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How to Use Social Media Strategically in 2021

How to Use Social Media Strategically in 2021 written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

With half of the world’s population now on social media, it’s rare you’ll find a brand or business not using it to grow an audience, generate leads, and increase sales online. 

Social media hasn’t gone away, it hasn’t died out, it has a place, and it’s here to stay, so let’s talk about how to use it in 2021.

Some of the questions that I received when social media was brand new I still get today:

  • How do I find time to do it?
  • What’s the ROI?
  • How do I make it pay?
  • Can I sell?

People still see social media as this disconnected piece of marketing that you have to go figure out and play in. Just like every other facet of marketing — social media needs a strategy too.

Social media is just another channel, it is another part of marketing. So how does it fit into your overall objectives? You may actually end up realizing that you are wasting your time in a lot of what you’re doing with social media because it doesn’t help achieve your objective of growing your business or getting more clients or the things that we tend to want to do in marketing. I think a lot of people bought into, “I have to be there, I have to be in all these new places or I’ll be left behind.” In some cases, your clients aren’t there and you can’t physically participate and do well there without watering down your other efforts.

Why businesses use social media today

Let me ask you this, what’s the main reason you use social media today? My guess is, some of you are going to say, “I don’t really know,” and I think that’s probably the most honest answer. I can tell you that brand awareness and community engagement and content distribution are the biggest reasons that people use social media today. Sales, lead generation, and customer support are not far behind because those are the things that we want to do the most, but I think you have to realize that there’s a place for social media today, and you just have to understand where that is.

On the flip side, I read a statistic recently from GlobalWebIndex that 71% are more likely to purchase products and services based on a brand’s social media presence and referrals, so it does have the power to help you meet your objectives. I think the thing that has become painfully clear today that maybe wasn’t a few years ago, is that it’s really not about the tools or the platforms. It’s really all about meeting your objectives.

How to meet business objectives with social media

So how could social media meet your business objectives? Well, first you have to outline what those objectives are. Is it to get a certain number of new clients, is it to launch into a new service area? Is it to launch a brand or a new product campaign? Is it to build a community?

If you think about those as some of your objectives then you could start saying, “Okay, well how could we tie that then to marketing objectives,” because sometimes it’s very difficult to go from launching a new product to how does Twitter help us do that? If you think about some of the marketing objectives, like:

  • Increasing awareness
  • Driving traffic
  • Re-engaging current customers
  • Generating leads
  • Growing revenue
  • Boosting engagement
  • Building community
  • Social selling
  • Offering support to existing customers

Those are marketing objectives that actually can be accomplished quite nicely through the right use of social media today.

Think for a minute. What would be your top three marketing objectives for 2021? Once you have those, it’s simply a matter of saying, “Okay, how could social media help me do that? Here’s a list of specific tactics that we are going to use in order to have social media accomplish those goals.”

Let’s say, you want to expand into a new market segment. Well, the strategy for that might be to use social media to discover and build relationships with influencers or brand ambassadors. Then, you could just break that down to a project. Create a list using Twitter lists or using something like BuzzSumo. Use an influencer platform like Upfluence to find people who fit your brand and manage your influencer campaigns.

Make it a plan to reach out to 10 of them a day about potential partnering. You just break it down into very specific things and just ask yourself again and again, “How can social media help me do that?” You may have noticed by now, I haven’t mentioned a single platform yet. I will actually get to that but I think that this is the element that is missing, that we don’t understand how we’re going to use it and why we’re going to use it so that we can make these proper decisions about when and where. What are some of the tactics or some of the things that you can do in social media based on the stages of the buyer’s journey?

For example, for our stages, I talk about the Marketing Hourglass; know, like, trust, try, buy, repeat, and refer. I’ll even add an eighth step to that. For a lot of companies, social media can be great for hiring as well. Paid social, paid Facebook ads, and paid LinkedIn ads can be a really great way for people to come to know you or know about your content. There’s no question that showing a personal side on a social platform is a way for somebody to identify with or like your brand.

