Tag Archives: social media management

Tips for Meeting the Increasing Demands of Digital Marketing

Staying on toStrategies for Staying on top of Social Media

Business owners often struggle with a never-ending “To Do” list for running their companies, and it seems to be getting longer all the time. Digital marketing, in all its varied forms, is becoming increasingly important as your target audience is searching for and finding products and services like yours on the internet. Marketing experts, like us, can help you sort through all of the possibilities and develop an effective strategy,  employing a mix of social media, blogging, email marketing, Facebook advertising, Pay per Click, local SEO (Search Engine Optimization), and review site management, to grow your client/referral base. With all of these resources available and requiring attention,  how can you stay on top of Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin multiple times a week, not to mention a weekly blog, email campaigns, videos creation, and reputation management?  If you recognize the value these activities will bring to your business, but don’t have the funds to hire a professional or outsource it, consider these tips to make it work efficiently for you.

6 Tips for Digital Marketing Management:

  1. Search for Resources – The number of resources available to help businesses manage their digital marketing is amazing, and more coming on the scene all the time. For example, a platform called Falcon Social allows you to combine your online platforms into one for efficient management. Another service call Wishpond allows you to create landing pages.  Periscope allows you to stream live video to anyone all over the world.  is a cool tool that helps you construct posts for your social media and BombBomb is a video platform for dynamic email campaigns. These are just a couple of ideas; there really are more tools available than you can reasonably master.
  2. Schedule it – Schedule tasks which add value to your business and honor that commitment. You may want to choose a time of day each day, or get into an every other day routine for engaging in social media.  If you use an automation tool like Hootsuite , you can schedule your posts for the entire month if you want. Just make sure you go on your social media sites regularly to engage with others (it’s not just about churning out content). Facebook also has a scheduling function now, so you can create your post and set the day/time you want it to appear on your wall.
  3. Limit your time – The internet can be a rabbit hole, in part because there is so much good and interesting content being presented (you want to be someone who also provides quality content). It’s easy to get sucked in and lose track of time. Before you know it an hour, or hours have past and the rest of your “To Do” list is falling behind. If this is a problem for you, try limiting yourself to 15 minutes at a time and interact on all your platforms. If you decide to write a blog, spend no more than 2 hours per week writing, editing, optimizing, and posting it. Find some times of the day that are easier for you to focus on this, for example, first thing in the morning before you start your work, or at night while relaxing in front of the television.
  4. Strategic connections – Think about who you want to connect with before you go online and go right to find them. Look for people, organizations, and industry leaders who you want to associate with and interact on their platforms. Like their Facebook pages, follow them on Twitter, request a connection on Linkedin. Once you are connected, it is easy to maintain the relationship by liking, commenting, and sharing their posts as appropriate. You can do this on your Facebook business page by clicking on your “Home” button, scrolling down your newsfeed to see the posts from your connections and interaction from there.
  5. Don’t overdo it – It is possible to do too much and too often on social media platforms. Some social media novices get carried away and load their platforms with posts, reposts, shares, and retweets. This can have the reverse effect where you end up annoying your target audience and they may disconnect from you.
  6.  Other sites – Resources like Yelp, online directories, and your website require regular attention too, though not as often as social media interaction. Check on, manage, and update all your online platforms regularly.

If you are having difficulty staying on top of your digital presence, even after practicing these tips, you may want to consider hiring a professional marketing company to handle all of this for you.

If you have any questions or would like help with this, please Contact Us for a complementary consultation.

Promoting Events on Facebook

Facebook eventsUsing Social Media for Successful Events

If you are holding an event, training, or gathering, you may want to announce and promote it on Facebook. You can do this on your personal or business page, or better yet…both. Here are the instructions from Facebook’s Help Center (with some modifications for clarity) to direct you through setting up events on your page.

