While it might be easy for you to build a following on social media, it’s challenging turning your fans into a loyal customer base. You want the transition to be seamless to keep everything running accordingly. Learn what your followers need from you to help you flourish! Here are some ways to turn your followers into clients.
Do Some Research On the Ideal Client
Even if you get targeted Instagram followers, you still need to turn them into loyal buyers. One of the first things to do is find the ideal client. You have to know your audience to understand their wants and needs.
Know their personalities, the things they enjoy, and everything in between. It can help you realize if you’re in the right direction for writing content and creating products for them. Also, it gives you a sense of the market in your niche.
Use this information as a way to monitor your audience’s activity. Do they stay on your social media page longer after implementing certain activities? It takes time to build consistency.
Create a Balance of Content
You don’t want to go straight to your clients for money. Think about creating more balance between your sales pitch and an environment that can lead to intriguing discussions. Remember, it’s called social media for a reason.
Make a natural transition between you and your following to help you rake in sales. You can start the beginning of your week by posting the regular content you give out to your followers. It keeps that familiarity there, and you don’t step away from your foundation.
Mid-week you want to start posting about your products and services in a more digestible manner. Keep in mind that you need to do so in a method that keeps their interest level high. You don’t want to start sounding like a robot.
Whether it’s a funny meme, video, or an interesting description, you want to mix things up to keep your audience from falling asleep. The last thing to do is become another social media account that sounds like a bot trying to spam its audience with a sales pitch.
Take a look at the strategies your competitors implement and how you can use them to be more creative. Change things up a bit to make it your own.
One of the hardest things about captivating your audience is productivity. It’s easy to fall off and have a week where you get behind on your posts.
One of the steps you can do is to post at specific times. Do you notice different times during the day when the activity increases? Take notes to help you find how you engage with your audience more.
Also, it’s a better idea to use an automated tool to help manage everything. You might have a busy week and can’t post everything manually. Choosing a program to get your posts out will save you time to focus on other things in your business, from product making to talking to your followers.
Additionally, you can start seeing the content that seems most relevant to them. Analyze your demographics to help you diversify your content from audio, video, and text. When you can increase productivity, it makes things much easier to stay on top of things.
The more productive you can make your time on social media, the better you can amplify your reach and get a more stable following. Have a balance between the free and valuable content and stuff you plan to sell.
Creating stability can help you sustain a lasting brand over your competitors.
Make Your Audience Feel Special
You must make your audience feel special throughout everything. Remember, your loyal followers are the ride-or-die people that support you from the ground up. It takes work to keep them satisfied with what you provide them.
One of the things you can do to make your audience feel like you care is doing a contest. You might want to build your following faster for a product rollout. Try to get as many eyes on your new item as possible.
You can have a prize package for your top three referrals. Providing incentives to your most loyal and hard-working people will make them feel that you appreciate their input. Also, they’ll help promote you because you gave them something they enjoyed.
Being more conscious of the icing on the cake can help you attract a targeted audience and keep them there.
Find out a method to help you post consistently. When you don’t post for a couple of weeks, it makes your audience wander elsewhere to get what they need.
Find out a routine that can help you stay on point and keep you rejuvenated. Maybe you can post Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. It’ll help you give your audience what they want, and you can rest in-between days to prevent burnout.
Maybe you can post a topic on Tuesday and do a live session event on Friday to discuss things and get the people involved.
Have More Personal Contact
Personal connection is such a neglected aspect of building clientele. Remember, you want to be in touch with its needs to help you create better product conversions. Maybe you can look at a few of your loyal followers who happen to comment and create a better dialogue on your posts.
If there’s a common thing you enjoy, you can greet them and briefly speak on it. It’ll bring the human factor to your brand and create tremendous value for those that think you just run on nuts and bolts.
Additionally, you can use that information from the feedback to post questions or polls on your site. You get better interaction to help you strategize your next move.
Promote Your Followers
If your followers send you a direct message talking about a product or service they offer, listen to what they say. It might be something of value to your customer base. Ask them to create a pitch and a business plan that sounds great.
It helps promote them to your audience, and you might be able to parlay that into a joint venture.
Turning your social media following into a client base can take time but may yield favorable results for the long haul.
Are you ready to take action to attract clients to your social media communities? How have you used any of Margie’s tips to land new business? Do you have any advice to add? Leave your feedback or questions in the comments below, or connect with Margie to continue the conversation.
While most kids were playing with blocks or dolls, I was publishing magazines or newspapers with feature articles, ads, sports box scores and all.
In college, I majored in Journalism and Mass Communication, but I took every writing class I could—business writing, media writing, creative writing, copywriting. I wanted to be well versed in nearly any writing discipline, so I could pursue numerous avenues in my career.
I Jumped at Every Opportunity to Write
As I started my career, I jumped at the opportunity to handle any writing opportunity. While I was pursuing my love of writing, I was also gaining more attention at work and building my portfolio (unknowingly at first).
Before long I was ghost writing for my manager and members of our executive team. As I continued to write, I developed a reputation throughout our company (a $350 million company with around 115 employees) as a go-to writer and editor. Eventually, I was published under my own byline in our company newsletter, which was a thrill.
