Facebook Marketing 101- Where do you Begin

Facebook Marketing 101: Where Do You Begin?

For all the bad press Facebook has gotten recently in regards to fake news, Russia, and the removal of advertising options, it’s still one of the first places you need to go to start your social media strategy.

 

So why use Facebook?

 

  • 79% of American adult internet users are using Facebook (Pew Research Center)
  • 76% of Facebook users log in daily (Pew Research Center)
  • As of July 2016, there were over 2 billion searches per day on Facebook (TechCrunch)
  • For my local readers – approximately 68,000 people in Bulloch County alone, ages 18+ on Facebook (which also translates into approximately 51,680 Bulloch County residents logging in each day to Facebook).

 

Of course, you do not need statistics to tell you why you need to use Facebook to market your business. I could list over 100 statistics to show you why you need to be on there. Simply ask people how they stay in touch with people and how they find out what’s going on. I guarantee you more than half of your answers will be ‘Facebook’.

 

That being said, I’ve put together a short and sweet primer below on Facebook Marketing 101, which originated from a Facebook Marketing class I taught at and for my local Chamber of Commerce. Let’s get started.

 

If you are going to use Facebook (and you should), where do you start?

 

Start with your “WHY”. Why are you using Facebook in the first place? Like anything you do on social media, everything you do on Facebook should come from your “why” and every goal you set should help you achieve it. If your actions to not attribute back to your “why”, start over.

 

If you are using Facebook, who am I going to target?

 

When thinking about who you are targeting, think about your “why” from above. Ask yourself these three questions:

  1. Why are you targeting them?
  2. Will targeting this group help you reach your goal in using Facebook?
  3. Is this group someone you want to actually spend money with you? (Remember, not everyone is your client/customer)

 

Like I mentioned above, if these groups do not help you achieve the goal of your ‘why’ statement, start over.

 

Now that I’ve decided to market on Facebook, what do I post and how often?

 

Think about your target audience – their likes, interests, etc. – and craft your content strategy around that. What is your online voice? Your Facebook presence is the digital extension of your brand. When establishing your voice – are you fun or serious? Sarcastic or punny? Are there common phrases your business uses? Take all of this into consideration.

 

Facebook did research this year into what people are looking for in their Facebook content. First, they found that people on Facebook want and value meaning, informative stories.

 

In their algorithm, Facebook looks at a user’s personal signals, such as “how close someone is to the person or page posting, stories they’d want to talk to their friends and family about, spend time reading, and videos they’d spend time watching.” Also taken into account is the post’s overall engagement.

 

People value content that is informative as well. Think about what you take time to read or share, or even comment on. It is content you find meaningful and informative. You should put yourself in the your audience’s shoes and post the type of content they will spend time on, much like you would.

 

Watch out for promotional messaging. 46% of Facebook users 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.

 

Second, Facebook found that people on Facebook value accurate, authentic content. Facebook users have told Facebook that authentic stories are the ones that resonate with them the most, so Facebook ranks those types of posts higher in the News Feed. Some tips from Facebook include:

  • Clear headlines – do not mislead the person viewing the headline.
  • Spam – “do not deliberately try and game the News Feed to get more distribution.”
  • Accurate Information – make sure what you are posting is true.

 

Be friendly and helpful in your posts, not snarky and sarcastic. Emotional connections drive Facebook shares. The science behind a viral post rests on our knee-jerk emotional reactions to it. The more extreme our emotional reaction to it, the more likely you’ll share it. In psychologist Robert Plutchik’s wheel of emotions concept, he identified the emotions that drive our sharing behavior. The inner circle denotes the eight emotions to think about when creating content.

 

Make sure to respond. People want you to respond to them. 68% of consumers want brands to participate in conversations they’re mentioned in, and 83% want brands to respond to them (Sprout Social). And the percentage of posts that go unresponded to? 86%.

 

Create your own graphics and if you do not, know where you are getting them from. Make sure any graphics you use are on-brand and most importantly, make sure you own the rights to them! You can create your own at Canva (a personal favorite!) or download free graphics at Pixabay, UnSplash, or Pexels.

 

Let’s briefly take a look at the six main post types on Facebook:

  • Status – simple updates, seen more commonly from your friends than pages.

  • Links – Trick: Post the status you want, then the link, remove the link preview altogether and add a picture to the post. This will get more reach than simply inserting a link and having the link preview on. Keep in mind, you can no longer edit the link preview!

  • Video

  • Photos and Photo Albums

  • Products. If you have a Facebook Store, you can add products into your posts.

  • Take action: Sign Up, Get Messages.
    • CTA posts to encourage your fan to take action immediately. Use sparingly.

 

Your post frequency depends on your business – it’s not a one size fits all, so be weary of every “Best Time to Post” article you read online. My recommendation? Post minimum 3-5 times per week, no more than twice per day, unless you’re at an event. To find out the best times for your business, look at your Facebook Insights to see when your fans are online and schedule/post around those peak times. (see example below).

 

What about Facebook Advertising?

 

Everyone is doing Facebook ads, you honestly, you may as well too. With Facebook’s algorithm, it’s almost a requirement to boost some posts in order for your content to be seen. But don’t worry – it will not bust your marketing budget.

 

On Facebook, desktop ads have 8.1x higher click-through rates and mobile ads have 9.1x higher click-through rates than normal web ads. Social media advertising is the most cost-effective way to advertise in this day and time, with Facebook leading the way with the various, and amazing, options available to businesses.

 

Here are some easy steps to setting up a Facebook Ad –

 

  • Step 1: Figure out what you are promoting and select an ad type. When running a Facebook ad, you need to know what you are promoting and why you are promoting it (much like your overall social media and/or Facebook strategy).
    • There are three decisions to make –

What are you promoting?

Will your ad run via auction or reach & frequency?

