Excerpt from: “The Business of Social Media: Creating Customers & Clients, Not Just Likes and Followers”

The following is an excerpt from my upcoming book The Business of Social Media: Creating Clients & Customers, Not just Likes and Followers.

This chapter was based on a question that I am asked all the time – what platforms should I be on and what are the differences? Below are the answers. I would love to hear your thoughts or questions on what platforms are best for you and your business. Comment away!

The Focus Platforms – No, You Don’t Have to be on Them All
“Being everywhere means being nowhere.” – Michel de Montaigne

The biggest decision when starting a digital strategy is to determine where you should be. What is the difference between each platform and how will they help to represent your brand?

Knowing each platforms’ differences, matched with your Power of 5 strategy will help you to determine exactly where you should be online. Do you need to be on every platform? My answer is no. You need to be where your target demographic is.

I know that there are social media experts and agencies that will tell you that you need to be on every platform to reach everyone on the planet. Yet, if you are pitching to your niche, like you should be, then that is not only unnecessary, it is unrealistic for almost every small business and entrepreneur I know. If your plan is to one day have a full time marketing department, then by all means, be present on every platform. Until then, pitch to your nitch and stay where your target demographic is.

There are really four main platforms that you should choose from when you start your social media presence. Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter. They have been around the longest and currently, have the largest amount of worldwide users.

Some folks aren’t big fans of Facebook. My answer to that is that you haven’t seen the power of their targeted ads if that is how you feel about it. For a small business marketer this platform is the stuff of dreams.

Is it perfect? No. But no other social media platform has convinced its users to share more information organically that can be used for extremely targeted ad campaigns.

Facebook has over 2 billion monthly active users as of the time of this writing. This is the largest amount of users on any social media platform and it only continues to grow year over year.

Out of those 2 billion monthly active users, there are 1.23 billion mobile daily active users. Do you need any other information to convince you that everything you do needs to be mobile friendly?

Another stat for you – Facebook has over 1.23 billion DAILY active users.

Why is this an important stat? Because it shows that not only does Facebook have a ton of people who use its platform, but that they use it daily and consistently. This loyalty from a fan base is exactly what you want when you are deciding where to market your product or business. But also remember, because they are consistent in their efforts, they expect the same from the pages they follow.

Facebook is a game of posting consistently. When an audience is on a platform daily, they expect the same from their fan pages. If you post once a week, maybe less, than you will not only lose the faith of your fans, but your reach will plummet.

Facebook rewards those that post often and pay to play. The algorithms can be beat but you need to understand how they work before you can manipulate the rules. It is one of my favorite sayings – know the rules, so that you know how to break them. I’m not sure who actually said that, but I was always the girl that wanted to constantly hit the red button, you know, the one that everyone constantly tells you not to push.

(Facebook stats from Facebook 2/1/17)

#SocialKEY – Know the rules, then BREAK them

Testing and measuring, playing with the limits and fighting to work outside the norm is what social media is all about. The rules of traditional marketing have been turned on their head. What worked yesterday is now obsolete. Try a new method and strategy – push your limits to break through.

Social media is all about finding new buttons to push on every platform. What works today may not work tomorrow. It is a game of constant refining and re-focus, which is often why my customers will come to me. Keeping up with your own industry is hard enough, trying to keep track of the daily changes on social media? Clearly it is a career all in itself.

Instagram is Facebook’s little brother. Literally – Facebook bought Instagram a few years back and have consistently worked to create algorithms and challenge the new platforms on the block like Snapchat. Instagram is the platform for your company if you present your products or services best through images. It can be a bit tricky to post since you can’t schedule it to go automatically, but let’s look at the stats.

There are 600 million monthly users and 400 million active daily users. 80% of these users are from outside the US, with 20% being approximately 78 million people. So while it doesn’t necessarily stack up to the behemoth that Facebook is, it is growing and it is also powered by Facebook and their ads manager.

The ability to set up an ad campaign in Facebook and have it run on both platforms for one price is invaluable for a small business on both platforms. The statistics you can glean let you know where you should be focusing your efforts and how to tweak your efforts on each platform.

There are two things that I wish were different about Instagram. It is not a click through site – meaning that you cannot link your posts to any website. You can put the URL in the comments or description, but those seeing the posts need to copy and paste it in their browser instead of a direct link. The only place to have a live link is on your profile summary. Therefore if you have a blog you need to change that url often. It isn’t a deal breaker for most companies, but it does present a challenge that Pinterest does not have.

