Social Media Marketing

Over 90% of Companies Lack Digital Skills – And What You Can Do About It

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What is the digital talent gap?

According to a study done by Capgemini Consulting in conjunction with MIT Center for Digital Business, they uncovered some staggering stats that will help us understand the phenomenon.

  • Over 90% of companies lack digital skills
  • 77% of companies considered ‘missing digital skills’ as a key hurdle to digital transformation
  • 87% of companies believe a digital transformation is a competitive opportunity
  • Only 47% of companies are investing in developing digital skills
  • Only 4% of companies are ensuring their training efforts are aligned with their overall digital strategy
  • Companies are spending no more than 20% of their training budget on digital
  • Only 30% of organizations mentioned HR as being actively involved in skills development

Companies across the globe felt the biggest holes in digital skill sets across their organization in the following areas: social media, mobile, internal social networks, process automation and analysis.

According to the same 2013 study, the below skills are most relevant for the digital age:

  • Big data analytics
  • Social media
  • Mobile devices
  • Cloud

To get a bit more granular, skills in this area range from light tech to heavy tech-centric skills. Light tech skills in the digital age include things like social media management, brand building online, online community management, virtual (webinar, presentation, etc.) facilitation, writing for different digital mediums, marketing automation tools management, customer service and public relations. Heavy tech skills in the digital age include things like user interface design, mobile device management, mobile device security, data analysis, app management and design, and much more.

The second half of the puzzle lies in corporations needs to match tech skills with business acumen. The true value of digital skills are born when they are combined with a deep understanding of the business. This is leading to an increased need for employees who have both technical skills plus business and leadership abilities.

So - what can companies do to ‘plug the skills gap?’

Let’s first take a look at what some companies are currently doing. Google partnered with P&G to implement an employee exchange program to help teach their employees how to sell things online. They focused on digital and search marketing to help bring their e-commerce into the 21st century. Nike partnered with Techstars in an incubator program to create new products.

Upskilling employees is an ideal way to empower those who already know your business, with the digital skills needed to close the gap in your organization.

And, this upskilling does not need to be ‘Google-sized.’ Small and medium sized business have options. There are ways to invest in current employees that don’t require you to be P&G or Nike.

Organizations, like ours - offer affordable options for digital and online training for companies of all sizes. We’ve been training teams since 2007 and have supported corporate teams as large as 10,000 employees, and as small as 10. We offer fully customized eLearning programs with the added benefit of leveraging over 400 + hours of existing high quality content taught by Digital Marketing thought leaders, authors, and leading practitioners.

We begin with an assessment to test employee’s digital knowledge to help us build a program to fill your skills gap and augment your employee strengths. We’ll then help design a custom based learning pathway comprised of classes that fit your organization's’ particular skill(s) gap. We also offer LMS integration, marketing support, reporting dashboards, and robust user role access to support any size organization.

We’d love to help you empower your team. Visit our Corporate Training Page or send us an inquiry.

 

 


5 Digital Trends That Will Define 2016

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1) High Customer Expectations Will Just Keep Getting Higher

Personalization, targeting, retargeting and seamless e-commerce experiences will be exponentially more important in 2016. An average customer experience will no longer fly. The ‘new normal’ in customer experience will trend towards tailoring the experience to each person’s behaviors, interest,  and on, and even off-line, activities. Companies must think about specific customer journeys, personalities and interests of their varied customers. They must seek out the appropriate tools to execute on those initiatives, and empower their employees to work together to bring the experience to life.

 

2) Powerful Tools (Read Data) For All:

Integrative software that felt out of reach for many small businesses will become more affordable. The market has become more saturated with copy cat, yet powerful, tools across numerous parts of any business making them more accessible.

Close-up of a modern business team using tablet computer to work with financial data

3) Data, Data, and More Data

With powerful, data driven software accessible to more companies, marketers will begin to focus on the data. You'll see marketers leaning heavily on metrics to help inform strategies and priorities.

 

4) Be Prepared to Spend More

While online ads are still relatively cheap, the increase in competition in the digital world should increase the cost of advertising quite a bit. Small companies with already limited budgets may find themselves struggling to make any sum of money go the distance when it comes to paid advertising.

 

5) Work With Siri, Not Against Her

Search Engine Optimization is going to change dramatically. This is in part due to social media beginning to be indexed by Google (aka your social presence will affect search results). This is also in part thanks to our favorite mobile friend Siri and her counterparts. Siri, the google app, etc., are now woven into our technology of choice - our phone. Now that mobile browsing has surpassed desktop, and these technologies have become less clunky, people will begin trending their way to find what they need. To ensure you don’t get left out of the mix, make sure you’re serving these bots with the information to find you.

