Archive | October, 2018

15 Social Media Marketing Strategies the Pros Use

29 Oct

More than 70 percent of small businesses plan on using social media for marketing this year, according to data from Infusionsoft. But not all of those businesses have an actual strategy.

Posting content here and there isn’t going to be as effective as going in with a real plan. Every strategy will look a bit different, but there’s no shortage of options to choose from.

Social Media Marketing Strategies

Here are some expert-approved strategies to promote your small business on social media.

Start with One Platform and Build from There

When you’re just getting started building a social media presence, it can be tempting to go all in and attempt to reach people on every platform. But this is a recipe for overwhelm.

I strongly recommend a conservative approach to social media, especially when starting out. I have seen many dive into social media and then fail to maintain their presence simply because they were overzealous. I’m not implying you shouldn’t review what new sites and tools have to offer, but I recommend that you carefully assess their potential benefits for your business before throwing time and money at them.

Create a Unified Presence

Whether you end up using one social platform or many, it’s important for people to be able to spot your brand anywhere online. It should look professional and consistent with your website and other marketing materials. So update your profile photos and/or header images to go with your branding. It’s also incredibly important to have a professional headshot for LinkedIn, rather than going with the standard avatar.

Put Yourself in Your Audience’s Shoes

Building a content strategy looks a bit different for every business. You’ll never post exactly the same content or topics as anyone else. However, it is always important to post things that are going to be interesting or helpful specifically for your target customers. So before posting new content, get in the mindset of your customer persona and ask what you’d want to see.

Use the RITE Formula

RITE is another formula that is used  to assess the viability of specific types of content. RITE = Relevant, Interesting, Timely and Entertaining. So essentially, consider every post with those characteristics in mind. Ideally, it will hit at least a few of those check boxes.

Aggregate Content from Your Audience

Sometimes the best way to get the attention of potential customers on social media is to re-post content from current customers. When you aggregate content about your business from other users, it serves as a kind of social proof. It shows people that others just like them use your product or service and love them, whether it’s an Instagram post of a customer wearing your handmade scarf or text from an online review.

Anyone can write a few sentences, slap a fake name on it and add a stock photo of a smiling face to create fake testimonials. But utilizing compliments, reviews, and testimonials from social media has a different effect.

Promote Reviews

Though social media posts are great, many people still trust official reviews more. Sites like Facebook offer a review function, so it’s a great place to promote positive reviews, which adds some social proof and also reminds other customers to share their thoughts.

Humanize Your Business with Behind the Scenes Media

Anyone can go to your website to learn the basics about your business. But people follow brands on social media to make deeper connections. That means you should show the person(s) behind your business in your post. Share a selfie or go live on Facebook to connect with people face-to-face. Share some video content from your office. Or even go live at a special event with your whole team.

People form relationships – and relationships are built on trust. Humanizing a business, especially with photos and videos, have often exceeded reach more than any other organic tactic we’ve tried to implement.

Host a Contest or Challenge

To really get people engaged with your brand, offer an incentive. Host a giveaway or raffle if people use your specified hashtag or post an image or video of your product. There are plenty of ways to personalize this experience to your particular brand and customers.

Monitor Conversations from Your Target Customers

Listening is just as important as posting on social media, if not more so. On social media sites we can eavesdrop on the conversations and understand what the needs really are and the emotions behind them. Listening to a wide range of conversations on social media gives you a perception of what people really think, unfiltered and, generally, unguided. Be a fly on the wall without an agenda of changing the conversation.

Ask Questions

Another way to learn more about your customers is to simply ask what you want to know. Ask an open ended question to start conversations or host a poll on Twitter or Instagram to get some quantifiable data.

Stick to Your Own Voice

One of the keys to social media is consistency. Another is authenticity. People who follow you want to feel like they actually know you. So don’t constantly switch between posting techniques or tones or change up your content whenever there’s a fleeting trend. Instead, go for an authentic approach and actually post how you would when talking to a friend. If you have multiple people posting to your account, make sure they understand the voice you’re trying to convey or even have a similar style naturally.

Customers are media savvy and can see through a fake facade very quickly. Therefore, increasingly, people prefer to stick to brands that have a unique, individual voice, especially when it comes to the service industry where personal branding is everything. In a competitive marketplace, authenticity also stands out as one of the most appealing traits.

Don’t ONLY Automate

Automating social media posts can save you a lot of time when it comes to things like promoting blog posts or aggregating content. But you shouldn’t rely on it solely. Set aside at least some time each day to check in on your network and look for opportunities to start conversations.

