5 Reasons You Must Create Instagram Stories for Your Business | Resourceful Business

5 Reasons You Must Create Instagram Stories for Your Business

Social media content is rapidly evolving.  

Back in August 2016, Instagram launched Stories to compete with Snapchat Stories. Stories were meant to help capture the daily activities of Instagram’s now more than 1 billion users worldwide, and unlike posts, Stories are short-lived–disappearing in 24 hours.

By January 2019, Instagram stories had grown in popularity to over 500 million daily active users (DAU), meaning half of Instagram’s daily users are on Stories every day. With important, interactive features and a less formal type of content, Instagram Stories have become essential for businesses that use Instagram marketing.

Here are 5 reasons you must create Instagram stories for your business:

Instagram Story stickers

Reason 1: Instagram Stories have interactive stickers

With Instagram Stories, you can add a sticker. Unlike Instagram posts, stickers allow users to tap and interact with your Story in creative ways. There are many types of stickers available including:

  • Donation
  • Quiz
  • Countdown
  • Questions
  • Music
  • Poll or Emoji Slider
  • Location
  • Hashtag
  • Current Time or Weather
  • Selfie

As an example, suppose you are thinking about keeping your business open late one evening of the week. You wonder whether your customers would come. You can create an Instagram Story and add an emoji slider with a thumbs up emoji. Ask, “Do you want us to stay open late one evening?” Customers that see your Instagram Story can slide the emoji to the right if they like the idea, and you get feedback directly from your customers.

Reason 2: Instagram Stories are more informal than posts

There is an analogy used by Bella Vasta, a Facebook Group keynote speaker, which she uses to explain the difference between a Facebook page and a Facebook Group, and the same analogy applies to Instagram posts and Instagram Stories. Bella equates a Facebook page to the front yard of a house–formal and public. Similarly, Instagram posts have a more formal, curated look and feel.

A home’s backyard is the Facebook group – a gathering of people with something in common, informal, more personal and friendly. Likewise, Instagram Stories are the backyard–informal and personal.

The value of Instagram Stories is they give a business tremendous versatility in how it can present content with some reserved for the more formal Instagram page and other content posted in Stories. Another unique feature of Stories worth mentioning is that unlike posts, you can add to your Stories. So, if your business is attending an event, your followers can watch a Story and see new additions to the Story while you are there.

Instagram Story Highlights

Reason 3: Instagram Story Highlights can help cultivate unique audiences

According to Instagram Business, 80% of Instagram accounts follow a brand. Not surprisingly, Instagram users look for Instagram Stories shared by their favorite brands, and Stories have a feature called Highlights – the circles that appear across the top of an Instagram page. These Highlights can be divided into content-related categories that are relevant for your business, and when Stories are added to Highlights, they do not disappear in 24 hours. One of our favorite Story Highlights categories is “Inspo” because we like to see what people in a company are reading, thinking about or doing for inspiration.

Here are some Highlights examples:

  • A hair salon may highlight different haircut styles
  • A retail store may highlight different seasonal clothing styles
  • A blogger may highlight different blog categories

Businesses should establish relevant Highlights categories so followers can discover new content in their areas of interest. Whereas Instagram pages do not allow partitioning of content by topic, Stories do via Highlights. Using Highlights effectively will allow a brand to cultivate unique subsets of their audience based on their content preferences.

Instagram describes its stories product as a way to promote the sharing of moments that don’t meet the higher bar of a traditional Instagram post. The Verge

Reason 4: Instagram Stories re-enforce the business brand

An Instagram Story can serve as an extension of a brand’s footprint on Instagram. As with websites or social media posts, Instagram Stories should have a hint of the company’s brand guidelines – colors, fonts, tag lines. People that see Instagram Stories should recognize familiar aspects associated with the brand. Whether it’s a cameo of everyone’s favorite furry mascot in the office or a behind-the-scenes look at the setup for an event,  Instagram Stories give people a feel for the soul of the business while subtly reinforcing the brand.

marketing with Instagram Stories

Reason 5: Instagram Stories focus on moments and encourage sharing

An Instagram Story can reflect the little moments that occur throughout the day, and people love to feel part of someone’s journey. Instagram posts, on the other hand, allow businesses to build their brand’s presence in a more systematic way, include thoughtful written copy, tags, and imagery. When it comes to Instagram business pages, viewers expect a carefully curated feed that looks aesthetically pleasing.

Stories, in contrast, are spontaneous and current. The concept behind Stories is that people will want to capture moments and share them. Stories are ephemeral, and Facebook, which owns Instagram, hopes users will actively create content that is personal, relatable and captures the moment.

Great for branding, audience targeting and connecting with your tribe, Instagram Stories are a must for your social media marketing toolkit. If you’re interested in creating an Instagram Story strategy but don’t know where to start, contact us.

What's wrong with social media | Resourceful Business

What’s Wrong With Social Media?

After succumbing to her curiosity and peeking in the box, Pandora tries to quickly close the top as creatures representing evil and disease escape.

It’s hard to believe that Facebook only came into existence in February 2004–just 15 years ago. Once named thefacebook.com, it began a communication revolution which has put social media at the front and center of many parts of our daily lives. Whether we use Messenger to talk to friends, Instagram to follow our favorite influencer or Pinterest to find a trending product, social media is everywhere.  

Negative headlines about data privacy and streams of egregious content have been flashing warning signs about social media for some time. As the manager of a digital marketing agency, here are a few cautionary signs that I see which tell me rigorous regulation of this industry is long overdue, and when it does arrive, it will be a welcome reprieve.

