Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Why should I hire a social media expert?

As a small business owner, you do it all. You are your own marketer, accountant, salesperson, web designer, and probably a whole host of other positions. However, there are a few positions in small companies that should only be handled by the experts - and today, I’ll make the case that social media is one of them.

There are a lot of ways to go wrong on social media. Maybe you put up a page and don’t post enough, don’t respond to questions or complaints, don’t share cohesive content, don’t create content yourself, don’t post at the right times… you see where I’m going. The list goes on.

Bringing in outside help for social media is becoming more common as small business owners realize the true power of each platform. Done right, social media can bring you brand awareness, brand advocates, customers and much more. Here’s why you should consider outsourcing it:

1. Social media experts can choose where you should have a presence in a fraction of the time. If you’re just getting started in social media, this point is key. A social expert can take a look at your business and have a good understanding of what platforms you need, and which you skip, fairly quickly. One of the biggest mistakes I see made by small businesses is thinking they need to be on platforms that aren’t right for them.

2. You can get an experienced social media manager for entry-level money. This is something I’ve already discussed once in my blog about outsourcing your marketing. If you’re thinking about hiring someone entry level to run your social media accounts, halt, and think about it for a few minutes. Do you really need someone full time running your social presence? If you’re a small business, the answer is probably not. Take the money that you would allocate toward hiring someone and pay more for an expert that already knows the tips and tricks to do it in half (or a quarter, or a tenth…) of the time. You won’t regret it.

3. An outside perspective will help you gain an audience (and keep it fun). As fun as social media can be, when you’re too close to the company, it can be hard to focus on what your audience wants. If you developed the software, you might be too technical for the job. And if your business is your baby, you’ll probably take criticism way more harshly than it’s intended. (Don’t worry, I do it too). Outsourcing your social management allows your presence to stay objective, positive, focused, and your audience will appreciate the creativity that’s put in by a professional.

4. It’s not an expense. It’s an investment. Probably the most important point is this: social media should bring you so much ROI that outsourcing it pays for itself. Be it in new clients, products sold, local awareness, or in place of other marketing initiatives, outsourcing social media to a quality, qualified professional will truly pay off in the long run.

Check out this article to see how some top social brands look at ROI. A social media expert will be able to understand how to get a return on your investment and show you the value they bring to your business.

So, are you convinced? Leave a comment and let me know why you will or won’t outsource your social media. As always, questions are welcome.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Finding your social media voice

How you speak to your audience on social media is a direct reflection of your company, and you will be judged by it. But how do you find your social media voice? Should it be playful (see: Taco Bell), educational (see: Intel), motivational (see: Nike)?

There are many different ways to choose a social media voice, but first, some considerations:

1. What are you trying to accomplish on social media? For companies that are looking to build brand awareness, a more casual voice may do the trick. But for those who would like to be seen as inspirational thought leaders, keep it professional.

2. How do you describe your company? If you already have descriptors in your tagline, on your website, or woven throughout your business in any way, it could be fairly easy to choose a social media voice. Are you a crafty company? Trendy? Any of these words could be used to form your social voice.

3. Who is your audience? For companies that sell into a specific niche or serve a specific need, speaking directly to the interests and personalities of your audience may be best. For example, Tiffany & Co. is known to be very classic and refined - and so is their Twitter presence. On the other hand, Lululemon knows its audience is interested in health and fitness, so they simply keep to those topics.

Choose a voice
Write down your answers to the questions above. Are there any common themes? If you’re looking to build company and brand awareness, have a casual vibe and your audience is young professionals, then a casual voice is probably for you.

But don’t go too far. It can be tempting to forge bonds with your audience by being uber-casual, but use your best judgement and as always, keep controversial opinions to yourself.

Document your social persona
After you choose to be more casual or more serious, there are many other factors that can come into play. Your company can be serious and informative or casual and informative, and the list goes on. Here is a comprehensive list of the characteristics your social media voice should have by Social Media Today. Make sure you write this list down and distribute your social media goals to other employees, especially those that may ever touch the sites.

For small businesses that are just getting started, keep in mind that your social media voice will evolve over time. Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback from your followers, customers or friends to tweak your strategy.

How did you choose your social voice? Leave a comment below to discuss further.

Friday, March 7, 2014

YouTube Advanced Techniques

A few weeks ago, we took a look at YouTube - the most popular video posting and sharing social platform on the market today. We discussed how to sign up, creating and testing videos and touched briefly on content optimization. Today, we’ll dive deeper into that topic and other advanced techniques.

Optimizing your YouTube content
There are a few steps that you can take to optimize your content that will really have an impact on the number of people that see it:

Include keywords in the video title. To optimize the title for Google search, keep your title under 66 characters. Use the same keyword research you probably did for your website in the video titles. Make sure you include the word “video” in the title. Finally, if you include the name of your company, make sure it’s last.

