Social Media Marketing

Using social media benefits your business, but with the power of the Internet comes the responsibility to use it wisely. Even the best of intentions can be misconstrued, and with so many people using the social media account, it is easy to make a blunder that destroys the reputation of your business. Learn from the mistakes of others. Use these tips to create a plan for social media within your organization.

Build a Relationship with Your Followers

Ventra, which is the card for the Chicago Transit System, wanted to host a Q&A session for their followers. Unfortunately, before the session started, followers began asking questions about the many problems associated with the card. It opened the company to ridicule and disparaging comments rather than encouraging dialogue between consumers and businesses on ways to improve.

Use the Right Photo

American Apparel posted a picture on Tumblr of the Challenger shuttle explosion, mistaking it for fireworks. Delta tweeted a photo of a giraffe to represent Ghana in a post about the World Cup. The photo turned out to be a stock photo from a refugee in Kenya. Both posts brought widespread criticism to the respective company.

Know Your Hashtags

DiGiorno pizza jumped on the bandwagon with the hashtag #WhyIStayed. They announced it was because “you had pizza.” Unfortunately, the hashtag referred to domestic violence and why someone stayed in the relationship. DiGiorno published an apology and took down the post, but not before it was captured and shared.

Don’t Ignore What’s Happening

Charter Communications sent out a tweet about The Simpsons. Sounds innocuous enough until you consider that at the same time, there was a major service outage in Dallas, Boston, and Chicago. Know your audience, and don’t ignore concerns of your followers.

Have a Plan to Deal with Negativity

Smucker’s Facebook page was bombarded with questions about their stance on GMOs. They deleted many posts on their page, stating that it went against their policy. Customers noticed, which hurt the brand’s image. Have a plan to deal with negativity while maintaining professionalism and consistent with your brand. Just because you delete something, doesn’t make it go away.

Be Prepared for Haters

On the other hand, you have to deal with haters. You may have the best of intentions when making a post. You are going to have to deal with people who want to cause controversy and discord. Unless you stop using social media, it’s important to have a plan to handle these posts.

Proofread and Get a Second Opinion

US Airways inadvertently posted a picture of a naked woman and a toy plane in response to another tweet. Although the post was only up for an hour, it was retweeted hundreds of times before being removed by the airline. Double-check every post and get a second opinion when in doubt.

Make One Person Accountable for Monitoring Your Social Media

Your business needs to understand why you’re using social media for marketing, and posts should be approved before hitting enter. Accounts should be monitored. Answer your followers’ legitimate concerns and work to use social media as a tool to build your brand. Use caution so that you don’t offend hundreds of people, as the Oklahoma GOP Facebook did when it posted a status comparing animals in the wild to food stamp recipients. Carefully think about what you say on social media and make sure that it fits your brand.

Essentials of Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing is a step in the right direction for most companies. Social media in and of itself represents the evolution of marketing in a form that is new and exciting. It allows a level of communication with your customers that has never been achieved before. In order to utilize this tool to the best of its capability, we need to break down the essentials of how social media marketing functions and understand the secrets behind this new communication medium. As a content marketer, these are the key points that you should know about social media.

Know Which Social Channel best serves your Needs

Social media channels come in a number of different iterations. From Facebook to Twitter to Pinterest, different social media networks cater to different user types. Understanding where your ideal user is located is essential to figuring out how you can utilize a particular channel to reach your target demographic. It is among the first things you must determine before embarking on a content marketing campaign on social media: Which media channel targets my target demographic best?

Develop a Strategy

Just like regular content marketing, social media marketing requires you to have a plan. What is your content trying to accomplish? How is it going about accomplishing this? By having a general idea about what you want your audience to do (i.e. visit a website or click on a link, etc.) you can tailor your content around this particular call to action and use it to generate traffic to your external site.

Utilize your Time and Resources Efficiently

You will never be able to have enough time and resources to cover every single channel of social media out there. The thing is, covering all of social media isn’t the goal of your content marketing strategy. Getting access to the most relevant users is. To this end you should develop your content strategy to focus on a few relevant channels of social media and ignore the rest. Choose the ones that have the largest concentration of your target demographic for maximum effectiveness.

Use your Analytics

Analytical data is available from social media sites in order to aid marketers in targeting their content as well as seeing where their content performs the best. Utilizing analytical reports, you can develop content that is targeted to a particular sub-group and see how well that sub-group responds in terms of likes, shares, or other social media currency. Using the numbers to tailor your content to the “right” users can have an enormous impact on your content seeing the kind of circulation that will increase overall off-site traffic.

Use Social Media to Stay Current

Many businesses have embraced social media marketing as a viable method of increasing their overall traffic while at the same time staying relevant on the Internet that evolves on a daily basis. Whilst social media is but one facet of marketing overall, it could very well be the best idea for smaller businesses in order to compete on a global market. Understanding the essentials of social media marketing gives them the edge they need.

Social Media Trends

As a small business owner, it’s imperative you keep your ear to the ground for all the recent and upcoming trends in online marketing.

