Archive | June, 2017

Don’t Believe Those Reports You’re Hearing About the Death of Social-Media Marketing

26 Jun

Is social media marketing really dead? That’s one question business owners, marketers and leaders are currently struggling to answer. According to recent reports, social media platforms are losing their momentum, with the likes of Snapchat losing subscribers and Twitter losing the conversation appeal. This, in turn, is affecting the impact social media marketing has on business.

In a study of B2B buyers, only 19 percent of those surveyed said that social media played an important role in their discovery process. This report, among others from industry influencers, has sparked a new concern about the future of social media in business. But don’t be alarmed.

In reality, social media isn’t dead. In fact, it’s not dying anytime soon. It is very much alive and remains an effective tool for marketing your products and services. This is why 78 percent of companies have dedicated entire teams to social media and others have reported more than a 700 percent increase in social media sales from their efforts on social media.

If you are thinking of boycotting social media in your marketing efforts, think again.

1. When used right, social media helps reach a wider audience.

It’s undeniable the way we use social media today isn’t the way we used it a few years ago. Due to the fast advancement of technology, more people are now online, and the amount of information available is enormous. Users, bombarded with a never-ending flow of information on different social platforms, can only read a fraction of it.

As a business owner, you have a challenge to reach your audience in the midst of all this information. To succeed, you need to:

  • Know where your readers like to hang out
  • Understand the type of content they like
  • Strategically plan your content based on that information

It’s the only way you can guarantee readership and an increase in customer base. That’s why a company like TED, known for its TED Talks, is winning on social media. The company has managed to leverage its content by turning those long videos into short, easily shareable viral videos. They found their winning formula because they understood what their users were looking for.

2. It is only a promotional channel, not the end game.

To understand why you shouldn’t give up on social media, you need to understand how it works today. Some time ago, a business could easily go on social media to sell its products and services directly to consumers. Today, the landscape has changed.

People no longer appreciate direct sales on social media. They want to be enticed with interesting information or videos before they decide whether or not to buy what you’re selling. That’s why an informational blog post will be shared more times than an advertisement. By posting easily shareable content like videos, images or posts, you will:

  • Achieve better online visibility
  • Improve your credibility as an expert
  • Increase your customer base

3. Social media provides insights and helps convert leads into customers.

Through the data you are able to gather on different social media platforms, you can better understand the demographics of your followers, their preferences and their thoughts on your brand. This information can help you generate targeted content that will lead to improved readership, an expanded follower base and increased service inquiries — all of which are good for business.

In addition to providing valuable insights, social media is a great tool for converting leads to customers. When you respond to their concerns or make them feel special in some way, they regard your company as more desirable. They also become more loyal to the brand and are more likely to recommend your products or services to friends.

Through personalized customer service and regular interaction on social media, your business can gain new customers and retain existing ones very easily.

4. Social media helps increase website traffic.

In today’s digital era, the importance of website traffic cannot be overstated. More traffic to your website means more subscribers and more potential customers. You can later convert these subscribers into buyers, increasing sales.

While website traffic can come from different sources, including organic search and links from other websites, social media is a great component of it. When you post clickable content, people share it among their circles, and the cycle can be endless.

At a time when more people are online at one particular time, you can expect increased website traffic from increased social media presence.

Conclusion.

The reality is social media isn’t dead. I’s just changing and requires businesses to adjust accordingly. You have a shorter time than before to reach your audience, communicate your intention and draw them to whatever service you provide.

According to research, only 16 percent of your Facebook followers are able to see your company posts organically. And on Twitter, only 10 percent of your followers can see your tweet when it’s posted. To reach the right users, you need to make sure your content can be found. You can achieve that by sharing the right content at the right time and on the right platform.

The other reality is you cannot beat your competition without social media. Nearly 75 percent of companies using social selling report an increase in sales in 12 months. You do need social media in your business, and so do your users.

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What Is In A Social Media Marketing Plan

11 Jun

Social media was once regarded as the marketing wild card – a platform that was more of a luxury than a necessity for brands. Today, social media marketing is mainstream, and businesses that haven’t invested in it are losing market share to their competitors.

To ensure that yours doesn’t, you need a researched and well thought-out social media marketing plan. The following are seven steps you need to cover when building yours.

1. Choose Social Media Goals That Address Business Challenges

Goals come first, always. Why should you invest in social media? What are your desired outcomes?

What’s tricky, is the wide range of capabilities that social offers – from building brand awareness, to educating consumers, enabling sales and providing customer service. If you can’t zero down on definite goals, ask yourself these questions.

  • Do you need to boost your website traffic?
  • Are you unable to access a certain target market?
  • Does your consumer education program need a new avenue?
  • Do you need to improve your brand-consumer relationship status?

If you can answer all of these questions, you are ready to begin building your social media marketing plan.

2. Research Competition And Identify Their Strategies

As it turns out, researching competition doesn’t only keep you updated on their moves, but helps you recognize tactics that are working on your target market.

