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Identifying, Locating, and Converting Brand Evangelists

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A ‘brand evangelist’ is someone who is actively promoting a certain product, or an aspect of that product or service in the social media sphere. Brand evangelists could come in many forms; they could be your employees, customers, affiliates, etc. Regardless of whom they are or how they are related to your product, brand evangelists help create a human connection with a product and are extremely beneficial when it comes to building buzz. Brand evangelists are a marketers dream. In fact, a study conducted by Bayne and Company found that a 5% increase in customer retention can produce more than a 25% increase in your profit. Therefore, turning happy customers into brand evangelists is a very good business strategy. But how do companies convince customers not only to use their products, but to adopt their brands? What makes consumers advocate for a product and willingly accept and “own” it as part of their individual identities?

The first step is locating these potential brand advocates – which can prove daunting, seeing as there are millions of conversations happening online every day. Therefore, you must begin with simply listening. Collect and test conversations until you have established a few key search terms that are returning beneficial results. Then analyze them. One of the fastest ways to find your brand evangelists is to start marking the mentions of your brand with sentiment. You are looking for the people who really like your brand,  are saying good things about it, and are recommending it to others. These people are really out there promoting you, and 9 times out of 10 they have no connection with the company whatsoever (in fact, the company most times is never even aware of them).

What to look for in a potential brand evangelist:

So you’ve found people who love your brand and who are out there talking about it – these are your potential evangelists. It’s important that you find someone who really knows what they’re talking about, who really understands the product and can talk about it with authority. For them to be effective we have to buy into the fact that they know much more about this product than I do, and based on their insights this product is going to be a good choice for me.

Potential brand evangelists have to be very active in social media. They must be someone who has a big reach, and a good following. They have to be very active conversationalists. They can’t be someone who’s constantly on the soap box or someone who’s controlling the conversation. You don’t want someone who just moves in on the conversation and completely takes it over, because that will alienate people more than anything.

Converting customers to brand evangelists:

Oftentimes it can be small things that convert a happy customer into a brand evangelist. If someone has a really outstanding experience they are going to want to tell others about it. This is particularly true if it is a constant experience. It’s not hard to have the “best cookie in the world” one time, but can the bakery do that every single day? That’s when you’re going to find people who start raving about your product. Therefore when that happens consistently, and time after time the product is outstanding and/or the service is outstanding, that’s something that will turn people into brand evangelists.

It’s important for businesses to remember that every interaction leaves some kind of impression, and oftentimes it’s the little things – good or bad – that people remember the most. For example, if you’re serving food to somebody it could be things like: did you clean the table? Is everything perfect? All of those leave an impression, and online is where people are talking about it. Hence, in order to get more positive conversations happening about your brand online you need to start internally and ensure your business is producing happy customers.

Once you find these happy customers you need to help them become brand evangelists. Very often all it takes is just a little bit of attention. It’s amazing how far showing them a little love can go. You need to acknowledge them and show them that you’re listening and that you’re interested. Oftentimes in life, very few people get acknowledged for what they do, so just doing so can make a big difference.

Another important method of turning customers into brand evangelists is by giving them something that will help increase their visibility within their own groups/communities. In social media today it is important to remember that your audiences have audiences of their own (who also have audiences, and so on), and they are all looking for more content. Therefore, you need to give them something that would raise their visibility, and bring them more readers/traffic. Help them by supplying value – which could mean giving them insider access and doing things like giving them content, or perhaps access to your experts.

Facebook Like

It’s important that, on your search for brand evangelists, you don’t forget to look internally. Oftentimes you’re likely to find brand evangelists right under your nose within your company. Many times your employees know the company and the product much better than anybody else, and they often are people within the company who are very passionate about the company they work for and the product that they make or sell.

