Tips for a More Successful Social Media Marketing Strategy

40% of people say they socialize more often online than face-to-face. This ever-evolving dependence on the digital world sets up businesses for success in all realms – both through search and social and in terms of how online customers translate offline.

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Social media, in particular, reaches an impressive magnitude of consumers. In fact, as technology continues to advance, ignoring social networking isn’t an option for businesses who want to succeed – or even survive. A presence is necessary not only in the form of a basic Google profile, but also on Facebook, Twitter and more.

In a Social Media Marketing Industry Report, 83% of marketers said that social media is important to their business. The top benefits reported from utilizing networks include: business exposure, an increase in traffic and market insight.

It was reported that niche targeting and measurement (ROI) were two of the major focuses in which to improve moving forward. Video-based social media marketing is increasingly important as well – meaning YouTube will give Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest a run for their top spots.

Time invested in social media does not have to be extraordinary. 74% of brand marketers saw an increase in website traffic after investing just 6 hours per week on social networks. To help you get started, we’ve compiled a list of goals in which to aim for in managing social media content.

  1. Communicate your message – Work with team members to create a company voice and mission statement; this is how you will present your brand across networks.
  2. Organize a content schedule – A basic weekly outline is beneficial in identifying relevant topics and images for your business. This should include trending, timely information and responses.
  3. Engage CURRENT fans, followers, customers, etc. – Build loyalty with those already interested, and they will share your content, raising awareness and bringing in new potential leads. Posts should be consistent in timing but varied in content.
  4. Target posts accordingly – Different audiences require different messages. Each network presents the power to reach a new target group, and it can be further broken down by niche interests and industries. (Facebook groups, location-targeting, Google+ circles and communities, etc.)
  5. Invest in available resources – Cross-promotion allows you to promote your own site content on social networks, for example. There are many tools on the web that help make it easier to schedule and measure content posted.
  6. Keep an eye on your competition – Social media presents an invaluable opportunity to check out what others like you are doing. This gives insight into customer interests as well – why are competitors attracting more? What are they not doing that you can take advantage of?

For further insight into social media marketing, contact us today.

Source: http://smallbusiness.yahoo.com/advisor/tips-more-successful-social-media-marketing-strategy-133051411.html

5 top tips for small businesses when using LinkedIn

LinkedIn the professional social media platform has been around since 2003 and has seen a huge growth throughout the year’s and now has over 200 million registered users.

We think LinkedIn is often an untapped resource for small businesses and we recommend our clients incorporate it in their social media strategy as it can have some great benefits for your business. We have listed 5 top tips to help you get started:

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Joining and creating groups

Joining groups that are relative to your business and that attract your market demographic will allow you to take part in discussions and become more visible to prospects.

Also creating a group that is industry specific and that target your niche can be beneficial and will establish you as an expert in your field. To ensure group gains popularity, make sure to update regularly and interact with the members.

Connecting with customers

Connecting with customer on LinkedIn gives you the opportunity to keep them updated on your company news and promotions. Once connected, make sure to encourage them to write recommendations on your products and services.

Also consider connecting with prospects as it gives you another chance to promote your products or services – why not drop them a quick message thanking them for the connection and give them a gentle reminder of your great value proposal!

Advanced search function

The advanced search function is a particularly useful tool when trying to track down people with certain skills that may be of interest to you or when trying to discover who the decision makers are within a company. Search criteria such as keywords, experience, current employer and industry will help you find the person or group you are looking to target with ease.

Make the most of LinkedIn applications

LinkedIn provides a great set of applications that can be very effective when showcasing your business. These applications are just extensions of a standard profile but can make yours stand out from the crowd. Some of the most useful apps are as follows:

Word press – Using this app allows you to display your blog on your profile and is often an overlooked opportunity by business owners. This will help drive more traffic to your website and help visitors to your profile learn more about your business.

Events – This works like a calendar for your profile and will display the events you are attending. This is useful for showing your network that you’re a being proactive within the industry and allows you to see the other attendees.

Slide share –This app lets you add business presentations and videos to your LinkedIn profile. This is a good way you to showcase your products and services, generate interest and establish yourself as an industry leader.

Portfolio –This app is really useful for web designers and other creative professional as it allows them to display a portfolio of their work on their profile.