Social media, in particular, evolves at an astounding rate. Once you think you’ve developed an effective social marketing strategy, the whole game changes. That’s why it’s just so important to stay on top of the latest social media trends – before they happen.

Here are the top 7 social media trends to watch out for in 2018 and beyond. Get a head start on implementing solutions to increase the success of your long-term social media marketing strategy.

1. Platforms Blend Together

Most social platforms start out serving a small niche. In 2017, we’ve seen several of these once-niche platforms begin incorporating more mainstream features.

Instagram is a great case in point. The social networking service started out as a platform designed to preserve your favorite photos and videos. In the summer of 2016, they launched Instagram stories.

The new feature encourages Instagram users to share in-the-moment content that disappears after 24 hours, á la Snapchat. Even more recently, they released Instagram stickers, another feature that is heavily inspired by Snapchat.

At the same time, Snapchat is incorporating new features that are very similar to Instagram’s most popular. Snapchat memories, which allows you to permanently save photos and videos, is a chief example.

This blending of features and standardization of platforms is sure to continue throughout 2018

. Facebook is already set to incorporate trending stories (á la Twitter) and YouTube’s already set to allow users to share text/image content (á la Facebook).

2. Importance of Social Messaging

It might come as a bit of a surprise, but social messaging apps have far more users than most social networking platforms. For instance, WhatsApp reached one billion users in early 2016.

The popularity of these social messaging apps means a lot more attention is being placed on marketing towards their audiences. In 2018, you’ll see more companies trying to incorporate these apps into their overall social media marketing plan.

Brands of all sizes will likely start using these messaging apps for client support and e-commerce applications.

3. Growth of Live Streaming Video

Live streaming video is set to make huge waves in 2018.

After the initial success of the now-defunct live-streaming pioneer Meerkat, both Facebook and YouTube have adopted live video streaming features.

Video has long been considered “the future of content marketing.” And the increase in live streaming features on social platforms makes incorporating video into your overall marketing strategy all the easier and more powerful.

It’s sure to be interesting to see the result of brands experimenting with live streaming video marketing in 2018.

4. Chatbots Become a Staple

Chatbots have been around for decades. Yet the technology behind them has improved by leaps and bounds in the past few years.

The automated tools are designed to mimic an intelligent conversation with a human user. No human operator has to be present for the chatbot to work effectively.

Most chatbots currently can accomplish only relatively basic tasks. They can answer common questions, retrieve certain data, and make simple bookings. Yet even these simple applications open up exciting new possibilities for companies in 2018.

In addition to providing 24/7 customer support, chatbots free up human customer support representatives to desk with in-depth questions and requests without worrying about simple queries.

5. New Uses of Virtual/Augmented Reality

Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are hot topics in the tech world as of late.

Much of their popularity is thanks to the incredible success of Pokémon Go, one of the first apps to bring AR to mainstream audiences.

Tech giants including Facebook, HTC, and Google are all investing heavily in the technology, so there are sure to be major advances in VR and AR for social media in 2018.

Of course, VR and AR probably aren’t technologies small business owners can invest in, but you should still keep a close eye on how the top brands adopt them as part of their social media marketing efforts.

6. Optimize for Mobile

It should go without saying, but mobile optimization is a 100% must in 2018.

Mobile traffic has been growing extremely quickly over the past several years. In 2016, mobile traffic overtook desktop traffic for the first time ever.
What this means is that you absolutely need a mobile-friendly website. If your site isn’t optimized for mobile, a huge percentage of your potential audience is going to look for similar services elsewhere.

My post on the benefits of responsive website design further drills in the reasons you need to optimize for mobile.

7. Selling on Social

Social media currently drives 31% of traffic to websites. And that figure is only set to rise throughout 2018.

This means that learning how to sell and convert users, on social media is of utmost importance. Much of this boils down to figuring out what works for you as a brand and what doesn’t.

Spend even more time reviewing your social media analytics to see what your customers actually want. Hint, hint – more people than ever before want to buy products/services through social media platforms.

It’s a smart idea to look into this for your small business. Facebook is already offering new features that allow brands to sell directly through their social networks. Other social platforms are sure to follow.

Using Social Media to Build Your Brand

For many customers, the right brand name is one of the most important factors they consider before making a purchase.

Now, customers aren’t looking for clever wordplay or catchy phrases, although those certainly don’t hurt. Instead, customers mainly look to your brand name as a way to determine trust.

Building your brand should be a priority for your business, especially if your business is relatively new and unknown. Here’s everything you need to know:

What Does “Building Your Brand Name” Mean?

When people see your brand name, you want them to have positive associations. People will see your brand name and instantly know your business is reputable and reliable.

Building your brand involves four elements:

  • Clarity – Make sure your customer knows exactly what they’ll be purchasing, how much it costs and what refund/return options are available.
  • Professionalism – Always treat your business… like a business. Ship items on time. Respond to inquiries quickly.
  • Consistency – Keep your brand’s tone, design and messaging the same across your website, social media platforms and other content.
  • Social Proof – People trust other people. Showcase satisfied customers with testimonials and positive messages left on your social media pages.

