Facebook, is it over for businesses?

Since Facebook announced the algorithm change for Business Pages, back in January, many business owners have either left the platform or have given up.

The reality is that as a small business owner we can still continue to grow on Facebook.  There are many elements available through Facebook that allow us to keep building our businesses.  You have your personal timeline, groups and YES, your Business Page.

What I have seen and heard, is that it was the larger companies, those who had larger followings, that got more affected by the change than us ‘little’ guys.  Reason being is that they had huge amounts of engagement (like/comment/shares) than we had, so the decrease in numbers were much more noticeable.

I will tell you that I personally, did not see a difference in my “number of people reached” on each of my posts, I am still averaging 600 daily reach on my posts.  Why?

I have been using Facebook for 10 years for business, with the last 6 focused on my Facebook business.  During those 10 years, I spent more time building relationships through the different groups, than anything else.  I realized the impact of this for my business, so I knew that I had to dedicate DAILY time to doing this.  I knew that my Business Page was not the ONLY thing I needed to focus on.  I also learned that my personal timeline could make a HUGE impact.

By working these 3 main elements of Facebook, it ultimately, will affect your following and your engagement on your Business Page.  People will want to follow you because you have built a relationship and in turn, they will tell their friends and your following starts to grow.  HOWEVER, this is not the only way, this is just a small fraction of what you can do.

Really think about what you are posting on your Business Page.  Does it provide value?  Is it something that will create engagement?  Does it show you as an expert in your field?  Does it show who you are/your personality?  Is it ANOTHER business promotion?

What we post on our Business Page is the KEY to creating engagement, even against the algorithm.  When people make sure that they are seeing your posts, then they are engaging, that will draw in more attention.  Facebook loves engagement, so we need to do what we can to create it.  P.S. Did you know that when you ‘share’ your Business Page posts onto your personal timeline and into groups, this is considered engagement?  

As you are growing and learning which type of posts work best, DON’T get discouraged by your numbers if they are not all great, every day.  Just keep moving forward and focus on improving what you are doing.

Here is a great article from Buffer talking more in-depth about the Facebook algorithms and some suggestions on what you can do.  READ HERE

Working Facebook for your Business

If you have decided that you are only going to use Facebook to build your business, then it is important to invest the time into it.

When I first started using Facebook, over 10 years ago, I would be on there 6 hours a day, YES, 6 hours per day. It wasn’t just about popping in and doing a post, then logging off, it was about having a plan and working it. I also recommend that you use your desktop/laptop to do the work as the Facebook App isn’t as user friendly plus it will save you time than working off of a phone.

The Daily Plan

  1. Work your personal timeline/profile to get your messages out there.
    • Post a status telling people what you are up to, what your tasks are, what you want to accomplish, what your successes are, BUT don’t sell to them.
    • Share some personal elements that you are comfortable about sharing.
    • What you don’t want to do is push your family and friends away by having them hide you in their news feeds.
  2. Go through your news feed and interact on other people’s posts, either by liking or commenting. You will want to do this numerous times throughout the day.
  3. Go to the “pages feed” tab (found on your ‘home’ tab, then down the left under the ‘explore’ tab) and scroll through and interact on other Business Pages’ posts. I like to do this once in the morning and once in the evening.
  4. Find 3-5 groups that have more of a networking element to them, and interact DAILY within these groups.
    • Ask questions, post inspiration, share ideas, share tips, post humour, promote your products/services.
    • Take the time to scroll through the Group wall and interact on other people’s post with a like and/or comment.
    • Participate in any online events the group offers, like Dance Cards, Coffee Dates, Split Lives, as this is an opportunity for you to meet more people.
    • Check the same groups at the end of the day and do more interactions.
  5. Post on your Business Page
    • There are many different opinions on how often you should post on your Business Page in one day.  For me, personally, I only post once per day, at 8 am.  I have found that this works very, very well for me, as it allows my post to be seen throughout the day.
    • If you want to post more than once per day, then I recommend you space out the posts, don’t do a whole bunch at once as you will drive your audience away.  Think about posting between 8-9 am, between 4-5 pm and after 9 pm.
    • Mix up your posts so you are not always trying to sell to people.  Post questions, inspiration, some personal elements that reflect your business, tips, humour, ideas on how to use your products/services, and of course promote.
    • Use pictures of yourself where you can, people love pictures of us.
    • Do videos to get more visibility as Facebook is a huge supporter of the video platform.
    • Keep on top of your Business Page notifications and make sure to either like/comment when people interact with your stuff.
    • You want to make sure you are also checking your messages regularly and quickly, as Facebook tracks how quick we are to answer messages and actually posts this on our pages to let the public know what our response rate is.
    • Share your posts into a variety of groups and randomly (but strategically) on your personal timeline. Facebook considers ‘shares’ as interaction, so you can help push up your reach.  Don’t do more than 7-8 shares per post as Facebook will consider it as spam and you could end up in Facebook jail for 7-10 days.