1. Influencer marketing means what you see is not what you get

Called brand partnerships, social media influencers often get paid to blog and post about products. As a rule of thumb, every follower an influencer has equates to a penny. Therefore, an influencer with 10,000 followers may charge $100 per post plus additional production expenses, but ethically, if that person is posting about a product or service as part of the brand partnership, (s)he should disclose it visibly. On social platforms, partner relationships are now being referenced more explicitly, but not always. That means that people may follow influencers and try products being promoted in the posts without realizing influencers are taking fees for creating the posts.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has caught on to undisclosed brand partnerships. The FTC Endorsement Guides require a “material connection” between the two parties, the paid endorser of the product or service and the brand advertiser, to be conspicuously disclosed. Social media platforms are busy rolling out branded content tools that will require tagging of a business partner where there has been an “exchange of value,” but prior to these guidelines, consumers, sometimes children, were none the wiser.

2. Online reviews provide no recourse

Online reviews are an essential part of the digital era, and social media platforms such as Facebook and Yelp are an important source of consumer reviews. According to the BrightLocal Local Consumer Review Survey 2018, 86% of consumers read reviews for local businesses, and that percentage jumps to 95% for people aged 18 to 34. The problem is that consumers know the importance of reviews, and some of them are savvy at abusing them.  

For example, people who want to post a negative review frequently copy and paste the same review on as many social platforms as possible. Angry customers will put a negative review on Yelp, Facebook, and then Google My Business, a feature of the Google search engine. The business can answer the review, of course, but it can be incredibly difficult to defend oneself without being seen to disparage the reviewer, who by the way, is not always right. We recently talked with one of our customers that owns a local, 5-star rated business. They provided a retail service for a child, and afterward, the mother paid the bill and left with the boy, both quite happy. Two weeks later, the father returned with the boy to say how unhappy he was with the service that had been provided. The man proceeded to post a 1-star review on three platforms, remove a 5-star review that he had posted for the business a few months earlier, and disparage employees by name in the review.

There’s no arbitration for an online review, no “other side” of the story and with some exception, the review site often does not verify a purchase has even been made. The same BrightLocal survey says, “Negative reviews stop 40% of consumers wanting to use a business,” so the ability of consumers to post any review they would like, even if they have never purchased the product or service, needs to change. Even competitors can post a negative review using fake names; there’s nothing in place to stop them. A fair review process requires vetting–did a purchase actually take place–and some form of reasonable recourse for the business, a monumental technological challenge for both social networks and search engines.

3. Social media platforms offer no real customer service

You might imagine that as a digital marketing agency, we are working with different social media platforms each day. Facebook has a market capitalization, the value of its outstanding shares, of circa 550 billion dollars. Yet, if you have an issue, you have one preliminary option for support. You can click the round question mark button in the navigation. From there, you submit your help request online using their Report a Problem form.

As measured by its market cap, Facebook is the sixth largest company in the world. Facebook also operates Instagram, Messenger, and WhatsApp, and it is not obliged to provide any human form of customer service. Of course, neither are small businesses, but it’s hard to imagine one of the largest companies in the world operating with a Report a Problem form as the first stage of the customer service journey.

4. Social media content is now too vast to police

If you think about movies, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has a rating system for films to warn audiences about film content and its age appropriateness. Contrast the MPAA rating system to the current social media landscape which has no enforceable content guidelines. If you disagree with content posted about your business and even content that tags your business, you can appeal to Facebook to remove it. Our agency’s experience has been that those requests have been declined 100% of the time even when there is a clear pattern of abuse.

Facebook Live, a broadcasting feature available within the Facebook app, has been used to capture murders and suicides. Social media posts on many platforms are rife with profanity and hate speech. As a user, you can block people, but you have no way to actively filter newsfeed content for profanity or inappropriate imagery. I suppose that similar to the movies, you can choose not to “attend,” but really there should be a viable filter available for social media users who wish to block images of violence or profanity in the copy if they so chose. However, allowing the user to filter content would imperil the revenue model for social media networks which is dependent on users seeing ads interspersed in the newsfeed.

5. Personal data is not secure with social media companies

The revelations that came to light in the Cambridge Analytica scandal were shocking. Cambridge Analytica employees and contractors acquired the data of tens of millions of Facebook users via a Facebook data breach in 2014. This data was utilized to construct user profiles in advance of the 2016 US presidential election and effectively audience target marketing campaigns. According to The Guardian, when Facebook found out about the breach in 2015 and that individual data had been harvested, it failed to notify Facebook users that were affected. Facebook also did not work to recover the data from the breach.

In fact, the rapid growth of social media platforms over the last 15 years has meant that social media companies have not been held to the same standard as other traditional media companies and corporations in many areas, including privacy. They should be. It’s been convenient to be labeled a social media platform as if best practice for other companies does not apply. Facebook put out a recent announcement that the company anticipates a fine from the FTC of 3 to 5 billion dollars for privacy breaches and has set aside 3 billion for legal fees which reaffirm the gravity of the situation.

So, what’s wrong with social media? Ads drive the revenue model for social media companies and only work if the platforms are continuously and actively used. Otherwise, no one would see the ads. To a certain extent, questionable content attracts more users, and this phenomenon has fueled the success of companies such as Snapchat where often teens, in particular, post inappropriate content that conveniently disappears. But of course, the posts have already served their purpose and captured the attention of the audience the teen was hoping to reach. Similarly, outrageous reviews, hate speech, and online bullying attract an audience, so social media companies are not particularly incentivized to restrain them. If you haven’t done so recently, scroll through your Twitter feed and glance at the barbs traded daily.

