Adapt Your Social Media Marketing or Fail

Adapt Your Social Media Marketing or Fail

Social media marketing is changing.

 

The way you post, what you post, who you target – the who, what, when, wheres – it’s all changing. If you’re not adapting how you use social media to market your business, you’re going to fail. And fail bad.

 

In the past year, here’s what we’ve seen:

 

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg folks.

 

In the beginning – way back in the early 2000’s – you could just post whatever you wanted on social media and people would see. Much like the movie Field of Dreams, where the main character was told, “if you build it, he will come.” And he built it, and he came. Now that was dealing with a baseball diamond, the Black Sox, and a dad, but the theory is the same. You could post on social media and people would see it, and theoretically, come to your page/store/website. There was no algorithm dictating who saw what.

 

Fast forward to 2018 and the landscape is vastly different. Everything is methodical. Everything is done purposefully. There is a science and a psychology behind social media marketing – and it’s changing.

 

People do not want to see sales pitches. They want to see content that matters and relates to them.

 

People do not want to see fluff (think of all of those stupid videos and gag-tastic memes/quotes/graphics in your feed). They want to see meat – content with substance.

 

People do not want to have their time wasted by a business posting meaningless “Share this to win a $25 gift card!” posts and their feed cluttered by 25 friends sharing it – which, by the way, is AGAINST FACEBOOK RULES TO DO. People want to see authentic content.

 

What are you posting online? What’s on your Facebook page right now? Instagram? Twitter? LinkedIn?

 

Put yourself in your follower’s shoes. Are you posting something that would make you stop and read it, or just scroll on by. Think about that for awhile and think about that when you post next.

 

Social media marketing is going through an evolution right now. It came on the scene, people exploited it, everyone became an “expert” on using it as a marketing tool (when very few are legitimately versed in it), and now as the tide is changing, everything is being sifted out. The fluff content is getting penalized on Facebook. The fake experts are being called out. Social media marketing is changing.

 

But how?

 

It’s all coming back to the nuts and bolts of what I call marketing 101. Relationship-building. And it’s not a one-way street. You have to be active and respond to everyone. Let me type that again – you have to be active and respond to everyone.

 

People have said they want meaningful, accurate, authentic, and informative content. Adapt your content as such. Stop the fluff. Post the content that will draw them in, make them act. Reach out like the human being you are and build a relationship through social media with your community. Use social media as the communication tool, like the telephone.

 

People want more personalized experiences, especially in retail (read more about it here). Use social media to tailor the experience they have with you to them. Feature customers. Congratulate customers.

 

AT&T way back in the day had an advertising phrase – “Reach out and touch someone.” Apply that to your social media marketing. Reach out to your followers and touch them. Create an emotional connection that will turn them into life-long customers. It’s all about the relationship.

 

Social media marketing is going to be like Darwin’s theory of evolution – the strongest will survive and those who adapt with outlive the rest.

 

So how are you going to adapt?

An Updated {Short} Beginner's Guide to Instagram Strategy

An Updated {Short} Beginner’s Guide to Instagram Strategy

About two years ago I wrote a short primer on beginning your Instagram strategy and since then Instagram has taken the world by storm. Today, I present to you and updated version of that post. If you want to read the original, for fun, you can here.

 

Before we get started, let’s look at the stats now:

  • 800 million monthly users
  • More than 800 million daily active users
  • 8 million business Instagram accounts
  • 72% of Instagram users have bought a product they saw on the platform
  • Over 50% over businesses are posting Instagram Stories

Source: http://expandedramblings.com/index.php/important-instagram-stats/

 

Sprout Social mentioned in one of their Instagram marketing guides, “As people join Instagram in droves, brands have a unique opportunity for engagement with their fans: Instagram posts generate a per-follower engagement rate of 4.21%, which is 58 times more engagement per follower than Facebook and 120 times more than Twitter.”

 

Before you jump headfirst into using this platform (or if you are already there but needing a bit of guidance), there are some basic elements to consider when crafting your plan for your business. Let’s take a look…

Why are You Using it?

Like anything you do for your business, you have to know why you are using it. Are you trying Instagram because you are tired of Facebook? Maybe you want to be your competition to the punch? Before taking on more than you can chew, make sure you have the time, energy and resources to dedicate to doing this right. Once you have, start crafting your Instagram strategy. To save time and not reinvent the wheel, I’m going to recommend you bookmark Sprout Social’s Instagram Strategy Guide (it’s linked at the end of the article).