The other aspect of Instagram that makes marketing on the platform a bit trickier is the inability to schedule a post for later publishing. Instagram only allows you to post from your phone. While you may be able to see the posts on your desktop, you have to have your phone in order to post the image.

Twitter is a different beast from Facebook and Instagram. Every day it is a toss-up as to whether it will continue to fight and actually make a profit. As of this writing it is still struggling but everyone is paying attention to it. The current US President uses it so much that you would think he has saved it, but alas, that is not really the situation. I would argue that more people are paying attention to it because of President Trump, but the number of users has not drastically increased, nor has the profit for the company. Yet time will tell if this continues to be true.

Twitter* currently has 313 million monthly users with 79% of them being outside of the US. This is only slightly behind Instagram, yet this platform has a completely different demographic. Its 140 character posting limit creates unique challenges and opportunities for companies when working to build relationships. It is a fast moving platform where you need to focus on the trending tweet of the day and get in on the conversations.

(*Twitter stats from Twitter.com)

So what type of company is Twitter best suited for? Personal coaches, entrepreneurs, small businesses, B2C focused companies and those that are focused on the daily news. Twitter literally has the pulse of what is trending in the world.

Each day when you bring it up there are a list of 5 to 10 trending topics. Add a hashtag to your post and get in on a conversation. Those that reach out will tell you that they can get a solid funnel of clients from Twitter.

This is an excellent sister platform for Facebook. You can send people to your Facebook account in a post or a DM. It is one of the few platforms where people are genuinely trying to connect with strangers. You don’t see a lot of kids and puppy posts. This is somewhere where people go to share information and to attain it quickly. They will search for advice and help, while connecting with others who share the same interests.

The platform for business is LinkedIn. That being said, I don’t love the LinkedIn business pages. I think that they are a total waste of time for many reasons, but the main reason is because LinkedIn is built on the idea of individuals connecting. It was designed as an online business networking and recruiting tool where individuals could go for new opportunities or to share their own openings. As an individual profile though, LinkedIn can be invaluable.

The goal on LinkedIn is to be active and present. The best times to post are in the morning, and usually in the middle of the week. The second best times are around the lunch hour and about an hour before the end of the day. You want to post valuable content that your colleagues will want to read. Whether it is sharing a post from another site or writing one yourself on their publishing platform, the key is to make it relevant and useful.

LinkedIn can definitely be a place for inspirational images and the sharing of what is happening in the office, but remember it is more of a place to connect with other professionals. Always think of LinkedIn as a networking group. You want to know more about others than talk about you – so make sure you share insights of your industry and not just your business all the time. No one likes a constant braggart.

The last of the major platforms is YouTube.

This is where if you have information to share in video form – do it here.

Side Note – I am going to contradict myself here a bit. If you are on Facebook, do what you can to keep your video native to Facebook. Post other content, longer content on YouTube. On pretty much any other platform a link to YouTube works just fine. But Facebook doesn’t like you to play outside of its platform so it will automatically boost a native video and let a YouTube one die. Not fair, I know, but true in many cases. Not all, but many.

YouTube has over a billion users. So out of all the platforms it is the only one rivaling Facebook in users. Every day people watch hundreds of millions of hours on YouTube.

Let that sink in – hundreds of millions.

This clearly generates billions of views. Its main demographic are those from 18 – 49 and more than half of the people watch videos on their mobile.

(Stats from YouTube.com)

If you provide solid content then people will watch for hours. However, you need to catch someone within the first minute to hook them. I won’t watch a video much longer than 10 minutes, but my husband will be on there for hours for a video that catches his interest. This leads squarely back to who is your target demographic.

This platform also lets you monetize your videos. This is excellent if you are creating consistent, valuable content. This is not a quick income generator. It can take some time, yet again, if you are consistent and build a strong following, it can be a fantastic revenue stream.

The runner-up platforms are Pinterest, Snapchat and Houzz.

Pinterest is a platform based on images. Therefore if your company is on Instagram, then once you have nailed it there, you should expand to Pinterest. There are 150 million active users on Pinterest with 60% female and 40% male. One surprising fact is that Millennials now make up 67% of users and for many online shoppers (55%) Pinterest is their favorite social media platform.

(Facts from expandedramblings.com and Pinterst.com 2/2017)

There are a lot of bonuses to being on Pinterest. One of them being that Pinterest is a click through site.

You can make every pin forward to a website once someone clicks it. So if it is not pointing straight back to your website then you can make that happen. Obviously you wouldn’t change an article destination, or mess with a link of some content that you did not create. The ability to change the source URL or destination website after you click it can blur the lines of ethics for some.

