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How to leverage Facebook Messenger for your business

How to leverage Facebook Messenger for your business

When it comes to managing Facebook for your business there’s a lot that can go wrong or be overlooked. Facebook is a platform that’s constantly changing its features and switching the algorithm, almost on a daily basis. Even savvy business owners can find this quite exhausting. But there’s one very important feature that, if left unattended, could cost you a good bit of business – the Facebook Messenger.

If you use Facebook on a personal basis you probably use Facebook Messenger often. It’s a separate app entirely devoted to instant messaging your friends, or in your company’s case, your audience. Although it’s primarily used between friends, more and more customers are opting to message businesses directly to ask questions and resolve issues in a more discreet and timely manner. If you want your business to be more responsive to customers and potentially increase goodwill and leads, then follow these actionable tips.

Use Automatic Messages

Facebook rewards businesses that respond their messages in a timely matter. You might have seen the text on a business’ Facebook page under the About Us heading that reads “typically replies within hour/minutes/etc”. Facebook gathers the average response rate and if it’s 75% or higher they will list it on your page. If you respond less frequently it won’t be made known to the public. It’s beneficial to have your response rate and timing listed because customers will know the average time it will take to reach you. Without that information they may not reach out to you.

Using an auto-responder will not only help you manage incoming messages quickly and professionally, but it will also help keep your response rate and time to desirable levels. There are three auto-responder or messaging features Facebook offers: the “Away Message”, the “Instant Reply” and a “Messenger Greeting”. To get to these options, click on the Messages tab on the top left of your page then go to Settings on the top right. It will then take you to a page that gives you the option to enable these messages.

The Away Message (it’s under the “Stay responsive when you can’t get to your computer or phone”) will let your customers know you are away but will get back to them in a timely matter. You can also turn off the chat in this settings page, so you can be away from the chat for as long as 12 hours. This feature will allow you to maintain a rapid response time while still being able to take a break when needed. However, this is a feature you shouldn’t use too frequently because you want to be perceived as an approachable source.

When you are not away from your phone or computer, consider using an Instant Reply auto-responder. A simple message expressing thanks for reaching out and that you’ve received the message will keep a desired response time but also give you the opportunity to look into their issue and craft a correct answer to their issue.

The Messenger Greeting gives you the ability to personalize the first message a customer will see when they pull up the chat box to message you. If used correctly these automated messages should feel like anything but. When crafting the right message, be sure to use personal details like the customer’s first name, your company’s website or your phone number. Just click the “Add Personalization” button to insert these details. The customized message will make your exchange feel more human to your customer, which is something consumers crave in this highly impersonal digital era. And it’s a very effective way to extend your brand’s image.

Be agile

If your customers are on mobile devices, you should be as well. Be sure to have the Facebook Page Manager downloaded onto your phone. That way you can reach your messages when you are on the go. This is especially helpful for business owners who are not glued to their computer all day.

The Page Manager app is nearly as fully functional as the desktop site. You can schedule posts, go live on Facebook and track analytics.  So adding this app to your phone will not only help you respond to comments within a timely manner (we strongly suggest responding within 24 hours) but it will also allow you to post and interact with fans while you are in the field.

Respond as though others are watching

It might be the case that someone might reach out to your business with a negative review or comment over Facebook messenger. It may be because they want to really let loose or it’s a big enough problem they’d like a direct 1-to-1 conversation with nobody else seeing how it’s being handled. But just because it’s not visible to your entire audience doesn’t mean it can never be. Treat every customer as though the conversation was public, keeping in mind that one bad screen shot can go viral.

If someone from your team is in charge of your company’s Facebook page, make sure they are trained to know when to escalate certain comments or concerns.  You want to provide your customers with relevant and correct information at all times, and sometimes the person responding doesn’t always know the right answer. As long as you’re transparent and willing to help your customers will appreciate you.

Why bother with Facebook Messenger?

Just as responding to your reviews on Facebook we think it’s vital to respond to private messages quickly and professionally. If you want to establish yourself as a thought leader and leading industry professional merely providing great content may not be enough evidence. You need to back up your expertise with an approachable attitude and helpful responses. Without those elements, you’re losing out on connecting with your customers, which is one of the primary goals and benefits of  using social media. Many people, particularly millennials, look for the way in which a company responds to customer issues, complaints and concerns. Unresponsive companies can lose a lot of business, regardless of how talented their staff might be.

