Categories
Social Media

From Zero to Hero: Building a New Social Media Strategy

It doesn’t matter if you’re starting a brand new business or if it just never seemed like social media would be a great fit for your marketing strategy. It’s never too late to get started. More importantly, it’s a heck of a lot easier than you think to build a social strategy from the ground up. We’ll walk you through how to start fresh by setting some simple goals, making a plan, and moving forward one step at a time.

Develop SMART Goals

I’ve talked about SMART goals in the past – goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant,and Time-bound. Setting your goals with the SMART strategy ensures you’re getting results from your social strategy, whether that’s engagement or sales. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for adjustments within the SMART philosophy, either. Goals for each platform can be slightly different, as long as they all feed positively into your overall marketing plan.

Create Audience Avatars

Audience avatars (personas) are as important for social media as they are for any other aspect of marketing. Take some of the data you’ve already gathered and think about what it says about your potential social audience. What type of content is that audience most likely to comment on or otherwise engage with? Should you be focused on written blogs or shorter pieces of visual content?

Make sure you’re comparing your existing marketing data with available data for social platforms. For example, some gurus claim Facebook is great for the older generations, and that Millennials are shopping elsewhere, but the reality is that there are more Millennials on the platform than there are people in other generations. This is especially important information to have when you begin to develop paid ad strategies. Splitting creatives to target each of your customer personas is very effective.

Slow Your Roll

You don’t need to build a presence on every single social platform at the same time. You do want to be present on at least a few (eventually), but it’s smarter to start with the platform where your biggest target audience is already actively participating.

Take your time to set up your profiles, fill in all of the details, upload your branded logos and banners, and start creating quality, platform-specific content. Once you’re comfortable operating within your first platform, go ahead and add your second to the mix. Track, measure, and investigate what works as you go – don’t rush it.

About Those Profiles

Your social media profiles aren’t really about you (shocking, I know). They’re all about showing your audience what you can do for them – or how you can make their lives easier in some clear, distinct way. This means using clean and simple language that caters to your audience, as opposed to people who understand your niche. Be personable and relatable. Also, check back every couple of months or so to make sure your profiles are still relevant.

Another important aspect of your profile and account in general is the voice and tone you’ll be using. Instead of thinking about your customer personas, consider what your business persona would be if it were human. Would it have a personality? Would it be a friend, coach, or advisor? Would your customers trust your business?

Use all of this information to create a profile or persona. Then, re-ask these questions at regular intervals and update as your audience adjusts along the way.

Remember the 80/20 Rule

One big mistake businesses make when building a new social strategy is posting all promotional content, all the time. No one following your pages wants to see commercial after commercial; they’re already over-saturated with advertising every single time they hop online. You need to break through that wall by being useful, engaging, and better than the other guy. The type of content you create and distribute will have a huge impact on your overall success.

Design a Posting Strategy

How often will you post on your social platforms? Once per day, three times per week, or several times per day? What time of day is best for your audience to read what you post? While there are a lot of articles out there about the best day and time for posting, the truth is that there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. You need to experiment to find out what will work best for your business and your audience.

Offer content your followers can use. Tips, tricks, memes, and even motivational quotes (especially if they are related to your industry) all do well on social media. Post one sales post for every four non-sales posts. Mix it up by sharing blog posts, video content, and photos. Those should be real photos showcasing your shop, staff, or special events. Show your fans the human side of your business.

Engagement is Critical

The point of social media is to be social, right? This means you will need to spend a little bit of time engaging with your followers. But hold on before you jump in feet-first; there is a fine line between managing your social platforms and allowing them to suck you in and eat up your time.

To make this work in a positive way, set aside 15-minute windows, a few times per day, to check for messages and comments that need replies or to scroll your Twitter feed looking for relevant content to comment on. Your social media audiences want to feel like you genuinely care about communicating with them.

Analyze Your Response

Nothing you do will matter if you’re not hitting targets for engagement, followers, leads, or any of your other SMART goals. Take a look at each platform’s insights and watch how they change over time. You should be able to get a bird’s eye view of what’s working and what’s not. Use what you find to keep testing and adjusting your strategies.

Did you get a consistently better response on a certain day of the week or a certain time of day? Maybe a particular content format, like a video or a photo, does better than all of your other content types. Create similar pieces of content and post them at the times of day that seemed to work best for you. This doesn’t mean you need to ditch all of your other content styles or posting times, but it should definitely tell you when and where your most valuable pieces should be published.

Keep your business content and strategy genuine. Social media users appreciate honest, authentic personalities and consistent, timely communication. The world of social media can be fast-paced (and sometimes a little cruel), but with consistent effort you can use your business’s presence to make an impact.

Categories
Outreach

5 Powerful Outreach Marketing Strategies for Summer 2018

I’m especially fond of outreach marketing. In fact, I believe it has the power to help businesses break free from the “background noise” all marketers fight against in today’s over-saturated media environment. It humanizes, connects, and encourages deep development of networks that often produce powerful results far beyond any simple SEO or content marketing plan.

I’m not saying that other forms of marketing aren’t important. Concepts like on-page optimization, content delivery, and social media marketing are a must; without them, you just can’t get the initial attention you deserve. But outreach marketing is the icing on the cake; it changes how people see you and makes you look more attractive and compelling.