 

Meet the real woman behind the voice of Siri 

 

 


Small-Budget Marketing Ideas for the Holiday Season

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Thanksgiving and Christmas will be upon us in no time and every self-respecting business will be sending out letters, greeting cards, emails or logo-stamped gifts. Direct marketing is one of the most fascinating branches of marketing. From the days of yore, it has made people talk, share and take action. With so many messages thrown at people throughout the day, direct marketing provides one of the least risky – and anticipated and accepted, if a bit interruptive – ways to connect with customers. I love creative mailers that come through my door. Some are thoughtful, some are clever, and some are downright cheeky. However, one common point amongst all these mailers is they are all prohibitively expensive for small businesses.

This is where small budget ideas come in. These ideas make it possible for small businesses to connect with their customers in surprisingly affordable and effective ways.

Holiday Vines

Vine set the precedent in making hastily-shot amateur videos all the rage. With Instagram and Periscope only confirming that video-clip marketing is here to stay, small businesses have an amazing opportunity to post a series of Vines leading up to Christmas and New Year. All you have to do is grab your smartphone and look around for cute and quirky opportunities to make a video.

Check out this cute and funny Vine made with zero dollars’ investment:

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Embed Vine: https://vine.co/v/OgIwBEnLKPv

Take a look at the other videos on Christmas Channel – the channel that hosts the above video for more amazing ideas.

Top Tips

  • Share your Vines on other social platforms, especially Twitter and Facebook.
  • Embed links to your Vines on product pages on your website, blog posts, and email.
  • Make a series of Vines on a particular theme. For instance, think Harvey Nichols’ famous “I Spent it On Myself” commercial, break the idea into smaller videos – and you have a series!
  • Scour the app store for video editing apps that come with tons of effects to make your videos funny, creative and cool. Use these liberally.

Holiday Emails

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Inboxes are invariably flooded with the same old “formulaically creative” emails during holiday times. So the chances of your email being read are infinitely small.

But with a little proactive and out-of-the-box (we desperately need a more out-of-the-box word for out-of-the-box) thinking, you can ensure your holiday emails are read.

Top Tips

  • First things first – stop being stingy when it comes to photos. Say goodbye to the ubiquitous boring vector backgrounds and illustrations, and invest in high quality pictures; or better yet, hire a good photographer. Yes, this still counts as “small-budget.” You can borrow creative “ideas” instead of “images” – Pinterest is an excellent source of inspiration.
  • If you are short on time, try online email creators. They are intuitive and easy to use, and you are done in minutes. Plus they come with a lot of beautiful, seasonal templates and forms, so you can create highly engaging emails with designer-like finesse. Most likely, your email marketing suite has such features too.
  • Don’t leave it for too late – start emailing at least weeks in advance.
  • Include creatively modified photos of your staff for more personalized email greetings. Other than being great for employees’ morale, it also lends a face and identity to your company.

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Web Banners

Turn the banners on your homepage and category pages into online billboards. The banner or slider on your homepage is the first thing your visitors notice, so it makes sense to create one specifically for holiday season. Personalized card and gift item retailer FunkyPigeon.com is known for putting out banners with timely messages relevant to upcoming events, days or seasons.

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More effective than just banners are entire landing pages with customized elements, each of which appeals to customers’ holiday moods. You can do this (without much coding) using DIY ecommerce platforms such as Spaces, which allows you to create product pages or even single-page websites with mobile-optimized, easy-to-A/B-test banners that give you more room for creativity while showcasing your merchandise.

If all your DIY or in-house efforts fail, you can always fall back on community-powered design marketplaces like 99Designs to not only get yourself a customized banner but pick and choose from dozens of entries submitted by the community.

Content

In perfecting your means, don’t forget your message. Content marketing still remains the #1 small-budget marketing medium. Done right on your email and social media, and especially on your blog, content allows you to drive traffic to your business.

However, you need to start early. Create indirect branded content (including infographics) on holiday themes, such as:

  • X Things You Can Fill in That Dog Christmas Stocking (for a pet food company)
  • X Original Setups to Capture Awesome Christmas Selfies (for a camera or smartphone company)
  • Why Santa Is Going To Pay Us an Extended Visit This Year (for anyone to share their annual success stories)

Send teasers through emails and share them on social networks from at least a month before, while there is still ample chance for them to be read.