List about five immediate competitors and analyze their social media presence.

  • Which networks are they most active on?
  • What content are they sharing?
  • How often and at what times do they post each day?

Pay close attention to their content strategy and how their fans are responding. It’s also a good idea to keep track of the engagement on their pages, so you can benchmark yours against theirs.

3. Consider All Departments To Create A Plan That Bears More Benefits

For the longest time, social media belonged to the marketing department, but that’s no reason for you to limit it to yours. Social networks can benefit any department in a business, when used properly.

Marketing: Social platforms are great for traditional marketing departments like advertising and PR, but you can always find newer ways to engage your audience via social.

Everything from product launches to conferences and holiday campaigns can be run successful on social.

Sales: Social media can be used to find real prospects, assist them in their purchase journey and acquire customers. That’s why social selling is now quite the popular term.

By connecting your sales personnel with the right social media content, you could empower them to shatter their quotas.

Human Resources: LinkedIn was originally known for being the ‘online resume’, that job candidates could use to get hired and businesses could use to fill positions.

Today, recruiters also use Facebook and Twitter to share job postings and find the right hirees.

Customer Service: Most customers today take to social networks to share their experience. That isn’t necessarily a disadvantage for businesses, because social media is free, easy to manage and can save your customer service executives a lot of time.

4. Define Your Target Audience And Their Tendencies

If a social media page has barely any engagement, it’s usually because the business got their audience personas wrong.

Audience personas help you make critical decisions like what your messages should be, and when and where you should post them.

With important audience data – age range, occupations, likes and dislikes, passions, concerns, behavioral tendencies – you can target markets effectively and economically on social media.

The more specific your data points about your target audience are, the better your conversions will be on each social network.

5. Create A Content Strategy That Accounts For Your Goals

When you have reached this stage of your planning process, it’s finally time to create your content strategy. All of your content, whether it’s a blog post, an infographic or a video, should tie-in with your goals and business plan.

Ideally, you should also consult your audience personas and competition research when planning your content.

Most digital marketing agencies create content buckets at this point, where they document potential ideas that they can draw from when creating content for each day or week.

Some of them even create detailed social media content calendars and place ideas in them in advance.

Once you have your content strategy planned, it’s time to create a budget, decide on resources and assign roles to members of your team. Part of your resources should also be dedicated to monitoring the progress of your plan as it is executed.

That concludes a typical social media marketing plan. The more research you put into each of these steps, the better results you can expect from your social media efforts.

The 3 C’s of Social Media Marketing

9 Jun

Is yours one of the 65% of companies that rank generating leads as their biggest marketing challenge? If so, you may already be aware that one third of the global population uses social media on a regular basis. But did you also know that when combined with direct mail, social media marketing can open the portal to a powerful promotional strategy?

Data and insights gathered from social media activity are ideal for bringing a laser-sharp focus to the messaging and targeting of your direct mail materials. And in true symbiotic fashion, direct mail has proven itself adept at grabbing consumer attention, and driving more traffic to company websites and social media platforms.

Print and digital promotions are exponentially stronger when they’re used together. If you want to make a unique and unforgettable impression on customers old and new, consider leveraging the combined efforts of a direct mail and social media campaign to:

  • cross-promote your marketing content,
  • nurture and grow meaningful client connections, and
  • dramatically increase conversion opportunities

Research suggests that spending as little as an hour a day on your social media networking will guide your business toward a noticeable improvement in lead generation.

So, what are you waiting for?

The three C’s of social media marketing make it clear that you really have nothing to lose – and everything to gain – by establishing an active, and lucrative, online/offline presence.

1. C is for Content

Being seen and listened to is everything when it comes to making an impact on your customers, and attracting new business. Social media is the perfect platform for posting the share-worthy content that can ensure your brand’s voice is heard.

When you create, and distribute content that social media followers find useful, entertaining, or insightful, your business becomes:

  • more welcoming to new prospects, and
  • more familiar to your current clientele

Remember: the better your content, the more interest your products and services are likely to generate. And that’s a direct line to collecting more leads, and inspiring more conversions.

Postcard-mailers play an important role in driving customers toward your social media content. In fact, some studies have suggested that more than half of consumers engage socially with a business in response to receiving their direct mail communications.

A great deal of your marketing success hinges on sending the right message, to the right person. By taking the time to understand which content – both written and visual – attracts positive attention on your social accounts, you’ll be better positioned to create direct mail materials that resonate with your audience.

2. C is for Connecting

The word social inherently implies community. And the millions of people who actively use social media platforms like Facebook (1.79 billion world-wide as of 2016) do so because they appreciate being part of a network that allows them to connect with others.

Research indicates that there’s every reason to believe that connecting with your customers through various social media channels will lead to greater brand loyalty. Meanwhile, paying attention to social media analytics can improve your client relations both online and off. It can also help to amplify your marketing message.

When you use your social connections and the data they generate to become better acquainted with your audience, you can use what you learn to polish your direct mail strategy. Information gleaned from:

  • click-through rates,
  • reader demographics, and
  • knowledge of which topics interest your audience most can prove invaluable for reaching a more targeted market with your postcard-mailers.

