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
00:03:02 MARIA: Welcome everyone this is Maria Peagler founder of Socialmediaonlineclasses.com and today I have with me Patty Farmer of Patty Farmer International. She is a marketing and business growth strategist and international speaker who will be going to Barcelona and Belize in the coming weeks. She’s an author and radio show host and, she has been awarded the “International Collaborator of the Year 2014″so, welcome Patty:
00:03:41 PATTY: It’s so great to be here.
00:03 43 MARIA: Patty, I heard you speak at a social media conference this past summer. It was a DFW rock social media and I was really fascinated by the combination that you use of social media and email marketing and, one of the things that you mention was that you get 70% of your business from twitter so, tell me what that looks like how do you turn a twitter follower into a client?
00:04:14 PATTY: That’s a good question! I love it. So, it’s 74% right now last year with 68 then its 71 and now its 74 so that’s kind of good there but here’s what I’m going to tell you. It’s really not about me. It’s really about them so, I would have to say that whenever I have twitter followers, which really interesting about twitter is unlike any of the other social media platforms it don’t have to follow your back. It’s not like one more friends we’re friends they don’t have to follow your back. So, it’s kind of like you earn your followers and I love that that’s the thing that I love about twitter so, it’s really about having great engagement not good engagement but great engagement and then, really building on that relationship and then, it’s really asking questions like you really want to have a conversation and you ask questions and then, you find their pain points and you offer solutions if it’s applicable but sometimes it’s really not applicable and then, I really tried to make myself via resource and whether that for a referral or to do an introduction for them just at least want people to know that I’m a resource for them and I think that when they see that it really isn’t about me that really serving not selling organically it actually instrument itself.
00:05:40 MARIA: For you really are focusing on not just getting twitter followers or numbers but in turning those followers into relationships in true relationships where like you said you’re serving them.
00:05:54 PATTY: Absolutely. I don’t think it’s about the number in any type of social media at all. It’s really not about the number and for me, I actually vet my followers twice a week so i actually go through I want to make sure that the people that are my followers and a way followed back are truly my specific audience which your target audience and your target market may or may not be the same thing but it really is important for people to really realize that if you’re not talking to right people at the right time it’s just noise.
00:06:34 MARIA: The other thing that I’m interested in Patty that I’m going to follow up on is you know exactly how much of your business twitter is bringing you from last year to mid-year to now so you are doing a lot of measurements.
00:06:49 PATTY: Absolutely, numbers are sexy.
00:06:52 PATTY: Numbers really are sexy and I have to tell you I didn’t used to think so before the only number I really wanted to know about was if it had a dollar sign in front of it. I mean not to say that it was about the money don’t get me wrong but if I was looking at numbers the numbers that I was looking at was this is working and what I was tracking I was deciding whether or not it work was really about did it make me money but now I believe that you have to be thinking so much more than that it is so much more than that and I think part of that is because when you’re tracking because of the way social medial is so twine with everything that we do its not only going to show up in one place so it’s really really important to pay attention and do your insights and to really track and I have to tell you it’s exciting. It’s very very exciting so really numbers are very very sexy.
00:07:51 MARIA: That might be the quote of the year numbers are sexy. I love that.*laugh*.Now, the other thing that I remember you mentioning at the DFW Rocks social media conference was that you built a very large email list in the course of 1 year I mean it was in the hundreds of thousands of subscribers so, how important is your email list to your business and how does that work with your social media marketing?
00:08:21 PATTY: I love that so, it works very very well and one of the things that I think I may have even said it at that conference we we’re at which just they change their names. Now it’s called Rocks Digital so that’s kind of exciting but imagine if you have all Facebook friends and your fans all your twitter followers your LinkedIn connections and your google plus circles all in your email list so that change your bottom line because really google can change your search engine rankings and Facebook and Twitter can both suspend your account but no one can take away your email list and for me, that is why I truly truly believe that the money isn’t always will be in building a good responsive list and the most important work I said there is responsive again, just like we we’re talking a few minutes ago, in the numbers it isn’t really about the numbers just have to remember that behind everyone one of those numbers is a person so whether your B to B or whether your B to C really honestly, your P to P which is people to people so, we do business with people and even though a lot of times people will talk about no like trust factor and the no like trust factor is very very important but when you’re talking about monetizing it really become no me ,like me, trust me, pay me and there not going to do that until you built that relationship because right now in this business economy, relationship is the currency that’s being used.
00:09:50 MARIA: So, Would you say that you used social media as a lead generator into your email marketing list?
00:09:59 PATTY:I do, now here’s one of the things that I find really interesting right now, is that when I’m seeing a lot of my private clients and actually my masterminds too what I’m seeing is that people is so much into social media marketing and it is so important. I’m not saying it’s not but one of the things that I’m seeing is that a lot of people are using their websites and other things to drive people to their social media instead of using their social media to drive people to their website and I think that’s important to track as well people really need to be paying attention how their business is coming in not just where it ends but how we’re they getting so, we’re given and paying attention to those numbers that’s sexy too.
00:10:44 MARIA: So, what would you say for your own business is the best source of quality email subscribers for you?