When you turn loyal customers into brand evangelists they really become passionate and they are very loyal and very supportive. They help spread your key messages into important communities and, consequentially, the reach goes beyond just the fans – you’re reaching their friends and their followers as well. But you have to enable them by giving them the content and the tools to go out and tell your stories about the latest things that are happening, their exclusive experience, what they’ve seen happening in the company, why this company is so different, etc. Once you give them the stories, it becomes their personal stories, and not only will they share them, they will become your biggest fans online.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why Every Business Owner Should Have a Solid SEO Plan for Their Website

Woman Playing Harp

It is crucial for businesses owners to have a solid SEO plan. Creating a business website online takes a lot of hard work and can be fairly expensive for your business. Getting it up and running is big step but now that your website is complete, what do you do next?  Many people think that people will automatically start visiting their website because it’s there. Getting a website created is only the beginning. What many people don’t know is that 75% of users never scroll past the first page of search results according to a recent survey. That means that it is crucial that you have a good SEO plan in order to make sure your website gets enough traffic to be seen and in order to make a difference for your business.

SEO Blocks
No matter how amazing and efficient your website is, if you don’t have many visitors, you will not realize the true potential that the internet has to help your business. Below are some frequently asked questions that many website owners ask when trying to increase website traffic by looking at all the search engine optimization options that are available.

The most common question people ask is, “What exactly is SEO and how can I make sure I have the best SEO plan for my business?” SEO stand for Search Engine Optimization, and describes the process of making sure your website comes to the top of the search engine results whenever people search for keywords that relate to your site. For instance, if you are a property management company, you ideally want someone who types in “rentals” or “housing” to find your website right at the top of the search engine when they hit enter. This will give you a far better chance of having that customer click on your website and use your services.

The next question you may ask is, “How does it work and is it easy to do by myself?” This is a pretty complicated question, but the simple explanation is that you need to make sure that all the keywords are recent and relevant  to your website and are mentioned somewhere in the content on your website in the proper ratios to alert search engines that your site is a good source of information about that keyword. Another major part of SEO is making sure that other websites out there are talking about and linking to your website when referring to the relevant keywords.

SEO takes a lot of work, and we’ve only mentioned a few of the ways to optimize your website for search engines. It is best to be handled by a company that specializes in this service to ensure that your business website is getting the best results.

How to Convert Fans and Followers into Paying Customers

Wheat Field

You’ve set up a Facebook page and Twitter account for your business. You’ve spent time growing your digital presence and building your fan base through sharing useful content and engaging your target audience. You now have a loyal online fan base that’s liking and sharing your content. Great! Now what? How do you make that social sale? Here are several tactics you can put to use immediately to convert your fans, followers and subscribers into paying customers.

First, you have to define your conversion. Different businesses have different types of conversion. What’s yours? Consider what makes the most sense for you and what you want to measure.

Once you have identified your conversion, you have to figure out how you can lead fans and followers to your website, which is where conversions take place most often. Once people are on your website, you have to consider ways improve your conversion rates and get people to move down the sales funnel.

When thinking about conversions, it’s important to keep in mind the idea of holistic web marketing, which is all about integrating your different online and digital marketing so that you have a consistent message that’s most effective. There are 4 components to doing this:

Attraction – How do we get people to our website in the first place?

  • There are several effective ways of doing this which include using SEO, social media, and social content creation. You can also do this through traditional marketing, or advertising, or anything that attracts traditional customers to your website.

Retention – How do we keep the line of communication open?

  • People go to your website in information gathering mode. They may not make a decision immediately, so how it’s important you find ways to stay in front of them. One tool for doing this is email marketing. Get people to opt in to email newsletters and send emails to stay in front of them. Another powerful way to stay in communication is through social media. Put social media widgets on your homepage, and get people to connect with you. Getting that connection is much more powerful than just getting another page view on your website.

Conversion – how do we get somebody to move down the sales funnel?

  • See below

Measurement – Does it work?

  • You want to be able to measure through Google analytics for website and other tools. We need to be looking at traffic reports and metrics to know what’s working.

 

CONVERSION:

There are several different types of conversion:

  1. Buy now button: Someone clicks on it and hopefully they move through sales process
  2. Contact or lead capture forms: Collect their information and get back to them
  3. Phone:  difficult to measure from website standpoint
  4. Email signups can be very beneficial as well.

You may be asking, how are email signups a conversion? It’s a little yes, which leads to a big yes for most businesses. It’s all about lead capture, so by making people give the little yes you can use it to move forward to the big yes, or the sale.

