There's no better way to learn than from someone who's been successful achieving what you need to do.
In 2013, we published a comprehensive list of 13 social media marketing case studies exclusively for small business (all featured SMOC members).
As we close out 2015, I wanted to share even more, all-new case studies: 15 for 2015.
Each of the case studies below features tactics that work exclusively for small business. Each is unique: some offer infographics, other video, others checklists. But all of them offer lessons you can immediately take away and use today:
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 3rd 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.
Click on the infographic to download your own full-size pdf version
<< Click on the infographic to download your own full-size pdf version.
“Tag — you’re it!”
In a nutshell, that’s what a social media tag does: allows you to notify a friend or business you’ve mentioned them on that social network.
No, they’re not “it,” but they been talked about. And curiosity will prompt them to check out what you’ve said (good or bad).
Every major social network offers the ability to tag: who you can tag, how you do it, and the effect it has is what this guide is all about.
A tag is not a hashtag: a tag identifies a person or brand and notifies them they’ve been mentioned in a post. A hashtag is a word or phrase describing the content or context of your post and helps people find it.
In the tweet shown below, I’m linking to an infographic on how to use a Google search to find anything online. I used the tag @Google to notify them I mentioned them in my tweet; I used the hashtag #search to increase the visibility of the tweet:
@Google “taps” them on the shoulder to say “you’ve been mentioned;” #search helps people find the tweet
See the difference? A tag notifies one person/brand directly; a hashtag allows a wider group of people to find your content.
1. Tags is a @ symbol used before a name
A tag is the “at” symbol (@) preceding a person’s or brand’s name on a social network. For example, if you wanted to tag Apple’s CEO Tim Cook, you would use @Tim_Cook (Apple is conspicuously absent from Twitter, however). You’ll see over 17 screenshots of tags in this guide (scroll to see them).
2. Tags can be a person’s name
You can tag a person on every social network using the exact spelling of their name on that account. And their account name may be different on various social networks. I’m @mariapeagler on Instagram, but @sm_onlineclass on Twitter. Most social networks will display the person’s account name and avatar as you type, so you can select the correct one.
3. Tags can be a business’ name
All major social networks allow you to tag a business in your posts. However, many limit the ability of a brand to tag a person for privacy reasons (I give you all the details later in this comprehensive guide).
4. Tells them of your mention
A tag tells the person/brand that you’ve mentioned them in a post and identifies you as the person who did it.
5. They get a notification
When you’re tagged on social media, you get a message in your notifications area identifying who tagged you; click on it to see the post itself.
6. Gives people a “heads up”
A tag is literally a “heads up — you’ve been mentioned” courtesy. Social media can be a noisy, overwhelming place, and tags notify users of they’ve been named in a post in case they’ve missed it.
7. Tags are public; notifications are private
Because tags are visible in a social media post itself, anyone who has permission to see it will be able to see your tag. However, the notification you receive from the social network is private.
8. Works on personal & business accounts
Tagging works on both personal and business accounts for every major social network (Slideshare is an exception currently. However, since their purchase by LinkedIn, I expect tagging will be added as a feature soon).
You can tag Twitter users when you mention them in a tweet. A specific type of mention is called a reply. The difference between the two? I clear it up in #10 and #11
10. Mentions is a tag in tweet body
A Twitter mention is when you tag someone in the body of a tweet. When you tag another Twitter user, they’ll get a message linking to your tweet in their Notifications tab.
Mention example: I tagged author Ekaterina Walter in the body of this tweet; she got a msg linking to it in her Notifications tab
The Power of a Mention: I tagged Evernote in a tweet, which notified them. They saw it, retweeted it, and over 400K people learned of my brand in just one day.
Want to mention someone at the beginning of a tweet, but it’s not a reply? You can do that too: just type a period at the beginning of the tweet, like this Pantene did here:
11. Replies begin a tweet
A Twitter reply is usually a response to someone else’s tweet. Use a tag at the beginning of a reply; by doing so, the only people who will see it in their timeline will be those who follow both you and the other user.
