As a content marketing and social media management agency, we get asked this question quite often. “How can your company possibly write content about our brand when you are not experts in our field?” I try to contain my urge to assure them that we only hire clairvoyant know-it-alls, and instead I remind them that whether they were hiring a part-time employee to work side-by-side with them, or outsourcing it to an agency, the process of getting to know each other would be the same.
Most companies need help today keeping up with the demands of content marketing and social media management, and many want to outsource it but fear losing that local-flare, unique voice, and personal touch. They need to create great content to start conversations with their online audiences and attract more leads to their websites and social media sites, but they may lack time or skill to write the amount of content that our social-savvy audience is consuming today.
This is a legitimate concern and one that is especially relevant if the social marketing company you are working with is outsourcing their content creation to people in other countries (unless you are targeting an audience in those countries). Correct grammar and context are critical in social media posts, blog content and email marketing messages. Connecting with your audience through the content is one of your main goals and if you don’t have someone who can do that, you can be in trouble.
Here are 7 questions you can ask as you explore different content marketing solutions, to ensure they will be able to create content with your brand’s unique voice:
Where is your team located?
How do you source localized content for our blog, pages, and profiles?
How often do we get to meet with you?
How do you ensure the content matches our company culture and voice?
What kind of content will you be writing for our company?
Do you need us to provide the content or do you create it?
Where will you get photos that are used in the content?
When we begin working with a client that is not in the same city as one of our offices, we ask for lists of local businesses, vendors, partners and local media outlets to get started. We set up lots of alerts and connect with, subscribe to, and follow community centers, chamber pages, business journals, news and media outlets, and more. We often know about upcoming community events before our clients do! (We try not to gloat but we do love when that happens!)
As for developing and matching the tone of the brand or business, we spend time speaking with the people who work there. Just like any new hire, we write down the lingo, the forbidden word list, and the vibe we pick up when speaking to everyone. Do people say words like, “AWESOME and DUDE?” or are we hearing, “It’s great to speak with you,” and “Mr. Jones is on vacation.” We have a client who uses emojis in almost everything and calls people, “Darling.” These are all cues we pick up on and weave into the written content where appropriate…DUDE!
Photos and fonts are also part of the equation. Photos evoke emotions and even fonts play into describing your brand’s image. It’s important that the team you have working on your marketing understand that emotions and messaging must all match the story your brand is trying to create. This might be an area that I tend to “advise” a little more with our clients. (Crappy images are one of my pet peeves) In our business we see a lot of visual content; good and bad. Photos, videos and graphics are huge influencers in social marketing, and too many people just don’t understand how horrifying some of their images are and the damage they are doing to their brand. (See, “Quit using these crappy images”)
When a client wants us to use stale corporate images that you would find on every other stale website (the perfectly diverse team all giving high-fives in the conference room) I have to offer my two-cents. These images repel not attract. They say “old and irrelevant” not innovative and shareable.
So whether you are hiring a part-time person to work in your office or you are considering outsourcing to a digital marketing agency, keep these pointers in mind and let them guide your conversations in the beginning as you all get to know each other.
Gina Schreck is the president at SocialKNX (She is the one that gloats the most when she hears how brilliant our team is). Gina is an international speaker and loves helping organizations use today’s tools to connect and build relationships!
“Is it worthwhile to advertise on Facebook or LinkedIn?”
Facebook and LinkedIn must be sending out lots of incentive emails to get people to advertise, since this is one of the most popular questions we get. The answer is simple… “It depends.” It’s like asking if you should go fishing in the ocean or a freshwater lake. It depends on what you are trying to catch.
The fact that advertising revenue on social media is expected to increase over 190% to reach $15 billion by 2018 is a good indicator that you are not alone in wanting to fish for the attention of these social media audiences. Facebook, YouTube and Twitter are the top three preferred platforms to advertise on, but LinkedIn is not sitting back quietly. You might have received one of their $50 incentives to go fishing on their advertising platform.
