Start your New Year’s Social Media with a Bang!

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Happy New Year! I hope everybody is as excited to see what 2016 brings us as I am. We all want to start off 2016 by optimizing our marketplace social media in order to get the return on investment your boss is looking for, and it’s not that hard if you use best practices. I strongly suggest you take a close look at how your social media marketing is performing compared to the previous years, evaluate benchmarks and use that information to make recommendations for your future strategy. After evaluating, I suggest you consider integrating the tips below into your social media marketing in order to make your brand stand out online.

  1. Content is king, make it count:

Buffer released their marketing manifesto last year and shared some valuable advice “treat every single piece of output as the one that’ll be a breakout hit.” We all want to produce content in quantity, but it will get lost in the social media sea unless you make it stand out. Be sure to evaluate what worked well for you in the past and concentrate more on context. Forbes put together this helpful list of New Year’s content marketing tips.  Find that catchy tune to your writing that will produce your next hit!

  1.     Engage, Engage, Engage:

I cannot stress enough the benefits of actively partnering with influencers on social media. Brands and businesses who do so see as much as a 6-to-1 return in their marketing investment. Consumers today trust recommendations from family, friends, and social media influencers more than any type of paid marketing. Make lists of your key target market that has the ability to influence people, then  reach out and ‘ask’ them to promote your business.

  1.         Social Media Campaigns:

blogged about the exciting new Snapchat campaigns last week and the same concept is being echoed on all social media platforms. Lowes’  “Fix in Six”campaign used Vine to share quick, cute, and fun six-second videos on how to solve some everyday household problems. Newcastle Brown Ale used Facebook for its award-winning Super Bowl Band of Brands campaign, ultimately generating 2.3 billion campaign impressions. The list goes on and on. Be creative within your industry and your social media campaigns, and profit margins will reflect that success.

  1.          Customer Service:

Despite being one of the best ways to deal directly with consumers, customer support via social media is an area where most brands could still use some help, according to Adweek. You should be utilizing your social media page to interact with your customers. Customers love being able to rely on having good contact with a business. Keep an eye on what your customers want and give it to them. Make a commitment to engage with your customers on a regular basis to highlight your business’s unique value proposition. Social media is one of the best ways to go about that today, so  check in on your social media platforms regularly to give your customers the support they deserve.

  1.     Social advertising:

Social media engaging and advertising can absolutely coexist and support each other. Seeing ads on social media is one of the top ways users of social media find out about new products, new brands and new services. The majority of adults in the United States are on social media, so it is a perfect place for advertising. eMarketer, a world leader in research in the digital world, reports that between 20 and 25% of people who see a social ad, will then respond by visiting the store or website on the ad. In addition, they reported that between 14% and 17% went ahead and bought a product or service. With data like that, it’s hard to argue with the benefits of social advertising.

These are just a few of my more immediate ideas about how to improve your social media marketing for the New Year. Be sure to check out our strategygoalssuccess, entrepreneur and trends articles for more tips for how to holistically grow your social media. Every industry and business should have a unique approach to their social media marketing, but there is no reason to reinvent the wheel. Social media is all about sharing, educating, learning and having fun. If you are just starting out in social media, don’t be afraid to reach out to the “big dogs” to pick up tips and if your social media is already well established, please share your success stories. I hope this article gave you some ideas for optimizing your social media marketing in the coming year. Happy New Year from all of us here at GO, and here’s to a successful 2016!

Could Snapchat be the Future of Social Media Marketing?

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2015 was the year social media marketing finally started to mature. Advertisers really started investing in Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms paying close attention to best practices. By the end of the third quarter, Facebook’s advertising revenue had jumped 45% year on year to $4.3 billion, Twitter’s was up 60% to $513 million and Snapchat is already on-track to generate 100 million in revenue. From convincing publishers to set up Snapchat-specific newsrooms to charging brands as much as $750,000 for ephemeral vertical ads, Snapchat is holistically breaking new ground every day.

The #LastSelfie Snapchat campaign for the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) pulled on the heartstrings of animal lovers everywhere. WWF used Denmark agency, UncleGrey, and Turkish agency, 41? 29!, to create and run this Snapchat campaign and won a 2015 Webby Award for their efforts. WWF used the idea that selfies disappear off Snapchat after 10 seconds to illustrate the disappearance of endangered species around the world. This increased WWF worldwide branding substantially and sharing that led to more donations for the month in just a few short days.