Telling stories on social media is a great way to build trust, which is a step we need. You can make offers for certain types of businesses having a special or a sale or a holiday event as long as you are providing value and engagement in other forms. This is a very legitimate way of using social media. Doing things once somebody buys from you, like creating a Twitter video and just saying, “Hey Bob, we really appreciated working with you.” Or, “Hey Bob, here’s your finished product. We’re shipping out today.” That kind of stuff is a great use of social media to generate repeat business.

Then, there are all kinds of ways that you can use social media. Say, creating a Facebook group of your customers or your champion customers and creating something special or different or unique or custom for them. Then from a hiring standpoint, the greatest thing is most of your employees are on social media so you can use their networks, in some ways, to help recruit and maybe create some sort of formal program. If you think about using social media not as just this megaphone that gives you an audience but for your very specific marketing objectives, business objectives, and then meeting certain intent throughout the customer journey, you can develop a strategy that makes some sense.

What social media platforms you can use today

The amount of social media platforms to choose to be active on keeps increasing every year, but you don’t have to conquer them all. In fact, it’s best if you only choose the two or three that are really relevant to your business and that you can align your business objectives with.

Twitter

Twitter makes it easy to distribute your content. And, there are over 326 million average monthly Twitter users globally for you to share that content with. 

There are a ton of reasons to choose to use Twitter as one of your social media channels. It’s free to use, it allows you to offer quick customer service and support, it can be used as a search engine tool for competitive analysis and for prospects to learn more about your business, and it allows you to directly communicate with your audience.

Facebook

Facebook is a place for audiences to connect with businesses big and small. In fact, two-thirds of Facebook users report visiting a local business Facebook Page at least once a week. Facebook also offers in-depth paid ads and highly-customizable targeting features. 

The social media platform has launched features similar to Instagram like Facebook live and Facebook stories. These are great features to educate and communicate with your audience on Facebook.

LinkedIn

As one of the most important B2B social media platforms, LinkedIn is a channel that can help you attract more eyes on your business. LinkedIn is one of the most popular social networks for professionals and entrepreneurs. You can use the platform to showcase your business in multiple ways – if you are the face of your business, having a personal presence is important. You can also create a showcase page for your business and distribute content there as well. 

Instagram

Instagram marketing is competitive, but not impossible. Instagram offers a massive reach for brands with an advertising audience of more than 1.16 billion people – coming in at the third largest social media platform.

Today, 90% of Instagram users follow at least one business. And it isn’t only consumer products that benefit from having a presence on Instagram. More than 36% of B2B decision-makers use Instagram when researching new products or services. This makes Instagram a great channel to showcase the products or services your business has to offer

Clubhouse

Clubhouse is a relatively new social media platform focused on live audio. As a business owner or marketer, Clubhouse offers some unique advantages that make it worth considering. You can learn about your audience’s concerns and desires directly from them. It’s as close to a real-life conversation as you’re going to get on a virtual platform.

On Clubhouse, you don’t have to chase down your target market every time you log on. Your audience is already there and they want to engage in a conversation with you. Because of the real-time nature of the content and the ease of bringing people into the discussion, it allows you to have meaningful conversations and build know, like, and trust with your audience.

TikTok

TikTok is a video-sharing social network with over 800 million monthly active users and an average daily view time of 52 minutes. Right now, TikTok is experiencing a period of exponential growth which means there’s a huge audience ready to be tapped into. Brands who’ve successfully pivoted to TikTok early have reaped huge brand awareness rewards, often with very little investment. 

Creating viral content on TikTok is much more attainable than it is on a platform like Facebook or Instagram. The video-sharing platform has a huge trend culture, but there are trends in every niche making it possible for your business to shine within yours.

How I approach social for my business and myself

I’m going to wrap things up by just talking about a couple things that I’m doing. People, for some reason, like to know what tools I’m using or what platforms I’m using. I will say, for a marketing consulting business like mine today, we are focused primarily on Facebook and Instagram. We certainly participate in LinkedIn, but Facebook and Instagram are the ones that we spend more time on because we feel like we can get the best type of engagement. We have limited resources so we want to go deeper in a couple places.

