Category Archives: social media management

Landing Pages and Facebook Ads

Landing PagesAnswering Your Questions About This Lesser Known Resource

A landing page is a good way to direct your audience to the specific offer or service you want them to see. This idea has been around for a long time, but a lot of small business owners do not understand what they are, how to create one, and how to use it to drive traffic to their offer. Though this has been a popular marketing strategy for some time, now that Facebook has significantly improved the reach through advertising, landing pages are even more powerful than before. I’ve received a lot of questions recently about landing pages and how to use them with Facebook advertising, so I’ve repurposed a previous blog to answer these questions.

What is a Landing Page?

Simply put – a landing page is a single page URL. Your website has multiple pages with a lot of information and content. This is very helpful for people who are checking out your business, trying to contact you, or researching your services. Sometimes you want to promote a single special, or get people to sign up for an event. When you have a specific offer, you can send your audience directly to a landing page where they can sign up for your offer, without having to sift through pages and content on your website.

Landing pages are a great way to develop or enhance lead generation.

How to use Landing Pages with Facebook:

1. Because a landing page is a URL, it can be copied and pasted on your Facebook business page as a regular post. Depending on how you create your page, this may or may not populate well on Facebook but there are some work-arounds.

2. If your landing page doesn’t look great when you post it on Facebook, you can take the main image you used on your page, upload it through the camera icon on the Facebook post, then put the URL in and an introduction to your offer. This is not ideal, but it is better to have a link over a great image than a crummy looking  post.

3, Facebook and landing page services are always upgrading, so this interface will hopefully improve soon.

4. Once your landing page is posted and it looks great, boos the post using the Facebook advertising suggestions from previous blogs. These suggestions are critical because Facebook will deny your ad if it violates their guidelines, which frankly can be highly interpretive.

5. Once your ad is approved, check the insights through the Ad Manager (found on the drop down of the “Promote Page” link on the upper right. This will tell you how your ad is performing, how many impressions (number of newsfeeds to get your ad) and clicks on your offer. If you ad isn’t getting the response you had hoped for, check your audience, change your image, title, or description, or add more funds

Here are some suggestions for creating a landing page for your offer:

1. Make a page within your website dedicated exclusively for presenting the offer and collecting prospect email addresses. You will likely need some extra plugins to make this work properly

2. Hire a web developer to create a landing page for you

3. Use one of the existing landing page platforms. Some options are WishpondLeadpages, and Unbounce. They aren’t free, but the quality of the pages and resources to help you through the process are worth the expense (entry level is $35/$45 per month).

I have been using landing pages with my clients to help them promote events and offers on Facebook. This combination can be the most effective way to get your message to a new and larger audience. The important thing to remember is to set everything up correctly and plan to invest some money in Facebook ads. See previous blogs for information about Facebook advertising. This is a complex, but not difficult process, once you get the hang of it. Let me know if I can help in any way.

Facebook Ads…More Than Post Boosts

Facebook ads5 Elements to Facebook Ads

Advertising on Facebook can seem like a daunting task. It is not difficult to do once you understand the mechanics, but the greater value of it lies in how the ads are set up. You can waste a lot of money boosting posts targeted to the wrong audience. As the next in our Facebook ad series, I’m going to share with you more details about proper campaign set-up.

A Facebook advertisement should look just like a regular post. For best results and price, set it to go on the newsfeed of your audience, not as an ad on the side. People are so sales resistant that if your ad looks too much like a sales pitch, much of your audience will simply ignore it.

You have the option to boost any post on your page, but if you do not set your targets accurately, you could be wasting marketing dollars. Though you may get a nice reach for that post,  you may be marketing, at least in part, to your existing fan base rather than expanding into a new prospect base. You also do not have as many options for designing the ad, creating a call to action, or defining your audience when using the boost feature.

There are 5 elements to each Facebook ad:

1. Website/landing page URL – this tells Facebook where to send people when they click on your ad

2. Text – introduction to your offer, Ad headline, and Link description

3. A compelling image

4. Your website URL (this is not a clickable link but shows the audience where the ad is coming from

5. Call to Action button

If someone sees your ad multiple times without clicking, Facebook will not continue to show your ad on their timeline, even if they are your ideal client. This means your ad needs to be compelling to grab their attention and encourage them to click on the offer.

Ad copy should be:

  • Relevant
  • Present a clear action to take
  • Make it clear what’s in it for them
  • Addresses a pain, need, or desire
  • Tell people what to expect when they click
  • Include a sense of urgency – entice to act now.

