GUEST BLOGGER: 5 Ways to Increase Social Media Engagement

Brands of all shapes and sizes are hung up on making waves in social media.

In such an overcrowded landscape, piercing through the noise and reaching your audience is a daunting task. Well, be that as it may, there are surefire strategies to make it happen. Instead of bombarding people with intrusive marketing and sale pitches, you need to foster meaningful relationships.

Furthermore, it is necessary to invest a great deal of time and effort in getting to know your audience, working out a marketing strategy, and implementing campaigns. But, do not fret. All your blood, sweat, and tears will be a drop in the bucket compared to amazing benefits that wait down the road.

Uncover your unique persona

To drive traffic and conversions, you need to flesh out a unique social media persona. It should be the genuine reflection of who you are (your brand) and what you stand for (your values and mission). Brands like Dollar Shave Club have proven that throwing fun and humor in the mix pays off big time.

The trick is to avoid sounding too promotional. People want to feel something and connect to your story. The best way to influence them is to evoke emotions and provide entertaining, educational and useful pieces of content. Just try to be unique rather than emulating more successful brands. Standing out is the most reliable tactic you can employ.

Embrace a consumer-centric interaction

Social media is the place of constant interaction between brands and customers. It is a far cry from traditional platforms for self-promotion. Alas, one common mistake businesses make is not listening to their audiences. You should know better. Conduct a thorough research to figure out people’s wants, needs, and online habits. Show that you care about what they think.

Take part in conversations on a regular basis and ask users what they would like to see in the future. Comments and reviews can provide you with invaluable insights for fine-tuning your social media strategy. You can also direct followers to your review pages and engage them in instant messaging. In any event, soak in as much feedback as you humanly can.

Host contests

People adore getting free stuff. You can take advantage of this fact and sponsor various giveaways. For instance, you can ask your followers to share and like your social media posts, comment and tag their friends or you can encourage them to submit their own pictures and videos in order to qualify for rewards. These tactics tend to increase the volume of social signals and engagement rates (and you can also end up with a lot of awesome user-generated content).

Moreover, an online contest does not only have to be a strategy for increasing social media engagement but it can also serve as an incentive for your customers to spend money. A great way to achieve this is to launch a loyalty program. For example, research done by ICLP shows that 41% of Hong Kong shoppers would spend more on brands with a loyalty program. So, something like a branded prepaid card in Hong Kong could be a perfect gift for your contest – it generates buzz on social media and also helps you boost sales.

Harness the power of the visual  

Visual content is a social media super-weapon you have to incorporate in your strategy. Studies have shown that posts with quality, non-generic images and videos attract way more likes and shares than plain text. Many brands have managed to increase engagement with assets like behind-the-scenes photos and lighthearted videos.

Of course, there are also image-heavy networks like Pinterest and Instagram, where visuals are basically the name of the game. They provide filters and tools for visual enhancement as well. So, step up content production.  It is time to craft killer posts, master the art of visual storytelling, and enthrall the audience.

Add relevant hashtags

Hashtags are essential tools for improving reach and amplifying the impact of your efforts. They enable you to make the most of keywords and keeping close tabs on the flow of discussion. What is more, hashtags can be used to center conversations on certain trending topics, effectively connecting with everyone who uses the same hashtags.

Try not to go overboard, though. Over-stuffing posts with hashtags can achieve the opposite effect and actually put people off. To tap into new audiences and delight existing customers, take lessons from the best of the best. Coca-Cola, for example, has worked wonders with the #ShareACoke on Instagram and other major networks. That is how you nail the campaign and flatten the competition.

Shape up or ship out

Social media can be a real game-changer. It generates buzz around your business and propels the whole organization towards set objectives. But, rest assured that arresting and retaining attention does not come easy. You first have to come up with a rock-solid game plan and do your homework. Capture consumer data and feedback to refine your approach.

The goal is to make sure your messages and content strike a chord with an audience of a particular social network. Following these steps, you should be able to witness the avalanche of shares and likes coming your way. Just bear in mind that social media engagement is an ongoing process that never really comes to a halt.