00:10:55 PATTY:I would have to say that my best source of subscribers for me in terms of conversion would have to be opt ins and there several clients so opt ins meaning on my website when I’m doing freebies from when I’m speaking both virtually and in person so, a lot of times I’m an international speaker and a lot of times you don’t get yourself on the stage so, doing some type of a freebie where again you’re serving not selling and really making sure that you give something a value. I think people really love that the days “let me just give you a free report” I think people are kind of numb to that now. They really want something that’s a value really something that will help them so I think that for me if you give them something needy and you think of it as lead-gen and how you want to help them you want to give them something that after they get that they’re going to be like “wow I want more” and that’s going to continue the conversation so, I think whether you’re using social media or any type of lead-gen it’s not about “oh let me just give them this white report or white paper “it’s really about what is the start what’s the beginning of my entry level funnel that I can give them that’s kind of lead to what they may need the next time that I’ll may be able to provide to so, it’s always about serving them and so I think that’s really important.
00:12:25 MARIA: And so if someone was just starting out in email marketing and they had not yet decided on what kind of a freebie to give away or if they have something that’s working ok now but isn’t doing quite as well as they would like. What kinds of things would you recommend that go beyond like you said just that free report?
00:12:51 PATTY: Well, what I would say is the easiest, cheapest and the least time consuming for somebody starting out would be to go to freeconferencecall.com that won’t cost anything to record a 45 minutes to 1 hour on something that there expert in and then just go into word and create a some type of handout for it and then used that to download and then it’s kind of called a power pack right then they get an audio and they get something to download with it. It’s something they can do less than an hour and the free conference call actually gives you the recording of it so it’s something they could do very simply and then I think they should use their social media for that too, create custom tabs Facebook pages a lot of ways to utilize that in social media they get people to want to have it but I really really believe that they like to hear your voice too so I really believe that audios works very very well.
00:13:56 MARIA: I really like that suggestion Patty it’s different. It’s not something that you see everybody else doing and I think you’re right people do get numb to things in the same offers over and over again after a while they don’t even see them anymore like that, I like that. Now, once you have somebody who is a subscriber on your list, what types of emails do you send to them and how often?
00:14:26 PATTY: I love that question so the first thing I want to say when you’re talking about email is to really remember that the best type of email you can send is something that’s permission base. We want to make sure that you are using permission base marketing and one of my favorite quote “Permission base marketing is the thing that is always going to build your business” always always always going to build your business and if you build your business with service and relationship it won’t just be your bank account it will be your retirement account so, it’s really important to do that so that’s the first thing I wanted to say there I think it’s important but for me I use several types of email and send them out weekly but here’s the number one thing I do and I think this is why I have I high open rate, a high click-through rate and a very low unsubscribe rate because the most important thing is to segment your list and make sure that what you’re sending everybody is appropriate to them and I’ll give you example of that if you’d like for example: So I do event. I go to event. I’m a speaker so, whenever somebody opts in to my list and this is something that they can also do for free. They can send a survey out and I ask my list. I actually do it twice a year when I’m vetting them. I actually ask them. I want to honor you by only sending you appropriate email to the things that you are interested in click on the subject that you’d like to receive information and it may say speaking virtual events, list building, networking, marketing all the things that I do and I let them choose whatever they choose that’s the list they go in to so now they’re telling me what they’re interested in getting and I only send them those things.
00:16:38 MARIA: For you are really making sure first all that you have their permission so, these are people who have ask to be on your list you’re not just something a subscriber list and you’re making sure that what you’re sending them is relevant to them according to them. These are the things that they’re asking for.
00:17:01 PATTY: That tell you’re always giving value if every time you show up its valuable so that when they see it in there inbox. Now a days people are reading there inbox with 1 finger on their delete button and it is really important to make sure that when you show up in that email box, that everything you’re saying is relevant, resourceful and it’s a value but it’s very very important that you’re serving them and that’s why it won’t seem to fail even though that a good portion of them may do business with you and it will turn to profit but you are doing it in a way that serves them.
00:17:43 MARIA: Patty, what percentage of your income would you say come from email marketing versus social media marketing?
00:17:54 PATTY: Now that’s a really good question so just cut those things earlier how much I tract my numbers.
00:18:01 MARIA: Yeah. Numbers are sexy.*laugh*
00:18:04 PATTY: Numbers are sexy, that’s right! But here’s the thing, the number one thing that you should be doing with email marketing and social media marketing is entwining them meaning that the people you connect with online, your number one goal is to how do I continue that conversation and get it offline but the people who are opting in through your website or different freebies or whatever the best place to continue that conversation is online so, the reality really is to do both so, it’s really kind of hard after a while to really know what the percentage is because such a high percentage of mine are in both places very rarely I can’t even think of anybody else on the top of my head who isn’t in both. Now, of course there are people in social media that are not on my email list yet, but that is something I work on all the time so i think it is very very important so really social media marketing and email marketing the number one thing you will hear all the people the experts, the authorities, the influences well tell you now if they have to do it over again the number one thing they would do to be list building and growing your list is the one thing that you should do so, you should be getting the people, that your connected to on social media on your list and vice versa so, you can converse with them you could have a conversation with them and then just email them with relevant information and then have the rest of the conversation online. I think it is very very important to do both but your number one thing that you should be doing every single day and in every activity that you think about doing this is why I think list building courses after courses after course but the reason why is because that’s where people are dropping the ball and they need to do that so the number one thing they need to be thinking when they do every single activity is how was this going to grow my list. Is it going to grow my list? And if it’s not growing to grow your list in any ways perform you might want to resync it or restructure it.
