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Archive for Business

How To Build Your Brand with Facebook Live

Build brand Facebook Live
Harnessing Facebook Live as a key aspect of your marketing mix gives you a much better chance of building brand notoriety on social media. Here’s how to do just that.

I’m going to go out on a whim here and make a pretty bold claim about your marketing strategy and Facebook Live; you’re probably not doing enough with it. Okay, so maybe that is a sweeping generality, but it’s the sentiment that counts. Much of what can be achieved through Facebook Live can’t be replicated in other post styles, and many businesses don’t even bother with it.

As a social networking feature, there’s nothing particularly phenomenal about it. Live streaming is by no means a new concept. In fact, it’s been around since the darkest ages of dial up. But couple it with the largest social network around and suddenly you've got a really easy way to reach your audience with personal - and yes, human - messages.

Social features that build your brand

What is it that made your audience choose to advocate your business over your competitors? Simple. It’s your brand. And it’s your brand that will encourage future users to do exactly the same. Certain social networking features actively facilitate the process of building your brand by acting as something of an X-ray through fonts, colours and messages to inside an organisation, enabling businesses to show how this is reflected within.

Facebook Live is one of these features. That means that while it may not be a ground breaking user feature, as a marketing tool it’s pretty special. Alongside the general appeal of video, it carries a value of immediacy; a sense of being “in the moment” that social users can’t get enough of.

Here are some ways you could use it to build your brand…

Behind the scenes footage

With Facebook Live you are able to offer your audience a unique look behind the scenes into your business and how it works. Social media users love being exposed to a place they might otherwise never be able to see. However, the key here is to analyse and understand exactly what it is that your audience wants to see.

Should your stream be educational, sharing your processes? Or should you be focussing on particularly exciting production process or interesting work site? Understand that behind the scenes footage is a promotional opportunity, but to have any effect it needs to have value to users.

Special celebrations

If you can, don’t Tweet about it - stream it. Whether it's someone’s birthday or the Anniversary of your company launch, everybody loves a party. If your colleagues have got the afternoon off for tea, cake and cocktails, invite your customers to get involved too.

Streaming celebrations and events can be particularly useful if your company culture plays a major part in the development of your brand. It can certainly be useful for attracting the best talent to your business, but that isn't all; users are far more likely to value a business that obviously values its employees.

Expert Q&A sessions and Webinars

If you've spent any time undertaking marketing responsibilities to any extent, the likelihood is that you’ve been invited to at least 3,000 free webinars. The beauty of hosting these on Facebook Live is that you aren't asking for sign-ups, so required user investment is low. For that reason, users are far less likely to have reservations

Holding live Q&A sessions is also the ideal way to concrete your brand as an industry leader. With Facebook Live, you are able to listen and respond to questions as they come in. Not only does it encourage trust in your service, it’s a great way to showcase that you are comfortable under the spotlight.

Hosting focus groups and gain user feedback

Building a new product or service? Getting your audience’s perspective is incredibly valuable and could make all the difference in those crucial preliminary stages. On Facebook Live you can use Focus Groups to get user’s input on different creative and strategic decisions in the during the development process.

Not only a great way to conduct on the spot market research, it will make your customers feel valued and part of your brand.

Why You Should Never, Under Any Circumstances, Buy Followers

why you should never buy followers
If there is one thing you should never do when building a social media strategy it is buy followers. Of all cowboy social media tactics, it is the worst.

Listen carefully; in the world of social media marketing, there are no shortcuts to quality results. In fact, you could be right in saying that there are no shortcuts at all. You may be able to reach your goals quicker, but the only way to do that is to revisit your social media strategy and either increase or shift your investment to a different focus.

It’s natural to want to expect immediate results, especially when immediacy is almost expected. Sadly social media marketing can often work out as something of a slog. Certain quick-fix techniques have been heralded as cheap and easy ways to smash your goals. But that is far from the truth.

Buying followers may be a way to see bigger numbers, but I’ll say it again; the only thing that will speed up your path to your actual goals is increased investment in an already expert strategy. In most cases, these numbers are empty, meaningless and potentially harmful. So you definetely shouldn’t buy followers. Here’s why:

Fake followers can’t interact properly because they aren’t real people

If you buy followers you aren’t buying followers at all. You are just buying numbers. What follows you is a collection of fake or innactive accounts that offer absolutely nothing to your brand. You can’t expect them to interact or engage with your content. And if they do, it will just be incredibly spammy auto-comments that actual, real people can spot a mile off.

Their innactivity can result in a reduced organic reach

Social networks use intricate algorithms to determine the strength of your content and ensure it gets in front of the right amount of users. Engagement is a key signifier for the quality of your content. If tonnes of people engage with your posts then the social networks will consider your content quality and serve it and similar posts to more and more people. When you buy followers who simply don’t engage the opposite happens, resulting in a reduced organic reach.

