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What business wouldn’t want their biggest competitor’s client list? Of course they are not going to share it with you and trying to steal it is a crime but you can get the next best thing - their list of social media followers. The value of having this list is that many of their customers or potential customers will be included and this can help you with your own marketing efforts.

Luckily for you it is easy to get on Twitter and Instagram. Simply pull up your competitor’s page and click on followers and voila, right before your eyes will be every account that follows your competitor.

So what can you do with this list?

Analyze the list to determine the kind of people who are following your competitors. You can learn valuable demographic information such as where they live, what age group they are in, etc.  

Message the followers. This will take time but you can contact them through social media and quickly tell them your story.

Follow them. If you hit the follow button many of them will get a notification they have a new follower and some will look at your page to see who you are. You can only expect 5%-10% to follow you back but at the least you are getting your name in front of them.

Twitter and Instagram let us see who is following our competitors and you should be taking advantage of it.

 
 
The question we get asked the most is “Which social media sites should we be using?” There is no set answer for this question. It all depends on what business you are in and how much time you have to spend each day on your social media marketing strategy.

Facebook- We recommended Facebook to everyone. Not only is it by far the biggest social media site, it is the most read. One estimate puts the average user spending 50 minutes a day on Facebook. No other site comes close to that number. If you only have time for 1 social media site it should be Facebook.

Instagram- Instagram is great for businesses that are visual. Artists, travel companies and restaurants can use engaging photos to create a buzz about their business. Instagram is also a good vehicle to use to get noticed by new people. The right hashtag can get you seen by people who have never heard of you before.

Twitter- Twitter which had lost some of its mojo has been making a comeback. The positive is the ability to use hashtags plus the sharing feature makes Twitter a place where your message can go viral. The negative is that people follow many accounts but spend little time on Twitter. This means that most users only see a small percentage of total tweets on their feed. Use Twitter if you have news you want to get out on a regular basis or if people are genuinely interested in what you are doing. Celebrities and food trucks have had good success using Twitter.    

LinkedIn- Linkedin is a good site for B2B firms or for someone offering professional services. If you have useful information that business professionals will value then LinkedIn can be a great place to reach out to other professionals.

Social media takes time and effort to be done well and to bring you your desired results. If your time is limited it is better to stick to one social media channel and do it well rather than spread yourself thin over numerous channels, not doing any of them well. Resist the urge to link accounts and have Facebook posts sent directly to another site. There are several steps to having a good social media campaign and we have laid them out for you in previous articles.        

 
 
Facebook used to be dominated by teens and then a terrible thing happened (at least in their minds), their parents and other ‘old people’ started using Facebook. Nothing makes something less desirable to a teen than having their parents like it. Teens scattered to any social media site they could find that their parents have never heard of. First there was Twitter, followed by Instagram and then Snapchat, but now, parents have hopped on all of these channels!

But something strange has started to happen, young people are returning to Facebook. Not in droves but in significant numbers.  UBS Evidence Lab research found that 65% of teens go on Facebook daily. That is up from 59% just 2 years ago. It is the most popular social media site among teens.

So what does this mean for your business? It means that Facebook is a great way to reach teens. Smart social marketing strategy means getting them to follow your page or better yet, having them check in at your place of business. It is important to connect with this demographic on the other social media sites but this new research advises us to not overlook Facebook.  

 
 
PictureCommunity Management on Facebook
There is more to making a social media campaign successful than creating interesting posts. One of the most important and often overlooked parts of a well-executed social media campaign is community management. Social media is a great platform for building brand awareness. More importantly it can be used to build relationship with customers and clients. People are much more likely to buy something from your store, dine at your restaurant or support your cause if you have established a relationship with them.

 What we mean by community management is responding to people’s comments on your posts and also finding where people have mentioned your organization on social media and leveraging that to your advantage.

The first aspect of community management, responding to comments on your posts, is easy and should be done every day. Everyone likes to be acknowledged and doing it on social media will start to build a relationship with your followers. At the very least you should be reading the comments on Facebook and clicking the like button. It is a very simple and quick way to acknowledge that you have seen their comments and that you appreciate them taking the time to write something. Positive or well thought out comments deserve a little more effort. A simple reply such as, thank you or we are glad you liked our post, will go a long way in creating good will with a follower.

Unfortunately you are going to on occasion get negative comments. These must be addressed. If they are false or vulgar you can hide them from your page. Friends of the commenter will still see it but no one else will. If they are legitimate you should take the opportunity to respond to the comment and explain the situation. The comments should also be used as a source of free feedback for your company.

