Category Archives: Social Media

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Content to Fill Your Social Media Calendar

Content to Fill Your Social Media Calendar written by Jenna Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

It’s an age-old question: what should I post on social media for my business? When it comes to social media, engagement is the ultimate name of the game. You want to start dialogues online with your followers. Many times that engagement can be a first or second step in getting a customer with a need to know, like and trust you. 

Social media can be an incredible tool to open up potential lines of communication with customers or clients. But in order to begin a conversation, someone has to say hi! By posting regularly on social media, through both organic and paid channels, you are saying hello and giving followers a starting place for additional engagement. 

You want to share content that’s meaningful and is likely to get a response from fans. Social media feeds contain lots of junk; you need to create something that captures attention in a sea of reTweets, tiger kings and memes.

Here are the three types of posts you should be creating for engagement on your business’s social media profiles. Each serves its own unique purpose, and when combined, they create a consistent, thoughtful online presence.

Brand Personality  

Introduce yourself to your followers and their friends. This is organic content that can only be shared by someone within your organization. Let your followers start to understand the type of culture that is within your company. 

People go to social media for the community, to take a break, for advice, all of which are very personal. This is not where you should be selling. Sales messages would be a distraction from their original goal when they turned to their social channels. Or worse an annoyance. 

These posts can be hard to plan because they’re about things that happen organically. Maybe you decided to bring your dog in for the day. Who wouldn’t love to see your office from your dog’s point of view? Or take this real-life example from Duct Tape Marketing. I shared a photo with a touch of humor and a touch of a positive message with the help of my coffee mug and I got some great engagement and feedback. 

cup of sunshine

Posts like this get a lot of engagement because they tell the story of the person behind them. You aren’t selling to anyone, instead, you are letting them in, showing them day-to-day stuff as you run a business. It’s this kind of content that’s most likely to generate comments and likes, while simultaneously creating a sense that prospects really know the people behind the brand.

Editorial Posts 

The majority of your posts should be culture posts. These aren’t as easy to plan as the majority of them happen in the moment. To fill in the moments between you can schedule more operational posts. 

These are posts around shared content, they help to demonstrate you as an authority in your field. It’s proof that you are an expert at what you do and is a critical trust-building element with leads.

Let’s say you own a home cleaning service. Maybe you’ve been a guest on a podcast or local TV news show about finding the right cleaning service to fit your needs and budget. Or perhaps you write a great blog post about how to clean up messes left by a pet.   

Whatever the case may be, share this content on social media. While it won’t get the same level of engagement as your brand personality posts, it’s more likely to capture a prospect’s attention because the prospect has already been drawn in by something else. 

If they do click on the link, they’ll find it contains meaningful information. That’s how they’ll develop a deeper level of trust in your expertise.

Customer Journey Progression Posts 

Once you’ve won your audience over with culture posts and earned their trust with editorial posts, you can move into paid posts, which are designed to achieve business objectives.

These paid posts should have calls to action that speak to a specific conversion goal. You can create a number of paid social campaigns that are designed to speak to prospects and customers at various stages of the customer journey. For those in the try phase, create a CTA that invites them to download an ebook or sign up for a free trial. Returning customers should see advertising that’s tailored to their needs based on previous purchases.

While we all know that paid ads are not anyone’s favorite thing to encounter on their social feeds, if you’ve already laid the groundwork with meaningful organic content that your followers genuinely appreciate, prospects will be that much more receptive to seeing an ad from you.

A smart mix of organic and paid social posts can help you to build awareness and trust. This is what drives engagement on your social profiles. Posts with a lot of heart pave the way for those that are more focused on achieving business objectives. When you strike the right balance, you create an opportunity to have your social efforts feed directly into your other marketing channels to guide people farther down a customer journey.

A Small Business Guide to Instagram Stories

A Small Business Guide to Instagram Stories written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Instagram has quickly become one of the best social media platforms for small business owners. With more than 1 billion active users each month, Instagram provides a tremendous opportunity for businesses looking to reach a new, relevant audience.

While you do have the option to create static posts on Instagram, one of the fun features that started on the platform (and has since expanded into Facebook) is stories. While a post is displayed in your followers’ feeds and remains on your profile forever, a story is ephemeral—it only lasts for 24 hours.

Some business owners are at a loss for how best to use stories. What type of content should you share there? When do you choose a story over a regular post? And how do you get the greatest reach for the content you do share in stories?

Here, I’ll walk you through best practices when it comes to using Instagram stories for your small business.

Supplement Your Posts

The biggest question for a lot of small business owners is determining what belongs in a story versus a traditional post. It’s best to remember that posts are forever. So, the type of content that you share in a post should be totally in-line with your brand. Plus, it should provide long-term value for anyone who views it, whether that’s today or two years from now.

Let’s say you own a bakery. Among other things (like culture posts, which give viewers a real look at the behind-the-scenes of your business), it makes sense to share edited photos of the finished baked goods in your posts. Sharing that content in posts gets prospects’ mouths watering and lets them know the kind of baked goods to expect if they stop by your shop.

In the story, though, you can be a little more irreverent. Show the work that went into getting the picture-perfect post, where your apron is covered in flour and your kids are running around the shop in the background. Or take pictures throughout the baking process, showing the step-by-step creation in stories and revealing the final product in a post.

Stories are also a great way to advertise short-term offers. Let’s say you own a retail store and have big sales coming up for Black Friday. Rather than clogging up your posts with advertisements for the sale, consider creating one post announcing the sale, to serve as anchor content for your stories, and then get into the details about what will be on sale when in stories.

Use a Mix of Photos and Video

You can post either photos or videos in stories. While it’s often easier to capture a still image, it’s a good idea to share a mix of both types of content.

Sharing content regularly on stories is a great way to stay top-of-mind with your followers. The way that stories are displayed on Instagram means that people will often scroll through the stories of everyone they follow all at once. And because the queue of stories is at the top of the Instagram app, if you’re regularly producing stories, your business is often greeting viewers every time they log in. So if sharing still images in stories makes it possible for you to share a steadier stream of content there, then that’s a good way to go.

