Do you feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of social networks? Not sure which one holds the most potential for your business?
You’re in good company. Most business owners are confused over which platform best suits them and their brand.
That’s what the Social Marketing 2015 infographic clarifies. Not just social networks, but digital marketing that incorporates a social aspect. I’ve included WordPress in this list, as it’s the go-to tool for so many small businesses who need a website and blog (allowing social comments & shares). Also listed is Slideshare, which is a much-overlooked network but excellent for business-to-business.
I got a call from a floral shop owner in a small town, and she was scared . . .
One of the HUGE online floral brands was running Google ads that made them “appear” to be local.
They had a big budget, an ad agency . . .
And they were taking away her business.
What could she do?
We developed a strategy in her personal coaching sessions with me (included with her membership), she took classes here at Socialmediaonlineclasses.com to learn search engine optimization and tactics only local businesses can use. She developed a unique strategy based on her shop and her location, enabling her to compete against those bigger brands and take away THEIR business.
How? That’s what this post is all about —
1. Don’t Try to Win Shoppers on Price
If you’re s small brand who is competing against an online retailer or big box store, the price battle is one you’ll lose.
Ultimately, however, you’ll come out the winner.
Because shoppers who buy based on the lowest price are NEVER loyal: they go with whomever has the lowest price at the time. They’re also demanding, difficult to please, and rarely satisfied.
Let someone else have those clients — you don’t need the headache.
So first, realize you won’t win over everyone, nor do you want to.
2. Offer Specialized Products the Big Brands Can’t
Every floral shop offers wedding and funeral bouquets. But what don’t they offer?
Floral arrangements based on the colors of local high school and college teams
Themed arrangements for the local festival and celebrations
Participation in local cultural events
Specialized same-day delivery to local hospitals
Last year a family friend was in a horrific accident and recovering in an Atlanta hospital. I wanted to send a special floral bouquet, but because I’m over an hour away, I didn’t know which florists specialized in delivering to that hospital or even if she could receive flowers.
I made one phone call to the hospital, and found out that yes, this patient could receive flowers, and they even recommended a local florist who specialized in same-day deliveries: Peachtree Petals.
Peachtree Petals has a dedicated page on their website telling you which local hospitals they deliver to. They even have a same-day count-down timer to let you know how long you have to place an order.
They offered a dedicated website page for local hospital floral deliveries, reassuring me that they did deliver to the hospital I needed, and could do so within the SAME day.
Later in this post I’ll share related resources you can use for powerful tactics available only to local businesses.
Here’s another incredible small business: a local Alpharetta, Georgia bakery called Mama Bakes Safe Cakes. While that may sound like an odd name, any mother whose child has food allergies can immediately identify with what this unique bakery has to offer: allergen-free baked goods.
You can find cupcakes in any grocery store, Wal-Mart and Target across the country. What you can’t find is a bakery that can assure you that their baked goods were prepared in an allergen-free environment and are safe for your child to eat.
Specialized bakeries can charge prices for one cupcake that would buy six cupcakes at a grocery store, because it’s challenging to find bakeries that specialize in allergen-free products. Peace-of-mind for parents comes with a higher price tag they are more than happy to pay.
Score one for the little guys!
3. Show the People Behind Your Small Business
Who’s the face of Home Depot, Starbucks, or Target?
Here’s where small businesses can win BIG: let your customers get to know the people behind your business.
The secret to capturing the hearts of your customers is your PEOPLE. They are the ones who greet us as we come through the door, who ask us how our families are doing, who know what we want for dinner before we even order. All of these special touches make your store feel like HOME when we walk through the door.
No big box retailer can come close to that.
The Woodbridge Inn is a small restaurant in Jasper, Georgia, located in the foothills of the Appalachian mountains. Owner Hans Rueffert is carrying on the tradition his father Joe started in running the business:
Hans competed in the Food Network Star reality competition, does local cooking shows, and has fought a fierce battle with stomach cancer. Locals know Hans, his family, and his story because he freely shares them:
One evening this winter my husband and I were enjoying dinner at the the Woodbridge Inn when Hans came out with his new baby Heidi, and introduced her to every single table. We talked food, family, and connected over a great meal prepared by great people:
Peachtree Petal’s Facebook page shows their talented designers participating in at the High Museum of Art’s “Art in Bloom” event. No online retailer can show this kind of local support!
Peachtree Petals participates in local cultural events. You get to know the people behind the brand.
On Mama Bakes Safe Cake’s Facebook page is a “thank you” from a runner delighted to be greeted with allergen-free cupcakes after finishing a local road race:
Ultimately, big box retailers don’t know your town’s people, their stories, nor will they win their loyalties with low prices. Connection, incredible service, and specialized products will set your small business apart and allow it to thrive, even when you hear the FEE-FI-FO-FUM of giant big-box retailers approaching.
No worries. You’ve got this.
Small Business vs Big Business Checklist
Use this handy checklist as your guide to offering a specialized experience no big brand retailer can match:
Every week here at Socialmediaonlineclasses.com we give you a list of our most recent resources with our Weekly Top 5: your lessons, infographics, webinars, and articles. We’ve gathered all those resources from 1st quarter of the year into one GINORMOUS list for you, making it uber-easy to find what you need to grow your business using social media marketing.
Today I’m coming to the rescue with four no-fail hacks you can use on ANY social network to increase your engagement.
Let’s get started —
1. Use Video to Get Higher Engagement on Facebook, Instagram & Twitter
In 2015, video has the highest reach of any post type on Facebook. To be clear, that’s video uploaded to Facebook, not linked to from YouTube. Reach is the gateway to higher engagement, so you’re guaranteed to increase both using video.
Video is still unique on Instagram and Twitter: we’re used to images on Instagram and text-only tweets, so video is unique and attention-grabbing. Use it and you’ll see your engagement skyrocket. On Jimmy Fallon’s Instagram page, he has only one video, but it gets more engagement than any of his photos:
The sole video on Jimmy Fallon’s Instagram page has more Likes & Comments than his photos
Instead, repurpose your content into smaller pieces, called micro-content.
Here’s an example: for 2014, we gathered all of the resources we published (in addition to our classes) and created one long resource post that included over 100 links:
While that list is highly actionable, I knew that not everyone who read the post would get through the entire thing. So I was determined to get more mileage out of it than just one blog post.
I repurposed that list into an infographic, allowing me to post the list on Pinterest in a visual way. Instead of listing every resource, I pulled out several and highlighted them in this infographic:
Repurposing the text-only list allows me to share it on visual social networks like Pinterest
That long list of links would never have made it onto Pinterest, but the infographic turned those resources into highly shareable and engaging content perfect for this visual social network.
Finally, I took one resource from that list and created micro-content to share on Instagram and Twitter:
I took one tactic from the list of 100 and created a small visual for it
Creating micro-content from that list engaged part of my audience who would never have read that long list of resources. I repurposed that content into different forms, eliciting more engagement from my followers.
4. Share Other People’s Content
This is a tactic often referred to as a best practice in relationship marketing, but it also pays off in terms of engagement.
This post got more organic reach, likes, and shares than any other post on my page last week. The cute photo Entrepreneur used also made it highly “shareable” and reinforces #2 on this list — visual content.
Engagement Hacks Checklist
Use this handy checklist as your guide to getting higher engagement no matter which social network you use:
Share this Image On Your Site
Which Hack Will You Use?
None of these hacks are difficult: you don’t need to be a coder, graphic designer, or videographer to do them. Each of them is within reach of small business owners who want more engagement from their audience.
Pick the hack that seems most natural to you or that will appeal to your audience the most and start there.
Use this spreadsheet to develop your own social media strategy in 60 seconds
Yes, it’s really possible with the help from my template & spreadsheet, and I show you exactly how in this post.. It guides you, step-by-step, through the important questions you need to answer to reach your target audience, profitably. If you’d like to go even deeper into developing your strategy, take my free Social Media Strategy Class. It’s the first stop for members here at Socialmediaonlineclasses.com.
Once you’ve got your strategy developed, you’re ready to start making sales. Even if you’re a local business, having an online store can be an additional revenue stream for you.
Building an online store can be a nightmare: it’s the most difficult part of having any online presence, as there are multiple moving pieces to it, and if you’re new to the process, it’s easy to make the wrong decision. You need to identify whether you’ll take PayPal, credit cards, be PCI compliant (don’t know what this is?), and more.
What if you’re doing social media marketing and have an online store, but you’re not seeing much in the way of sales?
You’re not alone.
We see this often for our social media services clients. They can’t figure out why they’re not making more money from their business (time for some tough love here). It’s usually because their website isn’t doing its job.