The Power of Social Media

Social proof is usually the fastest and most effective way to build your brand. In fact, when building your brand on social media, you’ll use the other three elements described above: clarity, professionalism and consistency.

Let’s take a look at the five steps you’ll use to build your brand with social media:

Step 1: Develop a Buyer Profile

This is a fictional person you direct all of your marketing materials to. You develop a customer profile by analyzing your existing customer base. Then you take the common characteristics of your existing customers and use them to develop your Buyer Profile.

A Buyer Profile is also called a Customer Profile, Customer Persona or Buyer Persona. For complete instructions on creating one for your brand, check out The Power of Buyer Personas.

Step 2: Identify the Right Social Networks

So, you want to focus on Facebook and Twitter, right? Not necessarily. While Facebook and Twitter are the two most popular social networks, they’re not always where your customers are. Sometimes a more obscure social media platform will be the popular choice for your potential audience.

LinkedIn is popular among business professionals. Pinterest is mainly used by women between 18 and 49. There are many social media platforms that might not have a big audience, but the audience they do have is one you want to teach.

Check out The Best Social Media Platform for Your Brand for everything you need to know.

Step 3: Develop Your Brand’s Social Media Persona

You’ll want to develop the “voice” you’ll be using across social media. Your voice is the tone, style and general personality used in all content.

Your brand’s voice depends on the product or service you provide. Some brands can be a bit off-kilter and funny. Others will need to stick to a serious tone.

Step 4: Post Content

People expect consistency from a brand. This applies to your social media presence, too. Your brand’s voice and image should be the same across all platforms.

This means using the same profile photo each time, and the same general description of your business. Potential customers will often view at least two of your social media accounts. Consistency builds trust and prevents confusion.

If your Facebook page emphasizes a completely different aspect of your business than your Twitter page does, potential customers will be unsure about what exactly you do.

Step 5: Develop a Posting Schedule

Social media marketing is designed to boost brand awareness and create reader engagement. If you promote sales too much, readers will likely turn away.

Most of your published content will be third-party pieces related to your industry. This will help increase engagement. You can then release product and brand updates sporadically.

The Power of Social Proof

People respond favorably to product recommendations made by real people. Social media is the perfect tool for connecting satisfied customers with potential customers.

First, you need to identify your target audience and understand what social media platforms they use. Then you need to engage with them using a consistent brand voice. This is the quickest way to build your brand online.

Building your brand will increase customer trust and confidence in your products, which in turns leads to increased customer engagement and sales.

4 Must-Know Tips for Buying Ads on Social Media

With the right knowledge and experience, you can implement a lot of SEO strategies which don’t cost a dime. This ability to draw organic traffic without needing a big budget is a major reason why small brands can not only compete against big ones, but can often thrive!

But not every aspect of SEO is free. Most successful SEO campaigns will need to use at least some type of paid advertising. No matter what size budget you’re working with, you’ll want to get the most “bang for your buck” when purchasing ads.

Here are four quick and easy tips you’ll want to incorporate into every Facebook, Google and/or Twitter ad you buy:

1. Read the Fine Print

Social media platforms have clear advertising policies that you absolutely must follow or your ad will be pulled.

I get it. This one sounds pretty obvious. But I see this issue occurring again and again – even among veteran marketers. When crafting a paid ad, you need to follow the rules.

Need a quick refresher course?

Most of these policies are likely what you’d expect. No overtly sexual imagery. No violence. No drug and alcohol use. No hate speech. Unless your product is really…. unusual, you likely won’t have any problems avoiding these prohibited areas.

The problems which do occur tend to center around each platform’s specific style rules. For instance, if you use the word “Facebook” in a Facebook ad, you need to write the word with a capital “F.” If you don’t, your ad will be taken down. This is actually one of the most common reasons ads are denied on Facebook.

Take the time to read through each site’s advertising policies. This can help you avoid the hassle of creating an ad only to later discover it violates a site’s policy and is removed.

2. Be Clear

Don’t be the brand who cries wolf. Making outlandish claims in your ad might get you that initial click, but when customers later feel deceived they’re likely to leave your site and never return.

Whatever claims you make in your ad must be consistent with the messaging on your landing page. But that’s not all. You also want to drive the conversation forward.

Suppose you buy used clothing. You could run an ad simply stating that you buy used clothing. That will attract the attention of people who are looking to sell their old wardrobe.

A better alternative, however, is to run an ad that not only states you buy used clothing but that you pay cash immediately. This extra information will motivate customers to take action. They can get cold, hard cash in their hand today if they head over to your store. That’s how you use ads to drive a conversation forward.

3. Use Magnetic Headlines

In social media, your ad isn’t competing against other brands. Instead, it’s competing with the other posts in the user’s feed. These are often posts from the user’s family, friends and other entities which that user actually wants to see.

Ads in a social media feed aren’t always received by the reader with open arms. You need to overcome this inherent resistance. Magnetic Headlines are a great way to do that.

