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3 Ways Social Media Marketing Can Help Grow Your Small Business

20 May

Since the beginning of the decade, social media has grown from a fringe marketing strategy to a core component of marketing in businesses of all sizes. This cost-effective marketing tool is perfect for small businesses. The financial investment is minimal, and if executed correctly, a social media campaign can help you grow your business. You will have to contribute some time to the process, but the results can make it well worth your while.

Social media can help you build your brand
One of the most effective and successful marketing tools is your brand. Having a clearly defined brand will help you build the rest of your marketing strategy, as it will help you build your message and communicate it to customers. According to a blog post titled, “Creating a Brand Strategy for Business Growth,” published by Southern Cross University, “The impact your brand strategy can have on your entire business is immense; a poorly-planned or confused brand strategy can have damaging flow-on effects across the larger business strategy.” Social media can help you communicate your brand consistently through many channels.

Social media can help create loyal customers
A popular component of social media is that it allows business owners to communicate with customers in real time. If an angry customer blasts your company on social media, you typically know about it instantly and you can begin repairing the relationship. Conversely, social media also serves as an excellent tool for happy customers to share your business with their own social network. Forbes advises, “Brand loyalty is incredibly important, and social media plays a key role in the success of your ability to build and sustain that brand loyalty. Staying engaged on social media can truly make all the difference.”

Social media builds relationships
Since social media allows you to interact with your customers, it can help you identify potential problems with your business. This honest feedback can help your company improve business operations, and thus, grow its customer base. Much like suggestion boxes and customer comment cards, social media gives customers a tool to communicate their opinions about the features of your products or services they would like you to improve.

People may be more likely to speak up through social media when they have a complaint. Your method by which you approach these complaints can help build a positive image in the minds of potential customers. Social media marketing channels are now a key component of most businesses and can serve as a cost-effective method of growing your company. Using these tools to build your brand and foster customer relationships can help you create more customers long-term.

The Best Tools For Planning Your Social Media Marketing Strategy

21 Jan

There are numerous great social media scheduling tools out there – depending on what your needs are, you’re sure to find the right options easily with enough research. However, when you also account for planning and all that entails – collaborating with numerous people (including clients), coming up with ideas and getting them approved, creating workflows – things start to get a bit more difficult.

In this blog post, I’m going to talk about some of the best tools for planning your social media strategy.

A good workflow will help you come up with better ideas for your social media campaigns (good collaboration often brings out the best ideas) and to make sure that everyone on the team (whether it’s your manager, a client, or simply your other team members) is on board with the proposed social media calendar/strategy.

Here are some of the best tools to help you create powerful workflows and better plan your social media marketing:

ContentCal

ContentCal is built specifically to aid in the planning and approval stages, as well as help you put together your entire social media calendar in one place (plus, it’s a social media scheduling tool too).

There are a few reasons why I had to put it first in the list: it’s super easy to use and set up (which is very important as you don’t want to lose time trying to understand how it works, especially when you’re collaborating with others who might not be as tech-savvy) and because it’s very versatile.

To start with, you can add your entire team, your managers, clients (and anyone else) to the tool; then, assign specific roles to each person so it’s very clear who does what and what limitations they have. Not only, that, but you can also create approval workflows; for example, someone creates the content, another person reviews the content and makes any suggestions, while the manager or client can approve the content to be scheduled and/or published. Without the express approval of the manager/client, the content can’t be published via the platform; this way, if there are any mistakes, you know you’re covered as the right person had to approve an update before publishing it.

You can also add multiple social media accounts to your ContentCal and separate them in different calendars; otherwise, if you’re managing several social networks for one account, you can view them all in the same calendar, add media to each update and easily categorize with the update type.

As I mentioned earlier, you can also plan your content here; simply use the pinboard to “pin” any update ideas and once finalised and approved, drag and drop them in the calendar on the days/times you want. Then, they can be scheduled to be published.

You also have access to social media analytics to track content performance (as well track follower growth, best posting times, etc.); this then comes in useful to identify top performing updates to be republished – it takes a click to repost your content.

And finally, you can also respond to comments and messages, as well as monitor your social media activity all within the same tool.

CoSchedule

If, on the other hand, you want a solution for all your marketing campaigns, CoSchedule is a great option. It’s not as easy or straightforward to use, but if you invest the time to learn all the different features and how to make the most of them, it’s definitely worth the effort.

