Archive | April, 2017

5 Social Media Marketing Myths and Their Realities

24 Apr

As social media marketers, we have a lot to learn and adapt to on a daily basis. With each new day, there are new trends and tactics for us to adopt or dismiss. How do we determine which way to go?

With each new trend or tactic, there’s the chance it isn’t all it’s hyped up to be. The potential is there, but is it worth your own time, efforts, and even your budget? Some social media marketing techniques work, but too many times I see people fall for the wrong ones.

I wrote this article to help you avoid the social media marketing myths and empower you with their alternative best practices. It is with this list that you can strengthen your social marketing without falling for the most common traps.

1) There’s a universal best time to publish on social for everyone

I see them everywhere: “Post on Facebook at 1pm on Wednesdays! Tweet every day at 11am! Don’t post on LinkedIn on weekends!” All these recommendations for best times to publish on social media present a problem instead of the solution.

The problem is: now everyone is going to think that they need to publish content at those times.

With everyone posting on Facebook at 1pm on Wednesdays, they’re all going to see their posts get lost amongst the overwhelming supply of content. Now that Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram use algorithms to filter users’ feeds, it’s even more important that social marketers be strategic with their timing.

Best Practices:

Do your own research to create a custom “best times to publish” document. Make one that fits with your own target audience and industry. A great idea is to add your research findings to your overall social media strategy and calendar.

If you’re just getting started with a platform, you can use the standard recommendations in the beginning, but don’t rely on them for long. It’s important that you experiment with your own accounts to see what days and times work best for your brand.

Use platform analytics and third-party tools to get more insight into what’s working and when. You’ll need to determine whether it was the content or the timing that worked.

Once you have a good schedule set up, should you stick with it forever? No. As with everything, your audience, content, and the platform you’re on will all change. You’ll need to continuously adjust your schedule accordingly.

2) Your brand should participate in viral trends

Too often I see brands hop onto the latest trending hashtag just to receive significant backlash. Yes, there are the standard daily trends: “#MotivationMonday,” for example. These aren’t the ones you have to be wary about. It’s the ones that cover current events that have the highest risk.

Sometimes I see marketers recommend participating in viral trends. A few even recommend controversy. This isn’t a good idea for most businesses. You have a brand reputation at stake at the very minimum. At the worst, you also run the risk of sales damage.

If you don’t need to post about a viral trend, you shouldn’t. If your target audience isn’t interested in seeing your opinion on a viral trend, don’t participate. If you know it holds no value for your business and its audience, you are better off focusing your efforts on other techniques.

Best Practices:

Marketers often see backlash from participating in viral trends because they didn’t research the topic properly. This is a big mistake. Even if you heavily research what the topic is about, you also need to consider:

  • Is this relevant to my business or industry?
  • Is my target audience following this trend?
  • Is this trend at all controversial?
  • Will my contribution be inappropriate in any way?

Be careful which trends you participate in, when, and how:

  • You’ll know which trends when you answer the above questions.
  • You’ll know when to participate by following trends on Twitter and Facebook. You’ll want to hop onboard before the trend gets old, but do your research first.
  • You’ll know how because you’ll have an established social media strategy and great content team. With plenty of monitoring and content brainstorming, you can create a contribution that works for that trend and its audience.

3) Your business should be available in real-time 24/7/365

This just isn’t practical for many businesses, especially SMBs. While social media support offerings are a must in today’s social environment, it’s not a tactic SMBs can offer in real-time, full-time.

With Twitter customer service leading to increased revenue and customer satisfaction, more businesses are spreading their resources thin in an effort to earn those results. It’s simply not something all businesses can offer.

Best Practices:

If your business cannot afford a fully-human, real-time support offering, you have options. You want to be able to respond to your audience quickly and effectively, but you don’t have the manpower to do this. What can you do?

Facebook introduced Messenger bots last April during the F8 Conference. Their primary purpose is to give brands a way to automate their customer service through private messaging. The most important part about bots you need to keep in mind is: they are not a 100% automation solution. You still need to monitor questions during the times when your business is open. Bots can’t answer all customer messages, so make sure you’re checking in on what’s been happening while you were away.

You also have another option for being there when it counts. Use a tool that will collect and organize your interactions in one place. You want to find a tool that will make responding faster and easier. The more efficient you are, the less resources you invest. Respond by Buffer is just one example of such a tool. You can also try Hootsuite or Mention.

4) Facebook marketing is dead

A while back, a popular blog site I follow quit Facebook. They stated the lack of organic reach and engagement to be their reasons for the departure. They couldn’t see a return on their investment without being forced to pay for promoted posts and ads.

Are these reasons valid enough to give up on Facebook? The honest answer is: it depends.

