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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.

 
 
On June 8th Chicago Social Media Marketers participated in a business workshop “Current Strategies and Future Realities: Growing your Brand” at Venture Hub innovators incubator in Chicago.  This panel-style discussion included CSMM co-founder Alicia Forestall-Boehm along with Christopher S. Rollyson, Founder and Managing Director, Christopher S. Rollyson and Associates, Susan Barahia, Founder BesignOnline and Mark Carter, Founder ONE80, LLC. These industry thought leader discussed the latest trends on the use of digital media to build your personal brand. Communicating your value proposition is key to connecting with customers, partners and others. They addressed event marketing, service design, social media and trust/relationship building for Entrepreneurs, Creatives and Freelancers.

Below is the event transcript of Alicia’s informative discussion on strategies for creatives using social media to promote their businesses.


Almost everyone uses social media - it’s part of our everyday lives but are there benefits of using social media for business purposes? Yes is the simple answer. Frequent social media postings allow you to engage in a conversation with potential customers and clients and to ultimately grow your business. An effective social media strategy can enable you to build community connections through engagement and branding.

Here are 12 reasons why small business owners, entrepreneurs and creatives should be using social media and some strategic ideas to help you along the way.

1.      Branding – Create a recognizable identity for your product or service and replicate it from platform to platform.  This is extremely important for a small business. 

  o   Have a professional website
     §  As the internet becomes an increasingly important tool for artists, it is essential that you understand how to build an effective website.  Your website should not simply serve to display images of your work, it should tell the story of your artistic vision, and it should engage the viewer.  Consider your website as the official version of your artistic identity and proceed with its development accordingly. 
      §  Construct a narrative that weaves through your website telling your story and drawing in visitors. 

  o   Include your logo on every piece of communication. (business cards, signage, etc.)

  o   (If you’re in doubt about whether you demonstrate a consistent brand experience, take a look at all of your pages side by side)

  o   A special note to creatives: Artists need to remember that you are your brand!

2.      Create A Buzz – Get the word out about your products and services in a way that promotes online conversation.
  o   Strengthen in-person events with social media promotion

  o   Create a Facebook event page

  o   Stream, tweet and post live

  o   Support the event with blog posts, press releases, etc.

  o   Create a marketing hook that defines you and sets you a part from the crowd
     §  i.e. As a restaurant your message should be “We offer authentic Naples style pizza every night until 11 pm or until we run out of dough!” vs. “We serve pizza”.

  o   Generating buzz for your brand doesn’t have to be expensive, but it does require some outside-the-box thinking.

3.      Community Management – Community management means responding to people who have commented on your posts or have posted about you. Keep an eye on what other people and sites are saying about your name, company, or brand online – and respond to people who have commented.  The ultimate goal is RELATIONSHIPS.

  o   Don’t be afraid of negative comments.  It’s possible to receive negative comments. But, social media provides the platform to explain, to make things right. The fact of the matter is – if someone has something negative to say they can say it.  Ignoring them doesn’t stop the damage.  But, when you reply, you are seen as a business owner who cares, who wants to make the customer happy, and that you’re human. Social media is a two-way conversation, so go ahead and defend yourself – just do it proactively.  TURN A NEGATIVE INTO A POSITIVE

  o   Thanking someone for a nice comment takes only seconds and it will go a long way in getting them to support your business.

4.      Content Part One– On social media channels it is important to not only include self-focused content.  Not every post should be directly about you. People are less likely to follow you or read posts that are always self-promoting. Sharing informative articles will gain you followers and develop relationships.
  o   Provide a value to your connections with helpful, interesting and relevant content in your posts and comments.
  o   i.e. An artist should post about her art, the art world and her community.

  5.      Content Part Two - Video is better than images and images are better than words.

  o   Sharing videos that have been posted by others or create your own video.
     §  i.e. A musician can share a video taken during a rehearsal

  o   Present Your Human Side With Photos - Photos and other types of visual content are highly shareable on social networks.
    §  Posting photos of your business team helps to show your business as a human brand and build relationships with your community.

  o   Don’t worry about not having professional images - Studies have shown that consumers find amateur images more believable than staged professional shots.