If you haven’t figured it out already, social media at its core brings people together to interact and socialize. It’s not just about shouting your message into the internet abyss, it’s also a conversation between you and your audience. Private messages are just another tool with which to communication. If you follow these simple tips, you are well on your way to creating loyalty and strengthening the bond between you and your customers.

Do you struggle to keep up with your Facebook messages and reviews? Does your business need an image overhaul? Call Sara and Rhonda at 610.937.5187 or email info@contentandcreativity.com and the team at C&C can help you manage your reputation and reviews online.

Facebook vs. Periscope: Figuring Out the Right App For Your Live Streams

Facebook vs. Periscope: Figuring Out the Right App For Your Live Streams

Whether you want to document an important event, share a quick tutorial about a new product, or even just field some questions from your audience, live video is a valuable tool for nearly every business. There are a lot of programs and apps out there, but many have fizzled out or left the market entirely, like the once buzz worthy Meerkat app. A few heavy hitters in the live video trend remain – Periscope and Facebook Live Streaming are the most notable. It can be a difficult decision to determine which app would be the most useful for your business, but we will try to help you make sense of it all by comparing these two live broadcasting apps.

Periscope

Periscope is a highly popular app devoted strictly to live streaming video. Users note that it’s easy to use and has features not usually available on other apps. These unique qualities could be the reason for its popularity and over 200 million streams in its first year. After six weeks of being live, Twitter bought Periscope for $86 million dollars.
Users can find your video content by entering your username or finding your stream via a world map. You can stream a video either on your phone or through a GoPro HD camera. Also, you can sketch on the screen while broadcasting. This can help when describing a topic or pointing things out for the audience.
After a live stream, the video is automatically archived on your Periscope profile for 24 hours for replay.

Facebook

Facebook’s live video feature is just one facet of this juggernaut. It’s pretty simple and similar to the usability of Periscope: you record yourself via a smart phone for your followers to tune in and watch. The video of your broadcast will be streamed natively onto Facebook, and whether the user is on a smart phone or computer they will be able to see it.
Most people are aware of how big Facebook has become. As of 2016, there are over 1.7 billion active users using the website, phone or tablet app.

So which one is better?

Facebook and Periscope are both very powerful, but we think one clearly dominates the other. Let’s go over a few features and discuss facets of live video and which app is superior.

Reach – Facebook

This one’s a no-brainer. Facebook is the winner by far! Although Periscope has some serious video stream numbers, their active viewer count is at about the 1 million mark. That’s a low number for a social media platform. The cause of this could be that when people use Periscope they are using it to tune into a specific user. If they only follow a handful of users, they may only use the app a few times a month at most.
The great thing about Facebook is that once you start live streaming, all the followers of your business page will get a notification that you have gone live. Unlike posting video, graphic or text content that garners maybe 7% reach per post, you will alert 100% of your followers of what you’re doing once you live broadcast. This gives you a greater chance to reach and engage followers who may not always see your content.

Customization – Periscope

Periscope allows you to sketch on the video as well as record on other high definition video devices. This is great for those who want to capture higher quality videos. Facebook live video is currently on smart phone only, but will soon be offered on your web browser as well. Still, that might not produce high definition quality videos, and depending upon your business this might be very important.

Archive Ability – Facebook

Periscope only allows you to archive your videos for up to 24 hours on your page. Many users download their video content afterwards and upload them to YouTube to either monetize them or simply just to have them on hand.
On the other hand, Facebook gives you the ability to not only download the video after completion but also allows you to save the video so it will always be on your Facebook page. If you want to keep it strictly as a once watched live-only event, you have that ability as well. These features make Facebook the winner.

Convenience – Facebook

Think of those 1.7 billion active users on Facebook. Now think of the likelihood that most of your fans are on Facebook. If you want to reach the largest chunk of your audience, wouldn’t you want to use Facebook? Using a different app to live stream video might potentially dilute the success of your broadcast.
If you are convinced you need to use Periscope, the one benefit is that you do not need an account to view the live stream. So you can link your Periscope on Facebook and your users can find it there.

Staying Power – Facebook

Let’s face it: Apps may come and go, but Facebook proves to be eternal. Many users have been on Facebook for 10 years and upwards, so to consider it going under anytime soon is highly unlikely. As previously stated, Periscope has a low active user count plus it is owned by a currently flailing Twitter. If it doesn’t become more successful soon, it may fail. When Twitter is sold (soon) Periscope might be dissolved and somehow integrated into Twitter, a la Facebook live video. There are many “IFs” in the future of Periscope that do not apply to Facebook.

