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.


digital marketing relevance

Why RELEVANCE is Key to a Successful Digital Marketing Strategy

An excerpt from Ann Mills’ presentation on digital marketing at Swap The Biz, Short Hills, NJ.


Imagine –

You’ve just been invited to a party, and you have the perfect outfit but need a matching pair of shoes. You head to the local shopping mall and come across a store advertising DRESS SHOES for any occasion. You wander in, and to your dismay, you see rows and rows of sneakers in every style and size. After looking around, you see there are a few dress shoes over in one corner, but certainly not many, and so you leave.

Your experience in the shoe store is a problem digital marketers see played out over and over again in the digital advertising space. People search for a product or service on the Internet and land on a Pay-Per-Click (PPC) ad, an ad the advertiser only pays for when the person clicks. Potential customers click on the ad, and they land on a website which does not offer what they are looking for and if it does, it’s pretty hard to find.

In an attempt to prevent this scenario from happening, search platforms and social networks rigorously evaluate advertising campaigns using many different metrics, the most important of which is RELEVANCE.

What is RELEVANCE and why does it matter?

In digital marketing, relevance is exactly what you might imagine–it’s a score that serves as a barometer of whether your messaging truly appeals to the audience you are targeting. It is measured using a combination of variables as a person moves from search query to ad to website. So, for example, if a person types in a search query using certain keywords and sees your business’ Google ad, she will decide whether to click on the ad. If she doesn’t, chances are she did not find the ad relevant to the original query, and over time, that ad will be shown less and cost more for your business to run.

There’s no doubt that marketing your business in the digital space is challenging to execute and when it’s off track, tough to recalibrate. Marketing can be expensive too, so understanding its relevance and your Return on Investment (ROI) are essential. The U.S. Small Business Administration recommends that businesses with under 5 million in sales spend approximately 7 to 8% of gross revenue on marketing. For start-ups in a competitive industry, the percentage can be more like 20% which means advertising can get costly as a business gears up.

Facebook Relevance Score

In Facebook, relevance has historically been defined by an ad’s Relevance Score. Measured on a scale of 1 to 10, highly relevant ads are awarded a higher number. Just one example, if there are positive reactions to a boosted post, it will help the relevance score and not surprisingly, negative reactions will do the opposite. In Facebook, an ad must have 500+ impressions for the Relevance Score to show in the metrics, but marketers have found that a high Facebook Relevance Score does not always correlate to whether the ad works for the business.

In a recent development, Facebook announced that as of April 30, 2019, Relevance Score will be replaced by three more granular relevancy metrics which will measure ad quality, engagement rate, and conversion rate. More importantly, the scores will be relative to similar ads that are competing for the same target audience. Therefore, if these relevancy metrics are not strong for one of your ads, your competitors are doing a better job with similar ads.

Google Quality Score

Similarly, Google defines relevance as, “How closely the elements of your ad campaign match what a person seems to be looking for.” Therefore, optimized ad campaigns have keywords that trigger ads which take the visitor to a user-friendly website page. Ads can also direct people to stand-alone landing pages–single web pages designed to encourage a specific action. A relevant landing page will prompt high click-through rates and Google will reward the business for this positive user experience by prompting more ad impressions at a lower cost. If the ad is truly relevant to the audience it is targeting, it has a measurable marketing advantage over comparable ads in the same space.

Similar to the relevancy metrics recently announced by Facebook, Google has multiple data points which combine to determine an ad’s overall Quality Score. These data points include a Quality Score for the keywords, an assessment of the landing page experience, ad relevance, and the expected click-through rate.

How your website design impacts relevance

It’s important to remember that ad views are impressions, but behind every click is a person. When people who have viewed your ad decide to click the ad to learn more, that click-through takes them to your website or landing page. The construction and organization of your website are critically important to delivering and optimizing the visitor experience once they click.

Look at college and university websites. Often, they divide their navigation into Students, Faculty and Staff, and Alumni when they organize the information for their audience groups. What is relevant to a student or even a prospective student is completely different than what is relevant to an alumnus. Similarly, hotels often organize information by Rooms, Dining, and Events. This type of logical organization structure is essential to relevance. A digital marketer that maps an ad back to a general website page with broadly written content will never be able to impact the business revenue in the same way as if he can direct an ad back to specific, well-written content. Relevant content directly speaks to the audience it is meant to target, and it answers their queries. In the context of the dress shoe example, a store that advertises DRESS SHOES should have rows and rows of dress shoes, not sneakers. If the shoes are organized into sections for men, women, and teens, even better because consumers can easily find what they need.