What type of ad will you choose? (Hint: Awareness ads are best for small budgets)

 

  • Step 2: Select an audience. Selecting your audience is the most important part – more important than the ad itself. When selecting your audience, you are narrowing in to target the ideal customer/client.
    • Your choices are to either –

Create an audience from the options you are given (which can make unlimited combinations).

Use a custom audience.

Use a lookalike audience.

 

  • Step 3: Ad Placement
    • Your choices for placement are:

Desktop

Desktop Right Side

Mobile

Instagram

Audience Network (this lets you extend your ad campaigns beyond Facebook to reach your audiences on mobile apps, mobile websites and videos. We use the same Facebook targeting, measurement and delivery to make sure each ad on Audience Network helps you reach your campaign goals at the most cost-effective price.)

Instant Articles (See more here: https://www.facebook.com/business/help/825186870955247 )

In-stream Video

If you’re not sure, Facebook will recommend using the default placements for your objective:

Brand awareness (including Reach & Frequency buying): Facebook and Instagram

Engagement (including Reach & Frequency buying): Facebook and Instagram

Video views (including Reach & Frequency buying): Facebook, Instagram and Audience Network

App installs: Facebook, Instagram and Audience Network

Traffic (for website clicks and app engagement): Facebook and Audience Network

Product catalog sales: Facebook and Audience Network

Conversions: Facebook and Audience Network

For more information on ad placements, visit: https://www.facebook.com/business/help/175741192481247?helpref=related

 

  • Step 4: Set an ad budget and schedule
    • Ah, the budget. Here’s where you determine how much you are going spend for your ad. You have two choices: daily budget (how much you spend per day) or lifetime budget (how much you want to spend for the entire campaign). Yes, you can run an ad for as little as $1/day but not every ad will let you do that. Here are the spend minimums:
      • If the ad set gets charged for impressions, its daily budget must be at least $1 a day
      • If the ad set gets charged for clicks, Likes, video views, or post engagement, its daily budget must be at least $5 a day
      • If the ad set gets charged for low frequency events like offer claims or app installs, its budget must be at least $40 a day
      • For more information on ad spend minimums, visit: https://www.facebook.com/business/help/203183363050448

 

  • Step 5: The ad. Now the second-most important part of the whole process – creating your ad. You can choose an existing post as your ad or you can create one from scratch. If you are creating an ad from scratch, you have 5 formats to choose from –

Note: Formats will vary based on the ad objective you have chosen.

 

  • Step 6: Track your ad. How do you know if you Facebook advertising is working (or did work)?
    • You can view the results of your ads in the Campaign Dashboard and view each ad (as shown above). You can customize your reports through Columns and Breakdown.

 

If you’d like a more detailed guide to Facebook Advertising, you can download my Facebook Advertising 101 Guide here.

 

Of course, how do I know if my Facebook efforts are working?

 

Welcome to Facebook Analytics!

 

There are many programs on the web that can pull detailed information for you about your Facebook page and your Facebook content (Sprout Social, Simply Measured, etc.), but Facebook Insights work just as well.

 

Here are some main metrics to track:

  • Engagement
    • Clicking a link, sharing your post, making a reaction, or leaving a comment
    • The more people interact with your content, the more they will see it and the more it will show up in Facebook’s algorithm because it signals to Facebook it’s popular.
  • Reach
    • The number of people your content is seen by by either paid or organic efforts.
  • Impressions
    • How many times your posts were seen (does include multiple views by a single person).
  • On your website – how much traffic Facebook is referring to your site. You can view this in Google Analytics.
  • Page Likes & Follows
    • Look for growth each month. Give yourself a goal of 5-10% growth each month.
  • Video Metrics to track:
    • Video retention – how long people are watching
    • Video engagement
  • Advertising Metrics to track:
    • CTR (click-thru-rate). Average across all industries is 0.9%. When Facebook sees your ads are getting impressions but no clicks, it logically assumes your audience doesn’t find the ad relevant. This can result in paying more per click and overall poor performance.
    • CPC (cost per click) & CPM (cost per thousand impressions). Average CPC across all industries is $1.72.
    • CPA (cost per action). Average cost per action across all industries is $18.68.
    • Ad frequency

 

That was A LOT of information thrown at your about Facebook Marketing. But it’s not all that hard and it’s easy to manage. Here are some tips:

 

  • Schedule Posts on the Page or through a program such as Hootsuite or Sprout Social.
  • Check analytics at least once per week.
  • Have a Facebook advertising budget.
  • Do not be afraid to go out of the box and try something new!

 

Facebook can be a great place for your business to see success in the social sphere. If this still seems daunting to you, don’t worry – we offer Facebook management in our social media management services and would be happy to talk with you about it!

 

Did I leave anything out? If you have questions about your Facebook strategy, contact me or comment below!

Digital Marketing Strategy

Digital Marketing Strategy 101 for Boring Brands

Over the past decade, and especially within the last five years or so, digital marketing has more or less infiltrated every area of our lives. Online advertising has evolved in leaps and bounds thanks to the internet and social media platforms.

You’re unlikely to escape the sponsored ads on Facebook, promoted tweets on Twitter, or those pesky popups on websites you like to visit – and everywhere else in between. We can thank the latest and greatest digital marketing plugins and algorithms (and other technical things, such as tracking pixels, which I won’t even pretend to understand).

Regardless of whether you consider current digital marketing techniques to be effective or “creepy/stalkerish,” many brands are finding success with using them.

In a recent article for TopRank Marketing’s blog, Ashley Zeckman pinpoints three attributes of a successful digital marketing strategy:

  1. Authoritative (having or showing impressive knowledge about a subject – Merriam-Webster)
  2. Credible (able to be believed – Merriam-Webster)
  3. Trustworthy (able to be relied on to do or provide what is needed or right – Merriam-Webster)

Sounds simple enough, right?