But video does have the ability to create an even deeper, more personal connection with your audience. It really brings what’s happening in your business to life, and it boosts those know, like, and trust factors, that make up the early stages of the marketing hourglass. So consider incorporating video into your stories as many times per week as you can.

Utilize Stickers Wisely

Once you create your content—be it video or photo—to share on stories, you can dress things up with stickers. Some of the stickers are gifs and images that are fun ways to add visual interest to your posts.

Other stickers, though, can serve a greater purpose in spreading the word about your business. You can include hashtag stickers on posts, which can open your content up to a broader audience. By including hashtags, your content becomes discoverable by any Instagram users who have searched for or follow that hashtag. If you’re strategic about the hashtags you use, you can gain new followers in the process.

You can also create your own hashtag to promote a specific event or product within your business. For example, if you’re throwing a conference, featuring industry experts and great speakers, consider creating a hashtag for the event. You can use the hashtag in the lead-up to the event to spread the word about tickets. You can use it during the event to share live content from the stage and behind-the-scenes interviews with speakers. And you can use it after the event to share meaningful recaps and continue to get even more life out of the content you captured on the event day.

Location stickers are critical for businesses that have brick and mortar locations. These stickers allow you to tag your business by name. Then when someone clicks on the location sticker, all other posts where your business was tagged with a location sticker will appear. This means that anyone clicking the sticker will not only see your content, but also user-generated content from others who have visited your business.

Finally, there are mention stickers, which allow you to tag another business or person in your story. Mentioning influencers on relevant content might catch their eye and get them to re-share your story.

Get People Talking

Instagram stories shouldn’t be a one-way conversation. Instead, they’re an opportunity to engage your followers in a real dialogue.

That’s where some other stories features come in. It’s possible for you to create polls through Instagram stories. You can ask viewers to select which product they like best out a handful of options. Maybe you start a contest to name your newest product, which you’re about to announce. Or perhaps you create a poll asking viewers what their biggest questions are about your area of expertise.

People love taking quick, fun polls online, and this is often a great first step in engaging your audience. From there, you want to take the results and broaden the conversation. For example, if you asked about favorite products, create a video post where you share which product won out and demonstrate some of the best features of the winning item.

If you created a naming contest, announce the winner in a video. Then, share some photos of them stopping by your store to pick up their prize. Or, if you asked viewers to submit questions, use them to create a live Instagram video where you answer these questions and any that come in in real-time.

Take Advantage of the Highlights Feature

Instagram stories only last for 24 hours, but there is a way to preserve them forever on your profile. While this won’t be appropriate for all stories, for those with meatier content or information that is relevant long-term, it makes sense to save them as highlights.

The highlights feature appears below your profile picture and above your regular Instagram posts. You can create categories for your highlights, which allows viewers to easily find the type of content they’re looking for (see this example of stories highlights on SEMrush’s Instagram page below).

As you can see, they created highlights for a number of industry awards events that they host. Plus, the saved information about topics that are relevant to their audience, like voice search. Saving these stories in highlights allows them to continue to share the content with new visitors after the 24 hour window has passed.

Create Ads Alongside Organic Content

Running Instagram story ads is a great way to supplement the organic content you create on the platform. The rules of the game here are much the same as they are with advertising on other social media platforms.

Begin by setting one clear, measurable goal for each ad. From there, you can hone in on the best audience for that ad. Then, create content that will resonate with those people and drive that one conversion goal. And once your campaign is up and running, track results. That allows you to understand what’s working, what didn’t go as planned, and how you can improve next time.

Instagram stories are a unique way to stay top-of-mind with your audience and generate content that gets people talking. When you follow these best practices for creating stories, you set your business up for success on Instagram.

How to Use LinkedIn to Grow Your Network

How to Use LinkedIn to Grow Your Network written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

LinkedIn is a powerful tool for small businesses looking to grow their network. They boast 660 million members worldwide and over 165 million in the U.S. alone.

Because it’s a business-focused social network, it’s a necessity for those running B2Bs to have a presence on the platform. But B2C businesses can thrive on LinkedIn as well. Since the network is all about business, many users are going there to seriously look for solutions to a problem they have (unlike Facebook or Instagram, where they might just be going to look for cute pet photos).

If you understand how to use the platform effectively, it can help you grow your network and get ahead of the competition. Here’s how you can do it.

Build a Strong Profile for Yourself

Your journey on LinkedIn all begins with a personal profile. In order to build trust, fill out your page as completely as possible. Include a photo, bio, and full resume. Strangers feel better about connecting with you if they can learn a bit about you from your profile. Plus, the more information you include, the more likely you are to find a meaningful point of connection with a stranger that can help you to reach out.

For example, if you’re both alumni of the same school, that’s any easy point of commonality for you to leverage in your introduction. A request to connect that comes along with a note like “I see you went to KU, too. Always nice to connect with a fellow Jayhawk!” will get you a lot further than a generic greeting.

Also include trust-building elements. LinkedIn allows you to ask your connections for endorsements. Reach out to a few former colleagues or clients already in your LinkedIn network, and get them to say a kind word that specifically outlines the value you bring to a work relationship.

Show How You Can Help Them

Once you do create your profile page, you can start reaching out to people. However, there are a few important rules to follow.

First, do a little research on the people you’re going to connect with. Are they really the right fit for your business? What can you glean about them from their profile that will help you write a tailored message?

That’s the important next step: Take the extra time to create a personalized message. There’s nothing less enticing to a prospect than a generic LinkedIn request to connect that’s clearly been copy-pasted to dozens of other people. Why should that person give you any of their time when you haven’t given them the time to do a little research into what they do? Plus, a generic message makes it all about you; a great sales pitch is about them.

Instead, take a look at their profile. Let’s say you’re a marketing consultant focused on SEO. Visit that prospect’s website and check out their presence on Google. Then drop them a line indicating you’ve done just that and that you already have a few suggestions on quick wins for improving their SEO, if they’d have some time for a chat.