When going for the little yes, it’s important to consider one of the many weapons of influence: consistency. For example, there was a transportation department in California that sent people to a nice, affluent neighborhood asking if they could stick a “Drive Safe” sign in their yards. Doing so would basically would ruin the landscape, the lawn, and the property value, so most people wouldn’t agree to let the department leave the sign in their front yard (only 17% allowed it). However, a few weeks later they went to another neighborhood with the same proposal, and this time 76% of people agreed to put the “Drive Safe” on their lawn. The difference is that, in the second neighborhood, they went weeks before asking residents to put a small, barely visible “Drive Safe” sticker in their windows first. Once they got that little yes, the people saw themselves as promoters for safe driving, so consequentially they were later okay with putting the big “Drive Safe” signs in their yards. Thus, the question becomes: What’s your window sticker? What little yes can you get from your visitors that makes them think it’s okay to take the next step?

Leading people from social media outposts to your website requires using the right bait. In the book “How To Win Friends and Influence People”, author Dale Carnegie talks about how he loves strawberries and cream, but for some reason fish love worms. So when he goes fishing, instead of baiting his hook with strawberries and cream he would bait it with worms. Therefore, don’t be focused on what you want, think about what’s in it for your audience. What’s the incentive? What will get your ideal customer excited? Are they looking for discounts? Free webinars? Local providers? Figure out the right incentive that gets someone to move down the sales funnel.

You want to bring people from social media websites to your own site. However, with Facebook it is different, in that studies have found that people don’t want to leave Facebook. Therefore, utilize the Facebook apps for closing sales. Include an enticing graphic on the app, or run ads that lead directly to the app and use those custom tabs to create conversions within Facebook.

Your Conversion Rate is what you consider a conversion divided by your website traffic. If your conversion rate isn’t where you think it should be there are several ways to improve it:

  • The first is to improve the quality of inbound traffic. If you are getting traffic from social media you have already done that, because that traffic consists of people who already know your brand and trust it and have confidence built up with you.
  • The second thing is that you have to create compelling offers for your audience. A few ways of doing this are by incorporating the following tactics: scarcity, limited time availability, and consequences. Use alarm-based marketing formula and your conversions will definitely go up.

 

So you have high quality traffic to your website and you are using the alarm-based formula, but people still aren’t converting the way you want them to. It’s because your visitors are still uncertain. There are several ways to reduce this uncertainty:

Make a good first impression:

  • First impressions matter. You must make sure that your website has a similar design as your social media – this builds up trust. If your website looks nothing like your social media outposts you’re breaking up the trust. You want continuity across platforms. Presentation counts!

Use Social Proof:

  • Another way to reduce uncertainty is through social proof. For example, video testimonials are extremely powerful. Also, using social buttons that show how many people have liked your content on Facebook or retweeted it on twitter is a form of social proof that further reduces uncertainty.

People are uncertain about the process, so make it as easy as possible.

  • Don’t think that they know your website. Make navigating your site easy and don’t overwhelm them with choices.

 

Once you have ensured to reduce the uncertainty of your website visitors by taking the above steps, here are a few final methods you can use to further boost your conversion rates:

  • Wrap it all up with a call to action. Every page on your website should have a call to action. Try putting your contact form at the bottom of every page and see how it improves your conversion rates.
  • Getting people involved could also greatly improve your conversion rates. When you get people involved in the sale, they are more likely to convert. What does that mean? It could be clicking on a link, or filling out a survey, or using an online calculator.
  • People are often worry that you may not have the right solution for them. So ease this uncertainty by offering them a money back guarantee. You can also prove you have the right solution by putting testimonials on your website.

Once you incorporate all of the above it is important that you use Google analytics or other insights to measure and determine what is and isn’t working. The digital sphere is constantly changing, which means your strategy and conversion approach will often need tweaking. However, the above steps are a great place to start.

GM’s Love/Hate Relationship With Facebook Advertising

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General Motors shocked Wall Street and sent waves through the social media world when they announced to pull their $10 million Facebook advertising account just days before Facebook’s historic stock offering in May of 2013. Now, less than 1 year after publicly concluding that Facebook paid ads don’t work, the automaker has returned to advertising on the site.