No one likes to hear that. It’s like saying “your baby is ugly.” You’ve spent a lot of money on your website, and you’re proud of it. I get it. I’ve been there. But you need to understand what website elements you need to have to actually make money from it.
Big Secret: most web designers have no idea what these elements are. They have a formula for making websites that works for them, not necessarily for you.
Your time is valuable and you need to spend it on the tasks that are profitable. Small business owners have too many demands on their time to waste it on tasks they can automate.
I’m a big fan of taking the menial parts of marketing and putting them on auto-pilot. It saves me time, but more importantly, saves my brain for the more important decisions in my business, allowing me to focus on those.
In Socialmediaonlineclasses.com, you get classes on every major social network, infographics, webinars, and 1:1 coaching with me. I hope to see you inside Socialmediaonlineclasses.com.
Is your business a “hobby” or is it a real money-maker? These four elements make the difference between social marketing that drains your time or makes you profitable. If you have questions about these tactics or need help, consider becoming a member of Socialmediaonlineclasses.com. Members get 1:1 coaching with me every month, and get advice on how to do the hard work of making their businesses profitable.
Click to download a full-size version of the infographic
<< Click on the infographic to download your own full-size version.
Hashtags are ONE constant in an ever-changing social media world. So what are they and how can they help you in your online marketing?
Rely on the Ultimate Guide to Hashtags infographic and this blog post, where I demystify the hashtag and everything you ever wanted to know about it but didn’t know to ask. Browse the explanations of each tactic, why it’s important, and what it can do for you.
Remember to share this infographic with your own network, using the #hashtagprimer hashtag.
1. Hashtag is a # symbol used before a word
The hashtag is the pound symbol (#) preceding a word used online, in television, and in print media. For example, the hashtag #BreakingBad identifies the television show and would display on-screen during episodes.
2. Hashtags were created by users on Twitter
Hashtags were invented by Twitter users who were frustrated over the lack of a robust search feature to find tweets based on topics they were interested in. Creating the hashtag made it easier to search Twitter for topical content.
3. Hashtags offer a simple way to organize & search for content
Hashtags provide an excellent way to make your posts easily found by others. For example, #SXSW15 identifies a post about the South by Southwest conference in Austin for 2015, making it easy to find tweets about the event, who’s attending, and more.
4. Twitter turns a hashtag into a hyperlink
Twitter turns each hashtag into a hyperlink that, when clicked, will show all the recent tweets for that hashtag. It’s a great way to see what others are saying about that topic and to find people with common interests.
5. Hashtags are popular with the media and fans
All types of media — online, network, cable, and print — quickly adopted the hashtag and use it encourage fans to tweet about live events and shows. You’ll often see a hashtag at the bottom of the screen when watching your favorite show.
6. Hashtags help to brand your messaging
Hashtags provide an easy to way to brand your content, whether using your own hashtag or one identifying it with a popular trend. Look at how four different brands use variations of the #superbowl hashtag to brand their tweets:
The NFL and the SuperBowl use the official #SB49 hashtag for SuperBowl 49
AdAge uses the standard #superbowl hashtag to brand their article
StubHub created their own hashtag #SuperBall, branding an event surrounding the SuperBowl
Using just the right hashtag can give your message a completely new twist. #awkward, #winning, and #fail add an ironic twist to a tweet, such as “Best hashtag ever for an @NFL press conference #flexball #fail,” when the Gillette Flexball was shown on the backdrop of the Patriots “deflate-gate” press conference:
8. Use local hashtags
Using a local hashtag for your city makes it easy for people to identify where you’re located, and easy to find you in search results. Using a hashtag like #ATL, #NYC, #LA, #CHI, and others immediately give your tweet its own “geolocator.”
Where to Use Hashtags
9. Twitter is the king of hashtags, especially #FF FollowFriday
Twitter is the dominant network for using hashtags. It’s where the hashtag was born, raised, and continues to thrive. Twitter etiquette is to use one, two, or at most three hashtags. Any more than that is #overkill.
10. Facebook started recognizing hashtags in 2014
Facebook jumped on the hashtag bandwagon in 2014, and now allows its users to search using hashtags. Similar to Twitter, the etiquette here is to use one to three hashtags at the end of a post. More than that is seen as spamming your fans. Note: In the past, Google has shown Facebook hashtagged content in its search results, as shown in the image below. This screen shot is from 2014, and as of 2015, they have discontinued it; but with Google, you never know if it will pop up again:
Google displayed hashtag search results from Facebook & Twitter, as shown here. Clicking on the Facebook entry took you to the search results within it, as shown in the screen below
11. Instagram users make serious use of multiple hashtags
If hashtags originated on Twitter, Instagram users win the award for overuse of them. It’s not unusual to see Instagram posts with up to 25-30 hashtags, making the image easily found when people search. I don’t recommend using that many: 3-5 well-researched hashtags for your topic are certainly #enough.
Oprah uses just one hashtag to promote her upcoming cruise. But the commenter reaching out to her post is using far more (for his own purposes)
12. Google+ automatically assigns hashtags to your posts based on your content
Google+ is unique from every other social network for this one reason: it assigns your posts hashtags based on the content in them. You can still use hashtags of your own in the post, but if you don’t, Google+ tries its best to give your post at least one hashtag based on the words you used in the post.
Notice my post doesn’t contain a single hashtag, but Google+ assigned it the #webinar hashtag based on its content
13. Pinterest unofficially recognizes hashtags
Pinterest doesn’t natively use hashtags, but many people use multiple hashtags at the end of their pin description as a way to get found in search. Why not? It can’t hurt.
14. Google displays the results of a hashtag used in search
If you search Google using a hashtag, it returns results from social networks and website/blog content.
A Google search for #sm returns results from social networks and the web
15. Tumblr users tag their content using hashtags
Tumblr bloggers use hashtags to identify their content, make it easily found in search, and add it to what Tumblr calls a “tag channel.” According to Pete Cashmore of Mashable, “Tumblr is getting into the real-time search game, allowing users to contribute to a tag channel and find others who share their interests. It’s a move that makes Tumblr more public: in its early days it was a fairly closed community.”
In Socialmediaonlineclasses.com, you get classes on every major social network, infographics, webinars, and 1:1 coaching with me. I hope to see you inside Socialmediaonlineclasses.com.
How to Use Hashtags
16. Don’t use spaces in hashtags
If your hashtag is more than one word or a phrase, omit the spaces between the words, as shown below in #17.
17. #socialmedia not #social media
If you want to use the hashtag for social media, the correct usage is #socialmedia, not #social media. You can also use the abbreviation #sm instead. However, be sure to research if you’re using the correct abbreviation. Many hashtags use the same acronym, and you want to be directing people to the right content.
18. Use hashtags at the end of a message
While a hashtag helps to identify your content, it isn’t critical to conveying your message, so use it at the end of your message. You don’t want to force people to wade through multiple hashtags to get to the heart of your tweet or post.
19. Abbreviate long phrases
Hashtags are especially helpful on Twitter and Instagram where you have limited space, so it makes sense to abbreviate your hashtag if it’s a long phrase.
Coca-Cola uses the abbreviation #MLK in their Instagram post about Martin Luther King Jr. Day
20. #tbt for Throwback Thursday and #FF for Follow Friday
Throwback Thursday, or #tbt, is a social media tradition of posting a photo from a previous era (think 70’s bell bottoms or the 80’s ripped t-shirts). Follow Friday, or #FF, is a Twitter tradition of listing people whom you recommend others follow for their great tweets.
Johnathan uses #FF for Follow Friday to give his post context: these are the people he recommends you follow (and shows that rules are made to be broken, like using hashtags at the beginning of a post!)
21. Create your own hashtags
There’s no rule about who creates or owns a hashtag (even though Coca-Cola is trying to trademark a couple), so feel free to brand your business by creating your own hashtag.
I branded my Slideshare presentation with #college2career to immediately identify it’s purpose
22. Audi created #WantAnR8
A great example of not only creating your own hashtag but building a buzz around product demand is Audi’s #WantAnR8 campaign. Audi, its dealers, owners, and wannabe owners all use the hashtag:
23. Use at events #SXSW15
A widely adopted use of hashtags is at events: conferences, sporting events, and concerts. South by Southwest uses the hashtag #SXSW15, abbreviated with the current year’s event. Simply use the hashtag in your post making it easy for others attending or shadowing the event to follow what’s happening.
24. Learn popular hashtags
It’s important that you understand the most popular hashtags in your industry. Every field from accounting to consumer goods to schools and universities use hashtags to brand their messages. The best way to learn which hashtags are appropriate for your market is to follow industry leaders on social media and observe how they use them, and which hashtags appear frequently.