6.      Establish Yourself As An Expert – Using forums and message boards to answer questions professionally will earn you respect as an expert in your community. People will look to you for answers, as a source of information.

  o   This is important for Freelancers

  o   LinkedIn is a professional networking site and is a great place to make comments, post links to articles, share your original blog posts or articles and make professional connections.

  o   Join social media professional groups.  These are also great places to have a conversation and network but they will also expose your brand to a larger audience.
     ú  This will direct your conversation to a specific niche – There are so many social networking, social bookmarking, and social news sites that are dedicated to specific niches.  You have the ability to speak directly to these people and not have all the other noise of unrelated topics getting in the way. If you are speaking their language, you have a better chance of them actually hearing what you are saying.

  o   Blogs  (why are they important)
     §  Valuable content on a consistent basis will make you look like an expert.
       §  They enable conversation. Two-way dialog
         §  Can provide excellent content to fuel other social marketing activities.
           §  Another way to put your brand out there

7.      Connecting With Influencers– Find ways to connect and engage with influencers online. Share and retweet their content. Mention or tag them in posts, and participate in discussions on their social media or blog posts. You never know where these types of connections can lead; and the potential to get a link or mention from a well-known industry expert will make your efforts worthwhile.

  o   i.e. For an artist – Comment on a Gallery’s posts, share them, etc.

8.      Choose The Most Effective Social Media Platforms - What social networks do your customers favor?

  o   One recent study on social media usage revealed that the average user has two social media accounts. While some users enjoy using multiple networks, others have found one that they love and stick with it. Bottom line -It’s important to keep in mind that your customers may favor one network today and in six months discover that another meets their needs better.

  o   Follow your customers and prospects so you can network in all the right places.
     §  Think about who you want to target and where you will find them

  9.      Use Social Media As A Source Of Information. Following individuals, businesses and organization is an easy way to stay up to date on new trends, techniques and events that can be opportunities to engage your audience or grow your business and brand.

10.  Social Media Provides Another Way For Potential Customers To Find You – If you’re not high enough in the search engines for potential customers to find you, they can still find you through social media.  So, even if you’re not on the front page of a Google search, it doesn’t mean you can’t receive traffic. Social Media has the potential to send you TONS of traffic.

11.  Social Media Marketing Is Much Cheaper Than Traditional Marketing And Advertising – Social media marketing shouldn’t cost a small business nearly as much as traditional advertising. And, if you do it yourself, it is basically free. However, it will cost you time.  Depending how much your time is worth, it might be worthwhile to hire someone to help with the social media marketing.

12.  Outsource Content Development As Needed - Can your business keep up to date with all the tasks associated with maintaining your social presences (e.g., reading and sharing good content, responding to users’ comments, asking questions to help engage your audience)?

  o   Studies show it takes a midsize company about 32 hours a month to effectively handle a single social media platform.

  o   Studies also show that the companies that have the most effective social media communications are those that have a combination of internal and external people doing social media.


 
 
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.        

 
 

Join Chicago Social Media Marketers for a panel discussion with thought leaders discussing the latest trends on the use of digital media to build your personal brand. Communicating your value proposition is key to connecting with customers, partners and others. We will address event marketing, service design, social media and trust/relationship building for Freelancers, Creatives and Entrepreneurs. Networking will follow.

Panelists include:

Alicia Forestall-Boehm - Alicia is the Co-Founder of Chicago Social Media Marketers. An award-winning visual artist, she has over 20 years of experience with digital and traditional marketing.  She and her team assess the client’s social media marketing needs, execute and manage all social media activities—bringing a strong social media presence for each client. Chicago Social Media Marketers specialize in helping creative professionals, nonprofits and small businesses create and manage professional and effective social media campaigns.

Christopher S. Rollyson - For 30 years, Chris has helped executives make their firms or agencies stronger by leveraging new technology ahead of their rivals. He has advised global firms and technology startups at PricewaterhouseCoopers, led delivery teams at KPMG and advised brands like Sears, Kmart, UBS, Lions Clubs International, Micron and others at CSRA. He founded CSRA in 2006 to advise commercial, nonprofit & government enterprises work on experiential social media and social business strategy and execution.

