Archive | May, 2016

4 Step Social Media Marketing Strategy That PAYS

30 May

Some trends are so hot that they take off right from the starting gate, dragging us along with them. Social media is just such a trend. In fact, social media is more than a trend as it is here to stay.

But because social media has grown so fast, most marketers have been forced to learn how to use it “on the job.” Is it worth it – the learning curve? According to the 78 percent of salespeople who regularly outsell their competitors by effectively using a social media strategy, it sure is!

In this post, learn how to develop a social media strategy that pays.

Social + Media = Sales

There are two key aspects to understanding, how social media is designed to work.

It is social. The social aspect is about developing ongoing authentic relationships with people.

It is informational. The media aspect is about using web tools to share accurate, useful information.

When you develop a social media marketing strategy that is both highly social and highly informational, it becomes easier to cultivate relationships that in time can lead to sales.

Nurture Your Leads

Because social media is actually attempting to replace face-to-face human contact with posts, pictures, stats and charts, this isn’t a medium where you can expect to “just click” with a prospect, make a sale and be on to the next sales call 5 minutes later.

Rather, you will need to be patient as you nurture relationships with prospects with an eye towards making a sale or gaining a referral for the future.

In other words, you can’t rush the sales pitch via social media – not if you want to make the sale!

Know Which Channel to Use for What

Different social media channels can be more effective for different purposes.

For example, 80 percent of social media users state they prefer to make contact with companies and brands via Facebook as opposed to other social channels.

With Twitter, longer tweets produce more link click-through than their shorter counterparts.

And a full 43 percent of salespeople have used LinkedIn successfully to find new clients (for Twitter, the same holds true for 36 percent of salespeople).

So here, it is critical to study each channel and play to its strengths when you are nurturing leads with the aim to generate sales.

Use Landing Pages Effectively

Where many talented and otherwise well-educated social media marketers still mess up is during the phase when the prospect is redirected from the social media channel to the business’s website.

You want to design a landing page that has two options: buy or leave. This simplifies the prospect’s options without sacrificing the still-developing relationship.

The Bottom Line

By understanding how social media is set up to work, what each channel’s unique strengths are and how to use landing pages to play to those strengths, you can join the growing ranks of businesses successfully using social media to sell products and services, generate referrals and cultivate customer loyalty over the long-term.

A Reminder: Social Media is Not a “Marketing Tool”!

23 May

There’s no let up: the “10 ways to get 20,000 Instagram followers” articles are replacing the same ones for Twitter, advocating similar techniques. A whole new batch of small business owners and marketers are being instructed in the magic arts of marketing domination via social media.

Those techniques are mostly variations on a theme, involving a combination of (at the simplest end) buying followers, and (at the more labour intensive, and masquerading as a genuine marketing skill end) following large numbers of more-or-less-carefully targeted users in the hope that they’ll follow you back. Usually not just following them, either – often you’ll be told to Like or Favourite multiple images or posts, or comment in some generic way to suggest a real interest in that user.

Meanwhile, an increasing number of marketers are arriving on all these platforms. Whilst growth has slowed a little on Facebook, Instagram is definitely flavour of the month (year, probably!) among businesses wanting to be part of its relatively responsive and active community.

And even though we absolutely think that businesses should be part of these communities, we can’t help wondering whether their presence is a benefit overall. Because the problem with “techniques” like those I mentioned above, is that it’s all fake. You don’t actually Like those images, or have any interest in what that user is going to publish in the future. You don’t care about the answer to the superficial questions you ask. It’s all about getting attention.

Now multiply that by hundreds and thousands of others all doing the same thing, and throw in the spammy “follower collector” individual users too, and what you end up with is an entire ecosystem of users who couldn’t care less about anything being said or done on the platform, so long as their web stats go up.

In case we really need a reminder, this is NOT what social media is about. It’s not what made it exciting when it first arrives, and it isn’t what keeps people coming back.

When we see how many businesses are working this way on Twitter and Instagram, we feel genuinely sorry for those marketers who are slaving away, day after day, clicking through user lists in a desperate bid to get their numbers up. Once that’s done, often by gaining reciprocal followers from other marketers doing the same thing, both of them are in the miserable position of trying to get genuine engagement from the other…see how this goes? It’s futile, exhausting, and massively dilutes the value of the social media site.

