Archive | September, 2018

Which Resource is Best for Your Social Media Marketing?

24 Sep

Social media is a critical element of most businesses’ marketing strategies nowadays. In 2018, 77% of the U.S. population has at least one social media profile. It’s predicted that the average person nowadays will spend 5 years and 4 months on social media over the course of their lifetime.

While these statistics might be alarming for social media’s critics, it’s undeniable that people are spending a lot of time on social media. Your business needs to have a social media strategy and needs to know how to execute it well.

Often, though, social media marketing can be too complex or overwhelming to tackle on your own. What outside resources are small businesses using to maximize their social media marketing?

Social Media Management Software Offers Simplicity and Collaboration

A recent survey found social media management software to be the most popular outside resource that business use for their social media marketing – 43% of businesses report using it.

Software solutions include names like Buffer, Hootsuite, and Sprout Social. These tools offer a variety of capabilities depending on the brand.

Before you purchase a social media marketing software, you must first understand your ultimate marketing goals. What do you want the tool to primarily do?

  • Do you want to monitor conversations about your brand? A tool focusing on social media listening might be your best choice.
  • Do you want to understand how your audience reacts, grows, and changes? A tool focusing on social media analytics is potentially the most helpful.
  • Do you simply want to schedule out posts? A cheap tool that mainly provides social media scheduling capabilities might be all you need.

Once you understand your ultimate goals, how do you research the best tools? The largest percentage of businesses (24%) say they are primarily influenced by referrals when searching for social media marketing software. A lesser number are influenced by Google searches (21%) and marketing content (17%).

Referrals offer a level of comfort during the research process. A fellow business can offer more details about exactly how the tool worked for them and whether it will help your specific marketing goals.

When it comes to making the final purchasing decision, though, the tools’ more concrete details are top of mind. Digital marketers primarily consider features (40%), costs (32%), and free trials (27%) when making social media software purchasing decisions.

Social Media Agencies Offer In-Depth Expertise

The second most popular outside resource is social media marketing agencies, at 28%.

If your business is attempting larger social media marketing goals, such as a rebranding or a huge campaign, hiring an agency might be a wise choice.

When searching for an agency, businesses primarily consider referrals (43%) far beyond any other factor. This makes sense, given the intensity of business-agency partnerships.

When you hire a social media marketing agency, you are trusting them with very public platforms – for many customers, social media is where they first encounter your products or services.

By collecting a shortlist of agencies via referrals, you can gather information on other businesses’ experiences, which can often give you far more valuable insight than marketing content or other third-party information.

Once a business is making a hiring decision, its focus shifts primarily to costs (40%), followed by referrals (37%) and culture fit (31%).

This data further signifies the importance of personal comfort when it comes to hiring a social media marketing agency.

Don’t Be Afraid to Seek Outside Help

While social media is a constant presence in digital marketing, that doesn’t mean it’s an easy task.

Whether it’s software or an agency, outside resources can significantly benefit your business and are often worth the cost.

 

15 Tactics for Successful B2B Social Media Marketing

17 Sep

For 20% of B2B marketers, social media is one of the top three sources for qualified leads, according to the Chief Marketer B2B Lead Gen Outlook report.

The role of social media in demand generation has evolved to encompass targeted lead generation, influencer outreach, lead nurturing, social listening and research. B2B marketers who want to successfully build an engaged following on social media must master new skills as well as embrace the uniqueness of social media marketing.

When it comes to social media success, it’s important to remember the first part of the phrase “social media.” It’s social. B2B marketers must approach their strategy with relationships in mind. It’s a matter of give-and-take, not a one-way broadcast.

15 B2B Social Media Marketing Tactics

One of the common themes you will see in the tactics listed below is that successful social media marketing takes manual labor. If you think there’s a possibility of automating your blog posts to go out at the optimal time of day with some trendy hashtags and expecting magic to happen, think again. You have to make a regular investment out of your schedule.

