Social Media Marketing

Infographic: Fundamentals of Facebook Marketing

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Editor’s note: To celebrate the launch of our New Social Media Fundamentals Certification, we've created an infographic to summarize the basic steps of a comprehensive Facebook marketing strategy from advertising, to sharing content and managing a community, to understanding and leveraging Insights.

 

A sixth of the world's population logs into the same website every week to read news, catch up with friends and see the latest content from their favorite online and retail businesses. Let's face it: Facebook is beyond huge, and there are few better places for an online marketer to gain new customers and communicate with old ones.

When getting your feet wet in Facebook marketing, it can be hard to know where to start. But with some simple strategy under your belt, it's very easy to carve out a space for your business where you can attract leads and traffic to your website, field customer inquiries, and establish your team as trusted experts in a field.

To help you get started, we've created an infographic that has all the information you need to get started with Facebook marketing. Here's a breakdown of the main points:

  • Your business page is your 'face' on Facebook, and serves as an introduction for newcomers and fans alike. Follow your branding rules with a consistent visual layout, make sure that links are easily available to your products and resources. Moderate user interaction to ensure that your page is a safe and comfortable place for casual browsers.
  • Over time, your business page should become a community. Start by inviting friends, employees and current customers to like your page and engage with your content. Expand your reach with targeted advertisements which will expose your business to prospects and likely fans, and build relationships with similar business pages by liking and sharing their content.
  • Create your own content to keep your community interested and engaged, and post on a consistent schedule. Social media is becoming increasingly visual, so images and videos are most effective, while text-only posts should be avoided. Maintain an 80/20 balance between useful, entertaining posts, and promotional posts.
  • Facebook has one of the best paid targeted advertisement solutions on the web. First, determine what you want to promote, and who you want to reach. Facebook has versatile targeting features that account for interests, occupations, and highly detailed demographic data which you can easily leverage to get the most bang for your buck.

Without further ado, here is the graphic. Feel free to save this, and share with fellow online marketers who can use the information!

 

facebook marketing infographic

Want to master social media marketing? Get certified with OMI

 


3 Ways Facebook Can Help Your Small Business

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Editor's Note: Josh R Jackson is a contributing editor at BestMarketingDegrees.org. To celebrate the launch of our new Facebook Fundamentals CertificationJosh joins us today to discuss how Facebook can help your small business.

 

In the 10 years since Facebook introduced business pages in 2007, the list of reasons to develop both a business page and Facebook marketing strategy has become long. Lead generation, word-of-mouth advertising, a surplus of marketing metrics, and dozens of different ways to stay in touch with clients and customers are just some of the many features that have transformed The Social Network into one of the most essential marketing tools freely available to a small business.

But why is it so essential? Why is it that we champion Facebook as a be-all, end-all of small business marketing strategy, and why will some people even tell you that a small business today can’t function without a Facebook presence?

While it may be an exaggeration to say a small business can't get by without Facebook, the zealot attitude has a lot to do with the fact that Facebook was the first social media platform to reach one billion users. But likely the biggest reason why marketers support the platform so much is because Facebook has structured itself like a glove around many of the most essential principles of good marketing and promotion. So in this post, we have outlined those essential marketing principles to show you how Facebook operates in a way that is most conducive to executing a small business marketing strategy. Let's get started!

Building Brand Awareness

From the planning phase to the pitch, small business owners know it’s important to come up with ways of showing that their brand satisfies consumer needs. This knowledge stems from an understanding of the essential marketing principle that businesses need to build brand awareness in order for potential customers to know they exist.

But almost every small business owner will tell you that it’s difficult to devise cheap and easy ways to amplify their small voices. This is especially true in today’s environment, where so many consumers have learned how to tune out, change the channel, or click out of big expensive ads, even when they communicate something relevant to the customer's needs.

On the other hand, from its early days Facebook has existed as a platform to help amplify the voices of small businesses when they need to telegraph “Hey! I’m here! I exist! And I can help!” Business Pages allow small business owners to blend with private users, and afford them the ability to build a presence without intruding too far into the private user’s experience. At the same time, Facebook provides small businesses with the tools they need to measure and shape their brand’s personality along the way. Historically speaking, there is no other service that could furnish small businesses with that many tools to build brand awareness for free, and this makes Facebook uniquely suited to executing a small business's marketing strategy.

Providing Customer Service

Small business owners also know how important it is to field customer questions and concerns. This knowledge stems from an understanding of the essential marketing principle that businesses need to provide great customer service, because the quality of customer service experiences shapes how customers perceive the value of a business’s marketing message.

At the same time, small business owners know that delivering quality customer service can be difficult to accomplish when they have a million other things to worry about, including inventory, product volume, overhead costs, or perhaps even a family. This is especially true in an online business setting, where communicating customer care across a screen is difficult, and the threat of bad reviews is powerful.

Since Review and Messenger features debuted for Business Pages, Facebook’s potential to function as a venue to conduct customer service has grown immensely. This means that small businesses can even conduct their customer service operations entirely over Facebook, without a formal website, especially if they posses team members with good online communication skills.

Given those skills, Facebook’s engagement features make it much easier than any other platform to get to know customers on a more human level, provide them with a venue for answering questions and troubleshooting problems, as well as make first contact with other companies. That makes Facebook an excellent customer service platform for making a great first impression.

