Tapping into the Valentine’s Day trend on social media

Taking Advantage

As business owners who want to stay relevant with current trends, you plan ahead of time to take advantage of holidays. But maybe you struggle with Valentine’s Day because you don’t see how it fits in with your business. Further, you see the advantage in using social media, but don’t know where to start in contributing and drawing attention to your brand.

First of all, have something to say. We always want to add value to the consumer’s life. This is what gets us shares. Especially on Valentine’s Day when we are competing against hundreds of other companies for consumer attention, we have to come up with something unusual, creative, and completely shareable.

Whether or not you personally want to “buy in” to all the Valentine’s Day hoopla, it’s smart business to encourage what consumers see as a day of hope for humanity.

  • Set up a series of inspiring quotes with trendy graphics relevant to your business. For example, if you own a computer store, your quote could be a cute quote on love or a corny romantic-themed joke, but your graphic should be of something like two computers running off together holding hands. Check fiverr.com to get something drawn up quick. Post your graphics on social media throughout the day. These should be completely shareable and only include your website in a discreet way down at the bottom somewhere, if at all. Selling your business to the consumer is only the remote goal of what you’re trying to do here. The proximate goal is getting them to agree and love whatever it is you’re sharing.
  • Highlight your business’ support for couples and participation in Valentine’s Day festivities by offering couples-centric discounts. Or offer freebies for those who stop by your business between certain hours. Your participation in Valentine’s Day with a discount for the public is the bare minimum of what the consumer expects. Graphics are cute, and you’ll get clicks for something shareable, but you need to cement people spending money for your product, not just have them like your page.
  • In all social media posts, include appropriate hashtags. #ValentinesDay and #Valentine are obvious ones, but other hashtags, like #WhatIsLoveInFourWords, are starting to show up. Check out hashtags.org to see what is trending from hour to hour. Appropriate hashtags would also refer to hashtags common to your target market. This post will be shared with the Valentine’s Day tags and #SmallBiz.
  • It’s probably too late for your small business to get a short video together, but if you have that kind of ability, don’t underestimate the power of the video. With Facebook, if you promote a short video – something humorous, something moving – your traffic can increase a ton because users will now see your content streaming in their feed, regardless of whether or not they click. Seeing a bit of what they are getting provides incentive for them to engage.
  • Instagram, a picture sharing site, is more heavily used by the younger crowd, so if you’re wanting to tap into this market more and use Valentine’s Day to do it, try ramping up your editorial style pics and making a social commentary on love with photos. Even if this only means taking your camera and randomly taking shots of occasions that remind you of love, romance, etc.  If it’s inspiring to you, it will probably be inspiring to others. It doesn’t matter whether it’s connected to your business specifically. The point is that your company believes in and encourages love, commitment, and hope for the future. Best of all, Instagram is free.
  • Use Valentine’s Day as a way to encourage people to engage with your business. You could ask users to post a pic from their journey to love and offer a discount code to anyone who does. You could participate in the trending hashtag #WhatIsLoveInFourWords and host a contest with a “basket” or gift card as a prize for the best one. Or do the same thing with a romantic haiku.
  • Make use of the personal story. Whether it’s an inspiring personal love story, your grandparents’ story, or your love story with whatever product or service your company produces, sharing something concise and inspiring can up your traffic. Video is the ideal vehicle for such a story, but this late in the day, a slideshare.com presentation is your next best thing. Failing that, use an article. Just make sure that the update announcing your story is pithy and will create curiosity in the consumer.
  • Service or product, have something crafted specifically for Valentine’s Day weekend. Limited edition items sold for a limited time create urgency in the user to take advantage of the moment. Use the obvious themes – hearts, flowers, romance. Even if your product or service isn’t romantic per se, having it wrapped in Valentine’s Day packaging (literally or figuratively, depending on what you are offering) or giving it a Valentine’s Day inspired name, is enough.

Valentine’s Day is coming up fast so you might not have time implement as many marketing strategies as you’d like. If coming up with content for your business isn’t doable, the least you can do is engage and participate with the existing content on the day of. Promote the business of other small businesses like your own and retweet and share the Valentine’s Day quotes, pics, and vids that put a smile on your face or in your heart.

