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
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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.

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.