Establishing Expertise

As many web users’ go-to social media platform, Facebook has become somewhat like Google: it is a trusted resource for information. Many users now trust they will be able to find a business’s hours of operation on Facebook, along with a phone number and basic information about what the business offers.

Today’s small business owners know that businesses who lack this basic information will often be skipped for the businesses who have it. This knowledge stems from an understanding of the essential marketing principle that businesses need to be known as experts in their trade, and that being an expert in the digital age means having an online presence with which to communicate that expertise.

As more businesses move online, the tendency for companies to function both as content publishers and providers of expert advice has intensified. This means that small businesses are often expected to contribute a steady stream of information from both public and private spheres of business. Video features like Facebook Live and Messenger Day have made it possible for small businesses to upload the social web’s most popular form of content (video) with seamless ease, opening the window for small business owners to offer tutorials, give brand advice, and reach people that otherwise might not normally enter their store.

Posting engaging content in such immediate formats allows small businesses to build a reputation as experts to a large audience of people who can interact and provide feedback remotely. Driving engagement like this is not something that was possible for small businesses in either our recent or distant past, making Facebook a strategic driver of innovation for the little guy.

Want to know how to devise a Facebook marketing strategy for small business? Take a class in Facebook Fundamentals today.

Want to master Facebook Marketing? Sign up for our new Facebook certification today!

 


3 Most Important Facebook Skills in 2017

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Editor's Note: Josh R Jackson is a contributing editor at BestMarketingDegrees.org. To celebrate the launch of our new Facebook Fundamentals CertificationJosh joins us today to discuss the top Facebook skills for online marketers to learn in 2017.

 

We're halfway through the year, and 2017 has already given marketers a treasure trove of new toys, many of them courtesy of the world’s largest social media platform: Facebook. Messenger Day, The Social Network’s answer to Snapchat, has already promised to take video and Messenger platforms to whole new levels of engagement, creating a bigger sense of culture, and producing a closer sense of community among Facebook video users.

Updates to Ad Breaks, Reactions to Messenger, and advanced ad measurement access for users of Facebook Business Manager have also expanded opportunities for small businesses to gain actionable insights about their audiences. All of this comes on top of the fact that paid advertising is getting more competitive and complicated than ever before.

When thinking about these new developments to the most popular social media platform in the world, it's crucial for small businesses to hone the skills that these tools demand. That’s why we’ve applied what we know about Facebook’s future to present you with the three most important Facebook skills to hone in 2017. Let's get started!

Creating a Sense of Community

Since Facebook began, the platform has been famous for its ability to bring people together. That it can foster a sense of community between like-minded (and sometimes different-minded) people is largely what makes it such a popular outlet for public expression. Since 2007, businesses have been able to create Business Pages to tap into this feature, and create a sense of community all their own.

The marketing potential of Facebook’s Business Pages has only grown over the years, and with the advent of each new feature - whether it be engagement ads, targeting tools, or ad placement technology - businesses tend to benefit when the social network opens new doors that encourage users to gather around common ideas and businesses to engage with their audiences.

A great example of community-creation in action is the new Reactions feature; those six emojis we use to tell users how their posts make us feel have helped businesses to gauge how different audiences receive their content on an emotional level. New posting options like these, and especially fan pages and video, have created new forums around which to animate discussion, encourage feedback from fans, and interact directly with potential clients and customers.

These new opportunities for social expression have made lead generation much easier, especially for those who can get in on the ground floor and harness the full power of the latest social technologies. Engagement metrics have also made lead generation more measurable, which brings us to #2 of the most important Facebook skills to hone in 2017.

Developing Actionable Insights

Facebook Insights take the pulse of a business’s social influence. They are the barometer of how far we reach outside our usual circle of friends and followers. But best of all, they offer bits of information that can act as advice about the next steps our business should take. For instance, if we post text-heavy, self-promotional content without supplementary videos or images, we might see our reach numbers decline. Why? Because text-heavy posts from businesses tend to get hidden, reported as spam, or unliked, and Facebook’s ever-changing social ranking algorithm can penalize pages that receive a high volume of negative reactions.

On the other hand, that same algorithm tends to reward higher rankings to posts that earn engagement in the form of likes, comments, and shares, a kind of positive reinforcement that suggests we should keep doing what we’re doing.

Additional insights about user demographics are telling us more and more about the kind of person we’re reaching. Our insights about these people - particularly about those who like our pages and engage with our content - help us to build a sense of who our customers and brand fans are. In fact, studies have shown that the act of liking a page tends to be an expression of both personality and identity among Facebook users.

The key this year is to take what we learn from insights like these and develop a marketing strategy that can help our business lead its best life by marketing to users who personally like us so much that they will amplify our story by word of mouth. Once we know who these users are and how to reach them, it helps to know how and when to boost the posts they’re engaging with to reach other like-minded people. This leads us to #3 of the most important Facebook skills to hone in 2017.

Engaging With Paid Advertising

Knowing how and when to pull the trigger on paid advertising is one of the most important Facebook skills an online marketer can acquire. This is because, while cultivating likes, comments, and shares organically is one of the best ways to guarantee leads through web traffic, a paid ad can make the difference between growing awareness about a brand and increasing that brand’s perceived relevance. While organic engagement might increase awareness within your close network, a paid advertisement often increases how relevant and important a brand is perceived to be by a wide variety of people, including the usual fans and followers.