Final Verdict

We suggest using the Facebook live video feature. Although it may not have the customizable features Periscope may have, there are many more benefits that make up for what it is lacking.
If you are still curious about Periscope, don’t be afraid to try it out. Periscope may very well be worth it for you and your business. Although we have made an assessment about the app, social media takes a lot of testing and experimenting to find the right marketing mix for your business. So never be afraid to be curious, creative and bold. Good luck!

Instagram Success For Non-Profits

Instagram Success For Non-Profits

In many ways, Instagram is becoming the most important platform for a non-profit, charity or religious organization. Its continually growing membership of 400 million, plus its visual nature, and ability to reach a user’s intended audience makes it easier to reach your target audience than Facebook and Twitter. To be more specific, your followers will see 100% of your content on Instagram as opposed to on Facebook, with an algorithm that favors advertisers. Twitter’s upcoming update will also make it as hard to reach followers without advertising as it is on Facebook. Here are some key elements that a non-profit should incorporate into their Instagram strategy to engage their followers, break into new audiences, and generate more donations and/or volunteers for their cause.

Create an Instagram strategy

When I work with my non-profit clients, I focus their Instagram content strategy around four pillars:

 

Storytelling

This is the most effective way to evoke emotions in your audience. Positive stories evoke joy, happiness, and proof that your non-profit’s work is impacting the world. Highlighting the struggles of your cause and who it affects can galvanize your base. Profile a distinguished donor, employee or volunteer and how they’ve impacted your organization. Both the positive and “negative” aspects of storytelling can easily make a post go viral. Storytelling doesn’t always mean a novella-length photo caption, in fact sometimes a photo says much more than a caption ever could. Choose your words and photos wisely.

 

Awareness Building

Building awareness for your cause is often implemented through storytelling, but that is not the only way. Many causes have a day, week or month dedicated to raising awareness and donations. Deadlines, both real and manufactured, are also a way to encourage donors to act. Non-profits should take this time to educate their followers about their cause, those who are affected, and how a person can help donate their money or time to this issue.

 

Engaging donors, past and potential

Success on Instagram means not only a continuously growing following that you can talk to, but a following that talks back. Instagram has engagement levels that are over fifty times as high as Facebook or Twitter, but you must position your content correctly to obtain these elevated levels of engagement. One way to do that is by using popular hashtags. Hashtags will link potential donors to your content easier. Another way to garner more engagement is to tag other Instagram users in your photos. You can either tag them in the photo caption or the photo directly. Users who are tagged can spread your message simply by liking the photo as well. The explore tab is a mixture of trending tags and photos that are relevant to a user. Tagging donors or volunteers can have your content reach hundreds and even thousands of new people.

Still not getting enough feedback? Ask your followers questions. Interact with the people you follow. The more of the human element you put into your page and persona, the more humans will want to interact with your organization.

 

Raising Donations

As a non-profit, you need to approach donation generation just as a business would treat leads and sales generation. This means that, in conjunction with other three pillars of the Instagram strategy, you also have to employ some subtle sales tactics. Soft selling works much better on Instagram than most other social platforms since the majority of the users are Millennials. When creating a new post always mention how the viewer can donate. If you are taking donations online link your website to your profile’s bio section to take the viewer directly to the donation page. If your donations are from texting out a special code, remember to put that in each and every photo caption. You never know how someone might find your content so remember to list any and all donation channels.

Instagram advertising is still relatively new, but this strategy offers a great opportunity to raise donations through Instagram. If you have previously run ads on Facebook you will find that creating an Instagram ad is very similar, and ads can be created in the Facebook platform. There are a variety of goals you can set and methods of ad delivery, so the choice is up to you on how you advertise and how frequently. A word of advice, start slow and try different delivery methods. A “small” budget is really whatever your organization considers one to be, but I often start my clients off with a $25 dollar ad spend. Once you have tested various methods and audiences you should get a good feel of what is working and what isn’t effective. At that point you can invest more in ads for longer periods.

 

Final word: It’s all about your audience.

Instagram is not the platform to constantly churn out genius-level content on. Although your cause is no doubt a serious one, many users will not react kindly to cold, donation driven content.  Sometimes a post you least expect to resonate can go viral. Listen to your audience. Monitor what they like, and then give them content that they will respond to. That is the key to success on Instagram. Happy posting!

