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.
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 email@example.com and the team at C&C can help you manage your reputation and reviews online.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. We are here to help!
Our team is meeting and pitching to a lot of new accounts these days. Oh, by the way, if you are looking for help with your marketing and social media and would like to partner with a terrific company that has unlimited creative ideas, tons of experience, and is easy and fun to work with, I have included our contact info at the bottom for your convenience. Now back to my story.
In doing the research for client proposals I’ve visited dozens of Facebook pages and one thing jumped out immediately: too many companies use Facebook purely as a showcase for their work. Photo after photo, before and afters, or just before and afters and most of the time never labeled. Ad nauseam, ad infinitum. There is virtually no engagement with fans, and nothing at all to break up the picture albums.
Hello? What part of SOCIAL media do you folks not understand?!
Imagine engaging in this type of behavior offline. You go to a party armed with 20 lbs of albums full of your children’s pictures. Upon meeting someone for the first time you spend the next half hour regaling that person with the wonderfulness of your kids.
“This is little Johnny winning the baseball trophy last year. And here is Suzie accepting the high point award for her age group at the swim club. Oh, and this is Suzie’s prom dress, which of course she made herself. Isn’t she beautiful? Did I mention that Johnny won the Geography Bee last year?”
Would you be surprised if your new acquaintance wandered off rather rapidly towards the guacamole dip? How insulted would you be to learn that taco chips are preferred to your ongoing, mind-numbing narrative? Is this how people behave at parties? They’d better not. The same is true for Facebook.
Facebook is not your portfolio. Facebook is where your content goes to make friends.
If you treat Facebook as a gallery for your work you are not only missing the point but you are also missing many opportunities.
Put a human face on your company.
Does the company owner or an employee coach a local kids’ team? Put up a picture. How about featuring an Employee of the Month, and describe how great that person is and why. Do you attend local events? Share the experience. Potential customers don’t only want to know that you do good work and are reputable; they also want to be able to relate to the people doing the work at their home.
Find out more about your customers.
Learn about their preferences by asking questions that are not open-ended. For example, rather than ask, “What kind of counter top do you like?” Say, “If you were to renovate your kitchen in the next few months would you get a) granite b) marble or c) butcher block countertops?” Or “Which pavers do you think looks best? a) slate b) brick c) concrete d) stone?” You will get much more engagement if you suggest the answers instead of forcing people to think.
Provide useful information.
Your audience craves the kind of information that you probably take for granted. New product releases or better ways maintaining their home are appealing to most people. Remember, you want to be viewed as the authority in your industry, and the more you appear to be up on current trends the better you will be positioned as such.
Use Facebook as a gateway to your website.
That’s where you really want people to go, right? Your website should be the place where potential customers can find out everything about you, what services you offer, the company ownership and history, and all contact information. Here is where your want your portfolio to be, either as a separate page/tab or optimally as part of a blog page. There are search engine benefits to updating your website often, too. So every time it makes sense to do it, add a link to your website in your Facebook posts.
Pictures of cute kittens and puppies and funny memes are kind of silly for a business to use, right? WRONG. These are the types of Facebook posts that get shared and have the greatest potential to go viral. If you want a great and inexpensive way to spread the word about your business consider be funny, whimsical or cute occasionally.
If these Facebook suggestions seem like too much work we can help. As promised, here is our contact information: Content + Creativity – www.contentandcreativity.com, 610-937-5187, email@example.com
A podcast is an audio or video file that is parsed out in episodes. Listeners can either stream these episodes online on sites like SoundCloud or download them through apps like iTunes. Unlike traditional radio, anyone can start a podcast; and if promoted successfully it can ultimately have a strong, loyal fanbase. The audience for your podcast can be anybody in your demographic, but not limited to your geographical area. If your company is looking to get increased online reach and exposure, this is a great way to achieve it.
Podcasts are not just for the younger generations; Baby Boomers not only listen but create podcasts as well. In nearly every industry, whether B2B or B2C, podcasts are likely to be used. Still not convinced? Here are some serious advantages to starting a podcast for your business.
Show what you know
Think of it this way: you have a business blog, not only to make your website dynamic (and therefore higher in the search rankings!), but also to show that you and your business are an authority in your industry. Why not use another format to convey that as well? The content is where you need to shine. Although podcasts typically utilize evergreen content, you want to be aware of what your industry goes through during any given season and create content accordingly. Let’s say you’re a mechanic and you have a podcast about cars and car maintenance. You aren’t going to get many views about winterizing your tires in June. Keep it current but also universal so that your listeners can go back to the episode and have it be helpful whenever they need it.