You Can Pick Up a Lot By Asking Questions and Listening
As my career progressed, I started to think about my future. What did I want out of my career? A corner office and impressive title? Or something else?
I worked at the corporate headquarters of a franchising company, so my job involved interacting with and supporting small business owners around North America.
Every day, I was learning more about running a business, even subconsciously. I’m naturally curious, so I would ask questions while communicating with our franchise owners. People like to talk, especially about themselves, their businesses, and their accomplishments, so you can pick up a lot by paying attention, asking questions and listening.
Guess Who Some of My First Clients Were?
While I was helping our owners, I noticed some of them were looking for affordable marketing and writing services beyond what our company offered. They knew they needed help in these areas but couldn’t afford to hire large marketing agencies.
After nine years of honing my skills and building a professional network in corporate America, I left that company and struck out on my own. Guess who some of my first clients were? The same people I had been helping.
Starting My Own Business Seemed Like a Crazy Dream
While it was a long road, the idea to start my own business came during an aha moment 15 years in the making. (I realized I wanted to write for a living while I was in high school, although I couldn’t see myself—a country kid from an unincorporated village—as a writer.)
One day at work, I realized that so many small business owners don’t know how to market themselves and couldn’t afford traditional agency fees. With my diverse background in marketing, I could start a business offering professional marketing services and experience at affordable rates.
I could give brands a voice via marketing, writing and social media services, so business owners could focus on the reason they’re in business, and not struggle with marketing decisions, writing copy and developing social media strategies.
After I realized I could start my own business, it still seemed like a crazy dream. But I did start thinking about it a lot. The next day, I began thinking about business names and what would make my business unique. The more I thought about it and talked about it, the more it became a real possibility.
At a company event, I finally made the decision: I had to go out on my own. A year later, I left and never looked back. On May 15, 2012, Clearly Conveyed Communications (CCC) was born.
You Learn a Lot About Running a Business When You Jump Out On Your Own
When I started my business, I never dreamed of today—eight years down the road. I was just trying to get through each day. Eight years later, I’m still trying to get through each day, but I can’t imagine doing anything else.
You learn so much about running a business when you jump out on your own. (I know I did!) As much as I researched and planned (and you should research and plan), at some point you have to jump in and learn as you go. (Here’s some lessons we’ve learned over the years.)
To get started, I focused on the professional network I had spent the previous nine years building. I reached out to contacts I had made and relationships I had built over time to let them know I was in business. Not only were these people potential customers, but they were also connectors.
In addition, I worked out an extensive transition plan with my former employer. It helped them maintain their services as we hired and trained my replacement, and they were my first paying client. It was nice to have income as I was building my business and looking for more clients.
I Didn’t Foresee that Businesses Would Want to Outsource Their Social Media Management
While I planned on starting a marketing company that focused heavily on writing services, I didn’t foresee the interest in businesses outsourcing their social media management. I started receiving so much interest in this area that I added a new page to my website.
Today, social media management and content creation is a significant part of my business. In turn, they’ve led to additional writing opportunities.
Offering an array of services as a marketing company allows me to present a full-service front to my audience.
For example: We partnered with a fellow marketing company, owned by a volunteer firefighter, to handle FDIC’s (Fire Department Instructors Conference) social media for six years. (See picture above.) We developed a year round social media presence for them, so firefighters could connect, learn and train virtually, too.
A Trend in Content Marketing: Long-Form Content
While my company creates a variety of content, we’ve noticed a trend in content marketing for long-form content, and we’ve jumped on it. It seems counterintuitive to our short attention spans and the constant state of information overload we live in today. However, quality long-form content performs well online, draws traffic and gives you a lot of content to repurpose.
The key is to make it readable (and skimmable) with appropriate visuals, short paragraphs and different sections, or headings. White space and proper formatting are your friends on screen.
SEO is important, but remember to write for people, not search engines, because they’re the ones actually reading it. You can still include keywords and appropriate tags and code while making your writing readable—by humans.
While we enjoy creating long-form content, CCC pursues all types of project-based work and programs. For example, we love writing all the copy for a new website or managing a company’s entire social media presence (as opposed to only creating content). These projects and programs pay more, so we can devote the time and resources to producing our best work. They’re also easier to schedule in advance, so we can utilize our time as effectively as possible.
Putting Our Clients First Helps Us Grow Our Business
Having said that, we will take on small programs, including minor content editing and distribution, or some one-off projects, to make more contacts and build more relationships.
Doing good work for people and helping them with their needs, however minor, can result in referrals.
We’ve been fortunate to be referred several times, resulting in new customers and opportunities.
That’s why we always put current clients first. It may seem better to focus more on business development, because small business owners usually don’t have the resources to wait for new customers.
However, we’ve found that by putting current clients first, we’re their first call—for any marketing activity. As we continue to help them with their needs, they continue to come back and refer us to their clients, business associates and friends.
In fact, we work with some businesses through our clients. They can expand the services they offer without hiring full-time employees or making a significant investment.