To create an event on your business Page

  1. Go to your Page, then click Offer, Event + or Event, Milestone + at the top of your Page’s Timeline in the post box
  2. Select Event
  3. Add details about your event, add a photo, and put in date, time, and description. Events on pages are public
  4. Click Publish, or click the down arrow on the blue publish link to schedule the post for a later date

To create an event on your Personal page:

  1. Click the down arrow next to “more” just under the cover image
  2. Scroll down and click on Event, then click on Create Event
  3. The event will default to a private event, so that you will need to invite attendees. If you would like the event to be public, click on the down arrow at the top that says “Create Private Event” and click on the option to make event public
  4. Fill in the event name, details, location, time and date. Keep in mind that you must include an event name and time
  5. After you publish, Tap on Invite and your list of  friends will come up. Tap the names of the people you want to invite and then click Send Invite
  6. You can click on the option to let guests invite other or to show the guest list

You’ll be taken to your event where you can share posts, upload photos, invite more guests and edit event details.

How do I control who sees or joins my event?

When creating an event, the host can choose between the following privacy settings:

  • Private Event: Visible only to the people who are invited. You can choose to allow guests to invite their friends. People who aren’t invited cannot view the event description, photos, Wall posts and videos.
  • Public Event: Visible to anyone on or off Facebook. Anyone can also see the event description, photos, Wall posts and videos.

Note: Once you create an event, you won’t be able to change the event’s privacy settings.

To see who’s responded to an event invitation, go to the event, then tap Going, Maybe or Invited to see who’s responded.

To see who’s declined an invitation, go to the event on a computer.

To keep an accurate count of who’s attending an event, hosts of private events are able to update a guest’s RSVP. To update a guest’s RSVP to an event you’re hosting, find the person’s response or search for their name, and click to update their RSVP.

Note: For private events, hosts and other guests are able to see when you’ve viewed an event invitation.

How can I add photos or video to an event?

Hosts can add a main photo for the event from a desktop computer. To add a photo or video to an event’s Wall:

  1. Tap Post >
  2. Select a photo or several photos from your phone’s library or tap the camera icon in the library to take a new photo or video
  3. After choosing your photo or video, write something about it, tag people or add a place. Then tapPost
  4. If you are posting an event on your business page, and you want to include other businesses, at @Facebook Name to tag the business

If this is a public event, anyone who views the event can see its photos and videos. The photos and videos posted on private events are only visible to people who were invited. Hosts can remove photos or videos from their event.

Promoting your events on Facebook is a great way to increase attendance, visibility, connections, and digital reach. Let me know if you have any questions.

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.

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

 

How to Stay on Top of Digital Marketing

Juggling Everything

Keeping it all in Hand

Busy Business Owners Juggling it All

Business owners often struggle with a never-ending “To Do” list for running their companies, and it seems to be getting longer all the time. Digital marketing, in all its varied forms, is becoming increasingly important as more and more of your target audience is searching for and finding products and services on the internet. Marketing experts like us recommend employing a hearty dose of social media, blogging, local SEO (Search Engine Optimization), and review site management, to grow your client/referral base. With everything else you have to deal with, how can you stay on top of Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin multiple times a week, not to mention a weekly blog, email campaigns, videos creation, and reputation management?  If you recognize the value these activities will bring to your business, but don’t have the resources to hire someone to help you with it, consider these tips to make it work efficiently for you.