That message is a lot more likely to get a response than something where you’re asking them to define their own problem. After all, you’re the expert—you should be able to identify the problem you solve all on your own! It’s thoughtful, personalized messages that are most likely to get you the add and help you grow your LinkedIn network.

Create a Page for Your Business

Depending on the type of business you run, it might also make sense to create a page for your business. If you’re a solopreneur, you might just need your own profile. If you’re running a local business with a distinct brand, though, there’s value in establishing a separate page for your company.

The rules here are much the same as they are across all of social media. When setting up your profile, make sure that your branding and messaging is consistent with your other online assets (website, other social media profiles, etc.). Fill out the profile as completely as possible, with a description, photos, and contact information. The more background information and ways to connect you can provide to prospects, the better!

You also want to include elements that build trust. Link out to your other social profiles and your website—the more substantive your online presence, the more legitimacy you gain as a business. LinkedIn also allows you to connect your business profile with the LinkedIn profiles of your employees. Take advantage of that feature, as showing that you have a real team of people behind the brand also helps build trust.

Plus, it also allows you to tap into the existing network of your colleagues. People who are already connected with them on LinkedIn will see your business’s name and profile, and may choose to follow you if they know you’re associated with a connection they already know and like.

Post Meaningful Content

Whether you’re posting content through your own personal LinkedIn profile, your company page, or both, you always want to focus on creating posts that start conversations.

Some social media platforms, like Twitter, require a more fast-and-furious approach to posting. With LinkedIn, it’s okay to take a slower cadence, and to share a mix of your own content and curated articles, videos, and more. Even if you’re sharing curated content, though, you want to include your own thoughts on the article or blog in a way that encourages your followers to engage with your thoughts on the matter.

Using hashtags and mentions in your status updates can help expand the reach of your posts. Anyone following those hashtags has a chance of seeing and reacting to your content. And when you mention others, you grab their attention and are more likely to get a share or comment on that content, which then puts you in front of their LinkedIn network.

Once you’ve posted something that sparks a conversation, stick around to engage with followers and keep the discussion rolling! When people respond to your content, you should always respond back. And I don’t just mean a like or a one-word answer. Try to ask questions or comment in a way that opens up a back-and-forth. The longer you can converse with each prospect on a social media thread, the stronger your relationship becomes.

Use Ads Selectively

LinkedIn advertising can help you to tap into an even broader audience for your content. For most small business owners and solopreneurs, the most cost-effective type of LinkedIn advertising is sponsored content. This allows you to boost a post you’ve already shared.

When using ads, it’s important to be selective. Don’t go through boosting every post you put out; that’s a waste of both time and money. Instead, take a look at how each piece of content performs. Pick a handful of posts that have already done well organically and focus on those.

If it performed well without a helping hand, you know that the content was useful and resonated with your audience. Boosting the post will further its reach, and because you know it’s an eye-catching item, it’s more likely to grab the attention of new folks who are looking for a brand just like yours in their LinkedIn network.

LinkedIn can be a powerful tool for any business owner looking to expand their network. Whether you’re a solopreneur or the owner of business with dozens of employees, whether you’re focused on B2C or B2B, there is a way to put this valuable platform to work for you.

Where Does Social Media Fit Into the Customer Journey?

Where Does Social Media Fit Into the Customer Journey? written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Your social media marketing can sometimes feel separate from your other marketing efforts. After all, social media is about engaging with fans and having a little bit of fun with your brand, is it really a place where you should be thinking about the customer journey?

The fact of the matter is that all of your marketing efforts should be shaped around the customer journey, and that includes social media. And yes, there is a way to fit social media into each stage of the customer journey without resorting to sales-y posts or spammy messages.

Here’s how you can incorporate social media at every stage of the customer journey, from know, like, and trust to try, buy, repeat, and refer.

Know

Social media is a great place to introduce your business to new people. The first stage of the customer journey is all about exposing your target audience to your branded content. You want your prospects to get a feel for who you are, what you do, and why you’re better at it than the competition.

The first step to setting yourself up to meet new people on social is making sure you establish a profile with all of your information that clearly incorporates your branding and logos. Whether you’re just starting out or bringing your social page back from the dead, organic social begins with posting interesting branded content.

This content is how people will come to know your brand and begin to associate your name with your area of expertise.

Like

Once you’ve gotten the attention of new fans, it’s time to get on their good side. In the like phase, you want to educate them on their problems. This is the time to show that you understand their pain, and that your business offers the perfect solution to whatever ails them.

Continue to share content, but whatever you do, make sure it’s meaningful! Take this opportunity to share in-depth posts from your blog, explainer videos from your YouTube channel, and episodes from your podcast that feature other experts in your field. You can curate content from other sources, too, but the key to getting folks to like you is sharing content that’s relevant to them.

You can also begin to invest in boosting your content and sharing paid ads. Boosting content allows you to share your existing organic content with a broader audience, while paid campaigns give you the option to display sponsored posts to those who have already interacted with your organic social presence. Either way, these paid options are a way to increase your presence on your audience’s social feed and to build a sense of familiarity that breeds fondness.

Trust

By now, you’ve convinced your audience that you know your field and understand the problem that you solve. Now’s the time to reinforce that trust in your business and drive initial engagement.

You can begin to whet your audience’s appetite with allusions to a great offer. Paid posts with targeted calls to action help you achieve this. You can also take an organic approach by sharing links that drive back to an initial offer on your website.

This is the time to hammer home your expertise in your field and make a strong case for your business.

Try

This is where you make your first offer to prospects. In the try phase, you reveal your offer and present content designed to move them towards a decision.

Your initial offer doesn’t have to be huge, and in fact, it shouldn’t be. It’s best to start with something small to get your foot in the door with your prospects. Again, posts and ads with targeted calls to action are the way to go here. Presenting a free trial or making an offer that reduces risk (say, one that includes a money-back guarantee) is a great way to get prospects to commit to giving you a try.