For example, a company who sells branded merchandise and printing services can add writing, social media and additional marketing services to their service offering to truly become a full-service marketing agency. As long as we work closely together, it’s a win for all three companies—CCC, our client and our client’s client.
Marketing: What to Consider Before Expanding Social Media Platforms
How do we market our marketing and writing services? We practice what we preach—although sometimes we’re a little slow to take our own advice.
We always advise clients to consider their resources before jumping into social media. It takes time and dedication to build an active, engaged community on a social platform. You don’t need to be on every social platform available or jump on the latest trend.
While social platforms all have their own strengths, they tend to copy each other. Has a new platform grabbed your attention? What features do you like? Wait a minute, and they may appear on a platform where you already have an engaged community.
For example, Snapchat become a darling in the social media world, and then Instagram (and later Facebook) added ephemeral content, or Stories. TikTok has exploded in popularity over the past year, but Instagram has recently announced that it’s rolling out a new TikTok-like feature, Reels, to new markets and expanding its capabilities.
This feature isn’t available in the U.S. yet, but we’ll probably see it eventually. There may be reasons you want to expand to new social platforms, but think about it first and make sure you have a strategy.
When CCC started, we jumped on numerous social media platforms and overextended our resources. Slowly, we reassessed and cut back to where we are today. That has allowed us to focus more on original content creation and distribution for ourselves instead of mainly curation.
Curation is important, because it introduces you to new people and delivers a wider range of voices to your social media communities. However, original content will help you stand out and bring on new clients.
Why Writers Should Have a Blog
If you’re a writer, you probably have a blog, or at least you should. Your blog serves as a place to showcase your writing, and it can lead to partnerships or business opportunities.
Try to set up a consistent publishing schedule based on when the most readers are stopping by your blog. While it’s important to be active, only commit to what you can do. If you’re on your own and spend a lot of time on client work, then you may only be able to publish once a week or twice a month. Don’t try to publish too often for the sake of publishing; your content will likely suffer.
House your blog on your website. It will be easy for your readers to learn more about your services, and your fresh blog content will help optimize your site’s search performance. While I’m not a big fan of consistently removing content (which is a trend today), updating older content helps boost your blog’s performance. Fix any broken links or missing videos you come across, and add any relevant, new information on the post topic to inform your readers.
Don’t Publish Your Content and Wait for People to Find It
Producing quality blog content can be time-consuming, but there’s even more work ahead after you publish. Distributing your content is important, so it’s seen by a larger number of potential readers.
Don’t publish content and wait for people to find it. You have to actively and consistently promote your content, because there’s such an overload of content today.
Don’t just blast your content across various social platforms in one format at the same time. Share each article in a format best suited for each platform. Repurpose your content so you get as much mileage as possible out of it.
Write a long-form article? Share bite-sized tidbits on Twitter, each time driving more traffic back to your article.
Record a video sharing highlights of the article, and post it on your LinkedIn profile or Page.
Share your article as a link preview post to your Facebook Page or group.
Share behind-the-scenes content while you’re writing to tease a new blog article in your Stories and to let your audience know when it will publish.
Content is king, but distribution is queen—and she rules the roost.
Meet Your Readers Where They Are
Some readers will prefer to read your content on these distribution channels instead of subscribing to your blog. We’re living in the age of assistance, so you need to meet people in the moment—where they are.
Building active, engaged communities on social media takes time, but these communities are full of potential readers and people who will share your work.
Use your social presences to interact with your audience and request their feedback. Instagram Stories has numerous stickers you can use to interact, while Twitter offers polls and the ability to have conversations with people around the world.
Facebook Groups have become increasingly popular, as you can offer a smaller part of your community first access to your projects, advice in a specific area (i.e. non-fiction writing tips) or a community of peers for fellow writers to bounce ideas off of. Depending on how you utilize Facebook Groups, you may be able to monetize them.
While CCC receives most of our work through referrals, social media and content creation are crucial in our marketing efforts. Even when you are referred for an opportunity, people will often look you up online first.
Do you have a strong presence on LinkedIn? Is your website up-to-date? What comes up when people Google you? Make sure you have a strong digital presence, so people actually contact you when you are referred to them.
What To Do When Your Writing Business Slows Down
If business has slowed down, spend more time creating and distributing content. Be even more active in your social media communities and work on growing them. Genuinely engaging with others will help you grow your community and may lead to new opportunities.
One of our larger clients watched our social efforts for some time before reaching out to us. Everything you do online is visible, so make sure you’re being your best self. Setting aside 10-15 minutes per day on a platform, including reading and commenting on other blogs, will help you make new connections and grow your communities.
We’ve had success utilizing these tactics, even though they take time. Social media is a long-term game; don’t expect success overnight. Instead of trying to create content that will go viral, focus on building and delivering value to your audience one day at a time.
This year, we’ve focused on creating more original content and distributing it more. By cutting back our overall social presence, we have more time to focus on our current communities and how we can help them.
By doing so, we’ve landed a few new, smaller clients. We’re excited to continue helping them, so we can grow these accounts into larger ones. You never know where an account or new opportunity might lead.