Because I tagged @Ross_Behrens at the beginning of this tweet, only Ross and the people following both of us will see it
12. Use tags in tweets or photos
You can tag someone in a tweet or by tagging them in a photo you upload to Twitter. Here I uploaded an infographic to Twitter and tagged the business I featured in it by clicking on Who’s in this photo?:
13. Search Twitter using tags
You can search for a user’s tag natively on Twitter or by searching for their tag on Google. Searching for @RisingStarRes on Google search returns Lynda Spiegel (see her tag in #12).
14. Use “via @WSJ” to credit
An easy way to credit the source of content or a link in your tweet is to end it with “via @username.” So the tweet “On ‘Big Bang,’ hiding jokes are a science http://on.wsj.com/1PT0T5J via @WSJ” tags the Wall Street Journal and also gives them credit. While they use their own shortened & branded URL, most brands don’t, and this is a simple way to source them.
15. Use mentions as testimonials
An easy way to provide a public testimonial is to tweet it and tag the brand in it. Easy for you to do, and great publicity for the brand. In the tweet below, @thedreamregister offered a testimonial about her membership with Socialmediaonlineclasses.com and tagged us in it:
16. Tag up to 10 people in a photo
Tagging people in your photo? You can tag up to 10 of them on Twitter.
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.
17. Use @ in caption text
The area below the photo in Instagram is called the caption, and this is where you can tag a person or brand using the @ symbol.
18. Can use anywhere in caption
You can tag an Instagram user anywhere in the body of the caption; unlike Twitter, it doesn’t matter where it appears. The effect is the same: the user gets notification they were tagged on a post.
19. Can tag people in a photos
You can also tag other Instagram users in a photo by clicking on the image and adding their username, as shown below:
Tap the screen to add a tag to a photo on Instagram
20. Use tags to link to other Instagram accts
Old Spice created a simulated game by tagging its other accounts in an image and setting up the scenario in the caption:
Instagram created a game-like post by setting up a simulated environment and tagged its image with its other accounts as the game’s next steps
21. Tag users & add emojis
Add some extra life to your Instagram captions by tagging another user and adding emojis to reinforce your message. Instagram users love their emojis, and it gets the conversation going.
22. Use tags to showcase products
If your brand offers multiple products and each has its own Instagram account, tag them in your images. Those tags will act as a hyperlink to take users to the product accounts.
23. Host a Follow & Tag contest
Want a simple contest for Instagram? Require users to 1) follow your account, and 2) tag a friend on your post. That both gains new followers for you and generates more visibility.
24. Tag wisely using post etiquette
Instagram tends to have a lot of spam tagging and hashtags, so set yourself apart by being different: only tag those people, brands, or influencers who are relevant to your account. Don’t tag Oprah in hopes she’ll see you and promote your next book.
25. Can tag people from profile
Facebook allows you the most freedom in tagging on your personal profile: from here, you can tag both people and brands.
26. Can tag only business from biz page
From your business page, you can tag only other businesses, for privacy reasons. Remember that your Facebook posts are public, and your fans may not want their clickable tag appearing in your post.
In this Facebook post, I tagged the authors of a post I shared. I was able to tag Orbit Media Studios’ business page, they saw the post and responded to it, as did my fans. Notice this post didn’t get a huge reach — only 21 people. It didn’t need to, because it reached the right people through social media tagging:
27. Can tag people in photos
From your personal profile, you can tag both people and brands in a photo. You cannot do either from your business page. However, the UEFA Champions League cleverly gets around that restriction by telling its fans to tag themselves in this photo:
While you can’t tag a person from your business page, you can suggest your fans do it themselves
28. Can tag in comments
Tagging is also available in post comments. While you cannot tag a person from your business page, people can tag their own friends in a comment on your page or even your ad. It’s an easy way for them to share content.
Men’s Health magazine suggests tagging a friend and liking their page. From the 55,000 Likes and almost 5,000 comments, I’d say it’s working:
29. Groups can tag their members
Facebook groups allow its members to tag each other in comments, so they get notifications of when they’ve been mentioned. In large groups, this allows members to stay engaged when there are far more posts than they’ll ever be able to read.