All of these elements should be in the initial test description because that is where people’s eyes go after the image.  Facebook will review, and approve or reject your ad.  Spammy language, weight loss claims and financial claims may signal to Facebook that your ad does not meet their requirements.

The importance of the ad image cannot be overstated. People relate much more to pictures than words (a picture is worth a thousand words). Make sure your image is interesting and relates, even loosely to your business, offer, and audience. You can use a single large image or the relatively new carousel option of 5 smaller images, each with the option to link to a separate page on your website.

An image should have no more than 20% of the space taken up by text. If you aren’t sure if your image will pass Facebook’s image regulations, here is a tool to check. There are some psychological aspects of ad creation that you may want to consider. For example, people respond to emotion, motion, and colors. Consider how your image attracts your audience with those factors in mind.

There are two options for creating ads in Facebook:

  1. The ads manager – access this right from your business page. Click on the blue “Promote” button at the upper right. Click at the bottom of that box on “Ads Manager” and your advertising dashboard will appear. From there you can create new campaigns and see the status of existing or closed campaigns.
  2. The Power Editor  – separate dashboard with detailed options for those using Facebook frequently for advertising. Some of the advantages of using Power Editor are that new ad features for Facebook are launched on Power editor first before they roll out to ads manager. You also have a greater ability to organize and target your ad sets and campaigns so you can really see what is effective and what to change.  In Power Editor, you are not limited to the 90 characters in the ad introduction that you have in Ads Manager.  If you are going to be doing more than occasional advertising on Facebook, you should consider orienting yourself to this powerful tool.

There is a lot to cover in the topic of Facebook advertising. I have seen some incredible results from doing it right, and some mediocre results from just boosting posts. If you are going to spend marketing dollars on Facebook advertising, please set it up properly and get creative about defining your audience. You may not get as great a reach as you would with a blanket audience, but the people who do click are much closer to your ideal client and therefor more likely to work with you.

If you have any questions or if you would like some help getting your ads set up on Facebook, please let me know.

 

 

Facebook Advertising – A Beginner’s Primer

Facebook Ads

How to Make the Most of this Powerful Resource

Facebook Advertising has become a highly targeted and very effective marketing tool if done properly. Unlike other forms of advertising, you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars to get bottom line results. Many small business owners do not understand the value and potential of this resource, and not understand how to set up and manage ads. Facebook has made tremendous advances in their algorithms designed to reach highly segmented audiences. The development of the “Ad Manager” feature and the advanced “Power Editor” have made it easy to get your message in front of very specialized audiences based on location, interests, basic demographics, similar email addresses, similar Facebook page likes, etc. With over 1.4 billion people using this space, there is no single platform with as great a reach to the people who are interested in your exact message.

Here are a few tips and instructions about advertising on Facebook:

1. Be clear about the purpose of the ad before you get started. The 3 main options (there are more specific ones once you get going) are:

* Boost a post – choose this if you have a specific offer, event, or announcement

* Boost your page – choose this if you want to grow your audience on Facebook

* Boost your website – choose this if you want to drive more traffic to your website
2. Facebook has gone to a “pay to play” model. This means if you want to get  your message to more people than you do when you put up a post, you need to advertise. Facebook’s algorithms changed and the organic reach significantly decreased for all pages. With so much content piling onto the platform, they decided to decrease the number and type of posts people were seeing in their newsfeed.
3. Ads are typically integrated into the newsfeed of your target audience as if it were a post from one of their established connections. Facebook identifies audiences based on very complex factors beyond a user’s profile. The number and type of posts, likes, and shares signals to Facebook the individual’s interests, activities, lifestyle, location, etc.
4. When you create an ad, make sure you include a compelling image and text. An image can have no more than 20% of the space taken up by text.
5. Consider how wide you want to cast your net; refining the search categories decreases the reach of your ad, but also makes your audience more tailored to your business – in other words, quality vs. quantity.

6. You can boost a post for as little as $1/day for as short as 1 day. Your reach is based on the amount of money and number of days, in addition to the above audience selection elements. It is obvious that the more you put into a well design campaign, the better your results.
7. Check out Facebook’s business resource to get more information about advertising.
8. Play around with it; change the variable to test the response. Using the Ads Manager or Power Editor to keep your ads organized and to review their status.

Conducting a Facebook ad campaign is not difficult once you know what to do, but there is a bit of a learning curve, so be prepared for that. Of course, you could always get professional help  to make sure it is set up and managed correctly. Let me know if I can be of service. 