I hope this helps in giving you a daily plan to work Facebook and build your business.  Again, it is important that if you are only going to use online to build, that you work it.

I do have a free ‘daily checklist’ that you can print off that will help keep you organized, download it HERE.

 

GUEST BLOG: How to Develop Your Personal Brand

Making the choice to start your own business will likely be the best decision of your life. The freedom and flexibility of working on your own, combined with the earning potential and sense of self-satisfaction, make entrepreneurship very attractive to many people.

But things are a little easier said than done. Competition is fierce, especially online. Every minute of every day, people are exposed to countless emails, advertisements and social media posts. It’s easy to get lost in the crowd. Your best defense is your brand.

Your brand is your identity, and a strong one will help you stand out. It also facilitates a connection between you and your customers that can improve loyalty and engagement. And it makes your company more valuable, which will become relevant if you ever decide to sell your business. Developing a brand, though, requires a focused, dedicated approach. Here’s how you can build yours.

Highlight What Makes You Unique

The first step is to determine what kind of brand you want to be. And one of the keys to a strong brand is authenticity. If you try to be something you are not, your customers will see right through you. This can have a really negative effect on the image of you and your company. You’ll come off as phony or insincere, which will really damage people’s perceptions of you.

So, to begin building your brand, start focusing on what you do that’s unique to you. What makes your company different or special? If you’re not sure, then you likely haven’t thought about it hard enough. Everyone is unique. It’s just a matter of figuring out how and highlighting it.

To help give you some ideas, research your competition. Successful businesses in your field will likely have already done this exercise, so it should be easy to figure out what they consider to be their competitive edge. Go through each one and figure out what makes you different from them. And after you’ve done this, you should be able to devise a list of the different things that separate you from your completion.

Know Your Audience

Whether their conscious of it or not, people expect things from the companies with which they do business. It’s important you be sensitive to these expectations so that you can develop a brand strategy that will resonate with your target audience.

There’s no one way to do this, though. The best strategy is to conduct surveys and focus groups about your target audience. But these can be costly, and if you’re not careful about how you design your studies, then they can produce unreliable results.

Ideal Customer exercises and Customer Journey maps are useful ways of understanding what your audience is looking for in the brands with which they engage. These activities involve you creating fictitious audience members and thinking through how they live their lives to determine their values, beliefs, pain points and expectations. Here’s a great resource for helping you do this exercise effectively.

Another option is to simply test things out. Try out some branding messages and see what happens to engagement. If you’re not getting the response you want, then try something new. While this will take a little longer, it will help you hone your messaging to meet audience expectations, enhancing its effectiveness.

Concise Communication

Once you determine the essence of your brand—that which makes you unique—it’s time to start crafting your messaging. The key here is to be as clear as possible. The more words you have to use to describe your brand, the harder it will be for people to understand you, and this will hurt your chances at making a connection with them.

Think about some of the world’s most successful brands. For example, Nike, which uses the slogan, “Just Do It.” They have been using these words to describe their brand for as long as any of us can remember, and they’re perfect because they quickly and clearly communicate Nike’s brand identity. When we hear these words, we think of perseverance, drive and dedication, as well as hard work. And this is exactly how Nike wants us to perceive the company.

