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.


3 Ways for Your Business to Effectively Use YouTube

What do you think of when you hear the word “YouTube”? Do you think of cute babies laughing with their dog or silly cat videos? Those videos may make it seem difficult for your business to take advantage of a platform that screams viral videos made of things unrelated to your company. We’re here to argue that your business should make an effort to be present in order to increase your online visibility, promote brand trust and reach out to new customers. It’s important to be where people are and with YouTube boasting “more than 1 billion unique users visit YouTube each month”, you can’t deny the powerful potential of YouTube.

1. Create a Series of Diversified Videos

Creative marketers can shine by creating a varied set of videos, in turn increasing their viewership. Posting the same style of video over and over again may cause users to click away, so we encourage creativity! A strong strategy encourages diversified video, with content ideas ranging from behind the scenes videos, presentations, client testimonials, exclusive interviews with founders, and how-to’s.

In April, YouTube announced that GoPro had the top brand channel. While the product is geared to video and images, they do a great job exploring different adventures that reach different people. GoPro has their channel set up into different playlists, including animals, surf, skate, and music, as well as product videos and tutorials with tips from the pros.

2. End Videos with a Call to Action

Success on Youtube means not only engaging viewers to simply watch a video, but by building a community and getting viewers to take action. At the end of each video, ask your user to connect in some way, whether you ask them to share the video, subscribe to your video channel, comment on the video in response to a question posed, or register for an event.

A great example of the video call to action is at the end of Kid President videos. At the end of his “Pep Talk” video, he asks the viewer to pass the video along, to share it, to like it, to comment on it, and to use the #kidpresident hashtag. After those call to actions, Soul Pancake (the business that supports Kid President) provides a link to subscribe to their channel, watch more Kid President videos, or to buy a shirt related to the video. Also, within the description of the video, they optimize the use of tags and include links to relevant websites and social media. Continue reading

The Changing Face Of YouTube

Like every business known to man, YouTube exists to make money. Gone are the good old days when digital age dinosaurs like myself thought of YouTube merely as a home video-sharing platform. When my brother-in-law tells me to look up a tutorial on YouTube on how to take apart my laptop, when I can watch a movie length web series remake of Pride and Prejudice in two to three minute clips, when beauty vloggers are becoming the face of Marshalls, I know YouTube has a much wider sphere of influence than I previously thought. It’s reality TV, sure, but with the right methodology and strategy, it can be a highly effective tool for a business.

Are you tapping in?

For those of us who have protested the ever-progressing changes of the digital age, the idea of using YouTube as a marketing tool can sound both terrifying and exhilarating. Young people with their own cooking channels and stylists shows have attracted thousands of followers with their fearless and intrepid, if simple, video work. All this, while we’ve floundered around using the classic marketing tools of flyers, cold calls, and mailers, and seeing pathetic percentages on return.

Do you YouTubeThe tried and true methods need to be revamped given the abilities of modern media outlets. The days of paper, while not over, don’t stand a chance. At least not when it comes to marketing. Paper flyers and advertisements simply don’t have the effect businesses need in order to spread the word to a wider audience.

Entrepreneurs can now reach thousands of potential customers. Some, like certain indie artists, can reach such a height of popularity from a single video posted on YouTube, that their meager following explodes into serious business and record deals.

It’s time that small business owners afraid to jump on board modern technology realize that their traction and growth can be exponentially increased by embracing all the possibilities presented us through the digital marketplace. With constant access to a wealth of information, if businesses want to be remembered by viewers, they can’t be afraid to embrace the more personal aspect of being online.

We viewers want to know that businesses are in tune with us. We want to know that they know what we want. Or we’ll take our business elsewhere.

So now that you’ve been sold on why it’s necessary to bone up on the latest digital marketing possibilities, you might be wondering, what are the basics involved with successfully engaging a YouTube audience?

Marketing strategy from across the internet seems to agree on several basic principles. There are a veritable plethora of articles on marketing strategy and easily found, so I encourage you to explore vigorously.