00:20:20 MARIA: Ok.and what would you say Patty, the people who especially small business who say ok now I need a website and social media and now, I need email marketing, how may I supposed to do all of that?
00:20:37 PATTY: Well, the first answer would be you don’t have to do it all yourself its sounds like it’s time consuming I can see it how would I listen to say that. It sounds like its time consuming but it really isn’t so many tools out there now that can help you to automate a lot of that and, all of those things that you just talk about all should be working together list building should be working automatically with your social media and with the list building part social media should definitely be helping you to grow your list so, all of them are really entwine together in reality so it just sound like it’s not but really it is but if they need help they can either hire somebody if they don’t want to do it themselves but in reality really doesn’t take that much time although I’m the first person to say that we don’t really need to be looking at our own envelopes right. The thing is if there’s not something you like to do or no how to do then you should outsource it that’s the number one thing that for me is what separates business owners and entrepreneurs in getting results and getting massive results. You’re going to get massive results when you stop doing the things that you don’t really need to be doing and you step out and say “You know what, I need to be focusing on incoming generating activities and if you can spend the best part of your day doing that because I always tell people all the time there’s now money now and there’s more money later and a lot of times people like to focus on more money later and there not making now money now and the bottom line is you don’t get into business to for you to be on social media I hope. Right.
00:22:22 MARIA: That’s right, that’s right.Ok, Two follow up questions for you, the first one is, I’m a huge believer in the 8020 rule especially as entrepreneurs and small business owners you can’t do everything so, you’re to focus on the top 20% of the tactics that will get people 80% of their results when it comes to combining social marketing, what would be that 20% be?
00:22:55 PATTY: Oh.I love that! love, love love…ok so, the first thing everything should be list building so we already talk about that but I think that the thing that they need to be spending 20% of their time because this is going to get them 80% of their results as well, is that they need to be really focusing on engaging right and providing that value so it’s really really important that I think that they do that and I think that when there utilizing there social media, they need to realize that they don’t need to be selling, people want to be educated, they want to be entertained that’s what they’re looking for right that’s what they really looking for and there’s a way to really build relationships doing that for I think it’s very very important to spend your time building those relationships and those relationships that you build those will come around and it will organically end a little bit of help it will actually help you to grow your business so you get the profit that you’re looking for your business.
00:23:58 MARIA: In my last question is the same one to every person I interview, what is the question that I should have ask you but I didn’t?
00:24:08 PATTY: I loved that question, that’s a really great question, what is the question that you should have ask me.that’s really good! I would say that the question that you should have ask me was that if somebody was a business owner and they we’re just starting their business that’s the number one thing that they should do.
00:24:27 MARIA: Ok, and so, what would that be?
00:24:31 PATTY: So, the number one thing I think that they should do is to have a plan because it doesn’t matter what should you doing but you should have a strategy for everything you should have a strategy to your email, you should have a strategy to your social media marketing everything you do you should have a strategy so you’re not just doing this and doing this and doing this and it’s not coming together for you. I have to tell you that I see a lot of people doing that and even though we think it’s important to know how to do everything, it’s much more important to know why you should be doing it for i think that’s the most important part is to know why you’re doing what you’re doing and then, to have a strategy because I’m going to tell you hope not a strategy.
00:25:11 PATTY: Patty that is so smart..*laugh*.That is so so smart. I see so many business owner have a passion for what they do they have a vision for what they do but they don’t have a plan. They don’t have a strategy. They get in there and they dive in and there excited and then, the hard time hit and there not able to laugh at it so, I think that it just so so smart.
00:25:40 MARIA: Patty, where can people find you online?
00:25:46 PATTY: So, they can find me on my website which is pattyfarmer.com. So, pattyfarmer.com it’s pretty much everywhere you can find me on social media too. Twitter Patty Farmer and that’s where I spend most of my time is on twitter for the obvious reason and you can find me on Facebook and all the other online all the social media sites that if they just go to my website pattyfarmer.com they can see my social media places there so, I would really love to connect with them that would be fabulous and if they have many questions I’ll be more than happy to answer them.
00:26:18 MARIA: Ok, and so your twitter handle is @pattyfarmer?
00:26:21 PATTY: Correct.
00:26:23 MARIA: Oh. So simple wonderful! Patty, thank you for being with us today.
00:26:28 PATTY: You’re welcome! It was great to be here. I’ve been really looking forward to this interview and thank you so much for having me.
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.
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
7 Surprising Secrets I’ve Learned from Beauty Vloggers.
Beauty vloggers are not professional marketers, but they are CRUSHING traditional branding & promotion with their own style. Find out how they do it.
I have a confession to make . . .