The DoubleTree by Hilton cookie–a lesson in relevance

If you ever check in at a DoubleTree by Hilton hotel, you are given a warm chocolate chip cookie, a tradition since the 1980s. Aligned with that practice, when you are searching for family-friendly hotels and come across DoubleTree in your search results, you see the following ad:

There’s also a page on the DoubleTree by Hilton website that tells website visitors all about the history of the cookie and that to DoubleTree, “…the cookie means so much more. It represents our constant dedication to our guests and thoughtful touches that ensure you feel special and cared for throughout your stay.”

DoubleTree by Hilton keeps their advertising relevant to customers by associating warm cookies with a welcoming atmosphere and pulls this theme through in their ads and website. Digital marketers have analyzed DoubleTree tweets, and at times, more than 60% of the tweets they are tagged in are about the cookie.  

Two takeaways on relevance

Like the DoubleTree by Hilton marketing campaigns, keywords, ads and websites have to work together seamlessly to create powerful, relevant messaging. As you think about your businesses, here are two takeaways on relevance for you to consider:

  1. Figure out your DoubleTree cookie. What makes you different, and by different, I don’t mean just identifying a particular product or service. What really makes your business different from your competitors, and why should someone call you? The answer to these questions is the foundation for an impactful, relevant digital marketing campaign.
  2. Look at your website. On average, when people land on your website homepage, they take 3 seconds to determine if they can find what they need. If they can’t figure out where to go quickly to answer their query, they will leave–it’s the dress shoe example.

Relevance is by far the most important metric in digital marketing, and by the same token, it can be one of the most difficult to pin down. Each brand has a digital footprint which includes all of its assets in the digital space–website, logos, marketing campaigns, social media platforms. If you think your marketing strategy is not engaging potential customers, the culprit could be low relevance. Contact Resourceful Business to learn more.

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.

digital marketing audience targeting

Finding Your Ideal Customer Using the Power of Digital Marketing

An excerpt from Ann Mills’ presentation on digital marketing at Swap The Biz, Short Hills, NJ.

_________

You are on your way to a networking event.

When you arrive, you are surprised to find not one room but three to choose from–each filled with 50 people. Tacked on the door of each room is a sign with some information about each of the people in the room–ages, income bracket, and town. The information also includes whether the person is a parent and his or her areas of interest.

You look at the information on each door and think:

In Room #1, there are one or two people who seem like they might be an ideal networking opportunity.  

Room #2–about half of the people in the room seem to fit the profile of your ideal networking opportunity.

In Room #3, all 50 people fit your ideal networking persona. They are the right age, live in a nearby location, and they seem like people who might be interested in the product or service you sell.

Which room will you enter? Probably Room #3.

 

advertising mailer

In the context of marketing:

Room #1 with its 2 to 3 prospects is perhaps the equivalent of a mailer like this one about dining room sets. If you are not buying a dining room set, you’ll probably throw the mailer out. Even if you are buying a dining room set, you may not look at the mailer. If you’re the business that sent the mailer, you can’t be sure who actually read it, and as one print company executive said to me recently, “People pretty much open their mail over the trash can.”

Room #2 with about 25 possible networking opportunities is representative of a networking group. You have a higher chance of connecting and exchanging business with people in the room. They more closely fit your ideal networking persona, and you have more in common with people in the group than acquaintances you make outside the group.

Room #3 with 50 of 50 people seemingly possible networking opportunities personifies digital marketing and, in particular, a powerful tool we use called audience targeting.

What is digital marketing?

If you ask someone what digital marketing is, they will probably tell you that it is advertising delivered via a digital channel. It might be a website, Pay-Per-Click campaign (the advertiser pays for the ad only when someone clicks on it), remarketing campaign, email, social media post, or even a response to an online review. Weaved together, digital marketers create omnichannel marketing strategies.

However, that definition of digital marketing does not convey what is so important about it. Primarily:

  • A digital campaign audience is not guesswork.
  • Campaign results are measurable, actionable, and data-driven.
  • Marketing campaigns can be timed to maximize impact.
  • Digital campaigns can be changed and scaled quickly.