Magnetic headlines aren’t overly mysterious or vague. They spell out what the product or service is and why you should be interested. A magnetic headline:

  • Clearly explains the benefits of the offer
  • Promises (and delivers) an exclusive “online only” discount
  • Details why the product is unique and superior to the competition
  • Creates a sense of urgency by offering a time limitation

Twitter goes into additional detail in their official post 7 Tips for Writing Twitter Ad Copy. For my take on the subject, check out Your Complete Guide to Twitter Ads and the related post Using Facebook Ads to Promote Your eCommerce Store.

4. Use A/B Split Testing to Narrow Your Focus

At the end of the day, all advertising theories are just that… theories. You won’t know what works until you know what works. This is where A/B testing is useful.

A/B Testing is when you run two ads simultaneously and see which one gets the best response. The ads should have clear differences. For instance, one ad might emphasize your low prices while another highlights your long-standing, trusted reputation in the industry.

This isn’t a one and done type of process. You’ll likely always be refining your ads through split testing. The good news is that the more split testing you do, the better you’ll be able to understand your customer base and what they respond to.

6 Examples of Ecommerce Companies Owning Their Social Space to Inspire Your Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing is important for all eCommerce businesses and has some good SEO benefits too. Figuring out what to do on social media can be tricky. One of the best ways to learn how to own your social space is to look at how other businesses are doing it. If certain approaches and methods have been tried and tested, then you know that they can work for you too. Whether it’s about staying on trend or just providing content that is really engaging for customers, there are lots of different ways to excel with social. Here are six examples of businesses that do it very well.

1. Amazon

No eCommerce conversation would be complete without mentioning Amazon. But if you want an example of a business who truly owns it on social, you should look no further than the big A. If you are looking at something on their site, but then you decide not to get it, the next time you come to Facebook you’ll find a sponsored advert for it. Their approach is very personalized and personalization works. Obviously doing it to this extent is not viable for most businesses, but it’s worth remembering that customers appreciate a personal experience.

Looking at their Twitter can give you some more examples of their techniques. May the 4th is ‘Star Wars Day’ and, of course, they’ve tweeted about some Star Wars merchandise that they’re selling along with an appropriate hashtag, an image, and a joke. They know what people are talking about and they’re talking about it too. You’ll also see that they have dedicated accounts for the different aspects of their huge business and they retweet things from their more ‘niche’ accounts as a form of cross-promotion.

2. ASOS

Based in the UK, ASOS is perhaps the internet’s largest clothing retailer. You’ll find some of their best social media work on Instagram. Do you know what people like on Instagram? Pictures of pretty people. And you know what ASOS post? Pictures of pretty people wearing their pretty clothes. Their pictures are all very professional and very stylish. You can tell people appreciate them too since they’ve got six million followers. They’ve done a great job of identifying the right thing for that platform.

A lot of businesses share the same thing on every social platform, but not ASOS. You’ll find their work on Facebook is very different. There they share lots of articles about fashion (which they’ve written) and use it as a means of communication with their customers in the comments. They’ve found a new way to market themselves on each platform and it pays off. They’re even ahead of the game and using Snapchat, which most businesses don’t use yet.

3. Rings to Perfection

RTP is one of the most successful eCommerce businesses being built on Shopify. Their focus is on rings and jewelry. What they have correctly identified is that people like seeing images of their aesthetically pleasing, high-quality, luxury products. Take a look at their Instagram for some examples. They’re really good at visual marketing and it’s no coincidence that the people in the photos are in luxury locations too. Meanwhile, they use their Facebook to share lots of customer reviews, while also giving people the opportunity to buy directly from them through the page. With these sorts of posts coming up between the photographs, their Facebook page is a useful asset to them.

4. Skinny Dip London

If you’re looking for a business that does Pinterest right, look no further than Skinny Dip London. This fashion and beauty retailer offers quite an extensive selection of products from a number of brands. Checking their Pinterest will show you that they’ve got boards for pretty much everything they sell, mixed along with boards such as “Sassy Icons” and “Summer Inspo”, which will have a more general appeal. People care a lot about fashion and this “soft” marketing is exactly the kind of thing they’d like to browse. Their approach to Instagram is similar, while on Facebook they’re always promoting giveaways and sales.

5. Best Buy

Another giant. Best Buy is one of the US’s biggest eCommerce businesses and if you look at their Facebook page, you’ll see that they share lots of video adverts – a sign of their bigger budget. Now that videos play automatically in the Facebook newsfeed, they’re always going to be a lot more eye-catching than images. Of course, not everybody will be able to afford to invest in video marketing, but the one thing everybody can take away from Best Buy’s social media presence is the way they interact with customers. It’s always light-hearted or jokey and often in response to things that didn’t really need a reply. People like this kind of friendly interaction.

Their Pinterest, on the other hand, is like a handy shopping guide, with boards like “Gifts for Him” and “Gifts for Her” designed to help customers shopping for different occasions. Visiting their Pinterest account is completely different to visit their Facebook, which is great. A lot of businesses make the mistake of trying to repurpose the exact same content across different platforms.

