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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.

These 5 Pieces of Social Media Video News will Change Small Business Marketing

16 Jul

When it comes to engagement, video is a vividly colored unicorn. It captures the eye, draws the user in, and holds their attention for a longer duration.

Video certainly isn’t new on social media, but there have been recent changes that directly impact publishers and video marketing specialists. In case these didn’t fall onto your radar, here are 5 social media video news announcements that are worthy of your attention.

  1. Facebook Opens Watch to More Creators

Facebook is giving creators and publishers more tools in their video-oriented arsenal by expanding its offerings.

Originally, Watch was only going to feature original programming and content. However, Facebook decided to include videos from Pages as well, and a larger number of creators will be eligible. To help find the ideal creators, the Facebook for Creators Launchpad program will assist in identifying candidates.

Additionally, new revenue opportunities will also be available. This can be a boon for organizations that were harmed by monetization changes on channels like YouTube, giving creators and publishers additional options for their content.

You must apply to join the program, which will focus on longer, engaging, and authentic content.

  1. Instagram Launches IGTV

When it comes to video, YouTube is the unicorn in the space. But Instagram wants to change that though it’s new standalone app, IGTV.

IGTV will welcome long-form video, including hour-long uploads. Plus, the content will be displayed as full-length vertical videos, keeping people from having to shift their phone between the portrait to landscape orientations to use the app.

Instagram has 1 billion users and has seen a 60 percent increase in the amount of video being consumed on the platform. IGTV is attempting to capitalize on the interest in video.

Advertising isn’t on the platform yet, but that will likely change quickly once the platform gains a following.

  1. Parents Make Their Voices Heard

Over recent years, parents have been increasingly vocal when it comes to concerns over the YouTube’s algorithms. Multiple incidents involving content being directed to children that is not kid-friendly, disturbing, negative, or destructive created varying levels of uproar.

YouTube has been working to improve its algorithms, but growing pains have led to some missteps. Additionally, the sheer volume of content created additional challenges, requiring the company to hire more staff members to moderate activities on the platform.

  1. Facebook Messenger to Introduce Autoplay Ads

A feature that is already available through News Feeds and on Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, autoplay ads will soon be arriving on Facebook Messenger. The ads will display in a sponsored portion of the main feed in the Messenger app, and all advertisers are eligible for the program.

While this could present companies with an opportunity to engage with a wider audience, users have mixed feelings about autoplay ads in general. At this point, only a small number of users are being exposed to the ads, and Facebook is gauging their reaction before rolling it out to additional users.

  1. Biggest VidCon Ever

VidCon, a convention that attracts online video content creators and video platforms, saw its highest attendance records when the event kicked off on June 20, 2018. While YouTube usually dominated the conference, every major player came in this year to tout their capabilities.

Facebook, Twitch, Twitter, and Snapchat all made their presence known, particularly since many creators have grown frustrated with YouTube over demonetization, the high amount of competition, and other changes made by the company.

Ultimately, the world of social media video is changing rapidly, and will likely continue to do so for the foreseeable future thanks to the popularity of video on the platforms. New opportunities for companies will continue to emerge, and those who are vigilant can take advantage of them early, creating a strong mechanism for staying ahead of the competition while engaging with a wider user base.

Is Your Social Media Marketing Strategy Effective? Here’s How You’ll Know

25 Jun

With more than 50 million businesses owning a Facebook Business Page and 94 percent of B2B organizations relying on LinkedIn for content marketing and distribution, it is clear that social media is continuing to grow.

With so many new businesses breaking into Social Media, it is no wonder they can often times feel overwhelmed and find it hard to determine the impact it is having for their business.

Social media ROI comes down to having a strong understanding of what your goals are, what you plan to do, and what you’re looking to get out of it.

Let’s review some key steps to building a social media strategy that results in definite ROI.

Social Media ROI Definition

ROI is getting a return. Obvious, right?

But when it comes down to how to calculate social media ROI, it isn’t just the result of revenue minus expenses.

ROI is value received in return of an investment.

The value you receive as a return on your social media marketing investment might include increased:

  • Customer lifetime value: Transactions —  sales
  • Customer referral value: Referrals — leads, traffic
  • Customer influence value: Word of mouth — branding, reach
  • Customer knowledge value: Information — market research

You might be interested to know that engagement is the social media metric most important to respondents of Search Engine Journal’s 2017 state of digital survey.