You might not think your business has anything to do with Valentine’s Day, but that’s no reason your business can’t support love and romance.

Trends To Watch (And Use!) For 2015

Being active in social media and content generation is a must for all businesses in 2015, especiallystock-exchange-295648_640 small businesses. In order to effectively utilize those tools, it helps to be on the front side of the trend curve whenever possible. One of the biggest trends in social media in 2015 is the move toward less disclosure. While this may seem counter-intuitive, understanding the reasons for the move helps put things into context.

To illustrate, let’s look at the struggles of the biggest social media platform in the world, Facebook. Facebook grew to prominence on its enormous appeal to Millenials and youth because it allowed them easy access to the comings and goings of their friends. Last year was a watershed moment for Facebook because they actually lost users for the first time in almost a decade. It would be overly simplistic to attribute this loss to any one cause, but there can be no doubt that a big part of the reason is that Facebook use is now skewing toward older adults rather than Millenials and youth. Facebook’s struggle is the fact that Millenials don’t want to be “friends” with their parents and grandparents, and don’t want to have their online activities patrolled just like their real world activities. This is precisely the reason for the move toward less disclosure on social media.

Those Millenials and youth who cause rapid growth on social media platforms are fleeing toward other options that allow them to still connect with their friends without the older generations being privy to those interactions. Believe it or not, one of the hot new trends this year is the comeback of chat rooms. Users can enter the chat room, have their interactions, and leave, all without anyone unknown hopping in alongside them. In most cases, when the chat is done there is no enduring record of the discussion.

Another reason driving the desire for less disclosure is that social media has been widely adoptedshield-107860_640 by citizens of countries all around the world where censorship is used to quell unrest or prevent freedom of speech or expression. The need for instant communication with mass numbers of people is beautifully filled by social media, and in a very real sense, people’s lives may depend on disclosing less information about the identity of those users.

Another trend that has continue to grow is that of visual social media, especially on mobile devices. Platforms like Pinterest, Instagram, and Snapchat have experience massive growth and show no signs of stopping, confirming the truth in the old saw that a picture is worth a thousand words. Video platforms are coming up quickly, too. In addition to YouTube, newer services like Cinchcast and Screenr seek to make it easier than ever for anyone to create and publish their own videos about any topic of choice. As mobile devices continue to get more powerful, and as readily available broadband public networks continue to spread, the hurdles of mass video distribution have become very low.

Another big trend that appears to be emerging is that of new and creative strategies about how to use social media. For example, rather than simple brand marketing through social media, many companies are moving toward influencer marketing to make more genuine connections with potential customers. If a popular or well-known figure endorses something they use in social media, it is likely that many of their followers will do the same. Similarly, as consumers get more social media savvy, they expect more personal messaging than a typical Twitter hashtag or Facebook pay-to-play ad. A growing number of large companies use social media to interact directly and personally with customers — and have done so with great results — and small businesses will be expected to follow suit quickly. One example is airlines quickly re-routing lamp-432246_640stranded travelers via Twitter after mechanical or weather problems. Some companies, like Lego, have created entire user communities where enthusiasts can meet and interact without any direct involvement from Lego itself. However, by paying close attention to these communities and tapping into their leaders for special projects, Lego has essentially created a system of free idea generation and innovation guidance while simultaneously building loyalty through active user engagement. The bottom line is that an emphasis should be placed on creatively making meaningful connections with customers and providing real value to them rather than simply pushing information at them. Companies who are able to do that will develop a loyal and engaged following that improves their bottom line, especially as more and more social media platforms build payment services directly into their service.

There are a few honorable mentions I wanted to toss out there, too. Wearables are just starting to hit their stride, and it’s too early to estimate the magnitude of effect they will have on the social media space. Some think that social media outlets will become reservoirs of information in themselves, and it will just take the right interface to tap into those reservoirs to create a vast searchable hub of real time information. Aggregation is on the rise, as well, whether in the form of big data analytics for corporations, tools to help small businesses better understand which social media is working for them (and which is not), or being able to blast out content to multiple social media platforms in a single click.

All of these are merely guesses at this point; time will tell which of these become fixed in our society and which will not. Regardless, it is wise to do everything possible to stay on the forefront of the industry. Using social media is no longer just a fun little side gig. Instead, it should be viewed as a core part of the business’ strategy to reach, attract, and retain loyal customers over the long term.