6. Barnes & Noble

Barnes & Noble has a somewhat easier job of social media marketing than others. Why? Because they sell books and books really are some people’s passion. Their Facebook page has some posts that are jokey and others that share interesting, inspirational quotes. People love to see this kind of thing. They also manage to make good use of inspirational quotes on Instagram, but when sharing them on this platform, they make more of an effort to make them visually pleasing. Book covers are another ideal source of content that Barnes & Noble take advantage of for their Instagram account. They use all of their accounts to make perfect little coves for book lovers.

Each of these six businesses has been a big success, and each of them approaches social media marketing differently. There’s no ‘one size fits all’ approach to social media; you have to take the time to think about what your audience will like and how you can best appeal to them. Looking over what the businesses in this article do will hopefully help to springboard you towards ideas for your own social media marketing strategy, which is one of many aspects of a successful SEO campaign.

Using Social Media to Generate Sales

What role does social media play in your SEO campaign? Most businesses use their social media platforms to increase brand awareness and customer engagement.

Brand awareness is important. Ultimately, however, businesses are driven by sales. Your presence on social media must eventually lead to actual purchases from customers.

Too often I find brands are far too focused on the “social” part of social media. That is, they don’t even consider how social media can lead to increased sales. But it absolutely can.

Here’s how to use your social media platforms to directly increase sales:

1. Create a Community

Your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media platforms are the absolute best ways to directly connect with your customers.

You want to create a positive impression. Whenever you’re interacting on social media, you want to be:

  • Professional
  • Friendly
  • Honest

Ever heard the famous saying “The Internet Never Forgets?” Try to get every post, reply and comment right the first time. You can never go wrong when your overall attitude is one of customer respect.

2. Be Loose and Informal

Social media encourages a degree of informality. This doesn’t mean you should swear up a storm or be otherwise inappropriate. Instead, you want to post about subjects beyond just the product or service you provide.

People connect with other people, not brands. So let your real personality shine through. Profile your employees and team members. Post “behind the scenes” pics from the office. You can have fun while keeping your brand in the background.

3. Join Social Media Groups

Be active in social media groups. You want to find groups directly related to your industry, as well as groups related to your target audience.

For industry groups, don’t just promote your products. Ask questions, form contacts and generally try to establish yourself as an authority.

Your target audience doesn’t think about your brand all the time. They have other interests, too. If you can find out what those interests are, you can connect with your potential customers in a whole new way.

4. Create Your Own Group

Give interested potential customers a place to learn more by creating your own Facebook group. Promote your channel with Facebook ads as well as mentions on your site and in your blogs.

Creating your own group allows you much more control over the content. To grow your group, offer unique content to new subscribers. This could be an e-book, webinar or whatever else your audience will enjoy.

These same principles apply to create and maintaining a LinkedIn group as well.

5. Connect with Social Media Influencers

The web is all about making a connection, both literally and figuratively. Awareness of your brand isn’t just dependent on how many people you can reach with your message. You also need to reach the right people. These are influencers.

A person is considered influential on social media if they have the ability to impact their followers. This type of person can be a celebrity, expert or even a person known only within your specific industry.

A study be AdWeek reveals people are far more motivated to purchase a product when a recommendation comes from a person instead of a brand. The potential customer doesn’t even have to know the person making a recommendation.

Connecting with influencers is as simple and complex as making any other business connection. You want to reach out, usually with an introductory email. Don’t expect to gain anything from this relationship for a long time. Popular influencers in any industry are often approached for marketing purposes. You’ll need to offer value to their brand before they’ll be willing to return the favor.

6. Invest in Facebook Ads

Facebook ads are a great way to reach potential customers who don’t follow you on social media. The downside is, of course, cost. But that’s alright. I always advise businesses to start small and increase your advertising budget over time based on success.

Start out with about $10 a day. Your ads should be between ten and fifteen cents per click. After a few weeks, check your ROI. If your ads aren’t proving to be effective, you can either change the campaign or stop it entirely.

Unless you really know what you’re doing when it comes to ad buys, I recommend never going over 20 cents per click.

Must-Have Social Media Tools

How is your brand performing on social media? As part of a successful SEO campaign, you need a vibrant social media presence. But managing your social media profiles can be time-consuming.

Have you developed a social media strategy but can’t find the time to implement it? Here are four social media tools I recommend. They’ll help you save time while improving your brand’s presence online.

(Oh, and if you need help developing a social media strategy, check out Using Social Media to Generate Sales and The Best Social Media Platform for Your Brand.)

Why are You Using Social Media?

There’s no one reason to use social media. So before you decide which of the following tools you want to try, you should first clearly establish your social media goals.

Some common goals include:

  • Increased brand awareness – This is measured by social media shares
  • Lead Generation – This is measured by the number of new leads
  • SERP Positioning – This is measured by your position in the search results

After you’ve set your goals, you’ll want to identify their Key Performance Indicators. These are data-driven metrics – real numbers – you’ll actively keep track of in order to measure your progress. Some examples of KPIs are conversions, sign-ups and sales. For more information on setting and reaching your Key Performance Indicators, check out Which Metrics Matter: A Guide to Web Analytics.