Before you plan your fishing trip and start throwing money at Facebook, Twitter or any other advertising platform, you need to answer these 5 questions:
What do I want to achieve with this ad campaign?
Be specific. Do I just want more likes to my Facebook page? Am I trying to get more people to buy my new book or sign up for a course I have coming up?
Identifying your goals is a critical first step. This will determine which kind of ad you should run and where you will want to run it. To get more page likes you will want to drive people to the actual page, versus a landing page to sign up for your newsletter or webinar. You can use promoted page advertising for likes versus a crafted ad that will show in the newsfeed of your targeted audience on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or others.
Who do I want to reach?
Again, be specific. Am I trying to reach people in sales positions or perhaps the target market is women between the ages of 30-50 years old living in 5 zip codes in and around Denver? Social media ad platforms are like Google ads, in that you can get very granular with your audience targeting. Getting granular will save you money from having
Take some time to clarify who you want to target so you are not paying for clicks from people that will not end up converting. If you are targeting all people in the United States, it’s almost better to list states individually than to leave the location you want to reach as United States. Many spam accounts will have something in their profile stating United States as an interest even if they do not live in the US.
What is the best platform to use to achieve the goals I have?
Do I want to advertise on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram or YouTube?
One you identify the audience you are trying to reach it will help you know which platform that audience is more likely to be on. If your target market is 35-50-year-old men, advertising on Instagram may not be the best use of your dollars. If your audience is the business executive over the age of 40, advertising on Facebook may not be the best choice either. Know where to lay your dollars down but don’t be afraid to test a few of the other platforms to see if you should be fishing there.
How much do I want to spend to run these ads on social media?
The good news is you can start with a low budget and gradually increase your ad spend as you discover which ads perform best. Start with a $50 budget or even $25 and test a couple ads. Create a few variations of each ad—perhaps some with different photos and some with different copy, to see which ads get people to click on them. You can set a cap on your spending so you don’t have to fear blowing your budget and getting stuck with a thousand dollar Facebook advertising bill. Run the ad for a set number of days and start measuring. Which ads get results, and which get chalked up to learning?
How do I begin?
Here is your starting point on Facebook advertising
Here is the starting point for LinkedIn advertising
Here is the starting point for Twitter Advertising
Now it’s time to cast your line into the water. Just like fishing, it takes the right pole, the right bait and the right spot in the water, but there’s no time like today to start!
If you need help with your advertising or social marketing, let us know…it’s what we do best! Contact us today. (A little shameless self-promotion there!)
Pinterest has grown at a rapid pace since its introduction in March 2010, with 47 million active users. Facebook may be the king in the social media marketing world due to its user base, but Pinterest is a useful resource for grabbing the attention of your audience through visual content. Additionally, many pinboards are themed around shopping ideas, so Pinterest users are already warm leads when it comes to product marketing. So how do you engage with your Pinterest audience and make this channel a valuable part of your marketing campaigns?
Plan Your Pinning
Pinboards are your primary tool for interacting with your Pinterest audience. You aren’t limited to a single board, so you can get as broad or specific as you’d like on the items you pin. Avoid pinning your own products or sourcing everything from your own website. While Pinterest users are more amicable to direct brand marketing than other social media channels, a mix of your own content and others creates a healthier mix. Plus, when you interact with other users on Pinterest, you reach an audience that may have never heard of your company before.
Content Types to Share
Every company has valuable content for Pinterest, even if it doesn’t seem like it at first. While many brands on Pinterest are lifestyle, crafts, and cooking companies, there’s an entire range of businesses who make this a major marketing channel. Pinterest users love well-constructed visual content, even if it’s not directly related to a product in these niches. For example, infographics are huge on the platform and are relatively simple to construct from resources your business has on hand. Look at data from your company and determine how it would relate to your audience.
