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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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

Why You Need to Outsource Your Social Media Marketing

Back when email was on the rise and everyone was head-over-heels in love with this quick new form of communication (after you waited for AOL to log you in using dial-up for about half an hour), many businesses scoffed. “We don’t need this email. It’s a fad that will pass. Customers would rather call us on the telephone!”

Those businesses learned very quickly they do need email to reach a large portion of their customer base and those who did not perished. History repeats itself and this time social media marketing is the new “fad” businesses are reluctant to pick up.

Via Flickr by tashmahal

Via Flickr by tashmahal

Some businesses outright refuse to add social media accounts for their businesses. Others hastily create accounts and pages and often do them wrong (such as creating a Group instead of a Page on Facebook).

There are also many businesses that realize they do need to have a social media presence, but try to do it in-house to save money. Here is where the majority of businesses go wrong. It may seem easy to create a business profile and update it every now and then. You do it every day on your own Twitter and Facebook accounts, why should your business be any different?

You feel confident at first, filling out some basic About Us information and sharing your first post. You might think it’s a good idea to link your Facebook and Twitter posts to save time. You might decide to update once a week or every few weeks with text updates on sales or sharing funny cat videos you find online. When you don’t have time to post, you let your employees take over. People start liking and commenting, which you love looking at. Every now and then a customer might complain in a post on your page that is promptly deleted so your business doesn’t look bad.

It seems things are running smoothly on the social media front. However, your business is not growing at all. Your time on social media seems like a waste and you don’t know how other businesses are accomplished on these platforms. This is because you don’t understand everything you did wrong like I just did.

Nicole Yeary2

Via Flickr Nicole Yeary

As a social media marketer for a huge variety of different business industries, both big and small, I can look at your profiles for five minutes and understand all the mistaken steps you took. I will start brewing ideas on how to fix them and optimize your account.

Many customers prefer to communicate through social media and get updates from their business on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and more. When you ignore these platforms or use them incorrectly, you come across as inauthentic, inconsistent, and uncaring about customer needs. Hiring a professional social media marketer allows your business to become a likeable brand on the internet. Your customers will turn to you for their questions, concerns, and investment in your industry.

Professional social media marketers have studied the nuances of every platform extensively. They know the exact formula for posting on each platform and the language preferred by those users. They understand how each social media site is different in expanding a business’ reach, what kinds of posts get the most engagement, and how to create and time messaging. They can also analyze your account and audience to find out when your customers are online and most likely to see your messages.

Social media experts will interact with your audience as a business and customer service representative to increase your customer loyalty. Marketers will learn everything about your business to create a brand personality for your social media presence that is likeable and engaging. They will collaborate with you to get the most out of your website, blog, special offers, sales, events, and more. On top of that, social media marketers are constantly analyzing your platforms to see where improvements can be made.

Via Flickr ChrisL_AK

Via Flickr ChrisL_AK

Sounds like a lot of work, doesn’t it? For social media marketers, it is another day at the office. For you, it takes a lot of research and all of your free time, if not more.

This work is not as expensive as you might think. No matter how big or small your advertising budget is, you can find ways to afford social media marketing. At the very least, you can shell out a one-time expense to get consultation on the basics of social media marketing.

I have base prices for my services and different package options for all kinds of businesses. However, I can also take any monthly budget you set and tell you exactly what I can do for you with that amount. I also offer consultation on the basics of marketing tailored for your business needs and goals. You can view my social media marketing service options on my website. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask in the comments or to email me at h.s.hobbs@gmail.com!

Originally posted on LinkedIn

 

My 100th Blog Post! The 3 Basic Things You Need to Market Correctly on Pinterest

Congratulations to me on publishing my 100th blog post! And it’s about my favorite platform, Pinterest!

Pinterest is an amazing visual platform that, when used correctly, can do wonders for marketing your product or brand. When users visit your Pinterest accounts, your boards with products will be the same as window shopping for visitors. There are three things you need to do on Pinterest to persuade visitors to “walk in” your shop after looking at the window display.

Beautiful Images

2db18d774f56cfd84fcd83720a32fefe What makes a person walk into your shop? Seeing a beautiful window display full of items that catch their eye. You need to do the same on a digital front and create boards full of beautiful images that persuade people to click to your website. Previously they might not have considered your item for purchase, either because of need or cost, but after seeing it displayed so wonderfully they fall in love. Make sure your images are high quality and follow the Pinterest image rules:

  • Simple, white background
  • Bright lighting
  • Easy to process (aka not too much stuff in the photo besides the product)
  • Relates to trends in the current season

Description that Motivates

asfert What you put in the description matters. The space below the image needs to be used to further explain what the product is and why the viewer needs it in their life, whether it is beautiful or functional. You need to appeal to basic human needs with an engaging description that almost forces the user to click out of curiosity and intrigue.