Recent research in the Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science connects customer engagement strategy to marketing goals, like customer acquisition, growth including cross-selling and upselling, and retention.

If the value you’re looking for isn’t something that social can provide, then what’s the point of investing in social?

If it is, then it’s time to set your Social Media goals.

How to Determine Social Media ROI

ROI is getting a return. ROI isn’t just a number.

You need to know where your audience is most active and the platform they are using. You need to evaluate your internal resources and Then understand the investment of time and energy for quality updates.

Once you have your setup, then you determine what is the ROI — understanding your goal and what you’re getting out of it. Then you can understand the return. Here are a few tips to help you figure it out:

1. Know your social media goal.

First determine what social media means to your company.

What’s your reason for jumping on social media. Is it realistic?

From driving leads, sales, and traffic to automating or scaling customer service to information gathering, a social media campaign may make a lot of sense.

There are many different goals that will influence how you utilize social media as a whole, such as:

  • Increased website traffic

  • Increased leads

  • Increased sales

  • Increased customer engagement

  • Reduced cost of customer service

  • Information

  • Exposure to a new audience

By the way, obtaining information from your current or potential customers is a commonly overlooked goal. And I urge you not to forget the value of data.

2. Align your social media activity to your resources.

For this step, you should absolutely look inward.

If your whole company is on Facebook regularly, knows its features and community expectations and participates on Facebook naturally, well, you see where I’m going with this.

Better ROI might come from not having to hire a new person for Facebook.

Developing your social media strategy is more than throwing a body on an initiative and hoping it comes out well.

3. Reality check the social channel.

Before you jump on social, consider the longevity of the channel.

Snapchat’s growth has become stagnant, down to around 2 percent quarter to quarter, as of Q1 2018. With Instagram growing to become one of the most popular social networks worldwide, it seems only a matter of time before they replace Snapchat all together.

Facebook Pages are becoming less visible. A recent Facebook News Feed algorithm update reduces the chances for Facebook Page content to be seen as much in the organic News Feed. Depending on how things progress, traffic from Facebook could continue to dwindle.

Obviously, developing a strategy for a platform in its sunset days doesn’t make sense for ROI.

4. Analyze your data to determine ROI.

At the end of the day, you’ve started with a clear goal in sight and designed a campaign that matched your goal to your audience to a channel and your resources.

You put tracking in place and assigned a value to your metric. With the performance data rolling in and everything in front of you, you can ask the question: Did this campaign show ROI?

Say, for example, your goal was traffic and your campaign ran on Facebook. You posted content combining statistics and great images. As a result you got a 2-3 times increase in website page views over the lifetime of the campaign. That’s a campaign that demonstrated ROI.

What do you want social to give you to make you feel good at the end of a campaign?

After Facebook and Snapchat, What’s Next for Social Media Marketing?

4 Jun

We’re in an interesting time, to say the least, for social media marketing.

Today, for most large brands, small businesses and creators, it’s hard to stand out from the digital noise on social media without investing large sums of money into advertising and content that includes investing in resources (people) for graphic design and video production.

In spite of the social media landscape continuously evolving through algorithm changes and Snapchat’s recent redesign, which has made it harder for users to get views on their content in both cases, there’s still value to be had from a sales and marketing standpoint if businesses go back to the basics of 1-to-1 marketing and accept the reality that organic reach is depressed without ad spend.

Is Snapchat for business dead?

For the greater part of two years, Instagram has made significant improvements to its platform that have resulted in a mass movement of marketers and creators who once believed that Snapchat would, in fact, be the next Facebook over to Instagram. A recent poll in the Social Media Masterminds group on Facebook indicated that less than 10 percent of professionals are using Snapchat in their business. While Snapchat is not dead completely, the potential reach isn’t there for most businesses unless their target demographic is between the ages of 13 and 24 years old.

Facebook ads

Whether you’re a florist, a local gardener or a dry-cleaning company, the easiest way to reach local buyers in your city or town is through Facebook ads. Personally, I work with real estate agents and I often recommend setting aside a minimum Facebook ad budget of $300 per month or $10 per day to get their content in front of the right audience versus posting their content to an unknown user base. With such a small percentage of page fans seeing your content these days, running Facebook ads is not an option – it’s a requirement.

