Mathematically, business is all about profit. And, subconsciously, we all understand this. But when the holidays roll around, people get so inundated with sales messages that they become desperate for an emotional life raft that can reconnect them with their own greater humanity.
Could that life raft be your brand?
“Here at Creative Concepts,” says Valorie Luther, Executive Director and Founder, “we’re huge proponents of humanizing your brand. We believe that people want to do business with (surprise!) other humans, and that any effort you can make to remind your customers that your company is still a group of people who are just like them will help them feel better about doing business with you.”
So why not consider the holidays to be your opportunity to say “thank you”?
Whether you’re a small business or an international conglomerate, you’re still people. So instead of focusing on coupons, sweepstakes or clearance sales as your way of rewarding your team, why not send a holiday message that’s focused less on dollars and more on sense? Or go “retail rogue” as REI has done by the ultimate human kindness of closing all stores and operations on Black Friday while still paying all employees for the day!
So consider this:
- what if your company’s blog hosted a Thanksgiving message from your customers, detailing what they’re thankful for?
- what if you asked your vendors for their New Year’s resolutions, and used them as a springboard for a larger conversation about goals and dreams on Facebook or Twitter?
- what if your company’s Christmas or Hanukkah cards were hand-signed by all of your employees?
By incorporating the voices of the people who aren’t usually front-and-center in your messaging, you’ll remind your customers, your vendors and your employees just how much you respect, honor and value them — as people.
Social media gives brands an opportunity to respond to customer service inquiries in real time.
A recent study by Socialbakers shows that 80% of Twitter questions to US brands go ignored.
This number is 20% higher than Facebook’s in which brands have a better response rate, but they both still need improvement.
One way to gain a competitive advantage is to start listening to questions and brand mentions on social media, including Twitter.
Formulating a customer service strategy including social media can extend your reach and improve your customer ratings.
Answering questions in a timely manner shows that your brand is willing to go the extra mile and that you do care about your customers.
Why is having a social customer service strategy important for companies?
It’s all about customer experience.
Customer experience is a growing terminology and trend based on changes in technology and marketing. Simply put, it means to put the customer at the center of your business. Consumers have been demanding this and businesses have been slow to respond.
Knowing what your customers’ needs are and meeting or exceeding their expectations is key.
Statistics suggest that in a few years, customer experience will become a key brand differentiator, greater than price and product.
How are you structured to handle your social customer service? Check out Sprinklr’s Big List of 43+ Customer Experience Statistics to formulate your own customer experience strategy.
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Influencer marketing is a new form of marketing in which the focus is on individuals rather than an entire targeted group of people.
These influencers might be bloggers with a large readership in your market. These individuals can influence buyers and are trusted more than brands or businesses.
The Shelf.com’s infographic “Influencer Marketing is The New King of Content” tells you all that you need to know if you are considering influencer marketing.
There are lots of goals that can be fulfilled when working with influencers such as:
- Brand Awareness
- SEO Authority
- Social Following
- Damage Control and more.
Twitter has emerged as a social network that immediately connects businesses and people across the globe.
It’s a neat way to engage instantly with customers, media and other folks in short (140 characters or less) conversational messages.
One way to connect with people on Twitter is to find and participate in Twitter chats. Social Media Examiner shares “8 Ways Twitter Chats Can Benefit Your Business.”
- Give a face to your business. By taking part in a Twitter chat as your business, you are adding a human side to your brand. Also adding a picture of your employees to your business Twitter profile helps humanize your brand.
- Prepare a cheat sheet. Research the most relevant Twitter chats for your brand and connect with the chat organizers and community. Search the chat hashtag for past chats and what they are talking about currently. If they give a topic for the upcoming Twitter chat, think of some responses that are short, sweet and to the point. Remember, brevity is key on Twitter.
- Promote the chat. Be an active participant and show support for the chat. Show that you want to share and be helpful in getting the word out about the chat for others.
- Participate to stand out. With answers that you have prepared, being an active participant will help your business stand out and give you time to share other people’s tweets in the chat as well. Use a tool to watch the chat like Tweetgrid, Nurph or TweetChat so you can keep up with the conversation by hashtag.
- Encourage employees to join the chat. If the topic is relevant, encourage some of your staff members to participate. They can add lots of input and meet some interesting folks in the industry.
- Build relationships outside of the chat. Follow some of the people that were in the chat and share their valuable tweets to others. This is a great way to network and meet people in your industry with new insights and ideas.
- Become a sponsor. Build brand awareness and sponsor the chat as well as take part in it. Brands that participate have the best success with sponsorships.
- Host a chat. Once you get the hang of things, offer to host a chat on a topic that you are familiar with. Being helpful and exchanging ideas is a great way to get involved.
The purpose of Twitter is to build community. Once you get going, you will find that it’s a wonderful network and a great way to meet people all around the world.
Image credit: Death to the Stock Photo.
Businesses often rush to start initiatives without a plan. A newly approved direction or idea prompts a domino chain reaction and suddenly staffers are blindly implementing new processes without knowing why.