7 Tips for Digital Marketing Management:

  1. Search for Resources – The number of resources available to help businesses manage their digital marketing is amazing, and more coming on the scene all the time. For example, a platform called Uberflip allows you to combine your online platforms into one for efficient management. Another service call Wishpond allows you to create your own landing pages. Storytellit is a cool tool that helps you construct posts for your social media and BombBomb is a video platform for dynamic email campaigns. These are just a few of the resources I found while searching for ideas for making digital marketing more efficient, effective, and fun.
  2. Schedule it – You are busy meeting the demands of your business and you probably know how easy it is to let something go if you don’t mark it on your calendar. Schedule tasks which have value to you and your business and honor your own schedule. You may want to choose a time of day each day, or get into an every other day routine. You can schedule it any time you want, even late at night or early in the morning when fewer people will see your post. If you use an automation tool like Hootsuite you can find or create your content whenever you want and set it to show up on your social media sites at a better time of day.
  3. Limit your time – The internet can be a bit of a rabbit hole; its easy to get sucked in and lose track of time. Before you know it an hour, or hours have past and the rest of your “To Do” list is falling behind. Try something like limiting yourself to 15 minutes each morning to interact on all your platforms and stick with it. If you decide to write a blog, spend no more than 2 hours per week writing, editing, optimizing, and posting it.
  4. Strategic connections – Think about who you want to connect with before you go online and go right for them. Look for people, organizations, and industry leaders who you want to associate with and interact on their platforms. Like their Facebook pages, follow them on Twitter, request a connection on Linkedin. Once you are connected, it is easy to maintain the relationship by liking, commenting, and sharing their posts as appropriate. You can do this on your Facebook business page by clicking on your “Home” button, scrolling down the posts and interaction from there.
  5. Consider your personal resources – Schedule your social media at a time when you are not pressured about other demands, such as  during lunch, before your work day begins, or in the evening while relaxing. Though it is a task that requires regular attention, it should be approached with the intention of building community.
  6. Don’t overdo it – It is possible to do too much and too often on social media platforms. Some social media novices get carried away and load their platforms with posts, reposts, shares, and retweets. This can have the reverse effect and end up annoying your target audience and they may disconnect from your sites.
  7.  Resources like Yelp, online directories, and your website require regular attention too, even though not as often as social media interaction. Plan to check on, manage, and update all your online platforms regularly.

If you are having a difficult time staying on top of your digital presence for  your business, even after enacting these tips, you may want to consider hiring a professional marketing company like Social Media Maxima, to handle all of this for you.

If you have any questions or would like help with this, please Contact Us for a complementary consultation.

How Does Your Website Measure Up?

websitesWhich is Best for You, D-I-Y or Professional Website?

Have you ever gone to a website and been instantly turned off by the look or get frustrated looking for basic information so you navigate to another site that has what you are looking for?  I am surprised at the number of lackluster websites I see while searching the internet.  Sometimes I’m surfing as part of my business and sometimes as a consumer, but always with an eye toward form and function.  I’m not having a go at other businesses, but for many small business owners, there seems to be a gap between the recognition of the importance of a website and the resources allocated for it. Websites that are old and outdated, cluttered, poorly organized, or visually unappealing, trigger these questions:

* Is this business is new or struggling such that they have no funds to dedicate to their online presence?

* Is the business owner unaware of just how unimpressive their website is and the possible negative consequences of having a poor website?

* Does the business owner lack adequate knowledge about the importance of having a quality website for any business?

A company’s website is arguably the most important marketing tool in their suite of resources, to showcase their business and attract prospects. This is a storefront, if you will, without borders of time, space, and distance. According to Pew Research Center, 85% of adults in this country use the internet and well over half search the internet before they buy. That is an enormous number of people using this technology for everything imaginable. Even if most of  your business comes through referrals, those people who have been recommended to you are very likely to check you out online before doing business with you. If you website does not do your products and services justice, those prospects might choose someone else. Prospective clients and customers are not the only people checking you out online. Most businesses operate in an industry where other professionals are flowing business to other companies. Your website should be inviting to your entire audience and make it enticing to want to do business with you.

This blog is not about SEO, Search Engine Optimization, which is an important element of website health, but rather looking at the design and functionality of the site. What is the user experience when they get to your site? Is the first impression one that suggests a quality organization? Is there enough content on the site to encourage visitors to stay and interact? Is there a call to action to take the next step closer in the buying process? Is the site easy to navigate and find information about your products and services? Is it easy to read? Simple things like color, font size, and spacing can make the difference that converts visitors to customers or conversely to lost prospects.

