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.

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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

 

Location Based Advertising: Super Convenient or Big Brother in Action?

Ye Good Olde Days of Advertising… thirsty? Now you are!

Imagine yourself walking by a Starbucks. Suddenly, your phone beeps urgently, alerting you to the fact that you are in the vicinity of Starbucks!  Would you like to take a break for some coffee?

Or you are driving by Macy’s, and suddenly your phone beeps again. Did  you know that the pair of boots you browsed last week online is 10% off? Like, right now this very second, and won’t be anymore if you drive past this store! Does this sound a little bit like the visual advertisements targeting people in Minority Report? If it does, that’s because it is… albeit in a less invasive manner than retina scans. Welcome to the world of Location Based Advertising (LBA).

The process described above is what is called the “push” approach to LBA, which allows companies to target mobile users unless or until they opt out. There is another approach to this, in which mobile users can voluntarily enter their information into a search application, such as looking for a deli while visiting a city, and the app will return results with a map and even coupons for a free drink or appetizer. Yay!

LBA represents a way to market ads far more efficiently than traditional advertising, where a company’s advertising dollars go to pay big name celebrities to talk about why such and such a product is awshum. The only problem is that you, the company, have to believe and have faith that your celebrity endorsements are paying off, as you have no easy way to determine if your sales have gone up based on the millions you have just spent. Companies can now spend much less on ads that are more personalized and more effective, while, more importantly, providing tracking data to show how much these advertisements are paying off.

LBA is not going away. With advertising slowly catching up to the mobile medium, LBA is going to be big, being expected to net $15 billion by 2018. (Source) The only hangup with LBA services can be summed up in one word: Snowden.

For years the public at large did not pay much attention to how the heck their information somehow miraculously got absconded from their computers and phones and appeared into the digital atmosphere. Since the revelations of Edward Snowden, however, there is a growing awareness that this information is not lost to the ether. We now know that every single thing we do online is captured by government computers and stored in government databases, potentially forever, in the name of fighting terrorism. LBA represents the latest way for the government to know almost everything about you.

But before we go too far, it is useful to note that LBA is not a conspiracy theory. It is a conspiracy fact, that it’s a conspiracy to make money which doesn’t directly involve Big Brother. The fact is, Google’s meteoric rise is due in part to their analytics technology which can form an accurate depiction of who you are based on the websites you visit. This allows Google to target ads to you based on who their algorithms think you are. Since the advent of smartphones, you can browse from a device which gives your location to someone at all times. This is also not a conspiracy theory, it is conspiracy fact, the phone companies conspiring to use technology to make money. The simple reality is that for the phone company to support your device, provide you with internet, deliver your texts and connect your calls, it has to know where your device is. Even if you choose not to share your device location with this or that provider, app, or website, your service provider absolutely knows your device’s whereabouts (and by extension, your own) at all times. While the question of how involved the government was in producing these devices may be in the realm of conspiracy theory, that the technology works in this fashion is a matter of fact. Since Snowden, we know that the government collects all of this data from the telecoms, Google and Yahoo and any other of numerous web applications and services.

Irrespective of the motivations of developers and engineers, or how active the government may or may not be in tracking your movements, any and all information obtained by your device to target ads to you will be collected. LBA could be an awesome convenience, particularly when goodies like a coupon for this or that are involved (can you imagine the effect it would have during an event like Black Friday?), but it also allows Big Brother to take in all the information. Given the market potential, Location Based Advertising is here to stay, and, unfortunately, so is Big Brother. You win some, you lose some. It’s up to you to decide how much you lose.

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.

The Far-reaching Effects of Social Media

The following post is not intended to endorse or support the actions or in-actions of those whom it discusses.

If you ever had any doubts of the power of social media, lay them to rest.

Recent events triggered various social media firestorms which lead to raised conventional media awareness. News agencies, wise to the utility of Twitter and Facebook as an indicator of “the people’s voice,” further fomented discussion by continued coverage and sometimes baiting. This, in turn, resulted in a call for action and authorities becoming more involved than they might have otherwise.

hello!According to the New York Times, #Ferguson is what thrust the Ferguson, MO shooting incident into the national limelight.

It has spurred a new iteration of discussion with the hashtag #iftheygunmedown, which had hundreds of participants posting dual photos of themselves on twitter. One, in which the participants were dressed in clothing and posing in ways that might indicate they were a gang member, and another which indicated they were upstanding, law abiding, and community contributing citizens. All this posing the question, which photo would the media use “#iftheygunmedown”?

Their point to conventional media outlets? One hopes their point was that they now understand the media’s attempts to manipulate the populace and whip them into a frenzied race-based flame war. Because controversy sells. But it’s possible that such techniques on the part of money-hungry news agencies have only confirmed to blacks that white bias exists on a large scale.

A month later, we are still seeing that the incident is fresh on people’s minds as social media and conventional media feed off each other. Protesters attempted a shutdown  of I-70 and Attorney General Eric Holder has promised to launch an investigation. One has to wonder if such efforts would have been expended if news social media discussion of the incident had faded away.

The recent rash of NFL controversies have sparked social media outcry, as well.

As news of Adrian Peterson’s suspension for alleged child abuse broke, the world was still reacting to the interview Reggie Bush gave for WFAN’s Boomer and Carton Show. Social media users have had plenty to say about Reggie’s less than prudent words. (#ReggieBush)

The indefinite suspension of player Ray Rice from the NFL only came about after public pressure via social media was brought to bear on NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. The populace is enraged at the thought that the NFL hoped to brush the incident under the rug. Paul George, who tweeted a comment in support of Ray Rice, felt an immediate social media backlash that had him scrambling to apologize.

All of these incidents are cautionary tales for both businesses (of which the NFL is one) and individuals alike.

If business practices are anything but above board, one would do well to view social media with a wary eye.

Before social media came along, businesses and high profile individuals could afford to anger people to a degree. They could count on the powerless isolation of consumers. But social media allows people to find, interact, and discuss with strangers, like-minded and not. All of a sudden, consumers aren’t so isolated and the people’s voice has more economic and political clout than it ever had before.

Many businesses and bureaucratic powers that be are still trying to play catch up. Some might be mystified at the immense pressure that can be brought to bear via the seemingly innocuous social media platforms.

Will social media change how businesses do business?

If the Goodell case is any indicator, we the people want transparency. It upsets consumers to realize that business owners (or government officials) might be looking at preserving their own interests over preserving their integrity.

To rehash an over-used parallel to ancient Rome, we can say that modern social media has shrunken the nation to such a degree that the star movers and shakers of this world can rise and fall as easily as the politicians of ancient Rome rose and fell by the voice of the mob.

Nevertheless, there is no way to guarantee your business will never experience a stock-shaking scandal. At that point, all you can do is act with integrity and hope that you have built up enough of a relationship with the public that they are willing to believe any apologies made or mistakes owned.

Look for Part II of this article next month: The Social Media Takeaway on Recent Events