Buy

Once you’ve gotten your prospects to take advantage of your trial offer, and you’ve dazzled them with a peek at your killer product or service, they’ll be ready to take the plunge and make their first real purchase.

Social media can help coax them towards this conversion. Step up your customer engagement here. If someone who’s tried your product leaves a comment or asks a question on your social media page, be quick to offer up a response! If they’ve left a review on your page that expresses hesitations following their initial trial, reach out to them directly to follow up, offer a solution, and ask them to give you a second chance.

Taking those extra steps to get personal and engage with your hottest leads on social is the way to support the buying process and drive that all-important purchase.

Repeat

Once you’ve convinced your prospect to become a first-time customer, you have to continue to delight them! Maintain your outreach efforts whenever customers engage on your page. If you get private messages from customers through social media, make it a priority to respond quickly.

Most social media management tools (like Hootsuite or SproutSocial) allow you to respond across social platforms from their centralized dashboard. This means there’s no excuse for missing an important communication from your customers!

On the organic social front, posting more in-depth content, like case studies, is a way to continue to build rapport with your customers. Prove to them that you’ve provided long-term value to other customers, and they’re more likely to return to give you more business as well.

When it comes to paid options, retargeting allows you to stay top-of-mind with your existing customers. Consider sending complementary offers to those who have recently made purchases on your site (i.e. If someone bought golf cleats, show them an ad for golf gloves or headcovers).

Refer

The final step in the customer journey is to win referrals. Social media comes in handy here because it’s an inherently—well, social—place!

If you want to get people talking about your brand with their friends, create content that is shareable. You’re already posting meaningful content, but are there ways to make that content more fun or share-worthy?

Let’s say you run a pest control business. Consider creating a humorous video that helps homeowners identify the kind of bugs or critters they might have running around their house. Or, put together a quiz that readers can take, helping them hone in on the type of infestation they might be facing. This is the kind of content that’s not only useful, but is interactive, engaging, fun, and likely to be shared.

In the refer phase, you can even use paid tactics to boost customer posts. So if you have excellent, positive user-generated content, this is the time to let it shine!

Social media is as much a part of guiding the customer journey as any other marketing tactic. The interactive nature of the medium allows you to create one-on-one relationships with your prospects and customers, and to target them with the type of messaging that they most need to see at their particular stage of the journey. By using both paid and organic tactics, you can create a comprehensive social strategy that drives visitors further down the marketing hourglass, no matter where they are right now.

5 Rarely Discussed Benefits of Using a Social CRM System

5 Rarely Discussed Benefits of Using a Social CRM System written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

One of the trickiest things about social media is that there are multiple platforms you need to keep up with. Just about every business should have a presence on “the big four” (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn). And for certain businesses, additional platforms like SnapChat or Pinterest might make sense.

When you’re juggling customer information that’s coming in through your website, your email, your customer service numbers, and all of your social channels, if you don’t have a system to keep it all straight, you’ll want to pull your hair out!

That’s where a customer relationship management tool (AKA, CRM) with a social component comes in. A social-friendly CRM allows you to track all brand interactions in one place. This provides tremendous value to your business.

Let me walk you through the five biggest, but least talked-about, benefits to using a CRM system with a social component.

1. Coordinate Sales, Marketing, and Customer Service

Social media ownership usually falls to your marketing team. They create your content calendar, write posts, and manage engagement. But a lot of what happens on social media is relevant to other teams within your organization, too.

When a prospect responds to an ad with a couple of detailed questions about your offer, your sales team should be looped in, because this is likely a hot lead. When a customer posts a nasty review about a bad experience, it’s your customer service team that needs to be on top of responding and de-escalating the situation.

CRMs allow you to keep all of your teams on the same page. When everyone has access to the information coming in through social media, it eliminates silos and allows your entire business to respond more effectively to the good (interested prospects!), the bad (angry customers!), and everything in between.

2. Segment Your Audiences More Effectively

Audience segmentation is the key to effective marketing. Every marketing move you make should be driven by the picture of your ideal customer, but sometimes there are important distinctions to be made within the group. When you recognize that different segments of your audience need to be approached with different marketing tactics, it allows you to increase the level of personalization they each receive, which in turn piques their interest and boosts sales.

Say, for example, you run a housewares company. While your clients obviously share a need for home goods in common, perhaps there are some specific categories of ideal customers. Maybe one group is engaged couples, who register with your business. Another might be first-time homebuyers, looking to stock up on the essentials to fill their new home.

Once you know this, you can use social insights to better target individuals who fit the bill. Social media provides you with detailed demographic information. Identify individuals in a certain age category and income bracket who are most likely to be purchasing a home soon. The more information you can gather on your prospects and customers, the better, and CRMs bring all of this relevant information together so you can create even more detailed sketches of your ideal buyer personas.

3. Move Quickly to Make the Sale or Prevent Issues

Almost 40 percent of consumers say they expect a response to their social media comments within an hour! If you’re monitoring four social platforms, in addition to the rest of your workload, it’s nearly impossible to be that lightning-fast in responding if you don’t have a platform that allows you to manage all responses from one centralized place.

Fortunately, CRMs allow you to do just that. All customer comments and reviews can be tracked through your CRM. That way, your customer service or marketing team can get responses out ASAP.

A quick response time is critical throughout the customer journey. If a prospect has a question about a specific product or service, a quick response could mean they buy from you and not your competition. Or maybe someone wants to know about your brick-and-mortar store’s holiday hours. Getting back to them right away means they’ll be more likely to stop by and make a purchase during business hours.

For those who are already customers, responding to a positive post right away can help you amplify the goodwill and get even more reach with that post. On the flip side, a speedy response to an unhappy customer’s complaint can stop it from snowballing. Plus, you’ll demonstrate to other customers watching the interaction that you really care about making things right.

4. Eavesdrop on Conversations

Have you ever wondered what people say about you when you’re not in the room? With a social CRM tool, you can monitor conversations that are happening about your brand (but not with your brand) online.