If budget is a serious concern, I challenge you to think about how much is your image worth? That may be hard to quantify, but you probably spend money on other things to enhance your image…clothes, collateral, office location, etc. If it was clear that your website was not helping your image, you would be wise to dedicate resources to it. The level of resource allocation varies widely based on what you want to accomplish with your website. I would go so far as to boldly say – if you can’t afford any resources for a quality website, you may want to reconsider being in business, it is that important.

At the very low end, there are some decent D-I-Y sites that are better than no site at all. All you have to do is Google “cheap websites” and a bunch of options are there to choose from. If you are a start-up with truly nothing to spend on digital marketing, you are already good with technology sites, or you welcome a good challenge, this is an affordable option. Keep in mind that there is a reason these website services are so cheap. They are primarily based on prescribed templates that you fit your content into. They may have options to enhance the site, but you have to do it yourself and it is not always as easy as it seems. Think through what you need from a website, such as a “Contact Us” form that your prospects fill out and you receive. You may want to put up a gallery of images or video, special offers, or a lead capture system that a template doesn’t offer. You may have to hire someone to help you get the site the way you want it if full support is not available.

High-end professionally designed sites usually range between $3,000 – $10,000 to design and develop and the functionality is very robust. This could include messaging, high level strategy, logo and other graphic design, an integrated system, e-commerce, database, and any way you want your website to look and function. This is a great option for businesses that have the budget to dedicate to a fully customizable and highly polished web presence and the companies that offer this service do a fantastic job.

Mid-level professional sites – There is the option in between, where we fit in. You can have a custom-designed site at an affordable price. Our sites are designed and developed by professionals in the industry and we don’t use templates. We can make the site look and feel the way you want and have partners to handle the aspects we don’t do, such as branding, messaging, and graphic design.  This is an excellent choice for many small businesses who need a new or upgraded website, they are not going to do it themselves, but also don’t have thousands of dollars up front to pay for a site.

What is a website worth? How does your company use their website? Have you ever said to a prospect – “check us out online”? If you haven’t, is that because you don’t have anywhere “online” for them to go? Is it because you don’t have a very attractive or helpful site where sending possible clients there may not help your business? If you don’t think about inviting people to your site, is it because you are so accustomed to doing business the old fashioned way and haven’t yet caught up with the your audience is using the internet to search? If you are not sure how your website measures up, stay tuned for our next blog on “Your Website Report Card” and we will show you how to assess your own site. Of course, you can Contact Us for more information or to set up a complementary consultation and assessment of your website.

 

Collaborative Social Media Management

Collaborative Social Media ManagementWould you hire a professional painting company to redesign the look of  your home and not tell them what you had in mind? How about having a financial advisor put your money in whatever vehicles they wanted without your input? How much sense would it make to contract a social media manager, or task a employee to manage the company’s online marketing, branding, audience, connections, and image, but give them little material, direction, requests, or feedback to that end? Sounds silly, doesn’t it?

I trust Certapro Painters of Loudoun because I know they are a good company. I have faith that as professional quality painters they will do a good job making my house look great. But I don’t expect them to know the details of what I want –  if I want interior or exterior, the whole  house or just a few rooms, if I like wild colors or subdued, trim painted the same or a different color. As good as they are, they can’t create my perfect look without some collaboration from their client. It makes perfect sense in this context, yet so many business professionals treat their social media and digital marketing efforts just this way. Business owners are usually stretched thin with divergent demands, so it is understandable that they would consider outsourcing or delegating this function to get it off their plates entirely. But this is where the challenge lies – how to engage, how much to engage, what do business owners expect others to do for them and what do they contribute to maximize the benefits?

Unfortunately, with social media, or any other aspect of business for that matter, a totally hands-off approach will likely yield less than stellar results and sometimes cause serious problems. Even employees, if given insufficient direction and information, will struggle with their tasks and the organization will suffer. This is also true when hiring a vendor to manage your online presence – without good collaboration and input from the client, even the most sophisticated and professional social media managers will have trouble crafting and maintaining the best personalized image for the company.