Susan Barahia - Susan will talk about the different identities of a brand and how understanding what your value proposition offers is critical for business growth. She started her career in design by studying Architecture early on but finished her studies in computer science. After working several years in IT for corporate America, she ventured out on her own designing websites for small businesses. She also became involved in the entrepreneurial community by organizing monthly meetings for small business owners where attendees learned best business practices and found resources to grow their companies.

Mark Carter - Mark turns lack of engagement into profitable collaboration—by creating programs that attract talent, partners and clients. He creates events with focus and purpose, communicates through meaningful storytelling, and fosters collaboration to build teams of peers and advisors.

Date and Time
Thursday, June 8, 2017
6:00 PM – 9:00 PM CDT

Location
Venture Hub
4616 W. Fullerton
Chicago, Illinois 60639

Tickets

$10 in advance
$15 at the door

Register here:
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/current-strategies-and-future-realities-growing-your-brand-tickets-34554598735?aff=es2  

Refreshments will be available at the event.

For more information, contact: Andreas Vassilos at Venture Hub at 773-772-7300

The Venture Hub is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that seeks to promote entrepreneurship in Chicago's disadvantaged communities.

 
 
PictureAlicia Forestall-Boehm
For most of you, social media is part of your everyday life. You know that it is an essential part of the doing business and is becoming more important every year. But the idea of using social media to promote your art is daunting and you would much rather be in the studio making art than sitting in front of the computer trying to promote yourself and your art. Even if you are able to generate enough sales to allow you to devote all of your time to your art, you really need to be getting people to notice your art on social media. Fortunately promoting your art on social media can be fun. Often artists work in a very solitary way, and social media can provide the opportunity to network with other artists, often from other parts of the world. They can offer feedback on your work and allow you to explore their world, allowing you to see their art as well.  And let’s not forget to mention the social media “likes” and comments! Who doesn’t like some praise and reassurance once in a while!

So we’ve convinced you that you have to take the social media plunge but where do you begin. You can hire a social media company that specializes in artists and arts organizations and they can take it from there. Or you can have them get you started; creating a social media presence for you and your art and then, you take over this vital promotion yourself.  Or you can follow the steps we have outlined below and do it yourself. 

Steps to a successful social media campaign for artists:

  1. Set up social media accounts just for your art. Your personal page is where you share life events while your art page is where you share your art. Your political views, photos of your dog and where you went on vacation do not belong on a business page so keep it separate. Your art business is part of you and you can and should share important art posts on your personal page.
  2. Facebook has made it easy to setup a business page. Click on the down arrow in the upper right corner of your personal Facebook page and click create page. Facebook even lets you choose artist as a page category. Follow their easy steps and make sure to fill out as much of the about section as you can. The best part is that you do not need a separate login. You can access you artist Facebook page from your personal page.
  3. Twitter, on the other hand, does requires a whole new account. Follow these 7 easy steps to setup a new account.  If you have an existing Twitter account you will need to use a different email address to set up this new account.
  4. Instagram, while an excellent channel that focuses on visual messages, really only works on a smart phone. If you do not have one then we recommend that you skip this step. To set up an Instagram account on your phone, download their app and follow their simple and straightforward directions. 
  5. Now you should decide which platform you are going to concentrate your efforts on. In the perfect world you have plenty of free time to ensure comprehensive social media campaigns on all of the different social media channels. In reality most of us do not have the time. Facebook is the most widely used and by far the most important site. We recommend concentrating your efforts here. Twitter works best for well know celebrities and businesses but it can get your art seen by a lot of people. Instagram is easy to use and a good hashtag (#) can get your art in front of a lot of new people.
  6. Make sure your page is visually appealing. After all you are an artist so you want your art to look its best. Using high quality photos is important but a good cell phone photo can be effective. The biggest aggravation is that the best size to use for photos is different for banners, profile photos and posts. This guide will help you optimize your photos for social media. 
  7. Post often. Posting every day is ideal but you need to be posting at least 3 times a week. 
  8. Post about your art, the art world and your community. Not every post should be directly about you. Sharing informative articles will gain you followers and let people know you are a serious artist. You can share anything from a great local art exhibit you really enjoyed, the work of fellow artists, tips for artists, a new piece you have created, chronicling your process or most importantly, where people can see your art. 
  9. Community management. Community management means responding to people who have commented on your posts or hopefully have posted about you. Getting your art out there is important but building relationships is the ultimate goal. Thanking someone for a nice comment takes only seconds and it will go a long way in getting them to support you and your art.
  10. Invite your friends to follow your new page. Facebook makes it easy to invite you current Facebook friend to follow your new art page.  On the right side of your business page there is a line that says “know friends who might like your page”. Simply click on it and invite the friends that you think will like your new page.
  11. Use social media as a source of information. Following artists, galleries and art supply companies is an easy way to stay up to date on new techniques, see what other artists are doing, see what shows are coming to your city and find opportunities for yourself.
  12. Have fun.                                                                                    