Sure, but how can I apply these digital marketing strategy attributes to my essential, but boring brand?

First of all, let’s determine what type of brand might fall into the “boring brand” category. These are brands that also want to creatively market their products, such as those for feminine hygiene, or medication for hemorrhoids, toilet paper, or auto insurance, for a few examples. You know, mundane things people don’t typically talk about in their everyday conversations.

And so, in a nutshell, the marketers for boring brands are tasked with creating and promoting brand awareness, starting conversations about and ultimately driving sales for these necessary, yet “blah” things – but for their brands.

For some time now marketers for this unique niche of brands are often left scratching their heads in the past when it comes to developing effective digital marketing strategies. They may be wondering, is it really necessary to “reinvent the wheel” just to gain more attention on the internet?

The short answer is, “yes.” Although many of us have become accustomed to seeing ads for these boring brands on television or hearing them on the radio, there is an entirely new and growing audience online. In my opinion, it’s just a matter of time before we fully embrace ads and other content for the so-called “boring brands” on the internet as well.

One issue the marketers or boring brands face is determining why their products and/or services don’t seem as easy to promote with the digital marketing tactics currently working for those not so “ho-hum” brands and how to work around it. The good news is that even though it may seem difficult to attract and retain an audience, it certainly isn’t impossible.

Scott Ayres has written an inspirational post for boring brands of all sizes for Post Planner, a social media engagement app. The post, which is titled, “36 No-brainer Social Media Tips for Boring Brands & Products,” provides an excellent list and resource guide that is perfect for creating content to use on social platforms or anywhere online.

Here are a few of Ayres’ tips you may wish to consider as you begin creating a digital marketing strategy for your own “boring brand”

  • Don’t be “salesy” — The 70/20/10 formula for content is ideal! This includes 70% informative, 20% other people’s posts, and 10% sales
  • Be personable — people want to see the personal side of your brand, and also use humor if appropriate
  • Share customer reviews/testimonials – potential clients often trust what others say about you and your brand
  • Create and share “How to” content related to your product or service through blogs, video or social media
  • Share posts from “experts” in your brand’s niche or industry

How real “boring brands” are finding real ways to reach their online audiences through digital marketing

As I have seen in my own experience there is truly no one-size-fits-all digital marketing strategy for any type of brand. There is a lot of essential research, testing, and trial and error involved in achieving success online.

However, there are several brands of various sizes and within different industries that are seeing positive results.

Here are a few examples:

1.  Charmin

Regardless of who you are, you probably (hopefully!) use toilet paper. It’s one of those essential, yet mundane products I referred to above with few marketable qualities.

In 2014, Charmin drummed up brand awareness when they launched a hugely successful social media campaign on Twitter using the hashtag #tweetfromtheseat. The tweets prompted interaction with the followers and provided some humor for the brand’s followers.

 

 

2.  General Electric

Although most B2B companies have had mixed results with their digital marketing efforts, General Electric (GE) has successfully boosted their brand using social media and other online marketing platforms.

One surprising platform where they have excelled in introducing their industrial products to a mainstream social media audience is Pinterest. Pinterest is still a widely popular visual platform. As of 6/8/16, Pinterest has 100 million active users according to Expanded Ramblings.

As for GE, Gina Hutchings says the following in her post for digital marketing site Receptional:

As a visual medium GE set up a ‘Badass Machines’ account to share images of not just their own work but also amazing innovations worldwide. The whole portal of the page is that ‘engineering is cool’ it’s new and exciting and something you would want to be part of.

 

3.  The Zebra

Car insurance is yet another one of those essential items people need. When it comes to gaining brand awareness it’s typically not an industry that attracts loyal online audiences by using the digital marketing strategy and techniques that work for more common consumer products.

The Zebra has taken steps to set themselves apart from some of the other car insurance providers online. As a startup in 2013, The Zebra’s goal was to be the “Kayak for auto insurance,” by aggregating quotes to provide car insurance shoppers with the best options. Consumers are also able to do this comparison shopping anonymously and without any obligation.

One unique way The Zebra is boosting its digital marketing strategy to attract the everyday, mainstream consumer is through providing free car insurance advice on demand through their website. Their page, “Ask an Agent,” promises fast, accurate, trustworthy – and 100% free – expert answers and tips from licensed and experienced insurance agents.

 

Zebra Ask an Agent

 

Which digital marketing techniques do you see working well for “boring brands”? What are other examples boring brands you think have been successful online? Please feel free to leave a comment below.

 

Picking Up the Pieces

Picking Up the Pieces

If you look back at the dates on my most recent posts, you’ll see I’ve gone almost a month without blogging. Yes, it’s been busy, but almost two weeks ago I was thrown a major curve.

My dad passed away. Unexpectedly.

We take life (and our businesses) for granted. We think we have another day, another week; look forward to that next project or quoting out the next prospective client. But what if that never happens?

I’ve been trying to ease back into work for the past week, since my dad’s funeral. I inherited his work ethic a long time ago – get things done, no matter what; put forth your absolute best; give 120%; never show your weakness – so naturally I was ready to buck up and move on and get on with business and life.

Easier said than done.

My concentration isn’t there. My heart just isn’t back in it entirely. I find my mind drifting when I’m trying to work on a strategy or even send a simple email.

So how do you pick up the pieces after you’ve lost someone and get back to work?

Slowly, yes. One day at a time, sure. This is my new reality. I easily thought once the funeral was done and over and I was back home I could get on with life and get back to work like I did after my grandmother (who I was super close with) passed last year. Well, in the words of Lee Corso, “not so fast my friend.”

My clients have been amazing throughout this. My Marketing Assistant/Community Manager Jenn Hanford has been an absolute savior keeping the ME Marketing wheels rolling. Everyone has been so understanding, but I’m struggling. I’m trying to give that 120% like I always do, but it’s just not there yet. It will come. Losing a parent is hard. Losing a parent too soon (dad was only 67, and yes, that’s young) is harder.