You won’t be able to catch-up with Nike right away—they spend other-worldly amounts of money on branding—but you can certainly mimic their approach. Work to determine a slogan or description that captures the essence of your brand, using as few words as possible. Images are also helpful, and make sure the colors you use on your site and other communications also reflect your brand identity. Remember, the slogan alone isn’t going to establish your brand, but confusing your audience can have disastrous effects.

Be Consistent

As you start to market your brand, consistency will be key. You can never know for sure when or where someone will come into contact with your brand. As such, ensure every piece of content you create accurately reflects the brand you want to promote.

And this goes for social media, too. You can’t be posting about things that are completely irrelevant to your brand, even if they’re attracting shares and likes. The exposure is enticing, but you’ll be sending mixed messages about your brand identity, making it harder to build the so-desired connection with your target audience.

Consider drawing up some brand guidelines to help you stay on message across your different platforms. These will outline the types of content you will publish, and they will also help you stay consistent with how you present your messages, something that is also very important for effective brand management. This will also be helpful should you decide to outsource some of your content creation.

Start Building Your Brand Today

A strong brand will give your company a significant competitive edge. It’ll work like a magnet that draws your target market towards you, and it’s also something people can connect to, which will help develop loyalty to your brand. Follow the steps outlined here so that you can start building a strong personal brand today.

 

About the Author: Jock is a busy entrepreneur and the founder of Digital Exits, an online brokerage service. He enjoys sharing his thoughts on entrepreneurship and business and offering advice to others. Find Jock on Twitter here or connect with him on LinkedIn.

 

 

 

GUEST BLOG: 5 Ways to Use Instagram for Your Business

Instagram remains one of the social media powerhouses of today, with over one billion monthly active users all over the world. Because 80% of these users follow a business, the social media giant launched Instagram for Business, which allowed big and small brands to create a business profile on Instagram.

So, how do you use Instagram for Business to grow your following, reach your target audience, and boost your profit?

  • Switch to a Business Account

It’s quite easy to set up a business account on Instagram regardless if you’re a large enterprise or a business startup. You most likely have an existing Instagram account that’s set up as a regular account, which you can switch to a business account in the settings of your Instagram app.

After doing so, you can add business information such as your hours of operation, address, and phone number. With a business profile, you’ll also have access to extensive data analytics you wouldn’t otherwise be able to see without a third-party tool.

  • Be Visually Creative

Instagram is a highly visual platform where users can immerse themselves in stunning photographs, so be sure to tell your brand story and convey your value using visual content with compelling posts. Focus on the solutions you provide instead of the products you sell.

If you’re a service-oriented business, showcase your process and give them a glimpse of the things that go on behind-the-scenes.

  • Set Strategic Goals

Just like your other marketing channels, your Instagram strategies should be created with your goals front and center. Ask yourself what you want to achieve by using Instagram.

Do you want to drive traffic to your website, boost your sales, improve brand awareness, or increase audience engagement?

No matter what you’re trying to achieve, your Instagram marketing goals should be SMART – specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.

Your content strategy will be bound to your strategic goals, and every post should contribute to the success of these goals.

  • Leverage Instagram Stories

60% (over 300 million accounts) of Instagram’s daily active users are using Instagram Stories, making it imperative for you to maximize Instagram Stories in engaging followers. This interactive, vertical video format that disappears in 24 hours (unless otherwise saved in your device) is quite effective in grabbing and keeping the attention of your target audience. It’s only available for mobile phones to make it even easier for you to create stories on the go.

In fact, over 50% of businesses use Instagram Stories every month. It’s prominently displayed at the top of user timelines, so your followers can immediately see if you posted a story. It’s pretty easy to use. You can even add fun stickers and filters to make your content even more interesting.

  • Don’t Forget Your Hashtags

We cannot stress this enough – use relevant hashtags in every post! Hashtags allow your compelling posts to be discoverable, further expanding your reach.

Do some hashtag research to determine which hashtags your target market is using. Create a unique, branded hashtag so that you can lump all your posts together and supplement them with three to five more hashtags relevant to your specific post.

