Your Business Needs a Social Media Marketing Strategy Right Now

Your Business Needs a Social Media Marketing Strategy Right Now

Last year I made the case for social media marketing for small businesses in terms of why they need to even use it. According to the 2017 Social Media Marketing Industry Report from Social Media Examiner, 92% of marketers said that social media is important to their businesses (that included business owners as well). So obviously businesses are getting the message.

 

This year, not much has changed, you still need to use social media for your business, however, it’s more important now to have an exact plan, or strategy, about how you are going to implement your social media marketing.

 

Get this – 41% of Americans say it’s important that the institutions they engage with have a strong social media presence and of those Americans who have a social media account, 28% would rather engage with a brand/organization on social media than visit a physical location.

 

So let’s do some math. There are roughly 326 million Americans. According to Pew Research Center, 69% of adults in the U.S. use social media, which makes approximately 225 million people. If 28% would rather engage with you on social media than walk in your door, that means 63 million people prefer interacting with businesses on social media than in-person. And that includes me.

 

The top choice for a customer care channel is social media (Sprout Social) so now is the time to start crafting that oh-so-important strategy to make it all work.

 

Social media marketing is more than just posting content to Facebook. Or Twitter. Or Instagram. It’s more than sharing articles or videos. It’s connecting with your audience in a precise manner. To me, there’s an art, or science, to it.

 

Before you start doing anything on your social media platforms, you have to know why you are using it.

 

In the 2017 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, the top two benefits of social media marketing that were listed were increasing exposure and increasing traffic. 88% indicated that their social media efforts have generated more exposure for their businesses and 78% reported positive results for increased traffic. Most are using social media to develop loyal fans (69%) and gain marketplace intelligence (66%).

 

Ask yourself – why you are you using social media for your business? Everything you do online needs to start from your answer to that question. If it does not, then it won’t work. If you are outsourcing your social media marketing and the consultant or company is clueless about this, fire them now and find someone else.

 

You need to know who you are targeting.

 

Not every one of the 225 million Americans (if you are in the US) on social media is someone you should target. In fact, not everyone in a 10 mile radius of your business will be people you target. Think of the perfect person you want to buy from you or hire you for your services and build your targeting around that. I know it includes A LOT of assumptions and stereotypes, but in marketing, it’s just something you have to do.

 

Once you’ve figured that out, have a strategy as to how you are going to reach those you are targeting. Questions you need to answer:

 

What platforms am I going to use?

 

You do not have to use every platform. If you have a marketing consultant tell you you have to be on all of them – run, and run fast. Any social media marketing professional worth anything will know better than to tell you that. Think about that target audience and look at what platform(s) they are using. Start there.

FYI – Facebook is still the choice among every age group. Do not let anyone convince you teens and millennials have left Facebook – they are still there. If it wasn’t the choice, there wouldn’t be 65 million Facebook business pages.

 

What content am I going to share?

 

Think about what your target audience wants to see. Keep in mind 46% will unfollow a brand on social for posting too many promotional messages (Sprout Social). A good ratio to keep is 80% educational/20% promotional. For every self-promotional messages you put out, you need 8 that are not. You can share articles relating to your industry, tips, behind the scenes of your business, etc. Just do NOT publish sales pitch after sales pitch.

Visuals and video go a long way in terms of engagement and being remembered. 85% use visuals in their marketing and 73% plan on increasing their use of visuals this year, according to the 2017 Social Media Marketing Industry Report. When it comes to video, 61% plan on using live video services such as Facebook Live and Periscope, and 69% want to learn more about live video. With Facebook’s big push this year with video, you just might want to consider wading into this.

 

What advertising will I invest in?

 

Long gone are the days of “post it and they will come.” With all platforms unleashing algorithms that show content based on how much users engage with people and brands, chances are your posts are not going to be seen often without a little bit of a boost.

Facebook ads are amazingly inexpensive and you get a real bang for your buck. Plus you will get a boost in eyes on your content. A surprising 93% of social marketers regularly use Facebook ads and 64% plan on increasing their Facebook ads activities – this applies to businesses as well (Source: Social Media Examiner).

You can read my Facebook Ads primer here.

 

How will I engage and interact?

 

I see SO many businesses (and competitors) just broadcast on social media all day long. They post about themselves, or just post, and never interact with their followers. Comments go unanswered, questions left unresponded to. In fact, 89% of social media messages to brands go ignored and the average response time for a brand to reply on social media to a user is 10 hours, while the average user will only wait 4 hours. (Sprout Social). That’s unacceptable. If you are going to invest the time and resources into using social media for your business, you have to be present and show up.

