Posting on Instagram Every Day | Resourceful Business

Social Media: What I Learned By Posting on Instagram Every Day

At the beginning of April, I set myself a challenge. 

For one year, I decided to create a daily post on our company’s Instagram page. The post could be an image, video or carousel, but it had to be custom-created and relevant to our industry–digital marketing. To keep it simple, I decided to focus on only one social media platform, Instagram, but I would also add the post to Facebook. I chose 7 pm each evening as the posting time, and I decided there would be absolutely no social ad spend on the post. Any engagement would be strictly organic.

I have been surprised at what has happened since I began posting daily on Instagram, so I thought I would share. My experience confirms what we all have long suspected or perhaps known. When it comes to social media, consistency is of the utmost importance and posting consistently has ripple effects well beyond social media. 

With five months of daily Instagram posts under my belt, here is what I learned (so far) by posting on Instagram every day

1. I found my voice

When you have to put a post together every day, you stop overthinking the creation process. If you know your trade, there are plenty of topics your audience or clients want to learn. I stopped considering whether my post was interesting enough, creative enough, colorful enough. I found my voice when writing copy each day and just presented something simple, interesting and business-related that I was thinking about or had recently read. 

2. I learned and learned and learned

One of my favorite concepts, pioneered by Gary Vaynerchuk, is “Document, don’t create.” When you are producing a lot of content–as you will when you post every day–you can’t make it up. If you are a practitioner in social media, you are immersed in your field each day. Documenting something interesting or valuable that you are working on or thinking about is not hard. Trying to come up with a creative post when you don’t have the background to talk about the subject matter is hard. 

3. I thought about my business every single day

It may seem counterintuitive to suggest that business owners don’t think about their companies each day. Certainly, they do. However, putting a post together about your industry or field each day is a different type of mindfulness. It’s not about whether you ran your payroll. It’s about a challenge you may be facing, a thought-starter that made you pause or something that keeps you up at night. 

client meeting

4. I put myself in my clients’ shoes

Creating a social media post each day made me really think about our clients. I put myself in their shoes. What would they want to know from me as someone who is involved in social media each day? If we were sitting in a meeting, what questions might they ask me or struggles would they tell me about in their day-to-day business? I tried to think about whether my post for the next day would have practical utility and value-add for them. 

5. I learned a new video marketing tool 

One tool that I needed to learn which was on my to-do list was wave.video. Canva had always been my go-to tool, and it offers a simple video creation feature. However, given that I had 365 posts ahead of me when I started in April, I decided to tackle wave.video because it would allow me to create more complex videos for our Instagram feed. The versatility of wave.video was such that I was able to cancel the subscription my company had to a paid stock photo library. Wave.video has its own library of images and stock videos. Plus, it has a user-friendly video editing tool. You can even add music to your videos, and now I have learned it and can tick off that box.  

6. I discovered interesting people and businesses to follow on social media

I love podcasts. I have a full library of regular programs I listen to about digital marketing. Knowing that I had to create a social media post each day, I became more disciplined at listening to a variety of podcasts. After each one, I would follow the person that was featured or interviewed. I discovered so many talented people in my field and thought leaders. Now, I follow these people and learn via my own social media feed as they put up their posts on their feeds. 

posting on Instagram every day

7. People started visiting my LinkedIn profile

In following more people in the digital marketing space on social media plus posting more on Instagram, I noticed that many more people started viewing my LinkedIn profile. Not only that, but the seniority of people in the industry that were looking at my LinkedIn profile went up too. So, both the quality and quantity of LinkedIn profile views went up for me. 

8. My website blogs received more views

Similar to the increased visibility on LinkedIn, our company blog saw more views and engagement on our website. Now, there are more regular comments on the blogs. Even older blogs seem to be getting some renewed attention. The quality of the comments is interesting too. Posting regularly on Instagram attracted a focused audience, and in fact, exactly the type of audience my company would want. 

