Need More Business Leads? Social Media to the Rescue!

Need More Business Leads? Social Media to the Rescue!

As we all know, one of the keys to business success is increasing the number of leads you’re generating. Many business owners don’t instantly think of social media as a tool for lead generation. However, when utilised strategically and correctly, it could increase the revenue of your business by as much as…

We know we have your attention now so read on to see how!

But First, What is Social Media?

We are all aware of social media, and most of us use it. It is any app, digital platform, or website that allows users to connect with other people and interact with the content other users share online. This is generally known as ‘social networking’.

Aside from being used to connect with friends, social media is increasingly being used by businesses to generate and increase audience engagement and brand awareness, as well as cultivate new leads and sell products. After all, 2.34 billion people worldwide now have at least one social media profile. That’s an audience worth tapping into, but if you want to use social media successfully to grow your business, you have to know how to do it right.

Key Advice for using Social Media to Gain More Business Leads

1. Know your target audience

Many digital marketers make the mistake of sharing the same content across a variety of social networks and online audiences. This is a mistake because each social media platform attracts a different demographic, and they interact very differently with the platforms they choose. If you want to get the most out of your social media marketing, you have to know whom you’re hoping to target and use the appropriate platforms.

Here are a few details which can help you out:

  • Facebook is the most popular social network overall, with 83% of online women and 75% of online men having Facebook profiles. The ages of Facebook users typically range from teenagers to those over 70, so it’s good for attracting a wide demographic.
  • Instagram is the fastest growing social network. It appeals more to younger people, 90% of its users are aged under 35.
  • LinkedIn is mostly used by professionals who have more spending power than those who use other social networks. As it is more about business connections rather than personal ones, it’s a primary choice for digital B2B marketing.

There’s no reason why your business shouldn’t use a variety of social media platforms, but you should make sure you research the audiences of each one first and adjust your content accordingly for maximum appeal and reach. Doing so also gives you a better idea of which social media platforms fit your marketing targets and ideals and those that don’t.

2. Post interesting and relevant content

It’s not enough just to have profiles on various social media platforms; you should also be able to build brand awareness through them. This means attracting more followers. This will start to happen organically if you share content that people are interested in – the more people ‘like’ and ‘share’ your content, the more chances their contacts become aware of your brand and be interested in it themselves. 92% of buyers trust products and services that are recommended by their friends and family. Social media works in a similar way. If someone’s friends are talking about your business, he or she is more likely to follow your brand wanting, at the very least, to know what the fuss is all about.

3. Interact with your followers

One of the main advantages of social media is that it allows your audience to engage you and your business without having to be present physically. This can work for you if you also exert effort to interact with them, doing things like taking part in discussions in the comment section of your blogs or social media pages and replying to direct messages frequently. This will make your business seem approachable, relatable, and friendly, and will make your audience feel more involved with what you do.

If you’re consistent, they’ll be more encouraged to interact with your brand on social media, increasing your chances of promoting your brand further, resulting in more leads, knowing what they like or dislike about your business (insights which you can use to improve your products, services or business processes), or even making a sale.

4. Optimise and share for mobile

There are currently 1.65 billion active mobile social media accounts, and this number is growing by a staggering 1 million per day. As such, it’s important that all your content is optimised for mobile devices. This also offers opportunities if you tend to generate a lot of local business. As your audience will be accessing their social media accounts while they’re out and about through their phones or tablets, offering special local promotions or discount codes, for example, will attract them to your business.

Sharing content that’s both mobile and desktop friendly on social media also increases your brand’s visibility, ensuring that what you put out there will be seen or heard by more people. Ignoring mobile in your social media and content efforts, however, is a big no-no. For example, a visual, ad, or graphic that renders badly on mobile will reflect negatively on your brand’s reputation, especially if it happens frequently.

5. Use video

Video is essential as part of your social media marketing strategy. It is expected to account for over 80% of all consumer internet traffic by 2020. Also, videos are shared much more than other types of content. Video gives you the opportunity to create narratives around your brand, engaging your audience by involving them in a story that evokes emotion, without being too promotional.

A couple of facts to convince you that video should be an integral part of your social media efforts:

  • Social media sites like Facebook give more prominence to video compared to other types of content.
  • YouTube reaches more viewers aged 18 to 49 than television, with two million videos viewed every minute!

6. Consider paid advertising

Most social media platforms now offer paid advertising, with a range of options to suit your marketing budget. Social media algorithms favour paid advertising over organic content, so your posts will be seen by a lot more people if you shell out a bit of cash. In fact, almost 60% of social media marketers believe that paid social media advertising is more effective than just having organic posts.

An Australian Social Media Success Story

The success of Pearly Whites, a popular Australian home teeth whitening brand, is attributed directly to its social media marketing strategy. 27-year-old managing director Jake Munday grew the business by 10,000% in just over a year by attracting more than three million followers on social media. He now earns around $40,000 per month.

