8 Facebook Marketing Tips for eCommerce Stores

eCommerce stores have been steadily growing in popularity. They are either a standalone online eCommerce store or an extension of a larger company offering specialized products. All marketing experts agree that, when it comes to eCommerce, marketing on Facebook is required for success.

Via Flickr mkhmarketing

Via Flickr mkhmarketing

Owners of eCommerce stores need a solid Facebook marketing strategy to stand out from the other hundreds of competing eCommerce stores in your market niche. Facebook should not be used only as a tool to drive sales, but also as a platform to market and sell products, build brand identity, and interact with customers.

  1. Encourage fans to share your posts. You should constantly be telling fans of your Facebook page to like, comment, and share your posts. Sharing is the best way to get exposure across the internet. Like buttons allow your customers to engage with your posts. When customers like your page, they will be able to see any updates from your page regularly.
  2. Use images in your posts. To get more traffic to your eCommerce site, you need to first find a way to engage customers and build an audience on Facebook. This is best done by incorporating images into your posts. However, putting up any image will not increase comments and likes. Images need to be self-explanatory, meaning you should not have to post more information about the image. When posting product images, it is a good idea to overlay text on the image in order to give it context. The words could be New, In Stock, or Summer Collection.
  3. Host giveaways and contests. Contests and giveaways are a great way to offer package deals, increasing exposure to how great your eCommerce products are. Customers are highly engaged in these strategies since they have the potential to win something. This also increases new customer exposure when customers share the contest on their Facebook to get multiple entries.
  4. Run a caption contest. Caption contests are a very fun way for your Facebook fans to interact with your eCommerce brand. Post a funny or cute picture of something slightly related to the type of products you sell. Ask people to caption the picture with the best caption winning a free item from your retail store.
  5. Give discounts and free shipping that is time sensitive to Facebook fans. Studies have been conducted to find out that 42 percent of people who like an eCommerce Facebook page do so to get coupons or discounts. This makes it important to offer these exclusive discounts to Facebook customers. Making the discounts time sensitive encourages people to take action faster to receive a discount or free shipping. An expiration date on an offer is known as a psychological sales trigger.
  6. Show the benefits of one product over another. Comparing one of your products to the competition’s product is a great way to expose your brand, show your product’s strength, and prove that you are confident in your product. Posting these products really helps engage customers. If you sell clothes, compare it with a similar outfit from a name brand on quality, design, and price. Or, if you have an app for your eCommerce store, ask people to compare the apps on Android, Windows, and iPhone systems.
  7. Make your content diverse and engaging. People only enjoy following Facebook pages that have content that is diverse and different. Do not stick to posting one type of status update. Post pictures, product reviews, discount offers, videos, and more. Always strive for new ways to engage your audience.
  8. Incorporate customer service. Facebook is a great place to interact with your customers, not only for marketing exposure, but also for customer service needs. Consider it the same as the customer service desk at your eCommerce website. It needs to be monitored at all times and any inquiries or complaints need to be answered immediately. Not responding can hurt your reputation.

What are some other great marketing tricks for eCommerce stores? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @HS_Writing!

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How to Tell If Your Brand is Ready for YouTube

YouTube video marketing is becoming a popular brand marketing strategy for businesses today. However, not every brand is ready to venture to YouTube. Only certain businesses can achieve YouTube marketing on the scale it needs to be for a good ROI. You need to ask yourselves these questions before beginning a YouTube marketing plan. If the answer is no, then you need to reconsider this marketing plan.

Via Flickr AV Hire London

Via Flickr AV Hire London

Do you have the resources?

YouTube is cheaper than television and it reaches a wider platform. Businesses still need enough resources to make their content perform well on YouTube. You will need a big enough budget to write, film, produce, upload, and promote the videos. You also need the proper equipment with a decent HD video camera, a tripod, and proper lighting at a minimum. A video needs to be high quality in order to make your business look better.

Via Flickr mohamedn

Via Flickr mohamedn

Do you have the talent?

