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!

alicegop

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 Facebook Organic Reach is Extremely Difficult

With the many other social media platforms out there, businesses are giving up on Facebook and moving on to what they think are bigger and better opportunities. While I believe ditching Facebook is a really bad decision and there are ways to grow organically still, there is a reason why businesses are jumping ship. Facebook’s algorithms are making it extremely difficult for businesses to grow organically.

Facebook isn’t trying to be mean to businesses and force them to pay for advertising, although that is a big perk since many businesses who choose to stick with Facebook pay to grow. There are so many Facebook users and brands on Facebook that it takes a lot of management and algorithm updates to ensure the news feed does not become overcrowded and too messy to deal with. Especially since there are more than 18 million business pages on Facebook that are all trying different methods to get their content more exposure.

Image from BufferApp

Image from BufferApp

The algorithms have hundreds of thousands of ways to determine what shows up on users’ feeds. This is why it has become too difficult for businesses to figure out an exact method to get their content and brand noticed by thousands of users. There are four things that affect the content that is seen:

  • What kinds of posts receive more interaction from users
  • Device the user is accessing Facebook with
  • The speed of internet the user has
  • How the user interacts with Facebook ads
  • What posts a user chooses to hide or report as spam

Here is the good news! A small reach does not necessarily mean that you are not doing well on Facebook. Instead, when you look at metrics, you should measure traffic to your website, leads, and buys from customers as a result of Facebook. If these are contributing at all to your business’ growth, then you should stay on Facebook and ignore how big your reach is.

For a better chance of exposure on Facebook, you can look at my previous Facebook posts and try this odd tactic – do not post at peak times. There are many guides about the best time to post on Facebook and other social network sites. I even have articles about this! However, many businesses are saying they are having more success by posting at non peak times. The thought is since there is little sharing from other users at these times, your content will get noticed more by people who are on Facebook. This is further proof that sometimes a small reach is not detrimental to your Facebook marketing time.

The Stats Don’t Lie: Pinterest vs Facebook

I may be confusing you all. Last Friday I wrote a post about why you still need Facebook as part of your business’ social media marketing plan. I still wholeheartedly think you need your Facebook still, and Terri Lively’s comment sums up why perfectly:

terri tweet

However, Pinterest is quickly growing into a social media beast that businesses can no longer ignore. These stats prove why you might want to see if Pinterest fits into your marketing plan.

Pinterest Positives

Via meeleeo.com

Via meeleeo.com

Via meeleeo.com

Via meeleeo.com

Those on Pinterest are actively searching for products and solutions to make their lives easier. This makes Pinterest extremely profitable for B2C companies selling physical products. On Facebook, users are more like window shoppers, so your chance of selling products on Facebook is less.

On the other hand, Facebook users will take advantage of deals advertised on Facebook more than ones advertised on Pinterest. If you have a lot of coupons or special offers planned, Facebook is the place to advertise them.

Via meeleeo.com

Via meeleeo.com

Once Pinterest users see something they like on the platform, they become huge supporters of the brand and products. This is why Etsy shops do so well on Pinterest over Facebook. Users on Facebook need to see the product or business page multiple times and get friend recommendations before they decide to convert to customers.

The Only Pinterest Negative…

Via meeleeo.com

Via meeleeo.com

When Pinterest users are on the platform, they are actively engaged and have a high rate of conversion. However, users spend less time on Pinterest than they do on Facebook. This is why certain marketing posts will do better on Facebook because you have a higher rate of visibility.

5 Problems You Did Not Know You Had With Your Facebook Business Page and How to Fix Them

Facebook has become an essential piece of a business’ marketing strategy. When creating a Facebook business page, most do not realize they do not fully understand how to properly manage their page. There are five changes you can make to customize a Facebook business page and see better marketing results.