A social CRM picks up on mentions or relevant hashtags, allowing you to stay on top of how your name is coming up in others’ conversations. Maybe you catch wind of a group of super-fans who are singing your new product’s praises over on a Facebook group page. You can then join that group (where you know there are relevant prospects), plus reach out directly to thank your fans for the social media love.

Or perhaps you discover something interesting through monitoring your hashtags. Let’s say you run an artisanal jam company. You create a catchy hashtag to promote your products, and you hear word that someone’s used your hashtag on Instagram! Then you find it’s an influencer who included your jam in a recent photo about their healthy breakfast. This allows you to reach out to the influencer directly, thank them for the mention, and open up a broader dialogue.

5. Pick Up on Good or Bad Vibes

Some social media CRMs today include sentiment monitoring tools. These tools analyze posts from followers and can glean information about tone and intent.

Let’s say you run a local lunch spot, and you launch a new menu. While you haven’t gotten many direct reviews on your pages yet, the sentiment monitor picks up on the way customers are talking about your business online, and it’s not great. They don’t love the changes you’ve made, and they’re missing some of the standbys on your old menu.

When you can get a handle on this feedback early, it empowers you to course-correct before you lose any customers. Why wait for the negative reviews to start cropping up? Instead, cut issues off at the pass based on the words and tone people are using on your page.

Similarly, this tool can help you identify strengths! If you have a social media post that gets lots of great, positive engagement, you should take a closer look at what you did there. Lean into that messaging and take a similar approach in future posts to keep the good vibes flowing.

CRMs are an essential tool for any small business. They help you pull valuable customer information all into one centralized location, which in turn ensures that all of your teams have access to the data they need to deliver great results. Taking advantage of these often-overlooked benefits of CRM use can help you stand out from the competition and build strong, meaningful relationships with your customers.

7 Common Mistakes Businesses Make With Facebook Advertising

7 Common Mistakes Businesses Make With Facebook Advertising written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Facebook advertising, when done correctly, can be a major asset to your marketing efforts. Facebook offers businesses a wide variety of advertising options to choose from, and with a network of billions of users, it provides the potential to reach tons of prospects.

However, there are a lot of moving parts that go into creating and maintaining successful Facebook advertising campaigns. If you’re not familiar with the ins and outs of the platform, it’s possible to fall into some pretty common traps. Here are some of the mistakes that I see businesses making time and again on the platform, and what you can do to avoid them.

1. Setting Wishy-Washy Goals

Facebook advertising is a single tactic within your broader marketing strategy. But that doesn’t mean you can be less-than-intentional about the choices you make when designing your campaigns.

It’s not enough to just create posts promoting your business and hope that some generic good will come of it. You need to set specific goals for each and every advertising campaign you undertake. If you’re promoting the launch of a new product, set a goal to sell X number of units. If your campaign is designed to drive traffic to your website, set a goal to increase CTR by X percentage points.

By starting with a clear goal in mind, your messaging within the campaign will be stronger and more targeted. Plus, you’ll know which metrics you should be keeping an eye on and will know exactly how you’ll define success at the end of the campaign.

2. Selecting the Incorrect Ad Type

Once you’ve set goals for your campaign, it’s time to select the type of ad you want to run. Facebook offers businesses a wide variety of choices, and the various ad types can help you achieve all sorts of goals—from greater exposure for your brand to more conversions to facilitating offer claims.

Fortunately, Facebook makes it easy for marketers to determine what each ad is designed to do. Don’t try to get creative or reinvent the wheel in this step; go with the ad type that Facebook says best aligns with your goals.

3. Sticking to Only One Medium

If you’ve ever sat on Facebook and scrolled through your newsfeed, you know how easy it is for that content to simply become a blur. That’s why you need to do something unique to stand out from the personal posts, articles, and other ads filling up users’ feeds.

Facebook suggests that you keep text to a minimum on your images (ideally less than 20 percent). Include images that are bright, arresting, and are aligned with your brand’s tone. Go beyond still images and think about including video content.

But most importantly, mix things up. Even if you’re creating fascinating, engaging video ads, they’ll begin to feel stale after a while if that’s all you ever do. Mix up your media in order to keep viewers on their toes and eager to see what comes next from you.

4. Targeting Improperly

Facebook advertising targeting allows you to identify the desired audience for your ads. This keeps you from wasting your ad spend on people who would never realistically be interested in your business, but proper targeting is a tricky balancing act.

Make your audience too narrow, and Facebook will be unable to deliver your ad. However, make your audience too broad, and there will be lots of people who are not viable prospects seeing your ads.

The other mistake that marketers make is targeting the wrong audience. You might think you understand who wants to see your advertising, but unless you’re using your existing customers as a guide, you could be making some critical targeting mistakes and aiming your ad spend at the wrong group.

Take the time to analyze the demographics and actions of your current audience. You can even go so far as to send your existing customers a survey, asking them about their profile and lifestyle. Facebook even provides the option for you to create lookalike audiences for your advertising. By uploading a list of your existing customers, Facebook can then analyze that group for common attributes and target similar audiences.

5. Duplicating Efforts

Facebook is great at identifying their users who are most likely to want to see your advertising. Unfortunately, that sometimes means that people who are already familiar with your brand and who have converted on their own become the target of your Facebook advertising.

This is, of course, a waste of your time and budget. If they’ve already signed up for your newsletter, there’s no need to advertise said newsletter to them again! This is where the use of custom audiences comes in. Pull a list of all of your prospects or customers who have already taken the action you’re hoping to drive with the advertising and create a custom audience that excludes these people from seeing your ads. Not only does this save you money, it also keeps you from annoying those who have already said yes to your brand.

6. Letting Ads Go Stale

Even the best of Facebook ads begin to lose their luster after a few weeks. Users scroll past the same images and type time and again, and they eventually begin to gloss over the content. That’s why it’s critical for marketers to keep refreshing their ads on the platform. Changing up images, altering the text, and otherwise making the content appear fresh and new to the viewers is the way to get your brand noticed all over again.