The idea behind CoSchedule is to help you create a planning calendar for all of your marketing projects, whether it’s social media, email marketing, or any other marketing campaigns.

In terms of workflows, you can easily create workflow templates for your campaigns where you outline each step.

Then, in the Workboard, you can plan and create your calendar before actually scheduling anything.

Outline each phase of the project clearly and then start proposing ideas; once done, you can drag and drop the best ideas in the calendar to be scheduled and/or published.

In terms of the social media calendar, you can schedule your updates in bulk easily, as well as share any great content you find online, without leaving your browser.

If you’re the manager/editor, you’ll be able to track all progress and actions made by your team, including any scheduled messages so you can review them and pull them if necessary.

Other useful features include Best Time Scheduling (leave the tool to schedule your updates for the best possible times, based on analytics) and ReQueue which uses artificial intelligence to fill any gaps in your schedule with your top performing social media updates. This way, you’re automatically republishing your best content with basically no effort on your part, which is especially useful when you don’t have any new content to publish or you don’t have the time to create and/or schedule any new social media updates.

Hootsuite

Hootsuite needs little introduction, as its one of the first and most popular social media management tools around. And, it’s also a pretty great option for teams, but you will need to get certain plans to get these features – the business plan allows for 5-10 team members to be added.

Once you add users to your Hootsuite account, you can then set their permissions; unless you want them to have complete access to all your networks, you can create custom permissions for each one so that they can only access certain profiles and networks, and so that they can only take certain actions.

In terms of planning and collaborating, you can use the Drafts space to have everyone suggest their content ideas and upload different assets before they’re approved for publishing.

Plus, you can assign social media tasks, put together your social media calendar, and schedule your updates – not to mention, of course, all the other social media management features as well (like seeing all of your comments and mentions in one place and responding to them, social media monitoring, analytics, and so on).

All of the team features are included in 3 different plans: team, business, and enterprise.

Sprout Social

Sprout Social is another top social media management tool, with several handy team collaboration features. So you get all of the regular social media management features only it’s all built with teams in mind (you will need to get the Corporate or Enterprise plans though to get the full set of team management features).

In terms of planning your social media strategy with Sprout Social, you first have a shared publishing calendar where you can start planning your content; you can be very clear about who gets to approve an update so that other team members can’t just publish or schedule something without it being checked first – once someone writes a draft, they can quickly submit it for approval and even choose which approver they will notify about it.

You also have the option to save your content ideas as drafts so that you can discuss and perfect them with other team members.

Apart from planning your social media, there are a few other useful team collaboration features. For example, you can easily collaborate with your team when managing your social inbox (tag messages, assign them and include a note, and see in real time who is viewing or replying to a message) and you can check your team performance and see how much time they spent on tasks, what their completion ratio is like, and so on (which can help you improve your team’s productivity and find any time management issues that can be easily solved).

Conclusion

Social media collaboration can be prove to be very problematic when you’re relying on numerous tools: one – or several, in fact – for the actual collaboration (discussing ideas, approving them, and so on), one for scheduling and publishing your updates, and one for getting approvals.

Whether you’re an agency, a brand, or even a small business, use a social media planning tool built for collaboration to help you make sure you’re publishing the right updates, to avoid mistakes, and to come up with better ideas. Plus, not to mention, it will save you hours every week for all your planning and scheduling.

Back to basics: Measuring your social media efforts with unique acquisition channels

10 Dec

Most organizations are spending a considerable amount of money and resources on their social media marketing efforts. These efforts generally take the form of three types of effort – organic, paid and promoted (also referred to as owned, paid and earned). No matter how you label them, you should segregate them into three unique marketing acquisition channels in your analytics reports to correctly evaluate how effective your efforts are.

To segregate traffic driven to your site from various social media properties, you’ll need to configure custom channels in your analytics tool.

Defining custom social channels

Before starting any configuration changes, first decide not only the names of these new channels, but what they represent for your clients (both internal and external).

I’d recommend setting up the following three channels.

Paid social: Consists of any paid ads you are running on any social media property to drive traffic to your website.

Promoted social: All activity performed by your social media team where no additional marketing fees are required. Typical activities that fall under this channel include typical posting to your social media channels.

