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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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

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

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!!

 

 

Be responsible!!

I have to admit, that I feel frustrated with this whole Facebook issue and how far it has escalated.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not siding with anyone on this, BUT seeing posts in Facebook by the users and those complaining about “how dare Facebook”, has hit a sore spot with me.

Some of you may have read a previous blog I wrote about us having to take some responsibility too and I really can’t stress this enough.  Read BLOG HERE

If you are angry with what has happened, then REMOVE your Facebook account and stop complaining.

  • Did you know that everything you do on the Internet is tracked?
  • Have you read the policies and procedures of every single social site you have joined?
  • Have you checked the settings as to what you are releasing everytime you download an App?

Check these policies out:

LinkedIn

Twitter

SnapChat

Instagram

Google

NameTests

These are just a few examples of sites that most people use and the reality is that very few actually read the Policies.

We gave up our rights to complete privacy and the information that we willing share, the minute we started using the Internet.

Everything you type, every message you send, every game you play, is all tracked.

You have hidden settings on your phone, have you gone through them to see what information you are releasing?

What do you think is happening with every single email you are sending?

Do you believe that the Government isn’t tracking absolutely everything you are doing on the internet?

Your Internet Service Provider, do you not realize they are tracking everything you are doing?

I agree, we shouldn’t have to give up our rights however, the reality is that we don’t have that choice IF we want to continue using the Internet.

IF we want to continue using FREE sites/Apps, then we have to accept the risk, otherwise don’t use it.

This is my only personal thoughts and I acknowledge that I am giving up my rights with everything I choose to do on the Internet and within Apps.  However, I will continue to check settings, policies, so I am aware of the risk I am taking.

 

 

 

Do you take responsibility?

I feel there is a need to write this blog BUT I know that some may be offended by what I have to say.

The day the internet was created, we were ALL opening up ourselves to releasing any privacy we thought we could keep.  There is much scandal going on right now with the world of Facebook in regards to the Russians having a hand in the Trump election and people are upset that Facebook would have it set up that people could get access to our information.

HERE IS THE REALITY!!  We ALL need to take some responsibility for this as well.  WE all need to understand that when you sign up for any social media platforms, when we play games, when we do quizzes, when we use Google (this is just a very small portion of what I am talking about, this goes so much bigger), WE open ourselves up to releasing our information.

YES, you need to read the terms, the policies!  YES, you need to check in the background settings of Apps and see what you have allowed them to take from you!  YES, you need to take responsibility for what YOU are doing in the internet world.

Did you know that if you use Google Maps on your phone, you accept the option for them to access your location?  Once you have done this, did you know that if you go to Google Maps on the computer, you will see a list of all the places you have visited?  Most people don’t realize this BUT you have to take the responsibility and find out.  For me, I do Google Reviews, so I have my location turned on BUT I do this for more visibility to my Google Account for my business.

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For the games and quizzes you do on Facebook, do you check the information that you are releasing to that specific App?

apps

When you get a Friend request on Facebook, are you taking the time to go through their profile and determine if it is a real person or a fake account?

Have you gone through your privacy settings on each of your Social Media platforms and made sure to set it up for what works for you?  P.S.  Get my FREE Privacy Settings for Facebook HERE

Do you believe those contests that are giving away something that is too good to be true?  Entering those contests are opening you up to hackers, spyware, releasing of your information to a 3rd party.

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Are you falling for the “click bait” type posts that shock you when you see the headline?  Read this article to understand fake news, HERE.

I think you are getting my message here.  Even though platforms, like Facebook, need to take responsibility for the information they are gathering about us, WE also need to take ownership.  WE need to check everything, read all the terms, understand what information we are releasing.

For me, personally, I am aware of what I am releasing and accept it.  I know that there are elements that are not in my control BUT that is a risk I have to take if I choose to use the internet, to turn on my locations, to use platforms like Facebook.  I accept that I have opened myself up to a world that I ultimately can’t control BUT use because I choose to use it.

GUEST BLOGGER: 3 Ways to Respond to Negative PR on Social Media (With Examples)

It is often said that there’s no such thing as bad publicity. But in today’s world of viral social media posts, that may not be the case. A simple negative comment about your brand could snowball into a massive controversy that can paralyze your business and can hamper lead generation.

Bad PR is something that happens to all businesses, especially the big ones. In fact, many companies that have become popular were able to do so by experiencing a massive PR crisis and turning it around on its head to eventually benefit from it.

That said, spinning negative PR on social media is like playing with fire—if you’re not careful enough, you risk getting burnt in front of a public audience and tarnishing your brand reputation.

While responding to negative comments on social media is risky, it’s a hazard you have to take if you want to improve your business. According to Warren Whitlock, one of Forbes top 10 social media influencers, complaints often come from people who actually care about your company and want you to succeed. Ignoring complaints may be a safer move, but you could hurt yourself more by losing potential life-long customers.

Here are some approaches you can use, along with examples, on how to respond to negative publicity on social media.

(1) The Normal Way

What’s the simplest way of addressing negative feedback on social media?

  1. Acknowledge.
  2. Apologize.
  3. Advise on a solution.

 

First, you have to indicate that you acknowledge the feedback and accept that you have shortcomings on your end. Once you’ve acknowledged that, offer a sincere apology, quickly followed up with a suggestion on how you can resolve the issue.

A good example of this is KitchenAid’s response to its Twitter crisis back in 2012, which nailed all three steps in addressing this issue.

kitchen

Cynthia Soledad, who was head of marketing at the time, went the extra mile by issuing the apology not as a brand entity, but as herself. This made the apology more sincere, and helped KitchenAid get back on its feet more easily than if it was done otherwise.

(2) The Swift Response

Due to its on-demand nature, Twitter is a favorite platform for sharing negative reviews about brands. While many businesses usually just ignore these (which isn’t a good idea), Elon Musk turned it into a weapon of his own.

Musk, founder and CEO of two of the most popular tech companies in the world, showed the world how to use Twitter as a customer service-slash-marketing tool when he directly responded to complaints about Tesla and resolved the issue in LESS THAN AN HOUR.

mark

Like the first example, Musk’s approach was also sincere because the response came from his personal account, not from Tesla’s.

What’s more is that Musk’s sincere apology served as a clever marketing tactic, which caused more good than harm for his company. Proof that feedback often comes from customers who actually care.

(3) Sprinkle A Little Bit of Humor

When it comes to handling customer complaints like a pro, we can all learn a lot from Tesco.

(Notice the rhyme in there? There’s more of that in our next example 😉)

Back in 2016, a Tesco customer shared a Facebook photo when he found out that the cucumber he bought had a worm in it. Tesco cleverly responded with a poem or an “ode to William” which made the post viral.

tesco

This approach is harder to pull off than the others since you’ll need someone really good at telling great stories. It also depends if you think your customers can take a little laugh. But if you do pull this off, you can potentially pivot bad PR into a golden one that could even go viral.

Key Takeaway

Whatever approach you take, there’s one thing that should stay the same when responding to bad PR on social media: always maintain a tone of empathy.

In the end, what your customers really want is someone to listen to their story and help them with a solution.

 

Johanna drives the product and data strategies at PureB2B. She’s a two-decade veteran of the online publishing, B2B demand generation, and technology media markets. When not in the office, Johanna enjoys her family, fitness routines and reading self-help books.

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