Unique, branded hashtags improve brand awareness and establish a solid brand personality. Branded hashtags can help you collect user-generated content. Nothing creates a more compelling brand story that images and posts of real people interacting with your brand.

Place a branded hashtag on your bio and encourage your followers to use this hashtag when posting photos of how they used your products. Of course, comment on their photos and regram their posts to show your appreciation.

While there are more ways for you to maximize the power of Instagram for your business, these five Instagram strategies will help you get the ball rolling in the right direction.

Paula Arce
MicroCreatives

Blogging…..Should you do it?

So many of my clients and business friends ask “is it worth me to start blogging?”  YES!!

Here’s the deal…..I am not a blogger, I don’t know enough about SEO but what I can tell you, is that since I have starting blogging, it has brought me more visibility, especially from people through Google whom don’t even know me.

When I blog, I just write.  I write how I would talk to people if they were sitting across from me.  I write exactly how I would talk.  I don’t use fancy words, I don’t focus on what I should or shouldn’t be doing, I just write.  I share my thoughts, ideas, tips, just write.

Yes, there are many rules to blogging (like how many words to use) but to be completely honest, I don’t follow the rules, because I just write.  For me, I believe it is a great way to bring more traction to our website, but also to share/teach others more, that hopefully can help them, whether it be personal or business.

BUT how do you come up with all the content?  How often should I be blogging?

I am no specialist here, so I am not the one who ask those questions to but I will tell you that you need to just start doing it!!  One main tip I can give you is to ask others to be guest bloggers for you.  There is no cost for them to do this, it brings you visibility to their followings because you are sharing your blogs onto Social Media and tagging their business to thank them, and it helps with adding more content.  Look for those who can compliment your business and provide value to your audience.  Just ask, since most will say yes (actually I would be surprised if someone said no).

Once I do a blog, I share a portion of it on my Facebook Business Page, with a link to the actual blog (which of course is on my website, driving traffic to everything else that is available) and I also post it on my Google+ (this is where I have received great visibility)…..I will also share my post from my Business Page into a variety of groups for more exposure.

So, just do it!!

Are you committed to Social Media?

Having structure, being organized, is key to keeping on top of your Social Media work.  In order to build a presence, to being consistent, you need to put together an actual plan of how you are going to work your Social Media on a daily basis.

I wish I could tell you that you can just “pop” in and out but it is not going to bring you the return you are looking for.  With competition being so high in Social Media, people need to see you, hear from you, learn from you, talk to you, on a daily basis.  I am not saying you have to bombard them, but you need to be present daily.

For me, personally, we know that I am very active, and I am sure that people unfollow me, but I have reached a point in my presence and building my business, that I am okay with that.  It is a mental thing that you have to get past.

When you are starting to make this list, you need to understand what your end game is.  Are you looking to build a following, looking to get new customers, looking to build a referral based business?  What is your ultimate goal?

Are you looking to work all Social Media sites or just focusing on one/two?

Where is your target market sitting?

What information will benefit them?

What are the reasons why someone would want to use/buy your product/services?

Answering these questions will start to help you formulate your Social Media plan.  It will guide you as to where your focus needs to be as well as what parts of specific Social Media you need to focus on (for example:  Facebook Business Pages, Videos whether recorded or live, Groups, etc.)

Once you decide on which Social Media sites answer all your questions, you then need to do some research to find out what works best in each of these sites.  What time of day is best to work it?  Where do you need to focus for that site?  How often do you need to post?  (For example:  Twitter you would need to tweet at least 5-7 times per day).  What are some of the key elements you can take advantage of that is popular in that site?

The research is important for you to understand how you are going to move forward and how much time you need to commit, on a daily basis, to build the presence you are looking for.  Once you have established this, you NEED to commit, you NEED to schedule the time on your calendar, and you need to STICK with it!!

Building a presence, getting attention, is work.  Remember way back when, people walked hours and hours, going door to door to sell their products/services, because they were determined to make a living, build a successful business.  Well, we are fortunate that we are able to do this from the comfort of our homes, in a relaxed environment and behind a computer.  It doesn’t get any easier than that 😉

P.S.  If you decide that Facebook is one of the sites you are going to be focusing on, download my FREE Daily Checklist HERE!!