The people who are going to be in your videos need to have some amount of acting talent. At the very least, they need to be excellent speakers who convince viewers in their roles. Whoever is in your videos will become the face of the business, so choose your talent wisely. You will also need employees or an outside video marketing company to film and edit your videos properly. If you have employees do it, they will either need a raise or you need to understand their other work will be neglected. If you hire a video marketing company, which is added expense you have to budget for. Make sure to choose the company wisely if this path is chosen.

Via Flickr opensourceway

Via Flickr opensourceway

Do you have enough creativity?

YouTube has a future where people predict that it will replace commercials on television. However, the content you produce for YouTube should not resemble a commercial at all. It is not a boring platform to push your marketing message. YouTube is a community of creative users and they expect the same creativity from businesses like you. Success with YouTube will only happen when your videos are entertaining, informative, and unique.

Via Flickr Racum

Via Flickr Racum

Do you have a good vision for content?

Make sure you understand what YouTube is and what kind of content is expected out of you before continuing with a video marketing idea. Look at what kinds of videos your competitors are creating on YouTube for inspiration and to set goals about what you need to beat. You need to have a clear goal that fulfills a larger vision you have for a marketing plan.

Via Flickr dmhoro

Via Flickr dmhoro

Do you have time?

Once you begin a YouTube channel, you need to stay committed to it. It takes a lot of time to write, make, upload, interact, and analyze the videos you make for YouTube. Viewers who find your channel that has not had new content for months, they will lose interest in your business. You have to be consistent on when you upload videos and you need to be active in responding to comments.

Via Flickr Robert Scoble

Via Flickr Robert Scoble

Do you have the right product for YouTube?

Some industries do very well on YouTube and some do not. For example, if you are selling kitchen gadgets, you can make videos about how to use them. However, if you are a tax preparer, there is not a lot you can do on YouTube besides basic financial advice.

Service brands have difficulty on YouTube because of the amount of content that is needed to remain consistent. Services can advise viewers about things in their industry, but giving too much advice will render your services irrelevant when they can just watch YouTube videos about how to do it themselves. Service industries have to get very creative with their content in order to be successful.

Via Flickr batmoo

Via Flickr batmoo

Do you have only one target audience?

You need to decide what your target audience is before starting a marketing campaign on YouTube. Often, this is to attract new prospects or to develop existing ones. For new prospects, you need to create promotional videos and share them all over the internet. For developing existing customer interest, you need to create instructional or informative videos that you can embed on your website or in email marketing. If you want to do both, it can be very time consuming and difficult to achieve this on YouTube, but still possible if you have a team dedicated to only YouTube marketing.

Give some examples of brands who seem like they were made for YouTube and some who should have stayed far away in the comments!

Increasing Your Lead Generation with Pinterest

When you get advice from social media experts (like myself), you will often hear that using images is one of the most effective engagement tactics for any social media platform. When it comes to Pinterest, a heavy image-based platform, engagement is only achieved when you have outstanding visuals and great content. Achieving this allows you to unlock a secret bonus of Pinterest users – lead generation.

Via Flickr mkhmarketing

Via Flickr mkhmarketing

Pinterest users are a group of people who are actively looking for things to do or buy. On Facebook and Twitter, you have to convince the audience scrolling through friends’ latest updates to stop and look at your product or service. On Pinterest, the audience is already looking for inspiration. There are certain tactics you can use to increase your lead generation and conversion rates, including:

  • Host a guest board. Allowing followers to post to a guest board on your business account gets customers engaged with the brand, creates more interest in the brand, and will give you valuable insight on their preferences.
  • Create contests. Contests can be held in many ways, either by having customers pin their own pictures of your products to their boards, or by repining five of their favorite products with the opportunity to win one. Contests increase your brand exposure.
  • Show off the personality of the brand. Each business has ideas, values, and culture that they are proud of. Pin about these things, even if they are not directly related to your brand. If your employees have a penchant for funny “I did something wrong” dog sign photos, then start a board about it. These other boards make your business seem personable and authentic.
  • Pin videos. Videos provide more dimension to your brand. Pin videos that are how-to’s relevant to your products, or pin videos that convey your thoughts and emotions in a more actionable way.
Via Flickr ShardsofBlue

Via Flickr ShardsofBlue

When you use these tactics, you accomplish three things:

