The 8 Best Small Business Social Media Marketing Tips Ever
19/11/14 Social Media

The 8 Best Small Business Social Media Marketing Tips Ever

Do your social media profiles resemble the Texas town of Adobes?  What, you’ve never heard of it?

That’s because it fell from a booming farming community in the 1870s to a town of lonely and abandoned ruins and buildings sitting in a rocky prairie (It’s about 6 miles southeast of the town of Chinati in Presidio County if you ever want to visit!).

If your social media profiles look like that, know the situation isn’t hopeless.  In fact, small businesses tend to make the same mistakes repeatedly, and they’re relatively easy to fix.

What should you do?

Analyze your social media profiles and see if you can’t create a small business social media strategy that works for you and your followers:

Post Regularly

With any social media profile, consistency is key.  With so many accounts, you see bunches of posts for a while…and then nothing.  Other times you see 2 posts this week, 1 the next, and then nothing.

Remember, social media is a conversation – just like you talking with your friend standing next to you.  To keep the conversation going, you have to say interesting things and ask questions.

What do you really need to be consistent?  It depends on the site, but if you do around 3-4 updates per network per week, that’s all you need.

You can get away with more on Twitter, if you really like to post a lot.

Posting Only about Your Company

Of all the mistakes small businesses make, this is by far the biggest one.  People do want to get to know your company.

But before they do, they want something of value from you first.  From the 1970s – 1990s, businesses used a top-down approach of advertising:  we’ll shout it at you until you buy it.  So it seems many small business owners believe this approach still works today.

It doesn’t.  Consumers want a personal experience on your social media sites.

Keep in mind the 80/20 rule:  80% of your posts should offer value (news or information from third-party sources in your industry), while 20% should offer promotions and updates regarding your company.

Use Different Forms of Media

Your posts should include videos, images, infographics, links, reports, white papers, case studies, and so on.  Getting good information to your market is important, but equally important to your followers is how they consume the content.

By switching things up regularly, you keep things interesting on your social media profiles.

Use Calls-to-Action

Isn’t it obvious that people should buy your company’s products and services?  It may be to you, but do know this:  they’re much more likely to take your desired action if you tell them to.

Keep in mind that 80/20 rule once again:  20% of your posts at max should encourage your visitors to make a purchase or act on a special offer.

Use Diverse Post Types

We already talked about using diverse forms of content in your posts, but you should also switch up how you present your posts.

For example, ask a question, post a survey, write a joke-of-the-day, post an astonishing fact…you get the idea.  Then, study which types of posts work best at your social media accounts.

Do more of what works and less of what doesn’t.  Ask your followers for ideas – they’ll be happy to provide feedback.

Interact with Your Audience, and Address Complaints

View social media like you’re having a casual conversation with an interested customer who just walked into your store.

What if they look annoyed and you say nothing?  They probably won’t come back, so instead you ask them how you can help.

The same rule applies to social media.  If someone complains or says something negative about your business on your profile (it’s inevitable and happens to everyone), address it.  Ask your customer how you can resolve the issue, or get their contact information, resolve the situation privately, and then post the resolution on the site.

Public complaints are your opportunity to show your customers you care, and you’ll win more followers and increasingly engaged ones when you successfully resolve their concerns.

Want More Followers?  Promote Your Profiles

The best way to get more people to follow you?  Give them something for following.  Run a special contest where a randomly selected winner gets a free dinner.

You have to be careful on Facebook though because it has rigid rules regarding contests.

Make sure you promote your contest both online and offline.  Most businesses that do promote their Facebook profiles have a sign that says “Follow us on Facebook” on their front door.

That’s a good start – now promote the giveaway.

Don’t Spread Yourself Too Thin…

The big dogs (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and YouTube) can easily consume most of your week if you’re not careful.

So what exactly should you do?  You should be on Facebook for sure, and that should be your primary concern (that’s where you can get real business from the fastest).  Twitter is also a must (especially if you’re B2B), and some sources claim teenagers and other demographics are leaving Facebook for Twitter.  Pinterest is hit-and-miss – if your market is female or if your business lends itself well to visual advertising, (dentists, construction contractors, restaurants etc…) use it.  Google+ has several hundred million users, virtually no engagement, but great SEO benefits, so use that too (don’t expect to get business – just SEO benefits from the shares).  YouTube works well – just shoot videos with your smartphone and post – a very simple (but credibility-building tactic).  LinkedIn should be pretty low on your list – it typically works best for bigger businesses.

Use Hootsuite, an app that allows you to manage all your social media profiles from one place.  You can also schedule your posts for all profiles, and the app is free.

Make it your goal to spend around 2 hours per week (max) managing your social media accounts if you use all 6 of these.

Small Business Social Media Marketing Involves Hard Work

I’m not going to lie – it’s difficult to get a serious following and real business from social media.  So many people and businesses have a presence on it, that it’s difficult to stand out.

But if you follow these simple tips and take the time to turn your offline customers into followers, you can reap some real business benefits.

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How to Craft a Social Media Plan of Your Own
19/11/14 Social Media

How to Craft a Social Media Plan of Your Own

As a small business owner, you’ve already got more than enough to contend with on your plate.  Now after you talk with your SEO professional, they’re telling you that you need to get social shares to rank well!

How the heck are you supposed to do that in addition to all your other responsibilities?

Well, if you don’t have the time to develop your own social media plan, then here’s a quick, cookie-cutter one you can use that gets more follows and shares.  It works on a limited time budget, and you can establish a reasonably strong presence on 4-5 social networks.

Figure Out Which Social Networks You’re Going to Use

I already wrote a post for you that discusses who is present on which social network.  Once you analyze who your target market is and which social networks you actually need to be present on, it’s time to develop a posting strategy.

