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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.

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!

How to Become an Influencer in Your Field

How to Become an Influencer in Your Field

Going to trade shoes and industry events are a great way to network and a tried and true method of becoming well known in your industry. But in the digital age it doesn’t need to stop there. Social media provides us with a terrific opportunity to grow our connections and share information. That shared content often comes from an Informational Leader or Influencer. Informational Leaders are considered the best in their field and are either known locally, nationally or even globally. Their content is top quality and is shared throughout the industry community. If you’re looking for a bigger following for your business one of your goals should be to become an informational leader in your field. Here are some actionable steps you can take to becoming your industry’s next authoritative voice.

 

Don’t be afraid to promote yourself

In the past five years I’ve worked in social media, I have been extremely lucky to have to worked with some influential and experienced individuals in their field. The biggest hurdle for many of my clients has been their hesitation to promote themselves both on social media and offline. Lack of self promotion would hinder the success of even the most well known person in an industry.

Self promotion doesn’t always have to involve “ME! ME! ME!” content, at least overtly speaking. Self promotion can be achieved by offering useful knowledge to your followers and community at large.

Periscope is a new app on the scene that is great for building a large following. Users can create a mini-live webinar where they talk about a certain subject of their choosing and those watching can post comments that will pop up on the screen. Hosting instructional or AMA (Ask Me Anything) Periscope sessions are a great way to interact with followers in real time. The feedback you get is instant and can further guide you in making better-targeted, elite level content. If viewers can’t be there for your live scopes, they have 24 hours to see a replay. This way you can still promote the scope for a day afterwards.

Traditional webinars are another popular choice to post authoritative content. Sites like GoToMeeting, AnyMeeting and even Google+ Hangouts are just some of the popular webinar platforms out there. Webinars can be as short as 15 minutes or a few hours long. My suggestion would be to stay at around 1 hour or less, unless the topic at hand is a little more complex than what can be covered in an hour.  As a social media manager I’m constantly learning. I’ve sat in on many, many webinars over the years. In my experience as a webinar attendee, I’ve heard several speakers spend upwards of twenty minutes talking about themselves! Sounds unbearable, and it can be, but the content provided is usually worth it. Webinars are also a premier vehicle to upsell your audience. The way this works is you give a chunk of useful information in the webinar but promise the whole shebang in the eBook or educational series. This is how many informational leaders make a big chunk of their income.

 

Become an Influencer by connecting with Influencers

You may already know some of the big names in your industry. Find them on Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ or Instagram and follow them. Often they will automatically follow you back, but make sure you have some valuable content of your own on those platforms in case they are selective about who they follow. Then check out who they are following and add those people as well.

If you don’t know your industry’s heavy hitters there are several ways to search for them. Google “Top 10 (your industry) Blogs” or “Top (your industry) on Twitter”.  Go to LinkedIn Pulse (under Interests) and search for topics and influencers. There are even apps that help you find keywords, articles similar to yours or influencers such as Topsy, FollowerWonk and Buzzsumo.

Once you have identified and followed the influencers in your field, ENGAGE. Like, comment on and share their posts. If you get a response you may even be able to email them your articles in the future.

 

Create an eBook

When I suggest writing an eBook to my clients they often get a little uneasy. They believe it’s too much work, takes too much time and the results wouldn’t be worth the effort. Nothing could be farther from the truth! An eBook doesn’t have to be novel length and in fact many eBooks I’ve found useful are merely reports that are ten pages or less. If you have great content that would be helpful to others this would be a great place to present it. As mentioned previously, you could easily upsell an eBook through a webinar or even just promote it on your social platforms.

There are endless programs that allow you to publish your eBooks online for cheap or totally free. Lulu, BookTango and Kindle Publishing are popular examples. You can even create an inexpensive published-on-demand hard copy of your book on CreateSpace, which would be a great giveaway at

 

Publish Through LinkedIn and SlideShare

LinkedIn has a few ways to publish your authoritative content, one by publishing an article right on your home page and videos through SlideShare.

Publishing through LinkedIn has proved to be successful for me. It has helped expose me to larger audiences and got my business’ name out there. I’ve even scored consultations through my LinkedIn posts! LinkedIn has gotten me a ton of views, likes and shares. A post or two have even gone viral. The great thing about posting on LinkedIn is that when I publish content my connections plus anyone who follows my updates gets a notification.  That’s a great feature for anyone who’s trying to become an informational leader. Posting directly on LinkedIn will put a face to the name and content is shared easier, faster and with more of a qualified audience. Your headline should be as engaging as the content you’re writing, so be sure you pick something that will catch the eye of your readers. Try using CoSchedule’s Headline Analzyer. It will grade your potential post title and give you suggestions on how to optimize it.