  1. Increase your brand awareness. This is done by establishing yourself as an authority in your market. If you sell pet care products, create boards that are only for informational content about pet grooming. This does not have to be content you created. Find reputable and non-competitive sources on the internet with great content and pin it to your account. Followers will consider you the go-to source for all information on pet care, or whatever your market niche is.
  2. Expand your reach on the internet. Collaboration is the key to expanding your reach. Pin on group boards and have others pin on your group board. Contact the people you feature on your boards to become Pinterest marketing partners. Make sure these partnered people are in your market niche.
  3. Drive traffic to your website. Pinterest drives more referral traffic than LinkedIn, Google+, and YouTube combined. This means you need to pin excellent content. Pinterest users love content that combines images with information that solves a problem, inspires, offers something desirable, or appeals to hobbies and activities.

What else do you think businesses can do to increase their engagement and therefore their lead generation? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @HS_Writing!

The Different Ways of Retweeting and What They Mean

Twitter is a versatile website that is a perfect addition to any social media campaign. There are many different aspects of Twitter, making it easy for businesses to use Twitter a little bit wrong. For example, understanding the differences between the ways of Retweeting will help promote a Tweet more effectively.

Retweet

Official Retweet

An official Retweet is a button you can press that is integrated into Twitter. The Tweet will show up on your feed without any alteration to the Tweet on your part. A green border will appear around the top left corner of the Retweet, drawing the attention of people on Twitter who do not follow this person. This is perfect for:

  • Showing the full endorsement of a Tweet
  • Promoting a powerful message that you cannot translate yourself, such as a breaking news story
  • If you want the message to go viral

The official Retweet does not give you any benefits. It is used only to spread news and information without any alteration. Official Retweets are easy to spread with only one click needed. This should be used if you do not need to add content, credit, or edit Tweets. It should not be used for:

  • Connecting with your followers while sharing great content
  • All of the content of the feed. Too many Retweets makes your page look lazy

Traditional RT

Traditional RT

Before the Retweet button, users invented the RT term in order to give credit to someone else’s Tweet that they enjoyed. A sample RT looks like, “Confused about Retweeting? Here is a guide to the different Retweets: link here RT @RetweetExpert.” Even with the Retweet button, people still use RT either before or after the Tweet for certain reasons:

  • RT endorses the person who has supplied the Tweet, but also allows you to interact with them directly with the @username
  • RT is a great way to add a comment to the Tweet before RT-ing it
  • If other people have added RT @username to the front of the Tweet

Twitter is known as a community of people who add on to others ideas, constantly evolving content. RT is a perfect way to do this. Professional Tweeters, such as your business, also use RT to give credit to people. RT’s are not good for:

  • Tweets that have four or five usernames after the RT because it is hard to read
  • When an extra RT is dangerously close or over the 140 character limit

Via

Via @username

Another way to Retweet is to add via @username to the end of a Tweet in parenthesis. It is a lighter version of retweeting, somewhere between a traditional RT and an official Retweet. This is used best when:

  • You want to focus on the content of the Tweet, but still need to give credit to the original Tweeter
  • You are adding thought or a comment to the Tweet but like the look of via @username better than an RT format
  • You are going to change parts of the Tweet entirely since the whole original Tweet is not going to be preserved

The only time you should not do via @username is for the same reasons you should not do an RT @username.

thanks for sharing

Thanks for sharing @username

This version is the best endorsement you can give a fellow Tweeter, but it takes a lot of crafted effort. You are essentially doing a RT, except you are adding a comment at the beginning thanking the Tweeter for the content. An example of this kind of Tweet would be, “Great post! @username The Four Different Kinds of Retweeting link here.” This is used when:

  • The Tweet genuinely entertained you or helped you and you think it can have the same effect on your followers
  • You want a reply from the Tweeter, which can start a Twitter partnership that will increase your social outreach
  • You want to create more traffic or engagement with your followers

This kind of Retweeting is not useful in certain cases:

  • Like with Retweet, you do not want to do it too much or your Twitter feed will seem lazy, even with the extra effort of commenting
  • Each time this Retweet is done, it loses its power, so use it selectively
  • If the original Tweeter is famous or too busy to reply, then do not bother with this kind of Retweet

What is your favorite way of Retweeting? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @HS_Writing!