How Writers Can Expand Their Services
Speaking of opportunities, expanding your services or collaborating with fellow writers, editors and marketing agencies (or even fellow small or local businesses) can help you grow your business as well.
Are there additional services you can offer that make sense with your current business? Or maybe you already offer them, but people don’t realize that you do. If you see a trend in your industry or notice interest in a particular service, highlight it on your website and social channels.
Working with other companies who complement your services can help you land larger clients and opportunities. If you write copy for the web, look for a designer to partner with so you can offer complete website solutions.
Or look for companies that you can refer your clients to for related services, so they always come to you first. Building relationships with fellow business professionals and owners will make them more comfortable referring business to you, too.
This has been a stressful and trying year, so we hope everyone is pulling through it as well as you can. It may be the time to try a new idea, launch a related service or partner with another company. We wish everyone the best of luck moving forward in 2020 and beyond.
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A version of this post was first published on WriterCEO.com. Thank you to Colleen M. Story for sharing our writing and marketing tips!
Social media platforms are constantly evolving, so it’s important to keep up on the latest features and understand how to use them for your brand or business. Enjoy our summer round-up with a cool drink in-hand!
Is your brand utilizing the new features on your favorite social media platforms?
Stories continue to explode in popularity, as they’re expected to outpace Feeds as the primary mechanism of content creation by the end of this year. So, Instagram continues to add features to Stories to increase interactivity and fuel their growth, including Interactive Stories Ads, a donation sticker and the new ‘Join Chat’ sticker. We love the interactivity of Instagram Stories, which allow accounts you tag to share your Story in their Stories. For example, we tagged an influencer we quoted in one of our blog articles, and in turn, he tagged other influencers quoted in the post. Engagement galore!
Another area of focus on the platform is Explore, which more than 50% of accounts use every month. Instagram bills Explore as its Discovery Destination, and it offers a prime opportunity for brands to connect with potential new customers. As the company continues investing in this area of the platform, it will begin rolling out ads to help brands connect with people and vice versa. Would your brand be interested in running an ad in Explore?
Instagram introduced Checkout this spring, another feature designed to bring people and brands together. This quick and secure technology includes product stickers in Stories, product tags in the Feed and a shopping destination in Explore. We’ve enjoyed using this feature to make it even easier for people to shop our clients’ products and get more information without leaving the app.
Finally, Instagram is still all in on IGTV, despite its slow start. Incorporating horizontal video should help increase use, both from a creation and consumption standpoint. Don’t replace your YouTube channel with IGTV; use it to grow your community on Instagram. It has been shown to increase engagement with existing followers, especially since IGTV videos now appear in the Feed. We’re finally posting an IGTV video this week after thinking about how best to use IGTV to help achieve our objectives on the platform. The shift to include horizontal video will help us use this growing area of the platform more for clients as well. Does your business utilize IGTV? What other features or capabilities would you like to see added?
The largest professional networking platform has been busy adding new features for business pages, which are much more robust than they used to be. Based on feedback from page admins, LinkedIn has introduced custom call-to-action (CTA) buttons to help drive leads and measure the results. This is an overdue feature, and we’re excited about the analytics (housed in your home dashboard) to see which buttons are generating traffic and which are not.
The platform has focused on upping engagement in the past year plus, and they’re not done. Now, page admins can associate up to three hashtags with your page (via the communities feature in the admin center). This change allows pages to engage directly with members’ posts which contain these hashtags (without using any time-consuming “hacks”).
Further targeting increased engagement, LinkedIn has updated its algorithm to deliver more personalized content to your feed that aligns with your professional interests, not necessarily viral content. You may be seeing more posts from people you’re not connected with, especially if you have connections, groups, hashtags you follow, employers/clients or interests in common. This change could help you connect and develop relationships with new business contacts and potential customers.
The micro-blogging platform made a splash this month when it introduced a new website for desktop. At this point, you can still choose to use Legacy Twitter, or the current layout, which we have chosen to do. The new layout seems a little busy to us, like walking into Times Square with all of the lights, signs and digital billboards. What do you think of the new design? (A poll we ran on Twitter split 50/50 between the two layouts.)
Twitter also updated its search results by adding context to help guide you to the results you’re looking for. For example, a search result will now show you if it’s trending or if an account has any followers in common with you. This tweak is part of a larger algorithm change that is geared toward showing you more content from users you’re not connected with, but may be interested in. Note that activity from your brand account(s) may show up in relevant searches, so keep that in mind as you engage with other users’ tweets.
We’re raising the bar on how you search! When you search for accounts, we’ll show you a little more info, like if they have recent Tweets and how they connect to your broader network. We’re rolling this out on iOS, Android, and https://t.co/AzMLIfU3jB over the next few days. pic.twitter.com/rSI2S2PKa6
On the other hand, Twitter is looking to give you more control over conversations you start. The platform is testing the ability to hide replies to your Tweets with users in Canada, although users will still be able to view the replies and engage with them. Would you like this feature to be rolled out globally?