Smart Gifts

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Though content and email marketing have proven to be highly effective ways of marketing, it is always a good idea to send out physical gifts during holidays.

But you need to think beyond personalized pens to logo-engraved mugs – there never seems to be a shortfall of such boring “corporate” gifts.

And what’s more, these gifts are just that – gifts. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could take on the festivities with more smart (read eco-friendly) and creative ideas for direct marketing (without the overwhelming expenses, of course)?

So here’s a thoughtful gift idea for which clients and customers will remember you for a long time:

Costing just around $2, plantable paper can make awesome gifts to help your customers stay focused on their goals. Simply send a letter with the plantable or seed paper (with your own custom messages such as “Hope our association grows stronger by the day!”) that explains the concept of your gift and how to use it, and you are done!

Plantable papers are available in the U.S., Canada, Europe, Australia and many other countries, so it shouldn’t be difficult to get hold of it.

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The best part about such gifts is you can follow up with timely cross-sells or reports and cement your relationship in the process.

Over to You

The new truth of marketing is that no single channel is enough these days. You cannot say with conviction that you’ll be successful just by milking a channel you’re good at, whether it’s email, social or television ads. You need to create a multi-channel marketing mix with all the ingredients perfectly mixed together to create awesome holiday season campaigns.

With mega-sale days just round the corner, don’t waste much time – start experimenting with as many guerilla-budget campaigns as you can. Like, now!

 


Wait – What IS Real-Time Marketing?

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Every few years, something magical comes along. Marketers get excited, the internet gets excited, and we all decide that this, this strategy is the new wave, the marketing strategy that will take us to the next level. So - who’s the lucky homecoming queen? It seems that real-time marketing stole the crown this year.

Big brands, those companies generally promoting and writing about real-time marketing define it as - interacting with their target audience based on current local, national or global events and trends and responding to immediate customer feedback. When a company interjects itself into a current trend or craze, they aim to make their product more appealing based on the association of said product or company with an exciting or trending event. Generally this happens in the form of a meme, video, or graphic shared on social media channels.

This is the antithesis to planning ahead and plotting a marketing strategy to roll out over the course of the quarter or year. Big brands, with big budgets, obviously have the leg up in being able to experiment in real - time, some having huge success, while others not as much.

The term newsjacking has also been floating around in association with real-time marketing. When you research this trend, you may find a clearer - more agreed upon definition. This might simply be due to the straight-forward nomenclature.

However, many marketers have a different definition of real-time marketing.

According to a study done by Neolane and the Direct Marketing Association recently released a study of 235 North American marketers, and to them, real time marketing was defined as, “dynamic, personalized content delivered across channels.”

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Here’s what they think real-time marketing means.

  • The majority of the participants (43%) think of real-time marketing as “dynamic, personalized content delivered across channels.”
  • 64% of participants believe real-time marketing revolves around some kind of dynamic personalization.
  • Only 23% believe real-time marketing is about making quick responses to mainstream events or injecting your business in social media conversations.

That doesn’t really align with what brands are promoting. Where’s the disconnect? It might be that the practice hasn’t been around long enough and still needs some time to settle. Or, perhaps, real-time marketing is all of the above, or none...what do you think?

 


E-mail Marketing Still a Front Runner for Marketers, and Social Media Steals the Bronze from SEO

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As marketers, we must choose, and prioritize, our marketing efforts. So what are most marketers up to? According to a new study by Oracle Marketing Cloud, Website, E-mail, and Social Media, are top priorities for the year to come. Website remains a front runner for obvious reasons. These days, as digital marketing continues to gain more and more traction, and consume at least 25% of marketing budgets, a website is the cornerstone from which marketers plan, strategize, and execute digital marketing efforts. Similarly, as the trend toward purchase via mobile increases at a lightning pace, a poorly optimized website can be an e-commerce disaster.

In second place we have e-mail, still, contrary to what some might believe, continues to offer huge ROI, about $44 for every $1 spent. And if you need more stats to back that up, check these out: 91% of consumers check their e-mail daily, and on a daily basis consumers interact with 11 brands on e-mail (compared to 9 on Facebook and 8 on Twitter), 48% of consumers say they prefer to communicate with brands via e-mail. And more on that RIO, 44% of consumers made at least one purchase based on a promotional e-mail they received, and 66% of consumers have made a purchase online as a result of an e-mail marketing message. You can’t argue with those numbers.