9. I began to understand the value of Direct Messages (DMs)

It dawned on me that social media opens up an entirely new level of connectivity. In following more people in my field, I had questions on occasion based on a podcast that I had listened to or article I had read. Instagram Direct Messages, or DMs, allow the sender to message another person on Instagram. Think how challenging that task would be before DMs were around. I learned to DM industry thought leaders if I had a question they may be able to answer, and it was neat to be able to ask other professionals for their insights even though we had never met. Plus, they answered me. 

10. I learned about Instagram Stories

Across the many social media platforms my company utilizes for clients, I don’t think there is anything quite like Instagram Stories. The sticker feature, which allows you to interact with people who have seen the Story, is unique. Stories have the right balance of authenticity, brevity and creativity. It’s no wonder they are so popular and fun, and I became facile at using them alongside my daily Instagram posts.

So, now you have 10 things I learned while immersed in my personal challenge of posting on my company’s Instagram page (@resourceful_business) every single day. It’s been 5 months, and I still have 7 more months to go. I am sure I will have 10 more things to share when I am over the finish line. 


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.


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

 

explainer video

5 Simple Reasons Your Business Needs an Explainer Video

What if –

  • You could increase your email click-through rate by 200% to 300%,
  • Raise the understanding of your product or service by 74%, or
  • Condense 1.8 million words of a marketing pitch into 1 minute?

Chances are, you would – and you wouldn’t be alone.

All three of these statistics describe one of the most important mediums around – video. At Resourceful Business (RB), we’re big fans of explainer videos, in particular, videos that cleverly explain or grow the understanding of your product or service. But, don’t let the animations or whimsical drawings of an explainer fool you. They are powerful marketing tools and much in demand.

Here are 5 simple reasons your business needs an explainer video:

1. Explainers work hand in hand with social media

Businesses continue to push into social media, now an essential part of multi-channel marketing. Facebook and Instagram are two of the most popular social networks with 1.71 billion and 500 million active monthly users, respectively. On Facebook, videos can be up to 120 minutes in length, and Instagram permits videos up to 60 seconds. Explainers often run about one minute, and therefore, work well on both platforms, and the statistics are mind-boggling.  The amount of average daily video views doubled on Facebook from 4 billion to 8 billion between April and November 2015.

2. Videos can amplify your brand and define your value proposition

While a host of facts and figures can make a pretty tedious article, sprinkled into an explainer, they promote a company’s strengths and brand in an engaging and memorable way. Key points can be weaved into the script, and in fact, we believe there are four must-haves in an explainer video script:

  • A clear description of a problem or pain point
  • The value proposition – how your product or service solves the problem
  • Differentiators – strengths which make the product, service or approach unique
  • A compelling call to action

With these components in place, an effective explainer video can get the desired message across, boost a company’s brand recognition, and define the value proposition in a persuasive way.

explainers simplify difficult concepts

3. Explainers can simplify difficult concepts

In any industry, there are complicated ideas, workflows, and products. Explainer videos are an excellent way to help customers visualize what a product or service can do. They can take the viewer from point A to point B without large chunks of text, and explainers have an added benefit – people remember video. According to the Online Publishers Association, 80% of Internet users recall a video ad they watched in the last 30 days.

video increases engagement

(Image Source)

4. Videos give websites an SEO boost

If your business has a website, no doubt you are familiar with search engine optimization (SEO), strategies used to drive visitors to a site. Explainer videos give websites an SEO boost in several different ways. As examples, video increases the amount of time visitors spend on a website, and it also lowers the bounce rate because people often visit other pages beyond the original landing page. Multimedia content such as video can also be viewed by search engines as indicative of content quality, so varying the types of content on a website to include video is a helpful optimization strategy too.

 

Age matters in online video consumption

5. Video has massive audience reach

YouTube has over a billion users, and the demographic profile of video consumption in the US skews towards Millennials and Generation X, peak consumer spending years. The advantage of an explainer video is that in addition to being on a company’s website, it can be hosted on video-sharing sites such as YouTube or Vimeo. Video-sharing sites have an expansive reach and even extend to international audiences; 70% of Vimeo users, for example, are outside of the United States.

So, don’t underestimate explainers; they are powerful digital marketing tools. Video can tell a brand story or simplify complicated concepts, broaden audience reach and help boost website page rank. Engaging to watch, sometimes animated and playful, explainers are nevertheless a must-have digital marketing asset for business.