In the post below, I’ll review a few of my current favorite outreach strategies. I’ve included helpful implementation tips to get you up and running before summer hits.

Hire Influencers for Special Summer Events

Summer is the perfect time to host events, and influencers can help you publicize or share them with the world. If your focus is on local brand awareness, find a local celebrity and invite them to come experience your products and services for free in exchange for a product spotlight.

If your focus is national or global, explore Instagram for someone with wider reach; give yourself bonus points if you find someone already interacting with your brand. Remember: they don’t need to be world-famous; sometimes, even mid-level influencers with audiences at around 100,000 people are remarkably effective.

As for which events work best in the summer, it depends on your brand. The scope of a marketing campaign for an HVAC company will naturally be much different than, say, the scope for a company selling fireplaces. Find a way to relate your products to summer, if possible, and then flex that influencer power with discounts, brand awareness campaigns, or giveaways to get noticed.

Re-Humanize Your Brand on Social Media

Over time, marketing campaigns can begin to feel a bit stale. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut of posting the same themes, the same aesthetics, and the same remixed messages over and over again. People slowly stop paying attention.

Confusingly, summer also just happens to be prime time for a slump in many industries. This is exactly why I recommend brands dabble in a bit of creative marketing and re-humanization during the warmer months.

Your goal should be to create posts that come across not as a business, but as a real, live human sharing helpful, high-value, or high-engagement information. Ultimately, the best way to achieve this is to be natural and conversational, but it’s also about sharing sneak peaks of who you (and your employees) really are.

Post pictures of your company cookout at the beach. Upload Instagram videos from your presence at special summer events. Let people see you have fun, that you care, and that at the end of the day, you’re a business made up of humans.

More great ideas: tell a story about a time your brand didn’t get it right; outline what you learned and how you grew from it. Be funny; tell niche-appropriate jokes, share the occasional meme, and drop the constant seriousness in favor of good, clean humor. Encourage your followers to respond in kind with their own user-generated content. Then, interact with it when it rolls in. Just be sure to keep it relevant and on topic at all times.

Teach and Educate Your Followers

The second major rut I see marketers fall into is the idea that you have to constantly sell, sell, sell to be achieving results. That’s abjectly false; in fact, if all you do is push your products, eventually people will begin to see your posts and shares as little more than more spam in the sea.

Summer provides most consumers with more downtime; they’re on vacation, they’re relaxing on the weekends, they’re spending time at home with the family. Use some of your content marketing space to reach out with helpful or educational content during this time. Followers are more likely to pay attention and actually find it useful when they have enough downtime to focus on it.

Not sure what to share? Try product demonstrations, helpful tip videos, influencer reviews, or even extensive tutorials on relevant topics. “Insider secret” articles and videos breaking down complex, industry-specific concepts also work well.

Give Back to Your Community

Californians are a philanthropic bunch. For the most part, we love to give back to the community and the greater world at large. Whether it’s helping to clean up local nature areas or hosting fundraisers for important charities and non-profits, summer is the perfect time for your business to get involved in a little corporate philanthropy of its own.

Here’s something to think about: how does your business currently fit into your industry or niche? Who is your target audience – which charities do they find important? What charities do your employees support?

Using the information sourced from these questions, pick a cause and find a way to help out. Host a beach-side fundraiser, a donation drive, or a special festival. If you don’t have the resources for advanced involvement, figure out how you can donate time (either through free services or employee involvement).

Bonus points: it’s a great way to lift employee morale and encourage loyalty, too!

Break Free of the Digital Marketing Space

Major rut #3 in digital marketing: overlooking non-digital marketing channels completely, either because it’s too hard or too much work to implement. Offline channels still really matter, even in our heavily networked world. If you spend all of your time reaching out to people on social media, but no one in your target audience ever sees even a clue that you exist in the real world, it can negatively impact trust.

Summer is a great time to break free of the digital marketing space and get out there because people are much more likely to be spending time outdoors. They’re exploring, playing, eating, and adventuring under the warmth of the sun. Take advantage of this time and increased foot traffic to get your brand noticed.

What works best will depend on your business, but I can tell you this is a great time for billboards, print media, posters, signage, and radio messages. Your audience is probably spending more time downtown, outdoors, or out and about, meaning they’re much more likely to actually see and absorb that messaging in summer.

Warm weather is also a fantastic time for offline marketing campaigns using local influencers. Head down to the beach and give away products. Have specials that encourage more foot traffic directly to your business if you have a brick and mortar location. Take out a table at a local festival or fair; give away swag and get your name noticed. Or, host a local party and invite all of your best clients to come.

Final Say

Outreach marketing isn’t necessarily new, but it does have the potential to take the entire marketing industry to new levels in the right hands. In fact, it’s a big part of why I chose to become a marketer in the first place.

I believe that, at the end of the day, businesses and audiences thrive on human interaction. Simply put, we all want to be treated like more than just a number. When businesses respect that desire, it creates a better marketing experience for virtually everyone at every step in the pipeline.

Need help bringing all of these strategies together? Can’t figure out which concept works best for your business? I love to help businesses discover the benefits of outreach marketing campaigns. Reach out for a consultation here.