The majority of consumers buy from brands that are honest (86%), helpful (78%) and friendly (83%). It turns out that at the end of the day, consumers want brands to use social as a customer care channel (Source: Sprout Social Q2 2017 Index).

 

All said, social media marketing is time-consuming. For example, 64% of marketers are using social media for 6 hours or more and 41% for 11 hours or more weekly. It’s interesting to note that nearly 20% of marketers spend more than 20 hours each week on social media (Source: 2017 SMM Industry Report from SME). That’s why people like me have been able to build successful businesses – we take the time to educate ourselves and stay up on the latest so you can do what you do best – run your business.

 

But some businesses choose to handle their own social media marketing – and that’s fine. Any use of social media for business has to have a strategy behind it. You wouldn’t blindly go on a hike in a forest without a plan, so why would you consider using social media to market your business the same way?

 

If you have questions about how to better market your business on social media, or how to even get started, we have answers. Let us help get you on the right path to being successful.

 

 

Instagram Stories vs Snapchat – Which is better?

Just figured out how to effectively use Instagram Stories for your business? Oh wait no, you probably just figured out Snapchat. That’s right, Snapchat is slowly on the verge of becoming sooo 2016…

 

Instagram v. Snapchat

 

So what is the big difference? Both platforms offer essentially the same product.

 

While there are different filters, tools, and features, Instagram Stories is simply attached to what Instagram already presents its users. Since its launch in August, Instagram stories has reached 150 million daily users. This is greatly attributed to the fact that Instagram has quickly become the hub platform for many companies, brands, and campaign’s biggest influencers.

 

Snapchat does not allow growth for a business within its platform. Some argue that the app is making mistakes similar to those of Vine. Much of this is dues to the fact that Snapchat is simply private messaging. In contrast, Instagram promotes social media stars and helps to grow their accounts through the platform’s Explore page, which has naturally adopted stories along with photos and videos.

 

However, for many the direct messaging is not a complete deal breaker. As a millennial myself, I still use Snapchat daily specifically for the direct message aspect with my friends and family. I also view the daily subscriptions that are displayed by a variety of media sources. Some of these include: BuzzFeed, Cosmopolitan, The Dodo, and select featured ones. I will say that I have naturally made the transition to Instagram for many of the other companies, celebrities, and campaigns that interest me.

 

How to Use Instagram Stories

 

  1. Keep it short and simple

For Instagram Stories specifically, keep it short sweet and to the point but also engaging. It is also important to make sure there is a point to the content you are putting out there. This can be done by adding a simple location or hashtag to your post. Additionally, Instagram took over Boomerang and it was genius. Users go crazy over the animated looping clips. It a fun way to present content but also keep things interesting.

 

  1. Try not to treat it as a live video

Unless you are a certified celebrity, a stream of you talking to your phone in selfie mode walking around whereever is probably not the greatest idea. Most of the time, many viewers will lose interest and exit your story. If that is what you are trying to do, use live stream. This is not to say that this is not always acceptable. There are appropriate times to do this. Generally, stick to this method when your company or brand is at an event. Give your audience something to work with.

 

  1. Use the filters and features in a unique way

Can Instagram make you look like a puppy dog, Bambi, or a flower crown princess? No. If that is what you are looking for, Snapchat is still your go-to. However, think of the available filters and features as your bread and butter when posting to your Instagram Story. You have only a few seconds to capture your audience’s attention to make it something that will resonate with your target audience. There are tons on content creation websites like Canva for social media that do the same thing for a traditional post. The Instagram tools allow you to express yourself in a creative way. Another great feature to help grow you profile as well as your influencers and followers is the fact that you can add linkable handles, locations, and hashtags.

 

  1. Link your story to whatever you want

A beneficial feature included in Instagram’s Stories is the ability to link your content to the image. This will be indicated to users by a “swipe up” arrow featured at the bottom of the screen. This can be used to link to products, blogs, or whatever other content that you wish to display. Your followers will also appreciate the easy access to quickly jump over to what you are talking about.

 

  1. Always remember your target audience

One of the most important things to remember is to always stick to the values that your profile demonstrates. If your followers see content that does not align with your overall message they can be confused and annoyed. Users follow you because they agree with the message you send and content your display.