Engaging with Facebook’s paid advertising features can range from an exercise as simple as choosing to boost a post that’s already doing well in your network, to an exercise as complicated as designing and uploading content to Facebook’s wider network of Carousel Ads and Sponsored Posts. Each of these options can lead to greater control over audience reach, more consistent web traffic through better targeted ads. This year, it’s important for small businesses to know when pulling the trigger on such promotions is a good idea, especially if offers and discounts are involved.

Some small businesses need to check to make sure they’re prepared for the level of attention they might receive after paying for a sponsored post, and they’ll want to ensure they have the infrastructure in place to adequately respond to all inquiries and provide great customer service - and that brings us full circle, through the most important aspects of community creation.

Want to know how you can best develop all these skills? Take a class in Facebook Fundamentals today.

Want to master Facebook Marketing? Sign up for our new Facebook certification today!

 


How to Boost Your Webinar Signups

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Webinar Signups

Editor's Note: Joydeep Bhattacharya is a digital marketing evangelist who writes for SEO Sandwitch. Today he joins us to discuss the importance of webinars in online marketing, and how to attract more signups.

 

Webinars are a critical source of knowledge on the web that are increasingly adopted by online marketers for advertisement and promotion. Apart from introducing newcomers to a subject and disseminating organized information, webinars are great for link building, which makes them a power card for SEO experts and digital marketers.

60% of web marketers include webinars in their toolkits, and there’s every reason for you to do the same. All you need to get started is one of many easily accessible tools which can create and deliver your webinar to attendants. However, creating a webinar is half the battle: the other half is getting signups. This is where tricks and tactics can be handy.

In this article, we’ll be going over some of these tips to help you get more webinar signups and increase your impact. Let’s get started -

Invest Due Diligence in Topic Choice

The topic you pick when creating your webinar is one of its most attractive aspects. Don’t even think of moving ahead in your development process until you have a killer topic in hand, because this will play a big part in determining your reach.

Here is some time tested advice that will help you choose a relevant topic that will grasp attention and generate webinar signups:

  1. Analyze your website’s blog or your social media profiles to get a pulse on the interests and opinions of your subscribers, customers, and followers.
  2. Track hashtags used by your social media followers and customers. Social media suites like HootSuite can make this step easier.
  3. Specifically search for your brand mentions on social media to understand the contexts in which they appear.
  4. Conduct a user survey on your website or through your email list to get direct feedback from your audience about the topics they are interested in.
  5. Look for opportunities to address topics that are evergreen, and therefore stand to gain indefinite social attention.
  6. Once you hone in on a few potential topics, evaluate their potential for getting social shares by using BuzzSumo to analyze similar keywords.

Create a Landing Page and Use A/B Testing to Determine the Best Fit

Once you have a high-quality topic for your webinar, you want to get the word out and encourage interested parties to sign up. This is where the design of your landing page becomes very important. Any webinar landing page should, at minimum, contain these basic elements:

  1. Your brand logo, to convey your identity and a sense of professionalism.
  2. If you have relevant certifications and brand mentions from industry influencers, highlight them in a dedicated, conspicuous section.
  3. Use directional cues that point a visitor to the signup form.
  4. Include a professional photograph of yourself or your presenter, ideally in in an educational setting.
  5. Use an A/B testing tool like Optinmonster to compare design schemes, and pick the one which works best. Optinmonster will also automate much of your design process, eliminating the need for a developer. WPForms is another good tool that generates forms with a drag and drop interface, though sadly, it lacks A/B testing features.
  6. Nobody wants to sign up for something if they don’t know what it’s about, so include a ‘what you will learn from this webinar’ section that summarizes the material your webinary will cover. Use numbered bullet points wherever possible (for instance: “5 cheat sheets to organize your influencer research,” or “10 secrets of perfecting your replenishment emails,” etc.)

Learn from the Masters

You should never develop your marketing strategies in a vacuum. Others have paved the way before you, and perfected the most effective techniques along the way. So emulate what the best people in the business are doing: the best digital marketing educators are also the ones investing the most effort into webinar marketing strategies. So identify the top 5 educators in your market, and see how they approach their webinars.

For instance, as a digital marketing educator you might analyze the way big names like KissMetrics and Neil Patel promote their webinars. Here’s an example of a Kissmetrics webinar signup page:

Pay attention to the balanced layout, the designated and easily noticed signup area, professional images of presenters, and the punchy list of topics.

Leverage the Power of A Well Timed SMS Reminder

Once you have a long list of webinar signups, you’ll feel good - but you aren’t done yet. Those signups have to actually become attendees by tuning in when the webinar begins. You have to be proactive in making sure that signups remember your webinar before it happens, so they will also remember to show up.

Most webinar organizers and marketers send an email reminder a few hours before the webinar begins. But remember: skipping the webinar is a low-risk option for your subscribers, so you need a strong push.