 

 

To Blog or Not to Blog…

BlogThat is the Question

With time and attention being seriously limited for those of us entrepreneurs (not that other people have more time and attention, but perhaps more support in their allocation), we have to be strategic about resource management. Some of you may be wondering if blogging would be a good use of your time. Here are some of the benefits to creating your own content.

Let’s start with an understanding of this thing called “blog”. The word “blog” is a contraction of the two words “web” and “log”. Web logs started as online communities in the 1990’s with the emergence of internet platforms for the average person.  This technology leveled the playing field such that anyone can be an author and create  community around any topic imaginable. Most professional blogs are between 300-600 words and should include keywords naturally. WordPress, the most popular platform for websites currently, started as a blog site and has that integrated into every website. It is not advisable to create a blog off of your website, even if it links to your site. You want to keep all that good content and traffic directly on your website.

Google’s algorithms are set to look for website updates as a way to determine’s the site’s value. Simply having new content on your website can be good for your search results.  Because search ranking, or search engine optimization (SEO), has become an important way to drive traffic to sites, businesses are realizing that anything they do to help this process has a positive impact on their ability to be found online. Generating original content fulfills that objective. Be sure not to copy other website’s content onto your site, not only for the obvious concern of plagiarism. Google will punish (decrease rankings) sites that have too much content deriving from other sources.

Here are some benefits to investing in regular quality content creation:

1. Frequent Change – Every time a blog with appropriate keywords is posted on a website, it increases the potential for search engines to find the website.  Weekly blogs posted on the website create frequent updates which signals to the Google-bots that your site is relevantwhen someone searches using one of your keywords.

2. Something of Value – The more you create and share content that your target audience can benefit from, the more value you bring to your offering, and consequently to your client relationships.

3. Original Content for Social Media – Your blog can be posted on social media sites as original content directly from you. Though there is no shortage of quality, industry-specific content for sharing on social media sites, posting regular content of your own makes your sites totally unique and more interesting.

4. Industry Leader – When you write, or have someone else write on behalf of your company, it signals to others that you/your business is an industry expert and thought leader. This is very affirming when establishing and maintaining credibility with prospects and referral partners.

5. Content for your next Book – You never know when you may be compelled to share your knowledge and experience with others on a grander scale. Regular blogging organizes your material in a way that makes it easier to pull together when your ready.

Some people are concerned that they don’t have enough content to do a weekly blog. You may be surprised how much expertise you have to share once you start putting it out there.  If you need help with your blog, or if you would like to get started but don’t know how, please feel free to let me know.

 

Scary Social Media Stories

Digging a Ditch(Not actually scary…more like big business blunders you want to avoid when using social media for your business)

Halloween is just around the corner, so I thought it would be fun to dedicate this week’s blog to some examples of social media horror stories and how to avoid making these kinds of mistakes as small business owners.

6 Incidents of Poor Judgement and Your Tip to Avoid:

  1. A famous actor was in a fatal Car crash and an reckless insurance company tweeted, including the Twitter handle of the victim, a snarky and self-serving “hope you had car insurance”.  The backlash was swift and powerful in outrage that someone’s tragedy would be used as an opportunity to self-promote. Tip:  Demonstrate positive ethics and good judgement. People generally don’t appreciate businesses who behave like this, even online.
  2. A Pizza company hijacked a trending hashtag (#whyIstayed) about why women stay in violent relationships, using that hashtag combined with “you had pizza”. Meaning all of the people in the conversation were talking about critical and deeply emotional issues and the obtuse pizza folks inserted pizza into the discussion as a reason people tolerate abuse. The company admitted after the colossal fallout, that the didn’t know what the hashtag was about before they jumped on the band wagon.  Tip:  Use hashtags freely, especially on Twitter. They are great for connecting with others around topics and drawing attention to your posts, but make sure you know the context of these conversations so you can use them appropriately.
  3. An athletic clothing company took advantage of an incident involving one World Cup player biting an opposing team member by showing a shirt on a male player and saying it looked so good it was hard not to take a bite. They might have been going for humor, but that is a tricky edge to balance. Tip: When in doubt, err on the side of caution. The thumbs up you get for being funny won’t be worth the judgement of using poor taste.
  4. The family of a girl who had visible facial injuries from a dog attack, were asked to leave a KFC because she was scaring the other customers. The story went viral with outrage over the shameful treatment.  KFC did the right thing and contributed a substantial check to the family for medical bills. Not only did it help that family, but the company’s response restored the brand’s reputation, maybe even elevated it. Tip:  If your company messes something up, don’t be surprised if it ends up on social media. Simply not being present online will not keep your business out of the buzz. People can, will, and do talk about companies that make mistakes, even if they aren’t there to respond.
  5. An employee had a problem with his boss and posted a nasty comment on Facebook about the working conditions and the company. His boss saw the post and promptly fired the disgruntled employee. You may be surprised to know that the tip here isn’t “be careful what you put on Facebook because you may get fired”. It is actually a heads up for the employer. Tip: Make sure you know the law before you take any action against someone for their social media content.  Check with the Fair Labor Standards Act to make sure you are on solid ground. Social media sites may be protected under the act as an employee’s right to organize. Precedence has been set in a number of similar cases where the employers lost in “Wrongful Termination” claims with the argument that employees are allowed to discuss work conditions on Facebook as a right. Here is the verbiage directly from the Act:

It is illegal for employers to fire, demote, or transfer you, or reduce your hours or change your shift, or otherwise take adverse action against you, or threaten to take any of these actions, because you join or support a union, or because you engage in concerted activity for mutual aid and protection, or because you choose not to engage in any such activity.

6. My favorite social media meltdown was the great Applebees Debacle.  A server at the restaurant posted on her personal Facebook page a picture of a check that a customer had written a snide comment on instead of leaving a tip. When the restaurant manager found out about the post, the employee was fired on the grounds of violating customers’ privacy. The story went wild with posts, shares, comments on Applebee’s Facebook page. When you’re in a hole, stop digging, but the restaurant’s PR department must have been absent the day they taught Public Relations. With each interaction, things got worse for Applebees. By responding to negative comments with arguments, defensiveness, denial, counter-attacks, and ultimately deleting threads that had already been made into screenshots, they fueled the attack all through the night. I’m sure when the executives heard about it in the morning, at least one head was rolling. Tip: Never respond to complaints by matching their emotion, even if the comment isn’t justified. I don’t know the recommended action for deflecting a angry mob in person – running the other way, climbing a tree, maybe playing dead. Where the internet is concerned, when faced with negative comments, take it like a human and respond thoughtfully, respectfully, and with the intention to resolve the problem. This will go a long way to mitigating the effects of bad press.

If you would like help avoiding an angry mob online, or just staying on top of your digital presence, give me  a holler and I’ll be happy to help.

What Every Entrepreneur Should Know About Social Media

Social MediaAs a panelist for at the  Mortgage Banker’s Association’s Mid-Atlantic Leadership Conference this week, I thought I would share my answers to the questions being asked about social media

What social media services does your company help connect clients with?

We work with all manner of digital media – social media sites, review sites, websites, directory listings, basically anywhere a business can be present online, we help our clients set it up and manage it. Our clients are small and independent businesses owners who must be careful allocating their resources. In the 7 years we’ve been doing this, we have found that Linkedin works best with more personal involvement, Twitter should be set up and then connected to Facebook so everything you post on Facebook posts on Twitter, and the majority of time, attention, and funds should go to Facebook.

Do you actually help the clients engage in Social Media?

Our clients don’t have time to curate quality content, build their audience, stay on top of posting, sharing other people’s posts, commenting, and liking the posts from their referral partners – but this is exactly how a social media platform should be managed. We do this for them and keep open lines of communication. We offer training, set-up, and full-service management where we engage with their audience on their behalf.

What are some of the “Do’s and Don’ts ” in Social Media

  1. Do set up a business page and direct all of your professional interactions and relationships there. You can still use a personal page to help promote your business, but make your business page your platform to showcase your knowledge, expertise, products/services, and engage with clients, prospects, and referral partners.
  2. Do approach your social media with a giver’s gain attitude. You will get a much better long-term outcome if your orientation comes from  “How can I help you?” rather thab “What can I get from you?”
  3. Be consistent, relevant, and audience-centered with your posts on these sites. There is no shortage of quality content from well-respected industry leaders, so share it on your page. A good guide for posting is: 3-5 times a week, varied days and times, 1 or 2 posts each time.
  4. Do get to know your audience and give them what they value. If you are a mortgage lender, provide content that a realtor would appreciate, if you are in the home services industry, share information that homeowners would find useful.
  5. Do plan to spend money on Facebook advertising, absolutely! More on that below.
  6. Don’t treat your social media like it was advertising! This will undermine all of your efforts. Since you are not exclusively focussed on self promotion, share other people’s valuable content 2/3 of your posts (let me know if you need help figuring out how to do that) and 1/3 can be self-promotion.
  7. Don’t over post or under post – too much and you will annoy your audience. I just unliked one of my client’s page likes because I couldn’t take the endless stream of hourly posts. But if you aren’t on your audience’s newsfeed at least once a week, you are forgotten, at least online.
  8. Don’t post anything controversial or provocative. Save your political and social views for your personal page. Its great to share activities, interests, and community events on your business page, but be mindful of the implications
  9. Don’t expect overnight success or a huge response without dedicating time and money to you presence.
  10. Don’t forget the social part of social media. Professionals who get the most benefit from social media: A. Use these platforms to connect with people they have met in person  B. Ask for introductions to people they want to meet   C.  Share posts as an opening to connect with someone in person. Use an integrated approach, online and offline, to market and grow your network.