I LOVE watching YouTube beauty and hair videos.
In fact, over the past year I’ve been consuming a lot of beauty vlogger content: I drastically changed my hairstyle from blow-drying everyday to going naturally curly, and I needed a lot of help in maintaining my new hairstyle.
So where did I turn?
YouTube, of course.
And after watching hundreds of hair videos, following beauty vloggers on multiple social networks, and seeing how they work individually and together — I WAS BLOWN AWAY.
Most of these ladies (and gentlemen) don’t have traditional marketing or technology backgrounds, but they are ROCKING their social media presence. I’ve observed them carefully, identified their secrets, and am sharing them so you can adapt them for your own marketing.
1. Beauty Vloggers are Prolific Content Generators
The YouTube beauty vloggers I watch are all generating new videos at least once per week, sometimes more often. Their #1 secret to their success is creating a generous amount of content. Here are some examples:
Goss Makeup Artist is a UK-based vlogger who records videos from his home makeup studio. Nothing fancy, but look at the number of videos he has on his channel — over 700, and he’s earned 1.8 million subscribers:
Sarah Stevens (married now, not sure of her married name) started making videos as a high school student, continued on through college (filming from her dorm room), and now continues as she’s married, living and teaching English in Qatar. Again, she has a huge amount of content: over 200 videos and 14K subscribers:
Angie (doesn’t give her last name) has a beauty channel for menopausal women, and again, has over 200 videos and 46K subscribers. She crushes the idea that you have to be young to be beauty vlogger:
Louise Glitter, another UK-based vlogger, offers a plus-sized beauty channel that draws a loyal audience of 1.7 million subscribers! Notice she also has a video collection over 250+:
Jenell Stewart is a black vlogger who focuses on natural hair styles and products for women with curly hair. She has over 500 videos and 105K subscribers:
Notice how diverse these channels are? They come from men, women, young, middle-aged, all colors, sizes and nationalities. The one secret they all have in common is creating A LOT OF CONTENT.
The second secret of these beauty vloggers is they adhere to a publishing schedule and share it with their audience. They schedule their own “shows,” just as network and cable television do.
Goss Makeup Artist displays his schedule directly on his YouTube banner:
Are you letting your audience know when they can expect new content from you? Are you consistent enough to publish a schedule at all?
3. Beauty Vloggers Follow Content Themes
One of the trends I noticed early on in my video watching phase is that vloggers often follow established themes in their videos:
Reviews – reviews of products both provided by brands asking for the review and those they’ve purchased on their own. Most vloggers were 100% transparent when they had been approached by a beauty brand and gave their candid review, sometimes being “I wouldn’t use this again.”
Empties – reviews of multiple products they’ve used up and saved for this video.
Hauls – sharing products purchased during a shopping trip. Not a review video, but a highlight of products they’ll be using and probably reviewing in the future.
Get Ready with Me – a how-to video of the vlogger showing their beauty or hair routine. Normally the video shows the vlogger getting ready and they add the narration afterward, so they’re not talking directly to you in the video.
Collabs – collaboration videos with a vlogger colleague. These usually take two forms: either both appear in the video together, or they each do their own version of the video and link to the other person’s in the video description.
How-to’s – the tried and true how-to video, done in the vlogger’s own style.
Beauty vloggers’ third secret is they follow similar content trends, making it easier for them to pick up viewers from other beauty channels. Their videos are similar, but still different enough, to interest viewers who want to learn and watch other vloggers in the same space.
What content themes appear in your industry? Have you watched enough video to know these trends? If not, take some time to watch channels with large viewerships and identify their content themes.
4. Beauty Vloggers Optimize Their Social Media Profiles
The fourth secret of these savvy vloggers is the one I was the most impressed with: they take advantage of every opportunity to share their other social networks and their most popular content. They use their popularity on one channel to build their audience for their others.
Sarah Stevens has Facebook, twitter, Instagram and blog accounts in addition to her YouTube channel, and she points to them not just once, but twice on her banner area: once with hyperlinks, and once with icons under her title:
Sarah also optimizes each of her videos with links to her other social networks, how to subscribe to her YouTube channel, and her most popular videos. Shown below are the links she shares from the video people see first — her channel introduction video:
You can do the same whether you have a YouTube channel or not. Almost every social network offers the ability to link to your other social networks. You can do this in Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Slideshare, and Google+. You can also point to your most popular content in multiple ways on your blog.
Give people the EZ button so they can follow you, consume your content, and find your best stuff.
6. Beauty Vloggers Collaborate to Increase Their Visibility
I found it surprising how small the beauty vlogging world was. Each vlogger specializes in their own niche and often collaborates (called a “collab” video) with someone else in their niche to increase their visibility.
Rather than seeing each other as competition, they help one another reach a larger audience. That’s their sixth secret: they rely on colleagues to build their audience.
Here, Louise collaborates with another vlogger Karen, and links to Karen’s video and channels from her own:
7. Beauty Bloggers Have True Relationships with Their Audience
Many of the beauty vloggers I’ve profiled here get their video ideas from their viewers — and give them credit for it, naming them in the video.