Pinterest also doesn’t require much interaction but it does require pinning. You need to be consistent with pinning daily. This is where one of those pinning programs that will seek pins for you based on your boards and interests can be helpful if you aren’t pinning your own content daily, or don’t have enough of it to pin.

What is enough? Ten to twenty pins a day will keep your account active, but with Pinterest, more is better. It allows you to reach your demographic and stay top of mind with your followers by having Pinterest suggest your new pins when someone opens up their feed. And don’t worry about having every pin relate to your exact subject. Some of the best Pinterest boards for companies are simple, like the color of their brand. Love hot pink? Make it a board. Redoing your kitchen? Make it a board. People flock to those with like interests. It is the PERSON behind the pinning that people are following. That is actually true for any platform, but that’s another chapter.

Snapchat is a newer platform where up until now it may not make sense for a business to jump on the bandwagon. They have 158 million daily users and 301 million active monthly users. There are 2.5 billion snaps sent per day. Yes, billion with a B.

(Facts from expandedramblings.com)

They have recently introduced a search function which allows people to find trending topics and other hot stories, where that was not an option previously. If you didn’t know a persons name on Snapchat, then you couldn’t find them. It looks like they are working to refine their features because Facebook is gunning for them.

Facebook offered to buy Snap a few years ago and after they refused their offer they have been intent on copying every successful feature of Snapchat. But who is Snapchat for? I’m glad you asked.

Snapchat is a platform designed for younger audiences – teenagers and early twenties are the dominating force. Yes, there are some older demographics, but the number of younger users far outweighs the number of older ones.

Is that your target demographic? The other question when determining if Snapchat is ideal for your business is how often can you create organic, in the moment stories? Do you love video? Then it may be the perfect platform for you. This is not ideally a platform you have hired out by some other company to do. You need to be present and active on this platform, with your company’s spokesperson as the shining star.

We also have Houzz. If you have never heard of Houzz then you haven’t had to do a home remodel or build in the past few years. This platform was created by a couple who wanted gorgeous images to browse through when they were redoing their home from multiple contractors, designers, builders, etc. There are 40 million active users on the platform with 25 million unique visitors every month. There are over 4 million photos and over 3 million products for sale on Houzz as well.

(Facts from expandedramblings.com)

If you are in the business of dealing with home restoration, renovation or remodel then you should have a profile on Houzz. This is where you highlight your best projects but interaction is key to really gaining clients on Houzz. They have an entire section for prospective clients to ask design dilemma problems and every time you post an image, anyone can ask you for the color of the paint to the type of flooring you used. You need to be prompt in replying and answer with the idea that even if this person may not be your ideal customer, your reply to their comment could be seen by your ideal demographic and how you respond could be what makes them pick up the phone.

Houzz does have what they call the Pro plan. Every client that I have worked with has not found value in this plan. It costs a lot of money for very little return. You can get just as much exposure on the site by uploading images to your Ideabooks weekly and answering questions for users on a bi-weekly basis. I am sure that there are some businesses that have benefitted greatly from the plan, but I haven’t found any of them.

#SocialExperience

One client recently shared with me that they don’t work regularly on Houzz anymore because Houzz has decided to sell their own products online, basically cutting out the designer who may have that item in their warehouse. This is in direct competition to many businesses and they have felt betrayed. For the consumer it is a win, yet something to think about when you begin your Houzz profile. Do you sell products? I would highlight your expertise instead. People buy from people – if they like you and your business because you have been helpful and informative, they will buy from you and not Houzz.

While I was writing this book a brand new platform popped up which could be a game changer for many businesses who sell products on Amazon. It is called Amazon Spark. Amazon Spark is currently only available for Prime members and you need to spend a minimum amount on Amazon to qualify. Lucky for you, I do and so I was able to get a sneak peek on this brand new platform.

It is a merging of what many love about Instagram and Pinterest. It allows you to post images of what you are doing or loving at the moment with the added bonus of being able to buy what you see in the picture – right then and there with the click of a button. This is an online shopper’s paradise.

When you open your account, you choose from multiple different interests (women’s fashions, toys and games, books, etc) and are shown a feed from others who are posting about these interests. These interests are directly related to the sales categories on Amazon. I was trying to search for a broad Kids interest and it wasn’t there, but babies or toys and games was ready for me to choose.

This platform was built with two things in mind – the Influencers of the digital world and people who love instant gratification. I’m not lying, I wanted to purchase an adorable Coach purse last night after only being on the app for less than ten minutes. This could be excellent for those selling products on Amazon, possibly bad for my pocketbook. Yet this is exactly what we want from a social media platform, something set up with a specific purpose – you know Amazon is trying to sell you something so you expect it – and delivers actual clients and customers.