Which Photos Will You Use?

Photos are the backbone of this platform – without them, Instagram simply wouldn’t exist. Choosing what graphic to post is very important. Here are some simple things to keep in mind:

 

  • Optimal photo size is 1080px x 1080px; for Stories, 1080px x 1920px
  • Will your photo be landscape or portrait?
  • Filter or no filter?
  • Does it match the message you are wanting to convey?
  • Is it appropriate?
  • If I’m sharing someone else’s content, do I have permission?
  • Photos with faces get 38% more likes.

 

Unfortunately still at this time, there is not a direct way to upload a photo via your computer. I’m sure one day we may have this option, but right now, there’s not. Here are the most common ways to post your photo to Instagram:

 

  • Take a photo on your smartphone or tablet and direct upload from the device.
  • Create a DropBox folder or a folder in Google Drive and upload the photos you’d like to use and sync it with your smartphone or tablet. You’d then download the image from the cloud onto your device and post from there.
  • Repost App. This is an app that allows you to share other people’s Instagram photos. When you open it, it brings up the feed of who you follow and you just tap the photo you want to share and it allows you to open it up in your Instagram account to post.

What About Hashtags?

Hashtags are very important when using this platform for your business. 70% of hashtags on Instagram are branded. Instagram posts with at least one hashtag have 12.6% more engagement than those without. Like Twitter, these allow you to be found when someone searches. Instagram’s guidelines on hashtags can be found here. Jenn Herman of Jenn’s Trends is one of the top Instagram strategy people I know. She wrote an article about using hashtags on Instagram and here’s what she says (and I suggest as well) –

  • Use relevant keyword hashtags
  • Don’t use too many hashtags
  • Use industry related hashtags
  • Keep your audience in mind
  • Don’t hijack hashtags (basically using a popular hashtag to butt in on a trend or conversation)

 

One of her best suggestions on using hashtags was to create a list of hashtags and save them on your mobile device, “On your mobile device, I recommend you create a notepad note (on whichever app you prefer) with your favorite/preferred hashtags. You can even create multiple lists if you have multiple types of content you share on Instagram. Set the list with your core hashtags and simply copy and paste it into your Instagram post caption to save you having to type them in each time. It’ll also make sure you don’t leave any out!”

How About Following People and Having Them Follow Me?

On Instagram, in your feed you will only see the posts from those you follow. If you click on eyeglass at the bottom, it pulls up the search where you see photos from people based on the people you follow. You can also search people and hashtags as well. To be found and get followers, it’s important for you to use hashtags (see above). Most people you follow will follow you back, however here are some tips when you follow people and getting people to follow you back:

 

  • Have your bio completely filled out and include a link to your website. Also, make sure you have a legit and professional-looking profile photo (read: no bikini pictures or topless (if you are a guy), no vulgar expressions, etc.).
  • Post relevant content. Your stream should not be a collection of selfies.
  • When you do follow someone and they follow you back, do not immediately unfollow them. This is my biggest pet peeve. I’ll have people follow me and I’ll follow them back if I like their content and 2 days later, I’m scrolling through my followers and see they are not following me anymore. Talk about rude. Beware of those who follow you who are following A LOT less than follow them.
  • Check out who is following your competitor and follow those people. Keep in mind to only follow quality people.
  • Comment on other people’s posts. If someone comments on mine and I’m not following them, more often than not, I’ll follow them. Of course, look at their bio and what they’ve posted first.
  • Use relevant hashtags.

Promoting Across the Web?

Of course you’ll want everyone to know you are on Instagram now. When you launch your account, make sure you have your Instagram link on your website. Also, post a status update with your link on your other social accounts. I have several I follow on different social media platforms and their Instagram posts are much different (for the better) than their Facebook updates. Here are some ideas to promote your Instagram account across the web:

 

  • Status update on your social platforms.
  • Link on your website.
  • Write a blog post about why you’re using it.
  • Share your Instagram photos to Twitter and Facebook.

How Often Do I Need to Post?

Like any other social media platform, you have to use it regularly to benefit from it. Posting once per week is not going to do it. Plan on posting 2-3 times per day. The more active you are, the more your account with grow. As of January 2018, you can now schedule and post directly to Instagram through the major social management programs, such as Sprout Social, Hootsuite, Buffer, etc. Another option is Schedugram. Of course, Instagram allows you to share your photos to other platforms, but if you do choose to go that route, I would only recommend sharing the photo to Facebook. Twitter only show the link and caption, not the image.