Business owners who don’t understand social media as a business tool, may believe content posted on their sites is the activity; they may not understand the power and importance of reflecting the brand accurately or creating a community of interest around the brand. In this case, a social media campaign in simply content distribution and the business is not getting the full benefit of digital networking. If you are a business owners who has someone else managing your online presence, and you want the to get the most from your social media campaigns, follow these tips and feel free to add your own from what has worked for you:

1. Respond to requests from your social media manager – they will use the information you provide to your benefit on your social media platforms

2. Start with expectations clearly spelled out and agreed upon, for items such as content sources, communication channels, posting/interacting frequency, company social media policy, how to engage the audience, etc.

2. Start to develop a social media mindset (topic for a future blog) – think “I’m going to post this article on Facebook“, “I should Tweet about this event” and “I need to link with that person on Linkedin

3. Send the information from #2 to the person managing your accounts and request specific action – post your item on Facebook, Tweet about your event, and find and request the connection on Linkedin

4. If there is a post on one of your platforms that you question, communicate with your account manager and be specific. Help guide the person’s understanding of your business, brand, and personality. There may have been nothing “wrong” with the post, but if it does not reflect your business the way you would, you have to communicate that effectively

5. Keep in mind that social media is not just about promoting your business. A good social media manager will post articles and links on your platforms that expand your presence, reach, and image. As long as the post is not inappropriate, consider this on the basis of how you audience might benefit from the information

As a business owner, your online presence is as important as any other avenue for promoting and highlighting your company. We encourage you to collaborate with those you have charged with its presentation and together create the perfect social media campaign. Contact us if you would like more information or our free white paper on Social Media for Business.

What is Instagram

Instagram

Why You May Want to Check Out Instagram

Instagram is a relatively young social media platform, but it has increased popularity recently. Though it has a lot of users, many people in business do not know what it is or how to use it.  It is a great social media platform for businesses with highly visual products and services. Instagram is a photo-sharing app to be used on a smart phone. this is a social media platform in that you have the option to follow people, post pictures and text, and interact with others about their pictures.

Here are a few facts about Instagram: 

  • Launched on October 6, 2010
  • There are 150 million active users each month
  • 60% of the users are outside the U.S.
  • Average of 55 million photos posted daily
  • It reached #1 in the App Store within 24 hours of launch
  • Launched 7 new languages
  • Facebook purchased Instagram for $1 billion

So why is Instagram so popular?

Easy to Set Up – Go to the app store for your phone, download the app, register by either putting in a username and password or logging in through Facebook. You will want to set up your profile like any other social media platform, with a profile image and basic information.

Sharing Photos:  pictures can be taken through the Instagram app or pulled from your phone’s cameral roll? A caption or description can be added, so your viewers know what you are sharing. The image will go on your page and you can also share it on other main social media platforms.

Photo Enhancement:  The app includes many filters which you can use to change the look of your image. You can use other photo manipulation apps to edit your photos to post on Instagram as well.

Social: Connecting with others is a main feature of this app. Like with Twitter, you follow people and then see the pictures they post in your stream. You can like and comment on their photos too. Because you photos will be public, you may get questions about the picture from anyone. This app is very popular with younger individuals and tends to be a more relaxed community.

Connecting with People: Instagram allows you to follow your current connections on other platforms easily by brining up the list of your connections that are also on Instagram with a “follow” button.  Instagram will also suggest users if you like. The Popular Page shows images that have gotten a lot of likes. which pix currently have the most Likes.  You may want to follow some of the people who post great pictures.

Amazing Pictures –  There are beautiful images presented on this platform. You can also follow people who post images of things that speak to your interests, such as dogs, landscapes, ocean life, etc.

Instagram is easy to use and fun.  Because there are so many people on the platform outside the U.S., you can interact with and learn a great deal about other cultures and countries. Though Instagram is not big on building brands, it is great exposure for your business if you have products and services that present well in images that people want to see. If you have questions or would like help with your social media, please contact us.