1. Budget your time

Regardless of whether you’re in a full-time social media or content marketing role, it’s important to budget your time for social media. Every B2B marketer needs a mastery of social media for personal branding, relationships and influencer outreach. Devote a block your calendar to ensure your time spent on social is productive.

2. Consider a boost

Allocate demand generation budget to amplify the reach of posts. Paid post promotion with targeting parameters increases viewers, allowing B2B marketing organizations to engage with qualified leads and promote content resources. Boosting posts on social media can offer many marketing benefits, including:

  • Increasing your exposure and engagement
  • Growing your following
  • Building a list to remarket to site visitors

3. Splinter your content

B2B decision-makers are sometimes overwhelmed by the amount of digital content on social media. Avoid getting lost in the crowd by splintering your content. In other words, break off salient information into more bite-sized chunks, rather than asking the reader to consume an entire 2,000 post to get anything out of it.

Pull out quotes, stats or graphics when you share links to content resources on social media. Don’t forget to splinter content from your organization’s main website pages, not just your blog and other content resources.

4. Create educational, entertaining content

High-quality education that entertains and engages is among the most effective B2B marketing strategies for social media in 2018.

While e-Courses aren’t a necessity or the right fit for every organization, brands should take inspiration from B2B organizations who produce high-quality, educational content.

5. Make your content actionable

Your social media strategy and content should focus on offering prescriptive guidance to audience members. Not only will this deliver value, but it can also position your brand and employees as thought leaders.

6. Be real

86% of modern consumers say authenticity is essential in deciding which brands to support. However, just 57% believe brands succeed at creating authentic content.

Being authentic can build trust in a B2B audience. Write in your own voice, but stand behind your brand, product and company values. Listen to others and engage consistently. Focus on your audience above self-promotion to develop a real, likable presence.

7. Be genuinely helpful

The focus of B2B social media marketing should be to solve your audience’s pain points and problems. Your content should be relevant and provide value in formats that are easy-to-consume.

8. Stay on the platform

Post your content on the social media platform itself, as opposed to posting links to other sites or platforms. Each social media post should provide stand-alone value without an audience member needing to click-through to your company website. Social media platforms gear news feed algorithms toward native content, so this is an important factor in maximizing the reach of your posts.

9. Share others’ content

Sharing content authored by industry influencers is a powerful way to provide high-quality, curated resources to your audience. Scratch the back of an influencer and make sure they know you shared it.

10. Converse

Every day, subject matter experts and prospective customers are having conversations about your industry or product category. To join these conversations, B2B marketers need to know where to find them and actively listen:

  • Use keywords for social listening
  • Develop a list of influencers to follow
  • Join industry-relevant groups

To maximize your conversations, adopt the right technologies for social listening and emulate the culture of the groups and social media network you’re engaging on.

11. Show appreciation

When influencers and other brands share your content, it’s important to be appreciative. Say “thank you,” and when possible, reciprocate with shares.

12. Plan it out

Using an editorial calendar to plan content marketing and social media efforts can offer a host of benefits to B2B marketing organizations. The advantages of using a social media calendar for planning include:

  • A roadmap to consistent, varied posting
  • A big picture view to map posts to campaign themes and strategy
  • The ability to pivot and refine strategy based on campaign results
  • The opportunity to align social media messaging with multi-channel marketing campaigns

In addition to these high-level benefits, an editorial calendar can enable B2B marketing organizations to link improvements in social media marketing metrics to specific posting actions.

13. Use your camera

Visual content, including videos and imagery, can be highly engaging formats for social media posts. Plan to shoot video and take pictures at brand or industry events. Providing a behind-the-scenes peek of employees at work or engaged in office outings to your audience can humanize your brand.

14. Leave recommendations

When you’re blocking time each week for social media marketing, allot an hour for writing sincere recommendations for colleagues, peers and customers on LinkedIn. While individuals who receive a recommendation may reciprocate, this is a strong way to build and maintain existing professional relationships in a way that reflects well on your brand.

