How to Choose the Best Social Media Platforms for Your Business

So you realize that you need to be social. But where do you start?

It can be overwhelming. There are numerous platforms and every social media advice website will tell you something different. Here is what it comes down to – you need to evaluate your brand message and your marketing goals and find platforms that match the “persona” of your business.

“But how do I know which platforms match my business?” Luckily, I am here as a social media expert to break it down the main platforms for you.

Via Flickr by marcopako

Via Flickr by marcopako

Facebook. Many say Facebook marketing is as dead as paper marketing, which, if you follow my posts, you know is not the case. It is good to have some Facebook presence no matter what your business is (however retail, restaurants, and local businesses do the best). It’s a numbers game – there are over 1.2 billion active users as of January 2014. You can’t ignore that big of platform. Granted, Facebook’s algorithms make it hard for your messages to reach that platform, but if you do a little bit of research you can greatly use organic reach Facebook to your advantage.

Via Flickr by mkhmarketing

Via Flickr by mkhmarketing

Twitter. With the right hashtags, you can do anything on Twitter. Yet the best businesses on Twitter are the opposite of the best businesses on Facebook. This is because retail, restaurants, and local businesses have a dedicated customer base while other businesses have more casual relationships with the audience. This is where Twitter comes in. Twitter allows you to connect with other businesses, prospective customers, and industry enthusiasts who will promote you for free – as long as you use the right hashtags. I insist the majority of my clients get both a Twitter and Facebook. They are the two powerhouse platforms you can’t ignore.

Via Flickr by Link Humans UK

Via Flickr by Link Humans UK

LinkedIn. LinkedIn is THE platform for B2B marketing. Yet LinkedIn can be tricky. You need to have one employee be the “face” of the company, meaning they create, manage, discuss, and make connections on the company’s behalf. It can be tricky to outsource your LinkedIn marketing. Usually it is best to do in house after researching the best way to use LinkedIn as a connector tool, not as a spam marketing robot.

Via Flickr Zack D. Smith

Via Flickr Zack D. Smith

Google+. I admit, I have a love-hate relationship with Google+. There is a lot to be desired and I don’t see its use as a social media platform – outside of its affiliation with Google. With Google’s search engine rules, having a Google+ page is practically a must. With a Google+ page, you get higher search engine rankings and more credibility in Google’s (AKA – Internet God’s) eyes. If you rely on high search engine rankings for your business, get a Google+ page.

Via Flickr marioanima

Via Flickr marioanima

YouTube. YouTube is more of a supplemental platform for your marketing plan. Only certain brands are good for YouTube. If you have the opportunity to make instructional videos, product reviews/highlights, or “commercials” online with your product or service, then YouTube is a great platform for you. Just make sure your videos are professional and high quality!

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Pinterest. Pinterest is a great platform if your business is highly visual. If you have high quality product photos or offer services that are eye-catching, get your boards started! The pinning platform is best for craft, home decor, home improvement, wedding, food-related, and retail businesses.

Via Flickr Play Among Friends

Via Flickr Play Among Friends

Instagram. Like Pinterest, Instagram is great for highly visual businesses. The difference in Instagram – you need to be very interactive as well. On Pinterest, you can get away with throwing up content without a whole lot of interaction. On Instagram, you have to be involved. You have to know the best filters, know the hashtags, and know your audience as well as constantly communicating with your audience.

Via Flickr by manoftaste.de

Via Flickr by manoftaste.de

Blog. Bottom line – blogs are important for pretty much every business. Blogs are your opportunity to showcase your knowledge about your industry. The golden rule is to never write an entire blog post as self-promotion. You should always blog to give away “free samples” of information to your audience so they want more.

Originally posted on LinkedIn

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Why You Still Need Paper Marketing in a Digital World

Last week, I sent maybe 200 emails for a client, marketing his service to different localities across the US. Many replied back, interested in the service. One asked if I could send them a brochure or flyer they could put out on a display table for a local event to garner more interest for the service.

I was very excited about this offer and immediately emailed the good news to my client. He replied back, upset at the fact anyone would want paper marketing in a digital world. After saying everything is digital these days and paper marketing is archaic, he told me to email the local group back and say we could send some of the client’s business cards for her to put out.

Image via Flickr by Antonio Bonanno

Image via Flickr by Antonio Bonanno

I understand my client’s frustration. Hiring someone, like myself, to create a brochure or flyer can be pricey for startups on a tight budget. Especially when everyone has grown accustomed to being able to view the success of their digital marketing efforts with analytical software. It is difficult to see the benefit in paper marketing when there is no instant way to track the results and success of it without directly asking the consumer how they heard of the company.

Yet paper marketing is still completely relevant. Digital and social can do some truly amazing things for businesses that had a harder time of it in the past. The same reason businesses use social are the same reasons you should keep paper marketing. One of the reasons for social is because a large segment of their audience use social media to communicate and stay loyal to a business. There is still a group of every audience who prefer traditional paper.

Image via Pixabay by kruziwuten

Image via Pixabay by kruziwuten

This is part of why I was astounded at my client’s refusal to supply a paper marketing avenue – his audience directly asked for it. Whenever your audience asks for more information on your product or service, no matter what form it is, you should deliver. The audience will be pleased at the prompt fulfillment of their need and the investment can be used for future marketing opportunities.