Let me give you two examples of the agility and versatility afforded by digital marketing:

A mortgage banker in New Jersey deals almost exclusively with clients purchasing high-end homes. In an effort to broaden his target audience of potential clients, a digital agency does an analysis of zip codes in Manhattan where residents typically pay four to five-thousand dollars in rent each month. Intuitively, it’s clear that many of these young professionals might be thinking of starting families as well. The agency develops a Pay-Per-Click ad campaign to market the banker’s services into specific zip codes in New York City where the high-rent-paying population lives.

A client with multiple retail locations in New Jersey has her online reviews on Google, Facebook, and Yelp managed by a digital agency. The agency notices that some of the online reviews are in Spanish and come to believe that it is perhaps a far more important demographic than had been previously realized. In addition to Google AdWords Pay-Per-Click campaigns targeting English-speaking people which are already in place, the agency turns Spanish-speaking living in the United States on as a demographic trait for her Google AdWords campaigns. In addition to posts in English, the social media agency also begins to add Spanish posts to her social media feeds. The agency then rolls out corporate overview videos–one with an English voiceover and another with a voiceover in Spanish.

The results seen by our digital marketing clients have been striking. One client has quadrupled sales. Another found that their seasonal summer dip in sales disappeared. One company was named to a prominent list of the fastest growing companies in New Jersey in 2017 and in America in 2018.

Micro-Moments

Google defines something called a Micro-Moment. A Micro-Moment is an intent rich moment when a person turns to a device to act on a need–to know, go, do or buy.

The power of digital marketing is that it allows your business to be present at those micro-moments in a way traditional media cannot. In so doing, your business can get:

the right message,

to the right people,

at exactly the right time.

________________

Interested in learning more? Contact us.

Facebook pixel

Social Media Marketing Pixie Dust – The Facebook Pixel

What if there was a marketing tool that would allow your business to tailor Facebook ads based on what pages people viewed on your website or what items they added to their shopping cart?

Think of the possibilities.

Maybe you own a retail store, for example, currently showcasing spring dresses on one of your website pages. Your advertising campaign delivers Facebook ads showcasing dresses only to people who visited the spring dresses page of your website.

This hyper-targeted form of marketing happens every day with a bit of social media marketing pixie dust called the Facebook Pixel. According to BuiltWith, it’s a marketing tool employed on 3.8 million websites across the Internet. So, let’s find out what a Facebook Pixel is and how you can use it in your company’s social media strategy.

What’s a Facebook Pixel?

A Facebook Pixel is a snippet of tracking code placed in the backend of a website page that tracks certain actions or “events” by your website visitors such as buying an item from your online store or searching for specific content on the site. The importance of the Facebook Pixel lies in the data it collects which can help a business build a powerful marketing campaign that targets potential customers in a structured, relevant way. Site visitors that are tracked by the Facebook pixel become part of a Custom Audience created in Facebook, and even if you only install what is often referred to as the “base Facebook Pixel,” you will immediately have more insight into what people are doing when they visit your website. Installation is a little technical, but Facebook covers the many installation options in an excellent knowledge-based article.

Facebook custom audience

Why should you use a Facebook Pixel?

With a base Facebook Pixel, your default Custom Audience is anyone who visits your website. But, now the magic begins.

Let’s say you want to track site visitors by pageview or by the type of content they searched for while on your website. There are nine standard events that can be tracked by a Facebook Pixel. There are also some simpler custom conversions which are different than the events. Within the standard events, most of what a business might want to know about a site visitor is covered. For example, you can track:

  • Purchase
  • Lead
  • Complete Registration
  • Add Payment Info
  • Initiate Checkout
  • Add to Cart
  • Add to Wishlist
  • Search
  • View Content

Think about the value of being able to target site visitors who take one of these actions? You can add them to an event-specific Custom Audience created for your Facebook advertising.

The importance of the Facebook Pixel lies in the data it collects.

Facebook Pixel data and Custom Audiences created, what next?

Grow your target audience by creating a Facebook Lookalike Audience

Using your Custom Audiences, you can then create Lookalike Audiences, which are exactly what they sound like – audiences that have the same characteristics of the Custom Audience created with the Facebook Pixel. To be effective, you want a minimum of 1000 people in your Custom Audience, and the more specific the lead type, the better the Lookalike Audience will work. Your target audience for your ad campaigns has just grown based on the data collected with the Facebook Pixel.