With the days of auto-publishing everything and going out and curating hundreds of posts, and making sure that you’re posting three times a day, Facebook has basically said, “We don’t want that. We don’t think that’s worth very much. If you do that we’re not going to show your content to very many people.”

Really, the approach that we have taken in Facebook is we want to promote on the business page. I have a personal page and a business page and those two both serve a business function for me. The personal page is more on the personal side of John Jantsch, the author, where the business page is meant to be more straight up Duct Tape Marketing stuff. Now, there’s some crossover upon occasion but that’s how we try to split it up. Now, as far as content goes, about 30% of the content is our ongoing content, the content that we’re producing on a daily and weekly basis.

About 25% is curated content from other sources, 25% is straight up business goals so we’ll promote a product, a new podcast episode, a webinar, an event that I’m doing that I want people to take advantage of because they may opt-in. It’s straight up business goals that we’re trying to meet. We will boost or advertise most of the content. Then, we like to look at, say, another 25% is about people, and culture, and personal observation. We round that out with our ongoing content that is on our editorial calendar. A fourth is curated from other sources, a fourth is aimed at meeting our business goals, and about a fourth is just people, culture, goofy stuff. That’s the mix that we like to go with on Facebook right now. That seems to be a good mix to create engagement and to create views, and to create comments. Then, we put routine or consistent advertising into Facebook as well, primarily as the two categories of our own ongoing content and of the content that supports our business goals.

As far as Instagram goes, Instagram recently introduced a business page type of account. You get some more insights and you get access to the advertising platform. I was on Instagram very, very early on and so I had an account that I just called Duct Tape Marketing. I used it as much as anything as a personal account but it had the Duct Tape brand.

I converted that to a business page and then I created a new page, John Jantsch, that I am sharing my primarily personal rambling of travel pictures and things of that nature and then sticking with promoting things much like we do with our Facebook content on Instagram on the business page. I recommend that you look into creating an Instagram business page if that is a platform for you.

Tools to consider using to amplify your social media strategy

As far as tools go for social media scheduling and management, I am and have been for many, many years a big fan of Buffer. A new social scheduling tool I’ve recently been testing out is MissingLtr – the platform offers quite a few more features than Buffer like advanced performance analytics, content curation, and more. However, I find myself actually publishing directly on the platforms a lot more now. It’s not maybe as efficient but I think you get the most bang for your buck. 

Facebook seems to like you to do that, especially if it’s videos or native videos or native photos that you’ve uploaded from your computer. Those seem to get shown more than anything else. Facebook and Twitter actually have some pretty good insights. Now, when you go over to the business side on Instagram you’ll actually get some analytics there. Really, from an engagement standpoint, either Buffer or MissingLtr are really great tools to monitor and respond to things of that nature.

A couple of tools that I often use for content creation are Canva and Headliner. Canva has tons of different templates you can use to create clean, unique graphics for Instagram to promote something like a new blog article or an upcoming webinar. Headliner allows you to easily create videos to promote things like a new podcast episode or blog article.

That’s kind of my take on where we are in social media. It’s all still about meeting objectives, both business and marketing objectives, and looking at the platforms that really allow you to do that. Again, I think half of these tools that are out there will do most of what you want and so it’s a matter of making a determination about the business objectives and marketing objectives you’re trying to meet. Just set up campaigns, set up tactics that are based on your strategy and you will ultimately win.

Answer this one question if you’re trying to make a decision about social media today: is the use of this tool or this practice or this tactic going to benefit my customers? I think if you can say “yes” to that, then you will always find a return on investment.

6 Easy Ways to Optimize Your Facebook Business Page in 2021

6 Easy Ways to Optimize Your Facebook Business Page in 2021 written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

With over 2 billion users on Facebook (and still climbing), Facebook should continue to be part of your overall marketing strategy to engage with current customers and reach new audiences.

