Social Media Marketing

How to Build an Engaged Social Media Community

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Editor's Note: Tess Pajaron works in business management for Open Colleges. Today, she joins us to explore how brands can build an active and engaged social media community.

 

While consumers have been using platforms like Facebook and Twitter for over a decade now - beginning with the raging success of MySpace in the early 2000s - brands have only begun to catch on in the last five years and realize the full potential of social media for marketing.

Social media not only makes people better, but offers plenty of amazing opportunities to businesses of every shape and size.

Instead of using social networks solely as marketing platforms to advertise products, companies can now use social media to build customer experience and create engagement. The ability to connect and communicate directly with a target audience allows brands to build a solid fan base and grow their community easily.

Here are 6 tips to help you create an engaged network of followers that will support your brand -

1. Make sure your business is easy to find

You can't grow your social media community or spread the word about your product unless customers can easily connect with your business.

Here are a couple of tricks you should use to make sure that your brand is accessible to customers and prospects:

  • Your social sharing icons should be prominent on your website
  • Feature the URL of your website and social media handles on business cards and other print media
  • Include a link to your brand website in social media channel descriptions
  • Personalize your email responses: don't solely rely on automated messages
  • Track all associated hashtags and mentions to know who is talking about you and your product. Engage with those who are!

2. Know your audience

Your social media community is not a homogeneous gathering of people who behave in the exact same way. Rather, it is comprised of individuals. Each one of them has unique reasoning and behaviors that predict how they will interact with your brand. Segment your audience, and target these smaller groups with the right messaging in order to reach them more effectively.

To create a strong social media community, good communication is vital. And in order to communicate well, you need to get to know your family. You will have a completely different relationship with different segments of your family. Your engagement with followers will differ on the basis of what you know, resulting in better responses.

3. Solve the problems of your followers

Use social media not just to directly promote your products, but to interact with your customers and learn what their key pain points are. If you want more results from your marketing, you need to do your best to solve problems for your customers.

Most likely, there are plenty of businesses out there that offer similar products to yours, so you need to stand out. That's something you can achieve by building trust in your community and helping your followers with issues unique to them.

Invite your community to join you in helping others deal with such issues. Promote user-generated content on your social media channels as well – that's how you build loyalty and offer real value.

4. Be generous

Motivate the members of your community to share their own content and spark exciting conversations on your social profiles. One way to do this is offering incentives, like coupons, or giveaways. Another way is by sharing user-generated content, and bringing valuable contributors into the spotlight.

Analyze your social media data to find out who your top contributors are. These will be the people responsible for engagement on your website. The more feedback signals you get – like shares or comments – the more likely the social platform is to show your posts to a higher percentage of your followers.

Create content for your top users. Be generous and add a personal touch to all your communications. That's how you build relationships and help fans feel connected in the community surrounding your brand.

Don't forget to keep the communication lines open and instantly respond to your followers if they reach out to you.  

5. Listen to your audience

To build a social media community, you need to produce content that your audience wants to consume. That's why your first step is finding out what they want, and there are many ways to go about doing this.

Create a quick video and ask your fans what they want to talk about. When your community provides you with answers, follow through by implementing new initiatives based on what they requested.  

Put your followers and their needs or desires at the center of your social media strategy. Actively listen to their social chatter to build further engagement.

Instead of asking your followers to share photos of the products that they purchased, ask them to share content that shows what your products have enabled them to do.

Make your social media channels focus on lifestyle, not just on products or services. You can be sure that purely promotional content will reduce engagement. Offer your fans behind-the-scene content that shows the inside of your company or how your product is developed. That's how you take your brand to the next level and develop a community of people who share a sense of purpose.

6. Be honest

People like to deal with businesses they trust. A smart way to build trust in your business is admitting to your mistakes when you make them. No company is 100% perfect. And some forget that it pays to be open and honest.

If you admit your faults and offer transparency in the face of criticism, you will win big among followers by showing your willingness to listen and your ability to adapt. On the other hand, if you try to mask a bad situation or avoid the problem, you will be on your way to destroying that trust. Show the human side of your business to win loyalty among your fans.

