• Are you telling your brand story in social media?

#BePrepared – Hashtags and Your Brand

Hashtags. You see them everywhere, and you may have a pretty good idea that they are important. But are you using them? If you are using them, have you built a hashtag strategy? In other words, have you thought about the hashtags you are including in your posts and making sure that they push your brand and your message strategically?

Hashtag Strategy

There are many good reasons to use hashtags. They are particularly important if you want to set your brand apart, reach more customers, and get your content found. If you rely on Twitter and Instagram, it is especially important that you pay attention to hashtags. Sure your followers may see your posts if you don’t use but hashtags make it easier.

One important thing to note before we continue is that each social media platform is its own search engine. Hashtags are used to locate the information we need with a simple search. Especially for platforms that reward hashtag usage – mainly Instagram and Twitter. The reason hashtags were created was to allow people to find and participate in specific online conversations. Today, they are used to attach content to a specific keyword so it can be found easily.

Hashtags are a powerful tool but you need a clear strategy. That means creating a plan, making a list, and then using the tags you choose consistently and strategically.

How To Pick Hashtags

Picking hashtags sounds simple, doesn’t it? The truth is it can be tricky. Think about how hard it is to find effective keywords for your content or an available domain name for your website. Pulling something out of the air (without a plan) just because it sounds good usually doesn’t work.

The more complicated or original the hashtag, the quicker your content will be found – but only by the people who already know to look for that tag. Common, frequently used, keywords have a better rate of return if the goal is to attract new traffic to your social media content. A unique hashtag is created for hosting and running events where you can announce the hashtag early and explain how to use it to attendees during the event. However, if you just want to attract healthcare professionals to your blog, for example, then #healthcare, #doctor, or #medical might be a better choice.

Where to start? First, your brand needs to create a strategy around why and how you want to use hashtags. Then you need to decide which hashtags to use. When it comes to Instagram, you need to find tags that focus on your brand, your community, or your content. Right now, the recommended number of hashtags per post on Instagram is between 20 and 30. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how much engagement and how many new followers you’ll gain by using more tags on this platform. On Twitter, due to the character restriction, it really is better to limit it to 1-3 hashtags per posts. You’ll need to be much more strategic about the tags you use with your tweets since you are limited. These approaches are related, but they are also different. These social media channels are different since they are completely unrelated to one another so the strategy you use for one may not be successful with the other.

Twubs

Luckily, there are some tools out there that can help. One particularly intriguing tool is Twubs. Twubs is a platform that is designed to gather up all your tweets and create a branded page. The site can also help you find trending hashtags, register your hashtags so that you can stake your claim to them, and conduct conferences and live events. This type of tool can help you monitor and track the impact of your hashtag strategy.

If you don’t want to use another tool, you can the research and tracking on your own. Twitter and Instagram make it easy to find what’s trending. You can search to find out if a tag is already being used and what sort of traction it’s making. Pay attention to the volume of usage and engagement generated by those following and using that hashtag.

A well-researched and thought out a set of hashtags that are used strategically can help you expand your reach and strengthen your brand. While it may take a little work to make sure that you are making the most of your tags, it will be well worth it in the end. Hashtags should be a key part of your overall social marketing plan. We recommend that each of our clients sit down and come up with 50 hashtags they could potentially use and then start incorporating them into their content marketing strategy.

Be sure to Follow us and Let’s Engage!

Hollie Clere of The Social Media Advisor is a “#BeAwesome” Developer, Social Media, Brand Builder, Content Manager, Trainer and Author in LinkedInFacebookTwitterBlogGoogle+YouTubePinterestInstagram, and the tools to manage them.

Click here for Social Media TrainingSpeaking and Strategy Consultations.

#BePrepared – Should You Schedule Your Social Media Content?

When it comes to social media marketing, there is an age-old debate. Should you schedule your content in advance or post it as you go? Honestly, there are valid points to both sides of this discussion that you should understand, as a small business owner, before making your decision on how to proceed with your social media content.