How do you “drive” potential clients to your Social Media platforms?

There are a number of ways to integrate social media into existing marketing efforts such as:
  •        Put social links on everything – email signatures, collateral, websites
  •        Specifically invite connections on newsletters and emails
  •        Like pages of your audience and post something complementary about their page.
  •       Engage in groups on Facebook and Linkedin and be helpful,  not spammy
The most powerful way to drive your audience to your Facebook page is through targeted advertising. If you haven’t become familiar with Facebook’s Power Editor it is well worth checking out. The level of detail available to target your audience through this platform is incredible. Future blogs will be dedicated to this specifically because it is complex and not intuitive, but the results can be fantastic.

Concrete take-aways – what can we do today to start?

If you aren’t doing anything on social media, start by playing around with it. set up a business page and find your audience. Check out all the amazing content going on there and get in the conversation.  See what others are doing and follow their lead.

If you are already using social media but your results could be better, develop a digital marketing strategy, set a budget, and start boosting your unique content to a highly targeted audience. Follow the Do’s and Don’ts above and have fun with it.

Let me know if you need any help getting started, keeping things going, or taking your digital marketing to another level.

How One Professional is Crushing it on Facebook

Facebook for CommunityYou Don’t Have to be a Big Business to Create a Powerful Community Online

Rob Ross is a Loan Officer, Vice President, and Branch Manager with MVB Mortgage, a leading lender in Washington DC Metro, Virginia, West Virginia, and North Carolina. Rob is in charge of the DC branch and has risen to the top of his field in production and through quality work. He has also been a client of mine for several years. We post industry and regional posts on his Facebook page as a good foundation of content and consistency, then he works it like no other. His strategy is not a secret – anyone can do it, but most people don’t. I interviewed Rob to find out what he is doing in the hopes of inspiring other small and independent business owners to create community around themselves as a business.

Interview with Rob Ross:

Me: Rob, you are a very successful mortgage lender and a top producer in your company. You attribute a portion of your success to social media. The efforts you’ve put into building a strong presence as a resource, a connector, and an industry expert has positioned you well for a constant stream of business. What have been your most successful actions and what did they produce?

Rob: This is how I work my business online:

Define the Audience

You have to know your audience so you can deliver what is most important to them. Some people in my industry post mortgage news data…the kind of thing most people would find boring. My audience is made up  mostly of consumers (home buyers), former clients, and referral partners, such as realtors. If I want to stay top of mind and keep this audience engaged with me, I have to deliver content that matters to them. Social Media Maxima posts articles about real estate and the community in DC, and I add to that with pictures of happy closings, announcements of events I’m sponsoring, my marketing collateral, and share meaningful content from my network. 

Consistency

Consistency is the key to creating an online presence – making sure there is interesting, relevant, and regular content on social media sites and responding to messages in a timely manner is critical. I don’t just keep up with my own pages, If people in my community post something of value for others, I share it on my page and use that as an opening to request a meeting. This does 3 things: 1. Add more great content to  my site, 2. Acknowledge the other person for their content, which is reinforcing,  3. Provides common ground to strengthen the relationship. I do this through normal research to see who is having open houses or broker’s opens, then I use social media channels to make a positive connection.

 Be Patient and Persistent

Many people get discouraged with social media because they post for a few weeks and nothing happens. It takes time and attention to build a presence and community online and the return is not always obvious. I know that my posts are in front of people who may not call me for a mortgage today, but maybe in a year or two when they need one, I’ll be top of the list because I’m top of mind.

Think outside the box

How can you create something with your platforms that is good for others and for you? I created DC Metro Real Estate Facebook page as a place not to showcase myself but to give realtors a platform to post their listings, closings, open houses, questions, and share interesting industry information. It started with nothing, now over 17,000 people like this page. I have also done fun things on the page like put up a post “First 10 people to respond to this post will get a listing featured on the top of this page”. People responded like crazy, the site grew, realtors got greater visibility. Though II’m not self-promoting to the group, I have an incredible audience of people who I’ve been able to build quality relationships with on and offline. 