Politicians Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, John Kasich, and more took to Snapchat in 2015 to reach younger voters. Sanders used a Snapshot,” Clinton was “just chilling,” and Ohio Governor John Kasich released a Snapchat ad mentioning his “awesome” ness. While other politicians have used social media to promote themselves, this is the first election cycle where politicians are marketing themselves through Snapchat. In October, Sony Pictures became the first brand to purchase its own standalone Discover channel to promote its James Bond: Spectre film. Victoria’s Secret unclasped fans’ excitement for its December annual fashion show by asking Snapchat followers to draw their own fantasy bra with the photo-sharing application’s doodle features.

As you can see from my examples above Snapchat’s, growth seems inevitable. The reasoning behind this growth is that Snapchat is seen more like messaging and less like marketing– it evangelizes 2-way conversations, it’s authentic and its customer service capabilities appear endless. Coca Cola is a great example of this and uses Snapchat very successfully by tailoring its add content to the messaging app. I will be the first one to admit there is no taking over Facebook and Twitter, but it looks like these social media giants may have to make room for a third new and differentiated platform in the marketing arena.

 

Top Social Media Trends For 2016!

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Social media has always been a very unique way to perform marketing. Ever since its conception, critics have insisted that social marketing is not a viable marketing strategy, but it has proven to be a real source of Return on Investment (ROI). Social media marketing is still changing very rapidly, and here are some of my thoughts about what we should expect in 2016.

  • Live updates will be used more frequently

Social media posting is already “live” by nature, but we will just be expanding upon this. Periscope, which was recently acquired by Twitter is a great example. Periscope lets you explore the world through the eyes of somebody else and it allows users to give a live video broadcast of some stretch of their lives. So, you can view multiple years of somebody’s life in one sitting. Similar to Instagram and Snapchat, Periscope is all about live updates. Facebook is also rolling out new Facebook Live Broadcasts, according to Mashable. I think scheduling your social media posts will still be important, but I see the road opening up and being a lot more dominated by “live” posting.

  • Social networks is the new search engine

While Google certainly is not going anywhere anytime soon, the way that potential customers search for services and products has expanded outside of regular search engine optimization. Brian Solis says, eighty-eight percent of consumers online are influenced by reviews and online comments by other consumers. They are looking directly to sites such as Twitter and Facebook, or in apps such as Yelp. Pinterest, a market that is largely dominated by women in their 30s with young families who love to shopping, is directing people  from their social media platform straight to company websites at an exponentially increasing rate, according to Shareaholic .

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  • Buy buttons will take over

Facebook and Pinterest have both gained a lot of attention this year by introducing new “buy” features for their advertisers and users. Mobile users of Facebook and Pinterest who see a product they like in a sponsored post can now use one click to purchase it, without ever leaving the app. According to Hootsuite,Instagram is making a lot of progress with their shop now button, and I suspect by the end of 2016, most major brands will feature some kind of buy button as an element of their social media advertising campaigns.

  • New small social media platforms will decline

It’s kind of ridiculous how many small social media platforms have been created to either disappear the next day, or become an average platform that nobody cares about. We have already seen the trend starting to change in 2015 and I think we will have even fewer smaller platforms emerge and/or they will be acquired by the big three (Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook).

  • Paid social advertising will dominate

As the ROI of social media marketing becomes more established and social marketing itself becomes more accessible for a wider range of businesses, there will be a greater level of competition for visibility. Forbes discusses how Facebook is killing it’s organic visibility to force people to buy advertising, and as more businesses emerge in the market, I suspect that we will see a lot more of this among more social media channels. I see the cost of advertising rising a lot in 2016 as well.

These are just some of my thoughts on how the landscape of social media marketing will change in 2016. I am a firm believer in following trends in order to make your social media marketing work for you and not wasting valuable time. I suggest you prepare for these changes and beat your competition to the punch, so you’ll see much higher visibility in your social media, which will only improve your brand reputation.

An entrepreneur’s guide to social media branding.

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Do you ever wonder if you can make yourself into a brand through social media? You think you aren’t anybody special, but you have a unique offering that you want the world to see.

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Image from gettyimages

The simple answer is, anybody that has something of value can make themselves into a brand on social media, but you need to know what you are doing. It all starts with building your personal brand on social media.