Examples of Innovative Hashtags
25. #RT gives a shout out on Twitter as a retweet
One of the most common hashtags is #RT on Twitter, which is a retweet of someone’s tweet you liked. It’s considered a recommendation of their post, and some of the most retweeted content are funny and ironic tweets.
26. #NYC, #ATL, #austin all identify cities in a tweet
Use a local hashtag to identify yourself or your brand as being located in a city and proud of it!
27. Fashionistas use #ootd to show off their “outfit of the day”
Beauty and fashion bloggers use the #ootd hashtag to share their outfit of the day. It’s a great way for readers to find fashion inspiration, and the bloggers gain new followers.
28. #socialmedia, #entrepreneur
Hashtags identifying your industry are a great way to give context to a post. #socialmedia and #entrepreneur are just two of the hundreds of hashtags that identify yourself and your content as relevant to your field.
29. Television encourages viewer engagement for #breakingbad, #idol, #xfactor
Television shows commonly display their hashtag on screen during an episode, encouraging viewers to live tweet about the show. Networks often generate more buzz by making the show’s stars available afterward to chat with viewers on twitter.
30. Recommend colleagues with Follow Friday #FF on Twitter
A Twitter tradition is to recommend new followers, colleagues, and those you admire by tagging them with the Follow Friday hashtag. The tweet “#FF @MarketingMel @PattyFarmer @EbonyLove @EkaterinaWalter awesome #interviews” would recommend those entrepreneurs as people I’ve interviewed and recommend.
31. Hashtags help raise awareness and funding for #curechildhoodcancer
Hashtags aren’t limited to for-profit brands. Causes like #curechildhoodcancer have run highly successful fundraising campaigns using a branded hashtag. One of the most successful non-profit campaigns was the #icebucketchallenge for ALS in 2014.
32. Charlie Sheen’s #winning is best known, most ironic hashtag #fail
Probably the most ironic, and well-known hashtag is #winning, used by Charlie Sheen during his personal meltdown. What #hashtag do you want your brand to be known for?
Branding Your Business with Hashtags
33. Southwest paints #bagsflyfree on their airplanes
Southwest is famous for not charging travelers for checking a bag, so they display the #bagsflyfree hashtag in big bold letters ON their planes. Where better to advertise than at the airport to travelers who DID pay to check their luggage?
Happy customers love to share their Southwest #bagsflyfree experience
34. Lancome encouraged celebrated their clients with #BareSelfie
While Dove is famous for using real women in their television and print ads, Lancome brilliantly encouraged women to take a selfie without makeup and tag it #BareSelfie, as part of a marketing campaign for a new serum. It generated 500 photos with the hashtag, and website sales were converting at four percent.
35. Lexus teamed with Instagrammers with #LexusInstaFilm
Lexus collaborated with over 200 Instagrammers to generate a stop motion film using Instagram photos. Tagged with #LexusInstaFilm, the campaign generated 1,000 new followers on the social network.
36. Coke so successful with #smilewithacoke they’ve applied for a trademark
Generations fondly remember commercials & jingles singing Have a Coke and a smile, and the newest version for the 21st century is #smilewithacoke. Now they’re applying for a trademark to protect it.
37. LiquidWeb hosting offers helpful #lwtips on Twitter
One of the best ways to connect with potential customers is by being helpful, and LiquidWeb hosting does that on Twitter by offering #lwtips
38. LinkedIn encouraged users to predict what the year would bring #BigIdeas2015
LinkedIn tapped into the “new year, new predictions” habit of many bloggers and thought leaders with their #BigIdeas2015 hashtag. They started the post series with big names like Richard Branson, then encouraged their users to write their own LinkedIn posts using the hashtag:
39. Dell computers sets up #DellLounge at industry trade shows
At its major trade shows, Dell Computers sets up an elaborate lounge for people to stop by, see their latest innovations, and take photos of themselves tagged #DellLounge. They team up with movie studios to show their movies on Dell computers, with charities who need exposure, and more, all in the lounge. They make #DellLounge a social destination at trade shows. Their marketing strategy is brilliant, resulting in trade show attendees generating massive buzz for Dell.
40. Who doesn’t love to share about a Wendy’s #Frosty?
Do customers love your products and share them with their friends? Then create a hashtag for them! Wendy’s uses the #Frosty hashtag on Twitter to announce the proceeds of coupon books going to the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption:
41. Use relevant hashtags
Stick to hashtags that are topical to your content. Don’t resort to “hashtag spam” by using hashtags that are popular but have nothing to do with your message.
42. Twitter etiquette allows one to three hashtags
Since a tweet is a brief 140 characters, limit your hashtags to only those most relevant to your content: from one to three hashtags.
43. Instagram reigns with up to 30 hashtags
Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags per image (yes, really). Why you need that many is frankly beyond me, unless you’re trying to over-promote yourself. It’s not unusual to see Instagram images with 10 – 20 hashtags.
44. Use hashtags at the end of your message
The most important element of your message is the content, whether text or visual. So don’t force people to wade through your sea of hashtags to get to the good stuff — because they likely won’t.
45. Keep hashtags short
As much as I would love to use my brand name in a hashtag, #socialmediaonlineclasses.com is just too long. So I stick to #sm or #socialmedia. Some Instagrammers use long hashtags like #curlyhairdontcare, but they’re often tagging personal photos instead of brand images.
46. Use them to brand your content
No matter what social network you’re using, you can use hashtags to brand your content. I’m using #hashtagprimer for this post, and LinkedIn used #BigIdeas2015 for their post series.
47. Use hashtags to brand your event
Event marketing routinely takes advantage of a hashtag to promote the event, the people speaking & attending, as well as the great images and takeaways attendees love to share. Make sure that your guests know the appropriate hashtag to use at the event by announcing it at the beginning of each session.
48. Use hashtags to brand contests and run them across multiple platforms
YesToCarrots ran a great promotion called #YesToColor, and announced it via email. I received this email from them asking customers who had purchased from their online store to enter the contest and use the hashtag #YesToColor. Notice they did not specify which social network or online platform to use. It didn’t matter. They could search for the hashtag using Google, HootSuite, SproutSocial, or other social media marketing management tools to find all the entrants and the buzz they generated:
Search Using Hashtags
49. Makes content easy to find
Want to find the latest entries in Jimmy Fallon’s hashtag of the week? Search Twitter for it or click on the hashtag from Twitter to see the entries. Here are the tweets for #WhyImSingle (the hashtag for Valentine’s Day):
A Google search displays the results for the #whyimsingle hashtag
See a tweet with the #whyImsingle hashtag? Click on it and Twitter shows you all the tweets using it
50. Use hashtags in search engines
Notice I searched Google for the #WhyImSingle hashtag? It shows me the results not just on Twitter, but across the web from sources like HuffingtonPost, YouTube, Tumblr and more. Doing a hashtag search from a search engine doesn’t limit you to one particular social network, so it’s great for finding hashtags across platforms.
51. Search for content within a social network using a hashtag
Looking for a hashtagged post within a social network? Most let you search within the platform for hashtags. The results will vary by network and their privacy policies. For example, Facebook will return hashtagged content from people you’re friends with and public pages. You won’t see hashtagged content from people you aren’t friends with.
52. Hashtags are clickable in almost every major social network
Just as I clicked on #whyImsingle in Twitter, you can do the same to find inspiration for #weddingbouquets in Pinterest. In fact, you can click on a hashtag from almost every social network and it will display posts using it:
53. Find messages across online channels
Searching for a hashtag from a search engine returns results from multiple online channels, not just social networks, as shown in #49 and #50.
54. Motivated users find you
Hashtags make it dead simple for people looking for your brand or content to find you. Be sure to clearly announce which hashtags you’re using and people will find a path to your brand.
55. Great for contest entries
Running a contest but don’t want to limit it to just a single social network? No problem. Tell contest entrants to tag their #entry using your hashtag, and you can search for them in Google, Bing, Hootsuite, or other social media management tool. You’ll get more buzz and more entries.
56. Use in email & chat to make topics easier to find
While you don’t get any marketing buzz from this tactic, some people do use hashtags for their own purposes in email and chat. Using a hashtag #Introduction in the subject line of an email makes it much easier to find later than searching for “introduction” which will likely return too many results.
Marketing Using Hashtags
57. Brand your contests using a hashtag
Follow the excellent example from YesToCarrots in tactic #48: brand your contest using a unique hashtag. It immediately makes the contest buzzworthy. They were able to run the contest across multiple social networks, allowing customers to post where it was easy for them, all using the same hashtag.
58. Hashtags provide cohesive cross-platform messaging
Every social network has its own etiquette and rules: Twitter is limited to 140 characters while there’s almost no limit for Facebook. Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags while Twitter discourages more than three. By using a single hashtag for your marketing campaign, you can follow those guidelines and still successfully brand your message.