The second aspect of community management is to search social media to find where people or other organizations have mentioned your business. If someone else has said what a wonderful company you are you want to make sure that as many people as possible see the post. A like or comment on a post signals to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram that it is an interesting post and they should show it to more people. You can also share the post on your page so your followers will see it. Negative posts also need to be responded to. Comments can be used to tell your side of the story and help reassure people that you have heard their concerns and will address the problem.

Comments on your posts are easy to find, you just pull up your social media pages. Posts about you are harder to find and take a bit of effort. The social media sites do make this easier but notifying you when someone tags you in a post. You can either log into your account and check notifications or if you want to be more proactive you can have the notifications sent to you by email. Posts where you are mentioned but not tagged are harder to find. You will need to do a search on the individual social media sites to find them. Another option is to use social media listening sites like Sprout or Hootsuite. They will automate the social media listening process for you. We recommend using these if you are getting several mentions every day.



 
 
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The answer is yes and no. If you have limited time and are not adept at social media go ahead and link them. If you are serious about your social media campaign then do not link them.

So you may be thinking why shouldn’t I link my Facebook and Twitter accounts? It’s certainly the easiest way to go.  In fact it allows you to get 2 posts for the price of one! The problem is that Facebook and Twitter are independent social media sites. They do not work the same way. You should have an overall social media strategy and you should also have a tactical plan for each platform. Linking these two accounts means that you are posting the exact same content on both Facebook and Twitter and you are not taking advantage of the different strengths each offers.

The most obvious difference is the 140 character limit on Twitter. Twitter is designed for quick and compact updates. This limit does not allow you to elaborate on a topic or in a message. Tweeting is a skill onto itself. Facebook allows you to be more eloquent. While you should keep the majority of your Facebook posts short and sweet, you certainly should be using more than 140 characters.

Hashtag use should be tailored to the individual social media platforms. People expect several hashtags in Instagram and it is important to use them. Using hashtags on Twitter is also important but you should be more judicious about it. We are not fans of using hashtags on Facebook. People are not used to seeing them on Facebook. If you are going to do it they should be added at the end of the text. Hashtags in the middle of a sentence on Twitter is common and accepted while on Facebook it makes it tougher to read the post.

Many people will be following you on Facebook and Twitter. If they see your Facebook post and then later see the exact same post on Twitter they will likely ignore it. Getting the same message but in a different format will work to reinforce your message.

There are of course some benefits to linking the two. Linking is a good way to get your Facebook followers to follow you on Twitter and vice versa.   


 
 
PictureFollow us on Facebook
Facebook Ads already has several powerful tools to help you reach your intended audience. You can promote your content to a specific geographic area. You can pick a city or if you really want to zoom in you can put a pin on a map and set how many miles from that pin you want your ad to show. Facebook also lets you set the age and gender of the people that your ads reach. They even let you specify interests that your audience should have, such as: art, home owners, sports, etc. Drilling down your audience can greatly reduce your cost because your ads are not going to people that are not potential customers.


Now Facebook has added an even better tool to reach a specific audience. Through the Ads Manager feature you can upload your email list and send ads to just the people on your list. That means your ad is reaching only people who have already shown an interest in your company. That can greatly reduce your cost and it allows you to send a more specific message. It is a great way to follow up an email campaign. Most customers are moved to action after seeing an offer more than one time. You can send out an email promoting a big sale and then follow that up by using a Facebook Ad targeting your email list.

Steps to creating a Facebook Ads audience from your email list.

1.       Create a .csv file of your email list. You can turn an Excel file into a .csv file using the save as feature and choosing .csv as the save as type. If you use an email campaign service like Mailchimp you will have to follow their directions in their help section.
2.       Open Ads Manager.
3.       Click on the hamburger symbol in the upper left corner and look for audiences under the assets header.
4.       Click create audience and then scroll down to custom audience.
5.       Click on customer file and then click choose a file and upload your .csv file.
6.       Make sure to name the audience so you can find it easily.

Facebook will use the email addresses to try and find the Facebook accounts of the people on your list. Not everyone will be found but we had a high percentage of the people on our lists found. Now the only thing left to do is design your ads and get started. 