3 LinkedIn Tools Your Business Needs to Use

LinkedIn is the ultimate social media platform for B2B companies. Traditional social media rules don’t apply when it comes to this platform. Businesses need to be more innovative when using LinkedIn. Luckily, these three tools will help you make the most out of the profitable business platform.

Via Flickr koka_sexton

Via Flickr koka_sexton

LinkedIn Groups and Answers

This tool allows you to target people who are already looking for your product or service. Instead of pushing people to get interested in your brand, you are pulling people in who already have an interest in it. LinkedIn lets you find these people and join in their conversations that are related to your products or services.

Via Flickr clasesdeperiodismo

Via Flickr clasesdeperiodismo

LinkedIn Advanced People Search

This tool allows you to build a network of prospects that benefits your brand in the long run. Add people that are part of your target audience and begin to communicate with them without being overly pushy. Being too pushy will result in a backlash against your brand. A premium account will help make this process quicker and allow you to balance on the fine line between communicator and salesman.

Via Flickr ekelly89

Via Flickr ekelly89

LinkedIn Advertising

This tool is completely worth the cost a business page has to pay. The tool targets people on LinkedIn by job function and gives a great ROI. A self-advertising begins at $2 per click, giving better results than when a business targets the mid-bottom section of an organizational pyramid. To target the upper section of a pyramid for high B2B results, look into LinkedIn custom ads and solutions. A minimum budget of $2,000 is needed for this kind of advertising, but it gives you better reach and higher leads. This is the best way to beat out the competition.

Which tool do you find most effective for your B2B company? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @HS_Writing.

Why You Need a Blog for Your Business

Blogging is an important and relevant part of a social media marketing plan. While the height of blogging popularity peaked in the 90s and early 2000s, today companies use blogs to keep their customers informed of their brand and to post informative content. Using blog marketing to your advantage will help customers trust and your brand value.

Successful blogging accomplishes four things – drives traffic to a business website, increases SEO, makes your brand an industry leader, and develops better customer relationships. The numbers prove the success of well-done blogs.

  • 61 percent of people make purchases based on blog recommendations.
  • Millions of people publish and share blogs on social media websites for further brand awareness.
  • Fresh content beats all other forms of content in search engine results.
Via Flickr rcade

Via Flickr rcade

Blogs give companies the opportunity to create relevant and current content for their website. As people find your blogs and share them, traffic will increase. Blog posts that are well written and knowledgeable make the customer trust the company, eventually allowing it to be an industry leader. Customers get the opportunity to see the human side of the company, allowing them to connect with the brand and remain loyal to it. Successful blogging incorporates all of these things:

  • Combines self-expression and subtle promotion
  • Becomes a networking tool
  • Supplies a platform for raising awareness about social issues
  • Gives businesses a side source of income
  • Advertising is made easier for businesses with a blog
  • Requires creative thinking and writing
  • Combines promotion, marketing, social networking, and social skills
  • Needs web design, photography, and other media to be successful
  • Takes time, money, and education to start it and maintain it
  • Writers with discipline, creativity, courage, goals, time management, and organizational skills

One of the biggest benefits of blogging for businesses is the fact that it is a landing page for all methods of social media and online marketing. Blogs can feature every social media platform the business uses, along with the website that lists their products or services.

Blogs allow businesses to give customers a full sense of who they are without the limitations that other social media sites present. Blogs do not limit businesses to a certain number of characters and do not require picture-only posts. The text focus gives businesses the chance to be human to their customers.

Via Flickr moxliukas

Via Flickr moxliukas

While blogging is not as popular as it used to be, it is still going to become a staple for the future of business. This is because it combines social skills, accessibility, textual content, user-friendly knowledge, and a standard for internet content.

  • Social. Blogging is posting quality content to the internet which often gets shared on social media sites. There is also the ability to comment and for the blogger to respond to comments. This makes it the ultimate social networking tool.
  • Accessible. Blogging does not require any formal writing experience, just a great knowledge of the niche the blog belongs to.
  • Text. Focus is beginning to shift away from media-only and back to a base of text content. Blogs are mostly text with the ability to insert images and videos. This allows blogs to incorporate all trends of marketing.
  • User-friendly. There are many great blogging platforms that make content very easy to customize, post, and share.
  • Standard. Blogging is a staple that has been around for two decades. It will continue to be a staple and soon will become standard for any job seekers and all college students to maintain.