The day GM announced they were pulling their Facebook ad campaign, I happened to be in a webinar with Scott Monty, head of social media at Ford, who responded to the situation by explaining Ford’s plan of increasing their Facebook marketing (rather than following GM’s lead and slowing it). Less than a year later, Ford has seen success with Facebook marketing/advertising, and GM wants back in the game. Despite Ford’s success, we found GM’s return to Facebook advertising a bit surprising. Therefore, we pulled this blog post from our vault to give some background on the situation (and some insight as to what other automakers are saying about Facebook ads):

Written Wednesday, May 23rd, 2013:

Yesterday, General Motors shocked Wall Street and sent waves through the social media world when they announced to pull their $10 million Facebook advertising account just days before Facebook’s historic stock offering. General Motors warranted their decision to stop advertising on the social media site by concluding that Facebook’s paid ads don’t have a large impact on consumers.

The irony lies in the fact that Facebook executives have spent the last few weeks attempting to convince investors that its advertising business makes the social network worthy of a sky-high valuation. Thus the move by GM, one of the largest advertisers in the U.S., spotlights an issue that has already been raised by many other marketers: whether advertising on Facebook actually helps sell more products.

While General Motors is consolidating its marketing budget, their main competitor, Ford, actually plans to expand its Facebook marketing efforts. Yesterday, not long after General Motors made this announcement, I was in a webinar with Scott Monty, head of social media at Ford, who responded to the situation by saying:

“It all comes down to execution. We’ve found Facebook ads to be very effective when we’ve strategically combined them with great content, engagement, and innovative ways of storytelling – rather than treating them as a straight media buy. And with over 10 million fans globally, Ford’s commitment to Facebook is clear, and not only are we are not slowing our span with Facebook – we are actually growing it. We are accelerating our efforts in Facebook over the course of the next year. So, it really is, for us, down to authentic storytelling and engagement wrapped with amplification so that we actually really do get a greater effect and a greater use for our marketing dollars.”

Ford isn’t the only auto maker that’s confident about Facebook’s value as an ad outlet. Dean Evans, Chief marketing officer of Subaru of America said that the company has committed more than $5 million in ad spending this year and, if the return on investment is there, will spend even more next year.

“Half the U.S. population is on Facebook, you have to work it to learn it,” says Mr. Evans.

However, while Ford and Subaru seem content with their Facebook marketing endeavors, GM isn’t the only auto maker that’s not entirely convinced. Earlier this month, a top marketing executive from the U.S. division of Kia Motors also questioned the value of Facebook ads, saying it was unclear how paid ads help sell cars.

“Companies in industries from consumer electronics to financial services tell us they’re no longer sure Facebook is the best place to dedicate their social marketing budget—a shocking fact given the site’s dominance among users,” said Nate Elliott, an analyst at market research firm Forrester, in a company blog post on Monday.

Regardless, keeping auto manufacturers engaged is pivotal for Facebook, as the auto industry is the largest pool of US advertising dollars and can often make or break a marketplace. Automotive companies and car dealers shelled out $13.89 billion on U.S. ads across all media last year, according to Kantar.

GM will continue to promote its product on Facebook, but without paying the social media company. Though GM only spent a fraction of its total 2011 ad spending of $1.8 billion, the $10 million GM forked over for Facebook advertising was only a tiny share of the site’s total 2011 revenue of $3.7 billion (most of which was in advertising sales).

However, Facebook discourages excluding ads from a Facebook marketing strategy (shocker), because only 16% of a brand’s fans will see a post about the brand without paying. If the brand pays Facebook a fee per ad, Facebook will use technology to ensure that the ad is seen by 75% of those who click a company’s “like” button on its website.

While speculation around Facebook ads will continue throughout the auto industry and marketing world, the question at hand remains: how will this news effect Facebook’s $105 billion IPO that’s scheduled for this Friday? Rick Summer, an analyst at equity researcher Morningstar Inc., rated Facebook at a “hold” at $32 a share with a $96 billion valuation, saying that it will take Facebook a very long time to build up its advertising business in a way that can justify its lofty valuation.