Back to reality

The cure for this is really pretty simple: stop looking at Social Media as a “tool”. It’s not. It’s a channel to allow other people to find and interact with you, and the thing about other people is that they’re unpredictable. No matter how much you’d love a 200% increase in followers / web visits / whatever, you can’t force it to happen.

If you step away from that perspective, and shift your focus to other things, it’ll be more enjoyable for everyone concerned. So, here are the top activities those businesses should do in the time liberated from hours of mindless clicking:

One: RESPOND. Look out for mentions of your business or brand, and be appreciative. Deal really thoroughly with questions, don’t just refer users to your website. Celebrate user generated content that’s relevant to what you do.

Two: CREATE. Be as creative and critical as you can of what you’re adding to the huge pool of content already out there. Make it worthwhile. The best possible images, the most thoughtful features. Share as much of the “behind the scenes” of your business as you can.

If you need a third activity, and want to get back into the numbers comfort zone a little, EVALUATE. There’s nothing wrong with spending some time analysing what type of content (articles, videos, images) and what topics, seem to please your audience most. That’s really part of being responsive.

But quit the manipulative stuff. In the long run, it won’t work. And in the short term, it’ll make your job tiresome as hell.

Do’s and Don’ts to Succeed in Social Media Marketing

16 May

Are you just getting started with social media marketing?

Or have you been on a site for awhile but you’re not getting the results you want?

You need to learn the do’s and don’ts so that you can maximize your efforts on these sites. You’ll minimize the time and resources you invest on your social media marketing, and you’ll get more results in less time.

Here are the top do’s and don’ts to succeed in social media marketing:

Content

Creating the right content is a cornerstone of your social media campaign.

Some do’s for content creation include:

  • Post often. The rules vary by the site, but you should aim to post on Facebook three to five times per day and on Twitter eight to 10 times per day.
  • Share your own content. If you don’t have enough to keep up with your social media publishing demands, write more content.
  • Share reliable sources. When you are curating content, make sure you read it first, and make sure it has something valuable to offer your readers and is from a reliable source.
  • Share a variety of posts. Don’t create the same post type too often, and don’t share the same links too often. If you do share the same link (at all), make sure the posts are spaced out.

Some don’ts for sharing content include:

  • Share too much. You want to stay top-of-mind, but you don’t want to look like a spammer. Post too much, and you’ll annoy and alienate your followers.
  • Share irrelevant information. Don’t share filler content just to have something to post. Make sure that everything you share is narrowly focused for your target audience.
  • Share other people’s content too frequently. Content curation is valuable, but oversharing other people’s content too often just promotes other brands over your own. Make sure you are maintaining the right balance.
  • Be inconsistent. Don’t post a lot one week and then not at all the next. Your followers won’t know what to expect, and they won’t feel engaged with your brand.

Audience

Your audience is your core focus in your social media marketing.

Here are some do’s for how you should approach your audience:

  • Define your target audience. Don’t go after likes and followers just for the sake of numbers. Make sure you are getting the audience who would actually be interested in your products and services.
  • Create goals. “Get more followers” is not a great goal. However, “get 10 more followers per week” is a good goal because it is specific and easily measurable. Set and track goals for audience growth and engagement.
  • Follow back. If someone follows you, follow them back to show that you are serious about relationship building. Also follow people who are likely to follow you back.
  • When someone comments, comment back. If someone tags you, comment. If someone shares or retweets you, thank them. Engaging your audience will encourage more interaction, which will help you get more exposure.

Some don’ts for your audience include:

  • Buy followers. The followers are almost always fake profiles, and they offer no real value to your company. Even if you use those inflated numbers to sell ads, you’ll lose your advertisers once they realize they aren’t getting the results they thought they would.
  • Focus on sales. Sure, you want to increase your sales, but your audience wants to be entertained or educated. If you are always trying to sell them things, they will leave.
  • Limit yourself to social media. Encourage your followers to go to your site, which is where they’ll become leads or customers.

User Engagement

User engagement is key to your success on social media.

