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.

 

THIS is the Facebook Content Your Fans Want You to Post

THIS is the Facebook Content Your Fans Want You to Post

Let me ask you a question, and let’s be honest, how many times have you seen a business post on Facebook and you wished there had been an eye-roll button to click?

 

Don’t lie – there have been times we have all wanted to respond to a post that way. I’m going to be brutally honest – some businesses still just do not get it when it comes to what type of content to post to Facebook. Here is what I am seeing in my newsfeed, and see if any of these match what you are seeing too –

  • Misaligned posts that do not match the brand’s message
  • All sales pitches, aka broadcast messages
  • Posts with spelling and grammatical errors

 

Facebook, in May, released a guide for publishers that clued us into what Facebook values from it’s users. Here is what they found:

 

People on Facebook value meaningful, 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.

 

People on Facebook value accurate, authentic content.

With the wave of fake news on Facebook, accuracy is SO important more now than ever. 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.

 

Around the same time as the Facebook release, Sprout Social released its Q2 Sprout Social Index. This edition of the quarterly social media insight report focused on what consumers are looking from from businesses on social media – and it echoed a lot of the Facebook release.

 

Every business wants to be ‘cool’ on social media – they want to relate to their fans, but there is a limit to that. According to the Sprout Social Index, social media users want brands to be honest online, you know, authentic. They also want you to be friendly and helpful, not snarky and sarcastic. You can leave that for your private personal channels.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course, where else do social media users want to see this honest behavior? Overwhelmingly Facebook. If anyone, professional or not, tells you Facebook is dead and you need to look elsewhere, run and run fast.

 

 

Let’s talk content – what TO and NOT TO post.

 

TO Post: Meaningful, informative stories.

This could include tips, articles – items that are relevant to your fans. What this is NOT is sales pitch after sales pitch or “look at what we do” post after post. I see so many businesses doing that and it’s annoying. Stop the constant self-promotion and build the relationship!

Example: You are a pediatrician office. The content that would be meaningful and informative to your fans would be articles that keep your fans informed on the latest research on vaccines or when your office will be having their annual flu clinic.

 

TO Post: Accurate, authentic content.

Example: You are a restaurant. The accurate, authentic content that would be relevant to your fans would be your updated menu and pricing and any specials you may have.

 

NOT TO Post: Political commentary.

According to the Sprout Index, “Seventy-one-percent of consumers surveyed think political commentary from brands is annoying.” In this day and time, the ground is too shaky to endeavor on posting this type of content. Unless that is your business, steer clear.

 

NOT TO Post: Making fun of customers.

You would think this is a given, but some businesses do it. As seen below, 88% of consumers find it annoying.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TO Post: Responses to questions.

It should be a given to respond to questions to that are asked, however you would be surprised how many go unresponded to (and I’ve had this happen to me!). According to Sprout Social, 68% of consumers want brands to participate in conversations they’re mentioned in, and 83% want brands to respond to them.

 

NOT TO Post: Slang.

You may think it’s cool to use the lingo of a particular generation, but most generations find it annoying. See the graph below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So what happens if a business is posting content that their fans find annoying or uninformative? They are unfollowed or marked as spam. I’ve done it. You’ve done it. Your mom probably has done it too. The problem is that many businesses just don’t care – or they do not know better to know how to correct what they are doing wrong.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is a bright side. If you post the right type of content and you are engaging and responsive, your fans will respond. According to Sprout Social’s research, “it may be as easy as being present and providing value–answering a customer’s question on social prompts 49% of consumers to purchase, 45% are swayed by promotions and contests and 42% say they’d be converted by educational content.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tying this all up, if your business is posting meaningful, accurate content that shows you are honest and you are being engaging and responsive online, you are on the right track. Of course, all of this should relate back to your overall social media strategy.

 

What types of content have you seen on Facebook that has made you cringe or made you want to give that business a high-five? Share with us in the comments!

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. Click below to let us help get you on the right path to being successful.

 

Schedule a FREE 30 Minute Social Strategy Consultation Now!