30. Fans can tag friends in comment
An easy way to get more visibility for your posts is to encourage your fans to tag their friends in the comments on a post. SHAPE magazine does this in their squat challenge:
31. Ask fans to tag you biz in contest
Tag contests are popular on Facebook too. Good Morning America had Garth Brooks surprise a Mom at her front door on Mother’s Day, and an easy way to promote the story was by suggesting fans “tag a mom you love in the comments.” While that didn’t enter them in the contest, it did increase the viewership of and buzz around the story:
GMA gets greater visibility for their Mother’s Day contest by encourage fans to “tag a Mom you love”
32. Notifies you when tagged
No matter who does the tagging, you get notified in your Facebook menu when you’ve been tagged. It’s a smart way of cutting through the noise on Facebook to say “you’ve been mentioned!”
33. Tag using the @ symbol
Tag people and brands on LinkedIn using the @ symbol, as you do on other social network.
34. Tag in status updates or comments
You can tag LinkedIn users either in a status update or in comments on your own or others’ status updates.
35. Tag a person in your network
LinkedIn limits you to tagging only those people you’re already connected with in your network.
36. Tag a business
You can tag any business having a page on LinkedIn — no restrictions.
37. Tagged name gets notification
The LinkedIn account you tagged gets a notification in the upper right of their Main Menu.
38. Tagged name links to profile
When you add a tag to your LinkedIn status update, that tag becomes a clickable hyperlink.
39. Reply to people who tag you
It’s good etiquette to reply to people who tag you on LinkedIn. They’re providing engagement, and you want to add your voice to the conversation and say “thanks!”
This robust conversation on LinkedIn uses tags to directly address the participants
40. Great way to start conversation
Tagging is an excellent way to start an intelligent conversation or ask for input on LinkedIn.
41. Tag using the @ or + symbols
Google Plus allows you to tag other users with either the @ symbol or the + sign.
42. Can also tag using email
You can also tag someone on Google Plus using their email address. As you enter it, an autocomplete list will appear, and you can select their name from it.
43. Can tag people & businesses
You can tag both people and brands on Google Plus. You can also tag people who are not in your Circles.
44. Can tag in posts/comments
You can tag Google Plus users either in your posts or in comments (on your own post or in other’s posts).
45. Tag people in Google Photos
Photos or images you upload to Google Plus are managed by their Google Photos application, which allows you to tag both people and businesses:
46. Feature called Tag People
While Google Photos calls this feature Tag People, you can also tag a business in a photo, as shown below:
47. Tagged name gets notifications
You get notifications you’ve been tagged in an image in your Notifications icon at the top right. By clicking on it, you can see the images as well approve or reject any mentions you don’t want:
48. Choose where to receive notifications: desktop, mobile, email, sms, or push notifications
Google Plus has the largest number of notifications options of any social network: you automatically get notifications on desktop and mobile, but you can also have them delivered via email, sms on your smartphone, or by push notifications.
49. Tag using the @ symbol
Pinterest allows you to tag other users using the @ symbol: to tag me, you’d use @mariapeagler.
50. Tag in pin description
You can tag other users in the pin description, shown below the pin photo:
I was able to tag Marybeth because I follow her on Pinterest
51. Tag in pin comments
You can also tag other Pinterest users in comments on a pin. While it’s unlikely to be as robust a conversation as you would have on Twitter or LinkedIn, those users will get a notification of your tag and see your mention.
52. Can tag followers
Pinterest allows you to tag people who you follow. As I type @marybeth, Pinterest displays followers whose names match that and allows me to choose from them.
53. Can also tag businesses
Want to tag a business on your Pinterest pin? No problem! You do need to follow them first: you can tag only those brands you follow.
54. Notifies you when tagged
As with other social networks, Pinterest notifies you when you’ve been tagged either in a pin or a description.
55. Great for contest entries
Run a contest on Pinterest and require entrants to tag your brand. You gain a new follower and get notified they’ve entered your contest.
56. Cuts through visual clutter
Pinterest is overwhelming to some users because of all the visual stimulation (an artist friend says there’s just too much to look at!). So getting a notification helps to cut through the visual noise and gives a user a “heads up” when they’ve been mentioned.