Via Flickr Ksayer

Via Flickr Ksayer

You don’t have enough Likes

Having a large following on Facebook, better known as Likes on your page, is the key to a successful marketing scheme. It is harder to get the first 100 Likes than to 500 since your page gets little exposure with less than 100 Likes. To change this, you can:

  • Place “Like” call to actions on your blog posts
    Businesses often have the social media icons on their sidebar, including a link to their Facebook page. However, you need to put this message at the end of every blog post, “Like what you see? Follow us on Facebook for more great content like this.” Include a link to your page in the anchor text, “Follow us.” You could also offer bonus content that is only available on Facebook, forcing your blog readers to Like your page to get the content.
  • Share Facebook posts on Twitter
    Copy the link from a new Facebook post and shorten the URL to put on Twitter. There are many helpful URL shorteners, such as Bitly and Tiny URL. Make sure to copy the link to the particular Facebook, not the page overall. If you copy the page link, in the future people will not be able to find the post they want to read and become frustrated with your brand.
  • Tell Twitter followers to Like your page
    Not only will posting links to your posts on Twitter increase the visibility of your posts, but you also need to tell your Twitter followers to Like your page. This is when it is okay to shorten the link to the actual page to share.
  • Write an article about Facebook
    On your blog, write a post about why your audience needs to get on Facebook, little known Facebook facts, or how average Facebook users benefit businesses when they Like their pages. Put a link at the end to your page to help promote it. This specific article topic will reach a wider audience than your blog followers, leading to more likes.
Via Flickr bloeise

Via Flickr bloeise

People aren’t talking about it

There will be a count of how many people are talking about your page under the title. If it is low, you need to start prompting your page. This number is the people who have interacted with your page in the last week. Likes, comments, and shares are considered interaction. If your page has a thousand likes but low interaction, something needs to change.

  • Update the page more often, like three or four times a week often.
  • Interact with people on your page by replying to and Liking their comments.
  • Make your content diverse, using pictures, video, text, quotes, links, and more.
  • Put a call to action in your posts, such as, “Like this if you agree” or “Tell me your thoughts.”
Via Flickr Kris Krug

Via Flickr Kris Krug

You only care about clicks

This means your Facebook page is filled with links to your blog or website in order to get more hits to those platforms. The page should not be used for promotion only. While links are sometimes good, they do not produce a whole lot of emotional attachment.

Stories need to make an immediate connection with the user. This is why images are so popular on Facebook. They can transmit the perfect message while instilling some sort of emotion in the viewer.

Via Flickr Ricky-Lai

Via Flickr Ricky-Lai

You are not present on your page

There are a few things you need to do to become more present on your page:

  • Ask questions and reply
    There needs to be back and forth communication on your page, just as you would speak in real life. You need to be active on your page and monitor comments in case one of your followers asks a question. Make sure all of your communication thoughtful and constructive.
  • Use descriptions
    Not only are descriptions a great call to action, but they also allow you to write a summary and present your perspective. If you share a link that is not from your brand, talk about how it affected you that caused you to share it.
Via Flickr mkhmarketing

Via Flickr mkhmarketing

You are too present on your page

Even if you follow all of these rules and post great content, you should not overdo it to the point where your fans are un-Liking your page or turning off notifications. Posting a dozen things a day overwhelms your fans’ news feeds. At most, post four times a day, but even that is bordering on too much.

How to Make Your Facebook Posts Stand Out – Part 1

Facebook marketing for business is an often talked about subject. While there are many great Facebook tips for business out there, it is hard to find discussion on what makes a post stand out from the others on a user’s news feed. There are certain things businesses can do to make their posts on Facebook more authentic and noticeable.

Facebook’s News Feed used to be completely customized by the user. They could set their feed to show the most recent posts by the people they follow or the top stories. Now, the News Feed has a new algorithm that decides what content shows up in what feeds. Placement on a feed depends on:

  • How many people Liked, Commented, or Shared a post
  • Relevance to the user, analyzing if the user has interacted with the brand or person much
  • Timeframe of the posting in reference to the last time the brand or person posted

Keeping these factors in mind, you need to start crafting posts and posting them in a certain way and timeframe. There are seven basic things you can do to make your posts engaging and memorable. Here are the first three I am going to talk about and we will get to the other four next Friday.