59. Use in visual content: images, video
Smart brands use hashtags even in their visual content, like images and video (notice #hashtagprimer on the infographic on this blog post?). While it’s not searchable or SEO-worthy, it does provide a cohesive marketing message, and educates your audience on the proper hashtag to use when mentioning your brand on social media.
The Nobel Prize organization branded this video of Patti Smith signing Bob Dylan’s Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall with the hashtag #NobelPrize:
60. Let people tell their stories
The best writing & marketing tells just enough to get people motivated to tell their own stories. Fiction authors know this, and often leave out important details in a story to let readers form their own stories and meaning. Do the same with your marketing: people had diverse reasons for #IWantAnR8, but the sentiment was the same. Why they wanted one was the power of that marketing campaign (tactic #22).
61. Domino’s #LetsDoLunch offered a discount for all customers
Domino’s UK ran a savvy hashtag promotion: for every customer who tweeted #LetsDoLunch within a specific timeframe, they took one pence off the price of a pizza. The resulting price went from £15.99 to £7.74 ($24.56 to 11.89), and everyone else ordering during that time got the discount too (including people who didn’t tweet). The key to success was a group effort and a sizable resulting discount.
62. Know your reputation: #McDStories
Before you run a hashtag promotion, be clear on what your brand reputation is. If you have too many negative stories for customers to tell, don’t encourage them. McDonalds asked people to share their #McDStories on Twitter, and the result was horror stories of disgusting food and terrible service. What they had hoped to be a successful hashtag promotion turned into a bashtag fest.
63. Use on SWAG giveaways
If your business gives away great SWAG, brand the items with a hashtag, motivating the lucky recipients to thank you publicly on social media. You’ll likely see lots of photos and happy people with your giveaways.
64. Identify your brand as local
Know the phrase, “all politics is local?” The same can be said for business: “all business is local.” Take advantage of your brick-and-mortar location by identifying your brand as local using a hashtag. If you’re traveling on business or doing a promotional tour, definitely use the hashtags for the cities you’ll be visiting.
What hashtags are a fit for your small business? Are you using them?
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Every small business has a tremendous opportunity to increase their visibility using the simple hashtag.
Go through this post again and identify which tactics best fit your business. You don’t have to completely change the way you market your brand; instead, simply start using a hashtag in your social media posts, visual content, and contests.
Use this infographic as a “to do list” of tactics, and experiment with a few to see which ones generate the most buzz and results for your brand. Don’t forget to let me know which ones worked for you, using the hashtag #hashtagprimer.
Share this #hashtagprimer Infographic On Your Site
If you’ve been using social media marketing but haven’t seen results . . .
. . . then it’s time for a do-over.
And it starts with identifying which social network is your low-hanging fruit: where can you get the BIG win in the shortest amount of time?
That’s what the Social Media Strategy Template and worksheet will do for you: help you develop and optimize a no-fail social media marketing strategy unique for your business.
Socialmediaonlineclasses.com turns five this month, and I’ve learned much about how people use social media marketing to promote their brands. People usually assume Facebook is the first place they should start, when it could be that it’s totally the wrong platform for them.
So here’s a step-by-step process for developing the perfect social media strategy using our template . . .
1. Who’s Your Most Profitable Customer?
All your social media marketing efforts will be for nothing if you’re not reaching the right people. Who are your customers? Even better, who are your most profitable customers?
Here’s a hint . . . it’s NOT everyone.
I’m surprised at entrepreneurs who can’t answer this question. Or, if they can, they are often too vague. Be obsessively specific here. While we all would love to think everyone will want our products, it just isn’t so.
That’s okay — you’re in good company. I have clients who are ranked #1 in their industry nationwide, making seven figures, who’ve told me “I don’t know what social media marketing can do for me.”
Let’s take a look . . .
The top three goals for members here at Socialmediaonlineclasses.com are:
Grow my business
Increase my sales
Get more visibility
Other common goals are to get more traffic to my website, launch a new product, develop a personal brand, and do fundraising for a non-profit.
You can achieve all those goals with social media marketing.
Ask yourself: what do you NEED to accomplish with social media marketing? Use the template and spreadsheet as a guide to answer questions to help you identify your primary goals (click to download).
Download this spreadsheet to build your social media strategy
Which social networks can help you reach your goals? That’s what you’ll answer in #3 . . .
3. Where Are Your Customers?
What’s the primary social network your customers use? Once you’ve identified who your most profitable customers are (step #1), you can identify where they are in social media.
It’s likely they use more than one social network, but don’t feel like you need to be on ALL of them. You want to fit your marketing to the optimal social network:
where your customers are
has the ability to help you reach your goals
For example, if you are a local florist and use Instagram to show beautiful photos of your arrangements, that’s great for increasing your visibility among potential customers. But, if your goal is to drive traffic to your website or get people into your shop, Instagram can’t do that for you:
Poppies and Posies shares gorgeous photos of their flowers & arrangements on Instagram
Google+ and Facebook are much better choices for driving traffic. Why?
Google+ (even if your customers don’t use it) helps you build a robust Google local business page (that your customers see when they ARE searching for a local florist)
The majority of your customers are using Facebook. Offer Facebook fans a Valentine’s Day special, or even better, offer them an exclusive during your slow season.
How often do you plan to post to your social networks — multiple times per day, once per day, or a few times a week? (Be realistic about your schedule and what you can accomplish.)
What I’ve found is that most entrepreneurs get excited about starting their social media marketing, post for a month or two, and either get frustrated over a technical issue or life gets in the way.
And they stop . . .
. . . then it gets even more difficult to restart. It’s cumbersome because they’ve lost their proficiency with their social networking, and they end up having to re-learn the basics:
When did you last post on your social networks?
That’s okay — we all have stuff that gets in the way.
However, I do have a recommendation that makes it much easier to continue your social media marketing even during your busy season or when life throws you a curve ball — an editorial calendar.
They’re also called a content development schedule — call them what you like — but by identifying what you’ll be posting about each month and eventually each week, you make social media marketing much easier (and far more likely to be consistent with it).
5. What Differentiates You?
They key to making a connection with potential customers in any form of marketing is the right message at the right time.
The right message is one that sets your brand apart, differentiating it from the competition and as a perfect fit for your ideal customers.
Differentiating your brand is often the hardest step in developing a social media strategy (even for the professionals). So let’s take a look at some brands who do it well:
ImagiBrand clearly differentiates themselves directly on their Twitter profile by saying “Every brand has a story. Let’s have some fun with yours!” What a great motto — you know if you hire them you’re going to get a company with a great sense of humor:
Molly McGrory, a real estate broker who sells over $100K in her own listings from social media alone, brands herself as a real estate agent who can sell your home quickly, shown here in this Facebook post:
Getting some ideas for your own marketing?
6. How Will You Execute?
The devil is in the details, isn’t it? The perfect social media strategy won’t produce results until you execute it consistently. So how do you do that?
Make it so simple you can’t fail. You’ve already identified the elements of your strategy — now you need to combine those into a simple, elegant action plan for your social media marketing.
To do that, download the spreadsheet that accompanies the social media strategy template (you can get both of these in my free Social Media Strategy Class). The spreadsheets guides you, step-by-step, through each of the six elements, plus what you need to have in place to put your strategy into action, helping you to identify:
what you need to learn to do your social media marketing
what tools you need to use
who is responsible for doing your social media marketing
I’ve updated our Facebook Marketing Infographic for 2015 to reflect the newest tactics that work in a crowded Facebook environment harder than ever to reach your fans. I debuted the original infographic back in 2011, and it’s continued to be the most popular infographic EVER at Socialmediaonlineclasses.com.
So what’s changed in 2015? Here are the 20% of the tactics you need to focus on for 80% of your results:
Attract a Targeted Fan Base
Size doesn’t matter here like it used to. Many business pages paid for cheap fans through fan farms or uber-cheap ads that got them fans for pennies, and now their business pages are suffering for it.
The goal is NOT to attract a massive fan base, but a targeted fan base. Consider running Page Like ads to those people who are most likely to buy from you.
Focus on Reach — the Gateway to Engagement
Engagement and Reach are a chicken and egg scenario: which comes first? Both really. You’ll never get engagement if you can’t reach your fans, but the more engagement you get, the more reach you get. So focus on Reach first, then aim for engagement. How? Boost your posts for higher reach, but make sure those posts are ones your fans are so excited about they’ll want to share them with friends, family, and colleagues.
Add a Call-to-Action on Your Timeline (Your Most Valuable Real Estate)
The purpose of the Timeline has evolved as Facebook has changed, but in 2015 it’s the most important piece of real estate you own on Facebook. Because the first time someone comes to your page they are curious — so hook them in with a great offer on your Timeline. Facebook released the restrictions on having a call-to-action on your Timeline, so definitely add an offer on it. You can even put a “button” on it for people to click to get your offer.