Write a description full of keywords - but make sure it sounds natural. There’s no worse video description than one that’s packed full of keywords for search optimization that make absolutely no sense. Layer in the same keywords that you considered for your title throughout a short description, but keep it natural sounding. When in doubt, nix the keyword in question in favor of correct grammar and keeping with your brand voice.

Transcribe your videos. Including a script of your video within the description (or even an abbreviated one) will help users that are searching the YouTube platform find your content. And, it’s becoming increasingly popular that users want to see a transcription to know what they’re watching before they dive in.

Other ways to get the most out of YouTube

1. Cross-promote your content everywhere. And I mean everywhere. With YouTube, this is extremely easy to do - when you post a new video on your channel, also post it on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, wherever you have a presence. Driving traffic between your social media sites will help potential customers learn about and eventually trust your brand.

2. Partner with an established YouTuber. This is one of my favorite ways to market, whatever the social site. Find a YouTube users that shines in your business area or in a complementary one. In fact, find at least ten of these desired partners, because the first one almost never says yes.

Don’t just ask for them to promote your business; create a lite co-marketing agreement where you’ll repost a certain amount of their videos, comment, promote their content on other sites and more. In return, the established YouTube user will promote your content, activating their audience and placing eyeballs on your channel or website.

3. Direct traffic to your website. At the end of the day, you use social media to build your brand, interact with current and potential customers, gain trust and drive traffic to your website. This is something that marketers sometimes forget. Don’t get too caught up in being a thought leader that you don’t take advantage of the 10-20% of the time that you can and should be talking about yourself on social media.

It doesn’t have to be overly pushy or blatant advertising. Doing things like placing your website at the end of your YouTube video, pointing viewers to related content that’s housed on your site and other soft techniques can boost your web traffic, leading to brand awareness and ultimately sales.

Are you currently using YouTube for business? I’d love to hear about the challenges you’re facing and successes you’ve achieved. Leave a comment below or shoot me a note at jackie@jackiesteinmetz.com.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

3 ways to get more out of Instagram

In my last post about Instagram, we looked at a few case studies of exceptional Instagram use:
  • Oracle uses Instagram to build community behind their brand. They showcase events they attend, volunteer opportunities and more to give their business a personal voice.
  • General Electric posts about their research to pique interest in the company.
  • Oreo posts mostly about their brand and products (which is not a best practice) but keeps a strong following by incorporating tips and recipes.

Today, we’re going to dig into these companies’ strategies even more - to discover the real reasons for their phenomenal Instagram success. Then, we’ll discuss how you can employ their common strategies to get the most brand interaction on Instagram.

What do Oracle, GE and Oreo have in common?
At first glance, it seems like these Instagram pages don’t have all that much in common. Oracle features mostly images of the the company’s events, GE’s entire feed is about their research and innovation, Oreo shares product photos and recipes. At first glance, even I was looking at these pages thinking, “huh?”

But there are a few commonalities that make these pages some of the more successful business uses of Instagram:

1. They use hashtags. Yes - this one is kind of a no-brainer. But the key on Instagram isn’t just to slap a few hashtags on your post, it’s to use the right kind and the right number of hashtags.

Kind: The best way I can think to describe the kind of hashtags to use is K.I.S.S. Keep it super simple (or, keep it simple, stupid, if you prefer that version). Tag your photos with either branded hashtags that are coined by your business (ex: #GEInstaWalk), or terms that others are searching for (ex: #GivingTuesday).

Number: If you look around the page, you’ll notice that most of their posts use 3-5 hashtags to categorize the post. This is totally appropriate for Instagram. I beg you: please, please, please do not tag your photo 15 times. There’s truly no better way to lose your audience than to overwhelm them with hashtags.

2. They’re engaging. No, they’re really engaging. I was recently reading about the “Facebook test.” Basically, this means that people want to be viewed as cool, witty, or clever on their personal Facebook pages, so they only post photos, links or statuses that portray them in that light. Use the Facebook test on Instagram. Is your content witty or informative? Does it make people say, “cool!” or “aww” or something of the like? If not, don’t post.

3. They offer followers deeper brand insight. This theme shines through on all three of the pages we’re examining today. Your followers should feel like they’re part of a secret, VIP club, where you let them peek behind the curtain. GE posts behind-the-scenes research photos that followers would otherwise never see - so take a page from their book. Are your products handmade? Post a photo of you making them. Humanize your brand through photos that are more personal than what you post on, say, LinkedIn.

Have you found success marketing your brand on Instagram? I’d love to hear more. Leave a comment or shoot me a note on www.jackiesteinmetz.com.

LinkedIn Advanced Techniques

In my last post about LinkedIn, we discussed how to build your company page and touched on content scheduling and LinkedIn ads - and the last two items definitely deserve a deeper look. For companies that sell B2B, posting content and advertising on LinkedIn is the perfect way to reach executives and other decision makers. Raising awareness of your business on LinkedIn can be cost effective, and it shortens your sales cycle by delivering warmer leads.