Conclusion

Social media is a great opportunity for brands, but building a community is about much more than just promotion. With a little bit of effort and creativity, you stand a great chance of engaging existing customers and raising your bottom line in terms of prospects and exposure.

Get started with any of the methods listed above, and watch your community grow!

Learn more with these related OMI classes:

 

How to Perform Segmentation Using Google Analytics

Content Marketing Implementation: Executing a Winning Content Program

Crisis Management with Social Media

Visit the Online Marketing Institute to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media market

 


Why Email is the Ultimate Marketing Omnichannel

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Editor's Note: Josh R Jackson is a contributing editor at BestMarketingDegrees.org. To celebrate the launch of our new Email Marketing Course, Josh joins us today to discuss email as the first step in an omnichannel strategy that can skyrocket your traditional or online business.

 

Despite the hype surrounding social media, email is still the most popular and effective marketing tool for gaining and retaining customers.

Why?

Longevity. Of all internet marketing tools, email has been around the longest, which means it had a head start in the race for global users. As a result, those users - and all potential users - have had a long time to get comfortable with the service email provides, and think of that service as a part of everyday life, like telephone, TV, and billboards on the side of the road.

Another reason is success. Email is the top channel driving both leads and conversions, especially when it comes to doing business with other businesses, as well as doing business with consumers who want to do business. In other words, there’s a good reason 80% of businesses use email for retention. It works.

In other words, email is the most trusted, time-tested resource for converting leads into customers.

The Biggest Reason

Those reasons alone make email an essential tool for acquiring and retaining customers.

But while success and longevity are good answers to why email is essential for acquiring and retaining customers, they are not the be-all-end-all, nor the most pressing and relevant answers to why email marketing is so essential today.

In fact, arguably the biggest, most relevant and underrated reason that email marketing is essential to the customer lifecycle is that - at a time when brick-and-mortar stores are shrinking - email is the ultimate marketing channel to unify online and brick-and-mortar stores.

Here’s why.

Omnichannel Marketing

Social media is an excellent channel for increasing brand awareness in marketing and sales, but when it comes to conversions, social media platforms do not lend themselves to customers making buyer decisions.

Email does. If a user is willing to give you their email address, you have already sold them on your journey. And they are certainly willing to listen to your offer, if not entirely willing to buy your product, wherever it may be.

When a customer gives you their email address, they are giving you permission to enter their private online universe. They are also expressing a certain degree of brand loyalty and customer trust that is greater than a like on social media, and greater than or equal to an in-store purchase.

But all this is to say: acquiring a customer’s email by their own permission falls along the same spectrum of customer loyalty as online and in-store shopping. Many customers are willing to give their email addresses during purchase, especially if it means access to promotions and discounts—which is what makes email uniquely suited to being the most suitable marketing channel to unify online and brick-and-mortar stores.

So, instead of worrying about online sales cannibalizing brick-and-mortar sales or vice versa, businesses should see email as a unifying marketing channel, or what’s known as an “omnichannel." In this case, omnichannel marketing is the practice of using online messaging to lead customers to brick-and-mortar stores, and brick-and-mortar messaging to lead customers to online stores, all of which works to keep the customer lifecycle of acquisition and retention alive.    

Something to Consider

It’s no secret that brick-and-mortar retail stores are closing at a rate that could see 1 in every 4 U.S. malls shuttered by 2022. In 2016, the biggest retailer in the world, Walmart, closed 269 brick-and-mortar stores and bought Jet.com in an apparent bid to expand its online sales.

Meanwhile, Amazon.com continues to grow its already burgeoning online sales, and just last month expanded to the point of bursting its own digital bubble by purchasing Whole Foods and entering the brick-and-mortar business, wholesale.

Barring discussions of what all that says about the epic power struggle between Walmart and Amazon—which is impossible to say this early in the game—the expansion of each retailer into the other’s “domain” spells out what we’re seeing in the retail industry as a whole: a contraction for brick-and-mortar, an expansion for eCommerce.