15. Get the team on board

Turning employees into content advocates can benefit both the organization’s and employee’s (personal) brands.

Some platforms give you the ability to share posts automatically on everyone on your team’s accounts. While this can conveniently expand content exposure and reach, make sure to balance automated posting with manual team member posts.

Succeeding at B2B Social Media Marketing

There’s more to successful B2B social media marketing than social selling or growing a following. One often overlooked component of effective B2B social media marketing is building authentic relationships. By creating a human, helpful presence, B2B organizations can use social media to connect with customers, prospects and influencers.

What is your company’s social media marketing strategy?

10 Sep

According to the Pew Research Center’s 2017 Social Media Fact Sheet, social media usage among American adults has grown 69 percent since 2005. For the most popular sites, most users are visiting those sites at least once a day. That makes social media a necessity if you want your business to get noticed.

Leveraging social media marketing can increase your customer base significantly, but it can be a challenge to start a social media campaign without any insight or experience. Almost all entrepreneurs currently participate in social media but are unaware of its full potential.

Setting goals, planning and executing campaigns, keeping your messaging on brand, and using metrics (data) to measure the impact of your efforts are all key components of a winning social media marketing strategy.

Planning and goal setting

Before you create your first social media marketing campaign, set business goals and devise a plan to achieve them. If you do not already have set goals for your business, it is essential for you to create them.

Consider what you are trying to achieve when marketing on social media sites, who your target audience is, where they spend their time, and how they are using social media. Additionally, determine what message you want to get across to your target audience.

You can use social media marketing to achieve key business goals, including:

  • Boosting website traffic.
  • Creating engagement and communication opportunities with key audiences.
  • Converting site visitors.
  • Establishing a positive brand identity and association.
  • Building brand recognition.

You can only measure your social media ROI once you have established your goals.

Other helpful tips

Some other tips that will be helpful in building a foundation that will serve your brand, customers, and bottom line include:

  1. Provide quality. You can benefit more from having 100 followers who consistently read, talk about and share your content than 1,000 who disengage after your initial contact.
  2. Have patience. Success in social media marketing takes consistency and time. Although it is possible to make some quick sales or form business partnerships on your first attempt, it is far better to be patient and remain focused on your long-term strategy.
  3. Hang with influencers. Find out who the online influencers are in your industry and hang out with them virtually. Respond to their tweets and Facebook posts, and eventually, they might do the same for you. These are the people with quality audiences who may take an interest in what you are offering. Make a connection with these people and begin building relationships with them.
  4. Provide value. If you are using social media exclusively for promoting your products or business opportunity, people will begin to ignore you. You have to add value to the mix. Keep your focus more on creating valuable content and less on conversions.

Available platforms

Facebook

Create a business Facebook page. By adding a business page, you can further your conversations with your audience by posting images, articles, and videos that are industry related. You should also pay careful attention to the layout when using Facebook since the visual component is an integral part of the overall Facebook experience.

Twitter

Twitter lets you broadcast tweets in 280 characters or less. You can begin by following other tweeters that are in your related industry, which will hopefully garner you followers in return. When tweeting, it is best to mix messages up a bit between official-related tweets (discounts, specials, etc.), news tweets and value tweets. Throw in a little bit of fun and humorous tweets as well. If a customer says something nice about you, be sure to retweet it and always answer any questions that people ask you.

Instagram

Instagram is one of the most potent social media platforms for visual content. Almost all of it is content consists of photos and video posts. Now with more than 700 million active users, it has become a destination site for those that like to post about food, fashion, travel, the arts and other visually-focused subjects. The other exciting aspect of Instagram is that its post all must originate from a mobile device.

Snapchat

Snapchat is another mobile-only platform that currently has 150 million-plus app users. Snapchat content is temporary, disappearing from a user’s feed after 24 hours. Snapchat is useful for visual story-driven material and has a strong reach to millennial audiences.