 
 
Facebook Post
An effective post that reached lots of people.
There are several important steps to developing an effective campaign. While we covered how to put together a social media campaign in an earlier post, the most important step is the posting of interesting and engaging material.  
For starters, it is important to remember that you do not need to create all of your own content. Sharing interesting posts from other pages or sources can be effective and time efficient. Start by finding people, organizations and businesses that are good sources of information. Then simply signup for their emails or like their Facebook page or follow them on social media. That way the interesting posts come right to you and you do not have to search them out.  For example if you have a real estate firm, you should consider following the National Association of Realtors and local online news sources such as Curbed Chicago.   These two examples are great sources of news on the local real estate and building world.  If you own a restaurant you might consider adding your local restaurant association, tourism websites and food and nutrition pages to your connections. Another easy way to find important news is to let Google do it. Their Google Alerts feature allows you to save a search and they will email news that fits your search.

Creating your own content is more time consuming but it does have the added benefit that it lets people know that you are knowledgeable and a reliable source of information.  Ideally you begin this strategy by adding a blog to your website.   It is important to share your blog posts to all of your social media pages. This will bring readers to your website. Make sure your posts are original, interesting or informative.  It is important that your blog post topics relate to your business. Whether it is about the industry you are in, a related field or the city in which you do business, make sure it is somewhat relevant.

Tips for getting the most out of your social media posts:

  • Post a variety of topics. A range of subjects will bring in a large number of readers. 
  • Include a photo. Posts with photos have a much higher engagement rate than ones that do not. If you do not have the necessary photos, there are lots of online sources of free stock photos 
  • Include a video. Videos are by far the fastest growing aspect of social media and with good reason.  They have a high engagement rate and are more likely to go viral.
  • Analyze your numbers. If you spend the time to look at what kinds of posts are bringing in the most likes, shares and views you can better understand what is working for you and concentrate your efforts on those posts.
  • Tag other people and pages in your posts. The hope is that they will share your posts so that their followers will see your content. Only do this when it is appropriate. It is best to say something complimentary about them so they will want their followers to see it. Put @ before typing their name and Facebook and Twitter will pull up a list of options.  Simply click on your name of choice. A restaurant for example could say “we have a great vegetable entrée using the tasty organic vegetables from @nicholsfarm.” Nichols Farm will get a notification that you mentioned them and they will have an incentive to share.
  • Use hashtags.   Putting “#” in front of a word will group your post with other similar posts and make it easier to find when someone searches that topic. Use it sparingly, 1 or 2 per post, otherwise your content will look spammy. 
  • Avoid making mistakes. We covered social media mistakes in a LinkedIn post. 


Please feel free to contact me with any questions at dougb@chicagosocialmediamarketers.com


 
 
Social media is huge and getting bigger and more important every day. As a business you may have finally recognized that you need a social media campaign or realized that your existing social media strategy has been a failure. There is no easy fix or simple solution. Well there is one… be famous. If you are a Grammy nominated artist you will have no trouble attracting thousands of followers. If that is not an option then you can follow these steps you to increase your number of followers and generate new business.

1.       Set Goals. What is it you hope to achieve with social media? Name recognition? Customer engagement? Lead generation? You cannot achieve your goals without knowing what they are.

2.       Commit to Your Campaign. A successful social media campaign is not complicated but it does take time, effort and commitment. Designate accountability for the campaign and follow up. Be sure to apply these rules to yourself if you manage your company’s campaign!

3.       Decide Which Social Media Platforms to Use.  There are dozens of possibilities and each channel can serves a different purpose and often, reaches a different audience.  Unless you have a fulltime employee whose sole responsibility is social media you will never be able to utilize all of them. Pick 2 or 3 to concentrate your efforts. The most important social media platforms are:

·         Facebook. By far the biggest and most used platform. It should be a priority in your postings.

·         Twitter. Second only to Facebook in users. Their 140 character limit makes it tough to get across your point but it makes it easy for users to look at a lot of posts. It is a good site to make announcements and share news.

·         LinkedIn- Facebook for professionals. You will not see family photos on LinkedIn. Use it more like a website by filling your page with information about your company and for making informative and more formal posts.

·         Instagram. Growing in popularity. It is a very photo centric. If you are in a visual business or have lots of announcements to make this is a great outlet.

·         Snapchat. Used almost exclusively on phones it is a great place to post videos. Your posts are automatically deleted after 24 hours.

·         YouTube. The king of video posts. Others are stealing their business but they are still the most important player in the fastest growing segment in social media, videos.

4.       Creating Your Pages. Each social media channel has made it easy to open an account but it is very important to put in the time creating you page for each platform in order to have good looking and informative pages. Important consideration include:

·         A captivating description of your business. Bear in mind that you want visitors to want to find out more about you.

·         Quality banner photos.  A quality and engaging image will help bring people into your page.

·         Direct visitors to your website. This is possibly the most important element of your social media page.  Facebook’s call to action button allows you to place a link to your website on your home page. Utilize this.