57. Be innovative to grab attention
How can you be creative in using tags on social media? Can you create a “game” like Old Spice? What if you tag people or brands you mention in a blog post? Start small and have fun!
58. Tell a story using tags
Use tags to tell your brand’s story: tag your clients when you include them in a case study. Tag your vendors to recommend them. Tag influencers to say how they’ve inspired you.
59. Host contest; entrants must tag you
Tags serve multiple purposes for contests: they gain new followers for your brand, reduce the workload (since you get notifications), and gain greater visibility for your brand.
60. Use your tag in branding
Use your tag in your branding across the web. Every infographic I do (including this one for social media tagging) includes my Twitter account tag @sm_onlineclass. Make it easy for people to tag you.
61. Give credit with a tagged shout out
Impressed with an article? Tag the author. Shared a great story? Tag the person or brand it’s about. Had a great experience at a restaurant? Take a photo of your meal and tag them on Instagram. Tagging is the EZ button for testimonials and reviews.
62. Use tag on your products
Can you include a tag on your product packaging (or the product itself)?
63. Use on SWAG giveaways
If you give away promotional freebies, be sure to include your social media tag on your products. It’s a reminder of your generosity and the product/service you offer.
64. Tag relevant influencers (wisely)
Yes, I included this one before, but it bears repeating: if you’re tagging an influencer, be sure you have sufficient reason to. Don’t spam them. Be helpful, be relevant, and be authentic.
What’s your social media tag?
Click HERE to download the full-size infographic[/ninja-popup]
Every small business can brand themselves and expand their influence using social media tags.
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 tags 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 #smtagprimer.
I was skeptical myself, until I took my Chromebook to Austin for a conference.
That’s when I fell in love with it.
In this post I’m sharing why . . .
. . . and why you should consider a Chromebook for your work, studies, or personal life.
Two Laptops Destroyed in Two Months
It was heartbreaking —
My husband and I were on vacation celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary in the Florida Keys. It was gorgeous, warm, and magical . . .
. . . until he dropped his laptop (while it was in the padded case) on a tile floor. He took out his Dell laptop, tried to boot it up, and nothing happened. We removed the hard drive, sent it to a data recovery specialist, and the verdict was the data was unrecoverable.
All of my husband’s business data on that laptop was gone.
Yes, he had backups. But he also was missing three months of critical data from his business.
Two weeks previous to the death of the Dell, my son’s laptop (my old MacBook Pro) had water spilled on it.
Another laptop gone — two laptops destroyed in two months.
I was determined this was not going to happen to me.
I wanted a backup laptop I could take on vacation, to conferences, and have just in case my current MacBook Pro died.
I was not, however, willing to shell out the $2,000+ a MacBook Pro costs.
Enter the Chromebook
I had read about Chromebook laptops, which run the Chrome operating system and are manufactured by multiple companies, including Google, Toshiba, Hewlett Packard and more. The only downside is any application you run on it must be a web application, as Chromebooks are meant to run only on wi-fi and have a minimal hard drive.
Basically, they’re meant for cloud computing only.
When I analyzed the applications I use in my business, almost every single one was a web application: WordPress, Google Docs, Canva, and social networks.
I researched Chromebooks and found they top out around $300 (unless you’re considering the Google Pixel version which costs over $1,000). The Toshiba Chromebook 2 received glowing reviews, had a high-resolution display and was recommended by BusinessInsider.
I was sold. I could theoretically have a backup computer for less than $300.
Initially I used my new Chromebook in my home office only, where I have a good internet connection via DSL. I wrote blog posts on the Chromebook, posted on social media, watched YouTube videos, and was pleased with how well it performed. The only downside was I couldn’t create infographics since Pixelmator (my favorite graphics app) was Mac-only. I could use Canva.com instead, but my infographics were too complex for Canva to handle.
My love affair with it really began this month when I attended a conference in Austin. In a large hotel conference room (with no wi-fi nor enough power strips for the 300+ laptops in the room).
My Chromebook prevailed!