When to Share Content
Like other content marketing channels, you don’t want to dump all your content on Pinterest at once. Not only do you oversaturate the site in one shot when you do that, you also only reach the audience that happens to be online at that time. Use analytics tools and spread your pinning throughout the month. Track the content that gets the most responses and determine how much of an influence the post time had on its success. Sometimes your target demographic is online at very specific times of day, so try to understand your buyer personas to know when they are likely to get online. Are they checking their phones throughout the day at work, or waiting until they get home from a 9-5 to check in on Pinterest. Regardless of the time of day you’re posting, make sure you consistently post new content to build interest.
Connecting with Influencers
Like every other social media site, you have power users who help elevate your visibility well above what you can do on your own. Look at popular Pinterest accounts relevant to your audience and see how they handle their pinning. Are they focusing on specific color schemes, types of products, or unique content? Reach out to these influencers by sharing their content on your pinboards so you begin building a connection. It may take some time to build up influencers who are passionate about your brand, but when you get their backing, you’re going to get plenty of Pinterest attention.
Network with Companies
Influential users aren’t the only people you should connect with on Pinterest. Don’t forget your fellow brands as well, even your competitors. While you don’t want to drive your audience into the arms of your closest competitors, it’s not a bad idea to pin products when you have the superior selection in the space. You also want to seek out vendors and other companies to do business with. Giving them a helping hand with their social media promotion by repinning their Pinterest content helps you get off on the right foot with these companies.
Comment on Relevant Content
Be engaged throughout Pinterest by commenting on relevant content your audience may be visiting. You don’t want to spam your brand information, since interested users can follow your profile and find out more information about your company. However, becoming a visible and active member on Pinterest increases your reach and makes your company more personable and relatable to the average Pinterest user.
Looking back over my 27-year career, I can say without a doubt, Google and search changed sales forever, and I am so glad!
My first sales job was in 1989. I was sent to classes like “How to cold call,” and “Getting past the gatekeepers.” I spent hours each day making calls to try and set appointments so I could go out and educate prospects on our services. We were taught it was a numbers game and if you made enough calls each day, you would make a certain number of appointments and close a certain number of sales. It worked. I became one of our top sales people. But change was coming.
The first change came in September 1994, when the consumer was given the equivalence of fire! Google was founded and search was born. It didn’t take long before the balance of power shifted to the new, empowered consumer. They could search for information and be fully prepared before they even came in contact with a sales person. They didn’t need someone to tell them what a product or service did. They had already Googled it. Soon they could scan and compare products and prices. They could place orders without ever needing to contact sales.
Consumers began to behave differently. They’ve stopped answering their phones. They no longer make the time to meet with sales people. They build online relationships faster and trust their friends and social networks to give them straight answers.
Social media was the other game changer. When someone searches for information, often the answers that appear in search results are from social media sites. The comments of the community and the posts from the brands on social media will rise to the top of search, many times higher than the company website.
As much as you might despise review sites like Yelp, or Trip Advisor, consumers love them. Consumers value and depend upon the feedback from other consumers to make their purchasing decisions. You will have to stop ignoring these sites and learn to change the way you do business. If you have employees, you will need to train everyone to know that customers are social and every interaction will be tweeted about, Yelped, Instagrammed or put on YouTube! Today we are not just being watched by Big Brother; today it is every one of Big Brothers friends, cousins and neighbors who have mobile phones.
The increased use of mobile phones is the third thing that has changed sales forever. Some of us remember the beginning of mobile devices in the mainstream. The busy professional carried their brick phone or had their car phone to make calls on the go, but in June 2007, the world saw the first iPhone and suddenly everyone was carrying a mobile device. Even Grandma and Grandpa now carry a device that connects them to the world like nothing they had ever experienced. Consumers watch video reviews of products, ask Google or SIRI for information and it is delivered in seconds.
So what are you to do? If you were starting in sales today, you would focus on content creation instead of getting past the gatekeeper; how to listen and engage with potential consumers instead of probing and closing. You would build your websites to allow searchers on their mobile devices find your key information without having to stretch or scroll too much. You would create video content to allow your consumers to meet you on their device before you ever know their name.