Once you know what goals you want to achieve, you’ll have a better understand of which tools will be helpful. Here are five social media tools you’ll want to know about:

1. Mention

In order to be successful on social media, you need to be responsive. Whenever your brand is mentioned across social media, you want to know as soon as possible.

Mention monitors billions of sources across the Internet. Every, well, mention of your brand is compiled into a report delivered directly to your Mention dashboard. Each mention is given an Influencer Score, which lets you identify the most important mentions at a glance.

Mention offers a free trail which requires only an account sign-up. If your brand is popular enough that you’re just not sure who is talking about you, Mention is a great way to find out.

2. Pixabay

Your content should always include images. Pictures, graphics, photos and other images are a great way to break up long blocks of text. Plus, images often lead to increased viewer engagement.

(Looking for additional ways to increase reader engagement? Check out these 7 Tips to Increase Reader Engagement.)

If you’re creating a lot of content, you’ll need a lot of images. Pixabay is my favorite free source for stock photos and videos.

They have over 720,000 photos and videos covering almost every imaginable subject. The quality of the content is very high, and the entire database is easily searchable by topic, size, color and more.

3. Stencil

This is another image software, but with an emphasis on different features. Stencil allows you to easily edit images – either your own or ones found in Stencil’s database of over 730,000 available images.

Stencil used to be known as “Share As Image.” Today, they offer a free plan with no obligation. You can choose or upload your photo and then you can manipulate the images as you wish.

Stencil makes image manipulation is easy, even if you have basically no experience with design. Stencil has a free trial with the option of paid upgrades.

4. Cayzu

Customer service is the hidden driver of customer growth for any business. If your customers don’t receive help when they need it, they’re not very likely to make other purchases from you in the future.

Cayzu scans your social media platforms for customer mentions and direct messages. These are sent to your Cayzu dashboard in the form of help desk tickets. This helps you stay organized and respond to issues with lightning speed. You no longer have to keep tabs on your platforms individually.

Best Social Media Platform for Your Brand

Social media is an important part of any SEO campaign. Why? Because that’s where the people are. Social media makes up roughly one-third of all Internet traffic.

Even if you’re a small business in a niche market, if you have just one competitor, they’re likely to be on social media. So no matter what product or service you provide, you’ll need to take an active, goal-based approach to your social media presence.

But what about the various social media platforms? They’re not all the same. Different social media platforms have different cultures, audience, and strengths.

Let’s take a look at the different platforms and which ones are best for your brand:

The Big Guys

There are probably two major platforms that immediately leaped to mind: Facebook and Twitter. These are the social media giants which just about every brand needs to be on.

You’ll want your profiles here to have the same voice and design as your webpage. You’ll also need to be active on these profiles. Here’s what to keep in mind:

  • Use a professional, but informal, tone.
  • Post lots of pictures and videos.
  • Post frequently – at least a few times a week.

The Smaller Guys

Don’t forget about LinkedIn and Pinterest. Many marketers don’t use these platforms to their full effect. Here’s what you need to know:

LinkedIn

Over half of LinkedIn users don’t visit Twitter. If you’re offering a B2B product, you should be on LinkedIn to reach a significant number of business professionals who you won’t find on Twitter. The average user age range is between 24 and 44.

Pinterest

Pinterest is another site that is often overlooked. This is a bit ironic since Pinterest is heavily focused on visuals. Brands on Pinterest should post about four to five times a week. Brands with a visual product, such as food, often find success by posting multiple times a day.

Snapchat and Instagram

If you’re targeting young adults, you’ll want a presence on both these sites. Instagram and Snapchat are both heavily used by those between 18 and 24 years old. Roughly one-third of that age group considers Instagram to be their most important social network.

Finding the Best Social Network for Your Business

There’s no need to have a presence on every social network. You’ll spread your time and resources too thin if you focus on platforms where you don’t have much of a potential audience.

Buzzsumo is a great tool here. Simply enter primary keywords related to your industry. Buzzsumo will show you the most popular type of that content available, as well as which social platforms its most commonly shared on.

Should You Focus on Facebook?

Most Buzzsumo results will show you Facebook as one of the most popular platforms, regardless of your industry. Facebook is the biggest, most active social media platform in the world. But should you always make Facebook your biggest priority?

Consider focusing your efforts on a small platform. You might find more success being a bigger fish in a smaller pond. Targeting a specific audience on Instagram, LinkedIn or Pinterest might be the smartest move – and might make the most sense for your budget, too.

Check Out the Competition

Are your competitors finding a lot of success on social media? Take a look at how they’re doing what they’re doing. In some cases, you might be able to directly compete.

In other cases, you might find a social media platform which is underserved by the competition. You can focus your efforts on these platforms and connect with untapped markets.

Social media is more than just an active Facebook page and Twitter account. There are specialized social platforms you might find great success on. First, you need to know your audience. Then you can search for the social media platforms they use the most.