 

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.

5 Essential Elements to a Knockout Content Management Strategy

The digital nature of marketing today allows for the distribution of content at breathtaking speeds. Advertisers target ads based on a population’s demographic profile including a consumer’s age, geographic location or areas of interest. In fact, the power and precision made possible by electronic marketing has made a content management strategy even more critical to a business’ success.

Simply put, content management is the process of creating, editing, posting and managing digital content. Whether you create your own or hire an outside company to develop and execute it for you, here are 5 essential elements to a knockout content management strategy.

1. Define your Target Demographic

A traditional marketing campaign might include print media, internet marketing, networking events, or television ads. Today, over 80% of small business owners also incorporate social media in their marketing strategy. A quick look at social media provides an excellent example of why it is imperative to define the target demographic, because social media networks are not all created equal, at least as far as user demographics are concerned.

Social media networks are not all created equal, at least as far as user demographics are concerned.

The Pew Research Center compiles comprehensive statistics on social media user demographics broken down by characteristics such as age, race, income, and education. In the Social Media Update 2013, their researchers confirmed that Facebook remains the most popular social media network by far, and along with Instagram, has the highest levels of user engagement. So, for example, if you own a retail business, these two social networks are great choices for engaging the client base and encouraging them to post how they are enjoying or using your product. Facebook and Instagram would also be ideal platforms to run a contest and do a product give-away. Another example is that women are four times more likely to use Pinterest than men, so perhaps Pinterest would be a good choice for a business with highly visual, eye-catching products geared towards women. And older consumers like LinkedIn, which after Facebook, has the highest percentage of users in the 30 to 49 and 50 to 64 age brackets. So, if your service or product targets C-level employees or managers, LinkedIn might be the right social network choice.

2. Understand Media Consumption Patterns

One aspect of content management strategy that is often overlooked is what device the target audience is actually using to access social media, a general marketing campaign, an e-commerce site, or an app for the business. Eighty percent of mobile device users have the Android operating system, and Android users tend to have lower incomes and slightly lower rates of engagement than iPhone users. iPhone owners have a higher level of device engagement, make purchases more often with their mobile device, have higher incomes, but are much less widespread than Android users. So in developing a content management strategy, a business must determine if the income and location of the target audience is conducive to owning iPhones or Android devices, and also whether the marketing strategy needs breadth, depth or both to work. For an interesting article on this subject, read the Business Insider comparison published in April, “These Maps Show That Android Is For People With Less Money,” and to analyze a target area specifically, try Mapbox which shows geographic mobile device usage based on Tweets.

3. Identify Meaningful Goals

To ensure it is on the mark, a content marketing strategy should have meaningful goals that are established upfront and agreed by all parties. If the goal can’t be defined, then the outcome can’t be measured either. Examples of tangible goals are increasing subscribers or readership of an electronic newsletter as well as engagement with those clients when the newsletter is released. Another objective might be to convert engagement or ad clicks into an actionable response by the client, such as a call for a consultation. A company blogger might try to get the blog syndicated for more recognition and a wider audience. For some businesses, the management team may want to see Facebook likes and Twitter followers increasing every week. Another measurable goal might be the number of customers posting product pictures on Instagram or Pinterest and sharing their personal stories related to the products.

A great content management strategy must have meaningful goals defined for every platform and metrics which quantify the base case before the campaign is even launched. After the marketing effort begins, data points should be compared to the base case on a regular basis.

Social Media Metrics

 4. Measure Return on Investment (ROI)

A content management strategy must also include a basis for measuring both the financial impact and reach of the campaign. Metrics like organic subscriber growth versus paid subscriber growth, blog comments from readers, click-throughs and page likes are measurable indications of reach, but quantifiable financial impacts are a must too.