They can destroy the credibility of your pages and your business

As I mentioned earlier, real users know when you buy followers. An account with big numbers should have content that supports and upholds those numbers. Also, auto-comments by fake accounts are quite clearly just that. Users know and will lose trust and respect for you brand as a result. Nobody wants that.

They totally fluff up your metrics

If you buy followers you have no way of differentiating between real and fake followers. This will really mess with your metrics. You have absolutely no way of working out genuine audience behaviour from that of robots. You are no longer able to work out what aspects of your strategy are getting you the biggest return and invest in them. It’s just not worth it.

You can end up being marked as spam

When you buy followers all of these things - decreased organic reach, high-rate of auto-comments, disinterest by genuine users - work to systematically sabotage your page. Because of how social media algorithms work, your posts will eventually begin to look like spam - and spam just attracts spam. Which means you will just end up being a can of spam. Spammy spam spam. You might even have your accounts suspended as a result… which at that point could actually be a blessing in disguise.

In conclusion, don’t buy followers.

Just don’t do it. If you were thinking about it, take the money and invest it into a different aspect of your strategy. Promote a post. Even if it amounts to nothing, at least you won’t have inadvertenly sabotaged your social pages.

The Best Free Social Media Tools For Small Businesses

Best free small business social media tools
By leveraging the right small business social media tools you can ensure awesome results from your strategy - and these are the best tools around.

You could say that a social media strategy was only as good as its best social media tools. It’s not true; a social media strategy is ultimately only as good as the marketer who devises and employs it - but you could say that all the same.

Why? Well, every social media marketer makes use of social media tools to help streamline their processes and maximise the amount that they can achieve. For small businesses, this process can save heaps of precious time and energy that can be much better invested elsewhere.

This index of free small business social media tools is an updated version of a previous list that I combiled back at the beginning of 2016. Each of these small business social media tools I have tried and consider worthy of mentioning.

1. Coschedule’ Headline Analyzer

Nothing boosts a social media marketing strategy quite like the addition of an awesome content marketing strategy. That’s our jam here at Giraffe. Seriously, if you want to get more from social media, start writing awesome web content that your audience will value before posting and promoting it. You can thank us for the results later.

Coschedule’ Headline Analyzer provides quality scores on the strength of article titles and headlines in relation to social media engagement, particularly the likelihood of shares. It also helps to determine the likelihood that a blog title will be beneficial to your SEO.

2. Yoast WordPress Plugin

Yoast is the number one search engine optimisation plugin for wordpress. Users set their chosen keyword for each article they post and are given simple tips to increase the likelihood that they will rank well for that keyword. These include increasing the frequency of the keyword throughout different parts of the content such as headlines and alt text for images. It also gives you little coloured dots which signify the strength of each aspect of your article - and nothing compares to the feeling of turning all those tiny specks green.

Technically it is an SEO tool… Come to think of it, both of the first two examples weren’t really small business social media tools… However, articles put through Yoast commonly experience more click throughs from social due to the optimisation. So certainly worth using. Plus the extra benefits are definetely not to be sniffed at.

3. Socialrank

Socialrank is a simple to use platform that allows you to identify, organise and manage both Twitter and Instagram followers. As small business social media tools go, this is one that will help give you genuine insight into the strengths of your following such as who your best followers are and what they are about. With the use of filters you can see, amongst other things, who your most engaged and influential followers are.

4. Hootsuite

Hootsuite is the preferred social media management tool of millions that allows you to schedule, engage with and grow your audience across all of your social networks from one place. It also offers social analytics. Free features are limited but there is a selection of affordable pro plans available.

Although I have used Hootsuite in the past, it isn’t currently in our arsenal of in-house social media marketing tools. This is mostly down to the pricing structure which can escalate quickly once you start to add extra accounts and services. However, as small business social media tools go, the free version can certainly be useful if you only have a few channels to manage.

5. Tweetdeck

If Hootsuite isn’t for you, that’s completely fine. There are plenty of other social media scheduling tools out there of varying quality. While scheduling for Instagram may be a serious task (there are ways, but they are difficult), Facebook’s in-built scheduling tool is perfectly adequate. It may hiccup every now and then, but with that many users you can be sure that it will be fixed soon enough.

For Twitter, Tweetdeck is a great tool that allows users to create and schedule Tweets, alongside a bunch of other features like creating custom feeds. These can come in really useful for spotting opportunities for interaction. While it may not have as many advanced analytics as Hootsuite’s paid version, that doesn’t stop it being the preferred choice of many social media marketers.

6. RiteTag

Hashtag strategy - what is it? Well, it’s using hashtags. Sounds simple, right! It’s not. Shame. What makes RiteTag one of the best small business social media tools is that it gives instant feedback on your chosen hashtags to help you decide which to use as part of your strategy.