For example, a company buys a new CRM solution but doesn’t ask its departments involved what features they will need for sales, marketing, customer service, accounting, IT, etc. The system gets installed and then the company doesn’t offer training. Suddenly, a major investment has been made and there are no tangible benefits or returns because the right questions weren’t asked ahead of time and the staff does not use the new system.
With social media, as well as all marketing and business initiatives, you need to start with a plan. Only then can you set measurable goals, have everyone on the same page and move forward.
Marketing Tech Blog recently asked “What Factors Make for a Successful Social Media Strategy?” The article examines Brian Solis and Charlene Yi’s recently published infographic “The Seven Success Factors of a Social Business Strategy.”
The factors include:
- Define the overall business goals.
- Establish the long-term vision.
- Ensure executive support.
- Define the strategy roadmap.
- Establish governance and guidelines.
- Secure staff, resources and funding.
- Invest in technology platforms that evolve.
These factors are not only crucial for a successful social business strategy, but also for any large project or initiative for any business. Without all components of the strategy included, there is sure to be a shortfall along the way.
For more information on creating a successful social strategy, check out Brian and Charlene’s ebook – The Seven Success Factors of Social Business Strategy.
Building a website with lots of good content is important, but without a search engine optimization (SEO) strategy behind it, you risk that your website won’t be ranked highly in search engines.
SEO is the ying to content marketing‘s yang. SEO and content marketing are crucial parts of a successful website and an online marketing strategy. Add a strategy for inbound links and social media and you are well on your way.
MarketingProfs recently wrote “SEO Checklist: 15 Steps to Optimize Your Website.” It is a great starting point to review the current state of your website’s SEO.
We have consolidated a few relevant steps to form 10 ways to optimize your website.
- Use Google Webmaster Tools. Google is king. You want your website to appear in the first page of searches, so using this tool will help you achieve greater SEO with Google. It gives you the data, tools and diagnostics you need to run a healthy website.
- Install Google Analytics. Analytics give you instant feedback if campaigns are working and what pages are performing best on your website. Find out where people are coming from to visit your site, learn more details and demographics about your visitors and much more.
- Use Bing Webmaster Tools and submit your website to Yahoo Search Engine to be indexed. These two search engines round out the top three sites. You need to make sure your website is indexed by these search engines.
- Create the semantic kernel of your website. Kernel? What? It is basically a list of two and three-word keyword phrases that people would use to search for your products and services. Keyword research is an integral part of SEO and you can use sites like Google AdWords Keyword Planner or other tools to help you build your list.
- Research your competitors’ links. Check your competitors’ links to build a competitive advantage. There are competitive research tools to see what sites link to your competitors, what keywords they are using, how much traffic they get and much more.
- Create accounts for your company on the social networks that your potential customers use. Examples of some social media sites that you might need are below. Also, Google Plus is a network that you need to set up an account. You don’t need to be present on all social networks, but be sure you are where your customers go online. If you don’t know, ask them! Links from these accounts are called social signals and are like backlinks to your website. Search engines count these toward rankings.
- Check your URLs and make them user and search-friendly. Shorten them and use keywords in them that are relevant to the page.
- Check your website on Page Speed Insights and optimize as needed.
- Optimize your images. Use descriptive file names with keywords, post high-quality images, optimize file sizes, and add alt text for each of them. Images appear in search engines as well.
- Make your website mobile-friendly. Google announced that it will rank for mobile optimization beginning on April 21, 2015. Use a responsive web design so that your website is optimized for whatever screen people are using to view your site – smart phones, tablets, laptops and the like.
For more great SEO insight and tips, read the MarketingProfs article “SEO Checklist: 15 Steps to Optimize Your Website”
What SEO tips do you have to share?
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With internet technologies changing rapidly, social media marketers have to stay on top of the latest trends while balancing many tasks at hand.
Improving your social media productivity can help you focus on your priorities and get the job done in a timely fashion.
Social Media Examiner offers “5 Tools to Boost Your Social Media Productivity” that can help marketing and public relations professionals get more work done in less time.
1) Resizing social media images. Social platforms change from time to time and having one site to bookmark when it is time to create a new social media profile image is imperative. Social Media Image Maker is a great tool to have in your social media arsenal. It is easy to use and works for a variety of social networks.
2) Monitor analytics in one dashboard. Having one place to see activity and measure analytics is valuable for all businesses. A tool like Cyfe can give you a one-stop shop dashboard to track what’s working and what’s not with your social campaigns.
3) Identify influencers. The media landscape has changed and now there are all types of influencers with blogs on the internet. Extend your reach to this new media with tools to identify them such as BrandWatch and BuzzSumo.
4) Upload video to multiple sites at once. Video is becoming an important part of digital marketing to help tell your story. TubeMogul helps you upload your videos to multiple sites as well as offers analytics for each site.
5) Automate scheduling. Scheduling messaging can help you manage your content marketing messaging. Tools like Buffer and Hootsuite also offer analytics so you can see what times and days are better than others for different platforms.