Instead of drawing customers towards your brand, go engage them where they’re already active.

Best Schedule for Posting on Social Media

Social media is needed to increase brand awareness and search results position. While you probably have a pretty good handle on the basics of social media, there’s one common error many SEO pros make which you need to be aware of.

Here’s a secret about social media: What you post is important – but how and when you post is often equally as important.

Your complete guide to the best social media posting schedule starts right now:

Social Media by the Numbers

Over two billion people use social media on a regular basis. Facebook is the most popular with over 1,600 million active users and an 18% market share. The second most popular social media platform is WhatsApp with 1,000 million active users. Twitter has about 300 million users and Instagram has 400 million.

So, social media is big, growing and where your brand needs to be. Over 91% of all retail brands have a presence on at least two different social media platforms. You’ll want to do the same.

Finding the Best Social Media Platform

Many brands focus only on Facebook and Twitter. While these platforms are very popular, they’re not always the right choice.

You want to identify the platforms your potential customers prefer – and this might not be Facebook. Different platforms are popular with different audiences.

For instance, many business professionals use LinkedIn. If you sell a B2B product, a presence on LinkedIn will help you reach a large group of potential customers. Even better, this LinkedIn audience will be a group you won’t be able to easily connect with through other means. Over half of all LinkedIn users do not have a Twitter account.

Pinterest is another platform with a distinct demographic. Specifically, many women between the ages of 18 and 49 are regular users. If that demographic is part of your customer base, you’ll want to reach them with “pinned” content. Pinterest is especially effective for promoting visually exciting products such as foods and fashion.

Check out The Best Social Media Platform for Your Brand for more info.

Audience Geography and Social Media

Alright, so you’ve identified one or two social media platforms you want to focus on. Now you need to identify the general location of your audience.

Specifically, you want to identify their time zones. This will vary based on the type and location of your business.

If you’re a small, local business with a physical location and a website, then your target audience is likely in your time zone.

If you sell across the country, then your audience will be spread across multiple time zones. For the most part, you’ll direct your marketing to a combination of Eastern and Central time zones. These two time zones cover about 80% of the U.S.

The Best Times to Post

There are no absolute hard and fast rules here. But some posting times are better than others. I would suggest using these times as a starting point, and adjusting course as necessary. Here’s a breakdown by platform:

Facebook

Over 1.2 million people use Facebook. Not only that, but people who use Facebook use it for pretty long stretches of time. The average user spends – get this! – 50 minutes on the platform each day.

People are on Facebook every day, including weekends. They’re checking their Facebook pages at night, in the morning and throughout the workday.

The best time to post will depend on your user base. If you’re trying to reach a bunch of night owls, you’ll want to post in the evening and throughout the night. If you’re aiming for the lunchtime crowd, you’ll want to post in the mid-morning.

Unsure when to post? Start by posting between 1-3 pm EST, Monday through Friday. This is a nice general time when you’ll be able to reach a wide group of people in the U.S.

Facebook users don’t like to be bombarded with brand messaging. You’ll want to limit posts to just a few per day. For much more on the frequency and types of Facebook posts which will create the most customer engagement, check out How Facebook’s News Feed can Help Promote Your Brand.

Twitter

Twitter is a bit different. You can post more frequently throughout the day. Twelve to 15 tweets a day is actually fairly common.

If you have an international audience or one spread across the country, tweeting throughout the day is a good way to reach people across multiple time zones.

The Twitter audience skews young and mobile. Some of the best times to reach a Twitter audience are:

  • Monday through Friday between 12 pm to 3 pm EST. This will reach a wide range of people on their lunch break.
  • Weekdays between 5 pm and 7 pm. Here you’re getting people just as they’re getting off work.
  • Weekends in the mid-morning. This will reach many people who are looking through Twitter as they wake up and start their weekend day.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn has over 450 million members, most of whom are business professionals. Roughly half of all LinkedIn users access the site via mobile. If you offer B2B products or services, LinkedIn can be a reliable source of quality leads.

Your best posting times will be during the traditional workday, which is about 10 am to 6 pm on Monday through Friday.

To get more specific, try posting between 10 and 11 am on Tuesday. This is typically a quieter time in the office when people are more receptive to social media content.

Instagram

This visual platform is mainly used by young adults between the ages of 18 and 29. Like Twitter, Instagram’s audience is also fairly mobile.

People use mobile platforms often. So you’ll find fewer restrictions on when you can effectively post.

Instagram also has a rather unique algorithm. Users aren’t shown posts based on time alone. Instead, users see posts based on their likes and previous interactions. This helps your posts be seen by someone who already has an interest in your product or brand.

Many big brands posts during business hours. If you’re not a big brand, you might gain more exposure by posting during off-work hours. There will be less competition.

Posting between 6 am and 10 am can also lead to higher engagement. People are awake during this timeframe, but usually, they’re just getting their day started and not yet at work. Plus, there’s less posting overall in the early morning from big brands.

