

In the case of engagement, one way to measure engagement is to create a point system that grades the results you’re looking for. For example, on Facebook, a share is more helpful in terms of getting your message seen by potential followers than a “Like” on your company page. With this in mind, you could create a system where a “Like” is worth one point, while a share is worth five points. Tallying up the engagement each posts receives according to your grading scale will show you what types of posts are performing best for your business.

Many social media platforms offer analytics tools that can help you know if you are meeting your goals, though if these programs aren’t sufficient, third-party tools may be able to give you a more thorough understanding of your results. Keep in mind that the majority of these tools are meant to work real-time, so you’ll need them set up before your campaign begins. Once they’re installed, though, set aside a block of time every week or month to review the data you’ve captured and use it to improve your efforts going forward.

Although it might seem complex, social media doesn’t have to be intimidating. By familiarizing yourself with these three steps – choosing your platform, engaging your audience, and measuring your results – you’ll be able to develop a social media marketing game plan that will serve your business well, now and in the future.

Do you have a plan guiding your company’s use of social media? If so, share the factors that have made it successful in the comments below!

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Small Business Marketing: Social Media Basics

18 May

There is no doubt that Social Media is an important marketing tool for any small and medium sized business.  It can be a key component in branding and even deliver leads and customer conversions.  Social Media is still growing and it’s just starting to hit its potential for providing real value to SMBs.  As this aspect of marketing continues to change and adapt, below is a list of social media basics that small to medium size business owners can use for the foreseeable future.

Optimize your Social Media Accounts:

First, keep in mind that nothing should be set on default.  It’s best to treat your social media page like you would your business website by clearly identifying your brand and what you offer.  Anybody who sees your social media profile page should easily be able to identify who you are and what you do.  Further, when filling out a social media profile, you want to fill out ALL the information.

  • Heading. Use an image that fits the dimensions. (see dimension sizes for social media networks at the bottom of this post) Use an image that appropriately represents the business. Tip:  A header image can also be an excellent place to present an offer.
  • Profile Image. Use an image that fits the dimensions. (see dimension sizes for social media networks at bottom of this post) Using an brand or logo image is a common and good practice here.
  • Description. Briefly but clearly, describe your business. Include services too as these can be seen and found as keywords.
  • Links. Obviously… have a link to your business website.

Post REAL Content:

The most optimal way to post your content is to keep it as a social intention.  Even for a business profile, you want to come off as a human. If you’re too promotional, you will lose engagement.  Yet, if your posts are interesting and/or provide VALUE, then you are more likely to engage your audience and build a following.  There is a time to post offers and deals, however if that’s ALL you do then, your audience will lose interest.

  • Creative. Spend time looking for interesting content that fits your audience. Again, try to provide value and don’t always try to just sell your stuff.
  • Frequency. Being consistent is probably the most important component of using a social media account.  This takes discipline, so use social media accounts that suit you or interest you.
  • Repeat? Repeating content to your audience is OK but you don’t repeat often.  If your audience recognizes that you are duplicating your posts, it can be a turn off.
  • Tools. If you are managing several social media accounts, you might consider a social media management tool.
  • Promote. Promoting can still work, but you really want to provide free value as much as possible.  Of course, a company’s goal is to sell.  Yet if your content is TOO salesy, you will turn people off.

Be Social:

Being active if with your business social media account is important with building an audience.  Other than posting, you should be actively reaching out others you may be interested in your business.  Friend, Follow, Connect, Pin, etc. is a great way to build relationships.

  • Respond. If somebody takes the time to comment to your post. Always reply. Try to build a conversation off your post.  Others might join in!
  • Share. Share other people’s content that is relevant to your audience.  Perhaps, they will return the favor.
  • Build Relationships. Social media is a great way to build relationships with others.  Don’t be afraid to reach out to those you don’t know but have a similar interest.  Joining or creating Facebook & LinkedIn Groups or Twitter Lists, is a great way to do this.

Buy Advertising:

If you strictly want to promote your content, then buying adverting is the best way to do this.  Social media platforms are great for paid advertising because they have excellent targeting abilities.  Paid ads on social media are becoming the norm.  With recent changes, you have to buy advertising to get a significant amount of non friends/followers to see your content.  Putting money behind your posts allows a larger reach to your extended audience.  This already holds true with Facebook, and other Social Media platforms are soon to follow.