Chatbots and AI

Bots are a practical tool for businesses that can’t invest in hiring a dedicated community or social media manager. Within your own Facebook page you can set up a Messenger bot assistant within a couple of minutes (for free) whereby anytime someone clicks on the “Send Message” button on your page she will receive an auto-reply message whereby you can let your visitor know that you’re currently away but to leave you a message and you will get in touch ASAP.

How Social Media Marketing Can Adjust to Meet Waning User Trust

14 May

There is always a learning curve for society when it comes to new technology.

This has always been true, even long before the Internet or social media came onto the scene. But while there’s always been a slight, resistant tension between people and the tech that’s pulling them into the future, we have largely gone along with the development of social media as it has grown over the past 15 or so years. We’ve created accounts and shared personal information; we’ve posted terabytes of photos and written memoirs in status updates. Digital marketers know what this trade-off entails—a fun, convenient service in exchange for personal data—but it’s also easy to forget that ordinary users without a marketing background don’t readily understand the scale of how their social data is used.

And while platforms like Facebook have made middling attempts to explain their platform to their users, they’ve continued to pull them along—and it seems the tension may have finally snapped.

While watching the Facebook hearings a couple weeks ago—an exercise that taught us less about how social media works and more about how much the government has also been left behind by the rapid development—I found myself thinking about how crazy the past year has been for social platforms. While Facebook takes heat for data security and giving access to third parties, Twitter continues to update their account banning policies in an effort to keep up with complaints of unsavory content and bots, and Reddit also struggles to prune back tides of fake or automated accounts.

Social media as a whole is undergoing an intense stress test that, hopefully, will translate into systematic improvements to the platforms we know and love to use. But the stress test has come at a cost, and platforms are paying for that cost by expending audience trust.

How a Leak Turns Into to a Flood

Users are rapidly losing trust in many of the social platforms they love to use. Today, Facebook is the clearest example, having struggled to maintain a younger audience last year only to then lose more users and approximately $70 billion in light of the Cambridge Analytica data leaks. Twitter has had a less dramatic struggle in recent months, touting their first profitable quarter in nearly 12 years—largely driven by international growth while their US audience declined by a million users.

When this shift in trust is examined on a larger scale, the issue only becomes more pronounced. The 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer—a massive, global study conducted every year to measure public sentiment towards major institutions—rightly subtitled this year’s report “The Battle for Truth.” In it, they found that the world as a whole has become more distrustful over the past year, with the US leading the charge, dropping 23 places in global ranking for the informed public’s trust in media outlets.

Specifically, where social media is concerned, trust in social platforms continued to decline as it has since 2016, nearly bringing us to an even 50-50 split between trusting and distrusting audiences using social media. An interesting note, however, is that journalistic outlets have seen a significant increase in the percentage of the population that trusts them, jumping by 5 percent since last year to nearly 60 percent. And in this, there may be lessons for marketers to take note of.

Speaking to Distrust

Brands that want to maintain effective social media marketing during this tumultuous time need to fundamentally reorient how they approach social media.

To date, social media marketers have by and large taken a “hear no evil, see no evil” approach to social media management. We offer content and conversation on our pages only to also run promotional social advertisements that we just simply don’t speak to. We use demographic targeting and audience insights to boost posts or plan for distributions, but work to ensure every step of our audience interaction comes off as solely organic. We exist on platforms embroiled in technological, political, and societal turmoil, but work to prune those conversations out of our comments and conversations.

This approach has worked for a long time because users were willing to engage with this fantasy—they also did not want to see, hear, or engage with the fact that the platform they used was collecting their data. But the coin has flipped, and now users are in a place where they more readily associate silence on social media matters with complicity rather than comfort.

Brands need to begin taking a more active role in earning audience trust if they hope to maintain it.

Embrace Transparency

As users become more comfortable understanding and talking about the ways in which their data is used, transparency into brands’ practices becomes a highly sought-after commodity. Rather than disengaging or ignoring conversations about how your brand interacts with user privacy and data, try to proactively explain your processes and how you protect your audience.