I bet you would like to be a LinkedIn Influencer, right? If you post frequently enough on LinkedIn it could increase your following to LinkedIn Influencer level. LinkedIn Influencer was a title given to about 500 professionals who publish their content on the site. Their articles and videos come up on newsfeeds and are easily searchable through LinkedIn Pulse. To become a LinkedIn Influencer you must be invited by LinkedIn, so it’s not something you should count on. Instead, write like an Influencer. Research a popular Influencer in your field and see what popular content they have. Then elaborate on what they’ve discussed. That could be a response, an “unpopular opinion” write-up, or how that topic as effected your business. You can even link back to their original post.

If your content is visual SlideShare is the place to share it. There are 70 million users per month on the site and it receives 500% more traffic from business owners than all other social platforms. You can upload your content at SlideShare and not only benefit from the traffic on that site but it’s easy to share it everywhere else. And it’s a terrific source for finding leads for your business.

 

Questions and Answers

Whether it’s on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter, asking or answering questions is a great way to increase visibility and engagement. Showing what you know and giving quality input will get you seen by your community. And don’t be afraid to ask a question in industry groups as well. Interacting on social media is a two way street; if you want to be noticed you must engage.

 

Now you know that to become an informational leader there are three basic steps.

Step 1 – Create useful, engaging content.

Step 2 – Publish it everywhere.

Step 3 – Connect with Influencers

If you are stuck on Step 1 we can help because that’s exactly what we do. Contact me at info@contentandcreativity.com or call 610.937.5187.

Crafting a Cohesive Brand Message with Instagram

Crafting a Cohesive Brand Message with Instagram

As the premier photoblogging platform, Instagram has grown like wildfire and brands were quick to take notice. Apart from maintaining company websites and separate social media accounts, large and small businesses alike have begun to explore the benefits of brand promotion through Instagram.

In early 2015 Instagram clocked in at 300 million active monthly users, and about 75 million use the social media app each day. According to the Pew Institute 53% of users are in the 18-29 age group while the second largest demographic is ages 30-49, which is 25% of the Instagram population.  If your business caters to these age brackets and has been looking for a new way to reach them, Instagram is the right platform for your business.

If you want your business to be a part of the Instagram success story, follow the tips I’ve outlined below.

 

Sync up.

Connect your Instagram to your Facebook. This can either be done when you set up your Instagram account or at any point in the settings tab. This way your photos will be on your Facebook newsfeed as well as Instagram and your current base of Facebook followers will know where to find you and like your Instagram page.

 

Hashtag every photo.

My partner Rhonda has previously written about the use of hashtags and how it can create a successful brand message, and we both recommend that every business should create their own unique hashtag. This will establish a feed of your content and your fans’ relevant photos that is easily searchable and viewed. Content + Creativity’s unique Instagram hashtag is #CCInstaWisdom and we tag any relevant quotes or social tips that may help our followers and the public audience.

Remember to put your lists of hashtags in the comment below your caption to avoid looking spammy. Try to keep it to 10 hashtags or less. You should use any relevant trending hashtags whenever necessary.  I must stress relevant. There’s nothing more desperate looking than a user tagging a photo with every trending tag at the moment.  It will make others unfollow and ignore you completely. Trending topics can be found under the bottom tab that has the looking glass icon.

 

When your audience speaks, LISTEN.

Whether you have a brick and mortar establishment or are strictly online, any business owner can appreciate a glowing testimonial or a positive exchange with customers.  In days past, when these conversations occurred you probably only told your spouse and kids at the end of the day. Platforms like Instagram now give you a place to share positive experiences with your customers to your audience. With their permission, take a photo of the customer or the email exchange and post it with a quick explanation of the situation.

I’ve written previously about how much of a timesaver curated content can really be.  A great way to gather readymade content and photos is to skim your unique hashtag using the search function in the explore tab.  Once you find a photo you like, contact the owner and ask permission to Regram their content. Regram is a free app that takes a screenshot of a specific Instagram photograph so you can repost it onto your page. It will give the proper credit in the photo which is very important. People don’t like seeing “stolen” content on your page, and will either unfollow or leave a negative comment. Despite the automatic attribution to the source in the photo itself, be sure to include a clickable link to the username in the caption. Some examples of what to post via Regram can be pictures of customers at your store, using your product or even fan art.

 

Don’t just post, interact.

Sure, a consistent posting strategy is important. I’ve written a piece previously about how to market to Milennials on Instagram and that was one of my most important suggestions. But offering great content will be only half of your strategy for success on Instagram. The other half is interacting with your followers and other brands. You can’t expect high levels of engagement on your posts if you don’t talk back!

Try exploring relevant hashtags in your field of business. Let’s say you own a local bakery and coffee shop in Philadelphia. You see a Seattle based coffee shop post their best cappuccino artwork. If you like the photo, double tap, which shows up as a “like”. Showing your interest in other brands doesn’t take away from yours, and in fact it may cause a user or two to check out or even follow your page.

 

Finally

Instagram is not the platform where you need to constantly churn out genius-level content. In fact, this should be the most lighthearted platform in your 4 social site arsenal. All you need to worry about is finding fun, entertaining and ultimately shareable posts for your followers to enjoy. Sometimes the silliest things can go viral on Instagram, so be on the lookout.  Happy posting!