Maturing social networks need leadership that is sensible, ethical and genuinely interested in doing what is in the public interest. Company leadership must be held accountable too, which becomes difficult when within our own legislative branch, there is such a limited understanding of the revenue model that drives social media companies. In a Joint Hearing of the Commerce and Judiciary Committees on Capitol Hill in April of last year, Senator Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, asked Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, “So, how do you sustain a business model in which users don’t pay for your service?” Mark Zuckerberg replied, “Senator, we run ads.” Without a broad understanding of that basic truism and how to impact it, no real behavioral change will occur by social media networks.

Perhaps not quite as grim as the Greek myth, Pandora’s Box, wherein Pandora’s curiosity gets the better of her and she unleashes all the evils of the world from a box, the exponential growth of social media has nonetheless unleashed its own form of tyranny. Only when the latest features and app updates are truly secondary to the ethical execution of a meaningful company mission will the issues caused by social media start to wane.


LinkedIn Tips

Leverage Your LinkedIn Profile With These 5 Tips

With close to 600 million users, LinkedIn is a social media platform business professionals and owners cannot afford to ignore. It’s atypical for a social network in that LinkedIn is not geared towards purely social connections but rather strives to give people a means to connect with other professionals. In addition to the large and growing user base, some 260 million LinkedIn users are actively logging in monthly, and recruiters and companies looking to hire also search LinkedIn.

Like so many platforms in the digital space, there is much more to a LinkedIn profile than meets the eye. If you’re simply filling in the fields in the hopes that you’ll get noticed, you are missing an opportunity to leverage LinkedIn, connect with your peers, and grow your personal brand.

Take the time to professionalize and leverage your LinkedIn profile with these 5 tips:

LinkedIn Tip #1: Start strong

The first three sentences of your Summary Section are the most important because when people view your profile, it’s the only part of the summary they see at first glance. To see the rest of your profile demands a click of the Show more tab.

  • DO state your professional passion right upfront in these three lines.
  • DON’T repeat your title and company name in the summary opening lines. Put your title and company name in your Headline section.

LinkedIn Tip #2: Add keywords

LinkedIn is a digital platform, and it is keyword-driven. As noted in LinkedIn Tip #1, the first three lines of your Summary Section are critical, so populating these lines with your essential keywords is not easy logistically, nor necessary. At the end of the Summary Section and out of view, add a section called Areas of Expertise and list your areas of expertise using your essential keywords.

By adding a paragraph that includes your keyword-driven areas of expertise towards the bottom of your LinkedIn Summary Section, you achieve the goal of infusing keywords in your summary without cluttering up the precious first few lines.

LinkedIn Pro Tip: When people are searching LinkedIn, LinkedIn tracks what keywords they have used to land on your profile. On the bottom of the Weekly search stats page is a section called Keywords your searchers used. If the terms listed don’t align with your skill set, your keywords are off, and you should review them in your Summary Section.

LinkedIn Tip #3: Differentiate yourself with imagery

Behind your profile photo is a banner space that will accommodate a 1584 x 396 pixel-sized image. This landscape-oriented banner is the perfect opportunity to tell people visually something interesting about you. What’s your favorite city or personal passion? What makes you unique–maybe a hobby or interesting volunteer experience.

  • DO use the banner to personalize your profile and make it about you.
  • DON’T use the banner to promote your business.

Add keywords to LinkedIn

LinkedIn Tip #4: Use Your Technology

What if you start to build out your LinkedIn profile, and you don’t know what keywords to use? Or maybe you can think of a few keywords, but you would like a few more to flesh out your Summary Section.  To build a strong keyword list, here’s a:

LinkedIn Pro Tip: Identify an influencer or colleague on LinkedIn that is in your industry, and mirror his or her keywords. Here’s a quick way to find out what those keywords are:   

  • Select and copy the text in a person’s LinkedIn profile.
  • Paste the copy into a word cloud application. Word clouds are visual representations of words from the text used to create the cloud. The more often the word is in the text, the bigger and bolder it is in the word cloud. There are many different word cloud generators too. Read this Poll Everywhere article for inspiration.
  • Choose keywords from the word cloud that are relevant to you, and use them to update your LinkedIn profile.  

LinkedIn Tip #5: Highlight your skills

Because LinkedIn is data and keyword driven, make sure to fill in the Skills & Endorsements section of your profile. You can Add a new skill yourself by clicking the pencil icon for the section. You don’t need someone else to endorse you for a skill to add it to your list.

  • DO make sure all of your key areas of expertise from LinkedIn Tip #2 are listed in the Skills & Endorsements section, so people looking at your profile know your proficiencies. Order them by using the pencil icon to edit.
  • DON’T forget to remove skills that are no longer relevant from time to time which you can do via the edit feature.

Optimizing your LinkedIn profile is a strategic and essential part of managing your personal online brand. Be mindful of how you update your profile and remember–LinkedIn is a social network driven by data. More broadly, when Linkedin is used with consistency across an organization, the impact of leveraging properly constructed LinkedIn profiles can have a ripple effect and strengthen a company’s brand.

If sorting out LinkedIn is on your management team’s bucket list, contact us to learn more about our LinkedIn training sessions for corporate executive teams.

____________

Thanks to Oliver Schinkten, staff instructor for LinkedIn, who inspired this post. I recently had the privilege of attending one of his training sessions.

Social Media: How Much Do You Actually Know?

Social Media: How Much Do You Actually Know?

Social media marketing can be transformative for a business’ bottom line, but doing it well takes time, perseverance and skill. Sometimes a growing business gets caught off guard when it’s time to hand over the reins and get some assistance with social media.

Answer the following 10 questions in our latest social media quiz and by the end, you’ll know if you’re up to speed in social media or a little agency help is in order.