Jake is not alone in having harnessed the huge potential of social media to make a success of his business. Social media works, and it should be an essential part of your marketing strategy if you’re serious about generating more leads and growing your business.

This post was originally published on Smallville.com.au

Small business in a niche market? How to outgun your competition in the Wild West of social media?

Small Business in a Niche Market? How to Outgun Your Competition in the Wild West of Social Media?

Being a small to medium-sized enterprise (SME) can be challenging enough, but to be a gunfighter in a niche market is to climb yet another mountain of competition and potential anonymity. The savvy SME social media marketer can turn that mountain into a molehill with a careful social media strategy and clever usage of online and digital tools.

In fact, social media levels the playing field to the extent that the SME might find itself effectively armed, marketing-wise, even when face-to-face with a faster gun in the form of a bigger corporation. As such, it is best to become competent in social media marketing to have a better chance of attracting more interest and creating more buzz in a niche market.

Social media is a very wide street in a very big town. In that sense, marketing in this desert is just like the Wild West: almost anything goes, no real rules and sometimes a stampede happens. Social media marketing is a lot more fun than traditional marketing though, so enjoy pushing your brand into the hide of your competitors and showing it off to your loyal customers.

Here are a few bullets you can arm yourself with:

Don’t Bring a Knife to a Gun Fight

Be as creative as you dare. The more creative, the more unusual, the more “out there” the approach, the more viewers and followers pay attention—particularly Generation Y. They have seen it all and know it all already, so you will have to “bring it” and be bold if you expect to get them to pay attention. The Big Old Guns a.k.a. bigger companies in your field are hiring young guns doing this, too, so don’t expect them to sit by and let you take anything.

This is especially true if you’re in a niche market, which also means you might be more constrained in terms of what you can do with your social media strategies and content. Just another reason to be more creative since there’s a good chance the competition will stick to their “tried and tested” techniques, opening them up to the risk of being, well, boring.

Be Faster on the Draw

Research from Akamai and Gomez.com has shown that you have as little as two seconds to get the attention of a reader before they go somewhere else, and that includes the load time. The same report shows that the older people might wait as long as six seconds. What does this mean? Well, it just means it’s much better if you’re faster in terms of loading your social media content and getting your point across because, at least in this sense, patience is not a virtue.

Since you’re already in a niche market, you’ll be given a fewer set of eyes to attract. All the more reason to not let them ignore you and look at another company’s social media profiles—a risk which increases if you’re slower to the draw with your social media load times and campaigns.

Link Your Content to Your Other Social Profiles

Many social media platforms allow sharing to other platforms. Leverage this ability, as doing so will draw your audiences and encourage them to follow your other social media marketing attempts, giving you better odds of making a conversion (making a sale or other positive actions towards your brand or your products) occur.

Make Sure All Content is Mobile-friendly

Mobile devices are now becoming the primary platform for content viewing. Mobile usage has passed the 50% mark in the last couple of years and will likely require a little adjustment by marketers. It is crucial that this occur. Forrester Research predicts that 70% of content will be delivered to mobile devices within four years. It is already at 70% in Japan in the field of retail and consumer goods and is at 69% in Australia and New Zealand.

So, while you might be in a niche market, it’s safer to assume that this trend applies to your target market as well. Creating mobile-friendly content gives you a better chance of reaching them while they’re in transit and away from their laptops or desktop computers, increasing potential views and conversions. It’s also not enough that your content be accessible via mobile devices, they must look, at the very least, decent on them as well. Badly-rendered images and social media pages on mobile will only annoy viewers and be a negative for your online reputation.

Learn and Adjust

There are considerable benefits to being an SME walking tall on the mean, dusty streets of social media marketing. The payout can be considerable, but just like prospecting, there are risks. You will make some errors—just learn fast and recover.

Here are some of the gold nuggets you might just find:

  • Increased revenue from incremental sales made online.
  • Access to new global markets.
  • Opportunity to discover new SME partnerships and collaboration opportunities.
  • Heightened brand awareness.
  • Continual networking opens avenues to new resources.
  • Put a “fresh face” on your old company.

All the more reason to get your guns out and make social media marketing a priority. If you’re new to the scene, a bit of trial and error is expected before you reap the aforementioned rewards. Carefully study the plans that work (data analytics tools are available for this) and those that don’t. Adjust accordingly and learn from your mistakes. This is crucial for smaller businesses in a niche market since they have less viewership available to them compared to companies in more mainstream markets.

However, if you do this right and are able to adjust your social media content and strategies effectively, you’ll have a better chance of not only getting greater online visibility and brand awareness but also building a nice reputation as the company that does noteworthy social media marketing campaigns in a niche market. Your target audience already knows who you are and will anticipate what you’re up to next.

If You Feel Outgunned…

If you feel you have limited bullets and weaker guns in the Wild West of social media, don’t hesitate to call for back up. By that we mean investing in digital tools, attending seminars or hiring a third-party digital marketing agency to help you out, especially if you’re just starting out. Not only will this help you improve your strategies, you’ll also fast track the learning process.