They often receive hundreds of comments, and respond to them individually. They have true conversations with their fans, answering questions, responding to suggestions, and even asking their audience for feedback and their own experiences.
Of course, being so visible means you’ll open yourself up to some “haters,” but these vloggers didn’t let that stop them. In fact, they didn’t respond to haters at all. And often their audience defended them against snarky commenters.
That’s the seventh and final secret: while many social media experts tout “relationship marketing,” these vloggers establish deep and loyal fan bases that buy the products they recommend, watch every video they share, and anxiously await their next one.
I must admit I completely underestimated beauty vloggers: I started out simply wanting to learn how to style a new haircut. What I ultimately observed, however, was much more than that.
Beauty vloggers demonstrate you don’t need to be a professional marketer to grow your brand. What it does take is passion, consistency, honesty with your audience, listening to them, talking to them, and making it easy for them to find you.
What beauty vloggers do you follow? What have you learned from them about beauty and marketing? Share in the comments below:
The human attention span has dwindled to eight seconds — less than that of a goldfish — according to a 2002 BBC article. With so many competing websites, social networks and entertainment on the internet, how can brands make their message stand out, be remembered and generate results?
Visual content: our brains process images 60,000 times faster than text. Done well, your story told in a visual way, sticks with readers far better than just words on a page or screen.
What is Visual Storytelling and How Does it Benefit My Business?
Visual storytelling encompasses far more than just using visuals in your marketing: it’s about telling your brand’s story — what your purpose is & what you stand for — in a visual way. I like to think of it as Start With Why meets The Back of the Napkin meets Made to Stick.
Marketing your brand visually makes your message sticky: your audience remembers it, engages with it, and is far more likely to actually consume it. Here are visual content statistics:
Web posts with visuals are 180% more likely to get engagement
Visitors spend 100% more time on web pages with video
Press releases incorporating video get 45% more traffic
Web posts including infographics get 12% more traffic
If you’d like more traffic from highly engaged visitors who are more likely to buy from you, visual content is a highly effective approach.
What Visual Content is Best for Your Brand?
The type of visual content you should use depends on several factors, including what’s easiest for your team (or you) to create, as well as your audience demographics and where they hang out online. While Vine is a great place to find 18-20 year-olds, it won’t be effective for reaching baby boomers. Facebook, YouTube and Pinterest are better suited for that audience.
Identify your audience, discover where they are online (and offline), and target them according to your business goals.
Tell Your Story Using Simple Images
A brand who does this well is is Northern Valley Auto Body in Englewood, NJ, as shown here on their Facebook page. They take before & after photos of the cars they repair, as well as in-process pics. Not only is it fascinating to see how they work, the story their images tell is one of trust and transparency: the usually off-limits to clients body shop has completely opened their doors and invited you to watch their process:
Photos of in-process restorations instills a sense of trust in their brand.
Notice the simplicity of this visual story: photos taken in the garage with a smartphone and uploaded to a Facebook album. No filters, no captions, nothing but photos of their work. This didn’t take a graphic design team, but one person who stopped long enough to document the brand’s work.
Educate & Entertain Using Video Tutorials
Missouri Star Quilt Company opened their doors during the height of the U.S. recession, and their odds were so slim of making it they were covered by Wall Street Journal reporter Meg Cox (a quilter herself). How founder, Jenny Doan, not only survived the recession but became the largest employer in her small town is all due to her free quilting tutorials on YouTube.
Missouri Star Quilt Company grew their brand to the largest employer in their town using YouTube video tutorials
Jenny’s videos are simple, brief, but show her personality and simple ways to make a quilt from pre-cuts: fabric pieces already cut into shapes ready for quilters to sew together. Not only do her videos market the shop’s inventory of pre-cut fabrics, they also help reduce her labor costs, as pre-cuts don’t require an employee to cut a piece of fabric for every customer, as do bolts of fabric.
Jenny’s early videos were rough, with poor lighting and showing her sitting at a sewing machine. But, viewers weren’t concerned with the production quality: they loved Missouri Quilt Company’s videos, and some of their most popular videos are their oldest, garnering over a million views.
Reach Business Clients Using Presentations
Marketing Experiments is a well-known brand in the marketing industry that uses presentations and videos to reach their target audience. They offer hour-long “clinics” where they share the results of their case studies, research, and do live optimizations of brands who need their advice. They offer the clinics live, but also upload the replay to YouTube, and the shorter slide deck to Slideshare:
Marketing Experiments offers their “marketing clinics” on video as well as slide deck presentations
Marketing Experiments uploads their presentations to Slideshare for those who don’t want to watch the entire video
Speak Your Audience’s Language with Infographics, GIFs, Memes
Here at Socialmediaonlineclasses.com we use infographics to offer quick guides to social networks:
2014 Edition of Facebook Marketing Infographic
Dr. Pepper uses GIFs, Hubspot has an entire Pinterest board dedicated to marketing memes, the White House creates Vine videos, and brands aplenty are on Instagram. So no matter who your audience is, you can reach them using some form of visual content.