This is where SMS reminders come into the picture. In addition to email reminders, send out an SMS reminder to your subscribers half an hour before the webinar before it begins. This is a more immediate option than email, and stands a better chance of being noticed. Here are the key elements of an effective SMS reminder:

  • Address the subscriber by name.
  • Include dial-in options.
  • Include a bit.ly or tinyurl shortened link.

Keep the Webinar Invitation Visible on Social Media

Most marketers will know to share webinar invites on their social media profiles, but there are ways to keep that invitation visible on social media for a longer period of time. Many online marketers are unaware that it is possible to highlight a post so it’s the first thing visitors to your page see.

Twitter offers users the option of ‘pinning’ a tweet on top of their page. This ensures that even if you post often, the webinar invite post remains on top.

Facebook has a similar feature:

Pinning a link to your webinar splash page on social media profiles is a sound way to ensure that it will remain visible to your audience, and maintain the interest of subscribers, so be sure to use this technique!

Conclusion:

Hosting a webinar is a great way to increase your brand’s authority, and the larger your audience, the larger your impact. These tactics are easy ways to improve your webinar signups and drive more conversions every time. Try one today, and let us know how it works for you!

 

Learn more with these related OMI classes:

Web Analytics & Testing

Email Marketing Tactics

Social Media Strategy for Business

 

Visit the Online Marketing Institute to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space.

 


The Future of Facebook for Digital Marketers

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the future of facebook

Editor's Note: Josh R Jackson is a contributing editor at BestMarketingDegrees.org. To celebrate the launch of our new Facebook Fundamentals CertificationJosh joins us today to discuss the future of Facebook, and how digital marketers can begin to prepare for it.

 

Over the years, Facebook has set a trajectory to grow its user base, find new ways to monetize, and expand its investment reach to new tech markets like artificial intelligence and virtual reality. For digital marketers, this direction has ushered in constant connectivity across a broad range of user tools; specifically, ad networks, business pages, and platforms that permit access to Facebook’s social media data.

Generally speaking, it’s impossible to predict the future of Facebook with much accuracy. The Social Network’s ranking algorithms change regularly, and we never know when a new platform might disrupt its momentum. But we do know that Facebook marketers who push quality content over salesy promotion are achieving unprecedented levels of connectivity, which allows for more loyal engagement from friends, fans, and followers.

Our predictions for the future of Facebook is based on its own stated 10-year plan, and because we don’t expect that trajectory to change much in the near future, we’ve come up with three routes that digital marketers might go to enhance connectivity with their Facebook audiences. All three routes were chosen to make the prospect of interacting with audiences more attainable as time goes by. Let's dive in:

Mobile Video

Video is a main staple of Facebook’s marketing menu. Although private video calling has been available since 2011, Facebook’s public video viewing feature became especially popular in 2014 after News Feed started showing users data about people who were viewing the same videos as them.

Since then, the trend has largely moved towards mobile video, as the company develops Facebook Live and Messenger Day so users can easily share video on-the-go. These new tools are designed to provide more outlets for uploading the Internet’s most popular form of content (video) while at the same time encouraging a greater level of intimacy between users, their friends, and their followers.

While mobile video tools have been put to good use by private users, many businesses have not yet taken advantage of them or unleashed their full potential to unlock a deeper sense of connection with their audiences. But the versatility of these tools make it wise for small businesses and entrepreneurs to think about how they might open up the throttle, and rocket to relevance by taking advantage of Facebook mobile video.

Rules of Engagement

Facebook Policy has structured the social web to be as friendly as possible, but that doesn’t always mean Facebook hosts the friendliest platform on Earth. It’s impossible to know when an online troll might comment in poor taste, leave a slanderous review, or inundate your Business Page inbox with junk intended to harm or hack. It’s also difficult to know when your business might be over-promoting. This is why it’s important for businesses and entrepreneurs to develop rules for Facebook engagement. Nominating social media moderators to post quality content and monitor for quality control in messages, reviews, and comments is a great first step in this direction. But those moderators need to be on the same page.

One of the easiest codes of conduct to put into place is the 80/20 rule, which stipulates that we should post content from other sources 80% of the time and content from our own company 20% of the time. That way, we simultaneously draw new customers and avoid pushing old ones away. When we follow them, rules of engagement on Facebook work to establish businesses as principled and credible thought leaders. At a time when the future can seem uncertain and online behavior can seem overly driven by emotion, working to establish credibility and trust works doubletime to foster a deeper sense of connection between businesses and their customers.

Newsjacking the News Feed

Although little more risky than coming up with a code of conduct, newsjacking has become a popular way for businesses to get attention on days when the news won’t let us get a word in edgewise. Newsjacking occurs when a business uses its social presence to ride (not hijack) a news story, by delivering a timely message that is relevant both to the business’s purpose and the story at hand.

Great examples of newsjacking have occurred during live events such as the Super Bowl, the Oscars, or the Olympics, when brands try to inject some comic relief into a topic of conversation. While this tactic often works best for topics in pop culture and entertainment, it’s more difficult when it comes to politics, a topic that enters Facebook conversations more readily than it used to. While this isn't to say that brands cannot successfully involve themselves in a political moment, this is much harder to pull off than the average newsjack, and it can be much safer to stay out of politics altogether.