Posting As You Go

Just like in the writing world where there are plotters (those who create a plot before writing) and pantzers (those who just sit down and write without a plan), social media marketing is a world full of people who swear by either scheduling their content in advance or simply posting when they feel the need.

Those who fly by the seat of their pants make a good argument for being present. They are there for their audience. Their content is never stale. Since they just posted something, it’s more likely that they will be there to engage with the audience and continue organically boosting the post by responding to followers. They are more likely to actually use the platform and not just post and disappear.

Many business owners that prefer this method argue that their engagement is way higher when they don’t schedule content. Which makes sense if they are around giving their post traction as it goes live. Engagement really is the key to gaining ground on social media!

Scheduling Your Content

Does that mean you shouldn’t schedule your content? Actually, there are plenty of solid reasons for scheduling your social media posts in advance. This is why so many businesses prefer this method.

Consistency

Consistency is so important when it comes to your online presence. It’s hard to grab someone’s attention at all online but once you have it, you need to take steps necessary to keep it. Maintaining a consistent, reliable presence on social media is the path to nurturing and growing your audience. The path to consistency is to schedule posts in advance. Then it doesn’t matter how busy your day, week, month is – social media is working for you in the background. No more panics about forgetting to post something that day or last-minute brain drains trying to come up with good content on the fly.

Strategy

Do you have a social media strategy? To get the most ROI, or return, on your social media marketing it’s important to create a strategy. If you don’t have one of those, you are basically throwing spaghetti at the wall and hoping that some of it sticks. You’ll struggle proving that the time you spend on social is valuable because you haven’t determined which metrics truly matter for your business. If you are just posting as you go, it will be way more difficult to participate in social media in a strategic way.

Timing

The experts will tell you to check your analytics. Why? Because the best way to be successful is to track when social media success actually happens. What type of content is getting engagement? What time of day is your audience online?

Ideally, you would post your content at just the right time of day. The time that analytics has shown works well for your audience. It can be tough to do this well without scheduling your content in advance. If your audience is most active at 6:30 PM every night – then it’s likely you’ll be eating dinner at the most important time of day for your social media marketing. Wouldn’t it be nice to just schedule the content for 6:30 and then go and enjoy a meal with your family?

Productivity

Also, when it comes to productivity – the ability to batch tasks all at once has long proven to be effective. Being able to sit down and create and post all your content at once and then move on to other initiatives for the month is amazing. You can schedule the time each month to work on your social media without feeling overwhelmed by the task. Many business owners start questioning the value of this marketing approach when they feel like they are spending an exorbitant amount of time working on their own social media marketing. Who could blame them? Efficiency is more appealing.

Our Best Practice Recommendation

Now you understand why there is a debate over scheduling your business content. Social media is supposed to be social so scheduling in advance and walking away from your content is a bad idea.

You can probably also see the popularity of being able to use a scheduler, like Hootsuite or Buffer, to batch your social media content in advance and feel confident about maintaining a consistent, online presence.

As a social media expert, our recommendation for best practices when it comes to posting your content online is… do both! Set aside a few hours each month to schedule strategic content on all of the platforms where you maintain a presence. We recommend at least 3 posts per week but don’t overdo it. The more posts you create, the less likely people will see them (blame the algorithm and the billions of people using social media every day).

However, don’t just stop there. Make it a point to pop in every day and engage with folks on social media and post something timely. Whether it’s a picture of you at a conference or networking event, that blog you just published, or a live video – let your audience know that you are around.

This method of combining the two strategies ensures that you are consistent with your online presence but also reminds you that this experience is an exchange with your audience – not a one-way street. Social media is not a publishing platform where you post it, they come to read it and then they go away. It’s an experience and a connection with you, the business owner. The best way to #BePrepared for social media success is to understand the value of both methods and then build a social media strategy that actually works.

Be sure to Follow us and Let’s Engage!