Statistics reveal that about 87% of us are inclined to share our positive experiences online – and that almost half of those shares are taking place on social media platforms. Every time your company’s name surfaces in an optimistic light online, it increases both the credibility of your print mail ads, and the perceived value of your business. And it’s this type of authenticity that makes yet-to-be-discovered customers more open to connecting with you.

3. C is for Conversions

Leads are great, but conversions are better. Social media platforms provide the fertile ground your business needs to access and cultivate new leads, and turn those leads into regular customers. Every conversion starts with a conversation, and there’s no better place to communicate regularly with your ideal market than at hangouts like Google, Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook.

It’s the low-cost volume of conversion opportunities offered by social media that endows it with such marketing clout. For little more than an investment of time, your business can benefit from the enormous potential of each:

  • stimulating social comment,
  • video snippet,
  • shareable image, and
  • compelling piece of content you create to drive readers to your website, and persuade them to buy.

One of the best things about marketing through social media is that it’s highly scalable. You can start by investing just a few hours a week, then add the paid advertising options offered by sites like Twitter and Facebook if, and as, you see fit.

The great value that social media marketing delivers only gets better when it’s combined with a print mail campaign. Direct mail is the undisputed champ of consumer response, and since a large part of that response involves increased social media engagement, your colorful postcards represent a valuable link in the social media conversion chain.

The Rules of Social Media Marketing Success: Value and Listening

5 Jun

You’ve made it this far.

You’ve listened to your audience, you’ve planned your social media marketing strategy. Over time, you built relationships and trust with your audience. Your leadership set the tone for the rest of your company to follow and as a result, you attracted and retained the audience you wanted, deepening the relationships and trust you worked to develop.

So is the end in sight? Not quite.

Success in social media is an ongoing pursuit, one which requires continuous reflection and refinement.

Ensure Value

“What’s the ROI from all that social media stuff you’ve been doing?” your boss asks. One of his favorite questions, right? If you’re a small business owner, you’ve probably heard that same question from your partner or CPA.

Generating reliable performance metrics for your social media activities — gathered and reported in an efficient, easily interpreted manner — has become a priority for practitioners of social media marketing to help them demonstrate the value from participating in social media and validate their investments in it.

Your boss, partner or CPA wants to compare the investment of personnel, time, money and other resources to the return. But without supplying verifiable ROI data and analysis, any long-term relationships that marketers hope to develop and maintain with their social media communities are most likely in jeopardy.

So how do you go about ensuring that you’re deriving value from your social media marketing efforts — and that you can accurately measure that value? Obviously, tracking online “chatter” can help expose the bad as well as the good.

For example, your fans and followers may publicly laud your products or suggest improvements to them, giving you the opportunity to respond quickly and address their comments or concerns. Also, a myriad of technology tools are now available to help measure the financial impact of social media on your organization, including lead generation, ecommerce revenue, etc.

The social media monitoring and measuring process is still in its infancy. However, in today’s hyper-competitive environment and relatively weak economy, generating measurable, repeatable value from social media is no longer an option for most marketers.

Continue Listening

All listening is not created equal. Consider how a physician uses the stethoscope in order to measure the activity of the human heart, or how a mother calibrates her ear to detect the faintest whimper of a newborn, or how a conductor trains the ear to pinpoint the one-out-of-a-hundred instruments slightly out of tune.

Compare these with the ability to tune out a barking dog, or half listen to the rant of a coworker, or subconsciously mix the rhythm of the rain to the precise sleep-inducing decibel. Now consider how we interpret tone, process innuendo, translate vernacular and compose a whole new message — all while we (theoretically) listen in the context of conversation.

All listening is not the same.

Listening is done at many levels. But as we become skilled at reactive listening — mixing everything we’re taking in to a manageable level — we’re inadvertently contributing to the demise of effective communication.

What’s missing? Intentional, proactive listening.

Intentional listening reveals the voice of those with whom we want to connect. And by voice, I mean the cares, aspirations and concerns of your target audience. It’s the key to the most basic principle of effective communication — that connection takes place in the context of shared experience.

Put another way, intentional listening will identify, outline and define the language of the closest you will ever come to a can’t-miss message. And it’s the key to the instigation of a whole new brand of experiences, those uniquely shared by you (or your business) and your most coveted customer.

Translation: the shortest distance between where we are today and a relationship that results in the development of stronger brands and better business is less about constructing a long list of capabilities and more about one or two questions that instigate dialogue. It’s less about what we do and more about where our clients live each day. It’s less about what we know and more about what we can learn if we’ll listen first — and then build experiences that center on ways to continue to listen.

Game-changing social media marketing plans and strategies, not to mention the path to lifetime customers, just might be less about beginning with a compelling marketing message and more about intentional listening.

A final thought: 

“The reason social media is so difficult for most organizations? It’s a process, not an event” — Seth Godin