GM For Reals This Time
 

Why Hiring a Journalist May be the Best Content Marketing Move You Can Make

Open Book

The Perpetuation of social media has made communication a key success factor for marketers. In order for a brand to be successful in today’s social media sphere, they must develop a voice honed for talking – not selling. It is a cardinal rule of online marketing to avoid the loudspeaker approach, and talk with your audience, rather than at them. However, in order to do this you need to regularly produce engaging, influential, non-sales-like, grammatically correct content. You need someone who can write, work on a deadline, multitask, research, and think. Someone who is trained to create interesting stories and combine valuable information so that it’s actually readable. For this reason, hiring a journalist may be the smartest content marketing move you can make.

John Chow Twitter Cartoon

Thousands of people who have only known a career of telling stories through words and images, are out of a job. These journalists didn’t leave their jobs; their jobs left them. However, many are finding that employers in other fields are placing value on the things that they do best. Several big-name companies like Google, Think Insights, and Eloqua have made headlines in the last year when they unexpectedly hired a handful of journalists/reporters to fill seemingly non-journalistic positions.

“I had a simple problem I needed to fix – to produce more and better content,” said Eloqua CMO, Brian Kardon when discussing his hire of former Boston Herald reporter Jesse Noyes. This hiring decision proved to be a wise one, and nearly a year later Kardon maintains that hiring Noyes was the hub of Eloqua’s content marketing strategy.

When it comes to content marketing, fresh content is a must. However, continuously coming up with new ideas is not an easy feat – unless you are a journalist. Journalists, especially those who have experience working at a daily paper, were forced to come up with several enticing topics every day. Therefore, most can come up with ten topic ideas in a matter of minutes.

When writing content, knowing your topic is also essential. Whether you need to know about one product or a variety of clients, journalists take care to research and learn the topic first. That skill set demands that journalists take in and process information with extraordinary efficiency and clarity, a benefit in any line of work. They quickly learn, then turn around and write consumer-friendly content that teaches other people about the topic.

Green Highlighter Highlighting content

Furthermore, journalists know first-hand why the Internet matters, and many are well-equipped to help you execute online strategies such as blogging, creating video and audio, and connecting through social networks. In recent years, journalists have been required to do more with less; reporters and photographers took up videography, editing and blogging. They file stories for print, broadcast and online, some while also tweeting – a skill set demonstrating excellent multitasking abilities.

Another noteworthy skill accompanying many journalists is loyalty. According to Jill Geisler, “The journalists you may hire have been faithful to their vocation, even when the going got more than tough. They’ve adapted, learned new skills, added duties, taken pay cuts and furloughs, mourned the loss of colleagues and coverage, and kept on doing work that mattered. What does that mean to you? Speaking as a management coach, I say it means this: hiring journalists presents you a terrific opportunity. Give them a job they believe in and they’ll work like hell to help you succeed.”

The re-emergence of the written word as a center of power is everywhere. Facebook posts, blogs, tweets and text messages? All words. Therefore, hiring someone outside the company with a background dedicated to excellence in the written word just seems obvious. The power of communication can’t and shouldn’t be underestimated.

Sources:
Kuno Creative – Best Move for Content Creation: Hire a Journalist

5 Ways Social Media Can Be Used To Acquire More Leads

Boise Road

Correct me if I am wrong but consumers buy from brands they trust. It may sound like such a simple solution to get more customers, but it is extremely important.

 Luckily for businesses social media has the tools to inspire the kind of confidence in their company that leads to more money, but if not done correctly could leave your consumers discontent and searching elsewhere for that service or product. Handshake

In a recent survey done by Forrester Research 46% of consumers trust consumer reviews while 70% of consumers trust brand recommendations from friends.  If you are looking to give fans the feeling that they can trust and rely on your company, follow these five simple rules:

1. Reply fast.

In the days of social customer service, people expect fast answers to their questions. Leaving a customer hanging is a sure way to break their trust – and encourage them to spread the word about your bad service through social channels. Super-fast responses are a great way to get them singing your praises instead.