Read: Want to become an entrepreneur? There’s an app for that

It is very important to define your brand position and objective. You need to clearly define yourself as a thought leader and make sure you stand out from the rest. Ask yourself why should people follow, friend or like you? Work at delivering the content that they want to see. What do you want people to see when they search your brand name? If you are a growing entrepreneur, what people see about your personal brand online has a lot to do with determining if your brand is successful.

Develop a personal brand communication style to stand out

Establish a communication style early on and  commit to it, and ultimately, perfect it. That style should showcase what you are great at while driving influence and making people take action. Choosing your communication style in relation to online personal brand development is critical to making yourself into a leading brand. This will also be essential for making your personal brand stand out in today’s competitive marketplace.

You need to claim your name. You can use a tool such as Knowem to see if your desired username is available on all social media platforms and if not you may need to create a slightly altered name. Consistency is key and every social media profile you create should have the same look and feel that reflect you as a brand.

Define your personal brand image

Your brand image  should clearly define your brand culture and adapt as need be to fit what your target market is looking for. Your smile, tone of voice and writing style all need to be an accurate description of your new brand. You should have a positive brand image, that is authentic to who your new brand is.

For instance, Justin Bieber is often called the first YouTube superstar, and there is a good reason for that. The teen dream got his start by posting videos and Bieber built himself into a famous brand in no time at all and he’s not alone. Plenty of people have used social media to carve out niches for themselves just on the strength of their social media.

 

Kelly Oxford was a housewife in Calgary, Alberta, whose Twitter account gained attention from stars like Roger Ebert and Jimmy Fallon, and now she’s sold several pilots, authored a book and moved to L.A. Without social media and Twitter she’d probably still be in Canada. Amy Jo Martin is a great example of self-made entrepreneur who turned herself into a brand by using social media.

Read: Why Generation Y are designing their lives before planning careers

As a social media marketer, you spend a lot of time getting more shares, followers and traffic for your business. The same rules apply when the brand you’re promoting is yourself. You also should be actively participating within your communities in order to make your personal brand stand out. Your target market LinkedIn and Facebook Groups, Google+ communities and Twitter hashtag conversations are all great places to start. Your personal brand gets more exposure by being active and helps you position yourself as an authority in your niche and that should be your ultimate goal!

This is a guest blog and may not represent the views of Virgin.com. Please see virgin.com/terms for more details. Thumbnail from gettyimages.

Originally published on Virgin, Entrepreneur.

Is Your Social Media Strategy Working

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Congratulations! You have created a social media strategy with the steps you’ll take and the goals you want to achieve. Or maybe you’re just getting started and need some guidance on how to go about setting yourself up for success.

After you have implemented your strategy, it is very important to measure the actual impact you are having. Here are just a few of the many ways you can determine if your strategy is having a positive impact on your marketplace.

  1.  Vanity Metrics: While this should not be the highlight of your results, vanity metrics can help you quickly and easily see whether your activity is working. When you gain fans and followers, see more “Likes,” “favorites,” “shares,” and “retweets,” you can tell that what you’re publishing is attracting interest.
  2.  Sales: Get with your sales team and start tracking the social media conversions. Start asking how the person found out about your company. If you learn that new customers are reaching out based on your social media activity, you’ll have evidence that your strategy is working, and your sales staff will appreciate it.
  3. Website Traffic: Measuring your website activity is key in determining how social media plays a role in your website traffic. We use Hubspot and Google Analytics, which can get you all the info you need to see where your traffic is coming from, but there are a lot of other good tools out there as well.

The bottom line is, you need to prove the return on investment (ROI) of your social media strategy in order to make it worthwhile. Your vendors will want to see whether social media is money well-spent. Using vanity metrics are a great start, but using deeper metrics and analytics will really showcase your success. I have given you everything you need to make social media flourish for your marketplace, but feel free to reach out anytime with any thoughts or questions.

Originally published on Near Me.

Optimizing Your Social Media Goals For Success

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Are you doing the best you can on social media, but don’t know if it is really helping out your business? You know it’s important to have social media ROI, but aren’t sure how to get it. It is important to set business goals and figure out how social media can reach those goals. Lastly, determine how you can measure the impact of your social media efforts on these goals.