Not every business will see the same issues the example above had. Organic reach still has potential despite the Facebook algorithm. Some businesses may even find Facebook to be their best platform for audience engagement. It’s about offering quality content. It doesn’t always have to be about ads and boosted posts.

Does this mean the blog site I mentioned was wrong in their decision? Absolutely not.

Facebook isn’t right for everyone. If you’re not seeing engagement – if your reach is below 2% – if you’re being forced to pay to be seen… Facebook may not be the right platform for you, and that’s okay. It may mean your target audience is more active elsewhere, so it’s better you focus your resources to that platform anyway.

Best Practices:

Facebook’s algorithm makes your page presence much more limited than it used to be. Thankfully, you don’t always have to invest financially to get your posts seen. With the following Facebook strategies, you can improve your organic reach to improve both exposure and engagement:

  • Experiment with content types. You don’t want to keep using link posts if they aren’t getting anywhere. Try using images and video. Give live streaming a try. Monitor and measure what works for your own audience. Stick to what works, but keep experimenting to find other effective content types.
  • Engage with your followers. Ask questions or host a contest. Ask for user-generated content to feature on your page. The more you initiate engagement, the more likely your audience will respond. Your fans will appreciate your efforts to listen and interact, so this is a great way to get more engagement and thus, reach.
  • Know when your best publishing times are. If your fans are asleep, it won’t help for your reach if you post during that time. On the other hand, if you did your research to find out when they’re most active on Facebook, you’ll see better results in reach and engagement. Check your page’s Insights section for this information.
  • Make your content relevant and helpful. You’ll see more of your fans engage and view your content (click-through) when you share content that is highly useful to them. You don’t want to publish content that they won’t care about. Instead, it’s essential that you know who your fans are and what they want to see from you.

Now, the question is: are you able to commit the necessary resources to create and share the right content for your Facebook audience? If they want to see live video, can you consistently create them? Images are key on Facebook. Can you create and post them on a daily basis?

If you’re having trouble seeing your business invest in all that effort, you might have better luck looking for your target audience on other platforms. However, if your audience is most active on Facebook, you should definitely consider making the necessary changes to your strategy to make your business capable.

5) Your business needs to be active on all the most popular platforms

Not long ago, I came across an article that listed the top social media platforms for marketers. In the article, the author gives you convincing data and reasons for why each platform is important. It’s a handy article if you’re looking for that information.

The problem is: why is the focus on marketers’ benefits? I appreciate the information I see, but it’s missing a key component: why is each platform important to the user? Or, better yet, how are users engaging with businesses on each platform? The author gives you examples, but where is the information about how and why each is effective?

You may also see articles like that one, which convince you to hop onboard the latest, most popular social network. Unfortunately though, this isn’t always the right approach. Your focus shouldn’t be on joining the top platforms. Sometimes, when you don’t research and measure properly first, you can make the mistake of joining a platform that won’t benefit your business.

Best Practices:

When you’re deciding whether to join a platform, your primary focus shouldn’t be on its overall user statistics or general activity capabilities. These are secondary compared to what’s most important.

Your first priority should be on researching whether your own target audience is not only on the platform but also active there. That’s right. They can’t simply have a silent account there. If you want to see a high reach and engagement, you need to be on the platform(s) where that will happen.

Only once you know your audience is both there and active should you start considering the following:

  • Is my business relevant to the platform’s typical content? A B2B might have a Facebook audience, but are they looking for your presence there or do they prefer to interact with you on LinkedIn?
  • Does your marketing budget allow for producing the necessary content types for the platform? If you’re joining YouTube, you’ll want to have the resources for producing frequent, high-quality videos. If you’re joining Instagram, you’ll need to have a photographer and / or graphic designer handy. Several platforms offer video and live-streaming capabilities, and they are very popular with users. Are you prepared for that?

The platform may be “popular,” but you need to check whether your audience wants to see you there. Even if they actively use the platform, they may be using it for other reasons. They may not want to engage with your business there.

It’s important that you research before making the leap. Once you’re there, make sure you’re monitoring its effectiveness regularly. If it’s not producing results after 6 months, re-evaluate your strategy. Maybe you just need to tweak a few things, but maybe you need to abandon ship instead.

You may want to stay with the times and on the right track with your social media marketing, and that’s important. However, what’s most important is that you know what will work best for your business and your target audience. You don’t have to join every new trend or technique. Instead, focus your efforts where they would be most beneficial.

These 5 social media myths are just the beginning of a long line of marketing mistakes. Would you add any others to this list? Leave a comment with your input!

7 Important Hacks For Effective Social Media Marketing

17 Apr

In recent years, social media marketing has quickly become one of the most powerful strategies to attract traffic, engage audiences, and drive sales. According to Social Media Examiner, 92% of marketers say they have increased exposure through social media, and 80% see positive results for traffic.