Nevertheless, as with any marketing or public relations strategy, the most important principal is to ensure that your video informs, educates or entertains. Seems basic, but even huge companies are only just realizing that they aren’t receiving the same number of hits as Julie Jolene the Make-up Queen who shoots make-up tutorials out of her bathroom. Why? Because they are failing to provide viewers with something they actually want.

Viewers don’t go to YouTube for an advertisement (although they’ll suffer through them), unless that advertisement is informing, educating, or entertaining.

If you decide that YouTube is a good fit for your business, don’t fall prey to YouTube mismanagement. Do your research. Figure out what would be something your customers would want to see. And then don’t be afraid that your video isn’t a studio production. The beauty of YouTube, as a “grassroots” platform is still there in all its simplicity.

Do you (or your company) need a YouTube Channel?

The question posed in the title of this article doesn’t have an obvious answer.  If you were to substitute “facebook,” or “twitter,” or “pinterest,” the answer would be an unqualified “Yes!”  Your company needs to be on those social networks in order to simply keep up not just in your own industry, but in business in general.  It is those companies that put effort into those social networks that will get the best results from them.

That same effort needs to go into a YouTube Channel, for our answer to the original question posed above is, “Probably.”  Here are a few reasons why:

It’s precisely NOT facebook or twitter. 

YouTube is the most visual and active social media channel you can be on.  Vine and Pinterest and Instagram have aspects of what makes YouTube great, but none of those social media channels is likely to ever launch something as worldwide-mega-viral as “Gangnam Style.”  You will have an opportunity to show people inside aspects of your business – think “how-to”s or “interviews with the staff” or “behind the scenes.”  And you don’t have to post every single business day – as it’s important to do on those other networks – just weekly or biweekly is plenty for a healthy channel.

You or your staff have stage fright.

Perfect.  This is an opportunity for you to get over that.  If you’re running your own business, you’re already doing one of the bravest things on this planet.  What’s great about YouTube videos is they aren’t live!  You can take and re-take, with the comfort of only speaking to whomever is recording you.  You’ll have time to get it right.  Perhaps one of your staff shines behind or in front of the camera?  It’s a great way to give them an opportunity to expand their job responsibilities while staying on target with your brand responsibilities.

You don’t know what you’re going to talk about.

That’s fine.  We already alluded to that above, but we’ve also talked before about the myth of not having anything to say.  Buy some pizza, have lunch with your staff, and have an unmitigated brainstorming session where you write down every idea that people utter.  There will be plenty of time to get rid of the bad ideas later.  The good ones will stand out right away.  And remember, youtube is a great place to do video versions of the blog content you’ve already created, or to do an “extended discussion” of a blog post you’ve already done.  You don’t have to “double-create” content.  Additionally, you can set your channel feed so that people can see what your channel “likes” and that’s a great way to cross pollinate/get the attention of already existing channels that have a lot more subscribers than you do.

You are not a professional videographer/you don’t have a camcorder.

Depending on the types of video you are going to shoot, this might not matter.  Now, obviously if you’re a video production company trying to plug your services, you’re going to want to have lights-out production values.  But if you’re a bakery walking someone through how to make a delicious seasonal dish, or a landscaping company showing people tips for dealing with weather conditions, the content, not the production values, will be the star.  Many phones and tablets have incredible lenses on them that can also function in video mode.  Most of your digital cameras will also have a video mode.  Apart from a tripod (a simple accessory that is very helpful) you might already have the tools you need.

  You like staying in your office.

Well, we can’t really help you here.  Shooting video is a perfect excuse to get outside into the fresh air.  Given the weather conditions lately, though, perhaps your segment could involve the proper way to create and throw a snowball?

Above all, we urge you to have fun.  This is a great way to engage with your audience and lend a human element to your business.  It may be a short two minute video that your potential client sees on his/her mobile device (remember that when shooting videos – that is where the majority of people will watch videos in the very near future – so create your content with a smaller screen size in mind) that makes him/her decide to go with your firm and not your competitor.