Insights Are Your BFF
The biggest missed opportunity for small business owners on Facebook is mining their Insights for invaluable fan data. Your Insights tell you:
which posts are the most popular (so you can do more of them and reach more of your fans)
who your most valuable fans are (don’t try to please everyone — these fans are where your gold lies)
what days and times are best to post
and far more
If you’re not using Insights, you’re wasting your valuable time on Facebook by GUESSING at what works. Analyze your Insights and you’ll know immediately what your fans want, what works with them, and how to do it.
Contests Became So Much Simpler
Facebook released the restriction on contests needing to be run from a third-party app, so that has made contests far simpler than ever before to do. Keep your contest simple and you can generate new fans, leads, and sales. How?
Use great images for your contest post
Make entering the contest simple
Giveaway something people want and don’t make them jump through hoops to get it
My favorite contest? Give everyone who enters a $10 gift card toward purchase at your business. They’re happy, and you get new buyers.
Be Persistent to Monetize Your Fans
I’ve discovered that most businesses think Facebook fans will see their posts and buy from them immediately.
It doesn’t work that way; analyze your own purchasing behavior and you’ll see the same trend. It takes time to build a relationship with people, and they don’t buy from you until they trust you.
You do the same thing.
Use Facebook as a lead generator, integrate email marketing, and follow up with those leads via email. Sales persistence is not a strong point for most small business owners; focus on it and your revenue will reflect it.
Get the Share and Open the Floodgates
The Share is the gold standard for engagement on Facebook, because you not only get more people seeing your posts, you get more fans, more clicks to your website, and more leads. Sharing is the engagement you need to focus on. Likes are great, comments are good, but Shares are the winner.
Give people a reason to Share your content and your Facebook page will benefit. Review your Insights for what posts have the most Shares and do more of those.
Use Ads to Reach Your Business Goals
Small business owners can definitely afford a Facebook ad, as they are budget-friendly and simple to use. Start small with a boosted post to reach more of your fans, then start moving toward more sophisticated ads to reach your business goals.
Want more fans? Create a Page Likes ad.
Want more traffic to your website? Create an ad for Website Clicks.
Need leads for your business? Build a Website Conversion ad and follow up via email.
Want sales from Facebook? Create aWebsite Conversion ad for a low-priced product.
Want to make the most of all the above ads? Once visitors become a fan, click through to your website, become a lead or make a small purchase, they are called a warm lead because they already know of you and have likely come to trust you. You can retarget those visitors using a Facebook ad, making the most of your efforts here on Facebook.
Need help with Facebook ads? Our Facebook classes teach you to do all of the tactics above and far more.
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This book was one of my favorites of 2014. Written by a Ari Miesel, a business owner who has a debilitating disease and is the father of twins, who found a way to automate much of his business. I’m usually not a big fan of automation tactics, as they remove any personal touch your clients need from you. But Ari developed an online productivity system to automate much of the behind-the-scenes, freeing you up for the customer touchpoint tasks. I was able to save hundreds of hours and literally thousands of dollars by using his methods. He has perfected the art of automating his business and his life so he can focus on the priorities needing most of his attention.
“According to the 80/20 rule, I should be focusing on only the things that only I can do, like creating original content for the blog. Everything else should be handled by someone else.”
One of my favorite business books of all time. I’ve recommended this book often and cannot emphasize enough how the process of creating a checklist helps me to document lengthy and complex processes and train my staff how to do them as well. Gwande shares examples of critical professions relying on checklists to avoid loss of life, such as architects, engineers and World Health Organization surgeons.
“But finding a good idea is apparently not that hard. Finding an entrepreneur who can execute a good idea is another matter entirely. One needs a person who can take an idea from proposal to reality, work the long hours, build a team, handle the pressures and setbacks, manage technical and people problems alike, and stick with the effort for years on end without getting distracted or going insane. Such people are rare and extremely hard to spot.”
A slim, yet invaluable book from Derek Sivers on his journey from being a music lover who coded a simple program to founder of CD Baby, selling it for over 21 million dollars. What I love about this book is Derek’s candid story of ups and downs in his journey, and his advice on enjoying your own and not getting swallowed by sharks. Derek has done multiple TED talks and is generous with his time, answering questions via email from readers on his website. I asked him a question for my son about going into the music business, and we was kind and open with his advice.
“Never forget absolutely everything you do is for your customers. Make every decision – even decisions about whether to expand the business, raise money, or promote someone – according to what’s best for your customers.”
“It’s counterintuitive, but the best way to grow your business is to focus entirely on your existing customers: just thrill them, and they’ll tell everyone.”
I almost didn’t include this book in this year-end list because the author, Brian Moran, was decidedly curt when I reached out to him about an issue on his website. However, I have gotten such tremendous results using this method I would be remiss in not mentioning it. Brian’s method recommends intense focus on a few goals over a 12-week period, even scoring yourself on your efforts and results. I’ve been using his method for an entire year, and I can report I’ve gotten better results working with his method on my own than in hiring “experts” to tackle the same problem.
“In 12 week planning, you identify the top one to three things that will have the greatest impact, and pursue those with intensity.”
A similar book to the 12 Week Year, but Josh Kaufman’s (The Personal MBA) focus is on mastering a skill in a short period of time – 20 hours to be exact. What I loved about this book is similar to what Tim Ferriss does in his 4 Hour Chef: Josh recommends breaking down the skill set you need to learn and identifying the critical elements you need to master.
“What feels like the long way is the shortest way. Zero-practice shortcuts don’t exist. No practice, no skill acquisition. It’s as simple as that.”
As a gourmet cook, I didn’t read Tim Ferriss’ book to learn how to master cooking. Instead, I read it to learn how to “hack” learning, which is what Tim is REALLY teaching in this book, using cooking as the vehicle. Tim figured out the key to quick learning early on working for Berlitz — the foreign language company — and applied those same tactics to other learning disciplines. He distills the quick-learning principles to acronyms easy to remember like CAFE and DSSS, and these tactics help me learn quickly in an industry that changes daily.
“The lowest volume, the lowest frequency, the fewest changes that get us our desired results is what I label minimum effective dose (MED). It’s a broad concept that applies to almost any field.”
I interviewed Laura Vanderkahm on the blog here after reading her book about time management. I hesitate to call it a time management book, because I’ve decidedly eschewed those in favor of smarter approaches to life and how I choose to spend my time. Laura’s book is an eye-opener into how much time we all REALLY have, how we spend it, and how there truly is enough time in the day to do everything you need and want.
“Once you know what you want to do in the next year, you can break this down into what you want to do in the next month (120 – 240 hours) or week (24 – 26 hours). On Sunday nights, or before the start of your workweek, sit down and list the actionable tasks you need to do to advance you toward these goals. Then, this is the key part: schedule them in, knowing exactly how long they will take.”
Tony claims this book is all about how Zappos delivers an over-the-top customer service experience. I view it as the bible for anyone who wants to turn a boring business into a global brand that never competes on price. The shoe business was about as exciting as watching paint dry, until Tony turned it upside down with fun, great teamwork and amazing customer service. A must read.
“I realized that, whatever the vision was for any business, there was always a bigger vision that could make the table bigger. When Southwest Airlines first started, they didn’t see their target market as just limited to existing air travelers, which was what all other airlines did. Instead, they imaged their service as something that could potentially serve all the people who traveled by Greyhound bus or train, and they designed their business around that.”
If you’ve heard the terms minimum viable product, pivot and lean, then you’ll understand the impact Eric Ries has had on the startup industry over the past five years. Eric tells the story of how his failing tech business learned to stop guessing at what customers wanted and actually interacted with them and making tiny improvements along the way.
“Success is not delivering a feature; success is learning how to solve the customer’s problem.”
I finally got on the Evernote bandwagon in 2012 and this small Kindle book helped me figure out how to customize my experience in Evernote. As great a product as Evernote is, I never found it intuitive to use, which is why it took me so long to adopt it into my business toolkit. This book finally got me using it like a pro.
Add most-used notes to the the shortcut bar so you don’t have to search for them repeatedly.
Not a business book per se, but a fascinating read at how regular people can develop super-memories. I’ve been able to pump up my own memory with these techniques, and help my son do so for college exams. Not a how-to book, but a telling of one reporter’s story of covering the world memory championships, to challenging a participant to coach him in memory techniques, to winning the championship the next year. Truly a fun book to read.
“The more we pack our lives with memories, the slower time seems to fly.”