Businesses today must learn to begin building and nurturing relationships where the consumer is…online…on social media sites…on their mobile devices. That doesn’t mean we never meet face-to-face, it simply means we won’t get that opportunity until we start on their turf. Digital marketing is about building brand awareness, trust, and arming a brand’s fans with information to allow them to educate themselves while we are building those relationships.
We must learn to create content on our websites, blogs, and social media accounts that will match with what consumers are searching for when they “Google” their questions or when they ask SIRI.
If we will start thinking like our customers, we will start finding new ways to connect and provide helpful information. We will stop trying to interrupt their workday with our sales calls and make sure our content is there when they go looking.
I recently wrote a post about going back to the obvious questions your customers have and writing the answers to them.Well, one of those questions we get at least 3 times a week is, “HELP! I am just starting out. How do I create a business Facebook page.”
We have several videos and blog posts about why you should start with a personal Facebook profile and then create your business page from that, but let me give you 3 more reasons you want to have a personal Facebook profile BEFORE you create a business page:
Facebook wants to know there is a real person at the helm and will reward you with analytics, the ability to advertise and many features that are made for a business.
You don’t have two different logins. You simply log into your personal profile and you can jump over to any business page you manage.
You are not limited by the number of friends, fans, or followers you can have. Your personal profile caps out at 5,000, but a business page can have a billion+ fans and followers.
Before you start getting ideas of creating fake names or giving Facebook false information so you don’t have to divulge your real identity, relax. Your personal profile is not shared in any way on a business page and people who connect with your business page will not know you even manage the page unless you tell them. You should also know that you do not have to put anything on your personal profile at all if you are just creating the profile to connect to a business page. Don’t put your schools, your phone number or your address. The only information that Facebook requires when signing up is your name, email, and date of birth (needed by Facebook to verify you are old enough to be on Facebook and that they have an email to send you notifications if needed).
You are now at the PAGES starting point. These are all pages that other people have recently created, but you need to click the CREATE YOUR OWN PAGE button in the upper right. Click on that and then decide which type of business that fits you best. Each one has a few different features to help you build out your page. For example, a local business such as a dentist or restaurant will have a spot for you to put whether you have parking available for customers or what your business hours are, versus a band page will have a player for you to let visitors and fans listen to your playlist. Don’t lose any sleep over which category you initially select because you can change this at any time.
Now for a few universal features on Facebook that will be helpful for you to know. As of the date of this post (May 2015) if you hover over your profile pic or photo banner at the top of the page near the left side, you will notice a little camera that allows you to load a photo or change the photo you currently have there. SELECT A PHOTO is referring to photos you already have loaded on Facebook earlier, but UPLOAD A PHOTO is referring to a photo you have on your computer to load.
Another universal feature is how to edit or delete a post on your page (this works on your personal profile as well). If you post any content on your page or profile and suddenly realize you have a typo on it or perhaps you were delusional when you offered to give everyone 50% on a product and now you want to take that post down. Simply hover over the right side of any post to reveal a drop-down arrow that gives you options.
Another benefit you have on a Facebook business page that is not available on a personal profile is the ability to schedule posts. You can pick one day a week, write out your content for the entire week, and then schedule one post each day at the ideal time to reach the greatest number of your fans. This does not mean you can ignore your page the rest of the week, since you should always check in on your page a couple times a day to answer any questions people may have left or reply to comments.
At the bottom of the update box you have options to add a photo or upload a video, add a geo-location marker (great for a business attending a special event or wanting to show where customers can find you), or on the right you can schedule your post or save it as a draft for later.
Now the real work begins. Be strategic as you write and post content. Make it a nice blend of helpful resources, answers to questions your community is probably looking for, and a dash of tips.
Let me know if you have other questions that our team can help you with. Here is a another resource to help get you going: