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.

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

 

Hootsuite: Love It or Hate It

With the myriad of social media options out there, the thought has probably crossed each of our minds before at least once: “If only there was a way to condense all these into one place” or “I wish I could connect all these things and organize them on one page.” There are a couple of social media organizational dashboards out there, but this time we’re going to enter the wonderful world of Hootsuite.

Hootsuite: you either love it, or hate it. If you google it, you’ll find adamant camps of haters or admirers, the haters really hate, the admirers will hear of no other platform. Let’s take a look at what Hootsuite has to offer you, and you may decide for yourself.

Currently, Hootsuite’s free version offers you a web-based tabulated dashboard that can keep track of up to five different social media programs (you have to pay a pretty penny to go pro if you want Google Analytics, Facebook Insights, or more than five different sites in there). Hootsuite allows you multiple streams of information per site tab, so when you click on, say, your Facebook tab, you can create a stream for your current posts, a stream for comments you receive, scheduled posts, personal messages and more. All of this appears on one page, right before your eyes, no clicking back and forth to different, open tabs. They just recently added Google+ into the list of social sites they offer you, so right now you can put your Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Foursquare, WordPress and Mixi accounts on the dashboard. It is fairly simple to create your account, and then click on the tab settings to add your social networks.

Entering your usernames, passwords, and giving Hootsuite authorization to access all these accounts takes a few minutes, and pretty soon you have a dashboard of tabs.  

If you are boring, and want to say the same thing at the same time on all your sites, you may choose which social media sites to post to (at the top of the dashboard there is an easily seen dialog box in which to do this), then there is a dialog box to type your post for the day. Choose all your sites at one time, type one post for all, add a link if you wish and viola, you post and it’s on all the networks you chose. You spent only a few seconds but reached all of your fans across your entire social media spectrum.

What if you’re not boring, and want to say different stuff at different times? With Hootsuite, you can definitely get more creative. You’re still saving time by operating on all the social media sites from one dashboard, eliminating the need to open up a bunch of tabs or manage usernames and passwords (basically, saving the minutes and then seconds that we have come to value in our fast-paced tech world), and you can see what is happening in one glance with comments, re-tweets, sharing, etc. all from this page. You can schedule posts for later days and times, reply to comments and interact with your followers; it’s an OC organizers delight! Want to carry a theme for a week but only have time today to plan it? Get together all your material and schedule a whole week of themed posts and links in an easy-to-view column of information, pick the time of day you want each one to post, set it and forget it! This is great for people with structured, planned Google+ or Facebook pages, but who want to keep, say, Twitter real, live and in the moment.

So far it sounds great, but for some of us who get lost in a world of a million and one options, where if one miniscule box is unchecked or checked it could mean professional embarrassment (double posts anyone?), or you are the kind of person who must see the actual Facebook page and familiar Google+ page to figure out what you are going to say for the day, then you (like me) need a bit of time to play with Hootsuite in order to learn how to use it effectively. If you have a question, Hootsuite’s Twitter feed is full of quickly answered queries on “how does one do x?” and the answers are prompt, polite and helpful. They also have a series of video tutorials called “Hoot Tips” available to help you (#HootTip), and if that’s not enough, for $21 a month, you can enroll in Hootsuite University, and even earn a social media certification! In addition to this, another company called Grovo is offering sixty-second video tutorials for your quick questions related to Hootsuite (and other platforms).

From what I can gather, the people that hate Hootsuite are people that want a quick, easy, one-stop-shop where they can glance at the screen and know exactly what it is they want done and how to do it. This is definitely not Hootsuite. But, if you have some time to invest in learning how to use this comprehensive social media tool, it can do great things for you. Their blog, HootSource, is worth giving a read, anyhow.

Let’s recap: Hootsuite offers you the ability to manage multiple social networks, schedule messages and tweets, track mentions, and analyze social media traffic. They will train you for free to use their tools, and they have excellent help available. Now go play with it!

3 Content Marketing Resolutions for 2014

Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.

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Can you believe that we are almost finished with 2013? Time just keeps trucking along and we’re already in the season of New Year’s Resolutions. While you never need to wait for a new year to try new things or revisit your goals, this is the time of year set aside for revisiting what was accomplished in the past year and planning for the next year, as Oprah Winfrey says, quoted above. Goals, as stated by Lululemon, “inspire you to do the work, excite and even scare you, and are specific, measurable and written in the present tense.” I’m sure we all have different personal goals – from flossing to eating right – but I’d like to share a few content marketing resolutions for you for 2014 at this time. Feel free to use them, adjust them, or share your own in the comments!