An inexpensive Amazon Kindle book that has a smart strategy for backing up your life and business (and what you don’t need to backup): personal photos, application purchases, etc. I’ve been days away from a book deadline when my home was struck by lightning, killing all the electronic equipment in the house. My backup saved me!
“I save all my application serial codes within my password application. If I ever need to install an application again, I just download it from the web and look up my password in 1Password (or LastPass).”
2014 was the year of the image in marketing, and has forever raised the bar for our expectations of visual communication online. It’s no longer enough to have great content: it needs stunning visuals to accompany it, and Ekaterina Walter’s book talks about this phenomenon, how it has impacted business, and her favorite tools for creating images (even if you’re not a photographer or graphic designer). Listen to my interview with Ekaterina here, then see case studies of small brands using visual storytelling here.
“. . . usage of visuals has resulted in a social media era that rewards creativity.”
Michael is a genius at structuring creative exercises that get you thinking beyond the everyday. I’ve used his techniques to develop formats for my infographics, identify new features for my products and far more.
Chet breaks down the sales process for people who don’t think they’re salespeople. My favorite parts of his process are “pig-headed persistence,” identify your six to do’s everyday, and discovering the common characteristics among your perfect customers.
“The key to being productive is to stick to the six most important things you need get done that day. “
16. Virtual Freedom
Author Chris Ducker
Chris owns a VA placement service, and often exaggerates what a VA can do in this book. However, I appreciated much of his management and bonus strategies for VAs and have used them myself.
“Request a list of the VA’s personal recommendations for your business. This could include potential products, ways to better serve your customers, or any tools or training that would help your VA do her job better.”
I hope you’ve enjoyed this list of my favorite books for small business owners. What are your favorites? Add to this list in the comments below!
Every week here at Socialmediaonlineclasses.com we give you a list of our most recent resources with our Weekly Top 5: your lessons, infographics, webinars, and articles. For the first time ever, we’ve gathered all those resources from this year into one GINORMOUS list for you, making it uber-easy to find what you need to grow your business using social media marketing.
Have you considered crowdfunding your next project?
If so, you definitely want to listen to today’s interview with Ebony Love, founder of LoveBug Studios. She ran a successful crowdfunding compaign that generated over 2X her goal (and she admits she had a few #fails along the way).
I was surprised at some of the revelations Ebony shared with me: I thought I understood crowdfunding, but the tactics she used (and those she didn’t) turned traditional advice on its head.
Crowdfunding with Ebony Love: Interview Audio
You can listen to the full 30-minute interview, or get bite-sized “tips” below:
Members – Find out where the largest percentage of Ebony’s supporters came from, if she had help promoting her campaign, and her advice to others considering crowdfunding by logging in: Click here to login!
0:00:00 MARIA: Welcome everyone this is Maria Peagler with Socialmediaonlineclasses.com. And today I have with me Ebony Love the founder of LoveBug Studios and a successful Kickstarter campaign generator. Welcome, Ebony!
0:02:02 EBONY: Hi Maria. Thanks for having me.
0:02:05 MARIA: Absolutely, Ebony I have wanted to do this interview with you for a while because I was fascinated at the whole Kickstarter campaign that you did. I supported you. I contributed to your Kickstarter campaign. Can you tell our listeners out there a little bit about your campaign and your funding goal?
0:02:30 EBONY: Absolutely, Thank you so much Maria for supporting my campaign it really meant a lot to me to see your support there. When i initially started a campaign it was for a book about fabric die cutting and that particular topic is a very niche topic and there’s only a certain segment of the quilting community that’s going to be interested in something like that. Before I went to the expense and sort of going down the path of spending all this money investing in illustrators and graphic artists to solve these things. I wanted to make sure that there was actually a market to support this book that i was writing so part of this was market research a sort of test. We have to water a little bit and see if there was enough support for an idea like this to come out with a book for this particular niche. My initial funding goal was $5000 and when I put together my budget, when I thought about was. I’m willing to make an investment in this project and if other people are willing to invest with me as well then, I’m going to kick in some funding. My actual budget was about $10000 for the production of the book and so i set the campaign budget for half of that. If I can raise half the money I can kick in the other half and that would make it ok.
0:04:05 MARIA: Ok, so you came up with the budget of 10000 is like a fifty-fifty.50% you would be putting in and then 50% your contributors will be putting in. Now, what did you end up raising from your $5000 goal?
0:04:26 EBONY: I ended up raising just over $12000 for the project which it only took about 6 or 7 days to hit the $5000 mark and then the whole campaign went for about 30 days. So I was really elated to raise that amount of money so quickly the thing about Kickstarter is that when you set your campaign timeline you set it typically 30 days and even if you raise your target early the campaign doesn’t end it just keep going that’s how we went over the $5000 amount.
0:05:12 MARIA: How did you decide to use Kickstarter rather than someplace like Indiegogo. The reason I ask is because with Kickstarter for those who may not be familiar with it, with Kickstarter it’s an all or nothing thing if you don’t reach your goal or you don’t get to keep any of the contribution but on Indiegogo you don’t have to reach a goal you get to keep whatever you raise. And so, tell me how you decided on Kickstarter.
0:05:48 EBONY: Yes, both platforms when I’m just in this campaign back a couple of years ago both platforms are really really early on in there sort of introduction and the modelling. One thing about Indiegogo and I haven’t look in a while but at the time if you didn’t raise your campaign goal there actual cost to you was higher than if you hit your goal. So that was one factor, the other factor I thought to myself if I can’t get the support that I need to do this project then i really need to think very hard about whether or not i should go forward and take this, so it wasn’t just about raising a certain amount of money it was also making sure that I was able to garner enough support to go forward.
0:06:43 MARIA: Right, right, which was really smart to use Kickstarter as a market research tool because I know so many authors who just jump in they spend the money and then find out really that they didn’t know how to promote the book there is really know readership for the book and if they have done something like this beforehand they could have save themselves a lot of heartache.
0:07:06 EBONY: Yes, Absolutely!
0:07:08 MARIA: So let me ask you Ebony, It took you 30 days. The campaign was 30 days. How long did it take you to prepare for the campaign to actually get everything on Kickstarter get your video, get all that materials that you needed, how long did that take you?
0:07:29 EBONY: It took me probably about 3-4 weeks of planning part of that time Kickstarter had a pretty rigorous review process also so you couldn’t just put something out there and hit go and it just public they actually would go through and review your project to make sure it was appropriate for the platform the other component is writing the compelling copy. So I think in the media industry we call it romance copy. Writing that copy that’s really going to inspire and really reach the folks that I’m trying to reach and communicate my own passion and devising the reward that In and of itself I was racking my brain trying to think about what types of reward I mean obviously the book a copy of the book that’s pretty simple but in order to get people to sort of contribute that higher level i had to come up and really get creative with something and the thing about Kickstarter is when you offer a reward they have to be tangible reward it can’t be like a coupon for a future purchase for something like that it’s got to be something that people actually receive and it’s worth something at the time and it’s not some sort of “Hey if you don’t knit here I’ll contribute 10 dollars to charity. It has to be something that the backer get out of it. And i think i refer to it as investment but it’s really not an investment because you’re not yet shares
0:09:13 MARIA: Right, right
0:09:15 EBONY: But you should get something out of it. It’s not a donation when you contribute you’re getting something in return.
0:09:19 MARIA: And so, how crucial do you think to be the big prices were? That the prices they should offer and the levels that you offer, how crucial were those?
0:09:25 EBONY: I think that they were instrumental in helping the campaign go as far as it did. When I think about my entire network of people so just in my own personal network not everybody is a quilter not everybody is a die cutter so if all I offered was the die cutting book that’s not going to be of interest necessarily to everyone so there could be folks think: “You know what? I support what you do I’m really thrilled about this and I want to make sure it is successful but I really don’t need a coffee-table book.
0:10:17 EBONY: The other piece two is by having different levels of contribution it gives people the opportunity to look and say “There’s a level here that I can afford. Because not everybody can just say here’s 30 bucks for a book that I’m not going to read. Some people may be able to contribute a dollar other people might say.”You know what I really support this artist, I know this person I feel good about what they’re doing, I can actually contribute a higher level so actually having those different reward level it gives you a choice i personally think i had too many and at the end of the day you’re the one who has to actually fulfill all those rewards.
0:11:04 MARIA:*laughs* Right.
0:11:08 EBONY:*laughs*After a while but i think having at least 3 or 4 options gives people sort of a way to contribute at a level there comfortable with.
0:11:18 MARIA: And so you had levels from a dollar all the way up to 1500 dollars and what was your most popular level?
0:11:29 EBONY: My most popular level I believe was at the 50 dollar level you’ve got a copy of the book and some other little trinket so I think my average donation across the board was about 46 dollars so some people came in lower than that, some people came in higher than that but most people were right in middle of a reward.