7. Forgetting About Facebook Pixel

Facebook Pixel is a line of code that you insert into your website in order to track customer behavior on your website that happens as a result of your advertising efforts. This provides you with measurable data, so that you know if your ads achieved the desired results. This data can also help to inform your future marketing efforts. When you understand what was successful and what didn’t work so well in a given campaign, you can make changes to amplify the successes and pivot from the failures in the future.

There are a lot of moving parts for marketers to wrap their heads around when it comes to Facebook advertising. Understanding some of the most common mistakes businesses make can help you get more bang for your advertising buck and create content that stands out in a crowded newsfeed.

5 Unique Ways to Engage With Your Fans on Social Media

5 Unique Ways to Engage With Your Fans on Social Media written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Social media provides you with a unique opportunity to engage with your fans and followers. For most businesses, the amount of face-to-face time you get with your customers in limited, and for some companies that operate entirely online, they never meet their customers in real life.

Engaging with prospects and customers online is a way to showcase your brand’s unique identity and personality and to build the kind of meaningful connection that will lead customers to repeat and refer your business, rather than drifting off to the competition.

But in a crowded online space, what can you do to stand out? It’s time to get creative about your social media engagement. Here are five ways to raise your social profile and engage with fans effectively.

1. Go Live

The results are in: Video is the way that people want to consume their content nowadays. There are mountains of surveys and statistics that show video is a highly effective tool for reaching people and holding their attention.

Lots of marketers are getting in on the video trend, but why not take it a step further and take advantage of live video on your social channels? Live video is great for a number of reasons. Because it’s something that’s happening in real time, you generate excitement around the content—catch it now before it’s over! It also allows you the opportunity to interact with fans in real time. You can give shout-outs to those who are watching, and they can ask questions and leave comments, which you can respond to on the spot.

Some business owners are a little nervous about going live. Having an unscripted conversation on the internet can be intimidating! But when you go in with a plan, it’s easy to make it a success. Hosting a Q&A on a specific topic is a great place to start. This is the kind of video that makes sense in a live format (you’re there to answer questions and engage with viewers), and when you pick a topic within your area of expertise, you don’t have to be worried that you’ll run out of things to say.

Send an email out to your mailing list inviting them to participate, and promote the session on your social channels in advance. Think about having a few friends or colleagues join for the first few sessions, until things really take off, so that you’ll be guaranteed some questions from friendly faces.

2. Create Friendly Competition

Online contests are a great way to generate buzz around your business. Contests allow you the opportunity to get creative and have fun, and that positive energy is contagious.

Take some time to develop a contest that makes sense for your business. If you’re launching a new product, ask fans to submit ideas for the product’s name. A photo or video challenge can work in a variety of scenarios. You might also create a challenge around a national day related to your business. If you own a bakery, run a competition on June 7 in honor of National Donut Day or on Pi(e) Day (March 14, of course!).

These contests work best when you encourage your fans to take an active role. You also want to establish a hashtag for the contest. This not only allows you to track entries, but it also helps to generate interest among those who might not know about your business but keep seeing the hashtag pop up online. They’ll likely click on it to see what it’s all about, and then you’ve grabbed the attention of a new potential fan!

And of course, you want to announce the winners of your challenge, give them a fabulous prize, and share the results and photos of the victors on your social channels.

3. Stage a Social Takeover

Social media is all about building that one-on-one connection, so why not use it as an opportunity to introduce your fans to your team? Arrange a series of social media takeover days, where various members of your team helm one of your social accounts for the day and give followers a behind-the-scenes look at a day in the life at your company.

Not only is this a fun way to get your wider team involved in marketing efforts, it also builds a personal connection between your brand and your fans. It allows your fans to put a face to the company name, and gives them an opportunity to see the level of care and attention your entire team puts into their job. It’s that individualized attention consumers can get from a small business that leads them to pick you over some large national company, so why not help to foster that sense of connection by allowing your team to speak for themselves on your business’s social channels?

4. Get in on Fun Fads

Your website is the place for you to show off your professional side, but social media is an opportunity for you to let your hair down and show you brand’s personality a bit more.

This will of course mean different things for different businesses—a CPA can’t post the same kind of content as a music store. But that doesn’t mean the CPA can’t have a little bit of fun! Who doesn’t need a little levity from their CPA in the throes of tax season?

Incorporating memes, gifs, and emojis is an easy way to show that your business has a more lighthearted side. You might also get in on the latest viral challenge (think mannequin or ice bucket). Of course, whenever you’re dabbling with pop culture references and challenges online, you want to make sure that you fully understand what you’re sharing and that it’s work- and brand-appropriate.

5. Open the Door to a Conversation

When you have someone who’s already engaged with your content, you want to keep them talking. Replying with a “Thanks!” or simply a thumbs up will mean the end of communication. Instead, why not respond by asking a question? That’s a great way to get a back-and-forth going.

Let’s say you own an antiques store. You share a blog post about proper care and maintenance for old wood furniture and one of your followers responds, “Great tips!” Rather than a simple thumbs up, follow up with a question. Ask them about the furniture they’re trying to care for and offer specific tips for the care of that piece.

Not only does this technique allow you to hold onto your follower’s attention for a little longer, it also helps to establish your business as an authority on the subject at hand. The next time that person has a question about an antique, maybe they’ll send you a message on Facebook or stop by your shop rather than typing a search term into Google. They’d much rather get advice from someone they already trust than risk taking the word of a stranger on the internet.

Social Media engagement is the best way to begin to build a personal connection with your prospects and customers. When you create content that showcases your brand’s personality and take the time to respond meaningfully to comments and reactions from your followers, you can help your business stand out in a crowded online field.

How to Bring Your Social Media Engagement Back From The Dead

How to Bring Your Social Media Engagement Back From The Dead written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

A social media page that lacks content and lies dormant might as well not exist at all. But if you’ve let your social pages lapse into a state of disrepair, it’s not too late for them!