When You Post

pinterest analytics Most shoppers are active on Pinterest in the evenings. After a long day at work, people get on Pinterest to relax and “window shop.” Even though its inconvenient to get on Pinterest at night, posting your products with great images and motivating descriptions in the evening will get you more click-throughs to your website. Of course you need to look at your own analytics after a couple months to see when YOUR followers are online, but try to keep posting at night whenever you can.

The Quick and Dirty Guide to Pinterest Marketing

“Why do I even need a Pinterest?”

Because images rule.

Via Flickr Pink Sherbert Photography

Via Flickr Pink Sherbert Photography

 

They are an easy way to communicate your message to followers in a way they actually remember. It makes your marketing more interesting and exciting for potential clients/customers. And it gives you another avenue to get higher search engine rankings. The platform is unlike any other and takes some adjustment, but once you know the rules and strategies, you can add Pinterest to your marketing scheme.

  • Don’t just add your content. Repin other’s stuff too.
  • Follow users who can provide high quality content for your page and that meet your brand goals and expectations.
  • Make the images you pin or repin high resolution. No watermarks allowed.
  • Organize your content into specific categories using the boards feature. You can be REALLY specific. This helps users easily navigate through your content.
  • When you link images you pin, make sure followers are taken to the exact content your image is about. If you pin a recipe using the barbecue sauce your company makes, take them to the recipe, not the homepage of the company website. This will frustrate users and cause them to tell on you to the Pinterest gods.
  • Speaking of tattle telling, you need to start doing it. Report broken links, spam posts, or images that are not appropriate. This helps keep Pinterest a good, usable platform for your marketing plan.
  • Advertise. Put a Pinterest button on your website. Talk about your Pinterest account on other social media profiles. Link to photos on your Pinterest on all accounts. Let your followers know you are on Pinterest so they can interact with you.

Any questions? Comment below or Tweet me @HS_Writing.

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.

How One Pin on Pinterest Can Triple Your Sales

I want to put a disclaimer on this sensational (but true) story – at this present time, Pinterest can only substantially grow certain businesses. This is because the majority of active, Pinterest-aholics fall into specific demographics. Passionate homeowners is one of these demographics, which is why this home decor business took off so radically. Even though a high tech company can do well on Pinterest, their software or product sales will not triple at the demand of Pinterest users. That is until an extremely innovative tech company changes that and gets their audience to rule Pinterest!

rod-works-post-socialmarketingfella

Image via Social Media Today

In 2011, one of the many DIY bloggers with a Pinterest account shared a beautiful sofa table she made for her home along with instructions of how she did it. While this kind of content is consumed like water in a desert on Pinterest, people loved this pin for a different reason – the wrought iron rod decoration hanging above the table.

Image via Social Media Today

Image via Social Media Today

Users were commenting and messaging the daylights out of this blogger, asking where she found the iron rod. She said it was from a local store that made handmade iron products in Utah. They were so local that they did not have a website. Somehow contact information got out and Pinterest users hounded the store until they opened RodWorks.com in February of 2012 with an online store. In no time, the online store was selling hundreds of those rods and were able to expand to include other unique home decor items as well.

Image via Rod Works

Image via Rod Works

This is the social media marketing dream, and the best part is how natural it was. This was not a campaign someone like me came up with. It was simply a part of a photo on Pinterest that caught the eye of many users. This phemenomeon is similar to JK Rowling became a billionaire genius author – completely natural, unexpected, and impossible to replicate (much to book publisher’s dismay). However, there are a few things you can do to boost your content and try to get rabid Pinterest users on your side.

  • Start with an image. And not just any image. The photo needs to entice the reader, make a connection, stir emotion, provide value, create or follow a trend, or supplies a basic human need. The best images on Pinterest are simple, bright, and high quality. It is okay to make your pins time sensitive (unlike other online content) because most pinning occurs in the moment.
  • Next make your description a call to action. While many casual users leave the description blank or put “love this!”, you need to entice users to click on your image to go to your website. If linking to a blog post, make the description about how the 11 points in the blog post will change how they approach DIY projects. If linking to a product, explain what the product is in an enticing way with, “You won’t believe how this product makes it easier to do this everyday thing” or “I can’t believe how much better my living room looks with this product.” Make the phrase exciting and enticing so the user changes from wanting it to needing it.
  • Don’t press the Pin It button until the timing is right. While it is best to look at your Pinterest analytics to see when your pins get the most engagement, for now plan on pinning between 2 to 4 PM and 8 PM to 1 AM eastern time. This is when most users are on Pinterest.

Once you have the rabid users behind your brand and products, your social media marketing will cause your business to grow substantially. Now is the best time to take advantage of Pinterest because it is not flooded with businesses and advertisers, like Facebook. Pinterest still holds its fun innocence, giving its users more trust in brands they love .