YouTube

If your business lends itself to product demonstrations or service explanations, take advantage of the popularity of video. YouTube is a fabulous platform for many types of companies to embrace and prosper with as a promotional vehicle.

Pinterest

Would your business benefit from posting and sharing images? Hair salons, web designers, jewelry stores, restaurants, event planners, and many others find that Pinterest helps them attract and engage with existing and prospective customers.

LinkedIn

While many businesses can benefit from LinkedIn, it is especially beneficial for B2B marketing. It is an excellent platform for small businesses to reach out to other organizations that may be seeking their services. It is also an excellent tool for recruiting employees.

A successful social media marketing strategy can do much more than increase your website traffic and sales. It will allow you to better understand and learn from your target audience, and when done well, social marketing can lead to increased traffic, better conversions, and more customers.

Social media marketing is evolving, here’s how to keep up

3 Sep

Gone are the days when social media marketing was all about increasing your followers. An early sign of success was seeing your followers grow from one day to another. Nowadays, social media marketing has left behind the ages of innocence to go through a more mature phase. This should not be a bad change, but we still need to keep up with the shift.

As buzzwords change, how can marketers adapt to the changing world of social media?

How social media is changing

There are many reasons that the social media landscape is changing and all of them can affect your marketing strategy in one way or another.

Increased connectivity and mobile consumption

We are all more connected than ever and we’re using our smartphones at a growing rate. As of July 2018, there have been more than 4.1 billion active internet users and 3.3 billion social media users.

As more people use their smartphones to access social media, marketers need to adjust their strategies to make their campaigns more appealing and less intrusive. The era of constant connectivity has made people more demanding, and omnipresent brand messaging makes it harder for a business to stand out.

Social media users may be increasing, but marketers also need to be more creative to reach their target audience. Content consumption is growing but our online habits are also changing. That’s how we’ve reached the era of maturity on social media with both users and brands seeking an improved social experience.

Growing privacy concerns and the need to build trust

It has been a turbulent year for social media and many social media users have started being concerned about their privacy. Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal and the rise of fake news has made more people cautious about their use of social media.

24% of US teens feel that social media has mostly a negative effect on people their age. They list bullying, rumor spreading, and harmful relationships as their main concerns.

Social platforms seem to be aware of these concerns and they’re trying to address them to ensure that they are not missing their already engaged younger demographics.

Similarly, marketers should be able to understand their audience’s concerns to avoid using black hat techniques that can mislead users. The most successful brands will be the ones that manage to maintain the consumers’ trust—and this will be more important than ever over the next years.

The changing algorithms that affect the social media game

Facebook loves changing their algorithm, and it’s not the only social network giving their platform a regular update. Although we cannot do anything about these changes, we still need to keep up with them if we want to maintain a successful social marketing strategy.

For example, Facebook’s latest algorithm update encourages marketers to create more engaging content if they want to stay relevant. Organic reach continues to drop. Clickbait techniques are no longer welcome. The demand for video and live streaming continues to grow. Increasingly, the best way to reach your audience is to post content that is genuinely engaging. These are the changes that marketers need to be aware of when revisiting their social strategy to ensure that they stay successful over the next year.

Facebook seems to be the most popular platform for marketers, but Instagram is rapidly gaining ground both from marketers and actual users. Instagram has also updated its algorithm this year to focus on non-chronological feed display. This has been a big change for marketers as it requires them to create more appealing and engaging content to make sure they show up in their followers’ feeds. The more their followers engage with the brand, the higher their chances to maintain visibility on their feeds.

5 ways marketers get more serious with social media marketing

More marketers realize that social media is changing and this makes them evaluate their social strategies. Social media is now turning into a business tool and there are different areas that marketers embrace on a more serious focus while seeking success:

Talking about real ROI

It’s great that we can start talking about real ROI and conversions coming from social media. Awareness and engagement are vital but we’ve reached a level of maturity in social media that we can explore actual return on investment.

ROI has been a common challenge until now, but the rise of attribution and the evolution of marketing technology allow us to have a clearer picture of which social networks help us meet our goals.