Chicago Social Media Marketers is a Chicago based social media company that works with artist, photographers and galleries.


 
 
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.



 
 
Picture
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.   


 
 
You may think social media is important but that it is not for you or your company. Perhaps your opinion of social media is that it is only for celebrities, politicians and people sharing photos of their kids. Well think again!  In an era where technology prevails, social media is an effective marketing tool. Social media sites like: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn have become a part of everyday life.  Facebook has over 1.5 billion monthly users, Twitter around 300 million. More and more of your customers, whether for personal or business reasons, use social media in every aspect of their daily life.

Now that you understand that there are literally millions of people using social media you may question whether including it in your marketing strategy will do anything for your business.  It is essential to keep up with the fast pace of change or you could risk becoming outdated and miss out on possible opportunities.  A well designed social media campaign can bring a lot to your company.

Here are just some of the ways a good social media campaign will help your business:

  • It will increase the brand awareness and visibility of your company. Social media is an excellent way to get your name in front of a lot of people. You control the content so you can tell your story and get the word out about your business or organization.

  • It will bring in potential clients or customers. Social media can be used to bring people to your website where you can capture their contact information or lead them to a purchase portal. 

  • It will allow you to quickly and easily make announcements. Do you have a new product you want to introduce to potential customers? Or maybe you made an exciting new hire. Social media can help you get the word out. Unquestionably a website is important but an announcement may not be seen in this key node of your business. Social media however will bring that announcement to everyone who follows your page. 

  • Social media allows people to talk about your business. Word of mouth is still important but someone having a great dinner at your restaurant may tell only 1 or 2 people about your place. With social media they can tell thousands of people about their experience with one simple post. 

  • Positive reviews will assure potential clients that yours is a company upon which they can rely, Online reviews are getting more and more important. Facebook, Yelp and Google+ allow people to review your company and their experiences. 

  • A social media presence ensures that you are not forgotten by your past clients. In the real estate world 90% of people that do not use a broker a second time do so because they have forgotten who actually was that broker. Staying in front of customers will remind them who you are and they are more likely to remember you when they are ready to do business again. 

  • Your social media pages will show up in search results. There is nothing better than having someone search online and find your business. It costs nothing and can bring in potential clients. Having a Facebook and Google+ page will increase your odds of showing up in search results.  

And here are some of the ways that the lack of a social media campaign will hurt you:

  • People use social media to investigate a business. Nearly 67% of people in the U.S. use social media to find out more about a business. What do you think will happen if they look for you and find nothing or find a page with almost no posts? Many will go on to the next business. 

  • Facebook often is people’s first contact with a business. 30% of Facebook users will check a company’s Facebook page before contacting that business. First impressions are very important and Facebook could be yours.

  • Social media has become much like a college degree. Years ago a college degree set you apart from others and gave you an advantage. In today’s world with so many people with degrees you need one just to remain level. Social media has also become a must. A good campaign can get you ahead and a lack of one will almost certainly set you behind the competition.

We covered designing a successful social media campaign in an earlier post. You can put in the time and effort in-house or you can hire an effective social media company to handle it for you.  This will depend on your time constraints; do you have the time to design and manage a social media campaign, and your desire to do it yourself or allow someone who has this area of expertise to run this aspect of your business. Either way the most important thing is to do it.  

 
 
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.   

 

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