The end point – there should always be a corner of your budget reserved for paper marketing. Even if you have no plans to launch a campaign via paper, you want some money reserved in case the need arises. Especially if you plan to go to events. You will need business cards, brochures, flyers, and even a sign for your booth. Your business should always be prepared for all marketing avenues. Which one you invest the majority of your time and resources in depends on your business. However, you should always keep a toe in every marketing platform available.

Originally posted on LinkedIn

5 Awesome Brands on Pinterest You Can Learn From

Pinterest has been on a popular roller coaster since 2011. The photo-centric, unique layout, and quality content that Pinterest is known for has captured the hearts of over 10 million registered users. Depending on the month, Pinterest draws in more referral traffic to retailers than LinkedIn, Google+, and YouTube combined. Pinterest is a platform that cannot be ignored by brands, but you may have trouble figuring out where to get started on Pinterst from a marketing standpoint.

There are over 100 big name brands on Pinterest who are using the platform successfully, including Pillsbury, HGTV, Gap, Blockbuster, Unicef, People, Toms, Threadless, Zales, Whole Foods, Sesame Street, CBS, Zales, and more. However, there are five brands  that I consider completely expert in their Pinterest marketing strategy.

Etsy

Image Credit: Hootsuite

Etsy is my absolute favorite brand on Pinterest. There are so many things I have ordered from Etsy because I saw it on Pinterest. The best part is that individual sellers on Etsy can add products from their store on their own accounts and use the brand name of Etsy to get further traction to grow their business. Here is what makes Etsy stand out on Pinterest

  • Hundreds of Pinterest users who are individual sellers spreading and promoting the brand.
  • Those same sellers creating amazing products that are beautiful.
  • Over 90 boards categorized specifically with lots of color and high quality images.
  • A huge variety of topics so that everyone can find something they love.
  • Boards, like “Cool Spaces”, which encourage followers to get inspired by Etsy and make changes in their own lives.

Nordstrom

Image Credit: Hootsuite

Nordstrom is a power retail brand and their content on Pinterest definitely reflects that. What makes Nordstrom special is the complete understanding of their followers on the platform. They don’t just advertise their products – they inspire and give easy solutions to their followers. Other things that make Nordstrom standout on Pinterest include:

  • Over 60 boards full of designer products, DIY, fashion, decor, wedding inspiration, and more.
  • Specialized boards for special times of the year, like their Christmas board titled “Stocking Stuffers.”
  • Company personalization with a board titled, “Our Favorite Things.”

Everyday Health

Image Credit: Hootsuite

Pinterest is full of users who are looking for easy and inventive ways to improve their lives, whether it’s in their home with life hacks or with their body with detox and health recipes and easy 15 minute cardio workouts. Everyday Health understands that users seek  personal improvement and center their content around that. Their goal is to motivate, inspire, give valuable free information, and make improvement simple. Here is what makes them special on Pinterest:

  • Guest  boards with expert doctors and nutritionists pinning content and giving free advice to users.
  • Weight loss success stories based on their easy health solutions.
  • Boards with inspirational quotes and sayings.
  • Content that provides followers easy workouts and healthy recipes to get them started on their self-improvement.

Lowe’s

Image Credit: Hootsuite

Lowe’s has jumped on the Pinterest DIY trend and has become wildly successful with this strategy. As a home improvement store, they advertise how their products are affordable and easy to get that dream DIY project started. The Lowe’s Pinterest success comes from:

  • 55 boards with home improvement tips, amazing home design inspiration (like the ultimate man cave), color palettes, and more.
  • Step-by-step instructions for DIY projects with pricing for the products you will need, making budgeting DIY easy for users.
  • A board called “Build It” that has ZERO self-promotion. Instead, Lowe’s pins amazing bloggers’ DIY projects they love.

L.L. Bean

Image Credit: Hootsuite

I always consider L.L. Bean a large boutique store and their Pinterest page reflects that. L.L. Bean is the brand with the most followers on Pinterest and I think it’s because their content reflects a country store feel. They have everything the average Pinterest user will need with a homegrown feel. L.L. Bean’s Pinterest is unique because:

  • A mere 29 boards that doesn’t overwhelm users, but allow them to find everything they need.
  • Subjects that appeal to many different kinds of followers, including wedding themes, outdoor activities, and fashion.
  • Boards that solve common problems female users have, such as what to buy guys for Christmas, birthdays, and anniversaries.
  • Joining the internet popularity of cute animals with their board titled “Woodland Creatures.”

To end this post, here are some fun facts about the power of Pinterest, especially for retail business:

  • 47% of US online customers have made a purchase based on Pinterest recommendations.
  • Pins generate 4x more revenue per click than Twitter and 27% more than Facebook.
  • There are 12 million monthly unique visitors.
  • Pinterest is the fastest site in history to break the 10 million monthly unique visitors mark.
  • 97% of Pinterest’s Facebook fans are female.
  • Daily users have grown by 145% since 2012.
  • The brands that are most successful on Pinterest are in the food, cooking, television, news, media, non-profit, travel, retail, apparel, home improvement, DIY, sports, health, beauty, or fashion industries.

Credit: HootSuite, Jeff Bullas