Be Idealistic

One of the primary drivers of distrust recently has been a disconnect between spoken ideals and active ideals practiced by brands (for instance, Facebook promoting the idea of building community, but then selling inordinate amounts of data to third parties). This offers an opportunity for brands that are willing to speak openly about their ideals and back it up with content and action. Brands are seeing success with this tactic in even the most extreme, politicized scenarios, which formerly would have been considered PR suicide.

Respond Promptly to Criticism

Even if your brand comes under scrutiny during this time, this doesn’t mean you should back away from hard conversations with your audience. Rather, take steps to engage your audience to understand what they would consider to be a solution, and implement it publicly to earn trust rather than defeat. You don’t have to take this as far as Elon Musk did and completely delete your Facebook presence, but listening and reacting will always go a long way.

Marketers are working at a unique time in history when society is contending with what privacy and big data can mean for them on a personal level. While the Facebook hearings may be done, these conversations are far from over, and it remains unclear how these conversations will shape the platforms we use, or how users interact with those platforms in general. What is clear, however, is that trust remains a consistently valued commodity throughout time, regardless of how our means of communication change. Brands that seek to be accessible, communicative, and responsive to the needs of their audiences will always find marketing success. But during times when trust is held at such a high premium, brands might also be able to turn success into even greater opportunity for growth.

6 Social Media Trends That Will Dominate Summer 2018 Marketing

7 May

Keeping up with social media seems like an impossible task some days. No sooner do you perfect your marketing on a platform than a new one springs up or begins to rise in popularity.

On top of that, the makeup of your Internet audience is constantly changing and shifting.

The best way to figure out how to plan your summer social media marketing campaign is to look at upcoming trends.

1. Event Tie-Ins

One way to up the presence of your brand on social media is to figure out which summer events you can relate to your industry.

One of the easiest ways to tie into summer activities is to first look at major holidays — Memorial Day and Fourth of July, for example. Next, look at major national and global events, such as the Summer Olympics or big festivals.

Then, you can piggyback off the marketing for these events by tying into a hashtag or running specials of your own during the same timeframe. Expect to see summer marketing tie into various summer events, both in the specials offered and hashtags used. For example, the brand Omeka uses hashtags such as #summer2018 on their Instagram page along with images of sandals and baseball caps to pull in new customers.

2. Local Trends

In recent years, businesses have come to recognize the value of local SEO. Tie into local events to gain more traffic to your site.

For example, if there is a popular festival in your area, can you rent a small booth and then share images on social media of the event? Perhaps there is a famous artist headed to your area for a concert, and you name a sandwich in your restaurant after him. Figure out how to reach people on a local level and drive them to your brick-and-mortar stores.

Summer equals beautiful weather, and people are excited to get outdoors and experience life. For summer 2018, this means a lot of different events. As a business owner, take advantage of local events by creating a Snapchat geofilter and including your snaps at events to engage current customers and connect new ones. One example of this is Churchill Downs adding snaps to their Snapchat story about the Kentucky Derby. Anyone who searches for the word “derby” sees these snaps.

3. Strong Images

Even though big, beautiful images are not a new trend, they are worth mentioning because they are such a vital part of any social media marketing campaign.

Across the board, social media posts with images tend to get shared more often than other types of posts without images. On Twitter, a post with an image is about 150% more likely to be retweeted.

Because summer is about cooking outdoors and hanging out with friends, expect to see more food images in the summer of 2018. For example, Food Lion shares recipes on their website and then uploads similar posts with strong images on their Instagram account.

4. GIFs and Emoji 

Millennials, in particular, prefer emoji, GIFs, and stickers over words and relate to them better. If you want to reach people in this age range, expressing yourself on social media with these icons is a smart move.

Expect to see brands tie images into their posts in new ways. Instead of lengthy posts, you might just see a happy-face emoji combined with a symbol for money to symbolize a store that’s having a flash sale, for example.

Summer means the kids are out of school and looking for engaging brands in the summer of 2018, and brands are looking to engage them. Vodafone clearly sees generation Z and millennials as key to growing their mobile carrier service globally, as evidenced by their Instagram posts including plenty of GIFs.