So, whatever you do, just do not rest on the laurels or take loyalty for granted.

Elaine Bennett
unnamed

GUEST BLOGGER: 5 Methods to Power-up your Business through Behavioral Marketing By Kimberly Maceda

Imagine that you’re walking on the men’s section of a department store looking for a new suit to buy. Then, one attendant suddenly offers you a baby diaper on sale. How likely are you to grab that offer, very unlikely, right? You’ll most probably even be bewildered by the offer.

The situation above is comparative to digital ads that are not targeted correctly. But with behavioral marketing using  email marketing automation software, you won’t be giving content which is out of place. Instead, you will be providing product suggestions, promotions, and contents that are appropriately based on the users’ behavior. As an example, with the situation above, a proper offer will be ‘tips on choosing a great fitting suit’ or a coupon code.

Behavioral marketing gathers information using surfing and searches data, IPs and cookies. This collection of data is used to create an exhaustive user profile, and then the marketing content is could be perfectly tailored.

If done right, behavior-targeting could boost email open rates by 56.68%, and it will ultimately lead to a boost in your sales. Amazon, for example, uses behavior data for their recommendation algorithm; which drives 35% of their revenue.

Here Are a Few Behavioral Marketing Strategies You Must Implement

  1. Use transaction history to recommend products

As mentioned above, recommendation drives a lot of profit for the biggest e-commerce companies today by using upselling and cross-selling techniques.

Cross-selling is offering products that complement the original item. For example, you can cross-sell a tripod to a customer who bought a camera or socks for a user that ordered shoes. By showing what the consumer needs at the right time, you increase your chance to get higher revenue.

On the other hand, upselling is providing a better version of the item your client is currently interested in. Upsell examples can include a version upgrade, customization, and an extended service period.

Both upselling and cross-selling are great for increasing your profit. But you don’t have to choose between the two. Always use them simultaneously. Using behavioral data, your upsells and cross-sells will can be on point.

  1. Monitor your visitor’s action using URL tracking

URL tracking is one way to assess and recalibrate your marketing techniques. If you know what visitors are exactly clicking on before making a sale, you can allocate your resources effectively. It also allows you to remove unnecessary links on your website.

Using this technique, you can arrange marketing campaigns to boost referrals. A unique link is spread across different platforms on the web; ads, social forums, blogs, emails, or socials media. The links are then tracked to see the quality and quantity of traffic from all sources.

Every time a visitor clicks on the link, he or she will be redirected to your destination page. Data about the source and location are then collected.

  1. Use online behavior to provide personalized content

The competition for a viewer’s attention can be won through personalization. But you can’t possibly personalize if you do not know your audience. Aside from transaction history as mentioned in number one, there are other online behaviors you can monitor. For your email subscribers, you can track what content they are opening, when, and for how long.

Though conversion is the end goal of marketing, it isn’t all about sales. You need to establish trust and build relationships. To do this, you must provide valuable content in different forms. The content will resonate most with your users if you personalize them using online behavior data.

  1. Implement retargeting to increase sales

Statistically, only 2% of users convert at their first visit. So are you going to let those 98% slip through your fingers? Fortunately, you don’t have to. You can use retargeting also known as remarketing to reach out to the viewers who have expressed interest in your product but they might not be ready yet.

This technique is a cookie-based technology which places a pixel on your site. Each time someone visits your website, the pixel leaves an unnamed browser cookie. When the user leaves your site, the retargeting provider will serve ads related to the content or product you have been browsing. Retargeting works effectively and efficiently because you will only spend on viewers who have already exhibited interest in your brand.

  1. Send offers guided by demographic data

Demographic data is basic but it shouldn’t be overlooked. Demographic data is a crucial indicator of someone’s behavior, needs, and interests. This includes gender, location, age, ethnicity, and marital status.