That being said, with all the political news on Facebook News Feeds, there is ample room for businesses to come out and make a statement. This is especially true in a day and age when businesses are expected to have a social conscience and break their own news. But when it comes to News Feed, the key to successful newsjacking is aiming to address the root reason why customers care about your business at the same time as you address a relevant news story.

If a business can accomplish this in all the right way, the future of Facebook could hold controversial ads that get attention at the same time as they connect to a businesses’ usual customer bases. Such a future might also mean reaching unprecedented levels of new customer loyalty.

Want to master Facebook Marketing? Sign up for our new Facebook certification today!

 


How to Choose the Perfect Images to Improve Content Engagement

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Editor's Note: Jane Hurst is a business writer and regular OMI contributor. Today, she joins us to discuss how well-selected images can improve content engagement on your blog or website.

 

While text is the most prominent feature of long-form content, if you don’t use images effectively in your blog posts and marketing, you aren’t attracting nearly as much traffic as you could be. Images grab attention because humans are visual creatures: when they see a lot of text without visual stimuli, they will often click away pretty quickly. People need to see something that is visually appealing to capture their attention, but at the same time, you can’t haphazardly slap some photos on and be done with it. You need to research your target audience, and use visuals that will appeal to them in order to raise your content engagement. Here are some tips that will help you do this:

Use Images in Blogs

Studies show that blogs with featured images get a lot more attention than those without visual content. First, it is a fact that we tend to remember things in terms of visual rather than verbal memory. You must therefore utilize images that are tailored to the content you have prepared for your target audience to build a better connection with them. You want readers to read and digest a post, then comment, so you can interact with them and make conversions.

Bottom line: if you want to be remembered and make an impact on your readers, you need to use images that will really stand out in their minds.

Don’t Forget SEO

Many people don’t realize that images are an important part of search engine optimization. Photographs can be optimized so that search engines deliver your photos when the right keywords are searched. Optimizing your images for search engines is not hard. Basically, you just have to use the right keywords in the:

  • Image title
  • Description
  • File name, and
  • Alt text

It is also important to ensure that the dimensions of the image you upload are the same as the size used on your page, so that image searchers aren’t disappointed when they are forwarded to your website. Because a lot of people don’t realize this, many bloggers miss out on a great marketing opportunity. It only takes a few minutes to make sure that your images are properly sized, and coupled to the right keywords. Take advantage of this, and get more hits on your page.

Match Your Brand

When you are choosing images for anything, you need to think about some key factors, including your brand’s voice, mood, and style. Remember, you are trying to appeal to a specific audience, so you are marketing to them. Don’t choose images just because they appeal to you; they may not appeal to others, and that is what what matters. Be sure to study your target audience to find out what appeals to them most. Then, use imagery that will make them eager to visit your site and buy your products. This may take a bit of trial and error, but if you really pay attention to what your customers are saying and doing, you will get it right.

Use Relevant Images

If you are creating guides, you should use images that are relevant to what you are demonstrating in the guide. For instance, if your guide is about resumes, you don’t want to use photos of books: illustrate successful resume samples, add images of people writing resumes, as Uptowork did in their How to Write a Resume Guide:

Source

Before creating any type of guide, you need to think about the types of images that are going to get your message across most effectively. Pictures say so much, and if you are not using the right pictures, there is no sense in using images at all. Take the time and effort to do it well; you will be much happier with the results, and so will your visitors.

Let Images Stand Alone

Most people don’t like blogs that are heavy on text and low on visual content. In most cases, visual content is easier to understand, because it can be seen and apprehended in seconds, and doesn’t require reading time. Your visual elements should summarize what you are trying to say in the blog or on your selling page. For example, GadgetSalvation used two images to visualize the Sell Your Macbook page: when readers see the photo, they immediately understand the message, and read on to learn more.

Source

Imagery is one of the best ways to get information across quickly, so you can do more with less effort. The fewer characters you write between images in content and on product pages, the more engagement you are likely to receive from your audience.

Use People in Images

People connect with those who have the same tastes, desires, etc. as themselves. You need to build that connection with them, and to do this, you should feature images of human beings. You also need to know how to use people in images. For instance, a candid photo will generally attract more attention than one that is posed. Studies show that the majority of people prefer images that have just one person, and they also prefer to see subjects looking away from (rather than directly at) the camera. There is a reason why these shots are more popular: when all the factors are added together, viewers feel that the image could be of themselves.

Get Authorization before Using Images

It is vitally important that you have full authorization to use any of the images you display with your content. This doesn’t mean you have to produce the images yourself, but, you do need to gain the permission of those who produced the images or own them to use them for marketing purposes. Using stock photos is one popular option, in which you pay websites like Bigstock for the rights to use a particular image but this should not be your go-to for photos since stock images are often widely disseminated and sometimes overused. If you pull random images off the Internet, you will also need permission to share this content. If you share image content to social media, your audience should be able to share and use them, since this is a way of promoting content engagement and gaining exposure across a wide audience. Be sure to spell out the terms of these permissions in the “Terms and Conditions” page of your site or blog so your images can go viral.

Be Careful with Stock Photos

It is okay to use stock photos once in awhile when you need them. But they are not something you should rely on exclusively, since a lot of readers will easily be able to tell the difference between a stock photo and one that has been created or commissioned for a single campaign. While the stock photos may be excellent in quality, they could also end up turn some potential customers off. The more time and effort you put into your imagery, the more it will be noticed, improving your content engagement, and raising your bottom line.