I know some of you have walked the road I’m starting down. It’s not easy and there are bumps along the way. My faith is holding me up. My husband, family, and friends are there too. And you as well.

So if you happen to see a piece I’ve forgotten to pick up along the way, just let me know and send it my way.

17 Tips for Connecting on Social Media

17 Tips for Connecting on Social Media

One mantra I’ve adopted while working in social media is to connect with intent. I have to have a reason to connect with someone because I don’t believe in connecting for the sake of padding my numbers.

A few years ago Jennifer Hanford and I did a series of 101 posts on the subject of connecting. In this post we’ve compiled and updated them, giving you a list of great tips to use when making new connections on all of the major social media platforms.

 

Facebook

With over 1 billion people there, Facebook, of course, is the largest social network. You will have many connection opportunities that span the globe. Here are 6 tips to keep in mind.

 

When Connecting Personally…

  • When connecting with someone on a personal level, make sure you know them. I know this sounds silly, but it’s true! I get friend requests from people all the time that I have NO clue who they are…even if we live in the same town. For me, I have to be able to place how I know them – an online group, a conference, school, church, etc. If I can’t, then sorry, we won’t be connecting today.
  • See who your mutual friends are. There are some that I do know but do not agree with who they associate themselves with. People will not admit it openly, but everyone gets judged by the company they keep.
  • Are the only online to play Farmville or Frontierworld or Cooking World or some other silly Facebook game?? There are some who are only interested in the online gaming and only want to be friends so they can move up to the next level. Unless you don’t mind your newsfeed being filled with endless game requests and “so and so just beat level 1,002”, I wouldn’t accept. Unless it’s your mom. Then you have no choice.

 

When Connecting Professionally…

  • I reiterate points 1 & 2 from above – since there are over one billion people on Facebook, for your safety make sure you truly know them.
  • If you connect with someone, do not invite them to every.single.page you manage. Same goes for events. There are those out there who connect only to spam you with “Like this page” or “Like that page”. That’s screaming a one-way relationship.
  • If your competition is wanting to connect, it’s okay, but be forewarned. I always joke to keep your enemies close, but your competition closer. Yes, it may seem like a good idea to accept your competition’s request to connect, but unless you’ve activated some really detailed privacy setting, they will get to see what you are doing. You may see it as showing what all you can do, but they will see it as things they need to do better or one-up.

 

Instagram

When Instagram was created by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger and launched in October of 2010, the service brought a whole new meaning to online sharing. Instagram, as you know, is known for its photo and video sharing (and selfies and pictures of your dinner plates). There are many ways to connect with the millions now using this network.

Instagram is a great social media platform that provides people from all over the world to share their personal photos with friends and family, and it is a great place for users with common interests to connect and come together to share and discuss content. Here are 4 main ways to connect –

 

Connect through Photographs

You’ve heard the old saying: “a picture is worth a thousand words.” And that’s absolutely true.  It is easy to connect with others by capturing the world from your viewpoint. Images allow us to connect with one another on a different platform simply by displaying a message to one another. Whether the message be about your experience at a concert or your favorite food, Instagram allows for others to discover and understand the world through photographs.

 

Connect through Exploring

One of the easiest ways to connect with others on Instagram is on the ‘Explore’ tab. This feature consists of 15 most popular ‘liked’ images from all over the world. This allows you to venture out and view images you may not see on your normal feed. While also providing different content, exploring can connect you to other users. The great thing about the explore tab is that it is constantly changing. It updates the most popular 15 pictures every few minutes, allowing us to connect to even more people.

 

Connect through Hashtags

If you are looking to connect with new Instagram users, adding a hashtag to the picture you upload is a great way to do so. Displaying a specific hashtag connects you with more like-minded people. This feature allows you to share your photo to a wider audience who probably would not have seen the photo without it. If you are at an event, use that event’s hashtag to connect with others there.

 

Connect through Stories & Live

Now that Instagram has Instagram Stories, you can tell a story while being authentic. People will see the real you. If you’re account is public, anyone following you can see these and some may just pop up in the ‘Explore’ tab. And much like Facebook’s Live option, you can go live on Instagram as well and connect live to people.

 

Twitter

I opened my first Twitter account in the fall of 2010 for the intent purpose of following University of Georgia football. Never in a million years did I think I could actually make friends and connect with businesses. It’s now my favorite social media platform to use for business. It’s the platform I’ve gotten the most clients from too.

I’ve written two previous articles on Twitter following – 8 Reasons I Won’t Follow You on Twitter and 8 More Reasons I Won’t Follow You on Twitter – that really touched on some general, cosmetic points. However, here are some deeper connecting tips for Twitter that will make you a more seasoned and polished Twitter user.

 

Connect with like-minded people.

In any business, reputation management is very important. People will look and judge you on who you are surrounded by. By following like-minded people, you will find a community you can grow with and learn from.

 

Tweet people you want to get to know.

Even though that person you want to meet has 100,000 followers, if you don’t tweet them and let them know you are there, they may never find you. I’ve developed relationships on Twitter with people I normally would not have access to simply because I started tweeting (and retweeting) them and started a conversation. Anyone reputable on Twitter will not ignore someone who is trying to strike up a conversation. It may take them a day or so to respond but the serious ones will respond.

 

Give credit where credit is due.

Did you like a blog article and tweet it? Give the author credit in the tweet. Liked a tweet and agreed with it? Again, credit the author in the tweet. When you credit the author it’s mentioning them and they will take notice. Taking the time to give credit to the original author or the one who shared it on Twitter (you can use “h/t” for “hat tip to”) will show that you care and are purposeful in using Twitter.