3 ways to make your content count
Posting the right content on LinkedIn can have a powerful impact; this social media platform has an audience of 65 million business professionals - and nearly 50% of them have decision-making authority at their companies. There’s no better way to get in front of the right audience, especially if you sell products or services to other businesses. Here’s how to make your content count:

1. Don’t just think about your strategy. Write it down. Just like your business plan, your marketing strategy, your new years resolutions and really any other goal, it’s important to outline what you’d like to accomplish and document it. How would you like to portray your business on LinkedIn? Because it’s more professional than other social networking sites, it’s important to keep your content professional, too. Be sure to add your opinion to spice up the content a little bit.

2. Employ some tools to feed you content. Just like on every other social media site, the easiest way to find content is to make it come to you. Set up a feedly account and search for relevant blogs and news sources with content you like. Repost content from LinkedIn News. Connect with industry experts and other content curators that you like and share their content. Chances are, they’ll interact with your content as well - a win-win for both of you.

3. Sick of curating? Create content, too. I know, I know - it’s easier said than done. However, most marketers today are curating content. Not all of them are creating original content themselves. Start slow - set up a blog and vow to write every week or two. It doesn’t have to be often to be extremely powerful. Not sure where to start? This article on A Beautiful Mess is a fantastic place to start.

Advertising on LinkedIn
Just like Facebook ads, advertising on LinkedIn is both precise and flexible. Rather than using mined information to target an audience, LinkedIn takes advantage of user-provided data, making the tool that much more powerful. Here are a few quick tips to get started:

- Decide who to target. Are you looking for C-level executives or someone else? LinkedIn allows advertisers to target by job title and function, industry and company size, and seniority.
- Choose whether you want to pay per click or impression. There are strong arguments for both; it may make the most sense to test both to see which is most budget-friendly for you.
- Figure out how you’d like to advertise. Of course, this will depend on your resources - but ads with photos are often more effective. LinkedIn allows advertising with a combination of text and images, text only and even videos.

Read all the details on LinkedIn advertising in this Social Media Examiner article.

Do you feel ready to get amp up your LinkedIn marketing presence? Are there any other advanced techniques you’d like to share? If so, feel free to comment below or reach out to me via email at jackie@jackiesteinmetz.com.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

4 advanced Facebook Fan Page techniques

In my last post about Facebook Fan pages, we covered how to build a consistent Facebook presence, invite people to like your page and start curating content. However, there’s so much more to know to be successful on Facebook if it’s one of your target social media platforms. Read on to find out how to use Facebook to build your brand and gain loyal fans.

How to stay relevant on Facebook
Facebook’s algorithm has recently changed, resulting in even less engagement in most Fan Page updates. Though this mostly affects text statuses, it’s important to know how to keep eyeballs on your business even when Facebook shakes things up. Use these techniques to cultivate a powerful fan base:

The most important Facebook Fan Page techniques

1. Don’t just use stock photos. You already know that Facebook posts with images typically get more engagement. However, the kind of image you post matters, so don’t just choose a stock image and stick it up with your content. This may seem like a no-brainer, but if you post more specific images, they will get more engagement. See the below example from Buffer:

2. Don’t misuse hashtags. Hashtags can be a really powerful tool if used correctly. However, so many businesses make common hashtag mistakes - such as:
  • Using hashtags that are too long. Make sure the tags you use are actually something that people are filtering by. When you hashtag random phrases, it may be funny, but it’s definitely not going to #boostinterestinyourpost.
  • Placing punctuation in a hashtag. Punctuation breaks a hashtag - so many sure you don’t include it. For example: #content/marketing (wrong), #contentmarketing (right).
  • Writing posts with too many hashtags. There are platforms where it’s okay to use multiple hashtags, and some where it’s not. On Facebook, I typically try to only incorporate one hashtag (if at all). On Twitter, my max is two. On Instagram, however, you can include more.

Instead, use hashtags to categorize your posts. Companies typically attach hashtags to their campaigns to help them go viral. For example, the City of New York used the #LoveNYC hashtag to raise sentiment for the city at the end of 2013. If you’d like to make the best use of hashtags in your posts, check out
Social Media Today’s how-to guide.

3. Do your ad campaigns right. Facebook advertising campaigns are a powerful way to reach a very specific subset of Facebook users. Unlike other online advertising services that mine for data, Facebook incorporates user-provided information - so it’s much more accurate.

How do you do your ad campaigns right? The highlights include choosing a small audience segment to minimize the amount you spend on impressions, testing and monitoring performance. Read more about how to optimize your campaigns in the Wishpond blog.

Are you using any specific Facebook strategies that work? I’d love to hear more about them. If you have any questions, please feel free to comment below or email me at jackie@jackiesteinmetz.com.