There are paid posts denoted by the #sponsor note that tells you when someone is advertising yet it is just another picture – there are no words on the images as of now and you barely know it’s a sponsored post. All of the posts, whether sponsored or not, if they have an item or one similar that they sell on Amazon are highlighted by a small shopping bag and dots on the picture that pop up once you click on it.

This has the capacity to be HUGE but it could also die quickly like a number of other platforms come and gone. But since Amazon powers this one, I’m going to bet on a successful run and large growth potential.

Are there additional platforms out there? Of course. There is Tumbler and Medium for bloggers, Google Plus, and multiple other small ones that are working to be the next Facebook.

Medium is excellent for additional exposure for your blog, but it’s not necessarily as well known so it makes a great extra avenue for those playing in the blogosphere or testing out new content. Tumbler has been around since 2007 and has a massive blog – over 280 million to be exact. So if you are blogging – this is another space to play in.

Google Plus is like the red headed stepchild of the social media world. You have some people that swear by the platform and absolutely love it and then you have the other side of the spectrum where it is useless and only one more way for Google to gain information about you for search results. I tend to lean on the latter end of the spectrum.

The only reason I recommend to my clients that they have a Google plus page is so that Google will help them to be found quicker. Google scans Google sites, so ensuring your business is seen and has a space here is important for search rankings. But don’t worry about posting, unless you love it, then by all means, go for it.

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Using Hashtags Effectively on Social Media

There is a mystery behind the hashtag. Twitter decided to use the # symbol to find a way to organize different ideas, to allow them to become searchable and it has now turned into something else entirely. My guess is that my son will never actually know the words “pound symbol” and what they refer to.

What is a Hashtag?

In it’s simplest terms, a hashtag is a searchable phrase or word. In most, if not all platforms at this point, it is also a link to bring up all of the posts associated with that exact hashtag or something similar. If you have never clicked on one then I suggest you do it. Depending on the hashtag you can get quite a bit of information from one small click.

When and how to use hashtags effectively are the big challenge here. Some people LOVE their hashtags – and I mean to an extreme. You do not and I repeat, do not have to use 30 hashtags in one post. You can, but similar to finding the right target market with a Facebook ad, it isn’t always the best use of your time and energy.

So how many do you use?

Depending on the platform – one to three. On Facebook less is more. I try to max out at two hashtags per post on Facebook. On Twitter I will use three but work to weave it into my message.

That is one big difference from Twitter and every other platform. You can type or speak in hashtags on Twitter. Every other platform it’s better to keep them at the end of your comments or post.

Instagram is the big one where everyone will go hashtag crazy. The problem is, that that is similar to the spaghetti theory (throw it out there and see what sticks) – if I put enough hashtags on there then enough people will see it. True – but will the RIGHT people see it? That is the challenge with hashtags. Now – to get back to Instagram quickly – follow the same rule, one to three highly targeted hashtags. If you absolutely need to put more in – then use your first comment of the post to do it.

How do I know which ones?

This goes back to your niche market. Do you know exactly who your target market is? If you have determined your exact demographic then seek them out on the platform you are working to attract them on. Look at the hashtags they are using themselves and see if it would be relevant for your brand. Also look at the influencers in your market – what hashtags are they using? What type of results are they getting?

The more specific you are, the higher the chances are that you are reaching the exact market you are searching for. Once you determine two to three solid hashtags then you can begin to expand and look for other angels but the key to determining the hashtags that work? You need to track it.

What hashtag will attract your market?

How you track it doesn’t really matter, meaning use a spreadsheet on your phone, app, etc – just the act of tracking it is what is important. Tracking allows you to determine what works the best. Which individual hashtag has gotten the most engagements and what combination of hashtags has delivered the best results should be the two main focuses of your tracking.

Other hashtags that are important are those that will start a conversation and engage your followers. Seeking out a trending hashtag is important to stay on top of the days events and stay relevant to your audience. Chocolate Chip Cookie Day? Yes, it has a hashtag. So do current events, holidays and just trending topics. The fastest way to find out a trending topic for me is to check out Twitter. But you can also google trending hashtags or go to hashtag.org and see what they have as a popular hashtag as well.