Levels of engagement for a content management strategy must be viewed in the context of campaign spend to see if the strategy has a bona fide ROI. You can easily analyze the basic data. For example, add a promotional code to a new social media ad to see how many people actually redeem it. Compare how many dollars were spent running the campaign to the number of coupons redeemed and you have a measure of the actual dollar spend, per new customer. Vary content blocks in a newsletter and monitor click-throughs. If click-throughs rise, dollars spent on creating the campaign relative to click-throughs will tell you the actual dollar spend, per click-through. If Page Likes and the number of Followers increases after a campaign, the company could be seeing increasing brand awareness and reach. Another great example of a measurable ROI is to link a product discount to a Pin on Pinterest. Monitor the number of click-throughs to your e-commerce store from the Pin and whether the coupon is redeemed.

5. Use Tracking Tools

To confirm the effectiveness of content marketing initiatives, choose a suite of tracking tools and monitor the metrics. For campaigns that link back to a company website, Google Analytics can provide extensive information on website engagement including whether visitors clicked through an ad, if they are new or returning, what pages were visited, how long they were on the page, and what keywords they typed in to find the site. Similarly, Facebook campaigns have a detailed Ads Manager dashboard which will show the number of users who saw an ad, Page Likes, website clicks and even the average price paid for the click on the ad. The Facebook Insights dashboard also provides an excellent visual summary of Page Likes, Post Reach and Engagement. For electronic newsletters that contain a multitude of clickable components, the post distribution statistics will detail opens, unique click-throughs for the individual parts, social media shares and open rates. All of these tracking tools will provide tangible measures of campaign effectiveness and a basis for tweaking a content management strategy. If you have engaged a content management firm to manage your strategy for you, many of these statistics can be exported to Excel, so ensure you receive monthly reports for review.

Would you like a more targeted, measurable and effective content management strategy? Resourceful Business can help define your user demographic and their consumption patterns and then put a knockout content management strategy in place to reach them. Contact us for a free consultation.

social media content

5 Shortcuts to Finding and Managing Great Social Media Content

For small business owners, there are never enough hours in the day. They juggle business strategy, production schedules, bookkeeping, payroll, marketing, human resources, content management and social media. It is no surprise that with such a long to-do list, social media marketing can fall by the wayside leading to inconsistent content posts and mundane points. But, there is hope for small business owners in pursuit of a social strategy filled with relevant, noteworthy and interesting topics that will engage their clients. Here are 5 shortcuts to finding and managing great social media content.

Set up News Feeds for Aggregation

Every industry has websites and electronic newsletters covering topics that are worth following. Feedly.com is one service that helps aggregate news feeds of interest, and you can create custom lists to follow. Our company, for example, manages content for multiple clients and we set up a custom list for each client, which collects stories from relevant news feeds in their industry. Another aggregation tool I really like is GetPocket.com. By installing the Chrome extension for Pocket or Feedly on your browser, you can upload any articles you want to read with a mouse click and even tag the articles. If you would like news to come directly to your Inbox, another option is to set up a Google Alert, www.google.com/alerts, a notification system based on keywords. Google Alerts will send you a list of relevant articles based off of your keywords and found in search as they happen, daily or weekly.

Follow Blogs by Industry Thought Leaders

follow blogs by other thought leadersEvery field has thought leaders or individuals who are blogging and of interest to you. It is fun and educational to follow and engage with them. Their blogs also provide relevant social content that you can share. Feedly.com allows you to follow blogs, so it is a great option for both news feeds and blogs. Often bloggers post their blogs on Facebook pages as opposed to WordPress or other blogging platforms. In that case, Liking the Page will do the trick and you can receive notifications of new blog posts. Another easy way to follow a blog is to click the RSS feed button if the blog has one. Typically, you will get an option to choose a Feed Reader service which will show all of the new blogs posted from the website and sometimes an option to receive an email alert. RSS feeds are often a point of real confusion amongst our clients, so here is a brief tutorial should you choose to try the RSS feed route, What is RSS.

Search for Content by Hashtag

hashtagsIn the context of social media, the pound sign is called a hashtag. A tool first used on Twitter, hashtags group topics and allow the reader to search and follow those topics through a clickable link. You can look for what is Trending on Twitter, and then even build some of your own social content around trending topics with high user engagement. You can also identify hashtags and related hashtags on relevant subjects with tools like Hashtagify.me. Once you have identified the hashtags you want to follow, set up a free Tagboard using the hashtag and you will get a fabulous visual of all of the trending content linked to that hashtag. Since all of the major social media platforms are using hashtags, creating great content means learning both how to deploy hashtags in your posts as well as how to use them to search for content.