With demographic targeting, you can reach a specific group with shared characteristics. It prevents wasted impressions. For example, if you have an e-commerce shop with assorted products, you will show products according to gender stereotypes and social conventions (man’s or woman’s wear). In today’s PC era, it might seem inappropriate but it does boost sales.

Conclusion

Behavioral marketing is a sophisticated way to market your business online. You can leverage behavioral marketing by using transaction history, URL tracking, providing personalized content, retargeting, and sending offers based on demographic data.

Stop wasting your marketing resources with generic ads and content. You have all the tools you need like email marketing automation software and other behavioral marketing tools to drive your business to the next level.  

 

Author Bio:

Kimberly Maceda is a Content Writer for ActiveTrail. She writes for some top online marketing sites and blogging advice on email marketing and marketing automation. Activetrail is a leading provider of professional-grade email marketing and automation software for growing businesses.

 

GUEST BLOGGER: 4 Types of Speaking Engagements That Help You Grow Your Business

As an entrepreneur, you are continually looking for innovative ways to grow your business. Unfortunately, too many business owners overlook the power that public speaking has in establishing you as an expert in your industry and bringing greater awareness to your firm.

In addition to having the top local copywriter working on your content strategy, you also should be seeking out opportunities to speak with potential clients.

During these speaking engagements, you want to ensure that your words solve a problem and provide value to your audience, in addition to informing them of your services or products.

When potential customers hear you talk, they will start to consider you an expert far quicker than if they just stumbled upon your website, and they will feel more comfortable to take their relationship with your business a step further.

While fear often stops people from taking on public speaking opportunities, there are a variety of options for you to choose from that may work better with your experience and the type of company you are running.

To assist you in getting started, here are four types of speaking engagements that help you grow your business.

1. The traditional seminar

Generally, the traditional seminar is what most people think of when they hear “speaking engagement.” This is where you have complete control over the topic, the timing, and the location, which also means that you have to put in a lot of work to make it happen.

Your business is responsible for organizing all the logistics, as well as inviting people, promoting the event, ensuring you have a system for gathering attendee contact information, and then following up with each individual afterwards.

Just as with most things, the more work and energy you put into a traditional seminar, the more value you and your business will get out of the event.

If you already have clients, make sure to invite them and encourage them to bring a friend. This will help you to fill the room with people who have already heard something positive about your firm.

2. Industry-related conferences

Speaking at an industry-related conference is one of the most significant ways to get your presentation and business in front of those who are already working within or interested in the topic. This is immediately a considerable benefit of speaking at an industry-related conference, along with the fact that you aren’t responsible for having to supply the audience.

On the other hand, you have less control over the event than you would if you organize your own seminar, as someone else will have to approve the topic and set your time, and you may find it challenging to do a thorough follow-up.

3. Community-school classes

Depending on the industry that your business operates in, teaching a night-school class at your local community college or offering a course can be a fantastic way of attracting your target audience. For your business, the costs are minimal (although it will take time) and the payoffs can be significant, as long as you put together a class or course that provides value.

4. Virtual seminar

In 2018, you have the option of creating a speaking engagement from the comfort of your home or office. Virtual seminars allow you to speak with and present to potential clients all around the world. This in itself makes it easier for you to boost attendance.

The quickest way to set up an audience for a virtual seminar is by obtaining support from a professional group whose members have good client potential. Ask them to offer a sign-up to your virtual symposium to their members, and then you can perform a dial-in webinar with the appropriate slides and information.

Have you ever tried taking on speaking engagements to grow your business? Which types worked the best for you? Are you too scared of public speaking to give it a shot? Or are you ready to be the most engaging event presenter in your location?

Let us know your feelings about this topic in the comments below!

AUTHOR BIO

Hisham Wyne is an internationally recognised MC, broadcaster, presenter and moderator who helps the world’s best-known brands create memorable occasions. He regularly hosts conferences, panel sessions, gala dinners and award ceremonies for some of the world’s best brands. With 150+ events under his belt, Hisham is the professional speaker that brands and agencies turn to when wanting to interview, engage and entertain government VVIPs and Hollywood celebrities.

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: 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!!