Create Your Visual Roadmap
To get the most from your visual content marketing, establish your roadmap: your brand’s strategy and execution plan, by answering these questions:
what does your brand stand for (and how does it differ from your competition)?
what is your brand’s purpose?
what are your business goals for your marketing?
what are your customer’s pain points?
what marketing efforts are working now?
Your answers shape your business’ unique visual roadmap, making your brand unforgettable to your audience, and resonating with them in a way no plain text ever will.
What type of visual storytelling is your business doing and what have been your results? Share your story in the comments below.
What You Need to Know BEFORE You Do Social Media Marketing in Europe
A primer for U.S. brands on how to approach social media marketing in Europe. A guide to cultural differences, privacy concerns, corporate restrictions and more.
1. Mind the Gap
Europeans have fewer contacts in social networks because they are selective in whom they choose to interact with, and have a higher resistance to sharing, compared to Americans. Therefore, your campaigns must offer a higher incentive to share. Europeans value their data privacy as a universal and individual right; only 31% of all U/S. companies restrict social networks compared to a whopping 60-80% of European companies.
2. Respect Cultural Values
Do extensive cultural research to determine formal and informal language differences, color sensitivity, and time of day, week and year norms.
Language barrier: How you say ‘you’ in languages like German, French, Spanish or Italian is critical. All of the languages mentioned have a formal and informal version of the word ‘you,’ which makes choosing your tone of voice very important. Observe how users are talking to the brand, then mirror their language.
Stricter time schedule: Between 2:30 and 5:30pm, Spain typically holds siesta, where businesses shut down. In the Netherlands, it is rare for people to work after 6pm since family life is highly valued. Summer holidays begin June to August too, with most countries taking extended vacations or not working.
Color: Different hues carry cultural messages depending upon the country. For example, using orange in your cover photo could be great for a brand heavily concentrated in the Netherlands since it’s the color for the Dutch Royal Family, but it may not be as well received in other countries due to political reasons.
3. Understand Platform Perceptions
When it comes to platforms of choice, the social media landscape in Europe is divided:
Eastern Europe still uses VKontakte , similar to Facebook, with a stronghold of users in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus accounting for more than 60 million active accounts. Facebook is present here too, and its user base continues to grow in these countries, but the world’s favorite social network currently claims 12.4 million monthly active users across these three countries combined.
Facebook dominates in Western Europe, with 37 countries accounting for a total of 232.2 million active users – roughly 19% of the platform’s total global user base. As with internet penetration, Iceland also leads the way with 70% of the country’s population using Facebook in the past month. Malta puts in an impressive showing at 58%, with Scandinavian countries rounding out the rest of the top five. European Facebook users account for the lowest share of fans in the world, following an average of 12 brands. Europeans usually interact with a brand only if they have a customer service issue and they see Facebook as a quicker way to be heard and get help. Europeans also prefer to share a positive brand experience on social media rather than a negative one.
Not every country embraces the use of Twitter. German celebrities do not use the channel as much as American ones, and the character count doesn’t always work with the average length of words in their language. Most Europeans also share only with people they know, so they aren’t as open to proactively engaging with brands on Twitter. General advertising infrastructure isn’t as sophisticated outside of the U.S., and advertising revenues per user are significantly lower in Europe.
Twitter faces competition from local websites, mobile applications and services that provide real-time communications, like Whatsapp or Line. Spaniards love Whatsapp so much it’s now used as a verb here, “Whatsappeando.” JAJAJA.
Try mobile campaigns on Twitter, as that seems to be where most Europeans spend their time.
Spotify was created in Europe, and according to Kevin Brown (Spotify’s European head of media relations), of the company’s 40 million users, 10 million are paying listeners. The service is also rapidly adding users in England, with over 1 million new active listeners.
Use Spotify to your advantage by running contests or starting a collaborative playlist to give you a chance to interact with your customers and let them show off their musical tastes.
Bands, radio stations or concert venues can hold contests for fans to create a setlist for the tour and give away concert tickets to the winning playlist. Spotify had a “Selfie” station at the Bilbao BBK Live Music Festival I attended to encourage you to share your concert pictures and have fans vote for the best ones on social media using hashtags.
Your store or restaurant could start a collaborative playlist for people to suggest songs to add to your background music. Feature a few new songs from the playlist every week. Join in with your customers’ music discovery. It’s a fun way to keep your business in the front of their minds. It gives your brand more exposure by creating a memorable experience for your followers.
4. Study European History
From first-hand experience, I can tell you people are proud of their country’s history. However, Western Europe is at least two years behind the U.S. in terms of social media adaptation. Thought leaders like Gary Vaynerchuk, Seth Godin and Tim Ferriss change the status quo with their ideas for social media innovation. However, since they’re all American, Europeans seem quick to dismiss their ideas, claiming that they’ll work only in America.
Europe lacks role models to inspire among European countries due to cultural and language differences. Connect with them by learning their cultural history instead. Business owners need to immerse themselves in cultural education.
5. Get Mobile
An app or social media campaign tends to spread across its culture only, especially considering language barriers. Mobile use in Europe is three times higher than America. Learn to develop mobile apps or location-based social media marketing campaigns. Try multilingual campaigns and gauge performance. Remember, 50% of Europe is bilingual and many regions in European countries speak three languages.