5.       Posting. Posting is the nuts and bolts of all good campaigns.  What you post and when you post is worthy of an article on its own. Here are the basics.

·         Posts should be a mixture of interesting items designed to build engagement and informative substance in order to build your reputation as source of information.

·         Posts about your company should be used sparingly. Followers do not want to see a lot of posts about how wonderful you are. If you hit a special milestone or win an important award by all means let people know just do not overdue it.

·         Post about topics related to your company. There is a lot of leeway here. You can post about the city you are located in, your industry as a whole or interesting facts that in some way can be tied back to your business. Cat videos are popular but a landscaping company posting a cat video is just going to look like a cheap attempt to get views.

·         Always add an image.  Photos beat copy and videos beat photos. Use photographs or videos on almost every post. An image draws attention to a post, increasing views and can grow followership.

6.       Frequent and Consistent Posting.  We cannot stress this consideration enough!  It is essential to post frequently and consistently. Posting for 5 straight days and then not posting for a week will not benefit your company, and it might actually hurt it. Numerous studies show that a high percentage of consumers will check a business’ social media pages before doing business with them.  A lack of frequent and consistent posting will be noted and will possibly affect their decision to create a relationship with that business.

7.       Reinforce Followers. If someone goes to the trouble of commenting on one of your posts make sure you reply to their comment or at least like it when appropriate. People love to have their opinions validated and showing them some appreciation will bring you a lot of goodwill.  

8.       Avoid Mistakes. We covered common social media mistakes in our LinkedIn article. The most important rules to remember are

·          Be neutral like Switzerland! Do not post anything controversial.

·         Accountability.  Be sure that someone is being held responsible for your social media campaign.

9.       Analyze. Social media channels provide basic analytical tools. Things to look for when analyzing your social media efforts:

·         Look at which posts are creating the most social media engagement. Some posts you think are great will fall flat and some you were not excited about will create buzz. Learn from the past and adjust your posts to reflect the ones that are working.

10.   Be Patient. You are not going to set the social media world on fire your first day and probably not even your first year. Building followers and developing a good reputation takes time and effort. Eventually the posts that were seen by 30 people will be seen by 100 and the ones that were seen by 100 will be up to 1000.   

 
 
In our previous article we talked about why your followers may not even receive your Facebook posts. In this article we will discuss when you should post to Facebook to maximize engagement.

Getting a lot of followers is important as long as Facebook is not filtering out your posts through their Top Stories filter. Getting onto potential clients and customers newsfeeds is great but it is also important to get a lot of engagement and views. It does not do you any good to create a great post and get it to a lot of the right people if they never see it. One of the keys is to post at an optimal time.

Many of your followers will have hundreds if not thousands of friends and companies that they follow.  If they do not go onto Facebook until many hours after you have posted, your post will be 20, 30 or maybe even 50 posts down on their newsfeed.  By the time they have scrolled all the way down to your post, if they even make it that far, they will have most likely lost interest. Your post will earn a lot more engagement if it is the first thing your followers see instead of the 30th.

The chart on the top of this page is called the “Whale” in the Chicago Social Media Marketers office because of its shape.  While this graph was created for a client, a Chicago real estate firm, it is representative of overall Facebook engagement. It shows what time of the day their posts are actually viewed. Gone are the days when there was a spike in the morning when people arrived at work and then another one when they returned home. The explosion of Facebook use on smart phones has meant that people are looking at Facebook at all times of the day and night

 
 
Facebook news feedChanging your news feed from Top Stories to Most Recent
Ever wonder why your business Facebook posts are only being seen by 25 people while your business's Facebook Page has 500 followers? It is because Facebook gives its users the option of seeing all of the posts of the pages they follow or just the top stories.  Top Stories is Facebooks way of saying that they are going to pick which posts you will see. Odds are almost all of your followers have their accounts set to top stories. Most users do not even know about this option and even if they set their account to Most Recent, which shows all of the posts in chronological order, Facebook will periodically change it to Top Stories without their knowledge.  

So how do you overcome the problem of Facebook filtering out your posts so almost no one sees them? The most important step is to make your posts engaging. If your followers Like your posts or Comment on them, Facebook will not filter you out of their newsfeed. Additionally, it is also very important to post consistently.   Posts that are made frequently will engage your followers and avoid the dreaded Facebook filter. The final step is to analyze the results of your social media efforts. It is important to consider a number of factors including how many people your posts have reached and which posts have yielded likes and comments. Continue with posts that include content that encourage follower engagement and drop the topics that go unseen. Our next article will cover what is the best time to post to social media to maximize engagement. 


 

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