It is totally possible to revitalize and refresh your social media presence and bring your engagement back from the dead. Here’s how you do it.

Do a Basic Profile Audit

Before you turn to creating content, you want to make sure the bones of your page are up to snuff. All of your social media pages should feature your business’s name, location, contact information, and hours. If any of these are missing or wrong, now’s the time to update.

Additionally, make sure your pages are branded. Your logo should be included in the profile photos for each of your social pages. A tool like Canva makes it very easy to format your logo and relevant images to fit any social profile across platforms.

Post Regularly

Once your pages are looking fresh, it’s time to think about content creation. Establishing a regular posting schedule is truly the golden rule of all social media. Regular posting creates a sense of familiarity with your brand. Plus, the more content you share, the more your followers come to know and like your brand’s voice and identity. Your business begins to feel like an old friend, and that’s when people feel comfortable interacting with your content.

When you come and go from people’s social media feeds, that can actually make people feel distrustful of your brand. Why is there a flurry of activity one week followed by silence for the next two? It makes your brand seem scattered, and that’s not the way to generate positive attention online.

Don’t Just Sell, Provide Advice

Of course, it’s not just about the regularity of your posts, it’s also about their content and quality. The beauty of social media is that it allows you to establish authentic connections with your followers, so the last thing you want to do is create a series of salesy posts.

Instead, provide advice and useful information. Establish yourself as an expert in your field, and followers will find themselves turning to your content when they need a question answered. Sharing tips and knowledge also gives your followers something more substantive to comment on. People are far more likely to leave words of thanks or additional questions on an informative post than they are to say anything in response to content that is purely about selling a product or service.

Talk with Your Biggest Fans

When someone does take the time to engage with your brand, you want to reciprocate! Leave no comment left unrecognized, no question unanswered. When fans take the time to post a shout-out to your brand on social media, re-share the post and thank them for the kind words!

Again, social media is all about creating dialogues with your real customers, and giving them a sense that there are real, kind, knowledgeable people behind your brand.

Share Visually Exciting Content

Another way to catch the eye of those scrolling past your content in their feeds is to make it visually appealing. Rather than relying on text alone, always include an attention-grabbing graphic. Video is an increasingly popular method for reaching consumers, and live video in particular is very engaging. Viewers are excited to catch the content right as it’s being created, and it gives you the opportunity to answer questions and speak in real time with your followers.

Use Hashtags Wisely

It’s great to engage with those who already follow you on social media, but if you want to expand your reach, using hashtags is a great way to do so. Whenever you post content, include a handful of relevant hashtags on the post.

Viveka von Rosen shared her hashtag best practices for LinkedIn, but they’re really relevant anywhere. Select three to four hashtags that are relevant to the community you’re trying to reach and add one that is unique to your business. Using those community-specific hashtags will put your content in front of those who are interested in your industry or field of expertise. That’s the best way to get discovered by a new, relevant audience on social media.

Create Friendly Competition

Social media contests are yet another creative way to engage with your existing followers and broaden your reach. Create a contest that encourages followers to share content about your brand. If you run an ice cream shop, maybe it’s asking fans to take a selfie with a bowl or cone of their favorite flavor. If you run a dog grooming business, run a pet costume contest leading up to Halloween. Whatever it is, make it a fun, exciting challenge that followers will want to be a part of.

Establishing a hashtag for the competition not only allows you to track entries, it also helps to create buzz around the contest and generate broader attention.

Once it’s all over, be sure to post about the winner and share a photo or video of them with their fabulous prize on your social channels.

Get Involved in Pertinent Groups

Another way to reach beyond your existing audience is to become a member of groups that are aligned with your business’s solutions. Let’s say you’re opening up a nail salon in Akron, Ohio. You can join groups about nail art design or groups for nail technicians. Additionally, you can target community groups that attract those in the Akron area.

Once you’ve joined the groups, get involved in the conversations that are happening there! If someone asks for advice on what type of acrylic nails are best, share your opinion. If someone in the Akron group asks for recommendations for low-key bachelorette party ideas, humbly suggest that they might stop by your salon for a little bit of pampering.

It’s hard to keep up with social media. But even if you’ve let your once-great social presence go flat, it’s never too late to revive it! Taking a few simple steps to keep your page updated and stay on top of engaging with your followers can make a world of difference in generating meaningful conversations and connections with leads and customers alike.

How to Use LinkedIn to Generate Sales Conversations

How to Use LinkedIn to Generate Sales Conversations written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

 

The video above is a replay of a recent live webinar I hosted with guest Viveka von Rosen. Combined with the text below you should have a pretty good feel for how to use LinkedIn to generate sales conversations.

LinkedIn is the oldest social network. Everyone seems to be on it, but no one seems to know quite how to use it to generate sales conversations.

To help us take advantage of this massive opportunity, today I brought in Viveka von Rosen. She is the co-founder of Vengreso, a leading digital sales transformation company. She is also the author of two books on this very topic, LinkedIn Marketing: An Hour a Day and LinkedIn: 101 Ways to Rock Your Personal Brand.

She talks with us about how to use LinkedIn to generate real sales conversations by sharing meaningful, engaging content. While she speaks specifically to LinkedIn today, the principles behind her advice can be applied across all other social networks.

Why is LinkedIn Important?

Ninety-four percent of B2B buyers view multiple pieces of content from the vendor they ultimately select. This means that if you’re not sharing content on LinkedIn but your competition is, your prospects will likely pass you by. Additionally, 75 percent of B2B buyers conduct research in social channels for products and services.

Meanwhile, the percentage of salespeople actually meeting their quota has dropped over a five-year period—it’s down to 53 percent. However, those salespeople who are using social selling have a 50 percent higher chance of reaching quota.

Building Your Personal Profile

On LinkedIn, you can’t just rely on a company page; you need to have a personal page in order to really connect with others. It’s between personal profiles where the conversations that lead to sales really occur.

This means that you need to create a strong personal page that showcases your brand. If your personal page is unappealing, sloppy, or lacks the appropriate information, you could lose a prospect.