Combined with your own trial-and-error learning and experiences, you’ll be able to improve faster and be on your way to truly knowing how to use social media marketing for driving a smaller business in a niche market to greater heights.

So don’t hesitate to contact us; we’ll help you out, partner!

This post was originally published on Smallville.com.au

Clueless About Social Media Marketing? Here’s What You Need to Know

Social media marketing is a blessing for small and medium-sized enterprises or SMEs. It is relatively easy to do and can be very inexpensive, therefore it can help level the playing field for these smaller companies in terms of marketing their brands online.

An SME can have a social media presence that is as effective as a large company’s. But what if you haven’t started yet? Don’t worry—it’s definitely not too late! Here’s everything you need to know about getting started in social media marketing for your business.

What is Social Media Marketing?

Social media is a sort of catch-all term for various networks that people and businesses use to communicate online. What makes it “social” is the fact that people share information with other people in their networks. If a person communicates with your company on social media, the people in that person’s network will also be able to see your social media presence.

Social media marketing is simply a way to promote your business using the same social media tools. For example, you use Facebook and Twitter to stay in touch with friends and family. You use them in the same way to stay in touch with your customers, promote your brand, and market your products or services.

How Is Social Media Marketing Different from Other Kinds of Marketing?

The difference between social media marketing and other forms of marketing can be summed up in one word: engagement. When you take out an ad in a newspaper or magazine, you’re assuming that a potential customer will see that ad, read it, and seek out your business to make a purchase. The same goes for direct mail, TV, and even billboards. That’s a lot of assumptions!

With social media marketing, you are meeting your prospective customers where they are. They are already on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. If you are there too, you can get in front of them—and here’s where the magic happens. Once you get in front of them, you can engage them and get them to interact with your brand. They can watch a video about your product, participate in discussions, or view photos which they can then share with those in their networks. This in turn creates more buzz for your business. The more people talking about and sharing what you put on your social media accounts, the better your chances of reaching more people and generating more leads for your business.

Social Media Marketing by the Numbers

The number of people using social media is truly astounding. As of May 2017, Facebook—the biggest social network out there—has 1.94 billion active monthly users. That’s 1.94 billion people who use Facebook at least once every month. It also reaches every demographic, most age brackets, and different income categories. Meanwhile, there are over 5 million businesses which use Instagram to promote their wares. Instagram—or simply IG as millennials like to call it—is a photo-sharing social network, so if your products or services have any visual appeal, it will be useful if you’re on IG as well.

According to updated stats, around 95% of people aged 18-34 follow at least one brand on social media. Also, visual content (photos and videos) are 40 times more likely to be shared on social media compared to other kinds of content. In the land of the little blue bird a.k.a. Twitter, there are currently around 320 million active users worldwide. Back to Facebook, there are around 40 million active small business pages.

So what does all this tell us? Simple: Ignoring social media marketing is basically akin to hiding your brand from lots and lots of people.

Advantages of Social Media Marketing

The biggest advantage of social media marketing is its viral reach. You are engaging with your customers and they are engaging with their network. Essentially, you are turning your customers into ambassadors for your brand. Your products may never come up in face-to-face conversations between friends, but they will come up on social media and people might just share them, potentially growing your business organically.

For example, in February 2016, the total amount of views generated by Facebook videos is an astounding 199 billion. That’s just for one month—imagine if a chunk of that was generated by a video you created for your business. Impressive, yes?

Of course, it also goes without saying that you must be careful with what you post and make sure your products and services are actually good before promoting online. Because, while going viral on social media can really be a big boost for your marketing efforts, it can be destructive for your brand as well. You don’t want word to get out about a major mistake your business made or a sub-par product your company created now, do you?

Setting Yourself Apart

With all the people and businesses using social media, it can get a little crowded. Make sure you set yourself apart from the crowd by bringing your brand to the fore. Your social media accounts should have a common theme and be brand recognisable. You could adopt a social media personality that will draw positive attention to your brand and make it stand out more. Be warned though; you should be consistent with how you set up your social media profiles—confusion is never a good thing!

You could also focus on what makes your business better or your products and services unique. Building on your business’ unique selling proposition will directly communicate what you want to say to your online audience, which is probably something like, “Here we are, check out our products, and see why they’re better than the rest!”

You should also devote time to being active on social media and consistently communicate with those on your business’ social media networks. Remember: the social media world, as a whole, has a very short attention span. If you’re dormant for too long or become uninteresting, your followers will soon forget about your brand.

Getting Started

There’s a lot to learn about social media marketing, so try not to get overwhelmed. Take it one step at a time. You can start with the network you use the most—this will probably be Facebook, although it could be Twitter or even LinkedIn—only this time you must adopt a business approach. This will help familiarise yourself in terms of what needs to be done. It also pays to assess your options and answer key questions. Which social network does your target market visit the most? What kinds of content do they like? What kinds of content should I share?