The art of a branded hashtag

There are a few ways to go with hashtags. As described above, you find the hashtags your target demographic is using and then use those same ones. You can create a hashtag especially for your brand and encourage your audience to use it to increase engagement and hope it goes viral. The third option that I don’t recommend most brands use – is the made up hashtag. While it is ideal for comedians and some personal brands who want to express their personality, it is not ideal for most businesses. You know the ones I’m talking about – #ijustwanttomakeupahashtag,  #thursdaycomputerproblems or #isitfridayyet. They all seem innocent enough – but the purpose of a hashtag is so that someone can find your brand and relate. If you are going to focus on one to three of them – don’t waste your effort on a made up one unless you are trying to use it as a brand hashtag.

What have you found works for your business with hashtags? I would love to hear your point of view!

The Shoppers New Social Media Platform

If you love to shop, then Amazon has created a platform designed especially for you.

Last week, Amazon announced their new social media platform – Amazon Spark. There have already been multiple blogs on how it works and how to get into it (its on the mobile app only for iOS users under features and products) – one really solid article is here from TechCrunch.

So this article isn’t about the HOW of using Amazon Spark – my questions were from a business perspective – will this help my clients that are selling items on Amazon improve their business? Or hurt it?

Many have compared Spark to Pinterest or Instagram. It is, what I believe, to be a IMG_1382beautiful combination of them both. It is image focused, which is paramount for any type of product purchase, and allows you to provide shoppable links to Amazon for your items.

You caught that right?

It will link to products ONLY ON AMAZON. It’s an Amazon product so its not a shocker, but this is paramount for anyone not on Amazon, because it probably won’t help you to be on the platform if you aren’t selling on Amazon.

But if you are! Wow…this has potential. My eyes literally started to just see dollar signs add up as I was scrolling the feed. There are beautiful pictures from both Amazon Prime users (only Amazon Prime users who spend a minimum amount can post at this time) and sponsored posts.

Amazon makes it so easy to click to purchase. You see an image, click the shopping bag and little dots appear with the items that are listed on Amazon. A new Coach purse was easily dropped into my shopping bag…a little too easily. Once you add an item to your cart you do need to use the back button to get back to Spark, which for someone who is used to easily staying within a feed can be a bit annoying, but if you are only one step away from the feed it is an easy switch back.

Amazon doesn’t care if you are lost in the world of more Amazon products, but as a business, you want them to stay in the feed. You want them to scroll and find your images and see what is new and exciting in the lives of people who share your love of Amazon and the trends and interests you have chosen.

A few things make this app different from others out there.

There are no filters. You can’t adjust your images or edit them in any way at this time. To me, this isn’t a big deal. If you are a business looking to sell on Amazon, then you need to have a photographer take some images regardless. Now you will need some lifestyle images with your products in use as well.

IMG_1296The platform is not hashtag driven, but the explore function will easily pick up on key words in descriptions. You can’t tag a post if it is not an Amazon category, but including a keyword somewhere will still allow it to pop up if someone is searching for a post related to your field of interest. For example, I put in Montessori and up popped a book that someone had posted. It wasn’t sponsored and it didn’t have a tag, but it found it much like any other search on Amazon would.

Lastly, your audience is defined by their own interests and not by you. It is more like Twitter in the sense that people are just appearing. You don’t go out and seek followers and people can’t follow you. Everything you post is public, and anyone can comment or smile (like) one of your posts or comments. To me, this is a good thing for a retailer because your audience is all of Amazon prime’s customers that are using the platform, who have said they are interested in what you are selling. This is a group of like minded individuals to build relationships with and get excellent feedback!

Amazon has created a targeted market for you to sell to full of people who love to buy. If you are a seller or vendor on Amazon than this is a no brainer to me. You can not only interact with fans – people who are posting about your products and leaving reviews, but you can post your own images to place your product in an excellent light.

There are still a few unknowns. How do you become a #sponsored poster on Spark and how will the influencers in their newest program use the platform? RightVW FF 721 now, both of those questions are unanswered but I’m sure they will be soon.

Bottom line – if you are selling items on Amazon then you need to get in on Spark. Do I see it becoming a mainstream social media platform? No. But it’s not supposed to be. It’s for people who like to buy. And as marketers and business owners, we REALLY like those people. 😉

The Not So Secret Advantages of Online Groups

Groups are hidden gems on social media. Almost every platform has a way to gather a group of individuals and allow them to speak about a single common interest. Facebook has their groups – secret, closed or public, Twitter has the ability to have lists and twitter parties surrounding a similar hashtag, LinkedIn has its groups and Pinterest has shared boards.