Manage your Content with a Social Media Management Tool

After finding or creating your social media content, there are a number of tools you can use to schedule and manage it. Two of the most popular social media management tools are Buffer and Hootsuite. These platforms permit a user to post content to several social media accounts simultaneously, see user engagement and respond. User-friendly dashboards display character counts and image previews. Posts can be scheduled by day and time, so content postings can be input in advance. Many of the social media management tools offer news feed links right in the dashboard, so users can follow relevant content and then post it right from the news feed.

Nothing equates in value to original, creative content written by you.

Create Original Content

Most importantly, take the time to write your own content. Nothing equates in value to original, creative content written by you. If you like sharing interesting articles, write headlines yourself and post them on social media. If you blog, write about interesting trends in your industry. Answer common questions in your field of expertise. Summarize an interesting conference that you attended or offer a unique point of view on a controversial subject. Can’t think of a topic? Try the really fun, Hubspot’s Blog Topic Generator. You simply enter three keywords and then the algorithm will give you a week’s worth of blog topics. In short, although thoughtful social media content takes time to write and develop, it is well worth it because you will slowly establish a following on social media and build a respected online voice.

Hopefully, these shortcuts will save you time and help you find and manage great social media content. If you think there still aren’t enough hours in the day to do your social media marketing, contact us. We can customize and implement a content management strategy for your business that is timely, consistent and engaging!

personal brand

Why a Personal Brand has Become a Marketing Must

Small businesses come in all shapes and sizes. Your company might even be just one person – you! Although you may have never really thought about it, you do have a personal brand which can be one of your most important marketing tools. A personal brand is your reputation, your experience, your approach to business and how you conduct yourself when working with clients or colleagues. It determines how you are perceived by others and whether people trust you.

Answering e-mails in a timely fashion, returning phone calls promptly, showing up to meetings on time and even how you dress are all components of a personal brand. It is imperative to convey it thoughtfully and consistently across websites, social media, blogs and personal interactions. Most importantly, your personal brand must reflect who you really are, not what you believe the market demands.

In today’s fast-paced digital world, a personal brand has become a marketing must. If you don’t have one, here are some steps to help you get started.

Compile your past experience and see what strikes you about it

When building your personal brand, start by making a list and make sure to include all of your volunteer work, board positions, outside coursework or hobbies and anything that defines you as an interesting person. Look for patterns in your work, education and activities. If you are always volunteering for a certain charity or work in a particular field, these interests are the start of your personal brand. Pull out two or three and feature them in your marketing strategy. Build a LinkedIn profile while doing it!

Consider how you would like to be perceived by your clients

If you want to be viewed as a thought leader in your field, you should have a professionally branded blog page which frames the key aspects of your experience. Blog and create original, timely content at least once a month. If it is important for you to be looked at as tech savvy, then develop a social media strategy and presence with branded backgrounds, banners and professionally photographed profile pictures to convey your abilities and understanding in this area. Link your social media account to your blog page with stylish icons that further reflect your personal brand.

Develop consistency in your branding

If you are a solopreneur, then don’t be afraid to blog as “I” or present yourself as an individual when building your personal brand. If you are part of a team, then make sure to differentiate your personal brand from that of the team and define areas that highlight your skills as opposed to those of the team. Whether it be in your website copy, social media or blog, stay consistent and remain “I” or “we,” otherwise clients will become confused.

Create an online presence and reference your brand in the domain name

One of the critical components of creating a personal brand is deciding how people will search for you online. If you have developed a business that centers around your expertise in an area and plan to blog, for example, your domain name might be your name, www.yourname.com. Also, if your network of contacts is from business school or college, classmates may search for you by name; or if your business is a consultancy, a blog that uses a domain with your name may be an excellent choice. However, if you plan to operate under a business name, your domain should reflect the business name and then define your personal brand under an About page on the website instead.

blogging builds your personal brand

Create valuable, original content by writing a blog

Whatever your field of interest, take the time to build your personal brand by writing original content and posting it in a blog. Brand the blog and choose a platform like WordPress which can be optimized for search and tailored to reflect your personal style and image. Make sure your blog has a headshot on the page or you have uploaded an avatar (the small profile picture associated with your blogs or comments), so people can associate your face with your name. If possible, tie in the domain name to boost your personal brand.