How to Share Your Content in Social Media Updates

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Your window of opportunity to garner the interest of the consumer is small. With attention spans shortening due to social media induced comprehension issues, that window has shrunk even further. What you say to the public has to grab them from the first phrase. And any excess wordage or concepts results in attention drift. Once that happens, you’ve lost them. They are already moving on to the next update in their feed.

Consumers don’t want their social media pages to be overburdened with posts they aren’t interested in. ‘What will interest consumers?’ is the question which every marketer has foremost in his mind. Not every post you make will produce a like or a share. But knowing what to say and how to say it has a direct correlative impact on whether or not consumers will find your posts interesting and worth sharing. Below is a short guide on how to share your content in social media posts.

  • Have great content. It doesn’t matter how much your update garners consumer attention and interest if the content you send them to is subpar. They’ll soon stop bothering to read your posts altogether, much less share them, if they’re disappointed on the follow through. What makes great content? The marketing rule is that it must teach, entertain, or inspire. If your post rambles, is a mere narrative about your day, or otherwise fails to teach, entertain, or inspire, consider writing or hiring experienced content writers who can start filling your website or blog with content worth reading.
  • What posts you share are important. Don’t take for granted the content you have that can remind consumers of your company’s existence. Share your about page, your testimonials page, your most clicked on posts (see what those are via analytics), and the posts that consumers found the most useful.
  • Keep posts short. Twitter length is a good rule of thumb. Consumers skim through their social media feed, which means they spend about two seconds reading a post before the decide whether it interests them.
  • Post updates with a link attached, but draw them in with your words. Don’t rely only on content you’re linking to. Even if the content is important, consumers need to have a reason to click on your link.
  •  Ask a question you think your target audience will agree with. Ego is an important part of the sales process because consumers have to feel good about the product they buy. If the audience can give a resounding Yes or No to your question, odds are, you will be getting more clicks.
  • Make a statement that will surprise your target audience. ‘Surprise statements’ cause curiosity, and curiosity equals clicks. Get familiar with presenting the unexpected, but don’t mislead the consumer as to the nature and slant of the subject matter.
  • Keep your updates clear and easy to understand. Pick a single point to emphasize rather than multiple points that leave your reader confused about why they should click on the link. Use the simplest word and the shortest sentences. Simple and clear beats out elaborate and confusing any day of the week.THAT MOMENTWhen your updates start
  • Use hashtags. Not all social media has ease of use with hashtags (Pinterest is a noticeable hashtag exception to the hashtag rule). Research which hashtags are the most used and visited hashtags in your industry. Add a minimum of two of hashtags to each update and make sure they are appropriate to your content.
  • Know your business. And not just your business. Check out the updates of competitors and peers with a high number of followers. Pay attention to which of their tweets are retweeted, which of their FB updates receive a high number of likes or shares. Figure out why. Are there good ideas you can implement there?
  • Share updates that link to content similar to your own. Part of having a social media page for your business is not just about linking to your own content, making announcements, or offering discounts, it’s proving to the consumer that your business page is worth perusing more in depth for other articles they might find relevant or of interest. And it helps to sell your brand by creating a mental association of your business with a specific industry as a whole.

Knowing what to share and how to share it can take some finesse and a good sales sense. If you don’t think you have those kinds of chops, stop by our page. We can help with that!

Social Media Marketing Strategies in 2015

Social MediaMarketingStrategies 2015

If there is anything we can count on in the digital world, it’s that it changes quickly. As the speed at which information is exchanged improves, consumer response to that information becomes faster and businesses want to be the first to know, and react in kind, to the consumer response.

Analytics are and will remain important for businesses. Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest all have rolled out analyzation tools for their users. The new information will allow businesses to pinpoint which aspects of social media are drawing interest, and which are falling flat. In order to use this information effectively, businesses will have to be flexible, willing to discard strategies that aren’t working and acquire new ones, sometimes implementing strategies that are novel and creative.

Businesses have to be aware, and not just aware, but engaged with the public profiles of their employees. As businesses learned from this past year, a business, and the public profiles of its employees, don’t have a private life on social media. Everyone markets. On a public profile, employees of a company are representatives held up to consumer expectations.  Consumers have the expectation that the companies they buy from reflect their own values. Which means employees have to be careful what they post on their public profiles and how they represent the brand.