Learn more with these related OMI classes:

B2B Social Visual Storytelling on Instagram, Pinterest & Tumblr

Turn Website Visitors into Customers via Conversation Optimization

How to Create a Content Segmentation Plan

Visit the Online Marketing Institute to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space.

 


How to Succeed as a Small Business on Instagram

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Editor's Note: Matt Foster is a Content Strategist at Distinctly. Today he joins us to explain how a small business on Instagram can build their presence, and effectively engage with a diverse audience.

 

Since it was introduced in 2010, Instagram has become one of the most popular and widely used social media sites, competing with Twitter as a key platform for business users. So how can Instagram benefit you as a small business?

In December 2016, Instagram boasted over 600 million followers: a world of potential clients and customers for small businesses. This enormous market is often tapped by bigger brands looking to develop their social media marketing efforts, while smaller businesses sometimes assume it will not work for them; this simply is not true. In this article, we’ll show how to raise brand awareness and reach a larger customer base as a small business on Instagram. Let’s get started!

Target Your Content

After setting up an Instagram account, it’s time to post content. But where do you start? The key to success on Instagram is knowing the kind of content that will capture the attention of your audience. As a small business, it’s important that you know who your target users are, and tailor content to their interests. Begin by looking at your current customer base, and decide who they are in terms of age, location and gender. Once this information is clear, it’s easier to make an informed decision on content and hashtags.

Hashtags and trending topics are important on Instagram, and many will be relevant to you. When a hashtag relevant to your business blows up, it’s a great way to reach a wider audience beyond your followers. Adding hashtags to the content you post means it can be easily found, and posting content that is relevant to current trends can do the same. Both techniques are good ways to not only gain followers, but generate brand awareness in your target market.

Keeping your Instagram content related to your company brand is important, and this can be done by choosing a niche theme. When you have a theme, followers know what to expect, and will rely on you for similar posts down the road. It can take some experimentation to find something that is both unique and well-received, but once you’ve found something that works, you can focus on perfecting it.

A woodworking business based in Georgia, USA - Sons of Sawdust - reclaimed wood to create new products. By taking photos of their projects and posting them online, the company has created a popular online portfolio showcasing their work, and providing a behind-the-scenes demonstration of their processes. To make sure the right people see it, Sons of Sawdust uses relevant hashtags – #workshop, #oldwood, and #salvage, for example – so it will be found by a wide variety of users interested in woodworking.

A small business on Instagram

Engagement is Key

Being active and engaging your audience is vital to building a successful presence as a small business on Instagram. You can post great quality, relevant content, but if no one knows you have an online presence, you will struggle to grow it. Start by telling current customers that you have social media accounts by putting a link to your Instagram on your website, and advertise it on other mediums like Facebook and Twitter. Include all social media links in your email signatures to drive traffic.

Consistency is a tremendously important way to keep your audience engaged, so content should be uploaded on a frequent and regular basis. The more active a small business is on Instagram, the more engagement they will see in return.

There are optimum posting times for Instagram, so try to establish a routine and post when most of your audience is online. Social Insights and Iconosquare are tools that will help you find the best times to post for maximum engagement, and both use analytics to optimize for your unique follower-base.

Another way to gain a large Instagram presence is collaborating with another local business or organisation that has already established themselves on Instagram. Working together exposes you to a pre-existing audience, and expands your own base.

Instagram has become the social platform for influencer endorsements. Do research to identify an influencer who shares your product, service, or target audience on Instagram, and build the relationship through engaging, ultimately inquiring about them promoting your business.

You can approach and offer between $20 and $100 they will promote your product or brand to their followers. There are plenty of research tools you can use to target the right influences for the size of their following in set niches, although be aware this must be matched with high levels of engagement of their followers when they post content.
Alasdair Inglis – Marketing expert at We Are Grow

Be Unique and Stand Out

In order to create an engaging Instagram account, it is essential to stand out from the crowd. So where do you start in terms of generating unique content? Your business likely offers a product, service or experience that is sold to customers through a unique selling point (USP), and you can use this to attract followers.

The London Helicopter has special access to bird’s eye views of the London skyline every day. The company’s USP lies in offering an experience that many people want to see, and that very few get to see. As a visually oriented platform, Instagram is a perfect place for this company to showcase these experiences and share them with followers who are unlikely to forget the brand if they are ever on vacation.

The London Heli Instagram

Have a Consistent Style

As mentioned before, consistency is key to all forms of social media and Instagram is no exception. But while many companies remember to post consistently, they often neglect stylistic consistency. People follow a brand because they want to see more of whatever attracted them in the first place, so giving it to them is important.

A popular way of doing this is to concentrate on a branded color palette throughout your content. Oreo does this well by using the same house style and color scheme in each of their posts:

Oreo Instagram

Instagram is About More than Gaining Customers

While social media can absolutely help you to gain new customers, it isn’t just a quick way to boost your business and market your products. It also works to demonstrate excellent customer service, and the quality of people who work for your business.