Organic social: Any activity that the general public (people not on your payroll) drives traffic to your site from social media. This includes a person clicking on a “Share This” icon on your blog post or perhaps just including a link to your site in a spontaneous social media post.

Once you’ve defined your social media channels, you need to define the medium definitions (for GA the utm_medium parameter value) to be used your generate a custom URL to track. The great news is you don’t need to do anything for organic social.

Here are some typical medium definitions (required by your analytics software) or make up your own. Note you can use more than one to refine your analysis at a later date.

Paid social: Paid-social, Social-PPC, Social-CPC, Social-display, Promoted-post

Promoted social: Psocial, Promoted, Post, Tweet

Remember, these changes to your analytics tool are permanent and will remain in place unless deleted. They will not impact historical data.

Repeating the benefits of custom channels

With this additional information, you’ll be more effective at evaluating which content is performing best and you’ll be able to compare its performance across the organic, paid and promoted social channels.

Another advantage is it will be much easier to compare conversion rates and goal achievement between different channels.

It is only by segregating paid from organic from promoted social activity that a complete picture of which activity drives which type of conversion.

The Top 7 Social Media Marketing Trends Dominating 2016

24 Jul
  1. Less is more, better is better.

Social media is a crowded world already—there are billions of users with social profiles, and they all follow hundreds to thousands of different accounts. On top of that, most platforms’ newsfeed algorithms now sort posts based on a degree of perceived relevance, rather than based on the time of publication (in fact, Instagram just changed theirs over recently). Add in the fact that users are beginning to prefer hyper-relevant, in-the-moment content to regurgitated updates or retrospective posts, and you have a perfect formula for users to prefer fewer, but better posts. Quality has always been more important than quantity, but now social platforms and users are further cementing that fact.

  1. A shift is happening in platform dynamics.

Until recently, the three big players of the social media game were Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn—almost indisputably—and all three platforms served similar functions for slightly different niches. Today, those positions have changed and diversified; Instagram and Snapchat are newer players in the game, but each serves a niche role despite having massive user bases.

  1. Live streaming is getting bigger.

Video content has seen a huge spike in popularity over the past few years, in part because it has become a more accessible medium, and in part because users are growing tired of older mediums. Combined with the trend of users demanding more “live” and in-the-moment updates, live streaming video has seen a major increase in popularity; especially with the recent release of Facebook Live.

  1. Buy buttons are becoming more common.

Advertising on social media has always been around—it’s how they make money, after all—but only recently has the advertising experience become something more akin to a shopping experience. Ads and products available to purchase are starting to work their way into users’ newsfeeds and profiles more smoothly and with fewer distinctions from organic content. These are typically associated with the simple addition of a “buy” button, which leads to an integrated cart to make it easier than ever to convert followers into real customers.

  1. New applications are changing social interaction.

The entire motivation behind social media’s existence is the “social” element; these platforms were developed for people to engage with one another, directly and for the most part, in conversational form. Now, forms of interaction are starting to diversify. Platforms like Snapchat are allowing more one-sided conversations, in a more fleeting, temporary context. Platforms like Facebook are launching new communication channels like Messenger for Business, which serves as a kind of customer service wing. Brands and consumers are able to talk to each other in new, more diverse ways, and that range is only broadening.

  1. We’re seeing a push for more personalization.

Users are tired of seeing the same types of content populate in their newsfeeds, and they’re tired of seeing posts they don’t care about. There’s a greater demand for personalization and customization, and platforms and publishers alike are doing what they can to cater to that demand. In fact, Facebook was recently accused of having a political bias because its personalization algorithm tended to display stories with a political leaning already similar to its targeted users’ preferences.

  1. We’re getting broader app functionality.

Social media apps are developed and owned by companies, and those companies need to make money to survive. They can sell ad space and user data, but they lose attention and user potential every time a user clicks out of an app. To remedy this, social platforms are doing more to keep users involved in-app for the longest time possible, offering peripheral functionality to keep users contented on more fronts. Some of these functions include in-app search functions, embedded content, and in Facebook’s case, even a personal digital assistant.

Some of these trends have been around for a while, manifesting gradually as more consumers have turned to them. Others popped up recently as a response to other developments, or as pure innovations emerging from the ether. In any case, they’re here now; you don’t have to adopt all of them or develop new strategies for them, but you do have to recognize their existence even if you’re only playing defense. These are the shapers of the social media marketing world as it exists today, and they’re forerunners of tomorrow’s developments.