Admittedly, social media marketing can be a hit-or-miss affair in the beginning but, in time, you’ll be able to get the hang of it and know which social media strategies work best for your brand. However, if you really need to jumpstart things and get useful advice and guidance on social media marketing, don’t hesitate to contact us at Curate Bee. Our busy “bees” will be hard at work in helping you build a social media presence that will do wonders for your business!

Still Don’t Have an Online Profile? Here’s Why It’s a Must for Your Business

Any business that does not yet have an online profile is perhaps not aware of the many benefits that come with it and an accompanying social media strategy. Just look at established companies—the likes of Amazon, Google, Dell, and Microsoft are using their online presence to grow and are experiencing immense success.

These companies were early adopters of the internet and established their brand profile online. They also leverage social media to its maximum, continually sharing interactive and engaging content with their customers. With these big businesses as real life examples, it goes without saying that having an online profile for a business, especially small and medium-sized enterprises or SMEs, is a step into the right direction.

But just in case you need more convincing, read on!

What is an Online Profile?

An online profile is not a single item or piece and is not in only one place, but rather is an amalgamation of pieces that together represent a business’ brand on the internet. The components that comprise an online profile are unique for each enterprise. Some businesses have only a domain and a basic non-interactive website; maybe even just single page on a shared domain. This is the minimal online profile and is likely not particularly effective in terms of marketing online. Others have built a strong presence not only through a dedicated website but also by leaving a digital footprint on social media and other online platforms.

What are the Components of an Effective Online Profile?

An effective online profile will, at the very minimum, include a complete website, with the business profile, contact information, and ideally engaging online content the company wants to share with its customers. Next the SME will want to dip their toe into the interactive social media space using the current popular platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Tumbler, etc.). It is wise to participate in a few of these at least, linking them where possible to have a better chance of gaining more followers and interactions.

Developing professional, high quality online content like short videos (leveraging free and paid video sites), the SME can share their content in a manner that engages. Adding further components completes the strategy, with marketing tools like email, newsletters, and a regular blog allowing the SME to tell an ongoing “story” of their business and to help drive views and clicks. With a more complete online profile containing these components, a business can more effectively represent its brand and products/services online.

5 Solid Benefits for an SME of Having an Online Profile

Many businesses are familiar with online profiles but don’t yet see how having one can be a useful tool. The competition online and offline is fierce in nearly every field. According to recent studies there are now 2.1 million small businesses in Australia alone. An online profile is another tool an SME should carry in its competitive tool belt. Below are five reasons why:

Increased sales

An online store is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and requires no additional personnel to man (aside from developers on standby, unless live persons are regularly needed for a live chat with customers). This relates more to those in retail; it’s always better to have more options in terms of marketing and selling your products.

Exposure to new global markets and customers

It is now as convenient to buy a product from a large established company in the U.S. as it is to purchase from an SME online in Sydney. Many people prefer the SME for service reasons. Don’t miss that chance to build new client relationships. Having an online profile makes you more visible and easier for potential clients—even those overseas—to know more about your business and your offerings.

More effective and rapid communication with clients

Having an online profile via digital platforms gives you the speed and convenience of electronic communications and feedback, which in turn bolsters the service (and after-service) capability of your business, allowing it to respond more rapidly to clients. And we all know that happy clients are great for business, especially in terms of promotions.

Increased brand awareness

With an effective online profile, an SME will enjoy the ability to reach more clients than by word-of-mouth in the physical world. More awareness equals more brand power, which ultimately translates into more loyal customers and more sales.

A chance to compete with the big guns online

The internet levels the playing field considerably for all businesses. Online, an SME’s website, social media profile, and other components of their online profile has the same opportunity as the largest companies in the world to get the attention of a potential buyer and close that sale. As long as the online profile is executed and managed effectively, it will be able to bring in the same kind of advantages more established companies are currently getting via the internet.

Many Australian SMEs are Already Succeeding with their Online Profiles

All an interested digital marketer looking for proof needs to do is browse the web and he or she will find a plethora of real-world examples of small companies that have made a large impact using their online profile.

One nice example of an Australian SME that enjoyed the benefits of having an online profile is the company Shoes of Prey. A quick read reveals that 10 million pairs of shoes were sold on their website. It is clear from reviewing their website that the business has been working diligently on their online profile, leveraging social media and online tools like Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, email, online feedback, and more.

Shoes of Prey’s success tells us that the benefits of having a strong online profile are not reserved for the big companies. Diligence, patience, proper management, and the strategic use of digital tools combined with enthusiasm for what the internet can offer ensures not only having an online profile but having one that’s effective as well.

Convinced now that having a legit online profile is beneficial for your business? If you need help to get started or to strengthen your current online profile, don’t hesitate to contact us. Curate Bee’s hardworking bees will help you use the internet to create a truly awesome and effective online presence for your business.