What most businesses would rather see is a balance, which is why the first businesses to adopt an acquisition and retention model that can successfully unify online with brick-and-mortar could be the start of something new.

Why not start with email and add the ultimate marketing omnichannel to your business cycle?

Email marketing is a HUGE marketing channel. If you want more in-depth knowledge about integrating email into your marketing strategy, check out our updated class library with brand new email marketing courses.

 

 


11 Reasons You Should Care About Mobile Marketing

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Editor’s Note: Kent Lewis is the president of digital marketing agency Anvil Media Inc. In preparation for his upcoming Mobile Marketing webinar, he joins us today to discuss trends that make mobile marketing imperative for your business.

 

Since 2007, my measurable marketing agency Anvil has been claiming the ‘Year of Mobile’ is upon us every year. Why? Because every year, mobile has reliably become a more important part of the marketing mix. In 2017, most brands are finally beginning to think about how mobile marketing plays into their overall strategy, and some are even developing mobile-first campaigns. Here are a few compelling statistics about the immense impact mobile is having on the marketing world:

  • By the end of the year, 75 percent of internet use will be via mobile devices.
  • 36 percent of Americans now go online using multiple devices.
  • 86 percent of respondents say it’s important to create mobile apps, according to Salesforce Marketing Cloud’s State of Marketing report.

As I originally outlined in a 2012 article, Mobilizing Your Marketing is now table stakes; but as time goes by, a host of new trends has redefined mobile marketing. In this article, I’ve outlined eleven trends in mobile that your brand must consider when implementing or refining a mobile-friendly marketing program.

1. Voice Search

Searches originating from mobile devices continue to grow exponentially. Thanks to rapid adoption of Amazon Alexa, Microsoft Cortana, Apple Siri and Google Home, voice search will continue to increase in popularity. Amazon recently announced that Alexa now has 15,000 skills. According to recent research, 49 percent of US respondents use their voice assistants on a weekly basis, compared to 31 percent of global respondents. Interestingly, 57 percent said they would use voice search more if it recognized more complex commands. The good news is that each platform provider continues to increase the number of voice commands by thousands at a time. More than 20 percent of current searches on Android devices are voice searches.

This trend directly impacts search engine optimization and paid search, as both need to utilize voice-search-related initiatives to maintain a competitive edge. The first step is to optimize your website for long-tail search terms more common with voice-based searches. Similarly, paid search campaigns should target similar terms with mobile-optimized ads. On the web design side, leveraging Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) technology has shown to increase click-through-rates by up to 90 percent. Mobile searchers also spend 35 percent more time with AMP content than dedicated mobile web pages.

2. Location-based Marketing (LBM)

When Foursquare launched in 2009, the future looked bright for location-based marketing (LBM). For at least a year or two, mobile users were obsessed with “checking in” at local businesses via Foursquare or Facebook. While Foursquare may have gone the way of Groupon (still alive, but not exactly an Internet darling), LBM is still a thing. Key components of LBM include near field communications (NFC), radio frequency identification (RFID), wi-fi, geo-fencing, beaconing and local listings. Last year, beacon messages generated $44 billion in US retail sales. Nearly 80 percent of social media interactions now occur on mobile devices, which include location-based platforms.

While many consumers aren’t familiar with NFC technology, it is the missing link between location-based marketing and sales: Apple Pay, Google Wallet and other payment technologies rely on it for transactions. With greater support this year from Apple, expect much wider adoption of mobile wallets. Beyond leveraging RFID and beaconing to target in-store shoppers with unique messages, brands must embrace responsive-design for websites and proactive management of local business directory listings (Google My Business) and social platforms (Yelp!), including associated ratings and reviews, to ensure a holistic view of your customer journey.

3. Advertising Evolved

2017 is a special year for advertising, as it marks the first time in history that the total digital ad spend will surpass that of television. This year also provides a perfect storm of evolving ad options for mobile, with programmatic, video and native advertising. eMarketer recently reported that video ad spending for mobile will cross $6 billion in 2017, which is a 32 percent increase from 2016, according to another report.