Finally, the company has introduced a new creative team called “Twitter ArtHouse” that will help brands produce video content on their platform. Research shows that video content optimized for Twitter drives 33% more emotional engagement than non-optimized spots, and users spend 24% more time with Creator ads, so this could be a boost for brands to ensure their contact is seen and engaged with. Twitter has recently increased efforts to better monetize creator content in order to draw advertisers, along with Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram.
The beleaguered social platform has been in the news for the wrong reasons lately, but it continues to outpace all other social platforms with one billion users logging in every month. Due to continued criticism, the company has announced it will create a new, independent content review board. The tech giant is trying to convince the government it is a tech company, not a publisher, to avoid regulation. Should Facebook be responsible for the media published on its platform?
In other news, Facebook has added a ‘Top Fans’ targeting option on posts to drive more community engagement and create a stronger connection with your most ardent supporters. Currently, it’s only available to Pages with 10,000 followers, and you can control it in your Page settings.
The social giant made waves earlier this year when it jumped into the cryptocurrency game with Libra. Facebook’s digital currency is supposed to be easier to use than other options, like Bitcoin, and the company has partnered with industry leaders, including Uber and Spotify, to help increase its popularity. It will be interesting to see if this takes off when it launches in the first half of 2020 and whether it will be a valid payment method for businesses. Would you be willing to accept Libra for your products or services?
Finally, Facebook has added new, free training modules to its Facebook Blueprint education platform. The platform is designed to help small businesses and page admins improve their digital marketing skills and understanding of how to best utilize the platform. Facebook Blueprint also offers Instagram insight as well as Facebook Ads certification courses.
What new feature are you most excited about? Which platforms deliver the best results for your business? Which platform or feature would you like more in-depth analysis or tips on? What questions do you have about your social media marketing efforts?
Leave your thoughts or questions in the comments, contact us to discuss your needs or connect with us on social to stay in touch. We’re looking forward to hearing from you!
The 45-minute discussion on content creation and content marketing sizzled with smart advice from a variety of digital marketing professionals.
Gail Gardner, founder of GrowMap.com, delivered outstanding advice right off the bat. Always focus on creating quality content tailored to your target audience’s interests. You should only produce enough content that allows you to maintain a high level of quality and personalization. Remember, quality beats quantity every time.
Gail also mentions interacting with other content. This is so important! You’ll build relationships with fellow professionals in your field and drive engagement on your own content when you share it. Remember to share outside content at least 80% of the time and your own content only 20% of the time. Adhering to this best practice will help you curate a mix of view points on topics relevant to your audience and keep your feed fresh.
“Promoting your content is just as important as creating it. You need a content distribution plan as part of your overall content marketing strategy. “
Aligning Your Content Marketing to Your Business Goals
Meanwhile, Goldie Chan, a LinkedIn Top Voice and personal branding strategist, brought up a great point: your content marketing efforts should be aligned with your business goals. How do you measure its effectiveness? Engagement, engagement, engagement. Keep in mind your engagement should reflect the types of Calls-to-Action (CTAs) you extend to your audience. Do you want visitors to click through to a landing page to claim a special offer? Or do you want readers to message you on Facebook to schedule a free demo? In the first example, your goal should be to drive interested traffic to your landing page while the second would be to move prospects and customers into the privacy of Messenger.
Eventually, we moved into the future of content marketing. Where are we heading?
The Future of Content Marketing
Chat participants gave insightful answers based on their experiences and expertise, including Lisa Shomo, a marketing professional who specializes in customer marketing, growth and retention.
This summer, social media platforms debuted so many new features it was hard to keep up. (Miss out while you were on holiday? Catch up with our roundup.) As fall color explodes, the platforms continue to test and release new features, with Instagram leading the way. With all the changes, the story of the year continues to be Stories.
“By the end of next year, Stories are expected to outpace Feeds as our primary mechanism of content creation. Every marketer should be thinking of an effective, sustainable and human-first Stories strategy—especially on Instagram—before it’s too late.” -Chris Strub, CEO of I Am Here, LLC [source: Forbes]
While Snapchat started the ephemeral content craze, Instagram and Facebook quickly delivered their own options. So, what platform should you use? Go where your audience lives.
Have you already developed an active, engaged following on Instagram? Share compelling behind-the-scenes content on Instagram Stories, taking advantage of the features available. Does your audience reside on Facebook? Go live on the largest social platform in the world, sharing product launches and event sessions. Were you an early adopter of Snapchat, building your loyal following ever since? Share exclusive sales and can’t-miss moments from your company’s day-to-day life.
The takeaway? Don’t jump on every platform and overextend your resources. Are you a small business or solopreneur? Do your research, figure out where your audience lives and devote your resources to those platforms (or even a single one). Develop your approach to an individual platform (or two or three), and master sharing quality content that will compel your audience to act.
“With limited resources and time, it’s appropriate to let the under-performing projects go to make way for new opportunities. Too many marketers attempt to ‘do it all,’ at the expense of doing what works.” -Michael Stelzner, Founder of Social Media Examiner [source: Forbes]
Speaking of compelling content, video is hot—especially live video. But, it still needs to provide value to your audience. Based on our experience, pictures still outperform video in your Instagram feed, but Stories (and now IGTV) is a great place to share video. Show how your product is produced, live-stream your session or share your blog article distribution process.