Each social media goal should relate to your specific business goals and I have listed some top ones below:

  • Brand Awareness: It’s important to stay front and center in people’s minds in order to build brand reputation. If customers don’t know about your brand and what it stands for, your business needs to work on being more influential. When your customers are aware of your brand on social media, they are more likely to recommend it to their friends by liking posts on Facebook and retweeting you on Twitter.
  • Increase Website Traffic: Increasing traffic is important to all sites and is crucial if you are selling online. While website traffic should never be the ultimate goal of your website, in order to accomplish other website goals, you must have some traffic. Besides sales opportunities, the more people you have visiting your site, the more chances people have to engage with your blog content, social media, interact with your brand or share your site with friends and followers.
  • Website Visitor Retention:  After you increase your website traffic, you want to start measuring how much time they are spending on your site. The longer people are staying on your site, the more chances that they will buy from you. Another very important aspect of visitor loyalty is to understand on average how many visits are required for one of your visitors to convert. A conversion could be a visitor purchasing from your site, signing up for an email newsletter and so on.
  • Conversion Rates: It’s important to be able to direct the relationship your social media has with sales. We use Hubspot to measure our traffic sources, but there are many other easy tools you can  use. One of the most frequently utilized web goals is a visitor converting to a lead captured by entering personal information online. For companies that conduct the majority of their business online, these goals are very important to the organization and are key measures of success.

You should make measuring your social media success a primary focus of your social media marketing efforts. I recommend you measure and monitor your goals on a monthly basis. It is very important to set up a monitoring process that correctly articulates the info you are looking for. By measuring your social media impact, you ensure the best use of your time and resources. Good luck and please let us know how I can help!

Originally published on Near Me.

Time to Create a Social Media Strategy

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Social media traffic has the potential to be one of the biggest referrers of quality traffic to your site. While some types of social traffic have a reputation for being hard to convert, overall, social media traffic is very engaging. We blogged about social media engagement last month. Now I am going to discuss what you need do to create a strategy that works. A good social media strategy will benefit your business in many ways. It will assist you to holistically drive traffic to your site, build relationships, better customer service, satisfaction and retention.

Before getting started, make sure you do your research. It is important to know who your target market is and develop a plan for reaching them. You can then optimize your content with the keywords needed to reach them. Competitor analysis can be a great way of seeing what is and isn’t working.  It is also crucial to determine what social media platforms to focus on and have different strategies for them. Find out where your target audience is spending their time on. Once you figure out who your target market is, what platform they are on and what they are looking for, you can then start delivering value to them. The more value you can provide, the faster you will grow your presence. Remember, consistency is key. People will get used to viewing your social media posts before work and/or at lunch every day, so make sure to give them that.

You need to get followers or everything you are doing on social media is pretty pointless.  Without people seeing, reading, and re-sharing the content you post, you’ll never build relationships, trust or see significant traffic. As your follower count grows, you can slow down on growing your targeted following, as the exposure from the content you share will start to earn you significant follower growth and traffic.

There are many techniques to engage and get followers naturally on Twitter, but platforms such as Facebook is largely a pay-to-play site now. You don’t need to spend a lot of money, but you do need to start running Facebook and/or LinkedIn ads depending on what your target market is. Linkedin is usually a lot pricier. It is also important to cross-promote on your social media. If you have a lot of followers on Twitter, then tweet out your LinkedIn and Facebook page in order to grow on those platforms also.

You need to automate for success. Nobody has the time to be tweeting all day. As I said at the beginning, the one key to success with social media is consistency and if you can find shortcuts to help you achieve those goals, then go for it. The easiest way to be consistent is to use tools (many of which are free) to schedule your posts. The best standard for posting on Facebook is 3-5 times a week and their algorithm fluctuates very frequently; LinkedIn is the same. Twitter is the best of both worlds because you can post as much as you want up to once an hour, mixed in with retweets and @ mentions. Instagram, Pinterest and others are pretty flexible, it is best to optimize for preferred times though.

Last but not least, you want to benchmark, measure, analyze and make recommendations on your social media analytics. We use HubSpot and Sprout Social and they work great, but there are endless tools out there that work just as well.  You need to commit to following your strategy for months until you start seeing any real results, but even then it could take years for your strategy to start producing the ROI you are looking for. Right now, you are investing your time and resources so that you can get those results. Keep that in mind in the months ahead.

Originally published on Near Me.