 

LinkedIn

Making connections on LinkedIn will help you realize the power LinkedIn holds as a social platform where professionals interact and engage with others.

First things first, you never have to pay to make connections on LinkedIn. The free version provides you with the same connection and networking abilities as the paid version. Secondly, you do not need to be an “open networker” to connect with anyone you wish, but know that most users prefer to connect with meaning and intent on LinkedIn. Unfortunately, LinkedIn attracts a lot of spammers, but the platform does provide easy ways to report and ban them. If you do not mind occasional spam and want to connect with a large volume of people from all over the world though, you may consider joining open networker groups.

 

Here are some of the basics to get you started:

 

Put your best foot forward with your LinkedIn Profile

  • Your profile gives people their first impressions of you so make it count!
  • Make sure your profile is complete and current with a professional picture, employment information and relevant qualifications.
  • Always be honest with the information you provide, especially if you are seeking employment or potential clients.

 

Where to find your connections on LinkedIn

  • One of the first places to find new connections is on LinkedIn’s home page when you are signed in. There is an entire section called “People You May Know.” Based on information you have filled out for your profile, LinkedIn makes suggestions for you. Do not be too surprised when it shows you people you may not really know.
  • You can also find people with whom to connect through the advanced search function. This allows you to search for people by name, company, job title or location.
  • Another way to meet people is through joining and participating in LinkedIn groups. People typically join groups in order to network with like-minded people. With a group association, it becomes easy to connect since you most likely have common interests.
  • As you connect with people, you become “1st-level” connections with them. You are then able to view their connections; their 1st-level connections are now your 2nd-level connections. You can also see when your 1st-level connections make other new connections. As a result, you now have a larger network and more people with whom you can connect directly.

 

Mind your manners when connecting on LinkedIn

  • When you are ready to connect, make sure you are sending personalized invitations. Introduce yourself when sending invitations to people you have never met, and briefly explain why you would like to connect with them.
  • When you accept someone’s invitation to connect or they accept your invitation, it is good practice to respond and thank them personally.

 

When using social networks and connecting, the quality of your own personal experiences depend very much on your own level of involvement. The more time you spend on those platforms and engaging with others, the more connections you’ll make.

 

Speaking of connections, Jenn and I would like to invite you to connect with us! You can find Jenn on Twitter at @jennghanford and myself at @memktgservices.

 

Connections make the social world go ‘round. What are some connection tips you would add?

 

An Online Etiquette Refresher for Business Owners and Entrepreneurs

An Online Etiquette Refresher for Business Owners and Entrepreneurs

As of 2016, 88% of American adults use the internet and 69% of online adults now use at least one social media site. Yet, probably more than a third of them act like a buffoon online – business owners and entrepreneurs included.

When you are a business owner or entrepreneur, what you do and say online can have positive and negative ramifications on your business. Yes, you can post freely, however when you are attached to a business or you are your business, the spotlight is on you more.

I decided to update and refresh some of my online etiquette rants and considering that state of the country (and world) right now, a little reminder doesn’t hurt, however this still has a business slant to it.

So, what do you (we) need to do?

Do not ignore people.

Much like how you wouldn’t want to be ignored in real life, don’t ignore someone online. If someone takes the time to respond to something you have out there – a tweet, a Facebook post, acknowledge it. People want to feel like they matter and ignoring them tells them they don’t. Same goes for blog comments. Even if it’s a simple thank you, you’ve acknowledged it. Something else to consider – I know we all cannot stand the generic LinkedIn messages, but if someone requests a connection with you and you do not want to accept it, it’s okay to respond and tell them why.

True story: About 5 years ago, there was a local restaurant here where I live that my husband and I wanted to eat at. I looked them up on Facebook to see their hours (they didn’t have a website – I know!) and saw they were open so we went. When we pulled up, they were closed and there was a different set of hours on their door. Needless to say we weren’t happy. Being the social media person I am, I went online and left a post on their Facebook page’s wall letting them know what happened and asked them to correct the hours on their page. 24 hours later – no response. 3 days later – no response. 4 days later I went back to their page and the post had been deleted. No apology or acknowledgement, it was deleted. Talk about being mad. Up until the day it closed (which was a couple years ago), we never set foot in that restaurant. We were potential customers that they lost out on.

Moral of the story: Respond! Had they responded with something, we would have gone back to try them out and become customers.

Do not steal other people’s work.

Seriously. Plagiarism happens every day on the web. I’ve had it happen to several of my blog posts and a couple of my graphics. Friends have had theirs stolen multiple times too. Google doesn’t like it and we don’t either. There are proper ways to go about reusing published content. Contact the author and ask about their republication policy (we all have them and they aren’t all the same). It adds value to the relationship when you ask first and it shows appreciation on both sides.

True Story: I have a client who is a high-end portrait photographer. She had a fellow peer in her industry have photos she (the peer) took and posted on another photographer’s website. This thief had a family see the pictures and hired them to do their photos. When they showed up, the photographer (the thief) was asking them to help her with her camera and posing – stuff she should have already known had she taken the pictures. The family quickly found out she didn’t take the photos she saw and found out who did and hired the original photographer (my client’s friend).

Moral of the story: When you steal, you will be found out and like pop! goes the weasel, pop! there goes your business.

Act your age.

I really shouldn’t have to actually type this out, but if you’re 35, 55 or even 25, act it. A lot of people try to use social media to make themselves bigger than they are and it comes back to get them (social media professionals included). Acting your age and showing your maturity will earn you respect and authority.

A good tip to keep in mind for yourself and your staff – if it would make your grandma blush, don’t post it.

This applies to content and language. There is absolutely no place for cursing online. Same applies to language that could offend someone (i.e. racial slurs, name-calling). Think of grandma – what would she say? We’re all adults here and we need to act like it (see above). Same applies especially to business owners – there is no place for an owner to respond with that type of language to a post on their business account. Trust me, you’ll end up like Amy’s Bakery in Arizona (read about it here).