 

The 10 Factors That Will Make Your Social Media Marketing Campaign Profitable

24 Jul

Social media marketing has been on the minds of marketers since the rise of Facebook and Twitter more than a decade ago, but its most stubborn opponents still view it with the same resentment, and the same argument: it’s not a profitable strategy.

To their credit, social media marketing isn’t a money-making miracle machine. Accumulating 10,000 followers might seem cool, and make you feel like you’ve gotten an edge over the competition, but if those 10,000 followers don’t buy your products, what are they actually worth?

Let’s explore what, exactly, a social media strategy needs to become profitable.

  1. Reasonable expenditure.

Some people start a social media campaign because they see it as a “free” strategy. It doesn’t cost anything to create a page for your company, nor does it cost anything to make a post (unless you decide to boost or promote it). But if you want to see significant results, you can’t treat it like a free strategy; you need to be prepared to invest in it, whether that’s in the form of paid ads, talent to join your team, or raw time to invest in your efforts.

  1. Strategy.

You also can’t start just posting blindly to social media and expect prospective followers to like what you’re posting. Before you get started, you should have a formally documented strategy that dictates your goals, your target audience, and how you plan to grow over time. This document will guide your decisions, help you recruit new people to your team, and give you a template you can improve upon over time.

  1. Consistency.

Profitable social media strategies are consistent. If you treat social media as a novelty, you might post with heavy volume one week, but post nothing the next week, and your activity could change drastically from day to day. Followers want to know what they can expect from you, so if you go through these rapid changes in volume, you’ll alienate the very people you’re trying to attract.

  1. Frequency.

Some social media accounts can get by with posting once a week to keep their followers happy, but if you want to strike a profit, you need to be more active than that. Depending on the platform you’re using, you should be posting at least multiple times daily, and engaging with your followers on a nearly constant basis.

  1. Value.

Social media is a platform for exchanging value; if you want your customers to buy from you, or even give you a “like” or a comment, you need to give them some value in exchange. That value can come in many different forms; for example, you can take “value” literally and give them discounts or special deals, or you could provide them with value in the form of practical or entertaining content.

 

5 Steps to Building Your First Online Sales Funnel

24 Jul

As an entrepreneur, you understand marketing’s importance: Without marketing, your business would eventually fail due to the absence of new customers. Therefore, if you haven’t already put time and effort into this mission, now is the time to start; and one easy way to start is the utilization of a sales funnel.

What is a sales funnel?

This strategy is so named due to the fact that in diagram form, this particular marketing strategy looks just like its name.

The top category is the biggest one and represents the largest number of people — potential customers. The bottom category represents the smallest number — committed customers — which is why it’s smaller.

Now, here are the five steps to follow to construct your own simple online sales funnel.

  1. Create a great landing page.

Your website’s landing page is the first impression potential customers will instantly have of your business. Therefore, take time to make sure that it looks great. A good landing page will also encourage visitors to sign up for some sort of list, or subscribe to the website. This gives you that all-important contact information, which becomes your first line of communication.

  1. Present a front-end offer.

The next step is to present potential customers with the opportunity to buy a product or procure your service. When constructing your main front-end products and associated upsell offers, you should be engineering them with the additional mindset of . . . how will this help create more desire for the next backend offer you’re going to present them with.

In other words, at this step you should be “pre-selling” on the next step in the funnel.

  1. Give an upsell offer on the back end.

Offer your customers who just bought or are about to buy a product or service the opportunity to upsize, or upgrade, that service. For example, create an offer that will deliver even more benefit to the customer if he or she upgrades. This strategy is called an upsell.

Consider this the steak dinner to the regular offer’s appetizer. You are offering your customers more substance if they choose to upgrade. Of course, that also means you make more money because an upsell typically involves a larger or more expensive item or service.

  1. Offer a downsize option.

In the same way that you encouraged customers to upgrade services in the upsell step, this element of the funnel calls for you to offer a downgrade option to certain customers.

No, a downsize option doesn’t represent a failure and should not be looked upon as the loss of a sale. Instead, consider this a way to keep a customer unable to buy from you due to budget constraints. Keep in mind that those constraints may change. Be considerate and offer cheaper options for these individuals to keep them as potential customers.