So now you have three ways to hone in on and grow your target audience using the Facebook Pixel. First, you can identify certain behaviors of your website visitors and create Custom Audiences in Facebook with specific interests. Second, you can create custom Facebook ads based on actionable “events” taken by your Custom Audiences, and third, you can grow your target audience by using a Facebook Lookalike Audience.

Using the Facebook Pixel, you can deliver Facebook ads with timely, relevant information to the people that actually want to see them. It’s the type of digital marketing savvy made possible with a bit of social media marketing pixie dust – the Facebook Pixel.

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.
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.

 

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.

digital marketing tools

10 Go-To Digital Marketing Tools

“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.”– Michael Jordan

With so many apps and tools at our fingertips, one would think digital marketing has never been easier. Not so. As the freelancing or “gig” economy takes off, remote teams are becoming commonplace; and digital marketing with its many moving parts can pose real logistical challenges. Upwork estimates one-third of American workers are now freelancing, and project work, digital or otherwise, demands that everyone stays talking, collaborating and informed.

It can be frustrating to roll out a collaborative tool only to find it doesn’t have the functionality to facilitate a team or do what is needed. Over the past several years, my team has found that some of the tools we use for our digital marketing projects consistently make the “A” list. So, I thought I would share! Whether you’re a small business mostly managing your own marketing efforts or a large cross-border team, there is something on this list for everyone.

Here is the Resourceful Business list of ten go-to digital marketing tools:

VISUALS

1. Create great visuals in Canva

Graphics are a necessity for online marketing and often need to be created. While Adobe Photoshop is best for more complex projects, Canva is a simple drag-and-drop design platform for creating social posts, documents, banners and other visuals. It is an important tool for our social media team. The canvas size you choose can be customized by social network (e.g., Facebook post, Instagram post, Pinterest graphic), and pictures and watermarks can be maintained in an Uploads library. There is a wide selection of fonts and templates; and in the premium version, designers can create brand folders, save brand colors, and resize images for different social platforms.

Favorite Canva feature: Team stream, which allows different team members to share their work and comment on team submissions

Canva.com

2. Find high resolution, free stock photos on Stock Up

It’s impossible to be in digital marketing and not utilize imagery. According to Hubspot, “Content with relevant images gets 94% more views than content without relevant images.” It’s only one of 37 must-read visual marketing stats in a recent Hubspot article. Stock Up is a unique website that aggregates photos from 27 free stock photo sites. There are close to 14,000 pictures, and the number continues to grow. Users can put keywords in a search bar to search for images, and the photo selections are expansive and varied.

Favorite Stock Up feature: If you hover over the photo, the license terms appear.

sitebuilderreport.com/stock-up

SOCIAL MEDIA

3. Schedule Instagram posts with ScheduGram

For any business that has the luxury of beautiful product visuals, Instagram is an essential social platform. As a digital marketing agency creating social media for clients, we prefer not to do things on the fly. ScheduGram is a scheduling platform for Instagram posts, and it is available on desktop. In our view, this feature is mission critical. Posts can be scheduled in advance, and first comments–the preferred location for hashtags–can be as well. ScheduGram allows us to review, edit and see our posts on a desktop prior to posting. Tagging photos, or identifying other people or businesses in the post, through the Schedugram platform is currently in test, and we hope the ability to add location will follow in short order.

Favorite Schedugram feature: First Comments field so that hashtags can be scheduled in the first comment at the same time you schedule the post itself

schedugr.am

4. Manage social media posts with Hootsuite

Social media work for clients should be a collaborative, tag team effort. Content can be written by one part of the team and then edited and hashtagged by another. Creatives can design graphics, and if the client uses paid social campaigns, other team members can manage the ads too. For us, scheduling social media posts is a must because it drives consistency, quality and collaboration. We use Hootsuite for social media; it allows us to schedule posts and use different team members in the creation process. Recently, Hootsuite added an integration with YouTube, so now you can schedule videos too.