Consumers are also wanting authenticity because it’s more relatable. As video and visuals become more common, there will be an upswing in the number of promotional videos that “sell” via real customer reviews, or through telling a great story. Consumers give greater points to a company that is doing more for the community than just making money off them.  They will want to see the human, personal side of a company because it gives the impression that it’s local and approachable, versus an immense and untouchable thing that happens to employee people. Companies will find their videos going viral if they can make the consumer’s heart melt, by promoting caring rather than persuading them to buy.

But attention spans among adults are starting to change. Studies have shown that we actually read differently after a constant exposure to social media.   Businesses concerned about consumers losing their ability to “read deeply” might focus on having quality posts of a longer length. But businesses who want to tap into the consumer trend of focusing on the most pertinent information in the shortest number of words, will use focus on implementing shorter posts and more of them. Microblogging, especially, will be useful for businesses interested in shorter, more frequent, posts.

Bigger companies will rely on an approach that incorporates both the digital tech and creative aspects of marketing. This means knowing a modicum of html speak will be of huge benefit to the social media marketing job-seeker. At the same time, smaller companies will discover that social media and blogging companies are catering to the DIYers by making their interfaces more user friendly.

Regardless, some argue that the age of the blog is starting to wane as companies discover other avenues of social interaction that work better for their business, and microblogging via tumblr and twitter take over. New social media outlets that are specific to certain subsets of people will begin to become more common. Purchase of ads tailored to these subsets of people will increase as consumers begin to make use of the hobby/interest-specific social media.

Hence, business owners will have social media managers who are given specific parameters of interaction – as much to ensure that there aren’t any social media faux pas which escalate into media debacles, as to ensure that the interactions are appropriate to the audience.

Immediacy continues to be an important aspect of digital commerce and, as such, will continue to force the direction of digital technology. As social media outlets attempt to shorten the distance between idea and action by experimenting with platforms that allow direct purchase of products, we’ll see the beginning of the end of third party distributors. Consumers will no longer have to go to a different website to purchase the product, but can purchase it right from their media outlet of choice.

This in turn will lead to a rise in ad sales on social media, as well as opportunities for individual bloggers to make more through affiliate links and acting as distributors of products endorsed on the blog. Because of this, authenticity will be even more important to the consumer who may not trust a blogger whose sole purpose in owning a blog is to make money off followers.

Overall, in 2015 we can expect to see a more tailored approach to the individual consumer. With every generation that passes the exchange of information has steadily grown swifter. The speed of that exchange has made a huge impact on the marketplace, both digital and otherwise. It will continue to do so and businesses will need to be prepared to take advantage of improved social media changes. Technology stops for no man.

Sources:

http://www.business2community.com/social-media/7-top-social-media-trends-will-impact-marketing-2015-01107054

http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/social-media-in-2015-predictions-and-potential/

http://www.toprankblog.com/2014/05/digital-marketing-2015/

http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/7608-2015-small-business-predictions.html

 

Do’s and Don’ts for a Happy Social (Media) Life

If you just started up a blog, twitter feed, or Facebook page for your small business, congratulations! We applaud the desire to broaden your customer base using this avenue of interaction. Are you a newbie to the social media world? Do you have a full calendar of posts or topics ready to go? Are they everything they 1should be? Do you have no idea even where to begin or what the protocols are to maintaining a social media page?

The advice below might seem like common sense, but being aware of these do’s and don’ts can make a big difference with likes, sharing, and customer approval of your page.

Don’t get too friendly. That doesn’t mean page managers need to be cold, or even cool, to visitors. It does mean they need to stay professional and impersonal. Scale back on TMI (Too Much Information). Remember that this isn’t a personal blog or twitter page, this is one of your business faces – quite possibly your most user friendly page, making you easily accessible to millions. Customers don’t want to know what you ate for breakfast, unless it pertains to your business.