Groups give us a safe place to speak to others that share our similarities. We join these groups to share a common interest and it is often those interests that allow us to make stronger business and personal connections. Here is the not so secret about groups – they are the best place to begin to build relationships.

Social media is not a quick fix for any business. I can repeat this until I am blue in the face – this is a LONG GAME. 30 days will get you bupkis on social. It takes time to build solid relationships with those interested in your business and groups are the best place to begin to build. Start conversations by commenting on their thread, answering a question and being social.

This is also where you can get into trouble – don’t do the sales thing. Meaning – don’t be “sales”.

I know, we are born salesmen. It’s truly in our DNA. Darren Hardy said it best – watch any toddler work a room for something they want and then tell me that we weren’t born to sell. Have you ever watched how they do it? Often its pure persistence, asking over and over for what they want. Yet when you are working to build relationships online (and really in life) it should be more about the other person than you. Don’t tell them that they need to contact you right away. Ask questions, truly join the conversation. It is usually after the third or even fifth interaction with someone that they might find out what I do for a living.

Give more than you expect in return. Answer questions without thinking about what will come

back to you and position yourself as someone who is willing to help versus just talk about themselves. This is so important in groups because you can easily become blacklisted. Talk too much about your business and you will be blocked. Come off as sleazy with no interest in the group members and you will be kicked out. And don’t just be one huge ad, constantly posting about what you do. Post things that will benefit others, share insight and motivation. Be MORE than your business, be the FACE of your business with a personality that others will want to share with.

Facebook has recently updated their groups and how they interact with their business pages. Something that business marketers have been dying to have – a business page can now link to a group and interact AS YOUR PAGE.

THIS IS HUGE.

A snapshot of a few of my personal and page groups.

Why? Because previously you had to go in as your personal Facebook profile and speak to prospective clients. Now you can create groups that are formed from your own page and interact and attract potential clients. For example: I have a fitness page (FITSISTERS) that runs monthly fitness motivation groups. Previously we had to interact as our individual profiles, but now we can act as our page, constantly promoting our page, our daily posts and recruiting prospective clients. We have multiple groups to serve specific targeted groups. We have our  simple fitness motivation groups where we post to attract new perspective clients and then specific groups where we have our paying clients who get one on one attention.

Another client of mine is a company that hosts networking groups. Now they can connect and post daily to keep the conversations focused and the group useful to its users.

As a Facebook page you can now create any group that will benefit your business. Are you a business coach? Form a group for budding entrepreneurs. Kids crafts or a local tradesman? Mom groups are gold, I know, I’m in at least two of them. MLM? Create a group based on your shared interests from your power 5.

Facebook isn’t the only platform where groups are an important part of attracting the right market. On LinkedIn, groups are often your bread and butter. When you join a group it expands your network and gives you access to the hundreds or thousands of members in the group. As a business it can also be a gateway to something much more.

Social Media Examiner is a website that does a blog, podcast, social media marketer networking events and now they have what they are calling the Social Media Marketing Society. I am a huge fan of Michael Steltzner and everything they do at SME. How did I find out about them? I was in their LinkedIn group for social media marketers.

Excellent resource and example of possibilities.

The group often had conversations started by the admins and discussions were rampant. Then they had a fantastic idea – they monetized it. They took their group to new levels by taking it to a paid group. Then they went one step more – they have launched the Social Media Marketing Society where they will have discussions and trainings. They slowly built a group of dedicated individuals by providing valuable content and priceless trainings, and have now monetized it. Brilliant.

Twitter has lists and the ability to have hashtag parties. Lists are something where you basically group together a bunch of people that you follow who have common interests. Other people can look at lists that are set to public and you often want to label them as something complimentary to those in the lists. For example someone put me on a list called Beautiful Moms. I can tell you that I was extremely humbled and flattered when that happened. Its just a simple list with moms on Twitter, but calling it Beautiful Moms made me want to check out the owner of this list and ensure that I looked at the group they had added me too. What types of lists can you create that your core audience would find valuable?

Remember, every single move you make on social media is to attract your core demographic. You may love the show NCIS, but is that something your key demographic loves? Does it really have anything to do with your business? This is the difference between followers and fans and clients and customers. When you ensure that your actions are truly focused on your target audience you are attracting future business, not just another stat.

I mentioned hashtag parties. This is where you make an announcement that you will be live on Twitter for a certain amount of time for a specific purpose. Those that want to speak to you need to use a specific hashtag to get your attention. Sometimes if a Twitter party is particularly successful you can turn that hashtag and those that interacted with you into a list as well.

