Monthly Archives: July 2016

Social Media Marketing

With businesses looking for the best ways to reach their customers, social media marketing has quickly become one of the easiest and most cost effective options.

Social media marketing enables businesses of all sizes the opportunity to reach consumers where they are spending an increased amount of time — social networking sites. Social media marketing entails marketing or trying to sell a product by advertising on social networking or social media sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Pinterest and Instagram.

Social media marketing revolves around creating original, free, content on the sites in order to generate buzz about a brand. The objective is to create content that followers will find interesting enough to share with their friends in family. The end goal is to produce a larger circle of consumers taking interest in a business.

The first step in creating a social media marketing plan is determining the social networks worth being active on. With so many social networks out there, businesses need to focus on the ones where they know their customers are. It is important to gauge your customers on the social networks they use most often in order to not waste time on sites consumers aren’t paying attention to.

Some of the most popular social networking sites for social media today are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Google +.  To launch social media marketing campaigns, all businesses need to do is sign up for free with each social network they want to use. Once registered, businesses can create individual profiles for their business and start posting content, such as industry trends, company news and promotional information right away.

Once a business has created profiles on each site, it is important that they define the goals they are trying to achieve. Do they want to use social media marketing to sell a certain product, create buzz about the business in general or drive more consumers to their website? By knowing the goal of the plan, it will be easier to determine the type of strategy and content that should be used.

Another main component of any social media marketing plan is figuring out how to attract fans, friends or followers. One quick way to do so is by tapping into the current customer base. Encouraging current customers to “friend” or follow along in exchange for a coupon or free gift is an easy to start building up a following.

Once current customers are in the mix, ideally they will start sharing the posted content with their friends and family, who then will in turn start following along as well.

In addition to content, businesses must decide if they want customer service to be a part of their social media strategy. If it is, they need to keep constant tabs on their social media pages so they can respond to customer questions and complaints. Not responding will only make companies lose credibility in the eyes of those whose business they are trying to attract.

Besides posting their own content and responding to questions and complaints, an organization should make customer engagement a key part of their social media strategy. Ask them questions about what they like and dislike about the brand. This is a tremendous source of information that shouldn’t go untapped.

Why The Most Entrepreneurs Start Businesses

opNew research from Cox Business has found that more than half of small business owners start their own business in order to be their own boss. The researchers found that people were also motivated by the idea of creating something from the ground up. Overall, nearly two-thirds of respondents said they had started their own business for one of those reasons.

Money, on the other hand, is not a motivating factor for many small business owners: Just 8 percent of respondents said that was their main motivation for starting their own business.

Small business owners are also very dedicated to building those businesses, the research revealed. Forty-three percent of business owners said they have never considered closing their business, even as new technologies create challenges they may not have anticipated when starting their businesses.

Despite those challenges, small business owners are looking at the rise of new technologies as more of an opportunity than a detriment for their businesses. More than half of the business owners in the Cox Business Small Business Week survey said that new technologies like apps, mobile marketing and others were helpful to their businesses.

Additionally, 37 percent of business owners said they were happy with the way they have incorporated technology into their businesses. Just 32 percent of respondents said they are having trouble keeping up with new technologies. Those responses speak to the idea of “digital Darwinism” which refers to companies trying to keep up with constant technology changes.

Business owners still rely on email for daily communication. Forty percent of respondents said email is the most important communication tool for their business: Small business owners chose email over cell phones and social media for their daily communication needs.

Social media was not only less important to small businesses’ daily communication, but also to other aspects of running a business. In fact, just 33 percent of small business owners said they utilize social media in their marketing efforts.

Even though technology was not a huge emphasis for many of the small business owners surveyed, they rated a tech superstar as their entrepreneurial idol: Twenty-one percent of business owners said Steve Jobs was the entrepreneur they most want to emulate. Jobs was followed by Ben Franklin and Walt Disney.

The research was based on 605 responses from small business owners and managers at Cox Business.

How to Entice Holiday Shoppers with Social Media

A recent survey by Crowdtap, a collaborative marketing and social influence platform, revealed that 65 percent of holiday shoppers use social media to find the perfect gift. With Christmas just a couple weeks away, this is a business’s last chance to maximize its reach using social media.

“Whether you are a big-box retailer or small business, you can leverage the holidays to grow your online influence through social media,” said Becky Robinson, social media strategist and CEO of Weaving Influence, an online influence-building company. Robinson offered the following tips and anecdotes on how to use social media to listen, monitor and engage with current customers and influence potential ones.

Turn up your listening.Although many businesses schedule social media updates, Robinson said businesses can stand out by stepping out of that box and showing a willingness to connect.

“While it may be tempting to schedule and send promotional updates through the holiday season, you can stand out by listening to and responding to fans and customers who communicate with you,” Robinson said.

Robinson also advised businesses to always keep their eyes open. She recommended signing up for services like Google Alerts — which lets businesses monitor their brand and other relevant terms online — and checking social media channels multiple times throughout the day.

Take charge. People are posting about products and services you offer every day. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to turn them into customers.

To get on shoppers’ radars, Robinson said businesses should save a search on Twitter for their industry or location, then find relevant tweets and social media updates by regularly checking search streams.

“Several weeks ago, I needed to find a new bank for business banking,” Robinson said. “Though I tweeted several general tweets about banks, not a single bank engaged with me. Later, after I chose a bank, I sent tweets tagging both my old bank and my new bank. Until I mentioned a specific bank, no one engaged. You can impress me — and win my business — if you respond before I tag you by your handle.”

Show up and be real. Social media isn’t just about promoting products and services — it’s about creating relationships.

Robinson said businesses should designate someone in the company to personally engage with others in real-time every day. One way is by asking about or commenting on things people are sharing. For instance, Robinson once tweeted, “@TopoAthletic delighted me by tweeting me, several days after our original connection, to wish me luck on my half marathon.”

During the holidays, businesses can share real-life, real-time updates to give customers a glimpse of what the company is doing to celebrate. Share photos, daily happenings and other stories from the office.

Give extra love to your best fans and customers. Although people follow brands’ social media accounts to get the latest news, Robinson said, the primary reason is they want to get inside deals and discounts. Be creative and think of unexpected ways to offer promotions and exclusive sales. Give fans and customers exactly what they want.