Finally, ensure you include multimedia as part of your strategy by including Pinterest and Instagram.
6. Learn from European Businesses
Alexandria Ekkelenkamp, Press officer of the European Union, says they use the Dandelion model – a hub-and-spoke model that can be particularly relevant to multinational brands “where companies act nearly autonomously from each other under a common brand.” Brands can improve internal communication and the flow of information to better inform consumers’ interactions with brands.
Lilach Bullock of UK Sociable says, “When doing business in another European country, it’s important to do a little research beforehand. One of the most important things to remember is that every country is different from the next, and so you need different tactics for each one.”
Summary: Think Global, Act Local.
‘Glocalisation’ is a concept that European marketers, in particular, should understand their target markets (as seen on Hubspot). Being ‘glocal’ means creating a local adaptation of a global strategy by understanding local cultures. Hiring a local and diverse staff can make your efforts in Europe a successful strategy as well.
A lot has changed in online marketing over the last 12 weeks — here’ s your go-to resource for all the new content (in addition to your classes) at Socialmediaonlineclasses.com for 3rd quarter 2014. Bookmark this page so you can return to it when you need answers fast!
In this exclusive case study, you’ll learn how a local candy store’s appearance on national television doubled as an opportunity to learn how to make better use of social media. You’ll discover how they connect with their customers—near and far—in just a few hours a week.
Case Study: Sweet Pete’s
Based in Jacksonville, Fla., Sweet Pete’s is an all-natural confectionery founded by Pete Behringer. Pete’s mother opened a chocolate shop when he was 12, and he opened the doors to his own sweet shoppe in 2010. In addition to all-natural and organic goods, Sweet Pete’s caters to special diets with vegan, gluten-free, nut-free and other special options. They also offer classes and parties for those interested in making their own treats.
On April 1, 2014, Sweet Pete’s made an appearance on CNBC’s “The Profit” and made a deal with Marcus Lemonis to move from the Springfield neighborhood to a bigger space in downtown Jacksonville with a better kitchen and more foot traffic. The appearance generated sales and increased their following, and Sweet Pete’s maintains that momentum using social media to stay in touch with existing customers and attracting new ones.
Sweet Pete’s By the Numbers
Facebook Fans: 11,900+
Twitter Followers: 2,600+
Instagram Followers: 600
Time Spent Weekly on Social Media: 3 – 4 hours
Learn What Works and Stick with It
When they first started out with social media, Sweet Pete’s didn’t have a huge following and did their own thing when it came to social media. After their Marcus Lemonis deal, his team helped Sweet Pete’s improve their marketing efforts to their growing customer-base.
Here’s how Sweet Pete’s got their social media efforts to rake in customers:
Learned how to use social media from social media marketing experts
Computer-savvy staff who really understand social media management and execution strategy
Promoting parties, new deals, seasonal items and specials
Photos of products and the team in-action get people engaged
Short status posts that don’t demand too much time or attention
By learning from experts and paying attention to what their audience responds to, Sweet Pete’s only has to invest a few hours each week to see results. They see an increase in sales after sharing deals, parties and classes on their social networks, and giving their audience a behind-the-scenes look helps keep them engaged, especially with non-local customers who can’t visit them in-person.
They also use polls as a quick, fun way to get customer feedback and feature products in a non-pushy way:
How You Can Adapt This Case Study for Your Own Small Business
Any small or local business can learn from Sweet Pete’s strategy to improve at social media marketing and engage better with customers:
Always be professional
Allow staff with the social media knowledge and expertise to take the lead
Know your audience and pay attention to what they want
Have fun! Don’t let social media become a burden
Sweet Pete’s Efficient Approach to Social Media Marketing
Members – login to get the details on how Sweet Pete’s stays on top of their social media strategy in just a few hours a week: click here to login!
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Infographics are some of the most popular resources we offer here at Socialmediaonlineclasses.com. Here are member favorites from the first half of 2014:
Social Media for Local Business
How do you decide where to spend your time marketing your local business? So many social networks and marketing options can be overwhelming. How can you ensure you’re focusing on tactics yielding the most return on investment (ROI) for your local business? Rely on the Social Media for Local Business infographic. It reveals the eight most powerful social marketing platforms for local businesses; use it as a menu to pick and choose the ones the suit your brand.
State of Social Media for Small Business
We posed questions to Socialmediaonlineclasses.com members (almost 300 of them!) to take the pulse of social media for small business in 2014. Some results were expected, while others were shocking. All are shown in the infographic below. (Following the infographic is a brief explanation of the finding for each question)
Facebook Marketing Infographic 2014 Edition
Get your Facebook marketing infographic. Quickly tap into 1 billion customers on the world’s largest social network. The infographic helps you get better results from Facebook in 2014.
College Guide to Landing a Job
Learn how to land your dream job earning double what your peers are in the same industry. Learn from Petra, an Socialmediaonlineclasses.com member who found out the hard way: “Flunked the job interview for a dream job because I don’t have social media skills. Gonna be smarter next time!” — P. Keasberry, Socialmediaonlineclasses.com member
WordPress Build Your Website in an Hour
Learn how to create your own WordPress website (or blog) in one hour. The goal isn’t for you to race through creating your own website, but for you to learn that you can build a credible & professional website in an afternoon.