2. Show the company behind the curtain.

Post content that shows your personality, whether it’s an informal Q & A or a simple post and reply. It’ll make your fans feel like they have a personal relationship with your brand.

3. Create a customer community.

No one can be a better advocate for you on social than your own customers. Make them feel prized by retweeting or sharing their content. Curate all the great comments they make about your product, service or support and make it publicly available.

4. Tap into the influencers.

There are bound to be bloggers, authors and speakers that people in your market trust. Identify who those people are and attempt to build a relationship with them. Share their content, collaborate on projects together, or even host them at your events. Social Media Influencers

5. Know your fans.

When your customer in Idaho receives an email from somewhere far away, it can come across as spam or out-of-touch. Go through your social data for insights about who your customers are, where they’re from, what their interests are. Use that to create more targeted marketing campaigns. Social data can help you get the messaging right.

 

(Source: business2community.com)

Why March is Perfect for Kicking Up Your Marketing

Idaho Farmer Fields

If you’re like most local merchants, you’re thinking about how your marketing campaigns can stand out from the competition. The good news is that March presents three unique opportunities – St. Patrick’s Day, March Madness and the first day of spring – to engage your customers using email and social media marketing. Here are some ideas to get you started.

Sharing of the Green

As one of the most festive holidays, St. Patrick’s Day is known for bringing the local community together to  celebrate. You can apply the same concept with a “sharing of the green” email campaign that presents a  compelling deal to existing customers when they share it with a friend. You can make it more enticing through an added incentive if that friend becomes a new customer.

 March Madness

The three-week basketball series is an opportunity to run an extended campaign. Also, since the games have national appeal, you can engage local customers while potentially reaching new ones across the country.

One way to do this is by posting a bracket on your blog, website or Facebook business page. Instead of advocating a gambling pool or taking sides on a particular team, you can list the teams in the brackets and offer a discount or a special offer based on the final score of the games. For example, a 12-point difference would equate to a 12 percent discount on certain items the day after the game.

This will prompt your customers to frequent your website and look forward to receiving your emails with information about the game results and your daily specials.

The First Day of Spring

To celebrate the first day of spring, consider hosting a private event for your VIP customers to give them a sneak peek at your new seasonal products.

You can also create a weather marketing campaign. For example, if March 20 is 65 degrees, customers will receive a 10 percent discount. For every degree over or under 65, they can apply the difference as an additional percentage off their purchase.

Still another idea is to partner with local merchants to create combination offers. For example, a dry cleaner and restaurateur can team up to offer a deal to customers that dry clean their spring wardrobe and then try a new dish at the restaurant.

Here’s to a successful end to winter and a fresh start to spring!

(Source: nbcchicago.com)

The Hidden Benefits of Social Media Marketing: Why Your Strategy May Be Working Better Than You Think

Boating In Europe

Most businesses venture into social media expecting to see a big return on investment. The hope is that new customers will come in droves, and that the benefits and revenue generation will be huge. However, this is rarely the case. It takes time to build momentum with social media, and the benefits aren’t always as obvious as we would like. Social Media Websites

If you’re feeling a bit skeptical about social media marketing and whether or not it’s worth the effort, following are some reasons why it may be working better than you realize.

1. Brand Recognition – One of the most powerful ways to use social media is as a brand-building tool. With social media, you get to decide how you want to position your company and what you want people to know about what you do. With consistent effort and great content, you can build a reputation for your brand around your company’s values, benefits, and advantages.

2. Community – There is nothing like social media when it comes to cultivating a community. When your followers become part of your community, you gain instant access to them. That means you can find out what challenges they are facing and what they like and don’t like about your offerings. You can engage in ongoing dialog that can be more valuable than any kind of paid market research.

3. Repeat Exposure – There is an old marketing adage that says it takes six to eight exposures to a product before a customer decides to buy. A clear benefit of social media is repeat exposure with your network. You have the opportunity to remind them over and over again about what you have to offer, which can shorten your sales cycles dramatically.