Here’s how you can encourage it:

  • Ask questions. Open-ended questions promote conversation, which will get your users talking and make them feel invested.
  • Ask for opinions. People love to share their thoughts. Give them an opportunity to do it, and they will feel more committed to the conversation.
  • If you want your followers to be engaged, you also need to be engaged. Respond to comments and encourage a real back-and-forth.
  • Say thank you. When people share your content or retweet you, say thank you. People are helping you out by promoting your content, so be sure you show your gratitude or else they may not do it again.

A few things you should not do include:

  • Asking for promotions. Again, no one likes to deal with spammers. If you ask people to share your content or promote your business, most will ignore you and stop following you.
  • Ignore messages and comments. People go out of their way to send you a direct message or to comment on your posts. Ignoring these efforts tells followers that you don’t care.
  • Get into fights. Always maintain a professional demeanor. Being rude or getting into a verbal sparring match will only make you look bad, no matter how poorly the other person is behaving. Hold up your reputation by rising above.

Use these tips and you’ll be well on your way to social media success!

4 Best Practices in Social Media Marketing

9 May

These days, everyone has at least one social media account. Social media is often the first source people turn to when seeking local products or services, so it’s crucial for your business’ social media marketing strategies to work. Yet how do you know if your social media campaign is successful, and how do you change what might not be working without sacrificing what clients want to see? The answer may lie in analyzing the following four best practices in social media marketing of 2016.

Use Demographics to Drive Quality Traffic

There is a difference between traffic and quality traffic. Your website can have thousands of visitors daily, but if they aren’t interacting with your content in the right ways, they’re actually driving your SEO rankings down. When it comes to social media, quality traffic comes from the sites that engage the most unique visitors. In other words, 6,000 views from 6,000 different people are better than 60,000 from a small core group.

Statistics from YouTube show a high number of highly engaged visitors. This is because YouTube centers on videos, which are visually and audibly engaging. In addition, YouTube is the most popular social media network because it can reach such a wide demographic base. Unlike Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks, YouTube doesn’t restrict access with age requirements and other limitations. Everyone can find something to view there, from the four-year-old watching PBS with a parent to the senior citizen learning how to use the latest technology through video courses.

If you want your website to generate quality traffic, you’ll have to reach a broad demographic as well. This isn’t to say that you can’t have an ideal audience member or group; you can and should. After all, even the most popular YouTube videos were once aimed at specific people. However, your ideal audience member can’t be the only person you reach. Your content must vary enough, and be of good enough quality that almost all clients will be interested in one type or another.

Pay Attention to Social Referrals

Social referrals are exactly what they sound like. They occur when users refer each other to social media sites. No website starts out with hundreds of referrals. Like friendships in real life, they take time to build. That being said, you should take advantage of the social referrals you have, and tailor content so it generates more. Talk to your audience through online polls, newsletters or emails, or in person, to find out what kind of content they want to see or the issues they want it to address. Additionally, find out what types of content your core audience responds to. If you have a great number of visual people in your audience, focus more on pictures, videos, and social media sites like Pinterest or Instagram. If your visitors enjoy reading, you can use blog posts, photos with captions, or sites like Snapchat or Twitter to keep their attention.

Remember that numbers are not always the most important factor when it comes to social referrals. The Share-a-Holic study that found YouTube was so popular also found that Google+ and LinkedIn received few referrals overall. However, they received higher-quality visitors. Researchers discovered that visitors spent over three minutes at a time “diving” into the subjects that interested them. This is because LinkedIn and especially Google+ have mastered the art of organizing their subjects and data so that users from several niches can always find the information they want. For example, Google+ users who love crime shows can find thriving communities, but so can people who prefer one specific type of show, like Monk or NYPD Blue. If you organize your content similarly, you will likely generate more social media traffic.