Ultimate Guide to LinkedIn Networking
How can you make sure you’re profiting from their latest changes to build a profitable network? Study the Ultimate Guide to Profitable LinkedIn Networking infographic. It outlines 64 powerful tactics in eight categories; use it as a menu to pick and choose the ones the suit you & your business.
Robert Reich, the former Secretary of Labor under the Clinton administration, posted a commentary on his tumblr blog last week about American college graduates being over-educated and under-employed:
“Too often in modern America, we equate “equal opportunity” with an opportunity to get a four-year liberal arts degree. It should mean an opportunity to learn what’s necessary to get a good job.”
Reich then continues to recommend two-year degrees at vocational schools as a common-sense approach to securing a top job that opens the door the middle class in America, without the huge debt.
The Lean Startup Approach to Education
America is widely heralded as the global hotbed of innovation using the Lean Startup method pioneered by Eric Reis: almost every major social media platform originated here, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr and more.
But where is the lean startup approach to education? If the minimum viable product (MVP) is necessary for a lean approach to business, shouldn’t a minimum viable education (MVE) be the wise approach to a career, especially in an employment landscape littered with college grads saddled with college loan debt?
How relevant will your four-year degree be in ten years, when your job no longer exists? Middle-aged journalists who once had flourishing careers at The New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal are out of work because their industry was disrupted by digital alternatives.
Isn’t a better approach to get the MVE for your first career, and then pivot your education as your career and your industry evolve?
Don’t get me wrong: I’m a lifelong learner, and I got a four-year degree when it was AFFORDABLE. I paid my entire way through college, getting Pell Grants, student loans, and juggling three jobs.
My family lived below the poverty line, and I was able to get a degree from one of the top journalism colleges in the country. But I didn’t graduate with a burden of enormous college loan debt.
Since then, I have NEVER once considered going back to a university to further my education. Why?
Because there are so many better alternatives to learning that are quicker, more up-to-date, and less expensive.
Minimum Viable Education Resources
While public and private universities in American have raised tuition every year far above the inflation rate, a more sane approach to education has been burgeoning: online learning.
Lynda.com, Skillshare, TeamTreehouse, and yes, here at Socialmediaonlineclasses.com, you can get a great education in the digital sector. Here’s a rundown of what each offers:
Pros: Classes on almost every major software application, including current and previous releases. Lynda’s classes are a wonderful fit for creative professionals, as they offer courses on photography, animation, and other creative careers. They’re also best for apps that have new releases, like Windows 11 or Photoshop CC 2014, as they debut a new class with each new release.
Cons: For social media platforms, Lynda’s classes are unable to keep up with the constant pace of changes. They also do not offer a forum or access to instructors when you have questions.
Pros: Classes on business, design, fashion, photography, film music, and technology. I’ve taken Skillshare classes, and they’re a “light” approach to online learning, with an average of three lessons for each class. They offer a multi-media curriculum and often curate their content from other sources.
Cons: Available of instructors to offer feedback to students is inconsistent: some are great, others never show up. But the low price-point of their classes makes it worth it to try out and see what you’ll learn. Some instructors are not great teachers, but are great practitioners, so you often need to be patient through long videos that could be shorter.
Cons: I was pleasantly surprised by TeamTreehouse. Their founder comes from an affiliate marketing and vitamin business background, and like so many others in the last five years, entered the online training arena when it became possible using lean startup technologies. While I have not taken a class from Treehouse (their shortened name), an SMOC intern has, and she was quite pleased with the learning platform. They offer a free trial, which I would definitely take and see if you can get feedback or help when working on a coding project.
Pros: Classes on every major social network and search engine optimization, including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+, Slideshare, WordPress, YouTube, and more. Offers a forum for questions, 1:1 coaching with its founder, as well as additional resources like infographics, bonus webinars, and case studies, all for a low price point.
Cons: Students get a certificate of completion when they finish all lessons in a class; no testing or exams are necessary. Certification is from Socialmediaonlineclasses.com, not a third-party such as the American Council on Education (ACE), as that would triple the cost of classes here. Don’t offer classes on smaller social networks like Tumblr, Reddit, Delicious, or Digg.
Get a Digital Education for Less Than One Year’s Tuition at a University
You could take classes from every provider I’ve listed here for less than one year’s tuition at a public university. You’d have a well-rounded education from the recognized providers in photography, animation, Photoshop, Adobe Creative Suite, logo design, music production, web and app development and social media.
Each provider offers a free trial so you can take a class and see if it’s a good fit. When’s the last time a university offered that?
You could have an impressive collection of skills for your resume, but how would you get the experience every employer wants?
Become an intern, an apprentice for a professional you admire, or volunteer your time for a non-profit who can sorely use your skills. You get practical experience for your portfolio and build important professional relationships that will help you find a well-paying job in your new industry.
So yes, Robert Reich, there is a better way. All made here in America, available for a global audience.