 
Questions about any of the information in the quiz? Contact us.
how to market your business with facebook

How to Market Your Business With Facebook

Facebook is one of the most powerful marketing tools available. When a company has a strong core business and then layers on well-executed Facebook marketing, it’s transformative. Sort of like the expression “building strong communities one child at a time,” Facebook marketing can be a game changer for businesses with high impact results built one campaign at a time.

Surprisingly, many companies, both large and small, neither prioritize social media nor feel like they have the time to commit to it. To the extent that there is a social strategy in place, results are neither tracked nor measured. Many people perceive Facebook as a social network rather than a powerful marketing platform. But, if you’re a business owner and you are not actively using Facebook to market your products and services, you are missing a huge opportunity to find, reach and connect with your customers.

Here are 10 ways to market your business with Facebook:

1. Boost your Facebook posts

The numbers are grim. According to an article by Social@Ogilvy, organic reach, people who see your Facebook post without any paid advertising boost, amounts to approximately 6% of your followers. For Facebook pages, the primary tool for business, it is closer to 2%. Social@Ogilvy’s prediction based on their interactions with Facebook is even more bleak,”Organic reach of the content brands publish in Facebook is destined to hit zero. It’s only a matter of time.” So, if your social media strategy includes posting to Facebook without a paid social strategy, you are not reaching the vast majority of people that follow your page.

Facebook Tip #1: Create an audience in Facebook Ads Manager, and boost your posts. If your business is small, even a dollar or two spent per post will dramatically broaden your audience reach.

2. Add images to every Facebook post

Facebook posts with a picture outperform ones without – dramatically. According to BuzzSumo, “…updates with images had an amazing 2.3x more engagement than those without.” Every Facebook post should have an image, and the abundance of high-quality free stock photo sites makes this task an easy one. Instead of having a Facebook page that looks like a mishmash of posts plus the occasional image, represent your business with great pictures and thoughtful copy every time you post.

Facebook Tip #2: Add images to each and every Facebook post. Use free stock photo sites like Pixabay, Pexels, or Stock Up to find them. WhoIsHostingThis also has a list of close to 100 free stock photo sites. If you are curating the post content and you don’t like the attached image, you can still upload your own graphic and make it the primary image for the post.

Facebook location filter3. Use demographic and location filters when setting up Facebook ads

Facebook has an incredible array of audience targeting options. You might be surprised just how granular the targeting can be. When setting up Facebook ads, filters help you zero in on the audience you are trying to reach. In addition to age, gender and location, one filter that is often overlooked is net worth. If a business sells high-end homes, luxury cars or exclusive experiences, for example, it’s not a bad strategy to use the net worth income filter. Another important filter in the suite of audience targeting tools offered by Facebook is location – the ability to target a certain radius around a city or even a certain zip code.

Facebook Tip #3: Identify and then target your ads towards potential customers by using relevant demographic or location Facebook audience filters.

4. Consider trying the new Store Visits Facebook campaign

Location based businesses want to know whether social media campaigns drive foot traffic into their stores. Facebook has introduced a Store Visits campaign option. The idea is that if you have a bricks and mortar business, you can create an ad and Facebook will show the ad to people most likely to be in that area. Apparently, Google plans to roll out something similar for display network ads.

The Facebook Store Visits campaign has limited metrics. We recently compared the results for an established Google remarketing campaign against a Facebook Store Visits campaign over a one month period. We had the same marketing dollars applied to each and it was the same client – one month we tried Facebook Store Visits and one we kept the original Google remarketing campaign. Website traffic and Facebook referral traffic to the website were markedly down using the Store Visits campaign, so our conclusion is there’s still lots of work to do on this front, but it’s the right idea for sure.

Facebook Tip #4: Use the new Facebook Store Visits campaign option in addition to, not in lieu of your current marketing strategy. The idea of in-store foot traffic as a measure of social media conversion is here to stay.

Facebook pages to watch5. Set up Pages to Watch in Facebook Insights

This Facebook feature is really useful. In Facebook Insights, there is a section called Pages to Watch. You can add Facebook pages for your competitors and look at comparative metrics such as Total Page Likes, Posts This Week and Engagement This Week. If the engagement for one of your competitors’ Facebook pages spikes or is consistently strong, Pages to Watch serves as a reminder to see what they are doing.

Facebook Tip #5: Use Pages to Watch in Facebook Insights and track 5 competitor Facebook pages. Set a goal to surpass their metrics and be cognizant of what they are doing, and see if your page can climb to the top of your Pages to Watch list.  

6. Post videos on your Facebook page

According to TechCrunch, over 8 billion videos are watched on Facebook every day. It’s equivalent to 100 million hours of time that people are watching video on Facebook. Even more important, Facebook is rated as the most impactful social channel for video — 8.4X higher than any other social channel, according to Animoto.

Currently, a Facebook video can be up to 45 minutes in length while Instagram, by comparison, only permits video uploads of between 3 and 60 seconds. The ability to upload lengthier videos on Facebook makes it a versatile, robust video platform.

Facebook Tip #6: Build video into your marketing strategy and post videos on Facebook. As of June 2017, you can use a video for your Facebook cover too.

negative online reviews7. Collect customer reviews on Facebook

A steady stream of online reviews has become the new normal for business. In a list of top 10 review sites, Facebook ranks #2. With an estimated 214 million Facebook users in the US and 1.94 billion monthly active users worldwide, it is an ideal platform to collect online reviews and respond to customer feedback. Positive reviews on 3rd party platforms such as Facebook are credible social proof for your business and drive revenue, foot traffic, and consumer purchasing decisions.

Facebook Tip #7: Activate the Reviews Tab on your Facebook business page so that you can collect online reviews and engage with your customers. Answer your reviews promptly and professionally.