Let’s evaluate even the most time-intensive scenario.  Say, for example, you decide it’s important to be on the 5 biggest social networks:

Facebook

Twitter

LinkedIn

Google+

Pinterest

So here’s what you do:

Follow the 80/20 rule of posting:  A big mistake many small businesses make is to post stuff that’s all about their business.  Marketing to people on the web doesn’t work by you broadcasting your message exclusively.  That type of social media plan will get you little engagement and few new followers.

Instead, 80% of your posts should share useful information not from your company (use sources like info from industry leaders, informational sources, or entertaining sources), while 20% of your shares should be about your company and its special offers.

But won’t that turn someone else into the expert?

That’s not how selling on the web works.  Instead, because you provide access to the best information available, people see you as having their best interests at heart.  If you share mostly your own stuff, they think you only have your own concerns in mind, which turns them off and causes them to leave.

When they’re ready to buy, they’ll buy from you (if you follow the 80/20 rule) because they believe you are truly concerned with them.

Be consistent:  There’s no precise number of posts to share on each social media site.  However, general rules do apply to each one.  Caroline Melberg shares some general guidelines on how to share at each network:

Facebook – A few times per week is good at Facebook.  4-6 posts should do, and you can even do 1-2 times per day if you’re ambitious.

Twitter – Users are comfortable with several posts per day.  You don’t have to post that much, however, if you don’t want to.

Google+ – Treat it about the same as you do Facebook – 1 post per day or so works.

LinkedIn – LinkedIn works better for group discussions and one-on-one interactions.  If you post a couple status updates per week or so, that’s all you need.

Pinterest – Even though some dataheads have researched almost everything, I don’t see any conclusive research on Pinterest pinning frequency.  Just keep it safe and easy, and pin as often as you post on Facebook.

Use tools to automate tasks:  If you try to manage these social networks manually without any tools, I’ll 100% guarantee you that you will quickly run out of time and quit posting to your favorite social media sites.

You can post to all networks with free apps like Hootsuite and Buffer.  They let you schedule posts far into the future too.  They’re starting to restrict features on the free versions, so I’m not sure how long the free versions will remain useful.  But for now, they do the job.  And if you do want to get much more serious and pay, Hootsuite costs $10 per month and buffer $50.

If you really like social media a ton, use Klout to track how influential you are on various social networks.  And if you like data on how each of your social media profiles performs, Social Report isn’t a half bad tool (you get 30 days free and it’s $9 per month thereafter).

Mix up the post type:  In general, plain-text posts get the least clicks, comments, and shares.  It’s okay to do them, but most of the time it works better to post a little media with each share as well.  Pictures, videos, quizzes, question & answers, funny stuff – do everything you can to interest without going over the top.

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A Foolproof Guide to the Major Social Media Websites
19/11/14 Social Media

A Foolproof Guide to the Major Social Media Websites

Did you ever wonder who uses the various social media sites and why?

The answer to that question could save you a ton of time and focus your social media marketing efforts!

There’s at least 7 of them with enough subscribers to develop a presence on (Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube, and Vimeo), so which one’s most worth your time?

That all depends on who you’re marketing to.  It’s actually pretty difficult to find the precise demographics and how people use each network, so here’s that puzzle of information assembled into one nice place:

Google+

Moz has discussed there’s a high correlation between websites that get a high number of +1s and high search engine rankings.  In fact, out of all the factors, +1s are the number two strongest ranking factor, right behind page authority.  Google, however, has chosen to deny the findings in this study.

But when you really think about it, why wouldn’t Google, a powerful corporation trying to compete with Facebook, make +1s an important search ranking factor?

All that aside, while Google+ is pretty powerful for your SEO, it may not be the best place to build relationships directly.  Nielsen ratings tracks how long users spend on various websites, and in March 2013, users spent an average of just 6 minutes 47 seconds on Google+ – for the entire month.  In fact, only 25% of its users treat Google+ as a social network, while an astonishing 75% don’t interact with a single other Google+ user.

Google+ is made up primarily of men – 70% of its users are male.  It may not get the most engagement currently, but because Google wants to take market share away from Facebook by integrating Google+ into every last aspect of the web, it’s worth getting some sort of presence on.

Facebook

Facebook dominates in terms of almost every possible social media statistic.  Regardless of how much income your target market has, they’re present on Facebook.  Business Insider released a report (discussed at Nonprofit Quarterly), that shows the following:

68% of those with less than $30,000 per year in income have a Facebook account.

That same statistic is 62% for those with incomes of $30,000 – $49,999, 69% for those with incomes of $50,000 – $74,999, and 73% for those with incomes of $75,000+.

Out of all the networks studied by Business Insider, Facebook keeps the largest market share of older and wealthier users.  It’s no secret that with more than 1.1 billion users (which is also growing internationally), Facebook should continue to remain the largest, most active social media site for some time.

The Nielsen report we discussed earlier for Google+ also indicates the average Facebook user spends around 7 hours per month on the site.  Out of all the major social media websites, none has an engagement level even close to Facebook’s.  The next highest is 1 hour and 29 minutes at Tumblr and Pinterest.

If you don’t already have a presence on Facebook or you’re not actively engaged in a Facebook campaign, it’s definitely the place to be regardless of the market you’re targeting.

Interestingly, with the notable exception of Google+, almost every social media website has a majority of female users.  In Facebook’s case, Social Media Today says 58% of Facebook users are female.

Twitter

Twitter is the most popular place for Millenials to hang out – 27% of the 18-29 year-old population is active on Twitter.  This compares to 16% for users age 30-49.

The income demographics at Twitter are also very balanced.  16% of those with incomes less than $30,000 and 17% of those with incomes greater than $75,000 use Twitter.

The average user spends 21 minutes per month on Twitter, with women doing 62% of the sharing.

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