0:12:00 MARIA: I’m looking at your Kickstarter site right now and it looks like you had a 104 backers at 30 dollars. Now, do you think it was the dollar amount? Do you think it was just the right amount? Or do you think it was the acknowledgement that they’ve got in getting the book as the reward?
0:12:22 EBONY: I think so, I think most of the people who purchased at that level were once who wanted the book. They were rolling to get that book so it was a way for them and what’s interesting when you structure your reward, is it’s not necessarily meant to be a like discount of a retail price although some that way it’s actually meant to be because you do need feed bonds so the book actually retails for 30 dollars so that was like the level. I think that level people were going to buy the book anyway when it came out and that’s the level that they supported.
0:13:09 MARIA: Okay, And what did you do to promote the campaign as far as social media and email marketing and get the word out, What did you do to promote it ?
0:13:22 EBONY: so I actually did a several tiers of marketing and I didn’t want to bombard my network with you know just post after post after post of this particular campaign. The first method that Senel was just a family and close friends just to first get started with the toe on the water and also when you put it out to just friends and family you tend to get kind of that bubble of will support anything that you do and that makes you feel better. You feel better about what you’re doing to get some of that initial push and then I put it up on Facebook to wider the audience which will include my friends and friends of friends and hope to unnecessarily no personally but we’re friends on Facebook and that’s the next level campaign and some of those folks even shared my campaign with their friends and that’s another way to get to expanse. The third way was just through my newsletter list so I have an email list for my business where I send out announcement about where I’m going to be and what’s going on with my business and where you can see me that went to my email list. I also posted on my blog talking about the Kickstarter campaign and what it meant and what I was trying to do. I have several avenue to pursue but I didn’t do them all at once. I didn’t’ post everywhere on the same day. I spread it out over probably a week to 10 day period to reach all those audiences.
0:15:13 MARIA: Ok, and do you have any idea of which promotion garnered the most support?
0:15:22 EBONY: I believe it was probably the Iddy mount campaign just because there were thousands of people on my email list versus a couple of dozens on my Facebook page.
0:15:39 MARIA: So you have an email marketing list with several thousand contacts on?
0:15:47 EBONY: Yes. I think it’s the time I probably had under a thousand people subscribe to my email list. Now it certainly grown as my name has gotten out there but I think it’s the time it was under a thousand people on my email list but it was certainly a lot bigger of an audience than on my Facebook page.
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Ever wish you could clone yourself to get more done?
We’re all striving to accomplish more with less resources in the 21st century, and that’s especially true if you’re a solopreneur or small brand. I’ve made it my mission to keep my business (and my training) as simple and elegant as possible. That makes it easier for me to develop and advance a thriving business while also being a wife to an entrepreneur and involved mom to two teenage sons.
Awesome tools. And a hack I’ll show you in a moment (saving me HOURS of time each week and thousands of dollars I don’t have to spend on labor that I can invest in my business).
Don’t get me wrong: I’m not a tool junkie (you know — those people who are ALWAYS touting the latest app they’ve downloaded and can’t wait to tell you about it). I don’t have time for that.
Instead, I invest in the best tools that make it possible to run an agile business I love and allow me to enjoy a full life outside of work.
So today I’m sharing with you my favorite tools I use on a DAILY basis and WHY I think they’re the best at what they offer.
Google Apps for Business
The paid version of Gmail, Google Drive, Docs and more. This is a huge switch for me, as I made a lucrative career from being a technical writer of books on Microsoft and other Windows’ products. Five years ago I purchased a Mac (because it just works, period) and didn’t want to pay for the Office Suite, so I started using Google Docs instead.
Google’s suite of products is nowhere near as robust as the Office suite, so if you need deep features like long documents and tables of contents in your word processor, stick with Word. But for what I do, which is mostly tables, presentations, and simple PDFs, Google Docs works great.
I’ve become an enormous fan of using Google Sheets for applications far beyond financials — planning, dashboards, and libraries of data I keep in a spreadsheet. It’s so simple to create a worksheet with multiple sheets and keep track of goals, reports, and content libraries within one file.
But why the paid version?
In May of this year, my email address was blacklisted as a spammer due to my hosting company sharing my virtual private server (VPS) with another company that was identified as sending SPAM email. The only way to fix the situation was to enroll in Google Apps for Business and use the paid version of their Gmail. That way, I would never again have to worry about my email being listed as SPAM.
The best part of using Google Apps for Business? Google support. Yes, really! Once you are a paying client, Google provides the BEST support I’ve ever encountered.
Not surprising, since I teach a class on how to create your website using WordPress, but my love of this platform goes far beyond just being able to create a simple website with it.
When I started Socialmediaonlineclasses.com, I researched the most popular learning management systems (LMS) at the time, which were Moodle and Blackboard. I found them to be bloated, cumbersome, and better suited for enterprise organizations and institutions.
I also tried BuddyPress, which has a social network feature built into it, but found it to be unstable and not as well-supported as WordPress.
So why do I love WordPress so much? It allows me to:
create a simple website I can modify without being a developer
add a blog to my website that has the same look and feel as my website
create an online training site by adapting WordPress posts, pages, categories and shortcodes into an agile learning system I can change as my needs evolve
find answers to common WordPress problems because it has a global network of users who have encountered the same issues
easily hire developers and designers who have worked on WordPress and have deep experience with it
easily train interns and new hires on how we use WordPress because they likely already have experience with it
Wishlist Member (WLM) is a WordPress plugin allowing me to make my paid classes private. It’s categorized as a membership site plugin, but you can do much more with it than that.
WLM was not the first solution I tried (BuddyPress, S2Member, WPDev Member), but it’s the ONLY one that worked consistently, was stable, and well-supported.
They also have a companion membership program called Wishlist Insider I belonged to for a year to learn how others used it, network with WLM users, and get up-to-speed quickly to get the type of online training site I wanted.
Newer membership site plugins are available now, but I plan to stick with WLM. They offer a one-time price (vs. monthly for the newer plugins) and I don’t want to have to learn a new system and transition my members to it. I’ve found a solution that works for me and allows me to stay agile and robust in my offering.
Trello Project Management
Trello is an online project management system I absolutely love (and its cute dog mascot Taco).
I’ve tried BaseCamp, Asana, and even developed a class on Harvard Project Manager years ago. Most project management tools are needlessly complex and dull to use. The beauty of Trello is in its simplicity: it has a Pinterest-like interface, using cards, and you can organize your projects in any way that suits your business and working style.
It has few restrictions on how you setup your projects: that freedom allows you to make your Trello system truly your own. You use Organizations, Boards, Lists, and Cards to create your projects and invite team members. You can add links, images, video, and text formatting to your projects to make them multimedia-rich.
We use Trello for our in-house training and orientation, our editorial calendar, ongoing projects, social media services clients, and website development projects. I can assign dates to projects, communicate with and tag team members about projects and see a calendar view of our editorial calendar to see what’s coming up next.
Aweber Email Marketing
The first thing I did in my business, before I ever had a website, was invest in email marketing software. I started out using iContact, but have since transitioned to Aweber for the segmentation features (I can send automatic emails to my audience depending upon what their interests are).
I had used ConstantContact for clients and didn’t like its user interface, and wasn’t interested in free so never tried MailChimp. I wanted a tool I could use immediately and start seeing ROI. I loved iContact’s simplicity and great support, and appreciate Aweber’s terrific support as well.
Aweber has a steeper learning curve than other email marketing applications, but that’s the trade-off for more features, and I’m happy to pay it.
I use Aweber for sending out our weekly newsletter and sending automatic follow-up emails to people taking our free social media strategy class. I love the reporting I get: I can immediately identify what topics are most popular, what people are clicking on and what they open.
Snagit and Voila Screen Capture Tools
I use screen capture tools daily in developing and updating our training classes, building our Swipe File to show members examples of brands doing social media well, providing customer support, communicating with my team members, when we have technical challenges and are communicating with support teams, and far more.
When it comes to training, a picture really is worth a thousand words, and members love seeing an informative image rather than have to sit through a video.
I used TechSmith’s Snagit for years and found it to be the best screen capture tool available. However, when I upgraded to Mavericks operating system and to the latest version of Snagit, it slowed my computer to a crawl. So I transitioned to Voila, a Mac-based screen capture tool. It doesn’t have as many annotation and editing features as Snagit, but it takes advantage of the Mac operating system, allowing me to drag and drop images into almost any application.
For a long time I just didn’t get why so many people were fanatical about Evernote. Sure, it was a great note-taking app and you could do a lot more with it, but I hadn’t really investigated all of its features.