4. Authority – For coaches, consultants, authors, speakers, and other service-based businesses, social media can be very powerful in helping you establish authority in your field—making you the go-to resource for your target audience to seek out for help. Share great content, answer questions, and serve your audience, and you will inevitably build loyal fans.

5. Influence – As your following increases, your influence grows. Having a substantial social media audience creates a snowball effect that can attract new customers, media interviews, joint venture partnerships, and all kinds of other opportunities. It’s a bit like when you see a crowd hovered around something. You can’t help but want to see what all the fuss is about, so a large audience will only attract more interest.

6. Website Traffic – Many people don’t realize that social media can be a leading traffic generator. When you share blog posts, videos and other content from your website, you give your audience a reason to click through and visit your site. Once there, you have the opportunity to inspire those visitors to take action by inviting them to sign up for your mailing list, make a purchase, or call to schedule a free consultation. Install traffic monitoring service, such as Google Analytics, and if you are committed to your social media efforts, you will clearly see that social media brings traffic. Also, make sure that your visitors receive a clear call to action when they visit your site so that you can convert that extra traffic into business opportunities.

7. Ahead of the Curve – Whether you realize it or not, your prospects and clients are checking to see if you are engaging in social media. I always find it a bit odd when I’m investigating a potential service provider online and I can’t locate a social media presence or worse, I find Facebook pages that haven’t been updated in months, empty Twitter feeds, and a clear lack of interest in engaging. Social media isn’t a fad and it’s not going away. Even if it’s not your top priority, if you stay current with activity, your prospects will notice.

8. Mindshare with Lurkers – There may be days when you wonder if anyone is paying attention to your social media networks. But if your efforts are consistent, I guarantee that more people are paying attention than you realize. Give it time and you’ll start to understand what’s happening behind the anonymity of the internet. You will eventually hear from people who say, “I’ve been following you on Twitter for ages. I love your posts!”

9. Competitive Advantage – The reality is that most of your competitors aren’t likely doing a very good job with social media (most companies aren’t), which gives you the chance to stand out. Also consider the flip side. If you avoid social media, you leave a big opening that allows your competitors to capture your audience.

10. Big Wins – While many businesses large and small are trying to justify the cost and time investment for managing social media marketing, an important benefit often gets overlooked: Big Wins. For example, if someone from LinkedIn connects you with a significant government contract, then that would certainly qualify as a Big Win. If a major media outlet finds you on Twitter and interviews you for a national article, then that is also a Big Win—one that you can’t measure based on revenues directly generated.

Big Wins don’t happen often, but when they do, they make it all worthwhile. It’s easy to forget results like these six months down the road you’re trying to assess whether your social media efforts are paying off. But that one contract you landed could cover your social media marketing costs for years. And that major media interview could lead to subsequent interviews and a line item on your resume that impresses a corporate sponsor three years from now. Never forget to factor in the Big Wins in social media.

(By: Forbes)

4 Key Questions For Social Media Success

Boise Thunderstorm

Social media tools may not be difficult to figure out, but using these tools for a specific purpose is still a challenge for many. No matter what your business, you can use social media either to find new customers or answer your customers’ questions.

However, before you jump in the social media universe to publicize your brand or start a new campaign, you need to ask these important questions.

What do I want?

Your business will always be in one of these stages: creating brand awareness, providing product information, answering questions, giving comparisons, selling the product or service.

What are my objectives and expected result?

You may have just started your business or you may have launched a new product. The content you develop will fit into one of these categories. Eventually you will have to develop content for each stage, but it is important to define the immediate activity and objective of any campaign. For example, you want to create a buzz for a new product. It is important that you define this objective and define the kind of results you expect from this exercise.

Which Medium to Use?

You have your objective defined – create awareness for your new product. Depending on your business and product, you have to determine the type of media that is most suitable to create a buzz. If your products mainly appeal to visual senses, then creating content in the visual medium is the right choice. For example, if you are a tattoo artist, people will want to see your designs before they come to you and these will also appeal to tattoo enthusiasts. Long texts or short text messages will definitely not have the desired impact.

Which medium will have maximum impact on my customers?