Tracking Analytics?

Last but not least, you need to be able to track and measure your Instagram efforts. Fortunately there are two options – Iconosquare and Sprout Social – to help! Both programs let you manage comments on your Instagram photos and gives you analytics on your accounts. Sprout’s Instagram services are included in their social management software while Iconosquare is a stand-alone program.

All of this can be applied to Stories as well. And videos.

 

Using Instagram can be A LOT of fun. It’s a great way to get a behind-the-scenes peek into the daily lives of business and individuals. If you use it the right way, you’ll see your presence grow.

 

What are you doing with your Instagram strategy?

 

Follow me on Instagram –

Personal Account – @mandyedwards0821

Business Account – @memarketingservices

 

Instagram Resources I Recommend:

18 Instagram Stats Every Marketer Should Know

Hashtags on Instagram

Sprout Social’s Instagram Strategy Guide

Schedugram

Jenn’s Trends (take a look at her Jenn’s Friends Program too!)

Sprout Social (Link takes you to a free 30-day trial and is my referral link).

 

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.

 

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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7 Easy Ideas to Improve Your Blog

7 Easy Ideas to Improve Your Blog

If you are not blogging for your business, you are missing out.

By publishing fresh, new content on a consistent basis, you are giving people a reason to come back to visit your site. The more people to your site means more traffic, which means more opportunity to convert them into loyal fans and one day, customers.

Of course some blogs have all the bells and whistles they install while some are very plain and simple. You need to go with what fits your business’ personality and branding. No matter what you do, you need to always be working to improve your blog. Here are 7 quick and easy ideas you can implement now…

 

Idea #1: Add Click to Tweet.

Click to Tweet is this great site (and plug-in) that you can use to make lines or points you want to make tweetable. This gives your readers an easy way to share your blog post along with a snippet from it. See below.

Click to Tweet is just 1 of 7 ideas you can use to improve your #blog. Click To Tweet

 

Idea #2: Display your social shares.

Social proof is a valuable measure in content marketing. People want to see how many times your content is being shared to validate that it’s something worth sharing. Companies and influencers look at the number of social shares when determining what content to share or who to work with. If I get approached to guest post on a website, I look at their social share numbers before deciding if I’m going to do it. Content worth sharing gets shared. Period. (Hint: it’s all about the quality)

 

Idea #3: Add a Call to Action (CTA).

Including a call to action at the end of your post is a great way to encourage your readers to respond and engage. This could be a question or a prompt to sign-up for an email. Not matter what you choose, you need to prompt your readers to give a response.

 

Idea #4: Use lists and infographics.

Lists make longer posts easier to read. Infographics are a great way to display a lot of information and data in an easy-to-understand format. Most readers will leave a post before they reach the end if it’s nothing but long paragraph after paragraph. Breaking it up into listed bullet points keeps them there. Creating a list post such as “Top 10 Ways…” or even a post that ranks something will see more traffic than others (trust me, I’ve seen it first-hand).

 

Idea #5: Include a pinnable image.

You (should) already know to have a visual in every post you publish. Having an image that is pinnable to Pinterest helps as well. The recommended size for these image types is 735px x 1102px. You can easily make these in programs such as Canva or PicMonkey or you can get more custom with Adobe InDesign or Photoshop.

Here is an example (image has been sized down for display purposes, but was created to the specs above):

7 Easy Ideas to Improve Your Blog

Idea #6: Link to influencers.

We all have people who influence us. And occasionally we like to mention them or talk about their work. When you do, make sure to link back to them. That will usually bring it to their attention you’ve mentioned them. You won’t always get a response from them, but sometimes you do. Also, when sharing that post on social media, make sure to tag them on the platform you’re sharing on.

 

Last but not least…

 

Idea #7: Make sure your content is something people want to share.

Maybe this isn’t so much an idea as it should be a rule of thumb. Good, quality content gets shared. That’s the type you need to be publishing. In the age of content shock, fluff content won’t cut it. I could write a whole post on this, so for time’s sake, I’ll just leave it here.

 

Any writer and incorporate these easy 7 ideas into their blog if they are not already. If you were writing a list of ideas like this, what else would you include? Share with me below!

 

 

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