Tag Archives: social media for business

Setting Social Media Goals

Goal SettingGetting Clear on What You Want

There are several ways that social media can be good for your business, but let’s start with the assumption that small business’ primary goal for engaging in social media is to get customers and make more money. This is a goal for all business, or we wouldn’t survive. Though participation is digital marketing is not a necessity for most business survival, it may be key to the company’s strength and growth potential.

There are a lot of resources to help people make goals and different goal setting models. The most popular one is the SMART system,  where your goals need to be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic (or Relevant), and Timely. This is certainly a good method if it suits you. There are also other systems, such as OKS – Objectives and Key Results, BSQ – think Big, act Small, be Quick, or BHAG – Big, Harry, Audacious Goal. A good description of how to use these paradigms related to social media can be found in this article from Buffer. Any of these, or other structure for organizing your goals, can be used. The main thing is to organize, write down, assess, and revise your goals as a tool to set and measure progress.

Before embarking on any goal setting journey, you would do well to have a good sense of your WHY. Referencing our blog from August entitled “Know Your Why“, grounding in your purpose will shape your best actions toward achieving your goal. Knowing your why is more than setting goals, it is keeping the focus on the big picture as a framework for achieving what you want.

Assuming that your overarching social media goal is to increase revenue, let’s look at some of ways social media objectives can support that goal, albeit sometimes indirectly, but still related. Though revenue is the main goal for business to engage in social media, it is not the only or even necessarily the best. Because inbound marketing is not advertising, establishing a plan of action as if it were may lead to disappointment. Goals related to, for example, maintaining a dynamic online presence so when people check you out online, you look professional and impressive is a legitimate, but not direct income generating goal.

Objectives/Actions – here you get more specific about how you are going to accomplish your goal. Your objective establishes the answers to What, Who, When, and Where.  This is the foundation for your action plan.

Example:

Why; We want our business to have an impressive presence online, to be a clear and public reflection of the best we have to offer, add value to our audience, and create a community around us.

Goal: Engage on industry-appropriate social platforms to increase business opportunities, referral sources, client base, and revenue by 20%.

Objectives:

  1. Set up social media platforms and manage with regular posts of interest to target audience (as defined from the last week’s blog on “Developing a Kick-Butt Marketing Strategy for 2016“)
  2. Identify key referral sources, connect with them on platforms = like, share, retweet, and comment on their posts
  3. Reach out specifically to those new connections to meet, exchange business, and/or create opportunities based on synergy
  4. Establish a social media advertising campaign and budget to increase page reach to identified audience
  5. Measure success of ad campaigns and adjust message, targets, or budget accordingly
  6. Develop a social media mindset which includes healthy bragging about the company, engaging with customers through images and reviews, asking for people to engage on social platforms, and take every real-life connection online to and work it there.

There is little doubt that if the objectives were carried out consistently and effectively, the goal defined above would be achieved. The details of the plan should include elements like who is going to be responsible, how are they going to get content, what type of specials to promote, what to offer when you ask for connections, etc.

If you aren’t getting the results you were hoping for, it is important to do an analysis before determining that social media doesn’t work. For example:

  1. Look at the goal to make sure it is reasonable. In the example above, the goal was set to raise revenue by 20%. Is that realistic for an initial social media campaign, in that industry and business?
  2. Are there enough funds dedicated to advertising to get that return?
  3. Is the offer being promoted compelling enough to capture interest and bring customers in?
  4. How is the revenue tracked on the back end to make sure all leads coming from Facebook are tracked?
  5. Has there been adequate outreach both in and online?
  6. Are there any other areas on social networks that could be improved to get a better result?

Goal setting for social media can be as simple or complex as you want. You can get very detailed with editorial calendars and checking insights daily, or not, based on your business approach. The important thing is to have a plan based in reality, get a sense if it is working, be flexible to adjust as needed, and be dedicated and consistent with your efforts. I always caution people not to get too focused on a goal of “get more revenue”, without also giving value to the other benefits of having a rocking internet presence. Those things cannot be quantified with a dollar amount of return, but their value can be immeasurable.