Don’t assume.

This applies to just about everything. When you see something online don’t always assume it’s real or legit. There’s a lot of spam out there and do your friends a favor and check it out before sharing it, especially on your business account. We won’t even go into fake news. It’s everywhere and you have to really check your sources because social platforms and Google are wising up to this.

This also applies to tone. In writing it’s so hard to determine the tone of the writer from mere words. For example, I could type “That’s not funny.” and mean it as either a laughing “that’s not funny” making light of something or a harsh “that’s not funny” really getting onto someone. If there is something posted you do not understand, just ask. Ask for clarification. It will save hurt feelings or misunderstandings.

Try to keep things vanilla enough that your readers/fans will understand your tone. If it’s something that may be confusing, make a video and post it!

Selfies.

Okay, enough with the selfies. Personally, I cannot stand them. Professionally, I just don’t get it. If it’s a part of your personal brand to post 10+ selfies each day, fine. If selfies are something you want to do for your business, just make sure they relate to why you are using social media in the first place. You do not want to hurt your brand by over-posting these. And also be careful what types of selfies you post as well. We don’t want to see a bathroom stall.

Spell check! Please!!!

There is nothing more unprofessional than misspellings and incorrect grammar. Proof everything you write BEFORE hitting the post/tweet/publish button.

I know we will all make a type here and there, we’re human, it’s going to happen. It never hurts to have a second set of eyes look over something before it goes online. Not everything has an ‘edit’ button.

Ross Gellar from “Friends” points out a popular one… (sorry, had to!)

via GIPHY

To be honest, I could write another 3000 words about social media/online etiquette. How you (and you staff) act online says a lot about you – your character, your beliefs, even your business practices.

In a day where the negative spreads MUCH faster than the positive, we all have to be careful with what we do. say and publish online. The internet is world of mouth now. How well does your actions reflect on you as the business owner or entrepreneur? If it’s not what you want, it’s not too late to change. Take some time and look at what you are doing and write out some proactive steps to shape your actions the way you want them.

Now it’s your turn – what are best practices for social media etiquette that YOU would share?

 

Amateur v. Professional - Which One are You?

Amateur v. Professional – Which One are You?

Last week I came across an article from Farnam Street that asked the reader if they were an amateur or a professional. Well, we are all professionals, right? In the wise words of College GameDay legend Lee Corso – not so fast my friend.

 

In the article, differences between the two were pointed out. Some made you get a little defensive and hot under the collar, but nonetheless, it made the point.

 

Let’s take a look at seven of them…

 

Amateurs stop when they achieve something, like a goal. Professionals understand that the initial achievement is just the beginning, and have a process.

Goals are good to have, don’t get me wrong, but honestly, it doesn’t stop there. Goals should be seen as benchmarks along the way. Your career is a process, and the awards you achieve are goals along the way. You don’t end your career because of an award or a making a sales goal. You keep going.

 

Amateurs think they are good at everything. Professionals understand their circles of competence.

This is a rookie mistake we’ve all made at some point. We think we can take on everything and be the one source for our customers or clients, when in reality, we are not. One piece of business advice I received early on was to focus on what I was good at and outsource the rest.  Yes, I work in marketing. Yes, I could do a complete marketing package for a client, but I know where my strengths lay. One of my close friends is a CPA but she’s better on the audit side than the tax side – that’s her strength. Knowing your circles of competence, or strengths, will help set you apart and make you a better professional.

 

Amateurs see feedback and coaching as someone criticizing them as a person. Professionals know they have weak spots and seek out thoughtful criticism.

People do not like to have the negative pointed out, no matter how well it’s done. However, I’ve been on both sides of this one – early on in my career I didn’t want anyone telling me how to do something unless I asked because I saw it as criticizing me as a person. Now that I am older and wiser, I know my weaknesses and I do seek out advice from those whose opinions I highly value. This is a career (and personal) maturity journey.

 

Amateurs focus on identifying their weaknesses and improving them. Professionals focus on their strengths and on finding people who are strong where they are weak.

People want to be good at everything. That’s impossible. No one person can be good at everything apart from God. This is where the business advice I mentioned above comes into play – professionals will outsource what they are not as strong in to supplement. The sooner you realize this, the more time and energy you will save yourself.

 

Amateurs focus on tearing other people down. Professionals focus on making everyone better.

I came close to leaving this one out. I know “professionals” who make it a point to tear others down no matter how long they have been in business. And I know amateurs who claim to focus on making everyone better while their actions speak to the opposite. So be aware and be on guard at all times.

 

Amateurs blame others. Professionals accept responsibility.

This point comes from maturity – both in the person and your career. I understand fear – you may be scared to accept responsibility because of the consequences, but trust me, it’s always better to take that high road and be responsible. That’s what true leaders do.

 

Amateurs are scared — scared to be vulnerable and honest with themselves. Professionals feel like they are capable of handling almost anything.

The distinguishing factor here is confidence. It will come and go throughout your career. There are days I feel like I can conquer the world and there are days I feel like Chicken Little. As long as you are honest with yourself and know your strengths and take responsibility, it will be okay.

 

The article concludes by saying the main difference between the two boils down to two things: fear and reality. At any point in your career, no matter your age or how long you’ve been in your job, you will fall on either side of spectrum. If you read through to the article, you’ll see the other comparisons. There are some I fall on the amateur side, and some I fall on the professional side.

 

The goal should always be to be on the professional side more than amateur, and if you are on the amateur side, work on what you need to to move to the professional side. I know I am. Are you with me?

 

I’d love to hear your thoughts on amateurs v. professionals. Share with me below in the comments! This was an intriguing article and I’m curious your reaction.