5. Social Causes

Some companies have jumped onto social causes and are engaging in marketing strategies with a cause. For example, Adidas used Lean In to help promote gender pay equality with their #20PercentCounts campaign.

The campaign encourages employers to look at pay levels within their companies and to close the gap so pay is equal based on experience rather than gender. Summer brings time with family and awareness of the struggles family members face, so expect to see more companies adopting causes in the summer of 2018 and beyond. Marks and Spencer adopted the cause of breast cancer, and they share similar images on their Instagram account along with pink-themed photos.

6. Lightheartedness

There are a lot of serious issues in the world, but when summer hits, people want to have fun and enjoy the warmer weather. Lightheartedness seems to be well received on most social media platforms and was trending in the first quarter of 2018, which can be expected to continue into summer. After all, summer is about cooking out in your backyard or going on a boating adventure with friends. Summer equals fun, so expect to see fun posts from brands in the summer of 2018. Budweiser taps into this trend with their Snapchat posts that feature elements such as festival food and a bottle of their beer.

Social media trends for summer 2018

Each new season brings new challenges and new trends in social media marketing.

These six trends are an excellent source of ideas for your social media marketing calendar, but don’t overlook the value of staying up to date on current hashtags and trending topics online.

The key to a successful social marketing season is looking at the big picture and not being afraid to try new ideas.

3 Basic Social Media Marketing Mistakes to Avoid in 2018

15 Jan

Most companies have social media marketing teams, strategies, and eventual goals. Yet, many don’t understand how these best tie in to existing business goals.

Any company that uses the Internet to drive business will engage in social media marketing. However, many businesses incorporated social media after their businesses reputation and goals were established. This can force a business to reconsider their overall business strategy.

Avoid this in 2018 by dodging these three basic social media marketing mistakes.

1. Social Media Should be a Marketing Focus, not an Add-on

According to Emarketer, almost 90% of U.S. companies are using social media marketing in their business strategies. Despite that, most companies use social media platforms as an add-on to existing marketing strategies. Instead of crafting a strategy for social media marketing in general and for each platform individually, companies often use social media merely as a new medium to spread an existing marketing message.

Many companies then work in reverse to link relevant social strategies to business strategies. This allows them to prove the ROI of the marketing plan with greater clarity.

Nevertheless, a CMO survey shows that nearly half of these businesses’ marketing teams are incapable of detailing the specific returns of their social media marketing investment.

Another way marketers lose focus is by getting trapped in the social-media gratification loop. On a given platform, marketers look to gather large numbers of likes, comments, followers, and shares. These numbers look great during presentations, but what do they actually mean? If you can’t quantify the value of a high number of followers, chances are your social media goals aren’t correlating to specific business goals. In order to understand the ROI of every social media marketing strategy, you have to be sure to connect overarching business strategies to social media marketing strategies from the very beginning.

2. Your Business Needs the Right Tools to Manage and Apply Social Media

Depending on the size and scale of your business, it’s important to create a social media presence across the entire company. These days, each department will need to be aware of social media and its ability to expand the scope of any sector. In order to keep standards across departments, you might even need a dedicated social media management team.

As we’ve included in pretty much every digital marketing post we’ve ever made, you must use a robust analytics platform to gauge, study, and improve your marketing strategies. Google Analytics, for example, can give you web traffic numbers broken down by age and geographical demographics, time of day, conversion statistics, bounce rate, and types of devices used to access your page.

This information gives you the ability to see what’s working and what’s not. It will tell you what domains and social media platforms are bringing you the most intention–a telltale sign of where you need to invest more time and effort.

3. Don’t Just Focus on the top Social Media Platforms

Another common mistake social media marketers make is limiting the brand’s social media real estate to only the most widely used platforms. While having a presence on many social media platforms increases authority, perception of authority, and overall marketing success, only two-thirds of the top companies are using YouTube. The numbers are even lower for fast-growing platforms like Instagram (under 50%). These numbers are from 2016, but from the chart below you can see that not much has changed since then.

Failing to represent your company on every available social media platform could potentially cause you to miss out on business opportunities. Consider this: if your business wants to increase its marketing reach to the Millennial generation, but it’s not using Snapchat, it’s missing the mark.

What social media marketing strategies has your business implemented? Have you ever had to restart a marketing campaign to better understand ROI?