Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Engaging Your Social Media Audience

Most of my posts are based on social media marketing, its trends and best practice methods.  As more businesses continue to start using social media proactively as a marketing tool, there are a few bad habits that I continuously see with the use of social media and business marketing.  For a lack of better knowledge, business owners who try the "do-it-yourself" method for social media marketing are vastly under-utilizing the constantly changing features of social media while at the same time practicing methods of social media marketing that have proven to be unsuccessful.

In my last post, Social Media Blogging: Putting Your Entire Organization to Work , I talked about a couple of different types of social media marketing posts: direct response marketing and informational content.  Direct response marketing in social media is designed so that the user is enticed to click a link with the end result being the sale of a product or service.  An example of a direct response marketing post for a steakhouse restaurant would be, "Click here to get a free appetizer with the purchase of two entrees."

In contrast, there is another type of post where informational content is the bait to get users to click on your link.  An example of this type of post for the same steakhouse restaurant would be, "New research shows that eating red meat is good for your heart. Click here for the full article."  Not only is this informational but it also relates to the type of food that the restaurant serves and could possibly lead to more business just by users clicking to read the article and realizing that maybe they should go have a steak dinner at your restaurant.     

Both of these types of posts are designed to draw interest in your business but to social media users, the direct response marketing tactic is seen as a bit more aggressive and may put off a vibe that the business is only interested in getting your money rather than giving you a little bit of valuable information in return.  This is where I see most of the bad habits: posting only one or the other.  The key to running successful social media marketing campaigns is to have a balance of direct response and information posts.  It's OK to ask for business or a referral but if a salesman was going to walk into your office every day asking for you to buy something every time, you might get a bit irritated and blow them off all together.  If you come to their office sometimes and give them information that's important to their own operations, then you might be more welcomed each time you walk through their door.

The business owners who practice the "do-it-yourself" method are not doing anything wrong.  In their minds, they know what they know and what they have experienced.  As my Grandfather used to say, "He don't know and he don't know that he don't know."  In this example, if the business owner doesn't have much success on their own with social media marketing, they might think it is worthless and not worth spending any marketing dollars on it.  But used the right way, social media marketing is less expensive than other forms of traditional marketing and the return on investment is much greater as well.

These marketing methods can also be useful when running sponsored advertisements on social media but you will have to wait until my next post to learn exactly how.  In the meantime, you can contact me directly by visiting our website at Web Crawl Consulting.     

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Social Media Blogging: Putting Your Entire Organization to Work

With the ever growing world of social media, more and more companies are investing in social media marketing either in-house or through a 3rd party management firm.  A recent study revealed that 90% of companies are using social media as a means to promote their services and engage users.  A common issue that we see is the misuse of social media marketing strategies.

There are many different marketing strategies to use on your social media pages.  There is direct response marketing where the goal is to have the user click on the link in the ad that takes them to a sale.  This is the type of social media marketing that most people misuse because they use it too much.  If you are always coming across as trying to push your product on the social media audience, you are likely to be unsuccessful with your social media marketing campaign.  Social media users do not like to feel like they are constantly being sold something.

Another marketing strategy for social media is to engage users by offering free information about your area of expertise.  A marketer can leverage this as a way to gain the user's interest of product-related subjects and get them thinking about your product without directly saying that they need to buy your product.  There are different ways to accomplish this but I would like to focus on big business strategy.  Most of my topics cover solutions for small and medium sized businesses, but large businesses can use their size to their advantage when it comes to creating mass amounts of usable, original content that will help not only with search engine optimization but also engage users through social media.

Open Forum Company Blog

The concept is simple: Your company has many employees.  Your employees should be industry experts in their field and might be a great source of information related to the company, services offered, solutions, etc.  They don't have to be the top executives of the firm.  These can be employees with great ideas throughout the entire firm.  A large company can create a blog for employees to access.  They can submit articles for review and possible placement on the company blog.  This is a great way to create all new original content.  Use free plagiarism scanners that are available online to check for original content.  Explain the rules for submitting content to the blog and have someone review all entries before they are posted live to the website.  Encourage your employees to participate by offering some kind of incentive. 

Not only does this create a massive amount of content but the company can showcase this information through their social media outlets.  Post Blog articles that are most related to the company's services and that are useful to a typical customer.  This is the kind of content that can indirectly turn into a sale.  It is also engaging content and tends to not turn the user off to your future posts that may be geared more toward direct response marketing.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Second-Hand Marketing using Facebook

It has been a while but in previous Blog posts I have talked about using Social Media to promote your business and the impact that this has on your website's search engine optimization.  To quickly recap: social media markers such as the number of "Likes" that you have on your business Facebook page positively impact the overall optimization and ranking of your business website to which it is linked.  As the popularity of social media websites grows, search engines such as Google and Bing continue to more heavily weight these markers as it pertains to the ranking of the website.  One of the most difficult tasks in social media marketing is engaging the user to the point that they will "follow" or "like" your page.  This user interaction is what will ultimately lead to a sale, not necessarily from that particular user, but perhaps from someone who follows THEM on social media.  I'm going to coin this as "second-hand marketing" not to be confused with the marketing of second-hand goods.  You could consider this what is generally known as "referral marketing" but social media platforms have taken this to a new level so I'm going to humbly give it a new name. 

The questions now becomes: how do we accomplish successful second-hand marketing using social media?    Software and application developers are getting more creative when it comes to more interactivity and promoting users to take action to claim deals and offers, specifically with Facebook.  There are many third-party developers designing custom applications with specific attributes to encourage second-hand marketing.  One that has been recommended to me and I currently use for my page and my client's pages is Tabsite.  Tabsite has a great platform that offers a WYSIWYG tab designer complete with multiple widgets as well as Engagement Apps that do exactly that: engage the user.  Incorporating these engagement apps on your page can help drive second-hand marketing.

Some of the Tabsite features include the ability to run a Sweepstakes and Contests for users to enter for a chance to win a prize.  This is a way to entice users to give you their contact information for future marketing campaigns.  You also have the option to add a "Buy Now" button to sell products from your Facebook page.  As for second-hand marketing, Tabsite offers a Coupon App, Group Deal App, Share Deal App, and Friend Share App.  The Coupon App allows page admins to design a coupon that users can print and redeem at a retail location. You can adjust the permissions to require users to "Like" your page before gaining access to the coupon.  Once the user "Likes" your page and accesses a coupon, a message will appear on their Facebook timeline informing all of their friends that they have "Liked" your page and that they have claimed a coupon.  The Group Deal App requires a specific number of users to redeem the coupon before the a deal is activated, similar to other group deal providers.  Something to note is that Tabsite does not take a percentage of the Group Deal sales as do other providers.  This app also promotes second-hand marketing in that once the user redeems the group deal, a message will appear on their Facebook timeline for all of their friends to see.  The Share Deal App and the Friend Share App are similar whereas the Share Deal requires the user to share the deal on their Wall in order to access the deal and the Friend Share lets the user choose someone from their friend list and share the deal on their friend's wall.  Additionally, Tabsite allows for full graphic design freedom allowing admins to upload image graphics to the program and use them along with the Engagements Apps and Tab Designer.

The use of Tabsite for Facebook is particularly inexpensive and they offer multiple pricing plans.  To gain access to the most engaging promotions to maximize your page's second-hand marketing, I would recommend the Platinum Plan.  It does take some time to create these promotions and monitor their success so you might consider hiring a social media marketing firm for management of your page. 

Remember: Facebook does have rules for providing promotions and contests.  These are available through Facebook's policies.  If you have any questions, please contact me via our website at Web Crawl Consulting.  To learn more, please read more at Social Media Marketing.