Interestingly, Social Media Marketing took third place, replacing SEO. Social allows a company to gain peer recommendations at the click of a like. A positive note on a social channel is free advertising, and, if you’re an e-commerce company, a free endorsement for your product. That endorsement becomes increasingly important as the buying trends become more and more dependent on peer recommendations vs. internet search and research. Social media also allows a company to respond to criticism in real time, buy your way in front of a target audience, and - an active social media community drives high quality traffic to your website. The majority of links that are built by SEO companies do not bring traffic to your website. These links may help increase the authority and power of your site, but in terms of traffic, it doesn’t do much. Social media also allows marketers a constant audience, and, interestingly, search engines are now taking into account social signals when ranking websites. The more social shares, interaction, or activity you have, the higher your search engine rankings. Assuming this doesn’t change anytime soon, you can understand why Social has snatched Bronze from SEO.

 

 


The Rise of Social Commerce in 2015: The Year of Shopping Socially

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We’ve long heard that social media is not the best way to drive sales; in terms of ROI, social is just email marketing’s less successful cousin. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t growing in leaps and bounds, earning larger portions of referral traffic, new leads and total sales figures. Referrals alone from social media sites increased almost 200% from 2014 to 2015. The rise of social commerce over the last few years has brought us to a time when social media platforms are finally fully embracing the Buy button.

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Polyvore

Last week, Yahoo announced an agreement to acquire Polyvore, which bills itself as ‘the world’s largest style community.’ What does that really mean? Polyvore is a social commerce site driven by user-generated content – collages of products curated into ‘sets.’ Think Pinterest but with a lot more buying (and selling), and a more specific market (personal style and home décor mainly).

While Polyvore is much smaller than Pinterest, it boasts a community of very qualified leads if you’re in the right business. The average shopping basket of Polyvore users comes in at about $200 according to the site – they’re there to browse and shop, which is more than we can say for other popular social networks. Polyvore claims that their typical users are “twice as likely to have shopped online in the last 30 days than the average online consumer.” Brands can also push sales on the social commerce site by paying to promote items or trends in a pay-per-click model.

social commerce Polyvore

Beyond the sales boost, smart businesses can get a lot more out of Polyvore when it comes to branding. It’s easy for retailers to interact with users on Polyvore, driving engagement through likes, follows and comments. Top followers for a retailer can even serve as readymade brand advocates and social influencers. Some brands even use the site as a way to test out new trends and see what’s popular in different target markets, essentially crowdsourcing for their next campaign (check out this Digiday article on Neiman Marcus for an example).

Facebook

We’ve all seen ads and promoted posts for retailers in our Facebook feeds for quite a while, but the social media powerhouse is ramping up for even more social selling. In June, Facebook released its first shoppable ads with Buy buttons, allowing users to complete the order process without leaving the site.

In the second half of July, Facebook doubled down by launching mini ecommerce shops within a brand’s Facebook page, accessible through a ‘shop’ tab next to the ‘about’ section. It’s still beta testing with help from ecommerce platform Shopify.

social commerce on Facebook

While it really remains to be seen what sales effect these additions will have for retailers who buy into social commerce, Facebook is already the most significant driver of ecommerce traffic amongst social sites. 53% of shoppers ages 18-34 say that they use Facebook to stay informed about online shopping opportunities. And with 50% of total social referrals coming from Facebook (and 64% of social revenue), ecommerce retailers can’t afford to ignore the social network, even if it will never drive the sales of email marketing or retargeting.

Pinterest and Instagram

Business Insider’s new social commerce report says that Pinterest drives 16% of social revenue despite having a comparably small audience (6.5 times smaller than Twitter). And that’s before the rollout of Buyable Pins, announced in June, which allows pinners to buy the products they like directly within the Pinterest API, desktop or mobile.

social commerce

Instagram doesn’t currently hold much sway in the social commerce world, most likely because photos posted don’t allow for links out. It’s not an ideal platform for driving social referrals; I follow brands like H&M on Instagram, but when I see a product I like, my only option is to open a browser and search for it, and more than once I’ve come up empty-handed. What a missed opportunity! Most businesses that use Instagram are counting on it as a branding platform and not a sales driver. This might change now that new Instagram Ads are making it possible to add buttons like “Shop Now” and “Learn More.

Want to learn more about using social commerce to boost your bottom line? Check out this class: Transitioning from Social Media to Social Business.