Do have fun. People like positive, happy people. It comes through in a person’s writing voice, regardless of their intention. It’s especially important that whoever manages your social media page does so with a balanced perspective. Customers will be offended if a page manager takes a serious issue too lightly. They’ll also be turned off by a manager who regularly treats lighter issues like he’s Atlas holding up the world. A zest for life is beneficial to the success of your social media page because it acts like a people magnet. Think, ‘Young at heart.”

Don’t be antagonistic. Being snide, patronizing, or sarcastic toward those who comment is a sure way to narrow your customer base. As customers, we want to believe we are respected, and the first step in respect is a suspension of negativity. Even if you profoundly disagree with a customer, do so with respect and professionalism. If you really want to be safe, don’t limit this rule to engaging with commenters.

Do engage with commenters. If someone leaves comments on your page, even negative ones, be happy! They cared enough to respond, rather than just clicking out. If it’s a criticism, acknowledge their complaint, and tell them what is being done to deal with the issue, or why nothing is being done. Customers might disagree with a company’s reasons, but knowing them is the first step to transparency. And transparency creates a reputation of reliability. Whatever you do, don’t ignore visitors! Thank them every so often, perhaps even with a product discount.

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Don’t engage in flame wars. Sometimes a commenter might leave an inflammatory comment on your page. It sits there loaded and waiting for just the right spark to blow up your page. Leaving it on your page can cause a commenting thread that goes crazy. But that could result in more shares, and more shares are always good. On the other hand, leaving it without responding to it could make it seem like your company waffles on the issue. If you do engage, be careful. Be professional.

Do pick your battles. If you really care about an issue, showing that you are willing to take a stand can gain you the admiration of the public. Whatever the issues are, make sure posts are representative of what the company stands for. Saving face is never fun for anyone. Defending your position on things that matter to you will help define your company. But that doesn’t mean be defensive. So when you do feel like you need to assert your opinion on something controversial, do so with as much reason, and as little undue emotion, as possible. Customers don’t want vanilla, they do want respect and professionalism.          

Don’t clutter with inconsequential posts. This can be a hard rule to follow for a person new to the social media world. Where is the customer’s “I don’t care” line? Similar to the “TMI Rule,” not posting inconsequential things means staying away from trite commentary, information disconnected from your product, or useless information. If we are fans of your rental equipment page, we don’t want to be seeing shares on ISIS (unless terrorism is somehow affecting your business). Whatever the post is, if it doesn’t seem relevant to your business, make sure you show the connection, or risk leaving your customers scratching their heads.

Do pick one of the big marketing three with each post: amuse, inform, or inspire. Our society is notorious for being short on time. Hence the tweet (aka, the mini blog). We want things fast, yesterday, and if time consuming, as streamlined and to the point as possible. Keeping your posts to one of the three above (inspiring, amusing, or informing) ensures your social media posts are pertinent to the reader. If they are going to like your page, it is because they have discovered some sort of utility involved – be that of education, enjoyment, or hope. Give them a reason to engage with you, to share your posts and your page, and to come back for more.

Get To Know: Twitter’s New Analytics Dashboard

In the summer, Twitter released a new analytics dashboard with high level snapshots of key metrics. Yay! One catch.. this dashboard was only available to advertisers and verified users. Boo! Thankfully, about two months ago, this dashboard became available to all Twitter users. Huzzah! In this post, I’ll share some insight into the value of this tool for the effectiveness of your Twitter marketing campaign.

Twitter Analytics Dashboard - Favorites

Comparable to Google Analytics, the Twitter Analytics dashboard (available at analytics.twitter.com) allows you to measure the performance of every single tweet you tweet! The dashboard shows the number of people to see each tweet, along with how many people engaged with the tweet. Engagement encompasses clicks anywhere on a tweet (username, hashtag, link, tweet expansion), along with retweets, replies, follows, or favorites. The dashboard also aggregates tweet data for each month and allows you to compare it to previous months.

Twitter Analytics Dashboard - KPI

Having this data for organic tweets is very valuable for marketers as you can test different formats of tweets and tweeting dates and times to learn what works best for your audience. Being able to clearly see which time of day and day of the week yields the highest engagement and impressions can help you set up and schedule future campaigns.