Please let me know if you would like some help with setting actionable goals on social media.

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.

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.

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

 

10 Social Media Mistakes Made by Business

Laurel and Hardy Learn from Others’ Folly

There are a lot of “How to” tips out there, I’ve written quite a few myself.  It can be just as effective to learn what not to do by seeing how others are handling, or mishandling, their social media. This blog is an extended version of the talking points on social media errors I’ve prepared for my interview on the Arnette Show.

Businesses are Flocking to Social Media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest to market their business, but do they know what they are doing? In many cases, yes. Those savvy business owners have researched the field, they know the what, when, how, and why of their inbound marketing approach. They may have reached this level of sophistication through their own efforts, or maybe hired a professional company such as ours to help them. Either way, they are well positioned to take advantage of the benefits others are seeing on social media sites. For companies that are not getting such a great return, here are a few tips to improve your digital presence by seeing the mistakes you may be making, probably without even knowing it.

Here are some mistakes businesses are making on social media:

  1. Fire Hose Approach – If you don’t have huge resources to dedicate to your inbound marketing campaign, start small and build from there. Begin with Facebook and get comfortable with that, then add Twitter or Linkedin Groups, Pinterest, etc.
  2. Trial and Error – Sometimes learning the hard works, other times it is just not efficient or effective. Get professional help, but if that is outside your budget, do your own research to make sure your sites are set up correctly and your on the right track. All of the platforms have good help sections that answer most of your technical questions.
  3. Me, Me, Me – Businesses that don’t understand or accept the Social nature of Social Media treat it like a megaphone on the corner announcing products, services, and specials…annoying others with mono-directional communication.
  4. Social? –  It is easy to get so caught up in the tasks of running an inbound marketing campaign that you forget to be social. When someone posts a comment, likes, or shares your post, it is not just good manners to respond. Acknowledging the effort someone took to interact is a demonstration of your connection to your audience. The converse is also true…no response = lack of connection, which does nothing to build a positive digital presence.
  5. Follow Me – When business pages connect with other pages, it is considered good form to connect back. This is especially true on Twitter. If you want others to like and follow your pages, but you do not respond in kind, you are sending a message that energy only flows one way, and again, not good for the business presence.
  6. Poor Image – It is amazing how many businesses make the effort to create a Facebook page but don’t bother with how it looks. At a minimum, a good cover image and a correctly sized profile picture is the least you should have on your page. Try to look at your digital presence from an outside perspective and ask yourself if you came to your page with no knowledge of the business, would you be impressed?
  7. Too Much Text – People are visual and respond best to images. Try to include a picture with every post and by all means, keep text to one or two sentences. Whole paragraphs or two reflects a misunderstanding of how people use and want to relate to social media.
  8.  Guilt by Association – Who you like and follow is a reflection on your company’s image. Make sure you are connected to quality business pages that also make you look good. They don’t all have to be in your industry. As a matter of fact, business pages with connections to other local business in other fields demonstrates a broader sense of community. Not liking any business pages is also a bad sign, going again to that issue of social and connections.
  9. Over or Under Posting – There is a right amount of content distribution for your business. A good guide to use is  5 – 10 posts per week, spread out over 7 days at various times. This keeps you present with your audience.  Too much and you will annoy your audience and they will leave you. Too little and they will forget about you all together.
  10. Spamming Linkedin – Because you can reach your connections through inmail on Linkedin, some people take this as an open invitation to promote themselves to everyone they know. The upgraded service allows even greater access to Linkedin members, making it even easier to send unsolicited messages to people. Not cool. A better way to interact on Linkedin is to get into some groups and start engaging in the dialogs there.

I hope these suggestions were helpful. If you need help with your social media management, please contact us for a complementary consultation.