Using the right hashtags is integral to seriously expanding your reach, but left to our own devices we are all guilty of having a few that we always use. We do so mistakenly thinking that they are powerful when they are actually just a waste of characters. If that’s you, I can’t recommend RiteTag highly enough.

7. DrumUp

Depending on how important external content (that is, content from other websites) is to your social media strategy (and the likelihood is that it will be to some extent), DrumUp can be a great tool. It has multiple functions which recommend content for you to share or curate based on your keywords, direct to your dashboard.

The dream is that your content marketing strategy would eventally become so good and so frequent that you would never need to go looking for content to curate - you would always have a steady stream coming from your blog. But until then, DrumUp is a great tool.

8. Canva

I’m pretty sure we are sponsored by Canva at Giraffe… If we aren’t and you are from Canva, get in touch. We are always raving about it. Absolutely everyone in the office makes use of it to create professional looking graphics for social media posts. It’s simple, easy to use and comes with a whole host of graphics, layouts, fonts and images. Power users - hit up either of the two below resources to get more out of it…

9. Pixabay & 10. Pexels

If Canva is the sword of Giraffe Social Media, Pixabay and Pexels are the shield and… force-field? Something like that. Anyway, these two sites are perfect for finding images under Creative Commons CC0. In laymans terms, this means you can do absolutely anything you like with them. Seriously, anything. And you won’t have to thank anybody.

There are a few things to consider when making use of stock images though. Ideally you only want to make use of them as one-off graphics - don’t make them key to your brand such as a permanent placeholder for the homepage on your website. The reason is that many consumers have seen the majority of them before and can spot them a mile off. But one-off use is ideal.

11. Websta

For my sins, I have only just started using Websta and I must say it is fabulous. It provides everything you would expect from a social media management tool - key analytics and insights, custom feeds and the ability to explore content - while allowing you to view and interact with other users’ posts. Instagram’s in-app analytics are currently basic at best - Websta takes those one-step further.

12. Later

Marketed as “The simpler way to plan your visual content marketing”, Later is a scheduling tool for Instagram that allows users to schedule and manage their posts ahead of time. Is it that? Well, it is true that Later allows you to spread out and create a steady stream of content - but it does take some investment. That said, if you use Instagram a lot then these kind of small business social media tools can be a God-send.

13. Website Grader

Hubspot’s Website Grader gives a full report on the strength of your marketing efforts across all of your digital channels. This includes, you guessed it, social media, but also content and SEO. Certain information can seem a little iffy from time to time but it is still really useful if you are strapped for time and looking for immediate direction.

14. Uprank

Uprank is an advanced research tool that analyses and provides data on the strength of your brand’s digital marketing, including website architecture, SEO and social media. It then generates and delivers a digital marketing strategy tailored to your site in the form of comprehensive tasks. Great as a starting point - but lacks the creative and innovative aspects needed to develop an awesome social media posting strategy.

15. AdParlor

AdParlor lets you create free mockups of ads for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest. This can give you a much better idea of what your finished campaigns will look like to users on these networks. The brand new interface is sleek and easy to use. As small business social media tools go, this is one that can be perfect to help develop your social media advertising strategy, with scalable and downloadable mockups, instant previews and in-line character limits.

Simple Instagram Tricks Beyond Better Content That Actually Work

Instagram tricks beyond better content that actually work
Instagram is about way more than sharing photos. Start using these Instagram tricks and soon you will see more users engaging with your brand.

Social media marketers are insight-obesessive. For this reason, nothing delights me more than when a friend of mine who isn’t a devoted full-time social media marketer helpfully informs me which social networks are big business.

No really, I mean it.

Okay, I will admit that this is due in part to the fact that I take great pride in pointing out when people are incorrect… which is probably an aspect of my personality that could do with revisiting. But it’s mostly because this passion gives me great insight into how each network is currently viewed by users. Most recently it was this line…

Mate, it’s all about Instagram now. All about IG. IG is 🔥 right now.

Just how my friend managed to express the fire emoji verbally I’ll let you decide, but it definetely happened. Normally I would have taken the opportunity to start a discussion about the positives and negatives of single-network social media strategies, but instead I found I had to agree with him. Instagram is, for the mean time at least, most certainly 🔥.

Instagram tricks that work

It’s all well and good to say that one particular social network has the edge over others for inspiring engagement (ten times the average engagement of Facebook to be precise), so long as you explain how that engagement can be unlocked. Luckily there are some simple Instagram tricks that can give you an edge over your competitors and ensure that you are getting the most out of your activity.