Favorite Hootsuite feature: AutoSchedule, which will send scheduled posts at optimal times

hootsuite.com

Twitter hashtag

5. Develop a list of relevant hashtags with Hashtagify

When a “#” is put in front of a word, it creates a hashtag, or clickable link, that directs you to content which also contains that hashtag. Hashtags are an important tool in marketing, because they can drive a person to your content–and ultimately your business–via the hashtag. If a person doesn’t know about your company, (s)he may never find your brand through traditional search. However, hashtags can attract an audience with an interest in your subject matter. The Hashtagify portal allows a user to type in a hashtag and see other related, popular hashtags. Visuals like the size of a circle that surrounds a hashtag and the thickness of connecting lines that extend from the hashtag being analyzed cue the user to a hashtag’s popularity. You can even see Top Influencers and compare performance between hashtags.

Favorite Hashtagify feature: The Hashtag Wall which gives a tiled, visual representation of recent posts for a hashtag

hashtagify.me

spelling

CONTENT CREATION

6. Correct spelling and grammar with Grammarly

Grammarly is a writing app which has a handy Chrome add-on. It highlights grammar, syntax and spelling errors. The interface is incredibly user-friendly. Errors are underlined in red and then upon hover, fixes are suggested in green. It is easy to see errors visually, and Grammarly offers an explanation for the problem. You can take the suggestion or decline it. Although not currently integrated with Google Drive, a quick workaround is to download your Google Doc as a Microsoft Word document and just pick the errors up from there. Another alternative is to copy and paste the copy into Grammarly directly. A Google Drive integration is apparently in the works.

Favorite Grammarly feature: explanation cards for errors which describe the mistake, suggest the correction and offer an “Add to Dictionary” option

grammarly.com

COLLABORATION

7. Collect client input with Google Forms

Whether it is a website information questionnaire or input for a logo design, every business needs client input. The collector must be user-friendly, gathered in an organized way and viewable by the team. Google has a cloud-based solution for survey creation, Google Forms. There are several ways to receive and view the responses. Our favorite is to have the responses automatically populate a Google Sheet, which is accessible by the entire team.

Favorite Google Forms feature: basic customization tools for branding such as a header image for logos and a color palette

google.com/forms

8. Collaborate with Google Drive

Great content begins with a talented writer or creative. Better content is a collaboration of many inputs and viewpoints. Google Drive, a cloud-based file creation and storage service offered by Google, is our go-to tool for team collaboration. Notwithstanding the importance of all of the work being in the cloud for accessibility by the team, the Google Drive interface allows for direct editing, review and comments. A user can see past revisions and which team member has recently worked on the document. In fact, our team will drag and drop almost everything a client sends us into organized Google Drive folders, and the search toolbar functionality is robust. One handy feature is the ability to see Recent items that have been worked on or viewed, which makes finding current work a breeze.

Favorite Google Drive feature: Suggesting mode so team edits are seen as suggestions and only incorporated if accepted

google.com/drive/

to-do list

9. Assign work out to the team with Wrike

As any business grows, so too does its client base, project list and task complexity. Our agency needed an application that would allow the management team to assign out the various moving parts of each project, keep track of progress and deadlines, and allow other members of the team to provide input. We landed on Wrike. As projects come in, they are scheduled on Wrike and assigned out to team members. Tasks can be made recurring, moved around on a calendar, and organized by folder. The team can add comments, upload attachments and mark assignments as complete.

Favorite Wrike feature: Daily To Do emails that show tasks and overdue tasks, each with a link back to the original Wrike task

wrike.com

10. Tackle big projects with Basecamp

There are projects and then there are projects. Large, complicated client engagements, websites for example, have many inputs and require the involvement of multiple parties, possibly even outside freelancers and creatives. Basecamp is one of the most versatile project applications around, and it has a great dashboard–my personal favorite of any of the applications I use. In the various sections on the dashboard, project team members can see documents, the project schedule, team chats in the campfire section, and the running to-do list. It shows team profiles across the top of the dashboard so you always know who is involved, and importantly, it will email or “ping” people to keep them posted on updates and communications.

Favorite Basecamp feature: Link a Google doc, where you can add a document by just linking the URL of a Google Doc

basecamp.com

What makes a digital marketing tool best in class?

No doubt you will have noticed some consistencies in our list of go-to digital marketing tools. They offer user-friendly dashboards and portals, utilize the cloud for accessibility and storage, and facilitate the many inputs and stages of complex project work. Tools that are emerging as best in class facilitate teams collaborating from all corners of the world.

Think of the possibilities!

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Please note that 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.