8. Encourage Facebook check-ins

When customers visit your business, they can “check-in” on Facebook, an option which tells others via the news feed that the customer is at your business. Depending upon what audience the customer chooses, either the public or just friends can see (s)he is at your business. Could there be a better endorsement? In addition, the person checking in at your business can tag friends, upload photos and write a post. As a business owner, you should LIKE the check-in post as a way to say – we’re glad you’re here!

Facebook Tip #8: Take advantage of Facebook check-ins by reminding your customers to check-in while they are at your business. If you’re a retailer with free samples, put some in a basket on your counter and let customers choose one if they check-in. Check-ins are an easy and effective way to get the word out about your business to people who may not otherwise know about you.

Facebook Wi-Fi

9. Connect to more customers with Facebook Wi-Fi

If your business offers guest Wi-Fi, Facebook Wi-Fi is an interesting way to advertise your business, reinforce your brand and build engagement with your Facebook page. Once you set it up, the way it works is that when customers want to access your guest Wi-Fi, they are presented with two options. If they check-in on Facebook, they get immediate Wi-Fi access. If they don’t want to check-in, they can still input your guest Wi-Fi password as normal and skip the Facebook check-in. As mentioned in #8 above, check-ins are broadcast on other people’s Facebook news feeds, so it’s great advertising for you.

Facebook Tip #9: Set up Facebook Wi-Fi and actively add your promotions on your Facebook page. When people check-in to access your Wi-Fi, they can see business specials, events or announcements that you have posted.

10. Give an insider’s view with Facebook Live

Facebook Live gives you the opportunity to live-stream broadcasts to potential customers and see their reactions and comments. You can give an insider’s view of what you do behind the scenes or offer a longer how-to instructional video. As you build a following, people can choose to get notifications when you are streaming, and there is even a Facebook Live Map so people that may not know about you can find Facebook Live videos currently in progress.

Facebook Tip #10: Interact with your audience using Facebook Live. Give them a glimpse of an event on location, a walking tour of your store or even share your desktop screen and offer a tutorial.

Every company, no matter the size, can use Facebook to market their business. It’s one of the most versatile, impactful marketing platforms available, and much of what you can use is free. What’s not to LIKE about that?

If you need help with your Facebook marketing or don’t know how to get started, contact us.

 

social media ads

4 Reasons You Should Be Using Social Media Ads

More than half of online adults (56%) use more than one of the five major social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and LinkedIn  Pew Research Center, 2016

In 2015, we wrote about the broad trend away from traditional media to digital marketing, and the data behind the shift is staggering. According to Forrester’s latest forecast, “Investment in paid search, display advertising, social media advertising, online video advertising and email marketing will pace to 46% of all advertising in five years” and approach $120 billion by 2021. As companies turn to digital marketing to reach potential customers, social media ads are a powerful part of their marketing arsenals. A “new media” advertising tool that combines audience targeting, user engagement, and measurability, social media ads are a marketing knockout punch. Here’s why:

1. AUDIENCE TARGETING: Your message gets to the right people

I was once asked to explain Facebook audience targeting, and in particular, why a business should do a Facebook ad as opposed to a traditional ad in the local newspaper. The question came from someone familiar with Facebook as a personal social media platform, but not at all aware of what it could do when marketing a business. I asked her,

“If I offered you the opportunity to market your business with a flyer that only went to people who had an interest in your product, could afford your product, and lived within driving distance of your store, would you do it? And, if I said I could take your flyer and put it on the kitchen counter of only the people you believe would want to see it, what would you say?”

She said, “Of course, I would do it. Who wouldn’t?”

To me, paid social advertising that uses demographic audience targeting is like putting a flyer on the kitchen counter of a potential customer. The range and versatility of targeting options available help digital marketers hone in on a very specific audience. Using filters such as interests, job title, net worth and geo-targeting, marketing dollars can be utilized efficiently, effectively and easily reallocated with the click of a button.

Some examples of custom audiences we have recently created for our clients include audiences that are:

  • local and geo-targeted within a 10 mile radius of numerous cities where the business has stores
  • local and in Manhattan with an interest in buying a new home in the suburbs
  • local, within the tri-state area and Florida
  • international and interested in accessing a locally-based product electronically

The specificity with which marketers can reach and get information to an audience with paid social media ads makes them a cost-effective, versatile marketing tool not constrained by physical distribution channels.

Facebook emojis

2. CONVERSATIONS: Social media ads engage an audience and broaden reach

The power of social media platforms lies in their ability to engage an audience with the brand, and social media ads can turbocharge audience reach. Social media advertising will put content in front of your target audience, and people will interact and react with emojis, comments, likes and shares. Your audience can ask questions, and you can answer them – suddenly your content has prompted a conversation.

Another example of a two-way social media interaction is user-generated reviews. Online reputation management is a growing field and business owners often receive online business reviews on their social media pages. Customers will post a review and a business can acknowledge and answer it – another type of conversation. In contrast, once a print ad is distributed, there is no way to tell how many people have read it, who read it or if it has successfully resonated with anyone in the target audience.

 

If you were offered the opportunity to market your business with a flyer that only went to people who had an interest in your product, could afford your product, and lived within driving distance of your store, would you do it?

3. CONNECTIVITY: Customers can connect with you via social media ad CTAs

According to a Pew Research Center report, “Nearly two-thirds of Americans are now smartphone owners, and for many these devices are a key entry point to the online world.” The use of smartphones has been a boon to the connectivity afforded by social media and the migration towards social media ads with clickable call to action (CTA) buttons. 