Be super specific with your goals

If there is one of our Instagram tricks that casual marketers could do better with its being super specific with their goals, because many don’t really have any beyond “post something great, get likes”. Instagram can be great for keeping your audience aware of the inner-workings of your organisation, but it has much more potential than that - potential that deserves to be stretched! If you want to see more purchases of a particular product, be bold and make that your goal. Create a marketing plan focussed around constantly promoting and bringing awareness to that product including partnering with influencers, and you will hit that goal.

Initiate active following

The best way to grow your following in Instagram is to unashamedly steal your competitors followers. Unfortunately there aren’t any Instagram tricks for engagement in the traditional sense; you want an engaged following, the only way to grow it is through engaging. Utilise hashtag research to identify large accounts within your industry or niche and then begin to engage with their following - like and comment on users posts and follow them, give them a few days to respond before unfollowing any that haven’t followed back and repeating the process.

Attempt to influence the influencers who influence your influencers

This may be a mouthful, but at it’s centre is a strategy that is surprisingly easy to swallow. Influencer marketing is big business, especially on Instagram. Paid shoutouts can be great for certain users, especially e-commerce and bespoke products. However, by taking time to identify not just the influencers you want to potentially reach, but those that influence those influencers, you can substantially cut your budget as your products are likely to be picked up by those other users.

Use Facebook Insights to decide on partners for Instagram

If you’re considering about utilising influencer marketing on Instagram, one of the best Instagram tricks is to check out Facebook’s Audience Insights in order to discover the best users to partner with. The best way to do this is to create a custom audience and upload your customer email list, then click on Page likes. This will give you the best insight into what your audience is interested in.

Forging a Destiny of Social Media Influence

forging a destiny of social media influence
If you want to succeed in selling your products or services, you need to succeed in selling yourself first. You need to have social media influence.

What does success really, truly look like in the world of social media marketing? Simply put; influence. Successful brand pages quite openly exploit the influence that they have on their audience for their own gain. Trouble is, building social media influence is easier said than done. You can’t buy it. It won’t come as the result of some innovative new web tool focused on maximising engagement and minimising fuss.

Truly, far fewer marketers are competently cultivating it than would care to admit.

So how do you do that?

Becoming a social media influence for your industry is about more than writing great content that benefits your audience. That can only work in part after you have an identity. You must first identify some vital attributes for your brand and consistently display these in any and all marketing channels that you invest in.

Social networking is about connections. To use a technical analogy, and bearing in mind I have little to no knowledge of this sort of thing, the stronger a connection is, the more current that can pass through it without it breaking. (Is that right? It sounds right anyway.) If you want to have a significant social media influence on your connections you must first have created bonds that are unbreakable. That takes time and persistence; no amount of careful soldering is going to help. (Is that right? I think it’s time I let this one rest and moved onto something I’m more comfortable with.)

One for the Gamers: building a character, forging a destiny

If you’ve ever played a Role Playing Game, you’ll understand the process of building a character. And even if you haven’t, this is a great simile so I’m going to use it all the same and you should definitely read it.

When you build a character you are given a finite amount of character points. You spend them to govern which attributes and aspects of your character are most and least prominent. For example, you might have a natural inclination for high intelligence levels but not be as strong as others. Or you might, like me, cram all of your character points into charisma and be unable to even walk up a flight of stairs without fatigue setting in; but your silver-tongued nature means you can talk peasants into giving you a piggy-back. (Generally not recommended.)

How your brand is represented online, and even more so on social media, needs to be human. It needs to have a face and a voice that users will find instantly recognisable. As you launch (or in most cases now, re-launch) your pages for social media influence, you are essentially creating a character. The attributes that you invest in at the beginning will determine how far you can go towards influencing your audience.

In short, building influence can only occur with consistency of voice and persistence of post. Regardless of industry, these are the characteristics that you should be investing in to get there:

Intelligence - value beyond measure

At the bedrock of influence is value. Quite honestly, if you want people to care what you have to say about your industry then you have to have something good to say about it first. Ask yourself, honestly; is your brand sufficiently showing (not saying) that they hold an expert knowledge of their field? Content marketing is about showing, not telling. You can bet that there will be tens of thousands of brands and professionals in your industry who are happily boasting about being an expert - but how many of those are actually living the responsibility that comes with being an expert and sharing their opinion?

Endurance - consistency of voice

If you want people to care about what you have to say, they have to value you. Value is a reciprocal resource; you have to offer value to be value. Sounds simple, but by golly does it takes time. Only when coupled with dogged persistence will you start to see the expert opinion that you offer on your industry noticed and advocated by those in your online community. Social media marketing is most certainly a long game - just keep at it.

Charisma - unique individuality

Charisma isn’t just for peasant-riding stairwell-dwellers. A little individuality goes a long way. In fact, it’s the only tool in your arsenal that will allows you to stand out from all those competitors of yours who also want to unleash their ultimate influencing power. Be bold in creating a voice that isn’t just valuable to your audience in content, but also in style. Humour is not to be shunned. Salesy waffle-talk is.