Why Real-time Engagement is a Top Priority for Businesses

Between 2014 and 2015, there has been a 110% increase in social media messages that require a response from a brand. As we bid goodbye to 2016 and move into 2017, this number is only going to increase even more in the coming years.

Real-time marketing hit the limelight with OREO’s 2013 Superbowl ad, and it has served as a path-breaking example in this arena. As a report by Intelligent Catalyst puts it, it seems to be time that we move further past the one-sided “push” of real-time marketing, to the more communicative “share” world of real-time engagement. It also mentions that fans on social media are looking not just for information, but also for answers, and that discussion and validation are other factors to keep them engaged.

Here are some strategies for businesses to engage effectively with fans in real-time:

Listening to the Customer

In harnessing the power of social media, most brands learn early on about the significance of listening to the comments and critiques from a fan base. The real power of Big Data lies in leveraging it to track and gauge what your followers are saying, and responding to these conversations suitably, maybe even proactively when possible.

Committing to a Focused Strategy

Real-time engagement is a strategy that the entire brand must commit to, and not the sole responsibility of the social media marketing team. Once this focus is achieved, the engagement comes through as genuine and would be recognised as such by the customers in the company’s fan base.  The Hertz case study is an instance of how a cross-company initiative for social engagement provided great results. Their belief that “Social media doesn’t stop, neither does travel, and neither should we” has inspired them to proactively reach out to customers, and blur the lines between service, marketing, and sales.

Choosing the Right Channel for Your Campaigns

It is important to choose your social channels wisely. While a cross-channel strategy works well for some brands or specific campaigns, other brands might have a much larger fan base on a single outlet like Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. In such cases, it makes sense to focus your energy and investments on communicating with an existing fan base.

What to Watch Out for…

In the enthusiasm of engaging with fans and thinking up real-time engagement strategies, it is important to remember a few things:

  • Build a good fan base before releasing an important campaign. This might involve listening rather than broadcasting for a period of time, but it will be worth it in the long-term.
  • Do not focus only on trending topics and hashtags, but instead watch for the pulse of the customer and respond accordingly.
  • It is important to be factually correct and do research since it is difficult to move back from gaffes on social media, like the “giraffes in Ghana” example quoted by Steve Olenski in this Forbes article.
  • Remember that not all events are appropriate for brand engagement, and your sharing on social media must never be indiscriminate and just for the sake of grabbing eyeballs. This could tarnish your brand image in the mind of your customers and fan base. Take the example of a firearms brand like Beretta tweeting about 9/11, that just ended up sounding shallow and insincere.

Social media marketing remains a key factor that organisations must focus on, and real-time engagement is the new face of it. If a brand stays connected and listens to its customers, it is possible not just to expand your fan base, but to meaningfully engage with them as well. One must remember that although growing your fan base is important, maintaining your fan base is equally important. Proper engagement will help your brand to sustain its current fan base.

Leveling up the customer service experience with Facebook chatbots

Facebook has just made it even easier for its 900 million consumer and business users to connect with each other. Currently, consumers rely on Facebook Pages to learn updates and get in touch with their favorite brands, an opportunity that Facebook saw to introduce an easier way for both sides to interact. And so far, businesses have flocked to try out this latest offering.

The latest from Facebook comes in the form of bots, confirming TechCrunch’s scoop earlier this year that Facebook’s Messenger team has indeed been working to create programs of automated messages. Stan Chudnovsky, Facebook Messenger’s head of product, discussed during one of his interviews that the current state of communication between businesses and consumers online are seemingly highly robotic and the chatbots role is to improve that connection. Before, when chatting with a bot, you would simply be asked basic information whereas now you get more customized messages to help address your need.

Taking the Leap

Among the many businesses that have taken a shot at using Messenger’s latest platform is Dutch airline KLM who soon plans to allow customers to obtain their boarding pass directly through the app. Uber, on the other hand, has already gotten an early start with the service, now allowing customers to order rides via the app, adding greater convenience to its service offering.

An estimated 5,000 Shopify merchants are also distributing order confirmation and shipping alerts using Messenger’s platform. This only goes to show how e-commerce companies are eager to further engage Facebook’s almost one billion users.

What chatbots can do to level up the customer service experience

Using the platform’s new Send/Receive API, chatbots are able to send structured messages that include images, links and even call-to-action buttons. This means people can now perform tasks like make restaurant reservations, purchase tickets and even send flowers to loved ones all on one platform via means of messaging. There will be no payments allowed as of now though for fear of possible hacks and security breaches.

Businesses would also be able to send out sponsored messages ads to people who have started a conversation with their bot. Advertisers have an option of promoting the ‘click to message’ feature on Facebook’s newsfeed to attract target consumers to engage in a conversation with their bot.

Consumers need not worry about the chatbots getting too spammy as just like with ordinary chats with friends, there is also an option to silence notifications from the bot.

Chatbot Analytics on the Way

Alongside the chat feature, Facebook also introduced analytics to see how customers actually respond and engage with these chatbots. Given that the service is fairly new, such insights will help Facebook to continually improve its service and give the best online-customer service experience.