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26 Social Media Statistics to Back Up Your Strategy

26 Social Media Statistics to Back Up Your Strategy

“Social media is not just a spoke on the wheel of marketing. It’s becoming the way entire bicycles are built.” – Ryan Lilly

 

I came across the above quote and thought it to be a great illustration of how social media has molded itself into a business’ marketing strategy. Yes, social media is taking over marketing. And the world.

 

Of course any good marketing strategy is built with statistics and data behind it – behaviors, interests, patterns, demographics, etc., and any good marketing strategist will make sure said strategy truly has the measurable data to back it up.

 

Being a fan of data and statistics, I love finding different bits of information among the common data we social marketing professionals regularly use. Some bits are eye-opening, some are really odd. Some make you sit and really evaluate what your actual usage behavior is, while some just make you laugh. Below are 27 social media statistics I have found while doing client research and putting together my weekly Marketing Fact Friday series (which you can follow on my Instagram account). If you want to dig deeper, I’ve linked the source for you.

 

Social Media Usage

  • Generation X (ages 35-49) spends the most time on social media: almost 7 hours per week versus Millennials, who come in second, spending just over 6 hours per week. (Nielsen)
  • Almost 80% of time spent on social media platforms happens on mobile. (MarketingLand)
  • 81% of millennials check Twitter at least once per day. (Pew Research Center)
  • Nearly half (43%) of weekly Facebook activity and a third (33%) of weekly Twitter activity occurred on Sundays. (Nielsen)
  • The number of active social media users worldwide is 2.78 billion, out of the world’s population of 7.47 billion. (we are social)
  • Smartphones accounted for 78% of adults, ages 18-34, total weekly social minutes. (Nielsen)
  • Adults ages 50+ spent 64% more time on social media in 2016 than in 2015. (Nielsen)
  • 85% of people rely on Twitter and Facebook for their morning news. (Byte of Data)

 

Social Media + TV

  • There were 11.8 million TV-related interactions on Facebook from 5.9 million people on average each day this fall. (Nielsen)
  • On an average day, 42% of those interacting with TV on Facebook are Generation X, 40% are Millennials, and the remaining 18% are Baby Boomers. (Nielsen)
  • 81% of engagement with TV-related Tweets comes organically from the audience. (Nielsen)
  • 57% of people who used their tablet while watching television said they visited Facebook while doing so, compared with 24% who said they visited Twitter. On smartphones, those numbers were 58% and 20%, respectively. (Nielsen)

 

Social Media + Business

  • More than 2 million advertisers regularly use Facebook to market their business. (Hootsuite)
  • While 64 percent of marketers have a Snapchat account, only 67 percent of those accounts are active. (L2)
  • 59% of Americans with social media accounts think that customer service through social media has made it easier to get questions answered and issues resolved. (Hootsuite)
  • 13% of heavy social media users clicked on an advertisement within the last 30 days. (Nielsen)
  • 30% of heavy social media users think it’s very or somewhat important to engage with social media in order to show support of their favorite companies or brands. (Nielsen)
  • 93% of Pinterest users use the platform to plan or make purchases. (Pinterest)

 

Social Media Content

  • Tweets with images received 150% more retweets than tweets without images. (HubSpot)
  • When people hear information, they’re likely to remember only 10% of that information three days later. However, if a relevant image is paired with that same information, people retained 65% of the information three days later. (Brain Rules)
  • 62% of B2B marketers rated videos as an effective content marketing tactic in 2016. (Content Marketing Institute)
  • Cisco projects that global internet traffic from videos will make up 80% of all internet traffic by 2019. (Cisco)
  • 51% of all video plays are on mobile devices — this growth represents a 15% increase from 2015 and a 203% increase from 2014. (Facebook)
  • Cisco projects that global internet traffic from videos will make up 80% of all internet traffic by 2019. (Small Business Trends)
  • Videos under five minutes in length account for 55% of total video consumption time on smartphones. (Ooyala)
  • 85% of videos on Facebook are watched without sound. (Digiday)

 

Some of these statistics you may be able to use for your own business, or for a client. Having data to back up anything you propose or want to do yourself, is always key – it gives you and what you are proposing more credibility (as long as the data is from a credible source).

 

What kind of data and statistics are used in your business’ marketing strategy? Share with us below!

 

I wrote this article as a guest post for My Social Game Plan and has been republished with permission.