  1. Keep it going.

The last step in the sales funnel is to keep your momentum going. Follow up with all the new customers you have acquired and ensure they are happy with their product or service. A great way to accomplish this is to offer a membership-based rewards program. This will allow you to remain in contact with customers, giving you the perfect means for telling them about new deals and services.

The steps listed here are geared to a business with an online presence. Of course, this might not describe your particular business. However, every business can benefit from the sales funnel model.

Just remember: Your potential customers category, which represents the greatest amount of people, goes on top of the funnel; and the smallest category, established customers, goes on the bottom. The categories in between may be altered to meet your specific business’s needs and sales goals.

 

How to use social media marketing for your business

16 Apr

Like many of you, we put a lot of time and effort into our business and branding. And one key element to all business marketing efforts is to look at the results in order to effectively plan out future marketing and business operation changes.

We previously set about doing our year-end review on our content marketing and social media efforts and wanted to share some of the insights we discovered in hopes you will get inspired to analyze your own efforts while planning for the year ahead.

Where and what to analyze

One quick and easy way to go about your year-end review is to look at your online engagement from the past year. Whether it’s checking your social media stats or looking at your website traffic, lots can be gleaned from these types of analytics.

There are a few places to look for the stats you need: You can utilize Facebook Insights, Twitter Analytics, Google Analytics, or your blog stats.

Log into each of these and take a look at how your posts and articles performed. They can provide a lot of valuable information on how your business and marketing resonates with users.

So what did our analytics tell us what our followers liked? Here are three valuable insights learned from three of our top posts in 2017:

1. Communicating to Maintain Effective Client Relationships

Not surprisingly, this article from one of our guest authors, PR specialist Susan Elford, offers similar advice to this one: Listen!

Communication is key to a successful business and when clients and followers communicate with you through social media, whether it’s by a direct comment, a share, or something else, you need to listen.

Client relationships are a big deal for us and we like to build long-term ones by treating our clients with respect and listening to what they say.

We don’t just hear it, we listen. We then adjust and improve to reflect the client’s expectations.

So apply the advice from the article like this: Use language and mannerisms your clients can relate to—use mirroring to deliver messages in a way that makes them feel comfortable.

And apply the same recognition and response to your social media. If you’ve noticed some articles focus on something specific and your clients/audience are receptive to it by way of engagement, then in 2018 you should know what to do.

Give them what they want and build your client-base by accepting what your followers like and expect from you. Communication is a very broad term and doesn’t always mean simply direct vocalization or emails.

2. 10 Ways to Attracting Clients Through Kindness

This article has our approach laid bare. We watch, listen, learn, and follow the golden rule: Treat others as you would like to be treated.

Open yourself to receiving both good and bad feedback and accept each as constructive. Assess the full picture of what is happening and understand where the feedback is coming from.

We employ kindness and generosity all the time. It’s a big deal when put into practice and by following that and our other nine steps from the article, we’ve seen our business and client-base grow consistently.

3. Why Twitter Ads Boost Business & How to Create Them

If your business isn’t on social media yet, then check out the links given at the start of this article.

Social media is a BIG factor in most businesses and has effectively replaced a lot of other support channels as users go-to for getting a response.

So once you’re online, it’s time to make the most of it. None of the businesses whose names we know are worth what they are today without requiring some paid component. Twitter is no exception.

While Facebook offers advertising and Instagram as well (among all others) our article on Twitter’s paid promotion resonated with our audience. About 110 shares through our website alone is a great indicator of the effectiveness of this content with our follower-base and potential clients.

Diving into social media can have drawbacks, so if you’re looking to get serious, it’s good to hire online marketers who know how to use social media for business.

We don’t have any information on how effective our reader’s Twitter campaigns have been, but our clients have seen stellar results. From this, we learned that within our content we have users who are anxious to expand their presence online and try new ways to reach new potential clients.

Is this limited to Twitter? Probably not and the real message here is that when we give back to our clients and readers with free tips via content marketing strategies, we will see reciprocation by way of new leads and new clients.

So what did you learn in the past year from your content and social media marketing efforts? Take a look at your metrics (and if you don’t know how just let us know for a possible future article) and see what they tell you.

Then take that information into the boardroom and help make 2018 even better.