Let your personality shine
Podcasts need to be as entertaining as they are informative. Nobody’s going to listen to a monotone voice with a bland topic for thirty minutes. This medium is where creativity and personality sets many podcasters apart. If you’re feeling uninspired, have a guest on the show. This could be a colleague or someone else in your company who has a topic they’d like to discuss.
An advertising avenue less traveled
The larger your audience is, the more likely you can find other companies that want to advertise on your podcast. This may sound counterintuitive, but it can benefit you monetarily in two ways. The advertiser could pay for a 30 second ad or give your listeners a special coupon code to take advantage of. Depending on the advertiser and your audience size, they may even agree to do both. Although this sounds exciting to have ads on your podcast, you’re going to have to focus on building up your listenership and creating great content before you even get to this step. But if you become successful enough advertising is a definite possibility.
Things to remember
Despite podcasts being free to the listener, creating a podcast will incur some costs. These include buying equipment, if you don’t already have it, and purchasing a Pro account on a podcasting site, if necessary. These costs are relatively minimal depending upon your recording frequency and the size of audience you are reaching.
Speaking of recording frequency, it’s important to adhere to a schedule. Whether it be bi-weekly or monthly, it’s important to keep your listeners abreast of what’s going on. Although posting hiatuses are frowned upon, it’s much better than creating weak content for your listeners that they may lose interest in. If you’re going to take a break, send out a notification so your fans know what’s up. Hopefully, they will be there when you return. But there are no guarantees.
In recent years the big news – and most used word – in marketing has been “automation”. Some very clever folks have developed systems and software allowing companies to manage leads and make sales with just one click. This is awesome technology that certainly makes life easier for those who can afford it. However, if someone comes along and offers you the opportunity to totally automate your marketing, beware! There are some elements of your marketing and promotion that cannot be created with software alone.
Not yet, anyway.
Certainly we use software to create articles and blog posts, images, infographics and videos. These are very important and useful tools. But there needs to be a human with an idea behind every piece of content you use to promote your business. Further, Google judges your website based upon how much original and useful content is posted. Curating some content is fine, but the majority of your output should be created for your individual needs, not just to optimize your search engine rankings but also for branding purposes.
I understand that there are some incredibly talented folks out there who can produce voluminous quantities of creative output on demand without breaking a sweat, but frankly I have never met even one. Most of us don’t work that way. There are good days when the Muse enables us to crank out tons of terrific stuff, there are also days when we do just enough. Unfortunately, there are also some days when it just doesn’t happen.
So what’s a content creative to do? Here are some tips that have helped us and may help you as well.
Schedule With Deadlines
The first step in your social media strategy or campaign should always be an editorial calendar. This can be an actual day-by-day plan or a list of weekly or monthly goals. Divide your posts into the three main categories: promotion, information, engagement, and then decide what format you will use to deliver each one, i.e. video, text, infographic, etc. There is nothing wrong with using spur of the moment idea to post outside of your calendar or schedule, but with a concrete plan in place you will know the minimum amount of content you will need and be able to plan accordingly.
An Idea List
Sara and I were sharing our thoughts about new content with each other in an extremely inefficient way. I would write down my ideas on slips of paper wherever I might happen to be, which were promptly lost. And Sara would tell me her idea and not record it anywhere at all. The next day we would both be asking, “What was that great idea you had?”
The solution was to come up with a permanent location to store our ideas. You can use Google docs, that are accessible to everyone involved in this process, or a low-tech, but equally effective, solution is a notebook that is left in a specific location in which ideas are recorded.
Whatever business you are engaged in keeping up with the latest news and trends is imperative. Whether your topic is marketing, podiatry, landscaping or special occasion dressing, presenting last year’s news or styles will not serve your audience. It will probably not result in anything sharable either. The simplest and easiest way to do research is to create Google alerts for your relevant keywords. This will not only provide you with ideas on a daily basis, but if something shows up that your audience needs to know you have content to curate.
Magazine and journal subscriptions are another way to keep up to date. Looking at your competition’s website and social media accounts can give you lots of insight as to what a similar target market responds to. This is also known as “spying”, but unlike in international relations, it’s a legitimate, legal and sometimes quite rewarding method of research.
There are many ways to combat writer’s block, designer’s doldrums, and other maladies that might render you “stuck” for creative ideas. Many people recommend long walks, others suggest taking a long shower. I garden, because it’s strenuous and allows me to clear my mind of the clutter.
The main point is that sometimes you need to walk away from your desk and do something entirely different to let your ideas roll around your brain to the point where they can be expressed in your chosen medium.