How big of an importance do you think businesses should place on blogging? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @HS_Writing!

How to Incorporate Instagram into Your Social Media Marketing Plan – Part 1

On nearly every social media platform, photos are the most popular kind of content. This is why platforms, such as the Instagram app, that are centered on photos are becoming an important part of marketing plans.

There are millions of users on Instagram and more companies are starting Instagram campaigns to take advantage of this huge customer pool. Brands can get quick messages and photos to their audience in creative and engaging ways. There are a few things you can do to incorporate Instagram into your marketing plan.

Via Flickr Play Among Friends

Via Flickr Play Among Friends

Involve the Community

Start getting involved in the Instagram community by liking and commenting on other people’s photos, especially if they mention your brand in some way. You can also involve the community by creating contests where they take pictures with your product or brand, host scavenger hunts, or offer Instagram-exclusive promotions to get your brand more awareness.

Via Flickr by Robert Scoble

Via Flickr by Robert Scoble

Give a Behind the Scenes Look

This is a great way to give your brand authenticity. People love behind the scenes looks at what is going on. It makes your brand seem more human and involved in providing an excellent customer experience.

Employees should be following the brand and commenting on photos. You should also encourage them to submit their own photos at work and tag them on Instagram. This will help spread brand awareness and give your business a positive image since your employees like work and support the brand. Make sure there are certain rules about posting, but don’t be so restrictive that employees can’t be creative.

Via Flickr by ragesoss

Via Flickr by ragesoss

Get Creative with Your Photos

  • Use editing and enhancement tools, such as Picstitch, Photoshop Express, Picfx, Diptic, Lenslight, and Slow Shutter
  • Experiment with your photos to foster creativity
  • You don’t have to fill the whole box; 4:3 photos with white on the empty spaces will stand out in a feed while still looking good on Instagram’s layout
  • Text only photos can stand out, but should be used sparingly

Look for Part 2 released next Saturday! In the meantime, like this post and let me know what you think in the comments.

The Best Ways to Use YouTube for Business

Videos are extremely powerful, making for the best business advertising. YouTube has become one of the best platforms for using YouTube for marketing. It is free, easy to use, and available to the mass market. Creating professional YouTube videos allow you to take advantage of the marketing potential.

Uploading business videos to YouTube will not immediately show results. It takes time and consistency for your videos to gain popularity and ROI. Focus on creating quality and valuable content in order to reach a successful level.

You will need to create an individual channel for your brand. Not only will it host the videos you upload, but it will also show every video you like and favorite. A channel also gives you the opportunity to create playlists based on categories of videos. For example, if you have some How-To videos along with breaking news about your company, make playlists for each kind.

After you have created a YouTube channel, there are certain things you need to do to effectively utilize YouTube for marketing.

alicegop

Via Flickr by alicegop

Content Needs to Be Relevant and Fill a Need

You need to post valuable information that entertains as well. This will help generate loyalty and trust to the company from viewers. Content should not resemble a commercial in any way. Traditional advertising does not work on YouTube. There is a large, creative community on YouTube. Your videos need to be engaging and creative in ways that are usually not found on television or radio.

These videos tell a story that, while advertising a product or service, are also entertaining enough for people to share with their friends without feeling like they are promoting anything. This will increase your brand awareness and exposure.

Via Flickr by Jeffrey Beal

Via Flickr by Jeffrey Beal

Give the Business a Face

The YouTube community wants to hear, see, and interact with real people. This means your business needs a face. When viewers read anything your company writes, either in comments, on the website, or a blog, they will picture that face in the videos saying it. Instead of just being on paper, you become a three dimensional company.

Videos can either feature an engaging actor, like the Old Spice videos, or an actual spokesperson from your company. Using real people consistently in videos helps build the relationship between the viewer and the company. This converts viewers into long term customers.