Don’t forget, Google loves LinkedIn

Make sure you optimise the content on your company profile as the LinkedIn domain has a great reputation with the search engines. This is great news for small businesses as it can help get your business on page one of the search results however ensure you edit your LinkedIn URL, this is not just for vanity reasons but so as to make it search engine friendly.

LinkedIn also allows users to add up to three links to a profile which is free ‘link juice’ and will help give your page rank a boost – why not ask your team to add your website to their personal profile too!

Not a LinkedIn enthusiast? We can help…

If you need any help or advice with your social media strategy, please feel free to get in touch….

Source: http://www.addpeople.co.uk/blog/2012/11/5-top-tips-for-small-businesses-when-using-linkedin/

Choosing the Best Social Media

It seems as if a new social platform pops up every week, and as a small business owner, it can feel overwhelming. So how can you establish yourself on social media when users are bouncing from one network to the other, and the next hot network may have no reliable messaging for your business?

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First, take a deep breath. Second, there are a lot of social platforms and many audiences, but not every one may be right for you. Before diving head-first into the social sphere, you should know what each is used for and whether it’s useful for you. This is especially true if you’re spending your valuable time managing these accounts yourself.

Here is a breakdown of the seven major social media sites and how they can be beneficial to small businesses.

1. Twitter

Twitter is a great platform for projecting what your company is doing and accessing a large audience. Branding a business requires a lot of time and money, but creating a consistent voice with your tweets is an easy way to get started.

If you already have a blog, which almost every small businesses should, syncing it with Twitter lets you seamlessly publish any major company news to both simultaneously. There are dozens of in-house apps on every blogging platform that make this easy to do.

But Twitter is not just a megaphone for your company, it’s also a great way to engage with thousands of customers. Use social tools, such asTweetDeck or HootSuite, to effectively receive feedback from your followers in an organized manner.

2. Facebook

Facebook and Twitter are useful for similar reasons. Both allow you to connect with your audience, start a conversation and update with company news. Why should a business juggle both accounts?

Facebook’s advantage is that the conversation is gathered all in one place. Customers want the opportunity to feel a part of the company they care about, and Facebook allows them to do just that.

Keep in mind that Facebook is much more visual than Twitter, so it’s best to include more than short bursts of text. Post colorful photos, insightful videos or something interesting that’s relevant to your company, valuable for customers and beautiful on your Facebook Timeline.

3. Pinterest

Because the platform is still fairly new, most brands still aren’t sure what to make of Pinterest. But as traffic and engagement are spiking, early adopters have a great opportunity to make their mark on the site before a lot of major brands hop on.

We’ve already seen some pretty creative initiatives from major brands, but even if you don’t have room in your budget for a contest, there are still great ways to benefit.

Pinterest is a social discovery network, but it’s not a platform for self-promotion. Rather than broadcasting what the company is doing, small business owners can crowdsource and create highly visual pinboards for inspiration. Collecting images, logos and websites with good design and clever copywriting will inspire your brand and team, but also show followers that you have an eye for good taste.

4. Foursquare

Location-based social media services might not be best for every brand. First of all, it requires a person to physically check in somewhere that represents your brand, for example a store or an event. If your company is virtual, there’s really no need (unless you’re having an event).

Foursquare is great for restaurants, retail stores and venues, because it allows customers to post reviews and leave tips. Because these tips are from regular customers, newcomers will feel that they’re receiving authentic information that you simply can’t provide as the owner.

Because Foursquare is partnered with Scoutmob and American Express, brands can use these apps to reward customers with discounts for checking in to an establishment. It’s a small bit of courtesy that helps bring happy customers back.

5. YouTube

Don’t let the cat videos fool you, YouTube is a valuable resource for small businesses. Today, technology has made it easy for anyone to create a video without spending a ton on production. Even a smartphone is capable of creating something worthwhile for your audience.

A mountain of content is uploaded every day to YouTube, which can seem intimidating when you’re trying to be heard. The bright side is that you also have access to that content. If you want to know how to do something, there are millions of tutorials on YouTube to help you learn.

But as a leader of your business, you also have something to give the millions of viewers and uploaders. And with the right strategy and engaging content, you can reach a large audience easily.

That being said, don’t expect your videos to go viral every time (or even at all). Instead, focus on creating content that’s thorough and insightful. Some ways to utilize YouTube for marketing include tutorials, interviews with relevant professionals or video blogging about a new product or event.