 


8 Social Media Rules Businesses Should Learn from Fashion Brands

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The apparel industry in the US alone is worth $225 billion dollars. Fashion brands, more than ever, have to look for new ways to stand out from the crowd in a saturated market. Lying at the heart of what the industry is about, a creative philosophy can thrive on social media and help to drive traffic and ultimately sales figures.

There are key areas that can and should be emulated when analyzing a fashion brand’s successes online – we’re looking to explore what should be taken and applied to start-ups looking for a social media voice.

1.  Get Creative

Social networks have developed into multimedia-hosting and sharing platforms today. To engage audiences, businesses should offer content that makes use of different media, and explore novel ways of doing so.

London Fashion Week, held in February 2015, was ruled by live streams and video sharing. A host of brands such as designer Mary Kantranzou live streamed their collections on the catwalk. This allowed for engagement by those who would have otherwise had to wait to see photos of the event and clothing – a creative way to give followers insight and create conversation around your brand.

social media for fashion

One of the most exciting new developments in live streams is Periscope, a streaming app owned and hosted by Twitter that allows users to watch live video through the social network.

2.  Know Your Audience

Any business should already have a clear idea of who they are targeting.

Considering the set of interests of your following will build engagement and ultimately grow your brand. Sometimes this is as simple as knowing what other accounts your target audience is following, since these could be the accounts that you should engage with to create the common link in your audience’s mind.

3.  Invest Time and Money

Burberry is a prime example of a brand remodeling its image to appeal to a digital market. The high-end fashion company is well-known to have invested heavily in this, with 60% of their marketing spend going towards digital. The return on investment that has been seen from this, purely in social media presence, has made them one of the most followed brands in high fashion.

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Their efforts on social media have given them approximately 17 million followers on Facebook, and 3.8 million on Twitter. This has given the brand the opportunity to expand their efforts into hosting offshoot content, such as the Burberry Acoustic live music videos. In brand awareness alone Burberry have given themselves a solid following that are freely and easily contactable through their social media, meaning any new products or promotions in the future automatically have 20 million people to push out to.

4.  Know the Social Network

You should use different language and content on each social media platform – considering how each fits into your business’s ethos. Facebook has come to be used by many brands as a hub for customer-facing activities, giving the widest audience potential with 1.415 billion users.

Brands should produce visual content, including both images and video, for audiences to share, and to direct traffic to both the company website and other social media platforms where they have a presence. Twitter is widely used by brands as a more casual means of communication with customers, offering customer service advice as well as brand news and visual content.

5.  Constant Interaction

Regular updates and posts on a brand’s social media account make the brand seem active, and help to keep the brand name on the social feeds of their followers. It isn’t enough to only join in on conversations over social media – the conversation should be started by the brand online.

social media post

Starting a conversation could be as simple as asking a question related to current events, or making use of content to react to a news story. Keeping on top of any viral or news content can be a great way to show that your brand is on the button and worth following.

6.  Celebrity Endorsements

Today, more than ever, celebrities wield a huge amount of power over social media due to their pre-existing following and fan bases. British fashion brand Superdry recognizes the role that gaining influence online can play in breaking the lucrative US fashion market. Celebrities spotted and shared wearing the brand include David Beckham, Idris Alba, and Nicole Scherzinger.

social media endorsement

Instagram and Twitter are increasingly used for product promotion. Companies such as BooTea will gift celebrities in order for them to post or promote their product through their accounts. Using image-based platforms such as Instagram lets companies match celebrities with their ideal brand image.

7.  Be Unique                                        

Ted Baker’s recent Instagram campaign made use of the available filters, asking people to repost an image from their account and try the different effects. Using these filters revealed hidden messages in the image to play on people’s intrigue. Novelty on social media can often harness successful results; while newsfeeds can sometimes churn up similar content, a unique angle for content can help a brand to stand out from the crowd.

social media engagement

8.  Give Great Customer Service

Small fashion labels have been able to take advantage of not only the coverage that can be attained online, but also online customer service. Any start up business relies on word of mouth to help the company grow. Being attentive to feedback or complaints on social media can play a large part in aiding this.

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Social media has, more than ever before, given companies the opportunity to reach large audiences without spending big money. The fashion industry has been able to showcase how social media can be multi-faceted as a business tool, where creativity and customer service is aided through the open nature of social networks.

 


7 Reasons You Should Not Use Social Media For Business

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There are thousands of social media authors, experts, consultants, mavens and gurus.