Digital marketing technologies are steadily increasing and being efficient is important for social media teams. What tools work for your team?
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Not all content needs to be created from scratch. Your business has lots of existing expert content that can be shared online to your prospective customers.
Here is an idea to take a large collateral piece like a white paper and spread it out into bite-sized chunks of content across different networks to increase the reach of your offer.
The article “5 Ways to Squeeze the Most Use out of Your Content Offer” from HubSpot’s Marketing Blog illustrates how to do this.
1) Break it out into multiple blog posts. Take pieces of each section and develop a series of blog posts. Link to relevant topical pages within your website from the posts for improved SEO. Offer the white paper as a download and lead generator. According to a 2013 Marketing Benchmarks HubSpot survey, companies that blog once or twice per month generate 70 percent more leads than those who don’t blog at all.
2) Share facts via social channels. Create compelling images that contain facts from the white paper and share on social networks. Write social posts describing the facts and include a link to a landing page to download the rest of the white paper. Using visual content can generate up to 94% more views.
3) Distribute content in an email. Put together an email campaign and send it to a targeted list. Make sure the email is short and sweet and that the recipients are interested in the topic. If you are making an offer, know that relevant emails generate 18 times more revenue than broadcast emails.
4) Integrate the content into your website. Embellish your product pages with bits of information and images from the white paper. Have a clear call to action to download the white paper from the relevant pages of your website.
5) Communicate via a video. Have your company product expert talk about one or two key points from the white paper. Illustrate a complex idea with a video and show the problem/solution for the viewer. Share it on your website, blog and social channels.
Building a content marketing campaign with existing collateral communicates a cohesive messaging strategy that uses all of your online real estate.
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Whether your organization is a start-up or you have been in business for years, creating a marketing and PR plan for your business is essential for success.
Executing marketing & PR strategies can be costly, but there are some tips and tricks that can help support your strategy and build your business in a cost-effective way.
Inc. recently wrote “Public Relations Tips and Tricks for Your Business.” The article highlights five ways you can make connections and establish relationships with some basic legwork.
- Follow up with your customers via email. Email marketing is an efficient way to connect with and communicate with your customers. Collect email addresses on your website and create an email newsletter each month. Segment your lists based on subscriber interests and keep topics interesting. The newsletter doesn’t have to be lengthy. People like to scan so short paragraphs and bullet points are helpful. Include a call to action in your newsletter so your readers know what to do next.
- Harness the power of social media. Managing social media accounts helps your business engage with your target audiences. Social media provides not only a channel for two-way communications but also serves as a customer service support. Talk directly with customers and prospects to get feedback and offer helpful information. Not sure where they go online? Ask them.
- Build brands through blogging. Create a blog and tap your employees’ expertise to write about topics relevant to your industry. Think being helpful to potential buyers and answer their top questions in a series of blog posts. Add video and imagery to help tell the brand’s story and utilize social media accounts to share it out.
- Be a part of the conversation online. Monitor and listen online with social media tools and jump in the conversation and engage with the public with helpful advice. Be transparent and talk conversationally. Avoid selling.
- Maintain relationships with journalists. Create and maintain relationships with news, trade, industry and local journalists, bloggers and influencers. Get to know them by reading their blogs and articles and following their social media accounts. Reach out and converse with them on topics they are discussing.
- Make your website your central online hub. This one is not listed in the article but making your website your central online hub is crucial. Don’t become dependent on third-party social media sites that you have no control over. A well-constructed website with a blog and links to social media sites is the best way to control your messaging. Make sure it’s responsive to mobile devices (meaning it can be viewed well on each device) and easy to navigate. Answer your customer’s top questions and write the copy with them in mind. Think “what’s in it for me?” is what a reader will think when scanning your website. You have about 3 -5 seconds when someone first visits your site, so make it relevant.
Creating and following effective strategic marketing and PR plans is a process. These tips should help as you chart your course.
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What began as a hip photo-sharing app has evolved into one of the top social media networks. In December, there were 300 million active monthly Instagram users.
For brands and businesses alike, Instagram can help visually tell your story. With the right imaging, brands can communicate messaging to their audiences within a rich, layered context.
From personal stories of employees to community outreach and business events, Instagram offers a unique platform to visually present a brand.
What are some of the best ways to promote your business with Instagram? Social Media Explorer outlines the best ways to create a presence on the platform.
- Use hashtags. Using the right hashtags can bring lots of fans to your Instagram account. Remember not to overuse hashtags and research the most common ones based on your topics.
- Gain trust. Businesses and people that are transparent and share their knowledge in a helpful way are most successful not only on Instagram, but on all social networks.
- Connect and collaborate. Engage with others and build camaraderie with fans as well as influencers and other brands. Build partnerships and work with influencers to promote your relevant products and services.
- Post regularly. Try posting a few times a day at different times and see what works. Instagram’s feed is a real-time feed like Twitter so posting regularly will help build visibility.
What tips do you have for Instagram? What has worked for your business?
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