That said, an effective social media marketing strategy needs to have some key elements if you really want to scale and make the most of it. Here are seven important hacks to keep in mind.

1. Curate content

Social media marketing isn’t all about promoting your own content. In order to really grow your audience and become an authority in your niche, you’ll need to share a wide variety of content that interests your followers.

Finding and sharing this content can be a huge time-suck, unless you use content curation tools. Feedly, for example, is a feed aggregator you can use to do this. It helps you find relevant content feeds based on keywords, and keeps them all in one place. Then you can easily view and share to your social profiles right in the app.

2. Tag influencers

You’re never going to achieve viral growth with your social media marketing strategy unless you enlist the help of influencers. Influencers are other individuals in your niche (not your competitors) who have a big social following of their own.

Target influencers with your marketing strategy to encourage them to share your content with their social audience. The easiest way to do this is by tagging them in your posts. Here’s an example tweet: “@influencer Thought your audience would be interested in this new post [LINK]”

You can also reach out to influencers via direct message or email asking them to share your content.

3. Schedule your posts

Use a social media marketing tool to schedule your posts to go out at optimum times. Buffer is my personal favorite but Hootsuite is another great alternative to try. Social media automation tools will create unique, trackable links for your social posts and monitor engagement of your shares and posts. Then you can use this data to identify your best traffic sources and improve your strategy.

4. Leverage current events

People turn to social media to interact with businesses, but they also use it to get the latest news and information. You can really grow your following if you integrate the two.

Keep track of trending hashtags that you see on Twitter. Take the opportunity to use them in your own social posts. This helps you join bigger conversations on the social platform outside of your own following.

You can also use Facebook Trending Topics or Google Trends for a similar purpose. Trending topics on Google Trends can help you brainstorm content that’s relevant to current events and can garner more buzz on social media. ComiConverse for instance jumps on trending hashtags related to movies and games to boost engagement.

5. Use IFTTT

Sharing your content across social platforms and keeping your profiles up-to-date can be a huge time-suck. But a tool like IFTTT (If This, Then That) can save you a ton of time in that area.

IFTTT helps you create a series of conditional tasks to speed up your social media marketing. For example, you can create an IFTTT recipe so that when you share a post on Instagram, it will automatically share it to Twitter as well, or when you update your Facebook profile photo, it will automatically change your Twitter photo too.

6. Create contests

Contests are a great way to encourage engagement and grow your following on social media. Here are a few examples of social contests you can put on:

  • Vote contest – Ask your followers their opinion on an image, video, or other set of media. Recovery Guidance did this and took it a step further, asking users to like their page to enter the contest and vote.
  • Sweepstakes – Set up a landing page on your site where visitors can enter to win a giveaway. Make social sharing and following a requirement for entry. See some great examples here for inspiration.
  • Photo contest – Ask followers to submit their photo doing something related to your niche. Ask them to use a branded hashtag to enter to win. If you’re looking for inspiration, take a page out of the playbook of Joshua W. Glotzer and Credit Glory, two brands in eccentric niches, who use this tactics to grow their Facebook following.

7. Follow strategically

Part of your strategy is attracting a large group of interested followers, but you don’t have to wait around for them to follow you. Be proactive about building the quality audience you want by following strategically. Look for people who are interested in or talk about topics related to your niche all the time.

This is easy to do on Twitter with a tool like ManageFlitter. It helps you search for twitter users who are using specific hashtags or keywords in their tweets to show their interests. Follow them in bulk on a regular basis to encourage them to join your audience as well.

These seven hacks are just a few of the many ways you can supercharge your social media marketing strategy. Use each and you’ll be well on your way to building a strategy that drives engagement, broadens reach, and brings ROI.

7 Reasons Social Media Marketing Is Still Underrated

10 Apr

The numbers on social media marketing are impressive. More than half of small businesses in the United States are planning to increase their social media marketing budgets in 2017, and the number of businesses using social media marketing has increased, year over year, for more than a decade.

Still, social media marketing remains underrated. Business owners and marketers frequently treat it as a second thought—something for an intern to handle, rather than a strategically deep mode of building your reputation and attracting new traffic. Some have even abandoned the idea altogether, refusing to spend any time or money on a strategy that nets a positive ROI for up to 92 percent of businesses that use it.

So what’s the deal? Why isn’t everyone on board with the strategy?

1. The “fad” angle.

Believe it or not, some people still believe that social media—or its use as a marketing strategy—is still a fad just waiting to fizzle out. This is an argument I could have understood back in 2007, when social media platforms were only in use by a small percentage of the population. But now that Facebook has reached more than 1.2 billion users and is still growing, with a corporate foundation that rivals those of Apple or Google, it’s a hard argument to defend. Users have gotten used to the idea of socially interacting online, and platforms keep evolving in new ways to maintain their interest.