 

 

earn the art & science of pinterest

Learn the Art & Science of Pinterest

Pinterest is for yourself, not your selfie.

 

When I attended this year’s Southern C Summit, I had the privilege of hearing Nikki Bazzani from Pinterest present. It was great to be in the room with someone who could give answers from the source. Her presentation was about the art and science of Pinterest, and yes everyone, there is a true art and science to it.

 

Here is what she shared, and every business owner using Pinterest needs to take note of this! FYI, Pinterest is second largest search behind Google 😉

 

It’s no surprise that every story is rooted in an idea. And every idea is a pin. Those pins are what helps us discover and ultimately do what we love.

 

Pinterest provides a wealth of content for anyone who is looking – the mom looking for new recipes, the marketer looking for an infographic, the bride looking for ideas for her wedding, the husband looking for birthday ideas for his wife. A good number of businesses have an audience on this platform, and they should with 150 million active monthly users pinning away.

 

But where do you start? How do you use Pinterest for your business, much less create that perfect pin that will capture the attention of the pinner scrolling through?

 

Before you put together a pin for Pinterest, keep these things in mind:

  • Text is allowed – call out unique things, get that pinner’s attention.
  • Vertical images are optimal – use – 600px x 900px (Don’t go higher than 1560px high. Pinterest is going to start not showing/decreasing visibility of the really long pins. Keep them at 900px high.)
  • Be authentic to both you and your brand.
  • Be helpful instead of clever with text overlay and descriptions.
  • Avoid looking like a banner ad.
  • Content and detail in description is encouraged (200-400 characters). Use keywords. You can have 500 characters max.

 

Knowing those few things, there is a psychology behind creating a pin, much like the psychology advertisers use in creating their ads and how you see them. Here are three principles to stick to.

 

3 Good Principles of a Pin

  1. They are visually arresting
    • The pin is a canvas, so use it. Play with text color (bright that pop), texture, pattern. Use black and white. Play with space. Add your products, logo, etc.
  2. They are inspiring
    • Motivate pinners with helpful tips, lists, and how-tos. Show the pinner what they are going to find when they go to your site.
    • Motivate with variety.
    • Motivate with novelty.
    • Motivate with trends and cultural reference (check out their Pinterest 100 trend report here).
  3. They are actionable
    • Make it easy – tell them what to do.

 

Once you have your pin planned out, that’s not the end of it. You have to nail it. Think of the pin as your piece de resistance. Ask yourself these eight questions…

    • Does this pin appeal to my desired audience?
    • Is this pin a stand-alone idea?
    • Is the idea novel, inspiring, entertaining, or helpful?
    • Would I save this pin?
    • Does this pin pique my interest enough to click and get more information?
    • Can I visually grasp what the idea or product is in less than 1 second?
    • Is the pin designed for mobile?
    • Does it stand out in the Pinterest feed?

 

Of course, there are more ways your can always make your pin more helpful…

 

Show lists and multi-products.

 

Instructions and How-tos –  let the pinner know what they are getting.

 

Detailed descriptions – use all the space you can.

 

Text overlays – just be careful not to use too much.

 

Tasteful branding – use your branding, your logo, list your website.

 

Once you start using Pinterest for your business, there are a lot of opportunities for you to grow your brand there. For example, take advantage of group boards. Look at Tribes through TailWind (an AMAZING Pinterest management tool). Pin from brands you want to work with, pin to support small businesses.

 

Monica Lavin of Lavin Label, who had partnered with Pinterest, also shared her experience and some helpful tips on how to get the most out of this platform.

 

Monica’s Tips:

 

  • For every 1 pin you pin, re-pin 2 pins from other people.
  • Pin throughout the day (You can use Tailwind or Co-Schedule to schedule pins).
  • Look at pins that are doing the best – create new content similar to that. Re-pin pins that are not performing well.
  • Take advantage of Promoted Pins!
  • Use Rich Pins from your site.

 

Here are some best practices for all of us to take –

monica lavin pinterest

 

 

Are you using Pinterest? If so, what are your success stories? Remember every idea is a pin. Those pins are what helps us discover and ultimately do what we love.

 

Images courtesy of The Southern C Summit

 

 

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