Extra:

Multiple Platforms:   Don’t get stuck on just Facebook.  Some social media platforms work better for certain industries.  It might take some experimenting to find the best one for your business.
SEO:  There is a real and growing relationship with Social Media and SEO.   Social integration is an important SEO strategy.
Website Links:  Do you have social integration on your business website?   Are your social media icons in an obvious location?
Image:  When it comes to creating posts, engagement is your goal.  Spicing up your content with an image is a must.  But be creative.
Video:  Same as Image.

 

How to Make Time for Social Media Marketing

11 May

With everything else required to keep your business up and running, finding time for social media marketing can be a challenge. You know you need to do it, but trying to find the time to fit it into your already packed schedule can feel like an uphill battle.

Commit to a specific time each day for social media.

Without a solid plan in place to accomplish goals, they often go by the wayside. That is why most people fail at resolutions, such as exercising more. They lack a definitive plan for doing so. Making a daily time commitment can help to keep you accountable, and ensure you do not procrastinate to the point that you never actually get around to handling your social media goals.

In determining how much time you will spend on social media marketing each day, remember to keep it reasonable and realistic. Setting goals that are too lofty will often result in failure. Instead, make a commitment to tweeting twice a day or sharing one piece of content on Facebook daily. Even a small investment in social media marketing each day can help yourbrand to accomplish more than you could imagine.

Take the step to block out the amount of time you wish to dedicate to social media on your calendar. Set an alarm on your phone. Do whatever it takes to make sure you have a block of uninterrupted time during which you are working on your social media marketing goals.

Follow the KISS method.

Far too often, brands fail to make time for social media marketing because they over-think it. Simplifying your social media marketing plans when you are getting started or making your way out of a rut will ensure you at least have a steady stream of relevant content. Remember, you do not have to become a social media marketing guru overnight. The key is to think about who you are marketing to, and focus on building content that your audience will enjoy and find valuable.

Stop trying to do it all on your own.

Social media is pervasive and massive. You simply cannot handle it all on your own, especially if you have limited time to dedicate to it daily. The good news is there are tools available to help you maximize the amount of time that you do have.

Rather than spending hours digging for relevant content to share, consider using tools such as Swayy, Feedly or Nuzzel to discover top news stories. Not sure who you should be following in the world of social media? Tools like TwitNerd take all of the guess work out of it by providing a Follow by Keyword feature that allows you to input any keyword or phrase and identify Twitter influencers.

Carving out time for social media marketing is a challenge, but it is worth the effort and the investment. Nielson reports that 33 percent of consumersprefer to contact companies over social media rather than the phone. If you are not investing in social media marketing, you are likely missing customers. Make time for social media marketing now.

3 Tips to Maximize the Synergy of Social Media and Content Marketing

4 May

Are social media marketing and content marketingtwo disparate entities, or could they perhaps be a marriage made in heaven?

Unfortunately, many brands approach both as if one has nothing to do with the other. The simple fact is that social media marketing cannot function without content. If you have no content, you have nothing to share, tweet or post. Without valuable content, you cannot drive engagement on social media. Therefore, it only stands to reason that content serve as the heart of any successful social media marketing campaign.

With that said, unlike traditional content marketing, content within the sphere of social media marketing must serve specific purposes. To be effective, content for social media marketing must be designed to fit the parameters of specific platforms and, furthermore, must be developed to either generate discussion or provide an open dialogue for current customers. The tips below will guide you through the process of bringing social media and content marketing together.

1. A/B test content for effectiveness with your audience.

Simply publishing content on social media and hoping it sticks is not an effective plan. Testing a variety of content and messages across different networks can help you to determine which type of content resonates best with your audience.

If you only publish one piece of content and you do not receive the response you expected, you may never know exactly what was wrong with it. A/B testing can give you the insight you need to determine how to best connect with specific audiences.

2. Optimize content for specific social media networks.

Your audience can choose from a range of different social media networks. Whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest, each social media network has its unique audience and features. Ignoring these unique qualities is tantamount to disaster in terms of social media marketing.

By contrast, taking the time to ensure that the content you publish on each platform is optimized for that specific channel will give you a far greater chance to connect with the audiences most likely to frequent that platform.

For instance, while Twitter has a strict 140-character limit and demands concise but powerful content, content on Facebook is far more flexible, but typically requires the inclusion of a photo or video in order to gain traction.

3. Tap your audience for ideas.

Take the time to ask your followers and fans for suggestions regarding the types of content that interests them. There are also tools you can leverage to determine the types of content most likely to gain traction in your social media marketing, such asNexalogy, which can generate a map of the types of topics that your followers and fans are discussing.

Social media provides a venue for giving your content its own voice. With careful planning, you can bring content marketing and social media together to create a highly successful social media marketing campaign.