2. You get what you pay for.

Psychologically, people tend to place more value on things that cost more money. For example, in a blind taste test of identical wines whose only difference is price, people claim that the more expensive (yet compositionally identical) wine tastes better. Take this principle to social media marketing; it’s free to claim and build a business profile, and to post regularly (as long as you aren’t leveraging paid advertising). Because of that, people don’t value it as much as they do paid advertising. They’re also less likely to pay a professional to work on a social media campaign, knowing that—technically—anyone could do it for free (even if they never actually do it).

 3. Unmeasurable effects.

The return on investment (ROI) of social media is hard to measure, and I’ll be the first to admit it. One of your biggest goals is attracting a large following of people who are enthusiastic about your brand, and improving both your brand’s reputation and brand awareness. These aren’t as objectively measurable as on-site conversions, but they can and do lead to greater consumer interest, which manifests as sales eventually. Trying to pin down an exact value for all these benefits is next to impossible, even for the pros, so the value of a social media campaign is almost always underreported.

4. Anecdotes.

People also use anecdotal evidence as a basis for their opinions about the strategy. For example, they may know of another business who used social media and didn’t see any results, so they stay away from it in the present. However, these anecdotal examples often don’t examine the types of tactics these businesses used, and they certainly don’t represent the average across multiple businesses.

5. Apples and oranges.

Ironically, these same business owners often cite the fact that anecdotal evidence can’t prove a strategy’s effectiveness for everybody. They point to major influencers or big businesses in the social media world, and explain that social media works for them because it fits naturally with their industry, or because they have the resources to invest in a heavy campaign. It’s true that some industries may be naturally inclined to perform better on social media than others; tech companies and consumer-facing businesses are two good examples. However, social media marketing can be used by practically any company—it may just require an adjustment to your approach.

6. Poor targeting.

Some businesses look at their own results, and use those results as a gauge of the long-term potential of their campaign. But they may not realize that their strategic targeting is interfering with their results. For example, if you buy 1,000 followers using some super cheap follower-adding service, but only 4 or 5 of them ever interact with your posts or visit your site, it could be that the remaining 995 don’t belong to demographics relevant for your business, or that you haven’t been using the right engagement strategies to cultivate interest. Don’t underestimate the potential of a well-researched, strategically focused campaign.

7. Lack of investment.

Effective social media marketing can’t be done on a whim. It needs to be planned, researched, and strategically executed. That means you’ll need to spend a significant amount of time or a significant amount of money to see results; and since many business owners aren’t willing to make that investment, they never see a fraction of their potential results. By that point, they’ve seen what a small investment does, and they’re unwilling to make the jump to a larger investment.

Social media marketing isn’t an “underground” strategy; it’s talked about heavily (and I should know), and there’s no shortage of content covering its feasibility and best tactics. But the perceptions of marketers and business owners are still lagging behind the evidence, and they’re only hurting themselves in the process.

The more you learn about the effective implementation of social media marketing, the more plainly beneficial it seems—but you have to treat it as a legitimate marketing strategy if you want to research it appropriately.

Timing is of the essence in social media marketing

3 Apr

Oreo’s famous 2013 Super Bowl Twitter ad was one of the most iconic moments in social media marketing. The power went out during the halftime show, and Oreo tweeted an ad that said: “You can still dunk in the dark.” This opportunistic marketing play is still being deemed as best-in-class years later.

Oreo’s moment at that Super Bowl exemplifies the importance of timeliness, relevance and creative agility.

Social media marketing is one of the most measurable formats we have today. You can learn so much about your target audiences and their online behavior.

You should leverage any set of tools that gives you this much real-time insight to maximize your return on investment.

As you’re tracking your ad performance, think about how you can optimize quickly based on the available insights. What are you learning and what changes can you make to help your ads perform better? How quickly can you make changes so you have a real impact?

The second piece of the puzzle is the creative gap. Brands need to re-think creative strategy as social media marketing demands a high volume of assets that require frequent refresh to stay effective.

Ad fatigue plays a significant role in affecting online campaign performance and brands like Cooking Dash, PayPal and Instamotor have successfully turned their campaign performance around through increasing ad creative production volume and refresh rate.

Not every company can afford to have a 15-person social media marketing team like Oreo. This doesn’t mean it’s hopeless for those of you who can’t afford such luxuries.

Thanks to technology, we can now activate global creative talent any time of the day. It takes a fraction of the time it used to take to produce high ad volumes. AI technology gives us the ability to make creatives smarter and campaigns more cost-effective. Moreover, automating the entire process of creative management and monitoring is now possible.

Thanks to technology, you can now have time on your hands.