The benefits of automation for marketing and time/costs savings is enormous. However, automation should not replace the human element when it comes to marketing on social media. Find ways to connect with your followers in a genuine, empathetic, human way, as often as you can. Building an authentic relationship with your audience goes a long way in ensuring that they will continue to enjoy your brand, recommend it to others, and stay loyal customers for a long time to come.

Host Regular Live Sessions

There is one increasingly popular tactic that allows you to show off a behind the scenes view of your business while also increasing follower engagement in a really authentic way — live streaming. You can host live sessions on Facebook or Instagram at a set time each week or month so your audience knows when to tune in. Then you can also repurpose that content.

One of the biggest benefits of live streaming is the engagement and all of the feedback that you can get from your audience in real-time.There’s also the added benefit of the longevity of the replay and one of the things that you can do with every play is convert it into an episode for your podcast.

Host a Flash Sale

If you want to increase sales quickly, you might host a flash sale that’s only available to people who follow you on social media. You can even unload surplus goods just by posting photos on Instagram or Facebook and having people bid in the comments.

Monitor Your Mentions and Respond

The thing that really sets social media apart from other communication methods is that it’s a two-way street. You don’t just broadcast messages to your audience — they use it to get in touch with you. So it’s super important that you monitor those messages regularly and respond.

This can result in hard feelings and missed opportunities. When people engage with you on social media, they expect a response promptly.

Should I Outsource My Social Media? 6 Questions to Ask Yourself

22 Oct

With every other Instagram star being a social media guru these days, it’s common for businesses to ask themselves whether they should look into outsourcing their social media efforts.

The day-to-day tasks of running a business are generally enough for the average CEO, causing social media marketing to fall short on the priority calendar.

Social media marketing is its own beast and requires a special attention and level of creativity. Frankly, it isn’t for everyone.

If you’re going back and forth on whether to outsource your social media marketing, ask yourself the following questions first.

1. How Much Time Do I Have to Devote to Managing Social Media?

Time is the biggest reason businesses look to outsourcing their social media.

Social media isn’t just about scheduling posts.

You actually have to invest time in:

  • Tracking your brand mentions on social media.
  • Monitoring the conversations that are happening.
  • Trying new growth hack methods.
  • Responding immediately to any inquiries.

All of this needs to happen 24/7, too.

To say social media management can be done by setting aside 1-2 hours a week is really quite hilarious.

The time you invest in managing your brand’s social pages and image can’t be categorized into a lump one or few hour time period. It is something that requires constant attention and generally in small intervals.

This is especially true for brands that have large followings and receive question after question through their social pages.

For those smaller to medium-sized businesses who argue, “Well, I don’t have tons of followers, so I just post and I’m good,” I hate to break it to you, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

If anything, the brands that have smaller followings have even more work cut out for them as they try to grow their followers organically and through paid methods. Talk about overtime. 

There are tons of excellent growth hacking methods to get your follower count as high as Nike, but to execute those methods it takes lots and lots of time and energy.

Social media isn’t a one and done type of strategy. You need to continually be optimizing your followers and be social online.

2. Do I Know How to Be Social Online?

Social media isn’t an excuse to hide behind a computer and not actually talk to anyone. You still need to talk to your followers.

There’s truly an art to being a social butterfly online, and not everyone has the knack. Let’s be honest with ourselves.

If you just really don’t have the energy, creativity, or will to be a virtual social butterfly, don’t be.

If you have the time, there are tons of resources to teach you how to connect with people virtually and become this type of butterfly for your brand.

Maybe you do have the time and want to learn how to connect with your demographic socially, go for it!

One of the biggest pieces of advice I can give you though is to know your audience.

If your audience is just as introverted as you are they’ll most likely continue that introverting in how they communicate online.

Instead of being on flashy social media pages like Instagram or Snapchat they may be hiding in forums or casually browsing Pinterest.

Wherever they may be mimic your customer, go where they are, talk like they talk, create content they’re comfortable with. Don’t be an extrovert in an introverts world.

If the idea of this is making you cringe, it would be best for you to outsource your social media to an agency who has done work for another business within your industry.

This is someone who knows how to talk to be a virtual social butterfly to youraudience.

3. Have I Established My Brand Voice? If So, How Unique Is It?

Brand voice is everything on social media.

Again, know your audience but also know your brand before you even try to connect with your audience.