Some of them are self-proclaimed, preaching on top of a soapbox about the wow and now of social media. Others have earned the right to preach and share their encouraging messages, but too often it’s only the “good word” of Social Media. They’re all preaching – they need to fill their donation plate – and they’re all making money when you buy into social media. By the way, thank you for purchasing my book on social media.

It also appears there is no shortage of books, articles and whitepapers showcasing the success stories of businesses using social media to meet their goals. Every story has a happy ending, and someone gets something you wish you had in the end. Like statistics, there are more than enough success stories for you to reference (p. 229 in Satellite Marketing) to make your case to choose social media. But what most will not share with you is the cold, hard truth of it all.

One of my mentors has been Keith Hall, the CEO of Leadership Advantage and an all-around great guy. Keith and I worked together for years, and as our personal friendship developed, Keith would share his wisdom as my “Dutch uncle.” Very to-the-point and for my own good, he would tell me all the things I didn’t want to hear but needed to know.

At times, I didn’t want to hear anything other than that I was right – I had an idea in my mind – but in the end, his insight was on point and it served me well. So, for that same purpose (for your own good, with your best intention in mind), I’m going to tell you NOT to use social media for your business.

Not what you were expecting? Neither is social media.

social audience

Reason #1: Your audience isn't there.

Social media is current and trending as a communications channel, but that doesn’t guarantee the people you are trying to reach are there. Pew (2013) reports 87 percent of Americans are online, which means 13 percent are not. Of those 87 percent online, 26 percent don’t use social media. Depending on your audience demographics and psychographics, there’s a good chance they’re not there.

Before you invest any time in developing a social media presence, be sure your audience is using social media and you know where they are. The Internet is a big place, and just because Facebook is your favorite social networking service doesn’t necessarily make it the best starting place for your business.

social audience

Reason #2: Social media doesn’t work for every business.

Despite popular opinion, social media marketing does not work for every business. And no matter how much using social media to communicate makes sense to you, it has to make sense to your audience or it just won’t work.

You have to be in an industry that uses social media to communicate, and you have to use the right type of social media. If you can’t communicate with the people and share information in a public space, it doesn’t make sense for your business to use social media.

news vs social

Reason #3: There are easier ways to get in front of your audience.

One of the biggest attractions for businesses to social media is the potential audience, but one of the biggest myths is that you can get one.

“Social media is not the powerful and persuasive marketing force many companies hoped they would be,” concludes Gallup Inc. U.S. companies spent $5.1 billion on social-media advertising in 2013, but Gallup says “consumers are highly adept at tuning out brand-related Facebook and Twitter content.”

If you do include social media in your communications plan, utilize it as part of an integrated marketing plan. Connect social media with advertisements in print, promotions on television, sales on radio, events on billboards and targeted digital campaigns online.

social planning

Reason #4: You don’t “get it.”

I see business after business create a profile or a page, upload a logo and some pictures, then plan to figure out what they’re going to do with social media. Then… nothing. While it sits idly, it acts as a giant billboard telling people you don’t know how to use social media for business and you don’t have a plan.

Despite all the definitions and metaphors, sometimes people just don’t “get” social media – and that’s okay, just don’t them put in charge of the decision-making or execution. We each have a role on the team, and everyone can’t play quarterback (obligatory sports reference). If you don’t understand why somebody you don’t know wants to be your friend or why someone you don’t know “likes” your page, then social media is not for you.

social planning

Reason #5: Social Media is not free.

Social is the IKEA® of media. It’s the DIY (do-it-yourself) of communications. You have to pick something you think matches the current setting, in a size you think is going to fit, that serves the purpose for which it’s selected. The out-of-the-box cost is cheaper than other choices, but it’s not free. You have to pull it down from the shelf. You have to wheel it down the aisle. You have to strap it to your car, get it home safe then up two flights of stairs. When you finally get it home, you have to try and build it with tools you’re not sure how to use, with directions that just don’t make sense. What seemed like such a value can cost so much more in the end.

Social media is a lot of things, but it’s not free, it’s not a magic bullet and it isn’t going to fix a bad business.

social media ROI

Reason #6: You can’t find the ROI.

My father taught me something was either a cost or an investment. A cost is something you spend money on and then it’s gone. You have nothing to show for it. An investment is money you spend, and you get something in return. Before you run to social media, ask yourself, “What will have to happen for my business on social media to realize a return on investment?”

If you can’t tell somebody where your business will find the ROI, then you should not use social media for your business.

social media

Reason #7: Shit happens.