6. LinkedIn

We all know that LinkedIn is a great resource for finding a job, but there are a lot of great ways that brands can utilize the network for marketing and networking.

The advantage of Linkedin is that you can filter companies through size, industry and geography. By fully completing your company page, it will show up in the search results of potential customers.

While Facebook and Twitter are great resources for feedback from customers, LinkedIn is where you can partake in conversations with like-minded professionals. In addition to networking offline, small business owners should consider joining groups and participating in Q&A forums that are useful to your industry.

7. Google+

Many small businesses join Google+ for SEO purposes and syndication with other Google applications, like AdSense or Gmail.

It’s also a great platform to expand content distribution—many business owners claim it’s easy to gather an audience.

The audience for Google+ is highly engaged, meaning that like Facebook and Twitter, it’s a great tool for conversation. What Google+ has that the others don’t is the Hangout feature. Here businesses can talk about products or ideas face-to-face with consumers, through videochat.

Taken from: http://www.openforum.com/articles/choosing-the-best-social-media/

5 Advanced Twitter Tips for Your Small Business

So you’re running a small business and you’ve got the basics of social networking mastered: You tweet often, you’ve created a venue on Foursquare and your Facebook Page is beautiful. How do you move to the next level of social marketing mastery?

Devin Desjarlais, social media manager at Max Borges Agency, has five can’t-miss tips for upping your Twitter game.

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1. Don’t Schedule and Split

Scheduling tweets with a platform such as HootSuite or Tweetdeck can be a great way to spread out your business’ social sharing throughout the day. However, Desjarlais says that it’s important to pay attention to any responses your scheduled tweets may elicit — the follow-up conversation is just as important as the initial tweet, if not more.

“The key to attracting a following on Twitter is to engage with users,” Desjarlais says. “Hootsuite is a free platform that allows companies to schedule tweets for all accounts in one place. That means that you won’t have to spend all day planning the next 140 characters to publish. However, check back hourly to see who has tweeted back at you. Twitter users have a short attention span, so it’s important to respond as quickly as possible.”

2. Sit in the Stream

Get familiar with platforms that let you build streams around phrases or hashtags relevant to your company. That way, you’ve always got your ear to the social ground.

“Hashtags are an excellent way to track conversation about a specific topic,” Desjarlais says. “With Hootsuite, companies can create streams that track a specific hashtag, giving the account manager an easy way to find content and engage with other tweeters. For example, if your company makes custom guitars, you might want to follow a stream dedicated to the #music hashtag.”

3. Don’t Rely on Your Handle

It’s the mark of a successful social company to have plenty of customers tweeting at you or about you using your Twitter handle, but you can’t rely on all users to do that. If you’re only listening for tweets mentioning @BobsBurgerShack, for example, you’ll miss out on a tweet such as, “Man, I wish Bob’s Burger Shack had relish!”

The solution? Enhanced listening techniques.

“Topsy.com is a little-known website that lets users do real-time searches in the social web,” Desjarlais explains. “Do daily searches for your company’s name and narrow the search results to just tweets to see who is talking about your company but not @-mentioning you.” Or you can save searches for some key terms and common permutations of your company name, such as “Bobs burger” and “Bobs cheeseburger.”

4. Don’t Be a Social Egomaniac

While the majority of your tweets will probably be about your business, it’s important to develop a personality beyond tweeting out discounts or new menu options. It’s all about building a human personality.

“The last thing a company wants to do is spam their followers with tweets,” she says. “Twitter is about sharing ideas, information and occasionally inspirational quotes in order to build a community around what the business offers. Try to tweet at least five times per day and dedicate one or two of those tweets to sending users back to your company’s website. Schedule those posts between 1:00 and 3:00 p.m. EST on the weekdays for the most engagement.”

5. Stay on Track

Determining the return on investment of social networking can be a real challenge, especially for smaller businesses that don’t have the time or resources to dedicate to complex analytics. Desjarlais says free tools are available to make that task just a bit easier.

“The URL shortener Bitly lets users create shortened links for any URL available online,” says Desjarlais. “Sign up for a free Bitly account and create custom Bitly links or ‘bitmarks’ that can be used whenever you send users back to your company’s website. To see how many people have clicked the link, simply paste the URL with a ‘+’ at the end into your Internet browser to see up-to-date metrics.”