  • Does your profile build credibility? People want to do business with those they know, like, and trust.
  • Does your profile show how you solve problems? LinkedIn is not the same as a resume—people viewing your profile want to know how you can help them. Think about including real-world examples of how you’ve helped past clients address their pain points.
  • Does your profile create conversation? Your profile should have rich content that attracts viewers. Once they’re there, make sure there’s a way for them to reach you. It seems basic, but make sure your phone number or email are on your profile so that people can actually get in touch!

The Importance of Sharing Content

If you go into LinkedIn with tunnel vision towards sales, you’re missing the entire point. Think about LinkedIn as a networking event—would you go up to someone at a conference and immediately ask them to buy your product or service? Of course not! The same principles of offline networking apply on LinkedIn.

The best way to get to know people on LinkedIn is to educate your audience. This positions you immediately as helpful and useful, which in turn builds positive sentiment. Suddenly, you’ve transformed from pushy salesperson to an advocate and thought leader in your industry.

What Does Content for Sales Engagement Look Like?

When thinking about content, it’s important to consider both the content you create yourself and the content you share that comes from other sources. Each type of content has its own set of rules to create the greatest levels of engagement and generate real interest and real conversations.

Whatever type of content you’re sharing, you want to be sure you’re doing it consistently. You should be sharing content at least once a day. One way to help you reach this goal is to establish a sharing community. Contact friends and influencers in your network, asking them to make a pact to share each others’ content. This will give you a steady stream of curated content to share with your network and will help to ensure that the content you’ve created is getting a wider reach.

Status Updates

Status updates on LinkedIn are very similar to updates on other social networks. There are a number of best practices for creating status updates that will get greater reach. Following these tips can help your posts get ten times greater visibility.

  • Include hashtags. Hashtag communities is a newer feature on LinkedIn that allows business owners to follow the topics they find most relevant. If you create content with a particular hashtag attached, it will likely be shared with the individuals who are members of that hashtag community. This gives your content a wider audience beyond your personal connections. The trick here is to not over-hashtag. Aim for three or four hashtag community hashtags and one additional hashtag that is unique to your brand.
  • Make mentions. When you’re talking about someone specific in your post, mention them so that they’re notified. You can mention others who are not directly a part of the update, but who might find it useful. Again, moderation is key; keep mentions to a handful of people who are influential and will find the material relevant.
  • Use all the characters. You’re allowed up to 1,300 characters per post. Be sure to use them! More characters means more keywords, which in turn means greater visibility. Research has also shown that longer posts are more likely to be read.
  • Use emojis. Emojis can be a great way to add some visual interest to your post and set you apart from the sea of text-only updates. Keep your audience in mind, and select emojis that are appropriate for your business and clientele.
  • Add native video, images, and links. Doing so will limit you to 1,200 characters, but the added visual interest can also help you to stand out from the crowd.

Native Video

Native video is uploaded directly from your browser or your phone and imbedded in LinkedIn. It is not the same as sharing a link that sends users to an outside video site, which LinkedIn discourages as it drives traffic away from their platform. Sharing native videos gets you more views and attention on the site.

Because video content can take a bit longer to create, it’s not necessary to share video each and every day. But know that native video garners incredible results, so the more regularly you can create and post video content, the better.

From tips and tricks videos that can help your audience solve relevant problems, to interviews with thought leaders, to the relatively new “about us” videos that you can put on your company page, there are a lot of great ways to create native video.

LinkedIn Native Video Tips

LinkedIn Articles

LinkedIn Articles used to have far greater reach. In recent years, LinkedIn has shifted focus to other forms of content, and so posting articles does not have the same kind of power to create visibility as it once did.

However, if you’re already writing a blog post for another forum and want to put it into LinkedIn as an article, it can help to amplify your reach beyond your company’s website. The posts are searchable, can possibly be distributed on a pulse channel, and the content becomes a permanent extension of your personal brand.

Amplify Your Content With Ads

LinkedIn advertising can help you to raise awareness and get the word out about your brand to a new audience. LinkedIn now allows you to sponsor content on your company page, which can help to build followers and reach for your content.

LinkedIn Ads

There are a number of different types of ads available to companies on LinkedIn.

  • Sponsored content. When you share an article, video, or images on your company page and you want the content to get greater visibility, you use this type of ad.
  • Dynamic ads. This option allow you to personalize your messaging to prospects, with ads that appear on the side bars of users’ LinkedIn pages.
  • Text Ads. Similar to the dynamic ads, but smaller and not personalized. Split testing on text ads is very simple. These are best utilized for top of funnel content.
  • Sponsored InMail. This allows you to send targeted messages to those who are most likely to have an interest in your business.

Dynamic ads, text ads, and sponsored InMail are significantly more expensive, so for small business owners, sponsored content is generally the most viable option. There are several types of sponsored content you can create: you can drive traffic to your website or content, build lead generation forms to collect contact information, or increase video views.

LinkedIn Sponsored Content

From there, LinkedIn will prompt you to select the specific post or video you’d like to promote. Next, you can indicate to LinkedIn who your desired audience is and establish your budget for the campaign.

It’s better for you to be specific in identifying your target audience. Establishing five campaigns to 1,000 people each is more effective than creating one campaign for 5,000 people. Creating audience groups allows you to segment your audience, personalizing the description on the same content you shared with other audience groups. This personalization can attract greater attention from each subset of your audience.

The other LinkedIn ads trick is that if you want more views, you should select pay-per-click, and if you want more clicks, select pay-per-view. This is a way to get the most out of your marketing dollars.

LinkedIn Ads Best Practices

Mine Your Engaged Network

It’s not enough to just create and curate great content; once people begin reacting to what you’re sharing, you need to follow through! Keep an eye on who’s liking and sharing your sponsored content. Hover over their names to learn more about them: Do they seem like they might be a good prospect for you? If so, reach out with a request to connect, thanking them for engaging with your content and opening the door for further discussion.