Chatbot analytics will also help programmers see the messages that most people find engaging or which call to action or messaging schedules come across as unappealing. This way, it’s win-win for both consumers and businesses.

The introduction of chatbots has led to many financial experts see Facebook potentially doubling up its revenues in a few years, if it can successfully bridge customers and advertisers using this app. This could lead to Facebook domineering the online market world and changing the way that many businesses manage their customers.

My first 5 questions about social media marketing

“I’ve heard so much about social media marketing, but I don’t really know what it means or what I should do about it.”

When being introduced to the world of social media for the first time, it isn’t unreasonable to feel overwhelmed and confused at where to start. But in today’s world where so many of us have our faces buried deep into our smartphones during our commute and open Facebook in the morning like previous generations opened the newspaper, it is safe to say that social media marketing is indeed ingrained in our day to day lives. We’re either using it for our own businesses or are being influenced by it, whether you know it or not. It is practically unheard of to not have an online presence today but for smaller or local businesses that aren’t up to date yet, knowing where to start can be the tricky bit. So here are my first questions when approaching the subject.

1) What is Social Media Marketing?

Simply defined, it’s marketing where you gain traffic and attention to your website through social media tools and platforms. What’s more important for you to know is that social media marketing, or SMM, has transformed the way that consumers and brands communicate, allowing direct conversations between the two.

With so much choice on the market, customers need reassurance that what they’re buying into is the best possible choice for them. Using social media is an easy way to achieve this because people have always relied heavily on word of mouth and reviews and will continue to do so. This is where platforms like Facebook are perfect for this. If you’re posting something people find interesting, the content will be shared, friends will be tagged or comments will be made, which in turn appears on other people’s newsfeeds. Your brand name becomes increasingly familiar so people trust it and the product/service being offered. This results in more website traffic and attention generation for your brand.

2) How could it be beneficial to my business?

The main benefit to be involved in SMM is to increase brand awareness at little or no cost. We just have to look at the statistics to see that it’s crucial in today’s world to build an online presence and create relationships with your target market. 52% of online adults now use two or more social media sites and the number of worldwide social media users is projected to grow from 2.1 billion in 2015 to 2.5 billion by 2018. According to Search Engine Journal, marketers saw an increase of 74% in website traffic after devoting just 6 hours per week in social media. You establish yourself on your chosen channel and start to spread awareness of your brand but it doesn’t stop there. Social media generates leads too! Shifting your Page to a lead generation tool will impact the type of content you post and what kind of ads you run. By using information from your audience, you can then figure out how to attract them into your sales funnel and eventually turn them into paying customers.

3) What is the most effective platform for me?

The answer to this question depends on a number of things;

  • Where is my audience’s attention focused?
  • What type of content am I sharing?
  • How much do I intend to post?
  • How do I interact with customers?

Find out the best way to communicate with your target audience by knowing where they spend the majority of their time. The obvious choice of social media to begin with would be Facebook. It continues to be the platform with the most amount of users and is great for visual advertising. The downside is it’s easy to overload customers with information as people generally use these types of sites socially and don’t want to be bombarded with advertisements.

Once you’ve built up a following, you will need to keep them engaged by figuring out where you fit into their content viewing. For more frequent postings and faster interaction with customers, Twitter is the tool for the job. LinkedIn is clearly the place for professionals, businesses and recruiters. If you’re involved in a visual based industry like food, fashion or lifestyle, then Instagram is a must. Of course it could be beneficial to your business to use multiple platforms but it’s most important to first identify how to use them in different ways and whether these tools are relevant to your business and target audience.

4) Is maintaining a social media presence time consuming?

It doesn’t have to be! Once you know where you’re focusing your efforts and what content you’re sharing, there are a variety of tools available to schedule posts to be sent out throughout the day. With enough planning, content can be made ready and set to go weeks before it goes live. There are companies available to you that make your social media marketing a breeze. From managing company posts, blog writing to web hosting and software updates, these are marketing needs that an external agency can help cover that allows you to focus on your business whilst still reaching out and having your content viewed and shared.

5) How do I know we’re reaching our target market?

Many of the social media sites have native analytic tools that help you monitor which of your posts invite the most clicks and which get shared more than others. For example, Twitter’s ‘Tweet activity dashboard’ has in-depth metrics for users individual tweets and audience insights where you can actually track your follower growth over time see their top interests and discover their demographics. This data is essential for micro targeted campaigns. It will give you a better insight as to who your audience is, help you evolve the campaign and be posting content aimed at these followers. You can get other information such as what time your customers are browsing, allowing you to utilize those periods. The results you will get in sharing your content will see you gaining in earned media rather than paid media.