Hollie Clere of The Social Media Advisor is a “#BeAwesome” Developer, Social Media, Brand Builder, Content Manager, Trainer and Author in LinkedInFacebookTwitterBlogGoogle+YouTubePinterestInstagram, and the tools to manage them.

Click here for Social Media TrainingSpeaking and Strategy Consultations.

#ShareYourMessage – What is Lead Generation in Social Media Marketing?

As a social media manager, one of the common questions (or complaints) I get from prospective clients is about their return on investment (ROI) when it comes to social media marketing. There is a common misconception that lead generation isn’t possible on social. This stems from the fact that SO many business owners approach social media marketing as a sales tool and ignore the reason the platform or channel exists in the first place. Social media IS meant to be a social experience. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t use it for lead generation. It just means you need to get clear about your social media strategy and how you want it to work for your business.

According to Quicksprout, using social media reduced marketing costs for 45% of the businesses surveyed. It has also increased revenue for 24% of those companies when they chose to implement a lead generation strategy.

What Is Lead Generation Anyway

Before we jump into the deep end, let’s go over lead generation as a sales tool. Lead generation is how you attract potential clients and customers into your business sales funnel. It’s how you narrow down your focus to the right people, grab their attention, and lead them to your offer. Don’t have an offer yet? Clearly, you’ll need to start with what you want to sell and pick a place to post your offer.

Whether it’s your website site or a landing page, building out the copy and graphics for your sales site will be the deciding factor in whether or not someone hits the buy button. Lead generation is about getting the right people to that page so that you can sell them.

The prep work needed to promote lead generation on social media:

  • Build your online presence and brand awareness
  • Know your target audience and how to find them
  • Uncover the pain points of your leads
  • Build your offer based on the information gathered and post it online
  • Then create a social media strategy to guide that audience to that offer

Why Social Media?

Since I work in social media management, I’m going to let some recent statistics do the convincing for me here.

39% of Americans spend more time socializing online than in person.

People spend 50 minutes of their day, every day, on Facebook.

71% of consumers are likely to purchase an item based on social media referrals.

For B2B companies, 44% have generated leads through LinkedIn, 39% through Facebook and 30% through Twitter.

I hear stories all the time about how companies are bailing on their website to focus entirely on social media marketing because it’s working so well for them. (I don’t recommend that by the way – rented land!) This is relevant because social media DOES work for lead generation, if you have built it in the right way.

Where to Start

Once you have your online offer in place, have narrowed down your audience and know where to find them, then it’s time to pick a social media platform. Picking the right channel can make or break your lead generation efforts. If you pick Facebook, but most of your audience is on Instagram, then they aren’t going to see your content.

If you already have a built-in audience or community, then this answer is simple. If you don’t, it’s time to start building one.

Lead Generation Strategies

When it comes to social media marketing, there are multiple lead generation strategies you could explore.

Page Optimization

Brands that understand the value of their Internet real estate, also understand the importance of optimizing each of their social media profiles. Your Facebook business page should strongly resemble your website with buttons that direct visitors to where you want them to land. Keyword research is imperative here as each of your profiles should incorporate as many searchable keywords as possible. Make it easy for the right people to not only find you but follow through on the appropriate call to action.

Opt-Ins & Freebies

The whole point of a sales funnel is to get an individual’s permission to market to them and then move them through the whole process. If you don’t have a sales process, that’s where to start. The most common way to get someone into your funnel is to offer them something they want for free in exchange for their contact information. Make it clear that you’ll be contacting them in the future, not just to send them the freebie. Then use email marketing to target them directly. How do you increase awareness of your free offer and your opt-in? You use social media. If you have taken the time to build an online offer and sales funnel and you aren’t directing those who are consuming your social content to those – then you aren’t set up for lead generation on social.