There are many ways businesses and brands can benefit from this besides the acquisition of new customers:

Boosting Sales Among Existing Customers: Businesses who show great customer service on their social media accounts are likely to see a boost in sales and profits. Research by Aberdeen Group found that brands who are good at customer service benefit from an annual financial gain of 7.5%, against the typical 2.9%.

Creating Brand Advocates: Using social media turns your customers into brand advocates. If a customer has a good experience with a brand on social media, they are three times as likely to recommend that brand to a friend or family member. This is how word of mouth works in the digital age.

Creating a Positive Image: Social media platforms are a good way to show old and potential customers alike that you are interested in them, and this matters even if you aren’t getting direct sales from your content. 74% of shoppers list social platforms as a main influence on whether or not they made a purchase, so it is important for brands  to focus on customer care and maintaining a friendly, outgoing public image.

Like other social media platforms, Instagram gives your customers a space to interact with your company, a chance to retain old customers, and gain new ones. Using it effectively means appreciating the unique qualities of a visual medium, and being sincere in your efforts to build a positive image that your brand will be remembered for. Getting started isn't hard, and it's well worth it - hopefully the advice above will help you to build your presence on a platform that is teeming with opportunity.

Learn more with these related OMI classes:

B2B Social Visual Storytelling on Instagram, Pinterest & Tumblr

Creating and Curating Content People Love

Social Media Strategy for Business

Visit the Online Marketing Institute to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space.

 


Infographic: How to Get Sales with Facebook Advertising

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Editor's Note: Ted Chong is a Business IT expert and director at Ice Cube Marketing, where this infographic was first published. Today he joins to share his insight on using Facebook advertising to generate leads.

 

It’s statistically safe to assume you are a Facebook user and you don't buy every single item advertised on the social media platform. In fact, you may not have ever purchased something advertised on Facebook. This is largely because, although it presents an incredible opportunity for targeted marketing, many companies fail to use Facebook effectively by correctly tailoring their ads to an ideal audience.

Advertisers sometimes forget that Facebook is primarily a social network, rather than a commercial platform. As advertisers competing in a content barrage with endless cat videos and selfies, we need all the tricks we have to stand out.

In this infographic, we summarize the most important factors in Facebook advertising. By following good strategy, you can take advantage of Facebook's diverse audience, and reach the people who matter most.

Here are some key takeaways:

  • When choosing your audience, remember that Facebook has more data about them than you can imagine. Make sure you go beyond broad interests, and select nuanced criteria.
  • The best results on Facebook occur with low-commitment, foot-in-the-door offers with subsequent upsells. For the B2B market, free demo/consultations/eBooks/trials work very well. For B2C, events/workshops/samples/discounts/contests can do magic.
  • In your ads, using feeble words just doesn't cut it. Use power words that short-circuit the brain and demand attention.
  • If you hope to generate leads, go for website clicks or conversions as objectives that Facebook's algorithm can optimize for.

 

fb101

A case scenario: I gave away a free SEO checklist to my audience and it attracted around 200 opt-ins from Facebook. Some of them ended up buying my service, and I made 3-4 times my adspend - not to mention that I got to build my email list at the same time!

There's no one-size-fits-all foolproof strategy. Everything from your offers to your ads hinge on your audience's wants and needs; the winner is the one who understands her audience better than her competitors. By taking the time to learn, strategize and focus your criteria, Facebook advertising can be a very lucrative boost to your business.

Learn more with these related OMI classes:

Facebook Advertising and Targeting

Fundamentals of Facebook Marketing

7 Elements of Highly Effective Facebook Marketing

Visit the Online Marketing Institute to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space.

 


Best Email Marketing Tools for Small Business

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Editor's note: Stacey Marone is a social media marketer who has joined us today to explore the best tools for managing an email marketing campaign.

 

Social media is often portrayed as the ultimate marketing tool for small businesses. But before there were social networks, people relied on email to stay connected. In fact, everyone on a social network has an email address, but not everyone with an email address is on a social network. It stands to reason that you can reach a lot more people with email marketing than with social media marketing alone.

Even with a strong social media strategy, email marketing opens your business to many leads and opportunities you might otherwise miss. Furthermore, the two strategies can be combined to create more powerful campaigns.

What is email marketing?

Email marketing is a kind of targeted marketing.

If you’re like most people, you sometimes open your mailbox to find brochures and invitations from different companies offering product information, samples, free seminars and other promotional material.

Email marketing is something like that, except in digital form. In both cases, you need contact information to promote your business. When it comes to email marketing, this information takes the form of an email list compiled from your existing customers, or email addresses you got from site registrations.

There are many ways to obtain a list of email addresses. But once that’s taken care of, you have a new challenge on your hands: turning them into customers. In order to make the best use of your leads, it's essential to have a versatile email platform that will help you to send the right information where it counts.

To help you find what’s right for you, we’ve compiled a list of the best email marketing tools for your business. Let’s get started!

Mail Chimp

mailchimp

In spite of its humorous style, MailChimp is a very serious email marketing tool, and one of the most popular and user-friendly ones around. It is especially useful if you are just starting out on your email marketing journey.

MailChimp will do much of the work for you, including product follow-ups and stock availability updates. It will track what your customers are buying so you can target them with related product offerings. You can also integrate MailChimp with your Twitter and Facebook account, allowing you to bring social media and email marketing together.