In researching the answers to all of my questions it became clear that creating a presence for your brand on social media is essential at this point in time and looks likely to be the case for a while. Figuring out how to use everything to get the optimum results is the key here and remember that it doesn’t have to be an effortful task. Using the tools available to you, you should be able to know your audience and from there it’s up to you to share relevant and interesting posts to keep your brand at the forefront of their minds. This will generate leads and your business will grow.

This is just the surface of SMM but the information is enough for you to begin to explore this avenue, to grab the attention of your future customers and start valuable conversations with them. Remember that social media gives you the opportunity to create more of a personal connection with your audience on the digital landscape – and there’s no better time than the present to get started.

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This blog piece was written by Curate Bee’s new bee member, Charlie Champ. Stepping into the world of digital marketing for the first time, Charlie has been introduced to new perspectives and has since taken quite a keen interest to the subject. This piece was inspired by Charlie’s first 5 questions she had when she first joined the team and is probably what many are thinking when they are starting out with social media marketing.

Got any comments or questions? Let Charlie know below!

Update Your Digital Marketing Playbook With These Trends

The key to a successful business lies in having a strong presence in the virtual world. The dynamic nature of digital marketing can seem a bit daunting, but read on to tap into the current trends in the industry and to use it to your advantage.

Content driven marketing

Over the next year, content marketing is said to be more popular, which means that there is going to be a shift from conventional marketing techniques. The emphasis is likely to be on creating fresh content of superior quality – via user stories, video testimonials, and webinars. It is certainly time to also dive into social. Research from Hubspot says that social media has a 100% higher lead-to-close rate than outbound marketing.

Add a personal touch

There are several platforms or software apps that allow you to customise your content for your audience. Big data has already begun to revolutionize marketing with over 70% of content having been created over the last two years. Now you will have access to any cusstomer based on what they do over the internet. This is a more targeted approach and will yield better results.

User generated marketing

Your users control the way the conversation about your brand flows, so let them advocate your brand on your behalf. Create moments that can be Instagrammed, Snapchatted, Facebooked or more – letting the users tell their own story. There has been a 78% increase in User Generated Content (UGC) this year – a concept that was practically unheard of last year.

Go mobile

According to Google, this is the year that mobile traffic has overtaken desktop traffic in 10 countries across the world, which means mobile is the way of the future. Additionally, they have introduced an algorithm with the sole intention of weeding out sites that are not optimized for mobile use. It is anticipated that sites that focus only on desktop optimization will see a decrease in traffic over the next year.

Video ads are the way of the future

Anyone that has spent time on YouTube can testify to the efficacy of video ads. Other social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Bing also offer video ad space for advertisers as well. What is more important is Google supports video ads – and since Google owns YouTube, there are countless possibilities.

Keep digital assistants in mind

More people are using services like Apple driven – Siri or Windows driven Crotana than conventional search engines. Build your information in such a way that it is accessible to this new format and you will get an edge in pushing your business. While conventional methods like Search Engine Optimization and Pay Per Click still hold true – these new trends are the way of the future with over 2 billion smartphones estimated to make its way into the market worldwide in 2016.

Social media is key

Whatever else you may invest in, the power of social media cannot be discounted. By finding ways to make your brand more interactive and being open in your communication, you allow your customers to see the lighter side of your company. This makes your brand more approachable and will go a long way in creating a lasting impression.

Why Facebook said YES to Animated GIFs

For almost a decade, Mark Zuckerberg and his team at Facebook chose to keep animated GIF images out of their social platform as they felt it would make the pages chaotic and affect user experience. But, now, Facebook has finally decided to give animated GIFs the green flag, albeit on an experimental basis.
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The Story Till Now

Facebook has had built-in support for animated GIFs for a long time – it just didn’t activate it until now.

As of May this year, Facebook allowed non-business users to post GIFs on their news feed. Since August, select businesses could play animated GIFs in ads and boosted posts. However, users cannot upload them directly from one’s computer. Instead, if the animated GIF is already up on the internet, they can paste the link to the GIFs in their status update box. Those who have auto-play enabled can immediately see the GIF in action whereas those with auto-play disabled can tap or click on the GIF to play it.

Wendy’s and Brazilian drink Guaraná Kuat from Coco Cola are the first businesses to show animated GIFs on their Facebook pages.

Facebook intends to monitor the response to these ads and based on it, they plan to make it widely available.

Why Did Facebook Change Their Mind?

There are couple of reasons that could have led to Facebook reversing its decision to keep GIFs away from its site.

  1. With the rising popularity of animated GIFs among its younger audience and considering the fact that almost every social media network, including Twitter, Google+ and BuzzFeed have adopted it, it does not make good business sense to stay away from it any longer.
  2. Facebook’s success with video ads has also been a deciding factor in allowing animated GIFs. The decision taken in 2013 to allow video ads in news feeds did not have any negative repercussions. Users seemed to love it and hence, Facebook hopes animated GIFs would also be received well by people.

With the improvement in web browsers, GIFs can be played better today compared to a few years ago. They load faster giving an optimal user experience. Brandon Rhoten, Vice President in charge of advertising, media and digital at Wendy’s, says the fast food giant has found Facebook videos to be useful in increasing sales and he is trying to repeat the same success with animated GIFs.