Within mobile marketing, programmatic is expected to provide a major opportunity for advertisers. Brands are expected to spend more than $20 billion on mobile-programmatic advertising in 2017. Within mobile, video programmatic marketing will account for 28 percent of total spend by 2019. The third key trend in mobile advertising will be native advertising, which is expected to make up 63 percent of mobile display ad spend by 2020. Mobile advertising has clearly evolved from simple network and in-app display ads to today’s creative options across programmatic, video and native formats. Ensure your mobile advertising involves these developing technologies and trends to maximize ROI for your brand.

4. Augmented Experiences

Oculus Rift recently announced the ability to record real-world content and incorporate it into virtual reality (VR) experiences. Known as mixed reality, the new function will allow developers to bring video recordings from the real world into game/VR environments. This is an evolution from the other side of the spectrum, known as augmented reality (AR), which overlays virtual elements onto real world environments (Google Glass and Spectacles by Snap Inc.).

IKEA's VR showroom tech

According to Forbes, augmented reality technology will be a $5.7 billion industry by 2021. In comparison, global brands ranging from Coca-Cola and Ocean Spray to IKEA and Volvo have bet big on VR, creating immersive experiences to sell kitchen remodels, beverages and SUVs. Mobile devices are ground zero for the AR/VR experiences, as they are ubiquitous, powerful and highly personal. Google, Facebook, Samsung and Apple have all invested in VR technology, making it more affordable, accessible and engaging than ever. In the next 3 years, brands of all shapes and sizes should include AR/VR elements in their advertising.

5. Video Consumption

Over the past decade, mobile devices have dramatically changed how we consume video. According to HubSpot, video is the most popular online content format. Video is also viral: 92 percent of mobile video consumers share videos with others. In 2015, Flurry found that U.S. consumers spent more time on apps than watching television. Research also shows that younger consumers are less interested in watching TV, and prefer free or low-cost online video-streaming services. Remaining cable and satellite subscribers tend to multi-task on a second screen when watching TV, usually a mobile device. YouTube and Facebook dominate mobile video consumption currently, which means brands should actively create and sponsor content on those platforms.

360 video is growing in popularity, particularly on Facebook. Investing in 360 video can be costly and intimidating. For this reason, YouTube recently announced its VR180 initiative. According to recent Google research, 75 percent of 360-degree video users only look at the quadrant in front of them at the start of a video. With current 360 video offerings being largely under-utilized, grainy and unintuitive, 180 degree video offers a viable alternative for brands, as the same 4K resolution is condensed into half the viewing space, resulting in a sharper picture. With increased video consumption comes advertising opportunities. Mobile video ad spend is projected to exceed $6 billion by the end of 2017. This means that brands can buy into the conversation without committing significant initial resources to production.

6. Intelligent Messaging

A trend has been clear for the past few years: mobile device owners are downloading fewer apps, which creates challenges for brands looking to create their own dedicated mobile experience. Conversely, consumers are spending more time on mobile devices, which means more time on fewer apps. Nearly 80 percent of mobile users globally have downloaded messaging apps (including WhatsApp, TextNow, Facebook Messenger, Line and Viber), and that market continues to expand. Brands that embrace artificial intelligence (AI) based chatbots to connect with consumers are taking a leadership role.

mobile marketing image

Pizza Hut's chatbot

The benefit of tapping messaging apps is that they shorten the sales funnel by understanding the context of conversations and feeding relevant information in return. The rise of in-app chatbots from the likes of 1-800-Flowers, Uber and Dominos validates further investment in the sector, particularly for customer service. More importantly, messaging apps are getting closer to commerce. Messaging app Kik, with more than 300 million registered users, recently announced its own digital currency Kin, which can be used globally to buy and sell goods. The opportunity for brands to create contextually-relevant conversations with a layer of commerce on top provides new ways to mitigate otherwise challenging mobile usage trends.