I also created Loudoun 365 Facebook page by partnering with an agent to post something new to do every day. It has taken 2 years to build it to 6,000 and so far we haven’t done any promoting. We are just building trust and giving back a resource to the community. Now that we have a great following, we can promote a first time home buying seminar on the page and expect a great turnout. It is not just for us to promote ourselves, we approach local businesses to sponsor the page with a special offer for page members. Everyone wins and anyone could do this at no cost. 

Integrated Approach

I always looking for personal touch opportunities. We work in a very dynamic industry so I leverage my connections to grow my network. I work online to develop relationships off line, it isn’t an all one or the other thing.  I also teach realtors some of the tools of the trade that has worked for me and share my knowledge and experience with them.

FB Advertising and Other Groups

I often boost posts to get a greater response. I Did an event seminar with a local home builder, advertised it on FB and had 20 people respond. This post would not have had that great a response without the extra bump. Now I have warm referrals from the event and my network continues to expand. 

Me: What would you say has been the best action you’ve taken on social media to get your name out there, rise above your competition, and build such a successful business?

Rob: Constantly sharing other people’s stuff!

Well, there you have it. I really appreciate Rob’s information and inspiration. One of the things that makes Rob so successful in his business is his genuine desire to help others. He is a really nice person, as well as a leader in his profession. I’m always advocating for a greater orientation of giving over receiving. If you have that as your modus operandi in life, you will have a much better time with social media for your business. Thanks, Rob.

Facebook Groups are Good for Business

Facebook GroupsIt is About Presence and Connections

If you are using social media for your business, you already accept the reality that inbound marketing is not advertising and traditional bottom line and ROI assessments are different here. Engaging in groups, with a eye toward helping your business is taking that social  media to a new level.  Are a member of any Facebook group? They present a unique opportunity to connect with others around a common theme, such as industries – realtors, chiropractors, authors…, local  – Real Housewives of _____, Single Parents of ______, 365 Things to do in _____, Existing Groups – people taking a course together, networking groups, organizers for a large event, Interests – golfers, wine lovers, spirituality.  If there is a way to organize people around something, there is probably a Facebook group for it. If not, you can be the first to start one.  Here we are looking at two ways to participate in groups that could help your business, and as always, tips throughout to help you get the most out of it.

The best way to promote your business in groups is counter-intuitive for many entrepreneurs. Like everything else in social media, it is more about giving than receiving. By positioning yourself as helpful, supportive, and knowledgable, you build trust and presence that goes toward building a strong internet voice. Two ways to leverage the strength of Facebook groups:

Join and Engage in a Variety of Groups

Look for groups in the Facebook search bar based on your industry and audience. Or, if you want to be more targeted in your search, click on the “new groups” tab to the left of your “Home” screen under the “Groups” tab. This will open up options to find groups based on Facebook’s suggestions, your friends’ groups, and local groups. I suggest you check the group’s “About” section, number of members (bigger isn’t always better), and level of engagement before you join. If you do get into a group that you don’t like, it is easy to leave. Open groups you can join right away, closed groups require approval and secret groups will not show up in your search because they require an invitation.

Once you find some groups that suit your interests, make sure you are clear about the group rules before you start posting. Most groups want their members to introduce themselves and welcome your 10 second (not minute) elevator pitch and link your website/Facebook page. Some groups don’t allow any promotion, others have it organized by day/posts, and some are all about business promotion. A good rule to follow – when in doubt, ask. I request permission from group administrators before I post my blog in their groups. I haven’t had anyone say no yet and once I get it, I post my articles and engage with the group members on my topics.

Some examples of groups interaction that could be good exposure for business:

  • A group member asks for information that is in your area of expertise. You respond with your brilliant insight for all the group members to see. I just saw this happen and the person offering advice got a lot of interest for her services from other group members
  • You see a post asking for referrals for the service you offer…no brainer “I can help you with that”. It happens frequently in local groups, mostly for business to consumer services, but you have to be there to see it
  • You post your blog, article, or if allowed, a special offer, and people respond. Make sure your post is attractive and compelling, with a clickable link to a sales or contact page.
  • On the flip-side, spammy posts and comments can get you kicked out of a group and publicly shamed for doing so.

Like most other things in social media, beware of the rabbit hole. It is easy to get sucked into group discussions, either as a participant or observer. Limit your participation to discussions that you can contribute to in a helpful way. Consider accessing the support of the group by asking for information or feedback. Be authentic and don’t use your post to sneak in your promotions.