Another reason is Facebook is trying to up its revenue from ads. Many advertisers feel an ad featuring an animated GIF is more likely to catch customer attention than one featuring a static image. Also, it can be a lot cheaper than producing a video. Hence, the decision to allow animated GIFs is bound to find favour among advertisers, bringing in more revenue for Facebook.

Is allowing animated GIFs a big risk?

Facebook’s primary fear that constantly moving images will make the pages look cluttered and have a negative user experience is valid. Too many animated GIFs can be distracting and where people may respond positively to a video, they might not feel the same way towards a bunch of images in constant, repetitive motion. It is this that has prompted the decision to launch it on an experimental basis, monitor public response and then take the decision to implement it on a large scale.

Are you planning to try animated GIFs for your brand? We can help.

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5 Things To Ponder For An Effective Social Media Marketing Strategy

Creating a social media presence for your business calls for a strategic approach to achieve success. Here are some tips to get you started.

Enterprises in Australia need to establish a social media presence for their business as more than half of customers use social media daily. An average Australian owns three internet enabled devices such as a smartphone, a laptop and a tablet. About 93% of Australians are active on Facebook, while 28% have a LinkedIn account and 26% use Instagram, according to the Sensis Social Media Report.

However, creating a social media presence for your business isn’t as easy as adding your name, profile picture or contact details on a social media account. For your social media marketing to be successful, you need to plan carefully, understand how social media works and continuously monitor your strategy. This will help you ensure that every amount you invest on your social media strategy will provide returns for your business.

So how do you leverage the power of social media for your business? Here are five things to consider to achieve success.

1. Outline your objectives in a social media strategy document.

Before you put your business out on social media, you need to ask yourself what your goals are. Is it to engage customers? Build more exposure for your products? Or promote your blog posts? You need to set your objectives first as this will help you select the right type of social media platform for your business. If your business is into fashion, you might want to use visual platforms such as Instagram or Pinterest. If you’re a restaurant owner and wanted to broadcast your daily specials, you may want to use Facebook or Twitter to be able to reach a lot of people.

Once you have identified the social media platform for your business, you need to ensure that your social media account or profile is reflective of your brand. This means that whatever message you post online should be consistent with your company’s identity and with your line of work. Doing this will enable you to build a credible reputation online, and win the trust of your customers.

2. Identify your target audience.

In your social media marketing strategy, you also need to specify your target market. Who are the people that you would like to reach with your product, or service? Identify your target market by exploring the conversations that are happening on social media pages, comment sections and online forums to determine how people are talking about a product or a service that you would like to offer. Then, join the discussion with your social media accounts, and connect and interact with your prospects. Get to know their preferences, their pain points and build a relationship with them. Offer useful information and answer their questions to show them that you truly care. From there, you can suggest solutions to their problems, and include how your products or services can help. Expand your customer base by building a community related to your product or services, and then participate regularly in the discussion. This can encourage your existing customers to refer others that they know to your business.

3. Create high-quality content that your customers will love.

According to IBM, 90% of the world’s data has been generated in the past two years alone. For any consumer, this means a deluge of information that would be difficult to digest. They can easily tune out businesses that keep promoting themselves. However, you can capture their eye by providing them with the right content on your social media pages.

Targeted, high-quality content offers your customers useful or insightful information, which can either solve their problem or resonate with their values. You can identify the concerns of your audience through your conversations with them. Then, try to address these through your content. Simply put, your approach toward content creation should be more about your customers and less about your business. This will encourage them to interact more with your company. You can even drive customer engagement further by encouraging them to submit content, and using this in your marketing efforts – just ask their permission first!

4. Enlist the help of social media experts.

As you implement your social media strategy, you may need the input of social media experts to ensure that you are on the right track. Digital agencies may be more knowledgeable in the use of analytics tools, which measure the effectiveness of your social media initiatives. Through analytics, you will be able to determine parts of your strategy that do not work, and those that provide a return on investment (ROI). Additionally, you will be able to learn about customer sentiments on your posts through analytics. With this information, you can tailor your strategy appropriately to ensure it benefits your business.

You may also turn to digital marketing agencies when you get overwhelmed on managing your growing following on social media. A digital agency can help you maintain communication with your customers, and implement campaigns directed toward a large number of people.

5. Maintain a regular schedule on your social media postings.

It is important to maintain a regular posting schedule on social media as this will show your customers that your business continues to operate. However, you should be mindful of the posts that you create online, as self-promoting content can appear ‘sales-y’, and turn away your audience. To avoid this, you can try these different rules on social media schedules. One of them is the 4-1-1 rule, where you post four pieces of relevant content from others, and one re-tweet for every one promotional post. These rules will help you plan and maintain a regular posting schedule, while being able to allocate extra time for time-sensitive content; such as postings on holidays or current events.

 

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