Apart from matching the medium to the product, if you the only contributor to social media activities, selecting the media that best suits your business and that you are good at producing without investing a lot of time will give better results.

Which Social Media Network Will Help?

This is an age-old ideology in HR departments – find a person suitable for the job you have rather than adjusting the job to fit the available candidate.

Fit a social media network to the business, not the other way round.

Now you know your objective and the type of content you need to publish to create a buzz for your product. The time has come to go social media network hunting – with so many around, it can get really confusing. The most important factor, of course, is which network has the most number of active subscribers. For visual media, Pinterest, Instagram, and Youtube are your best bets.

Did it Work?

Any improvement in strategy is possible only when you measure the response to your campaign. If your objective was to create brand or product awareness, how many likes, shares, and visits to the product page did you get? Although these numbers do not guarantee that all the people will remember your brand, they can indicate brand exposure or reach. Brandon Hickie explains different methods you can use to measure the impact of your campaign.

Count the numbers!

These numbers can indicate that the people who engaged in any of these activities know about the brand or the product. There would be others who saw but did not Like or share, but that number can only be higher than those who did click or Like.

Recap

So here we are, with a simple 4-step process that ensures your social media activities for business are not random and thoughtless.

Step 1: Define your social media objectives and their expected results.

Step 2: Identify media that best portray your products.

Step 3: Identify social media networks that support your objectives and media.

Step 4: Measure and adjust your social media strategy.

Answering these questions will provide you with a concrete plan to work on your social media strategy. How do you measure the success of your social media presence and your activities on social media networks?

(By: Business to Community)

The Harsh Realities of Social Media Marketing

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Social media is an unparalleled path of contact between you and your audience, and having a strong social network allows you to communicate effectively with existing and potential customers.  However, while the benefits of social media for businesses are endless, it is not a marketing miracle worker. Unfortunately, this seems to be the misconception of many companies that are entering the social media sphere for the first time. The incontestable buzz surrounding social media splendor creates a great deal of misapprehensions among business owners, causing them to approach social media marketing with unrealistic expectations.

Therefore, before giving up on your online marketing efforts, consider these (unpleasant) truths about social media (as outlined by Fast Company):

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  1. Engagement Can’t Be Seen in Dollars: Until Lady Gaga, Skittles had the record for most likes and comments on a single Facebook post. Did it boost sales? “Anybody who says they can track that is in a bubble,” says Michael Lebowitz, CEO of Big Spaceship, the ad firm behind the Skittles campaign. Therein lies the problem. CEO’s and business owners want to see the ROI (return on investment) of social media, and they expect it to be in monetary terms. However, it’s nearly impossible to gauge exactly how much sales are social media driven, or put a dollar-value on a Facebook fan/like/comment. We’re not saying social media doesn’t affect sales – it does. It’s just nearly impossible to track or measure.
  1. Money Can’t Buy Everything: When it comes to marketing, social media really evens the playing field. While large corporations have more money to invest in online marketing and advertising, social media gives small businesses the opportunity to be just as successful online. Social media, at its core, is very inexpensive. Anything beyond that is an option – not a necessity. For example, to coincide with a daylong campaign, Kraft asked Klout to change the name of its social influence measurement “Klout score” to “fun score.” The answer: no. In social, platforms hold the power.
  1. Facebook Isn’t a Megaphone: Brands with more than 1 million fans reach only 3% to 5% of them a day, estimates Jeff Widman of analytics platform PageLever. To find out why, Widman asked social marketers if they ever visit fan pages as users. Their reply: “Oh, never.” Social media is about conversations. If you try to advertise to your fans and followers it will turn them off. The goal in social media communication is talking with your audience – not at them.

4. Content Rarely Goes Viral: Stop thinking in those terms, says Microsoft Research’s Duncan Watts: “Rather than ideas propagating for generations, almost everything terminates within one degree of the seed. If you want something to spread, generate an enormous number of seeds.”

5. You’re Being Watched: A big brand recently broke Facebook’s rule against using a post as a sweepstakes. Reps were in touch within an hour. “They don’t want brands gaming the system for engagement,” the brand’s rep admitted.

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