Via Flickr mkhmarketing

Via Flickr mkhmarketing

  1. Always remember the brand identity when making posts. Make all content you post emphasize on your brand identity. 80 percent of the content you post needs to be entertaining or valuable in line with your brand. Only 20 percent of your content should be completely promotional.
  2. Make quality content. Make sure you have a solid idea for the content you post before you post it. There is no reason to simply post content for the sake of it. Content should solve a problem, be informative, or be entertaining. Also, over-posting will flood your follower’s feeds, causing them to un-Like your page.
  3. Post photos, tips, quotes, and other varied content. This is the key to quality content. Photos are the easiest way to capture attention and photos on Facebook get more Likes than any other kind of content. Even if you are linking to a blog post or the company’s website, add a relevant photo to the post in order to grab attention.

    Tips are another great kind of content to post. They offer a nugget of information that is interesting or informative to the user. Quotes can also generate likes, especially if the quote is funny or from a famous person. The best kind of content, behind photos, is a question. Posing a question to the people who follow your page will make them want to comment with their answer. Make the question dimensional, not something simple like, “What is your favorite book?”

Don’t forget to check out the second part of the post that will be released next Friday! In the meantime, what are your favorite Facebook posts to see from businesses? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @HS_Writing!

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!

6 Common Facebook Marketing Mistakes

Social media is the hottest form of marketing right now and everyone is trying to jump on the bandwagon by setting up and marketing Facebook pages. However, many of these companies are making marketing mistakes without realizing it. Companies need to follow a Facebook marketing guide to avoid simple mistakes in the future.

Facebook campaigns that are executed properly will target current and potential customers, track the ROI of campaigns, and grow the business’ influence. Since many companies are only getting on Facebook to cash in on its popularity, they are making these common mistakes in their marketing schemes.

Via Flickr by stoneysteiner

Via Flickr by stoneysteiner

Setting up a personal page instead of a business page

If your profile has the company name on it instead of your name, then you are using Facebook for business wrong. Not only will less people see your page because they have to become friends with you, but it also violates Facebook’s Terms and Services. If Facebook catches a company using profiles this way, it will be deleted. You also only get to approve 5,000 friends, you don’t get advertising tools, and you have to constantly log in and out of your Facebook accounts.

Providing promotional content instead of authentic content

When all of your content is strictly about promoting your company, and it is written in a promotional tone, then customers do not find you authentic. They want fresh, authentic, and informative content. The focus should be on engaging customers with meaningful content, not how much money you can make immediately.

Don’t forget to ask people to engage with your relevant and meaningful content. Ask them to Like, Comment, and Share the post, link, image, or video. Interaction with your posts will increase the chance of the post showing up in your fans’ News Feeds. You can post multiple times during the day at different times during the day for a month or so. Make sure to post lots of different kinds of content. After this time, use analytical tools to find out what time of day and which kind of content audiences most responded to.

Not putting enough time into the page

Lots of businesses set up their page and just leave it. This is a common mistake. You need to be active and present on your Facebook page in order to attract new customers and get more sales from existing customers. Customers expect great content and timely responses to their inquiries. If you are not active on your company page, you will lose customers.

Lacking understanding about Facebook marketing tools

Companies are not exploring all of the mechanics and tools that Facebook offers them, therefore missing out on many growth opportunities. The most common things businesses forget to utilize is a welcome page and filling out the Info tab accurately. Companies also upload their logo as the profile picture, but the thumbnail does not display the whole logo. So customers are getting an incomplete understanding of their brand while on Facebook.

Not tracking conversions

Facebook has great tools that allow companies to track their conversions. This means you get to see how many customers get on your Facebook page and are directed to your website or store to make purchases. It will report how many people made a purchase on your website or signed up for the newsletter.

Buying fans for your page

There are many companies on the internet that offer to buy your fans for your Facebook page. For as little as $10, you can get hundreds of people to Like your page. When you do this, companies are supplying clicks from people in faraway countries, such as Romania. You will most likely not have a market in these countries, so the time and money you are spending advertising on Facebook is wasted on people who cannot or are not interested in buying your product.

What are some Facebook marketing mistakes you see companies do? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @HS_Writing!