 

Are you part of a non-profit that needs assistance in creating a digital strategy? Are you in search of an integrated marketing plan that can result in a larger audience, more donations and higher public visibility? Contact me at sara@contentandcreativity.com or 610.937.5187 for a free consultation and $100 off your set up fees.

Gaining Quality Leads and Sales Through Instagram

Gaining Quality Leads and Sales Through Instagram

Instagram continues to grow at a fast pace. In a year’s time Instagram has gained over 100 million viewers. Yeah, you read that right – 100 million new followers. I’ve written about Instagram, hosted webinars and participated in social media panels discussing how important Instagram can be in a business’s social media strategy. Over 400 million users is quite the big deal! Still, only about 9% of small businesses use Instagram.  So instead of explaining, yet again, how easy it is to use, how to gain followers and how fun the app really is, I’m going to tell you exactly what you want to know: How to get qualified leads and sales from Instagram.

 

If you are useful, followers will come.

Providing a consistent strategy that is pertinent to the audience you are targeting is paramount to anything else I’m going to tell you. Even before you find leads, you need a following. Gaining a following takes posting content that is appealing, helpful or entertaining on a regular basis. You need to use hashatgs strategically. Above all else, remember to avoid all hard sale tactics. This is not the platform for it and it will decrease your chance of gaining followers greatly.

Along with a consistent, engaging posting strategy remember to stay in tune with your brand’s message and feel. Have a recognizable profile picture that your fans could pick out easily. Create an engaging bio section that is pithy but encompasses your brand.

Link up

For the most part your followers will view only your photos in their feed, but this doesn’t mean that you can’t lure them back to your profile page. When you are posting a photo that is sales related, remember to mention “check the link in our bio” and tell them why they will be visiting that link. Many businesses use their bio link to get sign-ups, sell a physical product, promoting a contest or even exclusive content just for their Instagram followers. Exclusive content is generally delivered through a landing page and not on their actual website.

Use trackable links whenever possible. Bit.ly is a site I use regularly for my clients and my own business. Once you create an account, you can create different links for each platform and/or campaign and are able to track each one in one place.

Make followers feel special

As I mentioned previously, offering exclusive content is a great way to get leads. The bio link you have on your profile can take a user to a landing page where they can download a free guide, eBook or any kind of free content. For most people “free” is irresistible. Many are willing to share their email address with those who give them value in return. Giving away free content is a great way to get your audience into your funnel, and once they are on your email list you can upsell with bigger ticket items in the future.

InstaFame through association

Establishing a relationship with an Instagram influencer is a strategy that has gained popularity in the last two years. Before you ink a deal with an influencer, do a little research. Search popular, but relevant to your business, hashtags and search for the top liked photos. Chances are these photos are from popular users. If you think they would be a good fit, reach out to them. Of course this isn’t always the cheapest route, in fact it may cost you thousands of dollars. But if you have money to spend and you’re looking to reach thousands, or even a million new followers this is a great way to do it.

Influencers can be a part of your Instagram plan one of two ways: one when they post your sponsored content on their profile, or when you feature them on your page.

Sometimes just by virtue of your content strategy alone you can attract brand ambassadors. Always check relevant hashtags for your product and people using it. According to Go-Gulf, 78% of consumers make decisions based on what they see on social media so remember to frequently highlight your followers’ positive experiences with your brand. Request to repost their photos to show your other fans what they can expect from your business.

The bottom line

Although I gave many actionable steps towards gaining sales and leads, Instagram is more than just about driving revenue. Brand loyalty, brand perception and lifetime user value are all things your business can’t live without. How you are perceived and the community you foster is of equal importance to the products you sell. Instagram, like any other social platform, is a tool to promote and maintain your brand’s identity.  With the right strategy not only will you look good but you’ll make money doing it.

 

Would you like to learn more about how you can use Instagram to help grow your business? Give us a call at 610.937.5187 or email me at sara@contentandcreativity.com. We are here to help!

Ready or Not: Your Marketing Strategy in 2016

Ready or Not: Your Marketing Strategy in 2016

If you have a Facebook account, I’m sure you’ve seen a lot of “new year, new me” status updates. No surprise, right? The beginning of a new year is traditionally a time to reflect, re-evaluate, and restart in your personal life. But have you ever applied this fresh start to your company’s goals, projects and strategies? The new year is a great time for looking to the future, especially when it comes to your company’s social media marketing strategy.