Perception - cultivating trust

A perceptive social media marketing strategy isn’t just preoccupied with growth. It focuses on retaining an audience by building, setting and maintaining high standards of trust. The biggest of no-nos is constantly plugging your audience with promotions and salesy waffle-talk. If it was your expert voice that lured them in the first place, those are the expectations that they have. Under-deliver and expect a damaging loss of trust.

Strength - community orientated

What is it they say, there is strength in numbers? Well, forging an influence is about building a community of advocates; a tribe of individuals all united around the knowledge that you offer. So how are you supposed to cash in on that? Be community orientated. Or rather, within the confines of my fabulous gaming simile, guild orientated. Create a community culture, one of inside jokes, catchphrases and camaraderie.

Now, to battle worthy hero. Influence awaits you in the wilderness of... Das I’nTernet.

Social Media Tactics that Deserve to be Bulldozed

social media tactics that should be bulldozed
There are good social media tactics, there are bad social media tactics, and there are social media tactics that deserve to be bulldozed.

It's official. Just one glimpse on Twitter and it was confirmed to me; time to take out the metaphorical trash of beyond-bad social media tactics. Not controversial tactics, mind. That would suggest that these tactics warranted even a smidgen of advocacy from the deepest darkest fringes of digital marketing.

No. In the crosshairs today are those social media tactics that have gone past being dead in the water; so far past that they have started bloat, smell, and risk contaminating an otherwise fresh experience.

They are ruining it for everybody and they need to be levelled.

The final wrecking ball

Funnily enough it wasn't actually one of these tactics that confirmed it for me, it was the abscence of one. This morning I logged on to Twitter and was greeted by a tonne of notifications (which I was super psyched about) and about double the amount of messages waiting for me (which I was wholey un-psyched about).

As any self-respecting marketer whose account isn't primarily used for customer service would, I ignored the latter and launched directly into exploring my notifications. I was happily replying to interactions with witty GIFs and generally having a great time with our awesome followers, before my hand accidentally slipped. I found my screen populated with automated messages asking me to "collaborate!", "attend a free webinar!", "click for a guaranteed 5k+ followers!", and even one asking what type of bread our business used.

Now, apart from the last one which genuinely made me chuckle, I wasn't engaged by this inbox full of disengenuous ones and zeros. That is until in the centre of it all I found something I did not expect:

A proper, genuine message from an actual, real person.

You see, thanks to the mountains of automated messages we received every day I'd forgotten that direct messaging had another little-known function aside from being a take-it-anywhere robot junkmail cabinet. A barely used function that allows one Twitter user to message another privately. I know - mind boggling.

Down with this sort of thing

I know for a fact I’m not the only one who despairs at instances of marketing idiocy on social media. So once I’d responded to the human being (or might it have been a very convincing bot?) I resolved myself to write this article. What follows is a list of social media tactics that should be condemned to the past.

1. Automated Twitter messages (obviously)

If I hadn’t already made it perfectly clear, automated Twitter messages are on the verge of making the Twitter inbox obsolete for highly-active users. Primarily users make use of the standard “Thank you for following - insert pitch here” format. It’s nigh-on devoid of reason as theres nothing private about it. It may aswell be a tweet.

If you want a user to actually engage with you, reach out with something of value to them. And do it publicly. Direct messaging can and should be reserved for customer service and private matters, which can then be shifted to email. Bulldoze that bot.

2. Facebook groups for events

There is nothing more harrowing than being added to a club-night guest list group by a random promoter acquaintance you haven’t seen since freshers week at University eight years ago. But it happens.

I’m not completely sure where the inclination for creating private groups for public events on social networking came from - perhaps it’s a result of users being stuck in the dark ages. But its about time it stopped. Creating and promoting an event through your page on Facebook is the correct way to do it. Your friends want to be invited - not accosted.

3. Automated Instagram comments

No matter how hard you try to make your automated Instagram comments sound authentic, they just don’t. They are completely obvious. What’s more, they aren’t fair on everybody else as hashtags that are practically owned by bots fluff up engagement rates by polluting them with empty numbers.

And what’s worst, you won’t know where and what has been commented on on your behalf unless it is responded to.

Some services can seem intuitive enough, making use of hashtags to target content that might want to engage with. But at the rate that automated comment services work, sooner or later one of those seemingly random innocent comment combinations is going to look not-so innocent next to a particular photo - say for instance the comment “Wow, gorgeous! 😍was generated next to a photo of a small business owner’s children on holiday. Not good.

4. Mindless, useless tagging

Tagging can undoubtedly come in useful for expanding reach and building social media discourse. But like anything else on social media, it should only be engaged with if it offers value to users. Tagging a user in a conversation that is of little to no importance to them is a redundant endeavour and can actually harm a brand’s image. It is effectively wasting their time.