7. Shopping

Who doesn’t like shopping? According to multiple sources, not very many US-based digital consumers. In fact, 51 percent of Americans say they prefer to shop online. According to comScore, mobile ecommerce growth outpaced that of desktop e-commerce in the last quarter of 2016, growing 45 percent year-over-year (to $22.7 billion). 2017 looks to continue the trend, as Internet Retailer reports mobile commerce sales will top 30 percent for the first time. A ReadyCloud report found that 44 percent of retail internet minutes were spent on smartphones. That translates to roughly $2 billion in US mobile commerce, according to Invesp.

Mobile devices enable shopping on a whim, and 20 percent of American have purchased from the bathroom or while in the car. Social media plays an important role in mobile commerce, and 30 percent of online shoppers say they would purchase from a social media network. The most influential social platforms include Facebook, accounting for 38 percent of all e-commerce referrals. Pinterest comes in second at 29 percent and Twitter in third place with 22 percent of referrals. The bottom line: mobile devices make shopping as easy as a single click (patented by Amazon) and consumer brands need to adjust marketing and commerce initiatives accordingly.

8. Big Data Insights

Since Big Data came on the technology scene five years ago, marketers have latched onto the term and its implications for potential. The reason is that we know information is power, and we are surrounded by information. There are currently 2.7 Zetabytes of data in the digital universe today, and that number is growing rapidly. More than 5 billion people are calling, texting, tweeting and browsing on mobile phones worldwide (don’t look for that number to shrink either, as Facebook recently ran a successful test of its solar-powered drone designed to stay airborne for years to provide internet access to remote areas of the world). Speaking of Facebook, users upload 100 terabytes of data daily to its platform. To give you a sense of scope, 1.8 Zetabytes of data were created in 2011 alone, which equates to more than 200 billion HD movies, which would take you 47 million years to view.

Most alarmingly, the volume of business data worldwide across all companies doubles every 1.2 years. These numbers translate into opportunities, and Wikibon estimates that big data will be a $50 billion business this year. With all of the interest in big data, it may come as a surprise that far too many companies are not leveraging the opportunity as of yet. The DMA recently reported that up to 70 percent of companies are not collecting user content data from social media alone. Thankfully, a host of marketing technology (martech) vendors are providing solutions for big data capture and analysis.

9. Internet of Things

One area likely to contribute significantly to the big data vortex is the Internet of Things (IoT). Particularly relevant to mobile marketing, IoT offers brands an opportunity to gain insights into consumer behavior, as well as gain data-driven insights directly from smart products in and outside the home. Gartner, Inc. forecasts that 8.4 billion connected things will be in use worldwide in 2017, up 31 percent from 2016. It’s expected that there will be more than 30 billion connected devices in 2020 and 75 billion by 2025. In 2016, global spending on IoT across markets was $737 billion. IDC predicts that by 2020, this number will reach $1.29 trillion. With unprecedented potential to collect and analyze massive amounts of data from mobile and Internet-connected devices, marketers must be diligent in researching and adopting martech solutions to gain insights into current and potential markets and customers.

10. Mobile Wallet

Seasoned digital marketers may feel this article provides little more than validation. If you are one of those people, then this trend is for you. Living in the mobile Valhalla that is Portland, I’m sometimes privy to bleeding edge technology and trends. While we’re all familiar with mobile wallets, which provide convenient and secure payment options, you may not be aware of the potential power of mobile wallets for marketing. Mobile wallets can provide “passes” which are non-payment related, but can be transactional content, including loyalty cards, coupons, event tickets and ID cards.

Certain types of brands are natural fits for mobile marketing opportunities, including restaurants, hotels, grocery stores, sports teams and venues. Unlike paper or plastic alternatives, mobile wallet passes can be updated remotely and seamlessly. This is particularly powerful for couponing, since promotions expire regularly. A few examples of mobile wallet passes in action include WeChat’s social gifting, Alipay’s augmented reality coupons and PayPal’s “stores nearby” and “order ahead” functionality, which is designed to drive more traffic to physical retail stores.