Paid Advertising

The most common lead generation strategy on social media is to invest in paid ads. Each of the social media platforms has its own version of this – whether it’s boosting content on Facebook, promoting Pins on Pinterest or straight up buying ads on Twitter – there’s an option for each of the most popular social channels. You can either invest the time in figuring out how to optimize your own advertising or you can seek out the help of someone who specializes in paid ads.

Lead generation is possible on social media and it works! Brands are gaining traction and success every day by incorporating a social media strategy that is built around a lead generation and sales process.

Why aren’t more small businesses setting up their online marketing this way? Because it takes work, effort and often a budget. Can you just share another brand’s content on social media and convert followers into consumers? Not likely. The ROI you seek is hidden behind the strategy you’ve yet to implement.

Social Power Program

If you want more support in building out your social media strategy, I encourage you to check out the Strategy Series on the Social Power Program.

The Social Power Program is designed to be a “work at your own pace” program incorporating video training and worksheets. The Program uses videos, tools of the trade, bonus “diving deeper” sessions and accountability to assist you with your online marketing strategy.

Be sure to Follow us and Let’s Engage!

Hollie Clere of The Social Media Advisor is a “#BeAwesome” Developer, Social Media, Brand Builder, Content Manager, Trainer and Author in LinkedInFacebookTwitterBlogGoogle+YouTubePinterestInstagram, and the tools to manage them.

Click here for Social Media TrainingSpeaking and Strategy Consultations.

#GrowYourAudience – Using the Tools of the Trade in Your Online Marketing

In the world of online marketing, things move fast – so fast that we rarely get the chance to pause and evaluate how we do our work. It’s easy to lose track of all the tools that are available to help us maximize our online marketing efforts.

From social media managers, analytical tools, and other utilities, there are many tools from which to choose from. Some are designed for casual users, some are super techie, some are expensive, and some are cheap. Which ones are best for you all depends on what you are trying to do. But no matter what your skill level or strategy, there are some must-haves. Let’s take a look at five tools of the trade that every online marketer should have in his or her toolbox.

Hootsuite

Hootsuite is a tool that allows you to schedule and post updates to your social media accounts. You can implement and analyze campaigns across all the platforms you use all from one dashboard. Depending on the type of account you have (yes, there are both free and paid versions) you can track a wide variety of metrics to monitor your efforts.

Canva

Canva is a powerful graphics media program that allows you to create a wide variety of marketing pieces using your own designs or pre-designed templates. It also offers the ability to collaborate with other members of your team. Many of Canva’s most useful features are free.

Google Analytics

When you insert a short piece of code on your web pages, Google Analytics allows you to track and analyze your website traffic. This must have tool for any webmaster will help you understand what your users are looking at, how they get to your website, and if they are using your content the way you intended.

Facebook Pixel

Facebook Pixel helps you monitor whether or not the ads you place on Facebook are working. The Pixel is activated by code you put on your website. You’ll be able to analyze the effectiveness of your ads using a variety of metrics.

Cloud Storage

Cloud storage is remote storage space that is made available over a network. Among the most well-known cloud storage is Apple’s iCloud but there are other services available. You purchase storage based on your needs. The service will take care of maintaining and backing up your data in a way that is virtually invisible to you.

There are many tools available to help you work more effectively to manage your social media needs. For many people, having these five tools and knowing how to use them is enough; they can make your life easier, make your team more effective, and ensure that your business is running smoothly.

Be sure to Follow us and Let’s Engage!

Hollie Clere of The Social Media Advisor is a “#BeAwesome” Developer, Social Media, Brand Builder, Content Manager, Trainer and Author in LinkedInFacebookTwitterBlogGoogle+YouTubePinterestInstagram, and the tools to manage them.

Click here for Social Media TrainingSpeaking and Strategy Consultations.

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Learn how to use social media to grow your business online with our video series!

  • Learn the fundamentals of social media
  • Learn how to build better brand engagement
  • Learn how to enhance your visitors' experience
  • Learn how to grow your business using social media strategies.

If you want someone to break down aspects of social media to get more clients and build your business using social media, this is the program for you.


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