It seems as if there’s always some new feature on Facebook to conquer. So whether you have a well-established Page or you’re just starting, follow this list to optimize your profile to get the best results for your business in 2021.

1. Add a strong Call to Action button

A strong call-to-action button on your Facebook business Page is imperative. The bright blue button is the primary means of driving some sort of action on your Page. This can include sending traffic to your website, direct messages, signups, and more. This appears right below your cover photo. 

Facebook cover photo

You choose what action you’d like visitors to take based on what you think is best for your business. For example, if you’re a dentist’s office, your CTA might be to ‘Book Now’ or ‘Call Now’ to make an appointment versus a ‘Shop Now’ button. Today, there’s a long list of options to choose from – so if multiple CTAs apply to your business, you have the opportunity to experiment with the options available to see what works most effectively. 

Facebook Business Page CTAs

2. Fill out your Facebook Business Page profile in detail

This is a simple step. But it’s something businesses can neglect to take full advantage of. A completely filled-out profile sends the message to your audience that you’re engaged. There are a ton of sections where you can add more information about your business. Here are a few:

  • Description/About
  • Location
  • Contact details (include your phone number and email)
  • Website address
  • Other social media accounts (Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, etc.)
  • Hours of operation

Social media is a place where people go to understand who you are as a business and gain trust. Consistency across all of your social media channels is crucial, along with keeping your information accurate and up to date.

3. Utilize Facebook Messenger

Giving your visitors and customers an easy way to communicate with you gives you a competitive advantage. Messenger is a great way to enhance the user experience on your Page and showcase how well your business provides quality service. Speed is imperative today – setting up automatic messages with Messenger can go a long way. A few options you can do are:

  • Set up a welcome greeting when someone begins a conversation with your Page
  • Create and save frequently used replies
  • Turn away messages during your out of office hours

Setting up Facebook Messenger for your business page

4. Encourage your customers to leave reviews

Social proof is so important. Think about it – how often do you buy from, let’s say, an Amazon seller with zero reviews? How often do you buy from anywhere that has no reviews? Likely less often. And even so, when you do buy from someone with few reviews or social proof, there’s a lot more hesitation and time needed for consideration.

Encouraging your existing customers to leave reviews on your Facebook Page gives you the opportunity to engage in conversation with existing customers and builds an additional layer of trust with new audiences.

5. Choose or update your Page template so that it is in line with your business goals

A few years ago, Facebook launched templates for business Pages. This is a feature that offers a variety of Page layouts that you can choose from to best suit your specific business.

There are ten options for you to choose from. You can change your template under the ‘Templates and Tabs’ section in your Page settings.  The template you choose determines the order in which your sections appear with the timeline feed and tabs. When you’re deciding which template to use, consider what the goal of your business is. 

6. Experiment with different types of featured cover photos

Your Page cover photo is a digital sign for your business. It’s the first thing people see when they visit your Page. It’s your first “conversation” with your customers, and it can have many uses.

You can use it to showcase a new product or service, announce an upcoming event, promote an upcoming book release, direct users to take action, the list goes on. Your business Page serves a purpose – so when you’re thinking about a cover photo, factor in what your business goals are so that you create something with purpose as opposed to just an aesthetically appealing image.

Not only can you upload a still cover image, but you can now experiment with different creative types like video or a slide show.

With Facebook being the widest-reaching social network around, there’s no doubt your potential customers are visiting your Page. Ensuring your business Page is optimized is something that you can’t afford not to do, and it’s a great opportunity for your business to make a lasting first impression. Go through this list with your Page and optimize where you can.

5 Free Social Media Management Tools to Make Your Life Easier

5 Free Social Media Management Tools to Make Your Life Easier written by Guest Post read more at Duct Tape Marketing

This post is brought to you by ContentCal

5 Free Social Media Management Tools to Make Your Life Easier - Duct Tape Marketing

photo credit: Social Media via photopin (license)

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in May 2016 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

Taking care of your social media presence is just as crucial as creating brilliant content for your audience. Not only do you share valuable information with them, but you can also engage with them, receive valuable feedback and ideas for topics, connect with other people in your industry, and reach out to influencers, among other things.