1.  In 2014, I use social media daily and engage in each of the networks of which I am a member.

Social media is a legitimate channel for conversations and shared social content. With successful networks, like Facebook and Twitter, that are trading publicly, social media is proving itself to be far from a fad. If you don’t have social media channels set up yet, get those set up for your business and listen to what people are talking about. Engage authentically. If you don’t know where to start, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and Pinterest are some of the top networks. Depending on your goals and audience, Tumblr, Instagram, Vimeo, Vine and YouTube are other channels to explore. (You aren’t just limited to those either!)

Resolve to use social media daily to share, but also to engage in conversations – ask questions and find out what your audience is interested in. This easy access to focus groups allows you to learn what your audience is looking for and take your business to the next level!

2. In 2014, I create engaging, informative content that tells a story and answers the right questions.

Google (and other search engines) love websites with unique, relevant content that is posted frequently. (New content sends signals to Google to come back and check out your site more often.) Blogs are a perfect opportunity to add fresh content about your company or industry. Resolve to set up a schedule for blogging and curate a list of topics that answer questions you’ve heard from customers or found online. Engaging and sharable content helps promote your business and drive increased traffic to your site due to the inbound links and higher search rankings.

Determining who is responsible for the content creation is important. Business owners realize the importance of having a dedicated team tasked with creating authentic, compelling content. Whether the writers are hired in house or not depends on the needs of each business.

3. In 2014, I improve my mobile website and blog experience.

Resolve to share great content (goal #2) on social media (goal #1) on an up-to-date mobile experience (goal #3).

Mobile has been one of the top focuses for marketers for the past two years, so as we transition to 2014, it is imperative for your business to have a successfully-designed mobile presence. Whether you are an online or offline business, people are looking for you online and a poor website experience could turn away business if things don’t load properly or appear in a clear way.

Resolve to take a look at your website on the iPhone and Android operating systems and their respective browsers, along with several iPad and tablet devices. Do your blog posts format correctly when shared on social media? Do you have to scroll left-to-right to see the full screen? Are buttons super difficult to click? Check out responsive web design over separate mobile sites as the size of the page and content will automatically adjust based on the size of the device. User experience is so important and can ruin even the greatest content and authentic conversation.

“And now we welcome the new year, full of things that have never been…”

Share your other content marketing goals in the comments below!

The Who, What, and When of Content Marketing

Let’s face it. Content marketing is a challenge. There never seems to be enough time and really, what exactly is content marketing?

According to Content Marketing Institute, “content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action… The essence of this content strategy is the belief that if we, as businesses, deliver consistent, ongoing valuable information to buyers, they ultimately reward us with their business and loyalty.”

Without content, marketing is close to impossible as quality content is key to successful marketing tactics. Without content, what do you share on social media? Without content, how do search engines consistently find your site? Without content, how do you address consumer issues? Content marketing is the way to bring those quality customers to your website and build your brand presence, generating loyal consumers.

This all sounds wonderful, but put into practice, is a lot harder to implement. Below I’ll share 3 challenges facing content marketing and a few ways to address those challenges:

1.     Who is going to write this content?

Depending on the size of your business, you may have someone in the marketing position that can fill this role and be in charge of leading content creation. However, many employees in small businesses are already busy enough and don’t have the time to allocate to an additional responsibility. Take a look at the subject matter experts in your company and see if they can assist in this process – providing quotes, doing a quick interview – or take a look to see if the content could be outsourced to help create enough quality material.

2.     What is this content going to be about?

To know this, take some time to understand your buyer personas. Buyer persona is a fancy way of saying your customer and prospective customer base. For example, if you run a print shop, you may have several buyer personas including brides to be who need wedding invitations to executives who need large scale printing for corporate events. Provide information that will help these personas and you will show yourself as a subject matter expert who they can trust and go to for more information.

3.     When is this content going to be published?

This is a very common challenge when it comes to content marketing – everyone has their own schedules and determining who is to curate content and what the content will be about is time consuming. Without the right resources, content marketing can seem exhausting. Overcome this challenge by creating a content marketing editorial and production calendar. At WordWorks, we use one to direct this blog, as well as other client scheduling. That way we know who is working on what and when the drafts and final products are due.

Now that I’ve shared a few challenges facing content marketing, I’d love to hear if you share these same challenges and what other challenges you face (and ways you’ve found to overcome these challenges!)