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!

Storytelling for Marketers

Storytelling for Marketers

I’ve signed up for literally hundreds of webinars over the last few years. Why? Because I always hope that after investing two hours of my time I will be rewarded with at least one useful piece of information that will help me. Sometimes I get that one gem. Sometimes I get much more than I hoped for, and sometimes I get nothing.

After countless of hours spent listening to people who begin by recounting the story of their life I think I have the formula down. Nearly every single marketer started out in some kind of dire straits. Their story invariably included three elements:

Poverty. Illness. Death.

Sometimes all three. Honestly, had I taken out stock in Ramen noodles years ago I wouldn’t have to work so hard today. Better than the Xerox APO. Much better than buying gold at $500 an ounce.

Just once I would love to hear someone say, “I was born with a silver spoon in my mouth. I didn’t need extra money, but I decided to try internet marketing anyway. And guess what? I made more money and it was fun!” This would be someone I would be happy to associate with.

It’s very important for anyone trying to establish a presence on the web to convey their personal story effectively, especially marketers. It should be interesting, easy to relate to, and most important, it needs to be authentic.

Most marketers have little or no problem making their story interesting. The problem is that too many of them seem to have had the exact same experience with only minor differing details. When “things got really bad” they would end up having to sleep in a substandard place – their parents’ basement, their friend’s sofa, their car. They disappointed their parents, wives, children and friends by being an epic failure. Then one day, miraculously, they discovered the Secret to SuccessTM that Made Them MillionsTM that they are willing to share with me for a mere $47, $67, $97 or $497 dollars.

Okay, I get that you are pitching a product. That’s fine. I am somewhat more likely to buy that product since I committed to watching the webinar. But some of the personal stories I hear have no benefit to me, I find them hard to relate to, and they do nothing to convince me of the goodness of what is being sold.

Edit, please?

A popular internet marketer, whose products are very good I should add, is so enamored of his own story that he tells it over and over again. Word for word. Verbatim. And the telling of it lasts over 30 minutes! At this point I could repeat his story myself – word for word and verbatim. I am fairly sure it’s not a good thing when a prospective client attending your webinar knows that she can mute the sound for a full 30 to 40 minutes and not miss anything important. Please, don’t change your story, but change the telling of it once in a while.

Define “nothing”.

Sara was recently disappointed to learn that a famous marketer she was following, who always described himself as “coming from nothing”, actually came from a family worth two million dollars. While recognizing that everything is relative, this stretches credibility, don’t you think?

My parents came to the US from war-torn Europe with virtually nothing. They were fortunate to have family members here who were willing to provide a roof over their heads while they got jobs, learned the language and culture, and became model citizens. After they met and married life certainly was not easy. I would claim that we didn’t have enough to eat when growing up but my father was in the food business so that was never an issue. My clothes were all hand made by my aunts, which usually is indicative of modest means, but since my aunts were professionally trained in Europe my clothing was of exceptional quality and fit that could never be found in a store off the rack. My brothers and I went to college; two of us have advanced degrees. College was cheap back then, and we paid for it ourselves for the most part because we started working and saving at a very young age. When we couldn’t pay tuition our parents helped us. My father worked for a shockingly low salary but my mother was such a good manager of their very little money that they were able to buy a house, cars, and take a vacation now and then. In the end, they were well-respected members of the community who imparted stellar values to their children.

I would NEVER say that I “came from nothing”. I came from EVERYTHING. We just didn’t have much money.

My story.

I could tell you my own story of poverty, illness and death and it would be absolutely true. It would also rip your heartstrings out and make you feel sorry for me, even though I don’t feel sorry for myself. (Heaven forbid if you could relate to my experience because then I’d have to feel sorry for you!) While authentic, this part of me is not important for people to know.

Here’s what I want you to know about me: I love what I do. I love it as much, if not more, now as I loved it when I started decades ago. I adore writing and designing, branding, marketing and advertising, creatively communicating and solving problems. I also love that I get to learn something new every single day. After “practicing” my craft for so many years I have reached the Carnegie Hall stage – I’m good at what I do. If we are ever fortunate to work together I am sure we will benefit one another. At the very least I believe we will enrich each others lives just by our connection.

End of story.

Any questions? Call me at 610.937.5187 or write rhonda@contentandcreativity.com.

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.

The Great ReBranding

The Great ReBranding

How do these things happen? All I wanted to do was get new business cards, and the next thing I knew we were getting new head shots. Then the process somehow morphed into a complete redesign of our company’s corporate image.

Designing Women

We are the kind of people who will redesign a room on a whim. A colorful new pillow will result in completely new paint adventure, which we do so often that I am always fearful that the walls will collapse under the weight of each new coat. And that’s just our winter activities. In the spring and summer I become the Queen of Transplants, reconfiguring every single section of the garden for a totally new look. So I was not in the least surprised when Sara decided that we needed a new logo after only one year in business. Not surprised, but instantly terrified.

Combine two creative people, each with their unique style and perspective – not to mention generational differences – and you have the recipe for disaster. Well, perhaps that’s stretching the point, but getting the two of us on the same page insofar as our new logo design was not pretty. I had to put my foot down when Sara suggested we change the name of the company. Us old folks can only take so much change before our heads explode.

Thank God for Photoshop!

If you grew up playing with Mr. Potato Head, as I did, you know how much fun it is to work with Photoshop. We started with a couple of constraints – the name of the company plus the desire to keep “Creativity” as a multi-colored word. We were able to switch the “+” to an “&”, since the URL has to have “and” in it. The ampersand is tinted and behind the words to create a watermark effect.

Choosing the much-beloved (by me) American Typewriter font for “Content” was practically a no-brainer. It replicates an old typewriter style and perfectly represents the writing aspects of what we do. But while we agreed that “creativity” should be a script font, we couldn’t decide on the one we should use. I Mr. Potato Headed our logo with about 25 different scripts and took three Advil (twice!). Two weeks later we settled on a font named “Channel”.

Funneling Sales

Up until now our the services we offered only consisted of long-term social media management on a monthly retainer basis and limited time consulting for businesses who wanted to do it on their own but needed help getting started. We realized that this involved sizable commitments of time and money for many companies, as well as us. And for us, a company with a good, albeit short, track record, this still involved a lot of time selling ourselves.

Our solution is to develop a menu of additional services that are smaller and finite. This is what the information marketers call a “sales funnel”. You draw people into your community by giving them something very inexpensive or free, offer more services at a higher cost, and finally selling them on your main product is easier because you have established trust and already delivered good value.

Stay tuned for the introduction of these individual products that include short explainer videos, video extras, SEO and reputation management.

The Nightmare to Come

You might be thinking that with our fresh, new logo and updated business cards on the way that we can claim “Mission Accomplished.” You would be wrong. The next step it to totally revise our website design and copy, a task that has me terrified.

Not only that, but Sara just picked out a new rug for the family room and is looking at paint samples. I am going to need something much stronger than Advil!

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.