There are issues unique to social media that most businesses never consider until after the fact or until it's too late. Even with the best of plans, what happens when something goes wrong? Something, on some scale, always goes wrong - then what? You find yourself on the front of something with a headline that isn’t flattering. You turn into the butt of a joke, and suddenly, there are a lot of questions about “How did this happen?” and “Who is to blame?”

A Fair and Balanced Report

I know I’ve presented social media in a hard light, and I’ve provided numerous reasons – based on my knowledge and experiences – not to use social media for business. Perhaps this is a bit odd for an author who is teaching a webinar about how to use social media to create engagement, but not from your Dutch uncle who has your best interest at heart.

Kevin Popovic popexpert workshop

Too often, media, especially social media, share stories of success that are too good to believe: shortcuts to 1,000 fans, tips to getting 10,000 followers or “how to make a viral video” that gets 100,000 views. That usually does not happen.

Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t have success using social media to create engagement – that’s what I’m teaching in my upcoming webinar and in my book. As you move forward now in deciding if and how to use social media, you do so with eyes wide open.

Learn More About Creating Engagement

To learn more about making smart decisions on social media for your business from Kevin Popović, join his May 13 session, “Satellite Marketing: Using Social Media to Create Engagement,” at the Digital All Stars Virtual Event from OMI.

Or join Kevin's June 1 video workshop, "Satellite Marketing: Using Social Media to Create Engagement." 5 days, 5 lessons, 5 steps forward to creating engagement with your audience. Register now at PopExpert. 

 


Squeeze More from Social with Social Media Management Tools

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There was a time when you couldn’t schedule Facebook posts in advance, or coordinate tweets to go out at a certain time. The functionality on fledgling social media sites was minimal, and other app developers jumped in to fill that gap with social media management tools. I remember being pretty amazed with how easy and efficient TweetDeck made it to manage multiple Twitter accounts, and choose which tweets went out to which followers.

social media management

But now, most social media platforms have filled in all that missing functionality. Facebook now allows you to schedule in advance, backdate posts in the past, and offers detailed analytics for your posts. Twitter also allows for scheduling and promoted posts now, and you can even link your Twitter to Facebook so you can post once and reach both platforms. So are those social media management apps now obsolete?

Related Class: Social Media Marketing Best Practices for SMBs

Not at all. If you’re a busy marketer orchestrating multiple social media accounts…I don’t know how you do it without an app to consolidate and assist you. We all make the mistake of thinking of social media as a free tool, but really it takes a ton of time just to maintain, and even more time to really advance your brand and your reach.

Get a Bird’s-Eye View of Your Social Content

And social media management tools aren’t just for convenience – the best ones will help you put together your editorial calendar in a clean, simple way that makes it easy to see what’s posting when. This can help you keep an eye on balance, timeliness, and variety, so you’re posting the best types of content you can. And if you’ve decided to stick to the 80/20 rule (80% non-promotional posts, 20% self-promotion) for your social channels, seeing your schedule laid out in full can help you get the proportions right.

The Reigning King: Hootsuite

The most popular social media management tool, by far, is Hootsuite. It allows you to manage and schedule for all your platforms in one place as you’d expect, but also includes detailed analytics and tracking, so you can see how your campaigns are doing in real time. If you’re invested in great analytics, and using them to shape your social media content choices (definitely a good thing!), Hootsuite gives you everything you need for better data-driven decision-making.

social media management

The major plus I personally see in Hootsuite is its freemium model scalability – you can use the free version before you commit, or opt for the pro version for only $8.99 a month, or even scale up to enterprise-level options.

Push Your Reach with Edgar

At OMI, we use Edgar, a social app that is similar in many ways to Hootsuite. The advantage to using Edgar is that it’s specifically designed to help you reach more eyeballs with your content posts, by repeating them at specific times for different purposes.

When using Edgar, you input your content (it currently supports Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn) and file it under a category, like “Blog Post Promotion” or “Sales Offer.” Once you’ve set up a weekly schedule for when you want tweets or posts from these categories to go up, Edgar will randomize the content you’ve input for a great variety of tweets or updates – following your guidelines for when sales offers should go up, when blog posts are better, etc. So in terms of social media management, you’re completely in control without having to be literally hands-on with every post.

social media management

Since we all know that less than 10% of our fans/followers are seeing most pieces of content, you can get more bang for your buck out of every tweet or update by giving it more opportunities to be seen. This is especially helpful if you don’t have the budget for promoting posts or tweets to amp up your reach. Of course there’s nothing stopping you from scheduling repeat tweets or posts through Hootsuite or even manually, but Edgar saves all your content so you won’t have to write the update all over again.