Be Realistic and Cost-Effective

There is no point in launching a social media strategy that looks great if your resources can’t back it up. Many business owners get in trouble because they do exactly that; they plan a content calendar too big for their writers and editors to handle, or they promise massive amounts of content when realistically, their writers can only handle 5 to 10 posts per writer per week. It’s tempting to want to try every social media strategy available, particularly when you’re a new business owner eager to prove yourself. Instead, sit down and make a social media plan first. Choose one or two new strategies to try, or think up ways to improve on or retool old ones that still work for you. Consult with employees and investors to determine where your resources are, as well as if you can afford more and where to find them. Additionally, make sure your goals are measurable. “We’re going to become the leader in online book marketing” isn’t measurable because you haven’t defined “leader” or given yourself benchmarks that tell you if you are making progress. A better goal might be, “We’re going to generate X number of posts, centered on Y type of content, per week. This will allow us to sell Z amount of books by June 2016.”

Base Your Strategies on Facts – and More than One Fact

Talking to your audience is a wonderful way to start improving your business. That said, much of what you’ll hear about your content from a core audience will be based on opinion. You need to ensure your social media strategies are backed up with facts. Your team should ideally have marketing experts that are constantly researching trends, content strategies, financial planning and other factors. Consistently ask these people for up-to-date reports, and use what you learn to create the content you need. Finally, make sure your marketing team is spending equal time on different facets of business and using best practices in social media marketing. If the team knows all it can about financial planning but not enough about content strategy, you will miss several opportunities to grow.

6 Tools to Develop an Outstanding Social Media Marketing Strategy

2 May

In today’s technological world, it seems that social media dominates everything. This can make it difficult for a company to stand out. Big companies as well as smaller companies and entrepreneurs will be all over social media, trying to gain the attention of customers. All of this can make it harder for the less social media-adept companies to get a foothold among their competitors.

All of these companies want to get in on the social media craze and use it to their advantage, to advertise and market themselves to all the users out there. But there are so many different social media channels out there, and so many different ways to market on social media. What can a company do to make themselves stand out among the crowd of other companies on social media? What strategies are there they could use?

1. Twitter.
Twitter is a very popular social media channel. It’s a great way to build a following and keep in contact with your customers. However, it can be tricky as it limits your posts to 140 characters, and it’s fast-paced. It’s demanding in that it requires constant communication with your followers. If you can handle that, one way to stand out on Twitter is to send a thank you any time your company gets mentioned. Try to respond to questions the same day, or within the hour if possible. Add symbols and emoticons for a fun twist to your posts as a way to cultivate interest in your posts while also making them shorter and easier to read.

2. Facebook.
Facebook recently changed up their algorithms, so brands are getting less exposure. This makes it more important for them to stand out. One way for this is make short and simple posts. Longer posts tend to not perform as well. Also, asking questions rather than making statements tends to increase interaction.

Pinning posts is also a good tactic, especially for drawing attention to current specials or important information. Experiment with Facebook ads, too.

3. Images.
Use images when you can. It doesn’t matter what it is — a photo of a favorite celebrity, a pretty landscape, a cute animal, a colorful infographic or a fun GIF. A photo or animation will catch the eye and more than likely make them stop browsing long enough to look. It will also help with your SEO optimization. Videos also work well for this.

4. Content.
Content is king. Remember that. Once your image has caught their eye, the viewer will be looking for the content behind the photo. What they read will determine if they click through. So provide content that will make them want to click. Be sure to keep your target audience in mind when creating your content. What will catch their attention? What are they looking for from you? What answers can you provide to their questions?

5. Build a community.
Don’t just look for followers. Build a community with them. Put some personality and humor into your brand with your posts. You want to be “social”, after all. That means you need to entertain your followers once in a while. And remember to converse directly with your followers. Interact with them. Like and respond to their posts. Retweet them. And ask them to interact directly with your posts.

6. Campaigns.
To keep your audience engaged, you need to be engaging as well. One way to do that is run cross-channel campaigns on all you social platforms. But while anyone can run a contest or campaign like this, to stand out you need to make yours have a charitable, inspirational, or emotional component to it — something that will tug at the heartstrings of whoever is reading about it. If your company is already involved in some sort of volunteer work, this is a good way to inspire and engage followers. How do you do this across channels? 1. Tell a powerful story. Use short quotes about if you have to, and link back to your website so they can find out more. 2. Brand your campaign with a unique name and hashtags to make it memorable and stand out.

These are just a few ways to make your social media marketing stand out. Good luck!