 

Do you use either Instagram Stories or Snapchat for your business? Which do you prefer?

 

 

8 Common Social Media Marketing Mistakes & What to Do About Them

8 Common Social Media Marketing Mistakes & What to Do About Them

When being in business, mistakes will happen. When using social media to help market your business, there is a huge opportunity for mistakes to happen. Knowing how to avoid them is key.

 

The world of social media marketing is gigantic. With numerous platforms to choose from, conflicting advice and strategies floating around, it’s not surprising to see so many businesses floundering about not sure if they are doing their marketing right. That’s where the mistakes happen. Off-brand messages getting posted. Too many, or too few, posts getting published. No analytics being tracked.

 

If you see yourself there, or if you are trying to avoid being there, help is here. Here are 8 common social media marketing mistakes I see businesses making, and some suggestions to help:

 

Doing More Than You Should

 

Often when a business decides to use social media, they think they need to do every.single.platform. If a marketing professional tells you that – fire them. You need to find where your audience is and focus on that. If that turns out to be Facebook and Instagram, then focus on those two platforms only. If it’s just Instagram, do only that. There is no need spending time on a social media platform that you have no audience on.

 

According to the latest data from Pew Research Center in November 2016, here is the demographic breakdown of the major social media platforms:

 

 facebook

instagram

 

 twitter

 linkedin



 pinterest

 

 Not Tracking Your Results

 

If you are not looking at your analytics on a regular basis, you’ll have no way of knowing if you social media efforts are working. Every platform, save Snapchat, has their own analytics component. Most social media management programs have them as well. To know if you are being effective with your social media marketing, you need to be consistently measuring your social media marketing efforts – weekly, monthly, however frequently you deem necessary.

 

If you are unsure what key metrics to look for, Sprout Social has a fantastic guide here.

 

Inconsistent Posting

 

Not having a plan, or posting consistently, is a mistake. Posting too much will lead people to stop following you. Not posting enough will leave people out in the cold because they will not know what’s going on. So, how often should you post?  That’s up for you to decide for your own business, however, here is my general recommendation:

  • Facebook: 1-2 times/day
  • Twitter: 5-6 times/day
  • Pinterest: 5-6 pins/day
  • Instagram: 1-3 times/day (depending on your business)
  • LinkedIn Company Page: 3-5 times/week
  • Snapchat: TBD based on your business type

 

Having the Wrong Message

 

Your social media posts should not be all broadcasts or worse yet, off-brand. People do not want to see sales pitch after sales pitch. Build a relationship with your fans. You want to use social media to educate your fans, yet build that relationship to establish trust. That last thing you want to do is to go off-brand to the point you leave them scratching their heads wondering if a 10 year-old is running your social media.

 

No Call-to-Action

 

Even though you want to limit your sales-y pitch posts, you do not want to forget your calls to action. People need to be prompted to do something. The CTAs (call-to-actions) can be something as easy as asking fans to like, comment, retweet, or share. CTAs lead to more conversions, not to mention more awareness for your brand.

 

Your Followers are Fake

 

I’ve become more active on Instagram with my business account and one thing I’ve noticed is newer accounts with unusually high following totals. When I go and look at who is following them… it’s mostly spam accounts. Even a “competitor” of mine is doing this. First of all, this is a Terms of Service violation that runs you the risk of having your account deleted, and second of all, this is an ethically wrong business practice.

 

Not Staying Up with the Latest

 

Social media is ever-evolving. Platforms change. Rules change. You cannot rely on articles and advice from two years ago. What everyone was suggesting in 2015 honestly is not applicable in 2017. When you seek advice or look at articles on Google, make sure to check the date of the article or source.

 

To stay up with latest, subscribe to a few blogs. Here are a few recommendations:

 

Trying to Do it All Yourself

 

This is the biggest mistake business owners make. Social media for your business can take all of your time, if you do social media right. As a business owner, you can outsource this to a social media strategist, or have someone in-house handle your social media.

 

Mistakes will happen. We’ve made them before – no business is perfect. The key is to learn from them and grow.

 

What other mistakes do you see businesses make on social media? Did we leave anything out? If you have any suggestions you’d like to add, please share them below in the comments!

 

If you see yourself or your business struggling with any of these, drop us a line and let us know – we’d love to help you get on track!

 

The ME Marketing Top Posts - What You Loved in 2016

The ME Marketing Top Posts – What You Loved in 2016

Blogging took a backseat for me in 2016.