First, you can use Google Docs without wi-fi on a Chromebook. So it didn’t matter that we were stuck in a windowless conference room without an internet connection. I was able to take notes using Google Docs (and those notes were beautiful— tables, bullets, emojis — I took full advantage of everything Docs offers). I also updated the notes on the flight home (without wi-fi).
Second, the Toshiba Chromebook 2 has a whopping eight-hour battery life. And it’s really eight hours. I took conference notes from 9am to 5pm without ever being plugged in to a power strip. Comparatively, my MacBook Pro battery lasts only about three hours, tops.
Third, my Chromebook is small enough that it fit easily in my leather handbag. I didn’t need a separate laptop case, simplifying travel, and needing one less carry-on bag.
Fourth, in the evening at my Airb&b guest house with wi-fi, I was able to record a webinar and upload it to Vimeo, extract the audio, covert the media files, and create an infographic, all using the Chromebook. I was able to accomplish far more than I originally ever thought I could with a Chromebook.
What follows is a list of the apps I used to do accomplish all those projects, along with my other favorites:
Snagit is a much-loved desktop screen capture tool from TechSmith, that also records video. They debuted a bare-bones Chrome version last year, but I was unsure if I could record a webinar 40 minutes long using it.
Snagit automatically saved my webinar recording on Google Drive. When I went to open it, Drive asked me if I wanted to convert the file using CloudConvert.
I was game: I needed to convert the file, and had no idea how to do it using a web application. My favorite desktop conversion tool, Handbrake, wasn’t available for Chromebook.
So I tried CloudConvert and was thrilled: it converted the webinar file from an .avi to an .mp4 successfully, and reduced it significantly in size, from 272MB to 104MB (tiny for a video file).
Then I realized I needed to convert the audio from the webinar to an .mp3 audio file: could CloudConvert do that too?
No problem: it took the .avi file and extracted the audio, saving it to an .mp3 file. Brilliant! Again, the size was considerably smaller than .mp3 files I save using TechSmith’s Camtasia (my regular webinar recording tool). Those .wav files are usually over 100MB; CloudConvert’s .mp3 was only 30 MB.
Since WordPress is a web application, I didn’t anticipate any issues using it on my Chromebook. I was able to create lessons, create the webinar page and embed the webinar video and audio files on it. Smooth!
But, WordPress won’t accept a media upload larger than 2MB, so how could I upload my audio file that was 30MB?
My last major test for the Chromebook was creating an infographic. While I had read about graphic web applications like Pixlr, it was vastly different from Pixelmator, and I didn’t want to invest the learning curve in a tool I would use so infrequently.
Then it hit me: HubSpot offers free templates for creating infographics using PowerPoint. While I had never downloaded the templates, I wondered if it would be possible to create my own branded infographic using Google Slides?
I created a new slide deck with only one slide, modified the size to what I needed, and created an infographic consistent with the others I share in my members-only webinars. It had the same look & feel, and I was able to create it entirely on the Chromebook:
I was able to create this infographic entirely in Google Presentations
I already used Canva to create simple images for some of my blog posts and social media, so using it from the Chromebook wasn’t much different. While the screen on my Toshiba was smaller than my MacBook Pro, I could easily zoom in to see the areas I needed in Canva.
I use the basic free version of Evernote, so I wasn’t able to use it to take notes during the conference (no wi-fi during the day). But at night, I had wi-fi and was able to access my travel itinerary, conference details, update my To-Do List and more. I experienced no difference in using Evernote’s web application and the Mac desktop version.
As a writer, trainer, and artist, I love being creative and helping others to learn new things.
I have rarely loved math: I can do it, but it takes me longer than those for whom it’s a strength.
So I outsource my accounting. Not to a bookkeeper, not to QuickBooks (tried it, hated it), but to LessAccounting: a web-based accounting application designed for people who hate accounting.
I connect my bank accounts and PayPal, and it does the rest. It imports all of my transactions, including expenses, income, and I can create invoices from it as well.
It costs $39 a month, and it saves me hours of time every month.
I can log in from Chromebook, review and categorize my expenses (if necessary), and analyze my Profit & Loss statements, just as I could from my MacBook Pro.