Test various types of content with your audience to see what resonates best. While it’s important to stay on top of trends in the ever-evolving social media landscape, don’t abandon proven content types, posting times or your brand’s aesthetic to go all in on the latest shiny object. Try working in trends that you think will resonate with your audience, but don’t feel pressured to jump on every new feature or platform as it’s introduced.
Before you try a new feature, think about how it fits into your overall strategy. Testing is an important part of effective social media marketing, but a consistent voice and tone is central to your overall presence. If a new feature doesn’t fit with what you’re doing, don’t use it. If your audience isn’t interested in a platform, devote your resources elsewhere.
Establishing an active, engaged following on platforms where your audience lives is helpful beyond connecting with them. Customers, prospects and fans are more likely to share their experiences with your company on platforms they love.
“When you create a loyal engaged community and reward them by surprising and delighting them for their loyalty, then those people will always share your content and feel part of your brand’s journey!” -Samantha Kelly, Founder/CEO of the Women’s Inspire Network [source: Forbes]
Word of mouth marketing is powerful, because it comes from consumers, not your company. While your brand or company needs to share its story, it’s important for others to share your story. User generated content (UGC) helps you reach a wider audience and gives you content to share. For example, you can share your customer’s posts on Instagram to your Stories to spotlight them.
When you share a customer’s post, they receive a notification via Instagram Direct. It opens a direct conversation between your brand and your customer, which can lead to further engagement, a referral or even a purchase. Every time you interact or engage with someone in an authentic manner, it helps to strengthen their loyalty to your brand.
Despite all of the updates and changes, the story of the year in social media marketing is all about Stories. Whether your audience prefers Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat, they’re likely spending a lot of time creating and viewing Stories. So, take some time to think about how Stories fit into your social media marketing strategy, so you can meet your customers (and future customers) where they live.
Share Your Story
How is your business using Stories?
What platform does your audience prefer for Stories?
What’s your favorite Stories feature?
Summer may conjure up lazy days at the beach, but social media platforms have been busy debuting new features. Here’s a summer roundup of features you may have missed, so you can incorporate them into your social media strategies.
Is your brand utilizing all of the new features on your favorite social media platforms?
It started in May with an improved inbox. More than 150 million active daily users converse with businesses through Instagram Direct each month, so the platform added more tools for business owners to manage these conversations. You can now star important messages for follow-up, and IG is testing quick replies. In addition, messages now come directly to your inbox instead of languishing in the oft-forgotten Pending section.
Then, the popular platform went crazy and introduced five new features in a month! Everyone is talking about IGTV, Instagram’s new platform for long-form vertical video content. It’s available in the upper right hand corner of your app (next to Instagram Direct), or you can download the standalone IGTV app. Will IGTV become a major competitor to YouTube or fade away over time?
Other new features that may benefit your business include group video chat (now available in Instagram Direct), music and question stickers in Instagram Stories and an updated Explore page. The new stickers can help you show personality, draw more eyes (and ears) to your Stories and increase engagement with fans and customers.
LinkedIn continues to expand its features, so it’s important that you maintain an active presence. It’s no longer enough to post a resume and forget about it. Even if you’re not actively pursuing new employment, this platform presents a multitude of opportunities: making professional connections, strengthening relationships, seeking new clients and establishing yourself as a thought leader in your field.
We enjoy pulling a quote from an article to highlight an important point and encourage conversation, so we’re excited to see LinkedIn make it easier to do. Now you can highlight a quote, right click and share it to your feed or message it privately on mobile. It will automatically include a link to the article along with your quote as the caption.
Another exciting new development is the ability to save drafts directly on the LinkedIn platform. Say you’re browsing articles and find three that you’d like to share. Share them, write your caption (or pull a quote) and save as a draft. You can share it at a future date in order to share your content at optimal times for your audience.
The Posts & Activity shortcut (now available on your account drop-down menu) is an easy way to see what you have shared recently with your network. The built-in translator will come in handy when connecting with professionals across the word, and video captions help you communicate with viewers even when they’re watching your video silently, which people commonly do today.
Not to be outdone, Twitter has been rolling out new features too. The platform announced it will begin showing related topics in its Trending Topics listing, which could help you tap into trending news. The related topics can give you a more complete view of the trending discussion, so you can see if a tie-in to your brand is appropriate and what additional hashtags to use.
Twitter also removed millions of accounts from follower numbers, cracking down on suspicious and spam accounts. Remember that active, targeted followers are more important than quantity, and don’t ever buy followers. This update will help make follower counts more accurate and add more legitimacy to influencer marketing on Twitter.
You should be confident that the follower numbers presented across Twitter are meaningful and accurate. We’re introducing a change to follower counts as part of our work to make Twitter a more trusted service for public conversation. https://t.co/A2ZEGHjOZ8
Finally, Twitter is making an effort to improve users’ experience by adding the ability to dock videos, so you can keep watching while you scroll. This may lengthen the amount of time viewers watch your videos or even boost views overall.