  • Are your posts funny and sarcastic?
  • Do they only have calls to action and demands?
  • Are you capitalizing on every big news story?
  • Or are you more of a DIY mom who has a 10-year old blog?

All of those voices are entirely different. Though most agencies will, not all agencies are great at mimicking your brand voice.

The first step here is to get your brand voice down. Once you have it, never lose it!

Then, document everything you possibly can about this voice.

  • What words should this voice use?
  • Which ones should it avoid at all costs and never ever ever ever use?
  • Who are other companies who have a similar brand voice?

The more you document, the more you’ll see if this is something you can trust in another brands hands to help manage for you or if you should hold onto this baby yourself.

After all, you’re the one who created it.

In short:

  • If you have a well-documented brand voice, a good social media agency will be able to send you example copies for your approval until you feel at ease that they get it.
  • If you’re still trying to find your brand voice and are at the beginning stages of this strategy, now isn’t exactly the best time to outsource your social media management.
  • If you’re going to outsource anything, hire a social media consultant to help define your brand voice for social media and then take it from there.

4. Do I Have Content or Do I Need Content?

One way to do social media is to be completely hands off and let a social media agency do all of the work for you, which can even include creating the content to share.

If you have your own content to share, I’m not saying it’s a deal breaker and you should just suck it up and manage social media yourself.

What I’m saying is that if you’re struggling to figure out which type of content to produce, or if you should reshare that ebook from three years ago, it’s worth outsourcing your content production to a professional.

This professional is going to need a good debrief about your business, how and why it operates, who it’s ideal and actual customers are, and what kind of content materials you already have.

From there, outsourcing content may be the best move for your business.

You can still manage the social media in-house, but without the worries of trying to figure out what kind of content your followers actually want to see.

5. Can I Afford to Outsource?

Social media agencies, independent contractors, and content creators all come at entirely different price ranges.

Sometimes, their price ranges are less expensive than your in-house social media manager. Other times not so much.

Outsourcing social media could cost anywhere from $500 to tens of thousands of dollars a month, all depending upon the following factors:

  • What kind of outsourcing: Freelance (least expensive), agency (middle), or enterprise (highest)
  • What the monthly deliverables are: More posts and content creation = higher price
  • How long the contract length is: Longer contracts = price cuts
  • Social media tool subscriptions: Sometimes agencies require you to have your own account
  • Social media advertising: Because organic is no longer good enough

Let’s not forget about the time it takes for you to email back and forth, edit, approve and review reports.

Here’s a look at everything that comes with in-house costs of social media management:

  • Employees (salary, benefits, etc.).
  • Social media tool subscriptions.
  • Content creation.
  • Social media advertising.
  • Strategy development and measurement (time and tools).

If you go the freelancer route, you’re certainly saving money on those benefit coverages, but it may not always be the right path. You’re still looking at investing:

  • Your management time.
  • Your communication time.
  • Content creation.
  • Social media advertising.

6. What Should I Do?

So, which one is right for you?

It depends on tons of different goals and factors, most which we hashed out above.

To put it simply, if you’re already head over heels with to-do lists and the idea of carving out extra time to do another task is making your other eye twitch, do yourself a favor and outsource. It will be the least time-invested resource.

Though, don’t forget, it will still require a bit of your time and movement in your budget.

How to Ace Social Media Marketing with Limited Resources

15 Oct

Social media today drives the life of the internet savvy. Naturally, it is the preferred channel for businesses to reach out to consumers, generate brand buzz, and achieve business goals. Businesses big or small, all have social profiles and are working towards making their presence felt on social mediaHere are some tips on how to crush social media marketing while optimizing limited resources.

Social Media marketing becomes more difficult if you are on a shoestring budget. But if you are thinking about it – you are on the right track. Let’s find out how you can optimize and effectively utilize your limited resources for an effective social media marketing strategy.

Survey Before You Start

You have to be economical, which means you cannot splurge to experiment widely and see what works. So, start small. Conduct a simple survey to understand who your potential customers are, where they are spending most of their time, and what kind of content they like to engage with.

You cannot target everyone, but narrowing down your options will help you use your resources more concretely and effectively.

To get the most out of the process, follow the process outlined below:

Identify the right audience: Use surveys and gather feedback to understand what your customers want, which target audience is most likely to find value in your business, and what their preferences are.