Pinterest

You’re mainly trying to target both working women and stay-at-home moms. That’s the core audience on the platform. The best type of product to promote on Pinterest has a strong visual appeal. Some of the best products are foods, fashion, and small appliances.

Evenings and weekends are the best here. That’s when the Pinterest audience generally has some time to relax and browse social media. Peak activity for Pinterest is around 9 pm.

Fridays at 1 am is another good time to pin. This helps your pins appear to users when they check the site on Saturday morning.

How to Reap The Benefits of Social Networking for Professionals (And What Not To Do)

You’ve seen those people on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. They’ve got hundreds of thousands of “friends” or “followers” on their professional or business pages, and they’re pumping out content that gets noticed and shared.

So, how do you become one of these social networking masters? It’s easier than you think.

Just follow these simple tips on how to reap the benefits of social networking (and what to avoid) and you’ll be making connections like a pro in no time at all. Keep reading to find out more!

Keep reading to find out more!

Create Separate Personal and Professional Profiles

Unless your brand is your own name, it’s always a good idea to keep your personal profiles separate from your professional ones. Especially if you’re using social media networking to advertise a business, your reputation on these platforms is very important.

By keeping your personal accounts separate, you can go on as many rants or share as many funny videos or memes as you want without possibly offending a prospective professional contact. Just make sure that you keep these accounts set to “private.”

Also, be sure to avoid sharing too many personal details (and never share your address or phone number). Keep in mind that protecting yourself from harassment is a priority!

Be Persistent, Not Pushy

Gaining the benefits of social networking is a marathon, not a sprint. It takes time! And if you’re expecting results overnight, you’re going to be disappointed.

Persistence is key to social networking. That being said, if someone doesn’t want to form a connection with you on social media, let it be. Pestering the same person over and over with friend requests is a surefire way to annoy them.

If a couple of people do reject you, don’t let it get you down. There is any number of reasons why it may not be a good match, and trying to guess is a waste of your time. Keep your head held high, move onto the next one, and watch your network flourish with people who really support you!

And in the same vein, don’t always expect a response right away. Sometimes life gets busy, and messages or requests can get lost in the shuffle. If someone wants to connect with you, they’ll get around to it when they can!

Put Yourself out There to Reap the Benefits of Social Networking

If you want to experience the benefits of social networking, you can’t be shy. Of course, it can be a little nerve-wracking to put yourself out there and face rejection, but if you aren’t assertive, you’ll simply never gain the connections you’re looking for.

Remember, 80% of the population use social media, and that’s just in the United States! There are plenty of people to network with. And the other professionals on social media are there to network as well.

Focus on First Impressions

Let’s say you have a goal of reaching out to 30 people in one day. You could write a general greeting, copy it, and paste it in messages to each of them. It sounds like a great way to save time, right?

Wrong.

People will see through this time-saving method right away and copied and pasted messages only achieve an impersonal tone. If you want to make the kind of the first impression that forges a true connection, be sure that each message is personal.

What’s the best way to do this? Keep your messages short, to the point, friendly, and respectful. If possible, highlight a common interest between the two of you.

Show people why you’re different than every other social networking request they’re receiving that day!

Beef Up Those Profiles

The bigger your profiles are, the better!

Think about it. You receive a connection request on a social media platform from a stranger, click on their profile to check it out, and all it has is a blank space where a picture should be and a couple of vague status updates. Well, you’re going to pass on that one.

Make sure that your profile is bursting with personality, professional photos, and information about your professional brand.

Be Aware of How Each Platform Differs

Speaking of profiles, make sure that each of yours is different depending on the platform. Your interactions with them should be as well. Here’s how.

LinkedIn

The benefits of social networking on LinkedIn are by far the most professionally rewarding. It’s essentially the same as posting a resume online. It’s also a great way to find new contacts through ones that you already have.

So, you should keep LinkedIn the most professional of all.

Facebook

Facebook is a bit more casual than LinkedIn, and it’s a great platform in which you can reconnect with old friends, classmates, babysitters…who knows!

That being said, you never know who these people know, so it can be a great opportunity for professional networking as well.

Twitter

Twitter is the most easygoing of these three. You can message anyone, anytime. Strike up a conversation with someone who tweets something that interests you!

With millions of users, you just never know who you might bump into.

Think of Others, Too

You’re not the only person who can reap the benefits of social networking through these connections. Hopefully, the other people involved will too!

It’s important to keep this in mind. What can you offer to others through networking? Do you have skills, ideas, contacts that you can share?

Beneficial, successful relationships are those in which both parties are experiencing profits. Not only does it feel good to help others, but it can also help your reputation online, and open doors to other connections as well.

Wrapping Up

If you’re patient, keep things professional, keep altruism in mind, you’ll be experiencing the full benefits of social networking in no time at all. Just remember to stick with it!

With so many social networks and people in the world, it can get overwhelming. But by utilizing the tips mentioned above, the rewards will be much greater than the setbacks.

Got any questions? Comments? Feel free to contact us anytime. We’d love to hear from you!

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