As for Pinterest – having a shared board allows you to attract others that you think may be interested in your product or service. The board doesn’t need to necessarily be directly related to your brand, but something that will bring the ideal client.

I have a client who owns a custom stair building business. We have designed boards based on seasonal weddings where they use stairs in the wedding in some way. This would be an excellent board to share with photographers, florists and anyone else who may be interested in this demographic. Sharing this type of board with other professionals is an immediate way to gain followers from other businesses that may have similar interests. It is also an excellent way to attract businesses to work with you on joint projects or as a source for referrals.

Have you used groups to grow your business? What have been your greatest successes? I would love to hear from you so comment below!

The Power of a Facebook Like

There are some massive misconceptions about a Like on Facebook. Most people’s first reaction to someone liking their Facebook business page is pride, happiness, excitement even. “Someone liked my page! Yes, I am clearly doing something right.”

Well…yes and no.

The truth is that you can have hundreds, thousands and perhaps millions of fans (those people who have liked your page) but only a very small percentage will see any of your posts in their newsfeed. When I say small, I mean very small – as in two to four percent of your fans.VWMMFeb5-11

I can hear you screaming right now – What? Why do I even post then? We will get to that, but first here are the reasons why it is that small, and how we combat it.

One is the algorithm that Facebook uses to determine a post’s popularity. Within the first few minutes that you post something to your page, Facebook begins to track it. If someone “engages” with your post, meaning they Like, Comment or Share it, then Facebook will continue to deliver it into your fans newsfeed. People vote and it continues to be seen. This is where you get your reach number that is on every single post.

Yet there is something that your fans don’t know. If they like your page and don’t like any of the posts on your page…they will more than likely never see your posts.

Let that sink in for just a minute.

Someone likes your page. They assume they will see your posts. Then they wonder why they never do, or worse, assume that you don’t post anything worth seeing.

This is why only two to four percent of your fans see your posts. It is also why Facebook pushes you to boost your posts. In order to reach everyone who likes your page, and possibly their friends, you need to pay to play.

So how do you combat this? Two ways. Inform your fans – make an excellent graphic and pin it to the top of your page. Like my page? Make sure you like your favorite post for more of that content in your newsfeed!

And the other option – pay for it. Boosting posts and running ads is one of the best tools from Facebook. They may have an algorithm that you need to figure out a work around for, but when you consider their highly targeted ad options, done correctly, it is worth the money every time.

VWSocialMedia2Feb26-Mar4This is the exact reason why I tell all my clients that it’s not always about how many likes you have on your page. It’s how many engagements your posts receive, how many people ask you questions, or click your call to action button. Every single business has a different need based on their business priorities. This is often where I help my clients out. Based on your business goals we determine a digital strategy to help you get the biggest bang for your investment, in money and time.

For example, I have a client that is a preschool. Their number one goal was to have their student’s parents be more engaged on their page. This singular focus meant that we weren’t going after likes on the page, but we were working to increase comments, likes and shares of individual posts.

Our singular strategy led to some amazing results after only one year of consistency.

Within one week of opening their enrollment to the public for the next year they had filled all of their morning spots. This was faster than in any other year in their 16-year history. After only a few months they are now completely booked for the upcoming school year and they have a significant wait list for their summer camps! Their spring fundraiser has raised more money than the previous year and we have had more action on their Facebook page than ever before.

We have never run an ad campaign, yet we have prompted parents to get involved. We have been consistent and post according to our target demographic.  We interacted with other pages and shared valuable information about our school and events for the family. This is the power of being social.

What is your biggest complaint with your Facebook business page? Comment below or shoot me a message on my Facebook page. 😉

 

The New State of Twitter

Has our newest President changed the way that businesses look at Twitter? Have users suddenly flocked to the platform clamoring for a chance to respond to him or just to watch the situation unfold? These were questions I wanted to know the answers to, because one thing is clear, if you didn’t know anything about Twitter – you certainly know what a tweet is now.

When I talk to small businesses I routinely mention Twitter as an excellent platform to Twitter_bird_logo_2012.svgreach millions without filters as they are on Facebook. The reach is completely unhindered (for the most part) if someone is online at that time, and they are following you, they will see your tweet. Even if it doesn’t get a like or retweet, people will see it on their home feed because you wrote it. This is VASTLY different from Facebook where an algorithm and popularity contest rule the newsfeed. Don’t get me wrong – Facebook is still the best place to be for targeted reach and it’s ALWAYS my number one recommended platform – but depending on your demographic, Twitter is a quick second.