If you have an e-commerce store, MailChimp has a lot of great options for you; it will connect directly to services like WooCommerce, Shopify, Magento, or BigCommerce. This integration allows you to create email campaigns directly from your store.

Beginners will appreciate the intuitive drag-and-drop interface in MailChimp’s email builder, and the dashboard is also very simple to navigate. To track success, you can easily generate reports of your campaigns to learn how many people opened their emails, which links got the most clicks, and what customer segments respond best to different offers.

MailChimp is also very fairly priced, with a free plan to send up to 12,000 emails to 2,000 subscribers a month. This is usually a great place for small businesses to start. Once you gather steam paid plans start at $10 a month.

Litmus

litmus

Next up on our list is Litmus, a versatile platform that takes analytics to the next level. Litmus specializes in testing and tracking emails with advanced features to help you fine tune your email marketing strategy. It’s a step up from MailChimp, but still quite easy to use, and makes a great supplement to email campaigns that you might be running on another service.

Litmus not only tests email optimization for PCs and laptops, but also mobile devices. Since the market is increasingly going mobile, this is an important strategy for success. If you test your emails before sending them out, you will see exactly how they look to your recipients. By refining the look and load time of the emails you send, automatically removing broken links and streamlining design elements, Litmus will ensure you get the most bang for your buck.

Litmus will also track your emails so you get important information such as what devices were used to open emails, when they were opened, and how much time recipients spent on them.

As a testing and tracking tool, Litmus takes the cake. Beginning with a 7 day free trial, using Litmus permanently will cost you a cool $79.00 per month. Given how much it can improve your results, the investment can be well worth it for those with a medium to large email marketing list.

Reach Mail

reachmail

For those with smaller budgets who would still like to benefit from email analytics and optimization, Reach Mail is a good, affordable option at a mere $10.00 per month.

Like Litmus, Reach Mail offers message testing and tracks email performance. It also has a Spam Checker, which tests your emails to see whether they might be flagged as spam. A nice feature of Reach Mail is that it considers your emails as entire compositions, taking into account both subject lines and content in its analysis. This is important for determining how successful your campaigns will be ahead of time.

Like MailChimp, Reach Mail offers hundreds of attractive templates for creating your emails, so you won't need graphic or layout chops to send a professional-looking email. And if you do want something a little more unique for a special occasion, you can easily request custom design directly through the service.

ActiveTrail

activetrail

Formerly known as TargetHero, ActiveTrail is an email marketing solution which specifically targets the growing population of users who read emails on mobile devices.

Aside from the usual email composition and sending features, ActiveTrail will automatically send targeted emails to people on your list who perform certain actions on your website, such as registering for a newsletter, or entering a particular campaign. These auto responses can be a “Thank You” or verification email which include product offerings and other promotional information relevant to the target user - you do your marketing every step along the way!

AvtiveTrail’s pricing comes in tiers. For $7 a month, you can manage up to 500 subscribers, and it goes all the way up to $55 a month for 10,000. This range of options makes it easy to start small, and expand according to your means. If you’d like to give this tool a spin, there’s also a free trial, so take advantage of that before committing!

There are many other options in the world of email marketing to help you accomplish your goals, but these are great choices for beginners; even simple tools like MailChimp are used by very large corporations to manage their email marketing needs. There’s no better way to learn than by doing, so pick one and give it a try!

Stacey Marone is a freelance writer and a social media marketer. She creates magnetic content optimized for search. In her free time, she also does volunteer work and organizes some activities for children. Her passions involve painting, reading, and writing. You can follow her on twitter.

Learn more with these related OMI classes: 

Using Social Data to Improve Email Marketing

How to Create Mobile Friendly Emails

Successfully Measuring Email Performance

Visit the Online Marketing Institute to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space.

 


Infographic: Portrait of A Mobile Consumer

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There has never been a better time to optimize your business for mobile consumers. When cell phones were first invented, few people could have anticipated the processing power of the devices we hold in our hands today. With just a few swipes of the finger, we can communicate with our friends in endless ways, capture high-quality photos, shop for products and services, and easily manage every aspect of our personal and professional lives.

The power of this connectivity is changing the world of commerce. Now, product research and buying can be performed wherever consumers are, whether they’re walking in the park, sitting on a train, or taking a lunch break.

This means payment providers and retail giants are changing the way they operate. Brands use social media to reach out to us in a personalized way, and when we do head to brick-and-mortar stores, more and more digital transaction points are available, making it easier and quicker for us to pay at the till.

With the amount of data available online, consumers will be more informed before they choose to buy. And, with e-commerce sales estimated to reach $626 billion by 2018, it’s certainly something all the big players will be investing in.

The portrait of the mobile consumer has certainly changed a lot and is set to evolve further. Online marketers should definitely capitalize by optimizing their platforms for mobile shoppers, and making content easily available to mobile devices.

Check out this great infographic for more information.

voucher_cloud_mobile
This infographic was first published by Maureen Sanford at Vouchercloud

Want to learn more about any of the subjects mentioned above? Here are some relevant classes: Building Your Mobile Strategy, Integrating Mobile into Social Media MarketingMobile PR & Content Marketing

Visit the Online Marketing Institute to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space. Ready to start learning? Sign up here here!