How to Track Your Pinterest Success

If you are like me, then measuring analytics on your social media accounts is slightly confusing and a pain in the rear. Among the many wonderful things about Pinterest, they make tracking your analytics a breeze. This may in part be contributed to the fact most users on Pinterest are actively purchasing items they see on the platform. You want to know exactly how your followers are interacting with your Pinterest account so you can see how to best market on the platform to raise your profits. Start tracking these metrics using your Pinterest Analytics tool to get a grasp on how to best use your Pinterest.

Averages

You should start tracking your average repins, likes, and comments per pin. You should also keep track of your average second degree followers using the analytics on Pinterest. The second degree followers tells you how well your brand connected to a followers’ base. This means you will see how many followers each of your followers has and how many of them have interacted with your brand.

Engagement

The engagement percentage will explain how many of your followers have actively engaged with each of your pins and repins. You can also look at the short term engagement, which will rapidly fluctuate. It is mostly used to measure how effective changes to your Pinterest brand strategy are. You also want to measure velocity, or the average number of pins and repins your brand makes each week. Test out different rates of pinning and repinning and figure out how many pins gives you the most engagement. The best way to measure velocity is to looka t the short term follower engagement. Whichever test gives you the most engagement, use that number from now on.

Reach

Your reach will show how far your brand has been able to touch new followers across Pinterest. It tracks the number of unique impressions you will receive each time you pin or repin content. Impressions are the number of times pins from your brand were seen each day on Pinterest. You can also look at the reach of each individual pin to see how many people saw it on Pinterest that day. Figure out which kind of pins have had the most reach and try to replicate those kinds. Make sure to look at how many clicks each of these pins are getting as well. The types with the most clicks are ones you want to focus on pinning in the future.

Mosts

Your “mosts” metrics include your most recent, most repinned, and most clicked. The most recent pin feed will show the pins from your brand that were most recently pinned by other users. This metric will give you an idea of what followers want to see certain times of the day. The most repinned feed shows you the pins that have been pinned the most from the brand. The most clicked feed will show the pins that have been clicked through the most from your brand. Pay attention to those clicks! You want future content to resemble what has been clicked through the most.

Tops

Your “tops” metrics include the top fans and influencers, top pins, and top interactions. The top fans and influencers list is going to be your VIPs. They are the users following your brand that have the most followers and engagement on their own profiles. Reach out to those people and talk about exchanging guest pin boards or teaming up in some other fashion. Top pins are the pins from your brand that have received the most engagement. The top interactions shows how much interaction pins from your brand’s website have had on the platform. The last two will give you a great idea of what works and what doesn’t work in your Pinterest strategy.

Still confusing? Here is a handy dandy infographic found on Social Media Today to help you out!

17-pinterest-metrics-every-brand-should-track

How to Make 4 MORE Aspects of Pinterest Work for Your Brand

Pinterest is the third most popular social media website, making it a platform that is hard to ignore when branding your business. It focuses on visual content and the audience is full of creative individuals. This means when you use Pinterest for business marketing, your plan of action needs to be creative and unique.

For those who do not use Pinterest or who are just starting out, there are eight aspects of the website that you need to understand in order to make the platform work for your brand.

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Copyright

  • Say where you got the pin from when pinning it
  • Display the URL on images
  • Use Creative Commons bookmarklet for via and a nod to the original pinner
  • Put the copyright on your website
  • If one of your images or your content was pinned without copyright, kindly ask them to add it
  • Don’t worry so much about piracy and worry more about being obscure
  • Use copyright symbols
  • Always credit photos

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Contests

  • Clients can pin photo products
  • People can pin photos and tag the brand to win
  • Host a board scavenger hunt
  • Hold a monthly board contest
  • The most repined board wins
  • Pin an image of the contest rules
  • Integrate the contests with other social media platforms, like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube
  • Have clients upload videos and tell them to use a contest hashtag

other pinterest profile

Collaboration

  • Follow other businesses in the area to stay on top of what customers are engaged with
  • All others to pin to your boards with the Pinterest tool me+contributor on selected boards
  • Create a themed group board
  • Perform a group scavenger hunt for pins
  • Ask for colleagues to repin your pins and do the same for them if they wish
  • Promote a joint event between collaborators
  • Create lifestyle boards that combine products from other businesses
  • Host a board tour
  • Throw a Pinterest party at work
  • Crowdsource a product

analytics

Research

  • Use Pinterest analytics to measure success of certain boards and pins
  • While commenting is not popular on Pinterest, read all comments and interact with them
  • Review other business boards
  • Identify your Pinterest marketing goals and execute them
  • Do keyword searches for pins, boards, and people
  • Review and evaluate the results of your marketing plan
  • Find out how well your brands are converting
  • See what boards are getting repinned
  • Find out if Pinterest is driving traffic to your brand