Taken from: http://mashable.com/2012/06/23/twitter-tips-small-business/

5 Ways strategic Social Media can help small businesses

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One of the biggest misconceptions about social media strategy is that only the big brands and enterprise organizations can afford success. The impression is bigger businesses have unlimited resources, people and budgets to execute on all new ideas. This is simply not true. Like in anything, people are focused on their jobs as they exist and anything new that comes along, well, it’s met with prejudice.

The truth is that small businesses possess an enormous advantage over big businesses—the ability to recognize and adapt to new opportunities much faster, with far less investment, and with a greater capacity to learn and improve at will. So when it comes down to how a small business should consider how to employ a social media strategy, why would we look to big business for inspiration?

a) Because they have millions of friends, fans, and followers?
b) They are getting a ton of Likes, Tweets, and Youtube views?
c) They are always the source of the best content – videos, posts, infographics, designs
d) None of the above

The answer is “d” – none of the above.

Why?

Because most businesses, large and small, have not answered that very question, why? Why would we go on social networks? Why would customers connect with us there? Why would we gain any value out of online engagement? Why would any of this impact my business?

At the root of the problem, today’s social media programs start with the technology in mind and not the solution in mind. Many businesses jump into Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Google+, et al, without thinking through opportunities or customer expectations and experiences.

To help get you started and to leap frog even the most advanced businesses in social media, I’ve outlined 5-step approach. Working through it will assist in the development of a relevant social media strategy that allows you to earn customer attention, relationships, and loyalty in places that only expand your reach and impact.

5 Ways to Develop a Strategic Social Media Presence

1. Listen, Search, Walk a “Daily in the Life” of…

Take some time to search Google, Yelp, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, Google+ for related keywords and geographies to your business.

Take notes of what you find…capture the trends, insights, activity, and the players that matter to you

Document the 5W’s + the H.E.: Who, What, When, Why, How, and to What Extent – it’s the only way to work toward ROI

Prioritize networks

Recognize patterns and behavior

Observe trends and themes

Tip: Also pay attention to what people aren’t saying or sharing

2. Define Your Online Brand: What do you want people to see and appreciate?

Take a step back to think about the value you can add based on who you are and the expertise or the unique service or solution that only you can provide

Define why you are different than your competition

Design the professional brand and the persona you would like to convey online

Describe “your” experience: What is it that you want people to see or think when they find you in social networks

Portray your brand, persona and the experience in your profiles

Tip: Don’t sell or overly promote…

3. Develop a Social Media Strategy: Make your presence matter

Write a vision statement for how you will use social media to build relationships, a community around your value proposition, and how social media will enable your strategy

Describe what social media success will look like

Customize your presence, goals, and what success looks like in each network

Create an editorial program that reinforces your value, your business, and your goals within each network

Understand what format to you love using AND what seems to be the formats your customers prefer

Curate relevant and interesting content that reflects your professional and personal interests

Tip: Find the balance between personal and professional activity online, it can’t be ALL business

4. Build and Invest in Your Community: Participate and earn affinity to become a trusted resource

Share insights in the communities that matter to your business and reach beyond the friends, fans, and followers you already have

Identify and talk to local online influencers who can help you spread your expertise and value

Ask and answer questions in your communities and across other vibrant communities hosted by others

Maintain a valuable and timely presence

Create a “linked” network of resources: Link to or recommend people who can also help your customers

Tip: Invest proportionally in social media, search engine optimization/digital and your real world activities

5. Learn: Repeat steps 1-5 over time to stay relevant as technology and behavior evolves

Learn from everything to improve experiences and your overall strategy

Ask your community what they’re looking for and how you can better help

Monitor activity using social media listening tools around you and in your areas of focus to stay on top of trends, themes, and needs

Tip: Looking at activity through the lens of your customers and walking in their shoes will always keep you on target in your strategy.

Taken from: http://www.briansolis.com/2012/09/5-ways-strategic-social-media-can-help-small-businesses/

9 Helpful Tips for Business Blogging

It’s one thing to create a blog – it’s another to create a blog that readers want to visit again and again. If you’re serious about using blog hosting to meet your business goals, there are nine tips to follow when developing a business blogging strategy.

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#1: Find a valuable niche

The ideal blog dares to be different. Find a neglected (or new) area of your industry that will appeal to your target audience. Ask yourself, “Will they want to read about this every day?” If the answer is “yes,” you have a great reason to create a blog.