 

Now that you’ve picked your jaw up off the ground and recovered from shock that a successful social media professional admitted that she intentionally did not put a priority on blogging, let me explain.

 

Professionally, 2016 was an amazing year. We did a record amount of business, worked with some amazing clients, and did some beautiful work. However personally, 2016 sucked. Royally. The first six months was fine, but it all came to a screeching halt on June 16 when I experienced a deep personal loss that threw the next couple months into a tailspin.

 

Thus, writing on this blog took a backseat to the rest of my business as I prioritized what needed to be done. I love writing and I miss writing consistently. I know I need to get back into doing this (just like I need to get back into the gym – another thing I miss desperately). Life happens and sometimes you have to take a hard look at what truly makes your business tick and go from there.

 

As much as I love my blog and I appreciate each and every one of you that reads this, my blog does not make me money. My blog does not bring me business (that I know of). It’s my work product, work ethic, and word-of-mouth referrals that does. So when push came to shove and I had to make a choice, my beloved blog got pushed to the “when I get to it” list. Thank the good Lord I have my blessed assistant Jenn Hanford who contributes otherwise there wouldn’t be anything new sometimes!

 

Despite everything that has happened this year, we still had more pageviews this year than last and I have you to thank for that! I cannot thank you enough for supporting me and my business and this blog. Every Twitter share, Facebook like, Instagram like…I see them all and I sincerely thank you from the bottom of my heart.

 

That being said, let’s take a look at the 10 top posts published in 2016…

The Case for Social Media Marketing for Small Businesses

case for smm

This article came as a result of a statistic I had read that stated that the majority of small businesses base their social media success on the number of views a post gets. Intrigued, I went down the rabbit hole to find the source and this post was the result.

The 5 Best Resources for an Entrepreneur

The 5 Best Resources for a New Entrepreneur

This post, written by Jenn Hanford, gives any new or newish, entrepreneur five great resources to use when starting their own business.

Quit Being Desperate for Facebook Likes

Quit Being Desperate for Facebook Likes

This was a fun rant to write. It was inspired by a client email I had received where they were frustrated that a competitor was using some not-so-ethical means to gain Facebook likes.

Quality over Quantity a Trend for 2016? Are You Kidding Me?

Quality over Quantity a Trend for 2016- Are you kidding me-

Another rant post. I had read an article that stated a trend for 2016 was “quality over quantity.” Since this is something I have been preaching since day 1 of my business, I took a little offense.

3+ Easy Ways to Create Brand Awareness

3+ Easy Ways to Create Brand Awareness

In another popular post written by Jenn Hanford, she shares with us some easy ways new business owners can create brand awareness. And the best thing is that they’re free!

Social Media Tips from 3 Wise Southern Women Entrepreneurs

Social Media Tips from 3 Wise Southern women Entrepreneurs

One thing I have loved over the past couple years is being involved in The Southern C – a community of Southern women entrepreneurs. The community and camaraderie of these women is something I value and I have made many friendships through this group. We’ve all learned from each other and love watching each other grow. In this post, I interviewed three of these fabulous ladies.

A {Short} Beginners Guide to Instagram Strategy

A {Short} Beginner's Guide to Instagram Strategy

I love Instagram. In this post, I took the time to put together a short primer for those who want the Cliff Notes version.

21 Social Media Facts You Should Know Right Now

21 Social Media Facts You Should Know Right Now

I am a statistic nut. If you follow my business social accounts, you know barring the rare occasion I share one every Friday. In this post, I shared 21 social facts that I thought my fans and followers should know.

Digital Marketing Strategy 101 for Boring Brands

Digital Marketing Strategy

Jenn Hanford wrote this great piece that got a lot of traction in just two months because there are a lot of businesses who think themselves ‘boring’ – financial institutions, insurance, law firms, etc. In her post she gives us some fantastic ideas on how to lighten up your tone online so you can truly be effective.

… and #1

10 Marketing Facts You Need to Know Going into 2016

10 Marketing Facts for Your Business Going Into 2016

Another stat post and this one tops the list for the year. I started off 2016 with this post, sharing marketing facts that we could all use to start off our marketing plans on the right foot.

 

In 2017, I hope to get back to more consistent blogging, bringing valuable content to your inboxes each week. What was your favorite post on the ME Marketing blog this year? Share with us below! We’d love to know!