In other words, ROI is not just a buzzword anymore—but it’s up to us to set the right goals for our business plan.

Focusing on the right platforms

As we focus more on ROI we also realize that there’s no need to be present in every single social network. It’s better to spend our energy and our budget in the most relevant social platforms for our target audience as we’re able to narrow down our focus and our messaging.

Thus, more marketers spend time on fewer yet more relevant social platforms. The choice depends on the company’s goals, their industry, and their audience’s online habits. Why should your B2B company join Instagram if you’re targeting 50+ business professionals?

In fact, Snapchat has probably lost the biggest audience in 2018, since both marketers and users moved to other platforms. It was estimated that only 8% of marketers used Snapchat as part of their strategy in Q1 2018.

Blending organic and paid social

We’ve finally come to terms with the fact that organic and paid social need to come together. We may have gone through a denial phase measuring the ongoing drop of the organic traffic on Facebook, but it’s time to embrace the change.

Paid social has gained an even more significant role over the last year, and it is imperative for a complete social media marketing strategy to involve both organic and paid growth.

Marketers need both of them to create a balance between their existing audience and their prospect followers. Facebook has made it quite clear that organic marketing will not survive without a paid budget in their platform. This was the final push for any cautious marketers who weren’t using Facebook Ads in the past years.

However, there is still the need to be strategic in different areas, from managing your budget to targeting engagement.

Heading from influencers to micro influencers

Another sign of maturity from marketers is the fact that influencers are not measured by the number of followers anymore. We now place higher value on the relevance and context of collaboration.

Influencer marketing is heading into a phase of transparency with clear indications of paid partnerships between influencers and brands.

There’s no need to request a big budget to seal a collaboration with the biggest celebrity to promote your campaign. Micro influencers and vloggers have turned into the new generation of celebrities. They don’t necessarily have a massive audience but they have loyal and extremely engaged fans.

A brand can have far better success with a relevant vlogger with 50k subscribers rather than an influencer with 2m fans. This change comes from the changing algorithms, the users’ cautiousness when it comes to fake stories, and the genuine need of belonging in a community. People have more chances to connect with an everyday blogger who found growing success rather than a top model who may be working with multiple brands every week.

This doesn’t mean that collaborations of larger scale don’t exist anymore, but they have a clear purpose and they can be more successful in the awareness and the exposure of big brands. If you don’t have the budget, you can still promote your campaign with more relevant micro influencers.

Being more serious about analytics

A key point that led to the maturity of social media marketing has to do with the increased focus on data. It’s more common than ever to build data-driven campaigns and messaging on social media and this comes down to using the right tools.

Marketing technology has seen an explosive growth and we’re reaping the benefits of it. There are numerous tools to measure the performance of your social media campaigns.

You can use social media analytics to:

  • Analyze your competitors’ performance
  • Learn more about your audience
  • Measure the success of your campaign
  • Perform market research when testing new ideas
  • Keep track of your mentions and your brand’s sentiment
  • Follow the latest trends in your brand’s social profiles

The right use of technology can make it easier for you to talk about social ROI while proving the areas of growth. There’s no need to focus on vanity metrics like simply the number of followers or number of clicks.

In fact, you can even save time by automating the generation of your reports.

Where is social media marketing heading?

It’s not easy to predict the future of social media marketing but we can tell that it’s heading towards an era where the most successful brands will be the ones that know their audience.

The more time you spend on understanding your audience, the easier it will be to build trust with the right messaging and the most relevant campaigns.

As people get more cautious with social media, marketers need to reassure them by creating campaigns that highlight a brand’s human element.

Trust and accountability across social platforms will be crucial to strategy.

The best way to maintain a successful social media marketing strategy is to keep a close eye on the social media updates without ignoring your audience’s needs.

We can’t predict which social platforms we’ll be using in five years, but we can still ensure that our strategies will be agile enough to maintain the relevance of our marketing plans.