 

 

GUEST BLOGGER: 7 Ways to Grow Your Email List with Social Media

Email marketing is an integral part of every successful digital marketing strategy. In terms of ROI, it frequently outperforms other digital marketing channels, making it a favorite among marketers who have to work on a limited budget. Email marketing is an excellent backup option if all your other marketing attempts start to fail. Your website might get blacklisted, your social media accounts might get blocked, but with an email list in place, you still have a means of reaching out to your audience.

The effectiveness of your email marketing campaigns is primarily determined by the size and quality of your mailing list. There are already many articles online on how to grow your email list, so we have decided to narrow down our focus on social media as a way of generating email leads. Give these techniques a try, and watch as your mailing list starts growing faster and faster before your eyes.

Add CTAs to Your Social Media Profiles

The most direct way to leverage social media for growing you email list is to include a call-to-action in all your social media profiles. Ideally, your CTA should point to a landing-page that gives them an option to receive some kind of benefit, in exchange for their email address. This tactic works best on your new social media followers, as they are more likely to interact with your brand immediately after hitting the subscribe button.

Offer Bonus Content

Creating quality social media content is essential for keeping your audience engaged with your brand. And if your content is good enough, your followers might be willing to lend you their email address in exchange for a second serving. There are two ways of implementing this strategy. One is to gate certain parts of content until your lead provides an email, and the other is to offer something extra for those willing to give away their address.

Host a Giveaway

If you are willing to invest a bit more into growing your mailing list, you can host a giveaway on social media. Give your followers the chance to win a premium prize simply by giving you their email address. Make sure that the prize you are offering is tailor-made for your target demographic – otherwise you will attract people who are just in it for the freebies, and are therefore unlikely to keep interacting with your brand. You can also go a step further, and give your contestants the opportunity to gain multiple entries to the contest for CTAs such as sharing the event on social media.

Add Sharing CTAs to Your Email Content

While we are on the topic of sharing, be sure to include the option to do so in your newsletters, courses, ebooks, and other bits of content you will be sending out in your emails. It costs you practically nothing to add a small share button at the end of every email you send, and those shares do add up over time. Giving people the option to share your email content will make you seem more generous and forthcoming, so your existing customers will want to return the favor.

Advertise on Facebook

This tactic requires some social media training in order to implement it right, but if you have the skills required, it can be extremely effective at expanding your email list. First you need to create a landing page with the appropriate CTA, or use one which you made previously. Then you have to set up the ad itself through Facebook, making sure to include an evocative title, a quality advertising copy, and an eye-catching image. Finally, you have to specify how much money you are willing to bid on a monthly level to have your ad displayed to your target demographic.

Create How-To Videos for Youtube

While it might not be immediately obvious, YouTube is as much of a social network as Facebook or Instagram. The type of content you need to produce in order to attract a following differs, but it is still a platform for generating email leads. When deciding on the kind of video you need to make to promote your subscription CTA, be sure to look into video tutorials. Creating how-to videos covering basic topics can easily acquire millions of views, and that is a lot of potential emails you stand to gather for your list.

Host an Online Seminar on Social Media

Some people require a bit of persuasion before they divulge their email. And in order to persuade them, you have to invite them to a talk first. This can be done by creating an online seminar, giving your target audience the opportunity to interact with you directly. Give your first session away as a freebie, and then provide the option to subscribe for future session by providing an email. This way, your leads will get a chance to see what they are getting before making a decision whether to commit to your brand.

Conclusion

While being a powerful marketing channel in their own right, social networks give businesses the opportunity to enhance their other marketing efforts as well, including those that involve email marketing. Growing your mailing list is just one of the things that can be made easier by properly using the social media tools at your disposal.

 

Michael Deane is the editor of Qeedle, a small business hub he has started with a couple of friends. He is also a digital marketing executive, always looking for ways to make his clients lives easier. You can find him on Twitter at @ Qeedle_