#2: Enjoy yourself

Business blogging should never feel like a chore. When you create a blog because you’re interested in its topic, your readers will appreciate – and even reciprocate – your enthusiasm.

#3: Look at the big picture

While it’s only natural to focus on the products and services you offer, you can also benefit from broadening your scope. For example, if you create a blog for your pet toy store, your target audience may be interested in posts about pet health and nutrition, or even pet rescue programs. Stick with your overall business blogging theme, but explore diverse (yet related) topics.

#4: See what’s out there

Online sources like Technorati® and Google® Blog Search can help you determine how many blogs are currently covering the topics you are considering. You might also want to look at the additional topics these blogs are discussing, which can inspire new ideas of your own.

#5: Network with other bloggers

Connect with other bloggers in your industry by using Technorati®, Google® Blogs, and other social sites to find like-minded bloggers. Once you find relevant blogs, you should bookmark them, comment often, talk with the author, and social tag their blog entries. By building these relationships, you can gain new links to your blog and – ultimately – new readers.

#6: Add media

Blogs don’t have to consist of text alone. Video, images and surveys can all add interest to your blog. Mix the creative media into the text instead of placing it at the top or the bottom.

#7: Encourage interaction

Blogs have a unique ability to encourage conversations and create interaction. A blog with no comments isn’t really a blog – it’s an editorial column or a standard website. Be sure to invite readers to leave comments each time you post.

#8: Keep up the good work

Develop – and stick to – a schedule when you create a blog. Your readers should know when to expect a new post, whether you’re posting every day of the week or on the same day every week.

#9: Don’t give up

It can take months to build a loyal base of readers when you create a blog. Plan to make business blogging a regular part of your communication strategy for at least a year.

When you create a blog for your business, your overall goal should be to attract repeat visitors.

Taken from: http://www.networksolutions.com/education/9-helpful-tips-for-business-blogging/

5 Essential Social Media Tips For Your Job Hunt

The new year will be here before we know it and college seniors will soon be taking to the streets, heading to web and networking events in hopes of landing a job post-graduation. Any modern job search requires more than just a resume and portfolio, however. Here are five essential social media tips from creative staffing agency, Vitamin T, which job seekers should consider when embarking on their job search.

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Use keywords

Searching for a person online is like searching for a book in Powell’s and not knowing the author. It is important to use keywords in your LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ and other social media bios so you are easier to find. If you’re a front-end developer, you want to come up when employers or recruiters are searching for HTML, CSS, etc. on LinkedIn. Think about the skills you use every day and the things that make you great at your job, and make sure they are listed in your bio. For Twitter, you want someone to come to your profile and immediately know who you are, what you do and why they should hire you. They’ll scan your feed, so make sure it’s true to what you’re claiming in your bio. If your keywords say one thing and your feed says another, you’re not likely to look credible.

Google yourself

Because your potential employers will. There is nothing worse than walking into an interview and having an employer tell you something about yourself you didn’t know was out there. Google has a long memory, but if you’re prepared, you can preempt any confusion without surprise. Again—keywords in your bios will help better control what people are finding.

Connect with potential employers

Don’t just listen, talk. Retweet their tweets, comment on their posts, share their posts and tag them in posts. Every time you engage with a potential employer online, it is another chance for you to be noticed, and maybe even become their next hire. At the very least, listen. Know what potential employers are talking about on social media so you can bring it up in a potential interview. You might not retweet every tweet, but they’ll know you are paying attention.

Mind your manners

Be mindful of the language you are using and the opinions you are sharing publicly. You never want to say anything that would offend a potential employer. When someone is considering you for a job, they are considering you to represent their brand/company. It is hard to change a negative first impression, so control your online presence by only sharing things you want Google to remember. Keep in mind, if you retweet something someone else posted it still reflects on you. So think before you post.

Keep it human

Be yourself. You aren’t a robot. Humanize your feeds. It’s important to have conversations and engage with others, but it’s also alright to talk about things that are not related to your job. Do you like watching sports, have a cooking blog or sit on a community board? Talk about it! You don’t have to tell everyone what you’re having for every meal, but employers like to know you’re multifaceted.

 Taken from: http://bostinno.com/2012/12/08/5-essential-social-media-tips-for-your-job-hunt/