When I used to mention Twitter, my clients would say something along the lines of, I’ve heard of that, don’t really know anything about it. Now when I mention it – EVERYONE knows what I am talking about. They understand that it’s a platform for quick talking points and right now, where a LOT of news is coming from. And that, my dear friends, is the real trick in social. You need to be where YOUR demographic is and be able to respond to them, while being in the now.

Should every company hop on Twitter because the President is on there? Well, former Barack Obama's Twitter SnapshotPresident Barack Obama has over 85 million followers and everyone didn’t flock to the platform when he was in office – actually there are about 139 world leaders currently active on Twitter according to one stat site (DMR) – and much to Twitter’s disappointment, the platform doesn’t seem to be gaining double digit followers like it was only a few years ago. Twitter has been trying to redefine itself and hasn’t been able to do it well. Will the current POTUS redefine it for them? Maybe.

It is a quick information platform. Tweet a question with the right hashtag and get an answer in minutes. Want to know what is going on with a game? Search for the team and more than likely you can get a play by play from someone watching it. Keen on political news? Oh – its like catnip to political junkies these days. Every news reporter and political pundit is watching the @realDonaldTrump and @POTUS handles right now and working to respond or get the latest scoop. But what does all this have to do with your small business? Nothing…or everything.

Who is your target audience? And what are you offering? If you offer a service or some type

Houzz UK Post

Example of tweeted image

of information based business than you could benefit from Twitter. It’s the perfect place
for coaches, business coaches, plumbers, HVAC folks and tradesmen. You can seek out those looking for your services and provide information to those world wide. Can you on Facebook and other platforms? Yes. But you can do it in 140 characters on Twitter, and let’s face it, today’s audience has a very short attention span.

Just like every other platform, there are tricks to using it effectively. There are hashtags and trends, that change daily, hourly, even by the minute depending on the mood of the country. Every trend will not affect your brand – but some will – and if you tweet the right thing at the right time with the right hashtag…a post going viral is a beautiful thing to see for anyone marketing their business.

 

Social Engagement is Queen

Mari Smith has said it. Gary Vaynerchuk at well. If you know social media than you know that while “content is King, engagement is Queen – and she rules the house!” We can get back to how to create some killer content, but I want to focus on how to actively engage with your audience.

vwquote1feb29-mar4The key word there is ACTIVELY. When you first set up your social media platform you start to post. You create solid content, post some pretty pictures and sit back and wait. And WAIT. That’s all you have to do right? Post things and people will flock to your business, sales will skyrocket and then the world of unicorns and rainbows starts singing as the money pours in. It’s a pretty story. How do you actually make it happen? You need to engage and build relationships with those that you are trying to reach. Here are my top 3 tips to do just that.

  1. Comment, Like and Share on other people’s pages/feeds/etc 
    If you want to be noticed by other businesses and customers than you need to go out and seek them. Think about the people that are in your target audience (see my Power of 5 post) and find other pages and accounts that they would like. Comment on their posts, like them and if its solid quality content – share it to your page/feed. That helps people to see that you are in it for them – to help out your customers and not just sell yourself and your business.
  2. Ask Questions on Your Page – Take a Survey
    Are you actively seeking to engage your customers? They have the opportunity to givevwfact2jan29-feb4 you immediate feedback – let them! Sometimes businesses will not allow comments to post on their page…then what’s the point of social media? You need to be SOCIAL in order to build relationships. Ask questions, answer questions and respond in a very timely manner. 24 hours is a long time now a days – think minutes when it comes to quickly responding to a customer inquiry.
  3. Run a Contest and better yet, do it for a charity
    Looking to get a ton of action on your page rather quickly? Get some prizes together and get a contest rolling. Find a way to promote not only your page but other pages as well – run a joint contest, find a non-profit to partner with and get twice the exposure. Or maybe support a virtual run, do something that people who are in your target market, will want to be a part of. People want to be recognized – give them the opportunity to be a star!

vwmotivational2jan29-feb4There are other ways to engage – an ad is always a solid way to get traffic quickly to your page. Yet once they are there, you need to continue with some sort of engagement to keep them interested. Post amazing content and talk to your customers, online and off and you will build a community of people who want to refer you and build your business. Just yesterday I heard a self described Millennial saying that she would rather take the word of a complete stranger than the professional themselves. Meaning, if you have an excellent presence online, with solid reviews, you are more likely to get business than someone who is in their own bubble of influence. You are the expert in your field, share your expertise, engage with those who want it, and build a community of like minded people that will help you grow your business. Raving fans and brand ambassadors are the result of excellent engagement and a company that gives their time and attention to those that most deserve it.