Determine the right content: Audience analysis helps you determine the type of content your target audience would prefer consuming. Would they prefer quizzes? How about story form content? Which contest are they more likely to enjoy: the one that gives them free passes to a book launch or the one with a discount coupon on their favorite sports gear? Pick the content that fits your brand persona. For example, does your product need demonstrations? Video content might be the answer for you.

Ascertain the right social channels: Once you have identified whom you are targeting, you can figure out which social channels they use the most. If you are in the travel industry, Instagram and Facebook may be the best channels for getting engagement. You need not spread your eggs across all baskets, a strong presence and a focused approach on a couple of channels will be more effective.

  • An ideal channel would be:
  • Aligned with your business
  • The preferred channel for your audience
  • Well suited to your content

Set Your Social Media Goals

It is essential to have realistic expectations from your social media campaigns. You should have clear, attainable and measurable goals like:

  • Creating brand awareness
  • Lead generation
  • Boosting engagement
  • Customer service

If you have identified your goals, you would be able to align your business decisions with them. Remember, social media is most apt for creating brand awareness and establishing brand relevance.

Plan Your Strategy

Once you have set your goals, you should devise a strategy to achieve it. You could be on a low budget, have a small team, have basic tools at your disposal, and little experience. But if you are creative and systematic, things will fall into place.

  • Create customer profiles based on your surveys.
  • Create your brand persona by creating a brand personality by crafting your voice and tone.
  • Devise a posting strategy to determine the number of posts per day, the type of posts, time of updates, etc. Of course, it won’t be fixed, but there should be a pattern which your audience can identify with.
  • Relevant Value Proposition: Tell your prospects what’s in it for them. It makes you stand out from the competition if the customer feels you are offering some value to her.
  • Analyze Content Performance: Test what content performs the best, and the one that is lagging. Is it the content or the content format that is making the difference? Is the audience moving towards videos rather than blog posts? Do they prefer educational content over a story form? Measure and tweak your content strategy accordingly.
  • Use Videos: Marketers swear by videos as they are more appealing, grab attention, are easier to recall, and communicate more information in less time. Include videos for demos, tutorials, how-tos, customer experiences, etc.
  • Go Interactive: Interactive content is more engaging and informative for customers and helps you capture more data and relevant data.

Hire a Good Resource

If you can possibly make room to invest in professional help, do so. This will speed up the process, and you may end up saving resources.

  • Hire agencies that have proven experience, and that can give you a head-start. There are many small but creative agencies, which will not charge the earth but will help catapult your social presence, hence delivering ROI. However, stay clear from those who promise big numbers in a short time.
  • Influencers are a great way to reach out to your target audience. You need not chase big names. Try teaming up with local influencers. They may fit your budget and have a niche following which is well suited for your targeted strategy.

Use Social Media Marketing Tools

There are plenty of content creation and social media marketing tools that are free and easy to use. These tools can help you design, curate content, automate, track and analyze performance.

Social media marketing cannot be ignored as traditional channels are losing their steam. Whether you are a big brand or a small but nimble upstart, you need to leverage social media to reach out to your target audience. Allocating time, budgets, and teams becomes tricky for businesses with limited resources, but if you have clear goals and a focused approach you can establish an effective social media presence that will keep giving you dividends.

4 Major Ways in Which Big Data is Impacting Social Media Marketing

8 Oct

With the advent and increased use of the internet, social media has become an integral part of people’s daily routine. Social media is not only used to connect with others, but it has become an effective platform for businesses to reach their target audience. With the emergence of big data, social media marketing has reached an altogether new level. It is estimated that by 2020 the accumulated volume of big data will reach 44 trillion gigabytes. With such an enormous amount of data available, marketers are able to utilize it to get actionable insights for framing efficient social media marketing strategies.

All the status updates, photos and videos posted by users on their social network contain useful information about their demographics, likes, dislikes, etc. Businesses are utilizing this information in numerous ways, managing and analyzing it to get a competitive edge. Big data is used by marketers to plan for future social media campaigns by learning everything they need to know about their potential customers and approaching them. This post will throw light on the application of big data on social media marketing, examining its current as well as future impact.

Personalization

Big data enables personalization allowing brands to approach their customers in a more personalized way based on their choices and likes. It gives in-depth insights and a holistic understanding of the audience, which aids businesses in creating tailored communication for them to enhance retention and elevate their trust.

With big data, it will become easier for brands to display only those advertisements which interest consumers, turning ads into a non-obtrusive experience. Advertisements will be targeted based on users’ social media posts, what they watch and share, etc. With personalized ads, it will be possible for marketers to strengthen their relationships with social media users and convert them into customers after identifying the most effective platform, time and format for their ads.