11. Apps

I’d be remiss if I didn’t touch on mobile applications, and how they’ve evolved over the past five years. As I mentioned earlier, mobile users are downloading fewer apps but using them more frequently than ever. Research shows that only 6 percent of people use an app after thirty days and five out of ten apps are used only ten times, according to the Adobe Digital Insights Mobile Benchmark Report. The same report indicates that app launches grew 24 percent year-over-year in 2016, but app installs only grew six percent.

Despite the challenges, 197 billion mobile app downloads are expected in 2017, and mobile app revenue is predicted to reach $77 billion this year. Perhaps the most intriguing new trend in the world of mobile apps is Android Instant Apps (AIA), which work without installation. Announced at Google I/O in 2016, AIA are now available to developers. AIA offer a way for brands to distribute lightweight versions of Android apps without requiring a visit to Play Store for a download. Users click on a link in the web browser and are able to get the nearly-full app experience, while circumventing some of the most concerning statistics regarding download and usage rates.

Conclusion:

Regardless of your marketing objectives, target audiences, budgets and available resources, these are at least ten emerging trends to consider when developing a mobile marketing strategy. Ensure you’ve factored in each of the above mobile factors into your mix to ensure your marketing efforts are exponentially more effective in the near future. 

Author Bio: Kent Lewis is President & Founder of Anvil Media, Inc., a digital marketing agency specializing in search engine, social media and mobile marketing for clients worldwide. Based in Portland, Anvil was founded in 2000 and services over 50 clients. For more information, visit www.anvilmediainc.com.

Want to learn more about prepping your brand with a mobile marketing strategy? Join our FREE webinar with Kent Lewis on August 22 at 12pm PST / 3pm EST. 

 


Build a Social Media Presence From Scratch

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Editor's Note: Jo Robinson is a content writer for Media Shark. Today she joins us to explain the importance of a social media strategy for business, and how your company can build a presence from scratch.

 

As a business owner, your social media presence is non-negotiable.

On a personal level, you might find Facebook futile or Instagram infuriating. But professionally, if you want your business - and especially your online business - to succeed, an active presence on those platforms is crucial.

#That's a bit dramatic @writer', I see you tweet.

But it's not.

Your potential customers are active on social media and it's essential to keep yourself at the forefront of their minds; to increase sales, you meet your prospects where they are at.

Establishing a social media presence will also help you build relationships with your existing clients, strengthen their loyalty, increase your web traffic, and offer a point of difference to your competition.

Assuming, that is, you do it right.

Your attendance on social media is compulsory, but if you've been delaying the inevitable, do not be afraid: it's never too late. Now is the time for your brand to get socially active. Here are seven steps for building your social media presence from scratch, and gaining a meaningful following that will help you build your business.

1. Pick the platform(s) that work best for you and your brand

There are many social platforms to choose from these days: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, YouTube, and Tumblr are just some of the mediums in a growing list of viable social networking sites.

The good news is, you don't need to be on all of them! In fact, spreading your resources too thin is counterproductive: there's nothing worse than Googling a business and finding an old, abandoned Twitter account sitting among half-baked hashtags and a default profile picture.

In the beginning, choose one or two platforms, and start there. Do some research, and pick the ones where your target audience is present. The quality of your content reflects on your company, so don't create profiles for the sake of it. Put your energy into growing and maintaining relevant platforms to avoid seeming like someone who isn't committed to their business.

2. Craft your profiles

You showed up, and made an account. Good job, but you're not done yet: your social media profiles should never be an after-thought. They're extremely powerful opportunities to strengthen your brand and communicate who you are, so it's essential that you give your profiles the #TLC they deserve.

Good Branding

Choose a profile and cover image that's consistent with your brand. Depending on the nature of your business, either a logo or a professional image of the business-owner works well. Low-quality images are a no-no, so make sure to use high-resolution images if you have them, or produce them if you don't.

Add your logo to all images throughout your social media and when you add any copy, consistently use the same font in line with your style guide.  

nutella social media

Nutella's brand imagery is front and center

Your biographies should be completed using your short and long business description, and all contact information should be filled out.

Make sure you add a ‘contact now' button to Facebook and Instagram so people can call you as an easy next step to their browsing.