Here are just two examples of how social media ads can be used by a business:

  • A company posts a sponsored Instagram ad, and it includes a button that says, “Learn More.” When people tap the button, they are taken to a landing page where they can request a demo, watch an explainer video or start a free trial.
  • A local business creates a Facebook ad promoting a free consultation for a new service they are offering. People that are interested tap a CTA button that says “Sign Up” and fill in a registration form for the consultation.   

Versatile and engaging, social media ads connect businesses with potential customers and can convert them into viable leads with an array of clever CTAs.

targeted social media ads outpace traditional media

4. MEASURABILITY: You can track, analyze and recalibrate social media ads

Social media ads can be configured to target an audience of choice either demographically, by interest, or geographically. Once an ad is live, marketers can track and analyze an array of social analytics from impressions and click-throughs to the number of reactions, comments or shares. On Facebook, you can even track click-throughs to directions, a phone number or action buttons. If an ad is actively engaging people, marketers can move more dollars to the campaign and use a similar format in future.

Another important aspect to social media ads is they can drive visitors to your website, and you can track this information in your website’s Google Analytics data. There are visitor acquisition metrics, and one of the referral sources you can analyze is social media. An added bonus is the availability of numerous pre-configured dashboards in Google Analytics which put key metrics in an organized, visually appealing dashboard. So, in a way, paid social advertising is even better than putting a flyer on the kitchen counter of a potential customer, because it is backed by data that tells you if the person actually read the flyer!

When it comes to advertising, social media ads are a game changer. They offer audience targeting, conversations, connectivity, and measurability – four powerful reasons to ensure you add them to your marketing bag of tricks in 2017. Interested in learning more about social media ads? Work with us

 

social media management

Why Social Media Management Takes a Village

The numbers are staggering.

According to The CMO Survey, since 2009, social media spending by businesses has increased 234%. Currently, at just over 10% of marketing budgets, it’s projected to double in the next 5 years.

Hands down, social media is the area of digital marketing where our agency receives the most questions. Clients ask about changing algorithms, the ad creation process, and audience targeting. In a recent conversation with one of our clients about our social media management process, she expressed her amazement at the many layers to our approach, and it made me think that perhaps our process would be useful to others.

At Resourceful Business (RB), we have found that simply put – social media management takes a village. The process is fluid and complex, and to execute it well, we must PLAN, THINK, COLLABORATE, and MEASURE with rigor and consistency.

Here’s what we do:

PLAN the content that drives social media

Step 1: Rotate the focus and types of social media posts

Every business has different facets to their brand, and marketing should use these defining aspects to reach different audiences. Our social media team will develop a content calendar that looks at what types of social media posts might optimally represent the brand and put these different categories into a rotation. For example, each week we may create one inspirational quote, link to a past blog, curate one article we like, create a new visual for some aspect of a blog or even build a quiz. On our internal content calendar, we will plan these posts out several weeks in advance for each client, so they can be put into rotation with consistency.

content continuum

Step 2: Use the content continuum

Digital marketing content is on a continuum. At RB, we are in the camp that believes there are three categories: lightweight, middleweight, and heavyweight. Social media is lightweight content, but it is intricately linked to both middleweight and heavyweight content. In fact, social media is often used to leverage middleweight and heavyweight content and push it out to new audiences in novel ways. When we create social media content, our team is always thinking about how it relates to other content on the continuum. For example, if we have a great blog, we might take the key points and create a visual infographic from them. That visually enticing infographic might take off on Pinterest or LinkedIn SlideShare. The point is that content, including social media posts, is not created in a vacuum but rather as one piece of the content continuum.

THINK about the target audience

Step 3:  Identify the social media platforms used by the target demographic

Social media marketing is an incredibly powerful tool, and what differentiates it from mass market tactics is the ability for customers and marketing practitioners alike to define and target a specific audience. Social platforms give many audience targeting choices from geographic location to interests, job titles and even type of mobile device.

Sprout Social has an excellent blog outlining audience segments and which social media platforms they use. Depending upon the platform, there are distinct variations in user age, income, location, and education. One interesting contrast, for example, is that Snapchat attracts a young crowd with 71% of users under the age of 25. On LinkedIn, only 23% of users are between 18 and 29. Not surprisingly, if we have a client that is targeting a young audience, a LinkedIn company page may not be a marketing priority.

Facebook organic reach

Step 4: Establish the role of paid social

The organic reach, audience reach not related to a paid ad, of different social media platforms varies considerably, but certainly, strategic boosts, ads or promotions are an essential part of any successful social media strategy. A case in point is that by some estimates, only 2 to 7 percent of organic Facebook posts reach followers. The decline in organic reach on Facebook has been trending since 2012 when Facebook changed its algorithm to reduce the number of organic views. In fact, one of the real challenges of social media management is algorithms can change at any time.

Therefore, any social media strategy must include a component of paid social to widen its audience reach beyond what can be attained organically. In addition to selecting which posts will be boosted or promoted each week, a member of the RB team must create the ads in the social media portal. This process includes budgeting, audience targeting and tracking metrics after the fact.  

COLLABORATE to ensure social media excellence

Step 5: Use social media management tools

One of our essential social media management tenets is that the more team views and eyeballs we get on our client content before it goes out, the better it will be. That philosophy drives RB’s use of a number of collaborative social media management platforms. Some examples include Schedugram for Instagram posts, Canva for visual creation and post edits, Hootsuite for scheduling posts and Google Docs for collaborative social media documents such as a list of relevant hashtags.

One of our essential social media management tenets 

is that the more team views and eyeballs we get on our client

content before it goes out, the better it will be.

Step 6: Gather multiple team inputs for “agency quality” social media posts

A social media post that appeals to one person may not appeal to another, so an engaging post or image is an art and by no means a science. However, some aspects of a social media post which contribute to its strength include relevant hashtags, well-written copy, an absence of typos and crisp imagery. These factors can be controlled, and our strategy is to gather multiple inputs from our team in these areas to maintain a standard of social media excellence.