The key with tagging is to definetely do it when a piece of content or a conversation allows, but don’t go looking for it.

5. And finally, letting your politically fired-up MD run your Twitter account

This may sound ridiculous and obvious, but now is not the time for your brand to start getting politically fired-up. In fact, unless your business explicitly requires your engagement, you’d do well to avoid politics alltogether for the foreseeable future. I chose the above statement as one of the worst cases of political preaching I have ever seen came from the account of producers of novelty coasters whose brand was otherwise rather witty.

So, to recap; don’t let the robots takeover, don’t force users to do something they don’t want to do, and definetely don’t let your political stance ruin your otherwise jovial voice.

Got anything you’d like to add to the list? Tweet us - @GiraffeSM.
(Just ignore the automated response)

What Happens When You Ignore Social Media Marketing?

What happens when you ignore social media

We’re at a point in time now where choosing to ignore social media is laughable. Without it things look very bleak indeed..

The reason is simple - it’s a marketing avenue where even the nichest of audiences can be found, one that facilitates brand awareness and advocacy on a herculean scale whilst also granting access to intuitive and measurable advertising.

When we talk about social media marketing we can all benefit from recognising that we’re no longer referring to a new concept. Social media is now about what we do not what we could do. This means that businesses who now engage in social media marketing (which should be absolutely all of them to one extent or another) can do so with a complete understanding of what each network can (and can’t) viably achieve, hence the possibilities become achievements and the future becomes the now.

The numbers are still significant and still growing - average daily social media usage among internet users reportedly amounts to 118 minutes this year, up from 109 minutes daily during 2015. The idea of pulling the plug on it needn’t bear thinking about - but just in case you are, here’s what happens when you ignore social media marketing.

Web traffic slows down and your content has very little impact

Because so much of our daily internet usage is taken up by social networking, a significant chunk of discovery for external sites comes from there. Opting to rely wholeheartedly on traffic from your blog and organic clicks from search engines will undoubtedly result in a noticeable slowing down of web traffic.

Social media isn’t about blindly posting your brand in front of random people, it’s about distributing the expert or entertaining content from your website to those who are likely to have use for it. Figures released last year suggested that Facebook now accounts for more traffic to news sites than Google. Content marketing is pretty useless without a clear social media distribution strategy; in order to increase your chances of your content getting noticed, shared and curated by influencers, you need to make sure it is sufficiently published.

If you aren’t noticing a high level of engagement or clicks on your content, it’s likely to do with how it is optimised for that particular network. Not one site is the same, so be aware of what performs well wherever you are posting and ensure your content is suitably tailored to each.

You risk being seen as the friend who never comes out and brand awareness significantly drops

Social media is integral to building awareness of your brand by real people. Social media brings with it something of a label that validates your business among the 24/7 culture of the 21st century. When you aren’t remaining active on there you risk losing that potency.

Remaining active on social media is about positioning your business beside users’ personal life; sooner or later you are likely to be integrated. As those discussions grow, so can your audience. When you are nowhere to be seen, people start to forget about you and instead turn their focus to those that are there; your competitors.

Your industry stops appreciating your voice and you lose customers to competitors

This is particularly significant for those in a B2B industry. Utilising content marketing alongside social media marketing is the perfect way to develop and expert, a professional voice that builds trust and awareness in your brand. When you let that slip often those in your industry begin to forget about you.

On social media your audience expect to be listened to. Regardless of whether they have something positive or negative to say about your brand, they expect a response. By not remaining reactive and retaining your professional online voice your risk alienating customers and losing them to your competitors.

Make Your Small Business Shine Online

Small business online marketing

“New Years Resolution” isn’t just some term touted by over-enthusiastic avocado lovers. Take this year as an opportunity to make your brand shine online.

As we venture boldly into a new year, it’s highly likely that you’ve made a number of ambitious business goals. And so you should - be bold! Digital marketing warrants constant improvement so if it’s not already up there as something for you to enhance, it should be.

Size no longer matters when it comes to digital. The smallest of small companies can boost their business by investing time into their online presence. Not doing so will likely harm business - it’s a digital world we’re living in and consumers have digital expectations.

It doesn't take much to give your brand a quick online health check-up. Follow these simple steps and you'll have a firm foundation to make 2017 your year to shine online.

1. Optimise your social media pages

How does your brand look online? Are your social media pages populated by bruised and battered old logos and irrelevant advertising, or do you have one consistent look and feel across board? Start by optimising your pages and ensuring that users get who you are and what you are about at first glance. Utilise your header and profile photo to showcase who you are and start creating a personality.

There are a number of useful free online tools that can help you optimise your social media pages. We’ve collected a list of the most powerful social media management tools for small businesses - check it out here.