However, since there are so many popular social networks you need to be a part of – plus new ones are continually being added to the mix – it’s nearly impossible to manage all of those accounts manually. Fortunately, there are plenty of social media management and scheduling tools you can use to make your job and your life much easier. Let’s take a look at the 5 most effective.

1. Later

Instagram is one of the most popular social networks, with over 1 billion users active on the platform each month. Later started as an app dedicated to Instagram as a scheduling tool, but since its inception, they’ve added support for other social networks and are continuously adding new features. The app has a strong focus on visual content. Whether you want to schedule in-feed image or video posts, stories, or carousel posts — Later supports all of these options. Later has a free plan available that you can use forever, but you get features such as analytics, saved captions, scheduled stories, and more for paid plans. Their paid plans start at $9/month.

A screenshot of the later dashboard

2. TweetDeck

Those who rely on Twitter to get their message across will find much to like about TweetDeck. TweetDeck is a free application that enables you to manage multiple (unlimited) Twitter accounts from a unified interface. You can create your own customizable social media dashboard that allows you to send and receive tweets and manage and monitor your Twitter profiles. You can use TweetDeck as a web app, Chrome app, or desktop app. TweetDeck can be set to post scheduled tweets, build Tweet lists, and more. And the extra special part is that it’s always free.

A screenshot of the TweetDeck dashboard

3. Canva

Social media is increasingly becoming more and more visual. Canva is an excellent tool for anyone managing social media accounts to use. You can create designer-level marketing assets using any of the thousands of ready-made designs they have available to you. Now, you can even connect your social channels and publish or schedule directly from Canva. They have a free version available, which gives you decent access to great pre-made templates. The pro plan gives you access to all of the templates for only $12.95/month.

A screenshot of the canva dashboard

4. Hootsuite

Hootsuite is one of the most established and popular apps for social media scheduling and marketing. You can use it to schedule posts, receive in-depth reports, and collaborate with your team members, thanks to built-in teamwork features. It enables you to view multiple streams at once and monitor what your customers are saying. There is a free limited plan available for 3 social profiles and up to 30 scheduled messages.

a screenshot of the hootsuite dashboard

5. Buffer

Buffer is also one of the best apps for managing your social media presence and scheduling your posts. The app also comes with analytics tools that enable you to track your audience’s activity and figure out when it is the best time to post in the future. We especially love its Chrome extension, which integrates itself seamlessly and never gets in the way, yet it is always there when you need it. It is a more straightforward and more effective way of managing your social media, and you are never more than a few clicks away from setting up anything you want. Buffer supports over 7 different platforms – you can add up to 4 on the free plan.

 

a screenshot of the Buffer dashboard

Bonus Tool: ContentCal

ContentCal is the ultimate tool for bringing your team together. You can share ideas with, create approval workflows, build your content plan and then publish that content to multiple platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google My Business, YouTube, and Medium). ContentCal’s analytics will help you understand your content performance and the latest ‘Respond’ features act as a shared inbox for monitoring and responding to mentions, messages, and comments across social media.

One of the star features is the fact that ContentCal integrates with over 2000 other applications so that you can create the perfect social media workflow by connecting ContentCal to tools you currently use (think of things like Slack or Trello) and also distribute content to channels beyond social media, like emails and blog posts. The best content is created together. Involve your team (and clients) into the content creation process, share ideas, gain feedback and watch your content performance soar!

a screenshot of the contentcal dashboard

While managing your social media presence and getting your content to reach a wider audience is a challenging task, there are some things you can do to make it easier on yourself. That includes relying on apps to help you handle the jobs which don’t require you to use your creative capacities, and that includes scheduling. We hope you will find these apps helpful. Good luck!

Kenneth Waldman

Kenneth Waldman is a Professional Writer and also a Blog Editor at Essay Writing Service. The areas of his interest include the latest education trends and technologies, digital marketing, social media. You can get in touch with him on Twitter

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.