Twitter Analytics Dashboard - Engagement Rate

Further, knowing what tweet styles are the most effective is key. Pay attention to what formats of your tweet create the most engagement. Do they include a particular call to action, link or rich media? Even the length of your tweet may impact the number of times it is shared or clicked. We have found that it is valuable to tweet often to gain the most exposure, especially if you are testing your overall impact to figure out what is most effective. Having this information can help create clearer messages truly targeted to your followers.

Twitter Analytics Dashboard

Finally, in addition to the updated web interface, the CSV export tool will show you data for up to 3,200 Tweets (up from 500) and includes a breakdown of all impressions and other engagement numbers.

Twitter Analytics Dashboard - Link Clicks

What Impact Do Your Tweets Have?

Twitter Analytics dashboard will help you identify in real time which tweets are getting the most attention and how you’re reaching your audience, information you can use to determine the Twitter strategies that work for you. If you haven’t taken a look yet, I encourage you to do so and let us know what you think! If you are using the analytics dashboard already, what have you found the most helpful and what changes would you make? Please feel please free to tweet your feedback on the dashboard @wordworksinc or comment below.

Social Media Takeaway on Recent Events

If you read my last article on The Far-Reaching Effects of Social Media (and I know you did because you’re such a fan), your eyes were opened on how influential social media can be. That being said, what’s the overall social media takeaway for any business?

Have good social media presence. I say “good” as juxtaposed to say, neutral, or bad. You want consumers to think positive about your brand. In our day and age that means not only that they’ve heard of your company (that’s neutral territory) but they’ve been impressed by it on a personal level. Personal. Meaning that they’ve interacted with your company on some positive level or been so impressed by it that they are recommending it to friends.

It used to be extremely difficult for companies to touch base with the everyday consumer. Not anymore. Social media enables companies to interact with customers like never before. Which is great – unless you’re really good at ignoring them, giving them stock answers for grievances, or outright offending them with responses.

The sooner a business knows consumers aren’t happy with them, the sooner they can make adjustments.

QUINOABe prepared to own up to mistakes. Be aware of how your business is perceived and tackle disconcerting issues immediately and head on. The public knows when they are being played, which means businesses have to act with integrity. Always. No amount of owning up will ever look as bad as scrambling to come up with a cover that the public just might swallow. Scrambling never works, so acknowledge what actually happened, make the apologies, address the public’s concerns, state ongoing solutions, and move forward.

Social media can crucify a person’s reputation within hours via trending hashtags. But it can also be a means to reach a wider audience quickly. It’s a new way to make sure as many people as possible are hearing your message. Of course, think and rethink what that message is going to be. The claim once existed that any publicity is good publicity. Considering that people have more or less had their careers ended via Twitter, I’m not convinced that’s the case anymore. Don’t assume that just because you are “small potatoes” (either the company itself or your level on the corporate ladder) that you’ll be able to tweet something controversial and have it go unnoticed.

That’s not to say that we shouldn’t stand by our principles. If our principles are controversial, whatever those principles are, we have to be willing to hang our professional lives on them.

Always utilize honest business practices. Transparency is important to the consumer. However, it’s hard to accomplish that with any sort of sincerity if there are shady deals taking place. Furthermore, attempting to portray a straight-laced company after some catastrophe has landed the company on the front page will be seen as too little, too late.

Sometimes businesses are seemingly put in the tough position of having to choose between the continued success of the business or owning up to something that could spell its doom. It’s always better not to have the skeleton in the closet – not only from a moral perspective but from a “you-never-know-when-your-company-will-be-in-the-hot-seat” perspective.

When weighing the pros and cons of making that deal with the devil, if the morality of the situation doesn’t compel you, at the very least ask yourself, what would happen to your career if the action you are contemplating went viral on Twitter?

Even though we know backroom deals go down, we like to remain under the illusion they don’t. Who wants to do business with a company known for dishonesty? At heart, “there is no honor among thieves” holds a lot of sway with where consumers are willing to spend their money.

To conclude, every company has, or should have, a dedicated fireman. Someone whose sole purpose is to deal with problems that arise between the mass consumer and the company. Social media is a huge boon to that fireman.

In the event that your company is thrown a curve ball, use social media to your advantage. Hopefully you’ve already been interacting with your consumers and you’re seen as credible. If that still isn’t garnering their vote of confidence in your business, you might have to weather it and hope for the best.

Be honest, be positive, be dedicated. And use social media to do it.