2. Optimise your website

Facebook would have us believe that you don’t need a website anymore. But you do. By golly, you do. For the past few years Zuckerberg has done little to hide the fact that he wants to limit the amount of time users have to spend on the internet off of Facebook. But the truth is that websites are more important now than they have ever been. They are the shop fronts of the digital age.

Having your own website with your own blog lets you take advantage of authentic and original content marketing which builds up your social media marketing strategy. The two are basically best friends.

3. Integrate your social media and content marketing

Once you have optimised your pages and your website you can get to creating a consistent full-scale digital marketing strategy that suits you. Think of the two like this; your social pages are where real people come to hear about your brand and decide whether they want to advocate it. It should be used to share advice, resources and deals that would benefit them. Your website is your shop front. Create content that benefits your customers on there and share it on your social pages.

There have always been a number of different goals and things that can be achieved through social media marketing, such as brand awareness, audience growth or increased website traffic. But now we are seeing it used in new and exciting ways, with innovative check-in deals and advocacy benefits strategies being utilised in the hospitality industry.

If you’re struggling to create a strategy that reflects your own goals then drop us a message - we’d love to help. But one way sure-fire way to build your brand is an integrated content marketing and social media strategy.

4. Create and share better content

How do you use your blog to your benefit? Use it to benefit your customers. Quality articles not only entice new customers, they remind current ones why they bought into your brand in the first place and work to make them advocates.

Content marketing in 2017 is expected to see significant development and content creators are getting much, much better. Great news for users, but it means small businesses have to work a lot harder.

So that you know you are investing in the right thing, we’ve put together a how-to guide on creating the right content for your audience in 2017 - check it out here. We’ve also listed the top 12 online tools for content marketers.

5. Craft an online voice

Your online voice needs to be unique and totally human. We cannot stress enough the importance of sounding human on social media. It was made for humans by humans. Shouting about your brand doesn’t work anymore - to get results you need to engage with real people at a human level and get them to trust your brand so that your network will grow organically.

Regardless of your, your pages simply won’t grow if you don’t make people want to engage with you. Millennials are completely aware of what’s advertising and what isn’t, and they are less likely to trust a brand that doesn’t feel authentic. This article will help you build an online voice for your brand.

6. Learn how to listen and respond

One of our biggest (and favourite) pieces of expert social media advice from last year was for business to shut up and listen. Listening and responding goes beyond community management (but if you need help with that, check out this article), its about ensuring you provide what they ask for and give yourself the best chances of success.

Social media marketing doesn’t stop at your posting strategy - it’s about customer service too. Make sure you top off your posting strategy of colossal epicness with a great response rate for queries.

Great digital marketing isn’t just for the big wigs. Make 2017 your year to shine online. And if you need any help along the way, drop us a line.

Kicking Your Content Marketing into 2017

Content Marketing 2017

Content marketing has long played a crucial role in the best digital marketing strategies. Quality content not only entices new customers, it reminds current ones why they bought into your brand in the first place and works to make them advocates.

It certainly warrants some serious investment in 2017 - but you need to be sure you’re going the right way about it.

Quality content is not just a magic buzzword in digital marketing. It is the indispensable aspect of any successful campaign. As we venture boldly into a new year, it’s highly likely that you’ve made a number of ambitious business goals. And so you should - be bold! Digital marketing warrants constant improvement so if it’s not already up there for you, it should be.

Content is that priceless product that you need your digital customers to buy into. There is now such a wide array of digital marketplaces and social networks. This can something of a double-edged sword. While it might mean that companies have access to a variety of different options to reach their audience, the amount of them vying for attention is substantially more than it used to be. Competition is hot on any channel. To get anything out of it you need to stand out.

Kicking your content marketing into 2017

The content creators are getting better. Much better. That is great news for users but something of a complication for casual marketers who can’t be casual anymore. In order to compete in 2017 you need to be sure that your efforts stand up and that you aren’t wasting your time. Your investment needs to be the right investment.

Quality content marketing is crucial to success in 2017. Follow these steps and start doing yours the right way.

1. Revisit who your audience are

All content needs to serve a purpose. Everything which serves a purpose has an audience. Any content marketer worth their salt understands that content that isn’t targeted to a particular audience is next to worthless. As we move into this new year, take a moment to revisit exactly who your audience are. Already done that? Go deeper.

Specificity is key. Effective content is perpetual; by narrowing down to a specific segment of your wider audience you give it the best chance of being considered quality and evergreen. Catch-all content efforts neither work for search engine optimisation purposes or for social media promotion. Learn who your audience are and narrow in on every single facet of their interests. Niche it up!

2. Reflect your niche in your headline

If there is one thing that we all need to improve on this year it’s headlines. These few words are all you have to get users to stop scrolling and click on your content. They require just as much investment as the content itself. But that doesn’t mean you should over-promise. On the contrary, exaggerated headlines are nothing more than clickbait and will simply harm your brand in the long run.