Social media changes a little each day. New apps, new algorithms and new features for reaching the right audience change constantly. For the everyday business owner it can be quite overwhelming trying to keep up with current social media trends, considering they have so much else to do.  Nevertheless, if one of your business resolutions is to get your social media under control this year then read on. We’ve outlined actionable steps that will help lay the groundwork for your 2016 social media campaign.

 

Analyze and Evaluate Your Existing Marketing Strategies

When you’re creating a social media marketing plan it’s just as important to look back as it is to look forward. Remembering your successes and your struggles from 2015 will help guide you to create a more successful plan for 2016. You’ll use strategies that worked out well and ditch the unsuccessful ones. Make time to assess the strengths and weaknesses of your goals and plans and how actionable they really are. You don’t want to disappoint yourself midway through the year, so create goals that are optimistic while at the same time are realistic.

 

Accumulate curated content (some of which is evergreen!)

In articles past, both Rhonda and I have talked about having a healthy mix of informational pieces, sales copy and fun/engaging content. Informational content should be industry specific, especially if one of your goals this year is to become an informational leader.

Creating written content – blog posts, articles, social media posts, etc. – is incredibly time consuming, which is why curated content should be a critical part of your social media marketing strategy. Not only can you post these items on your pages, but some items can also become a part of your master file of resources.

In the new year, review what current content resources you have while keeping your goals in mind. This could be an industry leader’s blog, white papers, Google News, or any reliable source where you’re gleaning information. Reviewing what you’ve already saved will help create your intended strategy and can also lead you to other content that may be helpful in your overall plan. For example, when I visit Social Media Examiner, a premier social media management blog, I will often bookmark many articles that will either inspire me to write something on the topic or schedule it into my editorial calendar. Having resources bookmarked makes creating content a whole lot easier.

I am always on the lookout for evergreen content. Evergreen content is helpful not only immediately but also in a long term plan. Evergreen articles are not too specific on timing, which means the information dispersed is basically universal and remains true no matter when it is read. I have articles bookmarked from over two years ago that I still click back to from time to time. Non-written evergreen content can be things like quotes, tips or photos

 

Create an editorial calendar!

Every business would benefit from an editorial calendar. These calendars can include all social media postings, campaigns and ongoing projects that need to be worked on.

You’ll first want to start out mapping out the campaigns you typically create every year and how long they’ll last. For example, a Labor Day weekend flash sale or Mother’s Day event. Next, create timelines for each project.  When you’re done all that, you will have a rough idea of the content needed for the year.

Next you want to create a specific editorial calendar. This part is up to you, but we have about 2-3 examples of this that we can pick for each month. The easiest way to do this is print out a blank monthly calendar, then write 2-3 post topics for each day. Depending on the industry you’re in, you can lighten up on the schedule on Saturday and Sunday and post 1-2 times.

This is where the “healthy mix of informational pieces, sales copy and fun/engaging content” comes in. Try not to have too much of one type of content in one day, like all sales Saturday (unless you have a campaign going on!). During this time of planning, you’re going to need to start producing content, along with finding relevant curated content for your Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram or wherever platforms you use.

Now that your overall year is planned out it’s time to fill the calendar with the related content. You may find that some of your recurring graphic memes, i.e. “Tip Tuesday” or “Quote of the Day” can be created en masse and filed or prescheduled for later use. If you have determined that one blog post each week, or two videos per month, is optimal for your business it would pay to have two or three of them done well in advance.

While we do recommend that you stick to your calendar as closely as possible you should also be flexible because “Things Happen”. Your company will very likely experience some unforeseen news items that will need to be shared in a timely way. You may be featured in the press, win an award or snag a new, impressive client that your audience will want to know about.

 

So much to do; so little time!

If this all sounds like a lot of work doing things you are not accustomed to doing, you’re right. That’s where we come in.

Before our first meeting together we will present you with a detailed proposal. Rhonda and I will research your company and your top competitors. We’ll see what works for them and what doesn’t, and see if there should be any similarities in your strategy. Once you’re on board, we will create a new custom strategy for your business that includes editorial calendars for four social media platforms, graphics, articles and videos.

If you know your business’ social media marketing presence needs to grow and you don’t have the time, don’t worry! #WeAreHereToHelp. Contact us today at info@contentandcreativity.com or call us at 610.937.5187 to schedule your free consultation.