A Chromebook for My Virtual Assistant
My experience with the Chromebook was so positive, that I purchased one for my VA when her old laptop began to have problems. Because I already had experience successfully using the applications core to my business from the Chromebook, I knew she would be able to do the same. I sent her an advance on PayPal, and she purchased the Chromebook in her country.
She’s thrilled with it.
As I am with mine.
I still love my MacBook Pro and use it as my primary business computer. But, if a new Chromebook debuts with a larger screen, I may make the switch permanently.
How Are You Using Your Chromebook?
It would be so great to hear how you’re using your own Chromebook (or questions about its potential). Share your tips in the comments below so others can learn what’s possible using a Chromebook.
Projects I want to try from my Toshiba Chromebook 2 are:
Recording a live webinar with attendees
Reading a Kindle book (I’ve downloaded the app but haven’t used it much yet)
Exploring its abilities I have yet to discover
I’ll keep this post updated as I learn and experience more!
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 2nd 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.
Lawyers, dentists, accountants, waste management and funeral homes are businesses you’ll see in every town across the United States.
Sexy? Absolutely not.
But . . . when you need them, you REALLY need them.
So how can you market an unexciting brand so people think about YOU first when they are ready to call, inquire, or purchase? That’s what you’ll learn in this post.
1. Grab People’s Attention
Even “sexier” brands have routine procedures and policies they have to explain — like airline safety procedures. Did you pay attention to this speech on your last flight?
No one ignores David Holmes, a Southwest flight attendendent who raps the normally monotonous speech:
Give your business the rockstar treatment. Even if you’re not in a sexy industry, you can treat it like it is.
Quilting is as far from sexy as you can get. As an author of an award-winning book on quilting, I treated my audience to an exciting treatment of my quilts: a music video. I gathered almost 100 photos of monthly quilted table runners I designed and set it to music my son arranged on GarageBand:
I gave my fans a behind-the-scenes glimpse of my creative process, from my original drawings, color palettes, and design journals, to the finished product for each month. No grannies in rocking chairs, only rockstar treatment of an unglamorous topic.
How can you do this for your brand and your industry as a whole?
2. MAKE Your Brand Exciting
Your mission is to provide your audience with an experience they cannot get anywhere else by combining your brand’s personality with the special sauce that makes your products/services unique. That formula looks like this:
BP + SS = EM
Brand Personality + Special Sauce = Exciting Marketing
Pawn Stars turns the grimy pawn shop business into a fascinating story of history and commerce
Ever watched Pawn Stars? The cable series truly makes a pawn shop look like a fascinating place where unique treasures come in every day. Pawn Stars has made celebrities of the Harrison family and their Gold and Silver Pawn Shop in Las Vegas, NV: Rick, Corey, Chumley, the “old man” Richard and their experts who provide historical perspective and valuation to each.
The truth however, is far from that. Most pawn shops are a sea of dusty video gaming systems, outdated jewelry, and power tools.
PBS’ Antiques Roadshow takes a more high-brow approach to the same topic: old stuff lingering in your basement. Their auction experts provide historical background of items you haven’t thought about in years. The clincher at the end of each segment? How much items are worth. Sometimes they’re worth nothing, other times you’ll learn a blanket is valued at over $100K.
THAT will get your attention.
3. Have a Sense of Humor
Funeral planning is last on everyone’s to-do list. But Speaks Chapel produced humorous 30-second YouTube videos that really make you think about it:
Notice there’s nothing inappropriate or morbid about this video: the humor is appropriate, and certainly gets to the point: it’s your funeral, and if you don’t plan it, someone else will.
And it likely won’t turn out to be the funeral service you had hoped for.
4. Be So Useful People Can’t Ignore You
Dave Hax’s YouTube channel provides videos demonstrating travel and lifestyle hacks. His video showing how to peel an avocado literally changed my life. I never realized it could be so easy, and I remembered his channel because the tactic was so unique:
Provide a valuable solution to someone’s real life problem, they won’t care if your brand is sexy. You helped them at the time when they needed it most.
