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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.

Using Facebook Live to get your retail store’s fans back.

Using Facebook Live to get your retail store’s fans back.

Over the past year you let Facebook go a bit, didn’t you? Instead of posting every day you started posting five times a week, then three, then … well, whenever the mood struck. Now it’s gift-giving season again and you want your customers back.

You’ve noticed that although you have 500 followers to your Facebook page only about 50 are seeing your posts. As pathetic as that appears, that percentage actually beats the average, which is 7%. All that work over the years building your fan base, and Facebook only allows 7% to see your posts?!

The main reason this occurs is because you are getting little or no engagement – likes, comments and shares – on the few posts you are creating. This takes a lot of time to turn around, but there’s a faster way to get started on rebuilding your audience.

Facebook Live!

This feature was introduced earlier this year, probably in response to Snapchat’s live broadcast capabilities. There is one big difference. You can post your video to your Facebook page after the live broadcast, and repost it again and again. But the best thing about Facebook live is the notification that ALL of your followers get when you begin broadcasting. People who haven’t seen any of your posts in months will be reminded that you are online, and still in business.

Setting it up couldn’t be simpler. Once you are logged into your Facebook account on your phone, hit search for your business page. Click on “Publish” and in the drop-down menu click on “Live Video”. Describe your video and then click “Go Live”.

Now that you know how it works, when can you use Facebook Live?

In-store events

Are you planning a trunk show or other special event? You will want to promote it both BEFORE and during the event if you want in-store traffic to show up the day of the event. The “before” clip can be a very short commercial just advertising the particulars of the event. The video you take during the event can be as long as you wish, but we recommend that you stop when the excitement wanes a bit.

Product showcase

Have you recently geared up your inventory for holiday sales? Video is a great way to show tons of new products a lot faster and better than it would be to shoot each piece individually and create posts. You can use models, if appropriate, or just hold up an array of products on hangers. Plus you have the benefit of being able to show your products from every angle, exploring designs and features, even doing demos for products that need more explanation than just a picture.

Get to know us

Here’s where you get to put a human face on your establishment. The owner(s) and staff introduce themselves and say a few words about their background, expertise or even family and hobbies. You’d be surprised how many people like knowing details such as this about local stores and the people who work there. This is also an opportunity to talk about extra services such as volume discounts or punch cards, layaway and gift certificates.

Customer feedback

This takes a bit of planning. Gather three or more of your best and happiest customers in the store at one time. Show them shopping and also “interview” them, making sure they mention why they shop in your store, what they like about it, and what they are looking for on that day. You could also show one of the sales staff in action helping them. These video testimonials are gold to retailers!

There are so many ways to use Facebook Live to promote your retail store, and so many benefits, too. Remember, once your broadcast is finished your video becomes a permanent Facebook post that you can boost to your fans and their friends. You can get quite a bit of promotional mileage out of this terrific Facebook feature!

Need help with content creation or social media? #WeAreHereToHelp! Call us at 610.937.5187 or email info@contentandcreativity.com

 

 

 

 

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!

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.

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.