Here’s an example of our Instagram post creation process. RB team members play different roles throughout the workflow:

  • In Canva, begin with the Instagram Post design type template so the image is sized correctly
  • Add an image to the Canva template, typically sourced from numerous free stock photo sites
  • Overlay the client’s logo as a watermark in the corner of the design
  • Write the post copy and hashtags in two different Canva Team Stream comment fields
  • Reference the source of the image in another Team Stream comment field (RB team use only)
  • Solicit comments, edits and changes from different members of the RB team
  • Once approved, add the image and copy to our social media client queue in Schedugram

social media ROI

MEASURE social media impacts and then refine the strategy

Step 7: Define and track social media Return on Investment (ROI)

For any marketing strategy, it’s essential to look at the Return on Investment (ROI). Social media is no exception, and broadly speaking, ROI for social media can be viewed against many different metrics – audience reach, website inbound marketing traffic, or as a viable lead acquisition source.

Each month, our clients receive a report which shows social media engagement by platform. The RB team looks at many metrics (likes, shares, comments and top performing posts) and user growth. If there is a paid social strategy in place, we will look at top performing organic posts and boosted posts. More broadly, we look at month-to-month trends per platform, across different platforms and analyze the impact of social relative to key statistics in Google Analytics. As the year progresses, RB will examine trends and patterns over a longer trajectory.  

Step 8: Continuously refine the social media strategy

With consistent reporting in hand, our team will talk to clients and refine the social media strategies in place. Some recent examples include a shift of paid social dollars into more Instagram ads and away from Facebook ads. This particular business was very visual, and we saw Instagram users grow rapidly and overtake Facebook users within a few months. In addition, the type of follower we were attracting with Instagram aligned with the target audience the client desired. Another example is a doubling of Facebook ad dollars for one client as the Facebook user growth continued to climb and attract users that were converting into new clients.

“It takes a village.”

The old African proverb, “It takes a village,” alludes to the notion that the broader community is involved in the raising of a child, and today, the saying suggests collaboration is essential for a task at hand. When it comes to managing social media for clients, it’s an important maxim. Although a person can put an Instagram post up in seconds, it makes far more sense for client social media management to take a “village” approach, one that incorporates process, rigor, and accountability.

Plan, think, collaborate, measure – and throw in a great team. These are the essential elements of social media management excellence.

________

On occasion, RB may use an affiliate link in its blog and receive some form of compensation should you purchase a specific product. RB will only use an affiliate link for a tool we actively use ourselves and recommend as a resource.

Not Just Boat Poses and Downward Dogs: How A Yoga Studio Leveraged Social Media to Grow Its Brand

By Kate Goldberg, guest blogger for Resourceful Business

“Pull over and let me out,” I beg. We are navigating some pretty tricky roads through the Berkshires in a driving rainstorm, but for me, this is the perfect moment – and backdrop – to capture and post my yoga pose-of-the-day.

Semi-dramatic scenes like this were part of my daily routine in July when I participated in a month-long social media campaign run by Powerflow Yoga, a New Jersey yoga outpost with 10 locations. Contestants like myself eagerly awaited the studio’s daily morning post on Instagram with a specific pose to recreate. Students had until midnight every day for the entire month to upload their own interpretation of the pose to Instagram while using the hashtag #SummerofPower, as well as a basic tag to @powerflowyoganj. The reward was a free month of unlimited classes to all who completed the challenge.

In today’s digital environment, many businesses use social media contests as a marketing tool. This approach allows companies to interact with consumers in a more casual, and entertaining way. The content may be unconventional, but if run effectively, social media campaigns like #SummerofPower can be even more successful than traditional marketing strategies at a fraction of the cost.

Social media campaigns like #SummerofPower can be even more successful than traditional marketing strategies at a fraction of the cost.

Here are four digital marketing insights I gained through Powerflow’s challenge that demonstrate the value of an effective social media contest:

1. Social media marketing builds brand loyalty

Throughout the month, I often logged on for the pose-of-the-day before I had even poured my morning coffee! I became extremely passionate and dedicated to the challenge, and I was always looking for unique scenery where someone could take my photo. I did a backbend on a cliff, a crow pose while crossing a footbridge, and a forearm stand overlooking the ocean. It made me feel great about my practice, and motivated me to get back into the studio whenever possible. The buzz surrounding the contest was palpable in classes, and I quickly learned that most people had an experience very similar to my own. This social media challenge was successful at creating a positive vibe, both in-studio and on Instagram, which in turn made everyone feel good about the Powerflow brand.

2. Social media brings exposure to untapped audiences

In a Pew Research Center Social Networking Fact Sheet, researchers found that 74% of online adults use social networking websites. Powerflow capitalized on that trend with their contest. By requiring students to use Instagram in order to participate in the challenge, current customers who were not already following Powerflow now had to do so. In addition, through the several hundred contestants sharing a total of 8,440 photos and tagging the studio each day, they were able to gain exposure to a previously untapped audience. As a result, Powerflow added 700 new followers, and according to VP of Operations, Alison McCue, it was the studio’s “largest and fastest digital growth” since they’ve been online.

“#SummerofPower was also used to promote all of our free outdoor classes…and the response was overwhelming,” said McCue.