Start Your Own Facebook Group

Once you have had some experience in Facebook groups, you may want to start your own around an interest, industry, network, event, or offering. You will want to have critical mass before you launch a new group. The last thing you want is to be the administrator of a Facebook group that nobody cares about. If you can start with a core group of committed individuals who will participate in the group, you can build from there. Your content should be relevant, timely, and interesting to group members. Give them a reason to want to connect in your group.

Future blogs will go into the mechanics of starting a Facebook group and reveal some case studies of successful strategies to using Facebook groups to promote yourself and your business. We will also talk more about best practice for group moderators and how to manage online behavior in your group.

Keep in mind that Facebook groups can only be joined and engage in from a personal profile, so you will be participating as yourself, not your business. This means that when you are referencing your business you do so with a link to your website or Facebook page. Also, interaction in groups does not show up in your newsfeed, so your Facebook friends will not see your posts and interactions in your groups. Finally, try to maintain a consistent presence in the few groups that matter to you. Like and comment on other people’s posts. It is not uncommon for business relationships, strategic partnerships, and even new customers to come as a result of quality group interaction. As always, if you have any questions, please give me a shout, I’m always happy to help.

Social Proof Matters

Crowd surfing5 Things to Keep in Mind About Human Behavior Online

The next in our “Building Community” blog series focusses on some foundational concepts of human behavior.  In the current digital vernacular, you may hear terms like, “social proof” and “social influence” thrown around to explain group behaviors online. These are psychological explanations for human tendencies that marketers and other professional influencers are successful at capitalizing on.  The ethics of sleazy marketing aside, understanding human behavior is essential to creating and communicating your message so that it is heard, and the desired action is taken.

Social Proof is the human tendency to follow the example of others, particularly when the correct behavior is loosely defined and unclear. It is a kind of conformity that encourages certain behavior, based on an individual’s belief that the others in that situation have more knowledge or expertise.  Unlike social influence, where motivation comes from a desire to be accepted, understood, appreciated, or liked, social proof is a bit more like herd mentality. This explains how content on social media goes viral, how a group of detractors can become like an angry mob, and why review sites have become a major driver of success, or failure, for business.

Why is this important for business owners and marketers to understand? Consider online reviews as a platform based on social proof.  According to Kissmetrics article on social proof:

70% of Americans say they look at product reviews online before they purchase
63% of consumers are more likely to buy from sites that have reviews

These statistics support what most of us already know, (maybe because we are a part of this group) that we value the opinion of other like-minded people (consumers of the product we are considering). How many times have you followed the purchasing behavior of other people you don’t know, because you trust their experience and knowledge as fellow consumers? You may have nothing else in common with that reviewer, no shared beliefs, experience, or culture, but their 1-Star rating and negative commentary on that waffle iron can plant enough doubt that we move away from that product. That’s powerful.

Here are a couple of points to consider about social proof:

  1. Always give your best products and service. That may seem obvious, but some business owners are not in tune with the extent of the negative implications of poor performance. For example, your business can get a Yelp review even if it doesn’t have a Yelp account.  Members of Facebook groups share reviews with each other freely. Example – a post in a local Facebook group with 12,000 members, that the owner of Jimmy Johns Sandwich Shop is a big game hunter, recently killing a lion in Africa, and included a disturbing image of the kill.  The outcry in the group was swift and stern, with most of the sentiment being a vow never to eat there again. One of the group members owns a local Jimmy Johns franchise and weighed in with a plea not to punish individual business owners for the deplorable actions at the top, but she didn’t get much play with that. I’m sure her business suffered, at least temporarily.
  2. Social proof levels the playing field. As consumers of products and participants in services, events, and offerings, we no longer have to swallow marketing messages hook, line and sinker. We look to a larger audience to validate and shape our decisions, taking some of the power of influence out of the hands of business and into the hands of “the group”.
  3. Frame marketing messages in positive terms. When we use examples of lots of people doing the wrong thing, as a way to encourage the right behavior, the opposite effect is created. For example, “thousands of people fail to pay their taxes each year” is internalized as a confirmation that it must be ok not to pay your taxes if so many people are doing it. This is a handy little trick to how the brain processes information to sometimes filter out the negative. It is the same reason why dieters are told never to say to themselves, “Don’t eat that!”, because the brain conveniently internalized the important part…Eat That!
  4. The stronger the connection the better. Social proof exists when we feel connected in some way to the behavior of others. The example above of the negative waffle iron review is made even stronger if the website was for people who are professional chefs, or a post on a neighborhood forum.  Family and friends, of course, have the greatest influence on us and the power of influence weakens the lower the intensity of the connection.
  5. Use images with faces. People connect with images and even more when those images are other people’s faces. I’m sure the example above of the Jimmy Johns post would have met with significantly less outrage had there been no picture of the offensive behavior to react to. This also applies to positive messages encouraging people to take advantage of your offer.