I became hooked for personal reasons: I was researching a family trip we were taking to Washington D.C., and saved our hotel, tour reservations, itineraries and more to Evernote, and it was available on my smartphone while we were traveling. I could research a museum and capture a screen listing its hours/directions, and that screen capture would be available on my phone.
I now use Evernote for my business: writing my daily To-Do list, saving articles I want to refer to later, outlining large projects, and so much more.
The Productivity Hack That Saves Me Hours Each Week
The best part of using these applications? They can work together in automating much of my business. I can set up tasks to be automated, saving me time, and my virtual assistant can work on far more productive projects.
This hack allows me to practically clone myself for far greater productivity.
Some of the tasks I automate:
Dictating the foundation for a blog post into my smartphone and saving it to Evernote
Creating a content library by building a list of our blog posts and their URLs in a Google spreadsheet
Automatically uploading a video to YouTube, which in turn creates a blog post draft in WordPress
Creating a spreadsheet of my latest Twitter followers, their bios and follower counts
and much, much more
I set up these tasks just once, and they run automatically as necessary. My virtual assistant doesn’t have to spend her time on these items, so I can have her generating important reports and focusing on customer service (tasks that require the human touch to really do well).
How do I automate these tasks? Stay tuned: tomorrow’s post will give you the details!
We’re in a “sharing economy” aren’t we? You’re supposed to give away content to get traffic to your website, to get engagement on your posts, and to ultimately generate revenue, right?
After all, Seth Godin says that’s what creates a “tribe.”
Here’s the tough love part: are you Seth Godin?
Didn’t think so. Neither am I.
So for the rest of us, how do you turn the expectation of “free” into a sale without turning people off? That’s what you’re going to learn in this post, plus a terrific example of how one of the major car brands does this better than all the rest.
Identify Free vs. Paid in Your Business
In my own business, I give away a free social media strategy class: it’s shorter than my paid classes, doesn’t have as much multi-media content, but it gives people a “taste” of the quality and scope of what being a Socialmediaonlineclasses.com member is like.
Visitors see Pricing right away, plus they can optin for a free class, both on Home Page
For some people though, that’s not enough.
They want to see more video — “I want to see what your videos are like.”
I point them to my YouTube channel. I DON’T give them access to paid content.
Did they complain?
Yes, some did.
Did I add more video to my free class?
No, I didn’t. I don’t want members who are constantly complaining and never satisfied, so those who don’t like the free class have weeded themselves out of the potential member pool.
They did me a HUGE favor by self-identifying themselves as NOT potential members.
Set Expectations Early That You’ll Be Selling
Every visitor touchpoint I offer includes marketing to set the expectation that Socialmediaonlineclasses.com is a paid service.
I make it abundantly clear by displaying Pricing & Plans prominently in the website main menu. From their first visit, people realize I offer a premium training experience they need to purchase to receive.
When visitors opt-in to the free Social Media Strategy class, the first screen they see is a one-time offer for 25% discount off of Annual Membership. I make it clear they’re still getting the free class and details are on their way to their Inbox. In the meantime, they get an exclusive offer no other visitors see.
Free class subscribers get a special offer after they optin
In an autoresponder series using Aweber, those same subscribers get a daily email from me for six days, telling them how to get the most out of their free class. At the end of each email, is a reminder that they have X number of days to take advantage of the discount for Annual Membership.
I train my visitors to expect a marketing pitch from me in almost every email
Our blog posts offer deep content on social media marketing that get shared globally, and in each post are links to recommended classes, webinars, and infographics readers can receive as a member to learn even more about that particular topic.
In this blog post, I have five recommended resource pitches embedded in my educational content
I’m not overly-aggressive, but almost every message visitors get from me will have some sort of an offer included it.
The first priority here is the best-quality social media training, whether in paid classes or on our public blog. However, included in that training is our marketing pitch.
Make It Clear Why People Should Pay for What You Offer
There’s so much available for free on the web that you need to make it stupidly simple WHY your brand is better than the free content available elsewhere.
Sure, you can find free social media articles all over the web. But how easy is it to find the training you need, on the topic you need, from a source you trust, that’s up-to-date?
Profitable business owners don’t waste time spending hours searching for a free solution on the web. They’re willing to pay for the right solution, right now.
I share my class outlines so people know exactly what they’ll be learning; I show the infographics they’ll get; I list the member webinars available; and I reassure visitors that we update our content continuously, so they learn what works NOW, not what worked six months ago.
Your most loyal customers will become your brand advocates, telling others why they shouldn’t waste their time on “free,” but choose your brand instead, as SMOC member Pat Roa Perez did here on a blog post she penned for Shewrites:
Member Pat Roa Perez became a brand advocate and shared why she paid for Socialmediaonlineclasses.com
Are you making it clear to your potential clients WHY they should pay for your offering? How is yours better than free?
Over-Deliver Once Visitors Become a Client
Have you ever felt like once you made a purchase, the honeymoon was over?
Before you bought, the brand was chasing after you like a puppy, showering you with sloppy kisses.
Once you purchased, however, that puppy started chasing someone else and totally forgot about you.
What you experience is called “buyer’s remorse,” and it’s the brand’s fault for not welcoming you with a positive experience.
Once your visitors become a client, you need to WOW them with an awesome customer service culture.
Reassure them they’ve made the right purchase.
Communicate exactly what will happen now, how they can use your brand’s offering, and how they can get get help if they need it.
If you offer a guarantee, explain to them how it works and how they can use it.
I purchased a Subaru this year, and they offer roadside assistance as a courtesy to their car owners. “Great,” I thought, “I’ll need to add that telephone number to my smartphone so I have it handy.”
Guess what? Subaru put the roadside assistance number directly on the driver’s side window, where you can see it WHEN you need it:
Subaru reassures car owners with their roadside assistance # right on the window
I’ve had roadside assistance with the last three cars I’ve owned, but never did the auto brand make it so EASY to actually use their service. In fact, most of them made it downright difficult to find that number.
Subaru makes tiny gestures that win over their customer’s hearts. Yes, their cars are reliable. But they also offer a culture reinforcing their tagline “Love. It What Makes a Subaru.”
You are competing with FREE everyday when you have an online business (or low-cost competitors with a brick-and-mortar presence). Ensure you’re educating your potential clients as to WHY your offering is better than free or low-cost. Don’t be afraid to include marketing messages when you deliver your best stuff.
What has been your experience with offering free content in your social media marketing? Share your experience in the comments below:
In this exclusive case study, you’ll learn how a local handmade bike shop uses social media exclusively to market their business. You’ll discover how they invest just an eighth of their time to make personal connections with their audience.
Case Study: Firefly Bicycles
Founded in 2011, Firefly Bicycles is based in Boston, Mass., a city known nationwide for its handmade bikes, and is one of the most well-respected small businesses in the bike frame building industry. Jamie Medeiros, Tyler Evans and Kevin Wolfson make up the Firefly team and have over 38 years of combined experience designing, crafting and fitting bikes.
Firefly Bicycles recognized that, like any audience, the cycling community was hungry for content, and that’s exactly what they deliver. They developed a plan to generate lots of high-quality content and, as a result, they’ve not only succeeded at building a deep connection with their audience, they’ve gone on to influence the cycling industry and bike culture worldwide.
Firefly Bicycles By the Numbers
Facebook Fans: 6,460+
Instagram Followers: 9,700+
Twitter Followers: 3,280+
Time Spent Weekly on Social Media: 5-7 hours
Visual Storytelling Makes for Strong Social Media Marketing
The most unique thing about the Firefly Bicycles marketing campaign is that it is executed exclusively via social media. The Firefly team is comprised of creative people, and art and design has a strong impact on their work. Since their work and process are extremely visual, Firefly uses this to their advantage when producing content to share.
Here’s how Firefly Bicycles connects with their audience and makes their mark in the cycling industry:
Making use of several social networks to build a strong, widespread online presence
Sharing photos of their process and products keep people engaged
Producing lots of high-quality visual content
Sharing relevant stories that matter to their audience
By building a presence across multiple social networks, Firefly Bicycles keeps all their bases covered and is able to continuously generate sales. Their audience gets the inside scoop on what they’re doing and their frame-building process, and they can reach far beyond the local Boston community.
They also share highlights from the past and recognize others in the industry, showing the relationships they’ve established throughout the Boston and cycling communities:
How You Can Adapt This Case Study for Your Own Small Business
Any local business or e-commerce company can learn from Firefly Bicycles’ social media strategy to build relationships with their target audience and drive sales:
Produce high-quality content and share it widely
Identify which social networks are most successful over time and focus on them
If your product has visual appeal, use that to your advantage
Use social media to communicate with your audience directly and transparently
Establish your reputation and become a recognized voice in your industry