Meanwhile, Facebook has made changes while trying to climb back into users’ good graces. The beleaguered social platform removed its Trending section to make room for future news experiences, such as exclusive video news content on Facebook Watch.
The social giant also introduced Keyword Snooze to help users further control their News Feed. This feature allows users to temporarily hide posts with a specific keyword or phrase from people, Pages and Groups for 30 days. It joins Facebook’s other News Feed controls: See First, Hide, Unfollow and Snooze.
Speaking of Groups, Facebook introduced Subscription Groups, so admins can charge for the content they provide group members. This could be a new distribution option for your brand’s premium content, such as in-depth tutorials, live streams of event sessions and video coaching sessions.
As we were compiling this roundup of new features, some platforms dropped even more new features.
Watch for more insight on these new features and how they can help you build your brand and connect with your communities in future articles. What new feature are you most excited about? Does one or two platforms work better for you than the others? Do you utilize different platforms for different reasons?
We would love to discuss social media marketing with you! Leave your comments below, contact us to discuss your needs or connect with us on social, so we can stay in touch.
There’s much discussion these days about measuring the right key performance indicators, or KPIs. Are likes worth anything? Are shares social gold? Does engagement help if it doesn’t lead directly to business? These questions are important and worth discussing at your company (and on this blog). However, my question today is, how do you measure the impact of ‘dark social?’
Dark social is a term coined by Alexis C. Madrigal, a senior editor at The Atlantic, to refer to the social sharing of content that occurs outside of what can be measured by Web analytics programs. (Source: Technopedia)
“Some of the key drivers of mobile messaging’s growth identified include consumers’ growing interest in intimate forums for social sharing.” –eMarketer
Instead of commenting publicly on your company’s Facebook post, a community member may share it via Messenger with close friends. A fan who never engages with your tweets may be reminded to purchase from your company and even influence others to do the same. A reader of your blog may never interact online with your posts but bring them up regularly at nights out with friends.
How do you measure this dark or private activity? In his article, Three Reasons Dark Social May Be Coming Into the Light, Mark Schaefer discusses three emerging trends that may finally give marketers access to this previously untapped goldmine of data and purchasing activity.
“The interesting thing is all the communication that used to be private is now migrating into the hands of Facebook (who owns WhatsApp with 1 billion users and Messenger with 900 million users),” writers Schaefer.
While people are seeking more intimate forums to interact, these forums are being purchased by larger companies, who see the potential value in monetizing their services. As a publicly held company, Facebook has shown interest — and an aptitude — for monetizing services while still providing users value. Expect that trend to continue, which should make marketers and consumers happy.
As Schaefer suggests, “perhaps 2016 is the year dark social starts to become a thing of the past.”
Shine the Light on ‘Dark Social’
How does your company measure the impact of ‘dark social?’
What KPIs do your company track?
Does your company require a hard return on investment (ROI) from social media or do you consider a presence worthwhile regardless?
Working in the dark,
Let’s chat (about dark social, your social media needs or otherwise):
What a year it’s been for Instagram! The fast-growing social platform is implementing numerous changes to celebrate its sixth year. People tend to resist change, so it’s no wonder that some of these changes have been met with consternation.
The Dreaded Algorithm: We all knew this moment was coming but dreaded its arrival nonetheless. When the social app announced that users’ feeds would be controlled by an algorithm, the internet exploded. My feed was flooded with posts urging me to turn on notifications from everyone or I would never see their posts again. (I hope you didn’t post one of these pleas, but if you did, please spare us when the algorithm actually goes into effect, which will be soon.)
This change should be good for both users and brands alike. I don’t think we’ll see the drastic drop in organic reach like we did on Facebook, and Instagram users are more likely to engage with posts. Make sure that you go for quality content over quantity, which is a reminder we all need from time to time (myself included).
Your devoted fans will still seek out your posts, and appropriate hashtags will continue to help bring in new traffic. Remind fans of your presence on your marketing communications and other platforms, and use data to better target your audience.
Instagram’s New Insights: A new (free) in-app analytics dashboard is on its way! While you have been able to view analytics through a third party platform, such as Iconosquare, Instagram is finally debuting an in-house dashboard to help businesses gain a better understanding of their audiences.
Dig into the data to discover the best times to post and to learn more about your audience. Where are your audience members located? What type of content do they engage with the most? Does a certain type of content extend your reach while another draws more engagement (or website visits)? You can use this information to help shape your future content and strategy while also deciding whether to promote a hot post.
Take advantage of the Business Profile, once available, so you can make it easier for customers to contact (and locate) you while gaining access to Insights and promoted posts. Observe how the algorithm affects your posts once it’s implemented. It may be beneficial to promote a post from time to time, such as a special offer or contest.
Instagram’s New Look: Don’t sweat it. Whether you’re a fan of the new look or not, the updated layout will better showcase your photos and videos. Just make sure to update the branding anywhere you may use it, such as marketing materials, your website or blog.
While 2016 is the year of change for Instagram, it’s still the popular social platform that we know and love. Take a deep breath and see how the algorithm affects you before panicking (or asking your community to turn on notifications). Many of these changes should help brands who are dedicated to growing and building long-term relationships with their Instagram communities.