Social media counts towards your SEO search ranking, so this is another golden opportunity to get keywords next to your business name on search engines. 

With informative and engaging profiles, social browsers who visit your page(s) will know that you mean business and you've got something worth their time, so never slack on this bit.

3. Share with your audience

On the Internet, it's easy to buy fake followers. Don't do this. Not only is it inauthentic, it's also completely unnecessary: if you produce engaging content that your market enjoys, your followers will grow organically and you'll also get engagement too.

Content is the currency of social media, so if you haven't begun a content strategy yet, now is the time to start. Here are some suggestions:

  • Attach a blog to your website, and write helpful articles related to your niche - you can hire writers to help you with this job, or invite guest posts from influencers
  • Commission white papers that reflect the state of your industry
  • On heavily visual networks like Pinterest, infographics are a proven strategy

Whatever you do, give to your audience, and they will have a good reason to stick around.

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Nutella shares content featuring their own product to encourage interaction

Before your page grows, you need a small initial following. Start by:

  • Sharing your page with people you know, or people in your company
  • Share it with existing customers by email
  • If you're on Facebook, join relevant Facebook groups, and share page content there
  • On sites with tags (like Twitter and Instagram), adding useful tags will help you get discovered

Once you've made a start, your followers will grow organically and you'll know that people are there because they will be genuinely interested in you and your content.

4. Post consistently

We've all seen it. A nice, attractive page, a few posts bubbling with excitement about a new business, and then...

...nothing. nothing but a screen-based version of an awkward silence. Think tumbleweeds and crickets floating across your screen as people wonder where the rest of your content is. The last post was 40 weeks ago and your customers - protip: the people with money to give you - have no idea if you're even still in business.

Until you've built up a loyal following, you need to post regularly and consistently. This might be once a week, or it might be once or more per day. How often you post depends on the nature of your business and your market, but the key is consistency.

Unless you have a dedicated social media manager, uploading content on the fly will never work. You're a busy person and social media will always get pushed to the bottom of the pile. Spend some time scheduling content to make sure your reach is constant, and your followers know what they can expect from you.

5. Offer incentives for sharing your posts

All humans have a ‘what's in it for me' attitude, so once your immediate friends and family have liked and shared your page, it's helpful to devise incentive-based offers to create a traffic boon.

Offer goods to your audience and potential audience such as discount vouchers, a free product, or entry into a competition for sharing a post which will extend your reach.

Always check with your platform owner as restrictions can apply to competitions, and you need to make sure your posts always sit within their guidelines.

6. Respond to engagement

Your pages should be a welcoming environment where people can hang out, express their opinions, and feel included, so always acknowledge people who respond to your content.

Tag people in comments, and like/reply to reviews and posts on your page; yes, even the negative ones!

This is your opportunity to create strong relationships with your market and put yourself at the forefront of their minds. As your followers witness this engagement, they're more likely to pop over and follow you too, further building your audience.

7. Use analytics

Finally, most platforms now provide free analytics which you should take advantage ofPosting the wrong content at the wrong time for the wrong audience will bring you to a roadblock in terms of growth. Useful metrics to pay attention to include

  • Number of reactions/shares/comments on a post
  • Days of the week, and times of day that your users are most active
  • How many clicks a link received
  • Demographics of your audience: age, sex, location, interests

Using this information, you can build a better social media strategy while simultaneously boosting your marketing efforts. Pay attention to people, and they will pay attention to you.

Conclusion

Building a social media presence can be a slow process, but it has a snowball effect. Stay in it for the long haul! With consistency and effort, an active social media presence is well worth the benefits it will bring your business, so use the outline above to devise a strategy you can commit to.

Bio: Jo Robinson is a content writer at Media Shark, where she can be contacted. With an exciting background that includes police forensics and professional fundraising, Jo's a whiz with words and appeals to a wide range of audiences.

Learn more with these related OMI classes:

Social Media Brand: Expressing Brand through Social Media

Creating and Curating Content People Love

Leveraging Analytics

 

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

 

 


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

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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.