3. Social media contests can lever the marketing of other events

There is no doubt that the Summer of Power yoga challenge gave Powerflow a captive audience that used Instagram to track the studio daily. Powerflow Yoga maximized this opportunity with a contest hashtag and leveraging the marketing of other studio events taking place during July. “#SummerofPower was also used to promote all of our free outdoor classes…and the response was overwhelming,” said McCue. Evidently, the social media campaign built some serious in-house momentum, along with the potential for a new client base.

yoga studio social media contest

4. Contest prizes incentivize social media sharing

Powerflow did a great job designating a reward that would keep people sharing photos and tagging the studio day after day. A free month of yoga is worth a lot of money to anyone who practices, and the promise of that at the end of the month was certainly enough to keep me going! A business needs to know their patron, and understand what will entice them to follow through with any type of social media contest. Whether it is a free tee shirt, a complimentary membership, or simple bragging rights, different incentives work for different consumers.

Social Media can grow a company’s brand and audience reach

Social media contests are an innovative, cost-effective way of reinforcing a company’s brand and have the potential for exponential reach. Many of the Summer of Power participants purchased packages after completing their free month. Another boon to the Studio, of the 223 people who completed the Powerflow Yoga challenge, 22 gifted their free month and 7 of those gifted purchased some type of package offered at Powerflow Yoga.

A recent marketing Infographic projects that social marketing budgets will double over the next five years. In order to stay ahead of the curve, businesses will need to follow the Powerflow Yoga lead and build and maintain a social media presence using everything from Instagram and Facebook, to Twitter, LinkedIn and beyond. The Summer of Power is a great example of a creative and savvy social media strategy that resonated with an audience and inspired them to come back for more.


Interested in talking social media strategy? Contact us.

 

Why You Must Fix Your Company’s Social Media Imagery and How

When you look at your company Facebook page or Twitter banner, do you feel uninspired? As you scroll down the content, do you see images that convey a totally different feel than what you would like your company’s digital presence to be? Is your content full of free stock images or perhaps lacks images altogether? These problems are just a few signs that it is time to overhaul your company’s social media.

Pictures make a huge difference to the success of your social media strategy. They drive engagement and ultimately referrals back to your website. The problem is that setting up social media accounts is just plain time consuming; and some aspects of it, such as understanding image size requirements, licensing and file types are fairly technical. Social media without great imagery, however, is an opportunity missed. Regardless of the social networks you choose for your business, here’s why you must fix your company’s social media imagery and how.

Images are branding opportunities

Every social media network has different image options and layouts which allow you to customize your company profile page, and these present branding opportunities. There are places for logos, banners and backgrounds, all of which can showcase your brand and great imagery. Pictures can show your company’s products, conjure up thoughts that inspire a consumer to want your services or just be clever and eye-catching. Captivating imagery will reinforce your brand and keep viewers on your page where they can learn more about your company.

For a simple fix, first look up image size requirements for the social network you are using or use a guide such as Hubspot’s Cheat Sheet, and upload custom imagery for your cover photos. Make sure you include your logo in some creative way. If you are not proficient in tools like Photoshop, there are numerous free apps which have social media templates you can use. Hubspot offers a set of  PowerPoint templates, so there is no expensive software required, and you can download your finished cover photo once complete.

Images lead to higher engagement

According to The Social Media Examiner, photos have an 87% engagement rate on Facebook, far more than text posts of any length. Similarly, in What Fuels a Tweet’s Engagement, Media Blog shows that retweets are boosted by 35% when there is a photo attached. Tweets with images take up more visual real estate and are more likely to grab someone’s attention. As the old adage goes, “Pictures are worth a thousand words,” and if your posts lack images, your social media engagement will be lacking too.

social media imagery provokes the imagination

Images provoke the imagination

Powerful marketing utilizes imagery for a reason. Pictures can tease the imagination and make us dream of going somewhere exotic on vacation, winning the lottery or even looking younger. Imagery is far more likely than text to capture someone’s attention and inspire them to click-through to learn more.

As well, colors can affect the decisions we make. For example, blue is often associated with trust, green with wealth and pink with romance. Colors are emotive, and therefore, another powerful tool that can be used with imagery to spark the imagination.

Images drive sales

Not surprisingly, fantastic product pictures can lead to product sales. According to Jeff Bullas, a prominent social media strategist, “In an ecommerce site, 67% of consumers say that the quality of a product image is ‘very important’ in selecting and purchasing a product.” Social media is a perfect platform to post high quality product images and link them directly back to your ecommerce store.

If you are concerned that a product photo shoot is beyond your budget, purchase a portable box kit which includes photo diffusion panels, color backdrops, a camera mount and lights. They are available for around $50 and will give your pictures a professional look.

you can tell stories with social media images

Images can tell a story

People love a good story. Pictures and videos can tell your product, service or company story far more effectively than written content. If you are able to convey a compelling story with images, consumers will want to be a part of it. Plus, pictures are more easily consumed and they are universal, so a critical tool for large global brands.

Not surprisingly, short videos have much higher user engagement than longer ones. In “The optimal length for video marketing content? As short as possible,”  Yoav Hornung explains that the shorter the video, the more likely that someone will hit PLAY. With a number of free editing apps for smartphones and tablets available, it is easy to create and add some product or service videos to your social media.

Free Image Sources

If you’re sold on the leverage that images bring to social media, but not quite sure how to begin, start by bookmarking a few free image websites. Here are three of my favorites: Unsplash, Jay Mantri and Picography. Another option, Google Images, allows you to specify usage restrictions, so you can search for images on the internet that are free to use or share and in the public domain. Also, keep your smartphone with you, and if you see a photo opportunity, take it! Build your own library of images. Then create social media posts with pictures and begin to monitor what types of photos engage your audience best. To customize the pictures, use a simple photo editing app like Canva.

Spending the time and energy adding pictures to your social media will boost engagement and convey your message in a compelling way. If you still need some assistance getting started, the Resourceful Business can help energize your social media with images and guide your social strategy. Contact us.