Decision making

Big data allows marketers to identify social media trends and gain insights, which can be used to make engagement decisions like which users to communicate with, which group of users should receive marketing emails., etc. It also makes it easier to keep track of the demographics to decide which social media platform to target.

Businesses can easily understand the sentiments of the market through big data, enabling them to build winning strategies. Instead of relying solely on past performance to ascertain what improvements are required, big data aids in making informed decisions to better meet the future needs and expectations of consumers.

Effectiveness of campaign

Big data is useful in tracking the performance of social media campaigns and finding out the gradual changes in ROI. It also allows marketers to test their campaigns before launching it, analyze the results, make changes in the campaign as required, and retest it. Predictive analytical tools enable businesses to take decision regarding when to pause the campaign to avoid losses.

By deriving actionable insights from big data, businesses get an idea about the peak timings of customers, their preferences, behavior, etc., leading to increased effectiveness of the social media campaign. Marketers can get important information about the process their clients took right from the first stage of the buying cycle to post-purchase interaction, making them fine tune the campaign at every stage of the cycle.

Product Insights

Social media marketers can effectively use big data to judge future buying patterns and trends. Big data increases the certainty regarding what consumers want, when they want it, and how they want it. This gives businesses insights into what their new products should be like.

Businesses can utilize big data to analyze the choices of people, their complaints, what products are missing, faults in the products, etc. This will enable them to make changes in the current product and come out with new innovative products.

Conclusion

There is a continuous increase in the number of people interacting with brands on social media platforms. This makes it essential for you to be data savvy to remain competitive and stay relevant in the social media landscape. Seeing the massive amount of data produced by these platforms, it becomes crucial that you make use of big data in your social media marketing campaigns.

Big data will allow you to analyze the behavior of buyers and target an exact group of people. By giving you in-depth insights, it will assist you in fine-tuning your social media messages and choosing the right platform to communicate them to buyers. The more information you get about consumers, the better you will be able to target them through your social media campaigns.

Search Social Media Marketing: Looking Beyond Reach

1 Oct

Marketers have long focused on the reach of their social media messages as a key measurement. After all, if your post, tweet, video or image is being shared, reach represents how big an audience that asset is potentially making an impression on.  But marketers are realizing that reach, while valuable at the start of a campaign, is not enough to determine success and provides few meaningful insights into long-term customer engagement.

However, by monitoring two areas — message consistency over time and audience sentiment in response to the message — marketers can take better control of the impact of their social media presence.

Social Buzz, All For a ‘B’

The recent IHOP burger campaign is an example of how consistency and sentiment can be applied to create buzz. The restaurant chain teased its Twitter and Facebook followers with a faux name change to “iHOB” in an effort to build support for its new burger line. The company carried the name change ruse going by changing the letter “p” with the letter “b” in select social media posts.

Consumer reaction on social media, particularly Twitter, varied from disbelief to encouragement to interest in the new burger line. Moreover competitors, such as Wendy’s and Burger King, jumped in with their own responses.

Message Consistency

The IHOP campaign succeeded in part because it stayed consistent with its message. The effort generated positive sentiment around its brand, even at the risk of disappointment or other negative reactions from long-time customers.

Measuring Sentiment Analysis

The rise of social media brought with it a newfound interest in sentiment analysis.  Up until now marketers could keep track of a hashtag to describe the sentiment of a potential message. They would do this by maintaining a dedicated channel in Hootsuite or Tweetdeck. But this relied on people using a hashtag reach does not capture audience reaction to a message.

The latest analytic solutions have some analysis complexity in gathering the data. However, they are bringing marketers closer to understanding the reaction to a message.  Sentiment analysis, for example, can be applied to the words of a social media posts through R Programming, all while minimizing statistical biases.  This is done by taking the words from a tweet, stripping out the punctuation and specialty terms (like a URL) and then comparing the words against a lexicon.  Being able to estimate an audience feeling from the words can help marketers see how their messages are bringing an emotional impact.  I demonstrated a sentiment analysis at the O’reilly OSCON conference this summer, showing that the reaction was indeed positive despite some negative and competitor commentary to the campaign.

Sentiment analysis is a signpost for marketers to use methodologies that go beyond reach to understand engaged audiences.   Noting how far a message was reposted indicates volume, but it does not cover if people really appreciated the message.