Via Flickr by leti_valde94

Via Flickr by leti_valde94

Videos Need to Be Quick and Engaging

Professional videos can be made cheaply now since cameras are cheap. Videos will look more professional when the camera is placed on a tripod. When doing the videos yourself, you can film them in the morning and have them posted after lunch.

Outline a script and rehearse it before filming. It needs a beginning, middle, and end and needs to be short. Two to four minutes is the best length for YouTube videos. Any longer and people will not stay engaged. Any shorter and you risk not getting your message across.

Via Flickr by SEOPlanter

Via Flickr by SEOPlanter

Use SEO in the Video

More than 24 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. This means you need to take every measure possible to allow your video to be found, both on and off YouTube. Google owns YouTube, meaning the correct keyword usage can help your video get to the top of search engine ranks.

The targeted keywords need to be in the first few words of the title. A colon should be added after the keywords and then the title should be rephrased for a better effect. For example: “SEO Keywords: Using Words to Your Search Engine Advantage.” Start your description with the full URL and do not limit yourself on how many words you put in the description. Describe the video, the company, the product in the video, and add all links to all your sites. Make sure the tags contain all related and relevant keywords.

Via Flickr by MySign AG

Via Flickr by MySign AG

Share and Interact After Posting the Video

Do not just post the video and leave it on your channel. Feature your channel on your website. Embed videos into your website and blog posts. Share videos on Facebook, Twitter, and all other social media websites your business have. Encourage friends, family, coworkers, and employees share the video to get the ball rolling. Any time anyone comments on the video, either within YouTube or where you share it, respond to comments and interact with your viewers.

What else can businesses do on YouTube to help market their business? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @HS_Writing!

Using Pinterest to Expand the Reach of Your Press Release

Pinterest is the third most popular social media network site in the world, making it hard to ignore when using business and social media. Many businesses do not realize the advantage Pinterest offers when releasing press releases online. Making a few adjustments to your press release to put on Pinterest can greatly expand the reach of the release.

Via ragan.com

Add an Infographic

Adding an infographic is an excellent way to represent the information that is discussed in the press release. An infographic should only be used if the content of the press release discusses many different facts or numbers. Do not try to create an infographic out of information that cannot be used for it.

Another tip is to not simply put the infographic in the press release, or embed in the email that is sent out. You need to separately upload the infographic on your Pinterest account, then link the infographic in the press release. You should also put a link to the press release on the infographic pin.

Add Images

Images need to be relevant to the press release and go deeper into the meaning of the release. It can be pictures of the product or people that are discussed in the press release, or it can be more abstract images. You will need to look beyond the information in the press release to find more opportunities to tell your story. Images need to be backed up with live links to further expand the reach of the release.

Create a Newsroom

A Pinterest board newsroom can mirror the website’s newsroom, or it can simply showcase the information in one press release, along with any other media assets used in your company’s news. A newsroom board can feature video news clips from the release, commentary and discussion about the release, or any other topics related. The newsroom can also feature blog posts about the release, pitches for the product or change in the business, and exclusive logos or headshots. Whatever is placed in the newsroom needs to be trademarked correctly and available for public use.

Create a Board for the Specific Press Release Topic

This is similar to the newsroom board, except the content is not time sensitive or directly related to the press release. It should revolve around images or other topics related to the news release. For example, if you are a wedding planner announcing a partnership with a local wedding dress shop, create a board full of different wedding dress styles for bridal inspiration.

Use the Same SEO in the Pin

Not only are SEO keywords imperative for anything you put on the internet, such as a press release, it is also important for Pinterest. If you use the same SEO keywords for your press release on your board, it can rank high in Google searches for at least two days after the release. On Pinterest, you can achieve higher and longer ranks using the same SEO as your press release. Make your pins optimized for the keywords by including a primary keyword as the title of your board. Put keywords in the description of your pins and add them as hashtags as well.

Use Pinterest for Free Market Research

Pinterest can help you get ideas for trendy releases and article topics. Use Pinterest to figure out what is being repinned and liked. Create a board on these popular topics and optimize it for searches. Then support it with trends and expert press releases that link back to your Pinterest board. This can generate new leads and improve the reach and click-through rates of your content.

Do you think there are other social media outlets that would do well expanding the reach of your press release? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @HS_Writing!