 

When Competitiveness Threatens to Steal Your Joy

When Competitiveness Threatens to Steal Your Joy

I have a confession. I have a competition problem.

 

It’s not what you think.

 

You know how some people have OCD where things have to be a certain way, or just clean? I have an obsessive competitiveness problem. Let’s call it OCP.

 

I like to win. No, that’s not right. I have to win. I like to be the first car in the line of traffic. I want my kids to get the most awards (I’m working on this as my kids get older). My team has to win. I have to be the fastest. The first in line. Have the best service. The best product…. you see where I am going.

 

And it’s about to wear me to a breaking point.

 

I’ve always been competitive. Anyone who has known me for a long time knows how competitive I am, but I didn’t realize just how competitive I was until I owned my own business. I’m like that Monopoly player who wants to have all the properties and all the hotels. Life is easy when you have it all and no competition to deal with.

 

But that’s not how life works. And #thestruggleisreal.

 

I’ve had four situations over the past year that have really affected me, where this OCP (obsessive competitiveness problem) has reared its ugly head. I’m not going to go into details, but this fourth one almost broke me. It took twenty minutes on my heavy duty boxing bag in the garage to get me out of this funk. And my husband tell me I was overreacting (THAT didn’t go well).

 

Why should it matter if, as business owners, we have competition? Shouldn’t that push us to do better, and be better? Not send us into crazed-maniac tailspins (total exaggeration here) thinking it’s war. The small business world isn’t Game of Thrones even when in one’s mind it feels that way. Business goes in cycles – what goes down, must come up – and vice versa.

 

We shouldn’t let uber-competitiveness steal the positives we have seen in our journeys so far. I know sometimes trying to stay positive and seeing the bright side is easier than done – TRUST ME. I’m writing this post mainly as a reminder to myself.

 

All business owners have been there. I have friends who own businesses in a variety of industries that have thought the same thoughts and felt the same way. How we process it all is key. Having an outlet is a must. For me, it’s the boxing bag. What’s yours?

 

Maybe I can harness this OCP into something better rather than something threatening to wear me down. Only time will tell. In the meantime, if you see UGA is losing a football game – you may want to steer clear 😉

13 Social Media Tools to Make Your Life Easier

Tools to Make Managing Your Social Media Easier

TRUE STORY: A few months ago I attended a conference (no surprise there). Throughout many of the sessions, many, and I mean MANY social media tools and programs were mentioned. I saw people feverishly jotting down the names, looking up the apps on their iPhones and such. People were all over these programs like they had never heard of them before. Owning the business that I do, I have tried just about every single one that was mentioned.

There are SO many programs out there that anyone could spend a month trying them all out and still not know which one to use or what direction to go. Trust me, I’ve been there. After five years in the social media business, I’ve seen so many programs come and go, you have to look for ones that have staying power.

So to make it easy for you, or aynone who stumbles upon this post, here’s my list of social media tools you can use to make YOUR life and your business run MUCH easier…

Social Media Management/Post Scheduling 

Being able to schedule out posts will make your life A LOT easier. However, you still have to be available to engage in real time with people – respond to questions, take care of issues that pop up – you can’t brush it under a rug. Here are four programs you can’t go wrong with. I do suggest you take the time to explore each of them on your own, rather than me list out the pros and cons of each 🙂

  • Hootsuite – With both free and paid options, this program has both mobile and desktop versions.
  • Sprout Social – This program starts out at $59/month but does allow you to try 30 days free. This is the program I have been using since I started so I would say I am biased towards it 😉
  • Buffer – A lot like Hootsuite, with the capabilities, Buffer offers a free option all the way to Enterprise levels based on your needs.
  • Facebook – Every Facebook page has the ability to schedule posts itself. This I love. For all of the Facebook pages I manage, we do this no matter if we manage their other social accounts as well.

Instagram

  • Schedugram – Even though Buffer and Hootsuite can schedule and post to Instagram, if you just need to only schedule to Instagram, this would be the program for you. It’s not free though – the cost is $20/profile.
  • Iconosquare – This one provide analytics and more marketing choices for your Instagram account and starts off at $49/per Instagram account.

Pinterest

  • TailWind – If you are seeking a program just for Pinterest scheduling, this would the one for you. They’ve just added some Instagram abilities, but I haven’t played around with that year. For annual cost of $120/account, this is the way to go for Pinterest, in my opinion. They have larger plans, but unless you want mack daddy analytics, which is what you would be paying for (and you can get the majority from Pinterest for free), go with the cheaper version.

Twitter

  • Tweetchat – Tweetchats are a great way to expand your brand online and increase your community. If you are going to hold or participate in a Tweetchat, then this program is the way to do it. You won’t keep up otherwise. Oh, and this is free.
  • TribeBoost – This program is based out of Brunswick, Georgia and does a marvelous job of helping you grow your Twitter following.

Analytics

When it comes to analytics, each platform has their own and they typically provide the best. Google Analytics provide THE best website analytics I have come across. Of course, when it comes to comparing your social accounts to your competitors, well, that could be another blog post all in itself since there are another set of sites and programs you could use. We’ll stick to this list for now:

 

I’m not going to get into photo editing and such – that’s another post for another day. These tools are here to make your business’ social media run easier so you can get back to running your business.

If you have questions about these programs, just tweet me at @memktgservices or drop me an email at mandy@memarketingservices.com!

 

 

(Disclosure: Sprout Social link is my referral link as a part of their Sprout All-Star Elite program)

What to Expect When Using Social Media to Market Your Business

What to Expect When Using Social Media to Market Your Business

Using social media to market your business is not easy. There’s a science and strategy behind it. Fortunately, there are many of us who are here to help you with that so you can do what you do best – run your business.

 

I could write all day along about why you need social media and what to expect, so this time around I gathered a few of my friends who work in social media marketing and asked them to answer this one question…

 

What is one thing you want businesses to know about using social media to market their business?