Market your personal brand on social media

Social media is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, you have a wealth of choices to market your personal brand like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and Instagram. On the other hand, people often start social media accounts and then neglect them, so social media can become a negative aspect of your personal brand. Creating a social media presence that reflects your personal brand takes time and effort, so allocate the time to build it and engage with it or have a content marketing firm do it for you. See my recent blog, Stop Ruining Your Business with Social Media.

Do you need help creating a personal brand?

At Resourceful Business, we can assist you in developing and defining your personal brand, help convey it effectively on your website and social media or even help with blog writing so your personal brand comes through with consistency. Contact us to learn more.

tools to measure whether social media is working

5 Tools That Will Tell You If Your Social Media Strategy is Working

A great social media campaign takes patience, thought and energy. The Return on Investment (ROI) is not always immediate, and many small businesses start using social media only to abandon it months later. The key to a successful social media strategy is customer “engagement,” which is defined as interactions in the form of likes, tweets, favorites, click-throughs, page views or even comments on a blog. If you have the type of business that does not get many Facebook comments or likes, for example, it does not mean your social media campaign isn’t working, but rather that you may need to dig a little deeper to analyze your customer engagement.

Understanding engagement is essential to figuring out the types of social media that will help grow your business. Here are five tools that will tell you whether your social media strategy is working.

Level of Engagement

One of the easiest ways to analyze social media success is to consider the campaign engagement relative to the average. The average engagement is lower than you might think, and I like to look at www.socialbakers.com for updated statistics. Socialbakers compile their data based upon monitored social media pages. As a rule of thumb, engagement of 1% or higher is considered good, but as the number of followers you have increases, the engagement level declines markedly so adjust your expectations accordingly. However, 1% engagement is a reasonable benchmark for a successful social media campaign.

Geographic Reach

If you use Twitter, tools like SocialBro can give you demographic information about your followers, including their geographic location and language.This tool will allow you to group your followers into lists and monitor what topics engage them, what times your tweets attract the most engagement and who the top influencers are in your area of interest. You can change the demographics and look at similar information in a competitor’s area or even a region where you may be considering expansion. For multinational businesses, SocialBro can help you see countries where you have pockets of followers, and you can tailor your content accordingly.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics

The ultimate goal of a social media campaign is not just engagement, but visibility for your business and website. Google Analytics, a powerful and versatile tool available from Google, utilizes the information it collects on customer searches to track how they are getting to your website. If your customers are finding your website with click-throughs from your social media, you can see it in your Google Analytics reports. The platform will also tell you whether the visitors to your site are new or returning, what pages they are viewing, demographic information about them, and how long they stay on your site.

Newsletter Subscriber Base

If you send out newsletter e-blasts, chances are you have sign-up widgets on your social media platforms. If followers find your social content engaging, they will seek to build a more substantial relationship with your company by signing up for your newsletter. Social media engagement serves as the introduction to what your company has to offer. The newsletter will allow you to have a more meaningful dialogue with your customers, so monitor whether your subscriber base is increasing alongside your social media campaigns. If you have a download or PDF you can give away to incentivize people to join your mailing list, even better.

Click-through Rates

Regardless of the social media platform that  you choose, you will be able to monitor the click-through rate for your posts, tweets, e-blasts or photos. The click-through rate will tell you how many followers actually clicked on your content, photo or link back to your website. It suggests that a follower is interested enough in your content to actually do something about it, so it is a key metric and will help you refine your social media strategy in ways that can better engage your customers.

Are you unsure how to tell whether your social media strategy is working, or is your company just struggling to engage with customers on social media? Resourceful Business can help you assess, realign and energize your social media strategy so you can engage customers and grow your business. Contact us for a conversation about your company’s social media strategy.