The phenomenon of social proof and influence is real and drives much of our digital environment. As a small business owner, looking to make an impact on your target audience online, it is good to understand some mechanisms that shape your audience’s attention. With this knowledge, you are better able to craft messages that encourage engagement to build your online community.

Know Your “Why”

Know Your WhyI have been on a blog hiatus for various reasons and have come to the conclusion that writing is one of the best tools to leverage for my business. I have written articles about the value of blogging and writing, but it wasn’t until I stopped that I really experienced the loss of something meaningful to me and my business. I’m back now and will dedicate future articles to extolling the benefits of blogging and details to make it work for you. For this article, it is back to basics…

For those of us with an increasingly short attention span, see the ADHD Summary below

What’s the Point?

Have you heard the expression, “Start with the end in mind”? Steven Covey wrote this in Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, but he is by no means the only one to advocate for this idea. It is an argument for planning and goal setting, in a culture that promotes jumping into action, then people give up when the results don’t meet unreasonable expectations. By starting with a clearly defined and obtainable outcome in mind you can create a manageable path to that outcome

This is also true for digital marketing and social media engagement for business. If you are not clear about the outcome you are striving for in social networking your business, how will you know if you are get it ? What are realistic goals for businesses using social media? Are the outcomes you are seeing good enough or can they be better? All these questions, and more, can and should be answered when you set up a digital marketing campaign. The resources available to help you figure this out are abundant – both online and professional guidance from companies like Social Media Maxima.

Since many small business owners and entrepreneurs do not understand the real purpose and function of social media for business, they  often take the wrong approach or have no plan at all. If, for example, the end you have in mind is that your Facebook page will drive traffic and paying customers to your website, but your approach is to post an article every once in a while and have no interaction with your audience, you are probably not going to get business from Facebook. If you want to develop a platform to showcase your products and services, but do not engage with an audience, you will have a lovely Facebook page that no one will see or care about.

Once a business owners understands that social media is inbound marketing and the benefit goes beyond the bottom line, there are some very reasonable and valuable outcomes (end) from engaging in social media for your business.  Here are some suggested actions (path) to take to achieve that end:

Brand Development

Create an attractive page. Make sure the cover/profile images posts and shared content are consistent with your message. Your website, collateral material, messaging, color schemes, images, etc. should be in sync. For more support on brand development and strategy, seek the help of professionals like SPT and True Consulting.

Thought Leadership

Write articles, blogs, and posts that inform and inspire your industry and share on digital platforms. Interact with your peers and other interested observers on these platforms to share your knowledge and expertise. Help forums often have the option for the community to answer questions posed by platform users. This is a great way to help others and establish yourself as an industry expert. Avoid presenting yourself up as a “guru”, as that may have the reverse effect.

Presence in the community

Like the pages of other businesses and organizations in your area, Chamber or Commerce, and other business groups. Engage with them on their pages, like their posts, offer supportive comments, and share their content on your page where appropriate. Participate in community events and share pictures and event details on your page.

Get More Paying Customers

This is the most common, and least effective outcome for most small business. Approaching social media with this as a primary goal is treating social networks like advertising platforms. This is the number one misconception about digital marketing and the reason why so many small business owners are disillusioned with their results.  The only real path to success if increasing revenue is your goal is to throw money at it. Dedicate funds to social media advertising and keep your pages up with relevant and interesting content. If you have trouble keeping up with the demands of creating a powerful online presence, hire a professional social media management company. Advertising will drive people to your platforms, and you want to wow them when they get there. 

All of these are valid outcomes to expect from social media engagement for your business. They all require dedication of resources in the form of time, attention, consistency, and in some cases, money. Putting adequate resources to these ends is as good a return on investment, if not better, than many traditional paths to market business. One of the best things small business owners can do to adjust to the new digital age is accept the reality that there is NO FREE marketing and establish a budget to incorporate these actions.  Just make sure your goals and strategy are realistic and you stay with your plan. If you aren’t certain what are realistic goals and strategies, there are a lot of resources online, or seek the support of a professional like Social Media Maxima, Inc.

ADHD Summary –

* Social media is not advertising and treating it that way will lead to disappointment

* Know what you want from engaging in social media for your business

* Set up realistic expectations for your campaigns

* Educate yourself or get professional help if you aren’t sure how to set up a campaign

* If you want more revenue, spend some money