 

Here is what they want YOU to know.

 

dominique paye using social mediaDominique Paye, Digital Media Director, The Southern C

“Establishing your following and achieving results will not happen overnight. View this as a long-term strategy. Understand that there is not only a ton of competition, but the additional challenge of consumer overload means you will have to think deeply to show what really distinguishes your brand or business. This is the only way to grow an engaged audience and, in the long run, see results.”

 

 

 

jonathan payne using social mediaJonathan Payne, Founder and Digital Marketing Consultant, My Social Game Plan

“One major thing businesses need to tackle before jumping into social media is whether they truly have the resources and budgets to support both an organic and paid social presence. The reality is it’s far more difficult to grow an organic community today than it was just two or three years ago. With the exponential increases in content publishing and competition for attention, combined with the strict algorithms we’re seeing across the big social platforms, you’re going to need ad support behind your brand to grow a community.

Businesses need to make this determination up front, before they sign any agency contracts or start allocating internal resources: do we have the budget to consistently produce exceptional, organic social media content at a high volume, or should we produce much less organic content and shift more dollars toward paid advertising?”

 

 

sara nickelberry using social media

Sara Nickleberry, Social Media Consultant and Owner, Social with Sara

“You need a social media marketing strategy!

When you’re marketing your business on social media, don’t try to “wing it”, you need a plan! A strategy is mandatory for social media marketing success. Start with your goals and objectives in mind. What are you trying to accomplish? You could be trying to build brand awareness, drive traffic to your website or increase your email sign ups, but do define your goal and make it measurable. Who are you targeting? Where do they hang out online? What social platforms do they use? Keep in mind, people don’t like to be sold to on social media. So think about what value you can provide to your audience to inform and entertain. What makes you unique and sets you apart from your competition? Think about the type of content you will create and how often you will post and promote your content. Understand that you will need to analyze your efforts to see what’s working and what’s not, so you can adjust your plan and improve your efforts.”

 

 

erin phillips using social mediaErin Phillips, Social Media Consultant and Owner, Pinckney Palm

“It’s necessary. With the average person spending an hour and 40 minutes on social per day (and this stat is growing!) you don’t want to miss out on your opportunity to get in front of your target audience. Find out which platform they’re spending the most time on and create some compelling content for that one platform. Don’t spread yourself too thin! You got this!.”

 

 

 

 

brooke sellas using social mediaBrooke Sellas, Founder & CEO, B Squared Media

“Based on my experience, one of the most (if not THE most) important things businesses must know when using social media to market their business is WHY.

WHY are you using social media to market your business? HOW will you tie your social media efforts to business outcomes, key performances indicators (KPIs), and return on investment (ROI).

When we get started with clients, we always determine KPIs during our launch meeting because effective social media KPIs are crucial to determining progress towards their/our goals. We also use a spreadsheet or “scorecard” to track these KPIs month-over-month, year-over-year.

Keep in mind that every brand’s KPIs are different … some companies want to measure follower growth and shares, while others prefer to measure click-through-rates, social traffic, and leads from social. While there’s no “one-size-fits-all” KPI, businesses using social media to market their business should know what their WHY, determine their KPIs and business goals, and track those things diligently.”

 

 

jenn herman using social mediaJenn Herman, Social Media Strategist, Jenn’s Trends

“The biggest thing I want business owners to understand is that social media is not an overnight rocket ship to success. Social media is about building relationships and cultivating trust in your customers. It can take months, or even years, to drive conversions. But, when done effectively, social media does foster that trust and loyalty that builds long term customers.”

 

 

 

If you’ve read this blog for any period of time, these answers should not come as a surprise because they all echo what I’ve been writing about.

 

To sum it up, what should you expect when using social media to market your business?

 

Has anything surprised you with using social media to market your business? Is there anything you are struggling with? Share below and let us know!

 

Does Your Business Have an Exit Strategy?

Does Your Business Have an Exit Strategy?

Why would I ever need an exit strategy? You may be asking yourself that after seeing the title of this post.

 

In the past six weeks I have been asked that by three separate potential clients while we were meeting. Of course they prefaced it with, “we don’t expect it, but just in case.”

 

They all had a great point. You never know what is going to happen. People move. People die. Not all businesses live forever.

 

For me, with the work ethic I inherited from my dad, I could do this until I am old and gray (ha!), but most likely not. Whether your plan is to have your business for 10 years, 20 years, or build it to where you can merge with another, you need to know what the plan is when that days comes.

 

Having an exit strategy in mind will help you run your business better. After thinking about it, I did a little research and found some great insight into this.

 

Having an exit strategy will make you document everything – including your processes.

 

Imagine trying to explain 10 years of doing things to a person in a week. Without having anything written down. Documenting what you do and how will help in the end – it will also help if you hire people and delegate or if you have to step out of your role short-term.

 

Having an exit strategy will help you know how to value your business in the event someone does make an offer to buy your business.

 

Even if you have zero plans of selling your business, you never know who is watching you. I’ve had a few people over the past six years casually mention the word ‘partnership’ to me, but that isn’t something I am personally in it. I would love to buy another marketing agency and merge into that if the stars aligned (major long-term goal here). THAT would require an exit strategy.

 

Having an exit strategy takes some of the stress off of you, the business owner.

 

I am a plan-for-the-worst type. I like to have all bases covered, just in case. So knowing what my exit strategy is takes some stress off of me because I know what will happen and how things will go. Now, I do not plan for that to happen for MANY, MANY years (my husband has to retire first!) but it’s there… just in case.

 

All that being said, hopefully it’s given you something to think about. So, what is your business’ exit strategy?

 

 

References:

https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/249065

http://quickbooks.intuit.com/r/business-planning/5-reasons-why-you-should-start-with-your-exit-in-mind/

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