Are you on Instagram? Leave your handle in the comments, so we can connect!
What’s your favorite (and least favorite) Instagram change?
Where does Instagram fall in your preferred list of social media platforms?
Instalik(ing) these changes,
Let’s chat (about Instagram, your marketing needs or otherwise):
When emojis burst onto the scene, people rejoiced. These colorful characters were fun and broke through language and cultural barriers. In 2015, the Oxford Dictionaries cemented their place in our language by selecting an emoji — the Face with Tears of Joy — as the Word of the Year. Predictions of a future with little to no text were widespread, and businesses (who hadn’t already) started using this popular form of communication. Sounds perfect, right?
Over Coffee by Drew Herron via CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 // text & graphics added by author
Not quite. As a recent study discovered, emojis can be misinterpreted just like other form of communication. The first problem is that the same emoji can display differently on different platforms (Apple, Samsung, Google, etc.). In addition, two people can look at the exact same emoji displayed identically and interpret it differently.
Should your brand stay away from all things emoji? No, but you need to exercise caution like you do with any form of communication.
These four tips can leave you smiling with tears of joy instead of face-palming:
Plan Ahead: Are you thinking of utilizing emojis in an upcoming campaign? Do some research. View how your selected emojis display on different platforms and look into any popular alternative interpretations to the meaning you’re intending. It’s a lot easier to change your campaign than deal with a PR gaffe.
Be Careful Using Emoji that Display Differently: Maybe you have a dire need to use the grinning face with smiling eyes emoji, but be careful. This is one of the emojis that displays differently across platforms and can cause confusion and unintended responses. Try to stick with more universally displaying and understood emojis if possible. 👍
Graphic courtesy of grouplens
Remember Your Brand Voice: Emojis are a part of your brand’s voice, so be consistent when you’re using them. The face with tears of joy emoji wouldn’t work well for a conservative brand or industry. Take your audience into consideration too; they may not use emojis or have any interest in them.
Don’t Forget About Hashtags: Trending and popular emoji hashtags, such as #WorldEmojiDay or #emoji can boost your posts and tweets. Remember to check out any hashtags first before jumping in. They could be about something completely unrelated to what you’re thinking, making it inappropriate to participate. Emojis are available as hashtags on Instagram, so use them accordingly to increase your reach.
Emojis can help you break through the information overload and connect with your target audiences — if they use and understand the colorful characters. As with any communication, a little foresight, planning and common sense will help you communicate your message clearly and not get lost in translation.
At CCC, we’re big believers in the power of social media and the value that it can provide to your brand. However, you need to understand the darker side of social so you’re prepared for anything that could go wrong or reflect your brand in a negative light.
Velvet Heart was trying to promote its new arrivals for spring, not trend with a mass shooting.
Recently I was on Twitter and noticed the name of a nearby town trending (regionally). I clicked on the link to see why it was trending and discovered a mass shooting had occurred at a retirement village. (My thoughts and prayers are with this community during this difficult time.)
While scrolling through the feed, I saw a promoted tweet advertising a retailer’s new spring arrivals. I was included in the audience targeted in this campaign, so the tweet showed up in my feed — no matter what I was viewing at the time. The advertiser had no say where its targeted audience members saw its tweet. (For more on Promoted Tweets, click here.)
Last week, I saw a news story about a guy who blew his lower leg off while shooting a lawn mower packed with explosives. As usual, an ad played prior to the video on the news site where I watched it. AT&T didn’t ask for its ad to play prior to a graphic video, but that’s when I saw the ad and its brand.
“A brand can’t control the message in the way it once did but it can still have influence.” –Jeff Barrett, CEO, Status Creative
These examples both point to why some brands and companies are so afraid of getting social — loss of control. On social media, it’s impossible to control every aspect of the message about your brand.
I’m not trying to discourage you from joining the conversation — just the opposite, in fact. If you’re a part of the conversation, you can help guide its direction and speak directly to your online community.
What if I hadn’t known that advertisers don’t control where Promoted Tweets show up? A user may have tweeted the advertiser expressing her dissatisfaction that the company would try to profit off a tragedy. That’s why you need to be aware of all the possibilities before jumping into something like Promoted Tweets. You can respond to say that you only chose to promote a tweet to a targeted audience, and did not use a trending hashtag or phrase inappropriately. If you’re not active on a social platform where a discussion breaks out about your brand, you can’t help set the record straight.
“While you can’t control the conversation, you can participate and give fans a firsthand account of what’s going on at your company.”
Don’t worry about controlling every aspect of the conversation about your brand. Be prepared and know what you’re doing before jumping into social media in general, or a specific area, such as Facebook advertising or Promoted Tweets. Have a plan, but be prepared to adjust it as necessary.
Social media may not be easy for brands, but it’s worth it. Getting social can start a conversation that takes your business to new heights!
Are you struggling with your social media strategy, goals or execution? Let’s talk. We’d love to help you join the conversation and shine the spotlight on your brand.
Getting social (day or night), Jaime
Let’s chat (about social media, your marketing needs or otherwise):