Be sure that your headline identifies your niche audience and outlines the benefits that clicking will bring. Most content writers will start off writing witty or cutesy headlines because they sound clever, but soon enough they realise that above all being obvious is what matters. With a few bold power words thrown in for good measure.

3. Create better header graphics

You want users to start sharing your content. You want their peers to see that content, click and curate it themselves. So what you need is something visually stimulating. It really doesn’t take much to add a tiny aspect of graphic design to content creation. Header graphics shouldn’t be an afterthought, they should compliment your content. There’s nothing wrong with CC0 stock images - so long as you personalise them for your own purposes.

Your header graphic is an opportunity to reiterate the benefits of your article using different keywords to the headline. While these might not be readable by search engines, that certainly doesn't make them devoid of reason. They are an extra opportunity to entice clicks.

4. Get some consistency with your articles

Ideally you want a repeat audience who have certain expectations for your content. How can we expect that when one day we post a 1200 word analytical report and the next a 230 word company announcement that has little importance to your audience? Make 2017 your year for consistency. That doesn't just mean posting similar length articles, it means crafting your a structure or style of delivery unique to your feed.

Contributing guest posts to external sites often means you have to structure your posts by their rules. Just because they get a lot of hits doesn’t mean that their structure is some secret formula. On the contrary, some of these are downright awful to write and even worst to read. On your own blog and even some third party sites/professional networks, you have the freedom to create something more readable, skimmable and welcome to the reader’s eye.

5. It’s not enough to be useful - be unique.

It’s crucial for your content to be usable, that’s for certain. But if you really want to stand out from the crowd, you need to have a personality. This is something that should emanate all the way through your digital marketing strategy. Your online voice should be unique, fun and totally human. Content marketing is where your voice is forged.

6. Promote, optimise and distribute with all your might

The final step is crucial - promotion. If you want your content to be successful, you need to get it in front of that niche audience. Leave no stone unturned in doing so. Ensure every single one of your posts are optimised for search engines by using Yoast or a similar plugin. Include your article in your email marketing or newsletter. Continually promote them on social networking.

At this point in time it’s a no-brainer to put some paid promotion behind your articles on social media. Promoting posts of your content often results in the growth of a quality, engaged audience of advocates. This audience is likely to come back to read your consistently good articles, remembering your services and products for when they have need of them.

If you’re looking to invest in content marketing this year, our services might be right up your street. Interested in finding out more? Reach out to us here!

Community Management Mistakes That Will Alienate Your Audience

Community management mistakes to make

Every social media marketing strategy calls for community management to some extent. The degree to which these responsibilities take centre stage are dependent on the scale of each operation - while some smaller businesses may delegate community management as a secondary role for certain individuals, others require a full-time, devoted community manager. Either way, getting it wrong can completely alienate an audience.

Community management is often looked at by social media managers with a touch of disdain - a box to be ticked. But the truth is that for any business serious about converting visitors to their page into anything other than passive observers, good community management is key.

The issue here isn’t one of misunderstanding, it’s motivation. Marketers and Comms professionals are well aware of the need for community management, but find it naturally taking a back seat to other areas of their social media strategy.

Community management needn’t be looked at as a burden - on the contrary, it should be seen as the epitome of engagement. By avoiding some common mistakes you can be sure that your community remains on your side and seriously increase your chances of converting visitors to your page.

Be sure to respond in a timely fashion

The benefits of a good response time are obvious, especially on Facebook where users can see how long it normally takes for you to respond. A good response time is integral to making a community feel valued and respected. Remember that an active posting strategy is also something of an invited for engagement. When you respond to at least 90 percent of messages within two minutes you will get yourself the elusive “Very responsive to messages” icon - a good accolade for community-focused businesses.

Listen and respond correctly

Clearly it isn’t worth responding to a message with something irrelevant just for the response factor. You need to be sure that you are on hand to respond appropriately for each query. What this looks like will depend on your business and the nature of messages that you often receive. It can be worth drafting up a list of common queries and the sort of response that you should have - but don’t lose the human factor...

Sound like a human being - have some fun

Sounding like a bot is a sure-fire way to turn off any audience member. This is your ultimate chance to show off the human side of your brand so  don’t be afraid to have some fun if the message calls for it. This voice will relate to your business and to the message in question - fun tones for fun messages, concerned tones for serious ones and complaints.

Don't try and make it about you or your business

So the likelihood is that a user’s query is going to relate to your business, that’s a given. But what you should avoid is trying to turn around a question and make it into something else. It is not a chance to try and push a sale for a service that your audience hasn’t asked for (unless that is expressly relevant to them), and it isn’t a chance to pass the buck about mistakes. Keep focused and thank them for reaching out to you.

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