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.


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.







The Art of Storytelling for Business

onceuponatimeA presentation from NewsCred reported that 78% of CMO’s think custom content is the future of marketing, and 86% of B2C marketers and 91% of B2B marketers use content marketing. These are pretty impressive numbers, but regardless of the exact numbers, we know that content marketing is important. (You’ve read our other blog posts, right?!) So the next questions is: what kind of content works? What should you spend your time working on?

Content that tells a story: engage and make emotional connections. 

One of the latest marketing buzzwords is storytelling. Why do we love books and movies? Because they tell us a story, they make us feel something – they make us care. Stories help create a connection, which is powerful in the marketing world. Once a connection is made, your audience could buy something, donate money, or assist with your goal in some way.

Stories don’t have to be daunting – they happen every day. The hard part is trying to figure out how to tell and share that story. I saw a video today about a dog trying to be brought into his kennel and he was huffing and barking what sounded like “no.” Viewers were easily able to understand what was happening and relate to this dog. Haven’t you ever been supposed to get out of bed and do something and just want to say no?

One of the best examples of storytelling to fulfill a marketing objective is Kickstarter or Indiegogo or any of the other internet fundraising machines. These websites force users to tell a story about who they are and what they want to do. They recommend using deals, but also keeping people updating about the process and developments behind the scenes. They are marketing themselves “face-to-face” to reach their goal and many are insanely successful.

Over the past few years we’ve grown accustomed to talking with businesses online. Whether you are writing a long piece of content or a short status update on Twitter, businesses need to share things that will resonate with their audience. Business content is shared on social media within a larger framework of stories and pictures from friends, so when given the chance to share that content, it needs to be compelling and original or it will be swiped to the sideline.

Think of all the TED Talks or speeches that have moved you to action (or want to take action). They have powerful stories in them that create metaphors for change. If you are having trouble creating a story about your business, try out the Pixar pitch from the book To Sell is Human by Dan Pink. The script helps you discover the storyline in your business:

Once upon a time there was _________. Every day _________. One day _________. Because of that _________. Because of that _________. Until finally _________.

 Take some time to discover how that story reads for you. When this narrative begins, your company might not exist, but you were able to discover something that needed to be changed. Then you worked to problem solve and create something out of nothing.

Everyone has a story to tell. Practice telling your story using words, images and video and see what you come up with! If your business has a good story to tell, please share it within the comments.


“But I don’t know what to blog about!” How to stop worrying and start writing for your business

The end of any year, we hope, involves clearing out the clutter and mistakes of the previous year, and part of those mistakes for any small business may have involved neglecting (maybe if I ignore it, it’ll go away) blogging for your business.  As part of the initial consultation with any small business owner (we work with all sizes of business but many of our clients have between 2-25 employees) the question always is posed: “What are you going to write about?”  This is partly because the owner or principal feels that there isn’t any “interesting” content to share with the public.  But this just isn’t true.  Every business has stories to share about the industry, its customers, its practices, and its passions, just to name a few starting points.

The Industry

People may be aware that your industry exists, but do they know how it works?  Can you tell some “inside baseball” stories in an interesting fashion?  Ask your colleagues for thoughts on sharing things you take for granted.  One of our clients helps plan special events and one thing we didn’t really think about before working with them was how long an initial phone call might take.  Share how someone gets started in your business (are there certifications?) or how many players (wide open or pretty niche?) or even how you got started.  All of these can be compelling stories to share.

Your Customers

You can always change the names to protect the guilty (or the innocent!) but telling stories about customers is not only cathartic from a business perspective, but it’s also helpful from a reviewing perspective for your staff and colleagues.  Walking through a very positive customer interaction not only reinforces good feelings about your brand, but it sets a point of reference to strive for.  Walking through a challenging customer situation, if done well, showcases your customer service skills.

Your Practices

So you have a donut shop and all donuts are the same, aren’t they?  Or are they?  Whatever your donut/widget, what’s your differentiator?  Marty Neumeier, in his landmark book Zag, refers to this as being the only _____ that _____.  What makes you different?  That’s what is going to draw a consumer that is increasingly tech-savvy and reliant on fellow customer reviews.

Your Passions

We know that you aren’t robots and don’t just think about your business 24/7.  Well that’s not true – plenty of us often do – but the point is that you should always take some time to share something that isn’t directly related to your business.  Proud of your town’s historic roots?  Tell us about them!  Fascinated by scuba diving?  Share your reflections from your latest vacation.  Has one of your colleagues recently had a major positive life change?  Inquiring minds want to know!

We hope this brief brainstorming exercise has gotten you excited about beginning to blog – because, let’s face it, your competitors are already doing it.  So are you going to let it continue to stay on your “to-do” list?  Or are you going to make the New Year truly new, by promoting your business in one of the most genuine and relevant ways: by writing about it.  If you feel overwhelmed or need help – we are just an email away.