Related Class: Finding Influencers to Amplify Social Reach

This is clearly not a guide to choosing your social media management tool; there are many that can get you started if you’re in the market. I’d suggest Search Engine Journal’s Top 10 Tools for Managing Your Social Media Accounts as a good jumping off point, but most established apps and tools will have their own comparisons, so you can see which works best for your needs in terms of functionality, frequency, extras (like photos, videos, etc.), analytics, paid promotion, and everything else.

Even if you’re managing just fine without social media management tools, you could be doing more, and doing it better, with a little help from these guys. Why not take a free tool or trial for a spin?

Want to learn more about spreading your content across many platforms for the biggest reach? Check out this class, led by marketing strategist Tom King: Personal Branding Through Content Distribution.

 

 


Should You Be Reshaping Your Social Media Strategy?

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There are so many do’s and don’ts in the social media marketing handbook these days, it’s hard to know how to get the most out of your channels. Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about brands that treat their social platforms as extended sales funnels, with a closer eye on their ROI than their brand marketing. That’s a shame and a waste, since social media is the ideal platform for humanizing your brand and sharing your awesome branding with new people. It’s really not the ideal platform for selling, although it can absolutely serve that purpose as well.

brand marketing

There will always be other channels for very salesy content (and email marketing is almost always going to be a better bet for ROI), but social media specifically has a huge capacity for friendly branding that many are ignoring for the most part. One social media expert who is not ignoring this, however, is Jason Falls – which is why he caught my eye online.

Social Media for Business: Are You Missing the Point?

Jason is a digital strategist who has co-authored two books on marketing; the most recent focuses on taking the BS (my euphemism) out of social media marketing. Below you’ll find my questions for Jason and his thoughts on what makes for great social media that doesn’t feel forced or over the top – social media that focuses on and takes advantage of direct communication with fans, as opposed to direct marketing to potential buyers.

What is the worst mistake that small businesses make using social media?

Assuming that it's free and easy. This is a marketing channel. It may or may not be one that works well for every business, but it's a path to your customer. If you don't invest the time, money and energy into it, then you're failing your customers there. They are valuable – don't shrug them off to some intern or refuse to invest any money because you don't see a direct response return. If anything, use it as a place for customer service and feedback so you can see intrinsic value.

How can brands strike a balance between brand marketing and direct marketing when using social media?

Just genuinely participating, sharing content, engaging in conversations and showing your human side is brand marketing in and of itself. That’s what makes me want to engage with you, trust you and perhaps even predisposes me to purchase from you. I buy Charmin because their social content cracks me up: it’s not about selling toilet paper, it's about offering a humorous aside for people during the day. That's great brand marketing. If they dropped a coupon every now and then, I wouldn't mind. But that's not why I follow them.

brand marketing

 

What are your thoughts on sharing the same content across different social channels?

Each audience and platform is slightly different, so the logic is that you should prepare content specifically for that audience. Obviously Twitter is shorter, and not as image or video friendly (yet). So if you post the same thing on Facebook, you're missing an opportunity to add images, video, longer text and so on. That doesn't mean you have to invest a great deal of time in creating separate content, but massaging it a bit for the type of responses and user you have on each platform makes sense. In the case of LinkedIn, for instance, you might have a B2B focus there, while focusing on a consumer audience on Facebook – so the messages should be different. 

What do you think about the 80/20 rule (80% other content, 20% self promotional content) for social media marketing?

That's a good rule of thumb, but it's not such a hard number for everyone. Every audience is different, and some will tolerate more direct calls to action than others. You certainly want to engage and keep people's attention – and spamming isn't a great way to do that. But many B2B followers are actually looking for product information and company expertise, and don't really care about some trade article that doesn't have anything to do with you. You have to test the ratio with your own audience to find the right mix.

Related Class: B2B Social Media Strategy

What is the biggest missed opportunity that most businesses aren't taking advantage of on social media?

Most business simply aren't seeing this as a human communications channel. They're too busy trying to monetize it and spam audiences with ads and offers. There are channels for that. Social media can be one, but it's inherently more useful if you just have someone there to answer questions, serve the customers and show you have a human side to what you do.

Jason Falls is a digital strategist, author and public speaker. His work has touched a number of large brands including Maker’s Mark, AT&T, Cafepress and Humana. To find out more about Jason visit his website.

To learn more about boosting your brand through smart social media use and well-tailored content, check out this class: How To Manage a Brand in a Social Media World.