5. Provide a Tangible Resource
Provide something tangible people can take away and use later. My infographics offer a one-page guide to topics people need in social media marketing. My audience bookmarks, downloads, and prints the infographics.
They’re even used in college courses.
Can you say “instant credibility?”
6. Make No Apologies
How do you promote a topic no one wants to talk about? A colleague in my community handles waste management for large events. Portable toilets aren’t high on anyone’s discussion list, but she has a wonderful sense of humor about her product, and she’s clear about the service her brand provides: they take care of the stuff you don’t want to.
National brand Waste Management makes their marketing all about people: their employees, their customers and their families. They’re telling a story and humanizing their brand.
Facebook post shares a video of a typical 10-hour day for a Waste Management driver
They also provide recycling and environmental tips:
The key to getting people to pay attention to your brand is to be creative: offer up your brand in a way no one has done before, and you’ll definitely get noticed.
BP + SS = EM
Brand Personality + Special Sauce = Exciting Marketing
3. Is Your Offer Right for Your Audience? [CASE STUDY]
No one wants to hear this: maybe what you’re offering isn’t right for your audience. Learn from SMOC member Lynda Spiegel’s pivot in this case study. She started earning more revenue immediately once she fine-tuned her offer to a more lucrative market — How a New York City-Based Business Pivoted for Greater Revenue:
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.
5. Does Your Website Need Fine-Tuning?
Our social media services clients often need a bit of tweaking to their websites to make them more user-friendly and helpful to visitors. This doesn’t need to be expensive or complicated, as you’ll learn in this brief video:
6. Generate 100K from Social Media Referrals [CASE STUDY]
8. Get More People into Your Brick-and-Mortar Store [CASE STUDY]
Stittsworth Meats in Minneapolis does an admirable job of using social media marketing to drive sales, and they do it quite simply. No complicated lead generation system, just down-home neighborly posts. Learn how they do it in this post — Social Media for Local Business Case Study:
9. Invest in a $50 Facebook Ad [CASE STUDY]
If you’ve improved your website, created a reputable personal brand, and have the right offer, you’re ready to invest in a small amount of advertising.
I love the resilience of Bradley Cumming in this case study. An SMOC member, Facebook gave him a few technical SNAFUs when he tried to buy an ad. But he didn’t let it stop him, and boy is he glad. He ended up making over $600 from a $50 ad (that’s 1,200% ROI for you math-heads). Learn how he did it in this post — How to Generate 1,200 ROI on a $50 Facebook Ad:
10. Get Leads Using LinkedIn
If your website is ready to make sales, then you can start sending traffic to it to generate leads. LinkedIn can be especially lucrative for this (as you saw earlier in Lynda Spiegel’s case study). Learn how to optimize your LinkedIn profile for leads in this post — 5 Ways to Rock Your Profit to Generate Leads:
11. Use Slideshare to Generate Sales
Bet you didn’t see this one coming, did you? Slideshare is a social network for presentations (as in PowerPoint, Keynote, or Google Presentations), so few people would imagine it can generate sales for you.
Whew! You just got 13 unique ways to get more sales using social media marketing, no matter what type of business you have — online, offline, B2B, B2C — it doesn’t matter. The commonalities for earning your audience’s trust, making them a credible offer, and getting them to buy from you are the same.
You did bookmark this post, didn’t you? Because you’ll be returning to it often to review where you are in your marketing journey, what improvements you can make in your process, and learn from these courageous business owners who shared their stories with me.
Which is your favorite tactic? What did you find was the biggest change you need to make to get more sales with your social media marketing? Tell me in the comments below:
I’ve waited quite a while to debut this, as I wanted it to be the best social media certificate available anywhere — university, private, online, offline — at an affordable cost.
So here are the details:
What is the Online Social Media Certificate?
It’s an online certificate program designed for people who want to be professional social media managers, for agencies who need training for their new hires, for consultants who want to add social media marketing to their services, and anyone who wants proof they are on the leading-edge of what works in social media marketing today.
The certificate program includes 56 hours of classes, webinars, articles, and a final exam. The entire curriculum is shown below (click to download the PDF):
The all-inclusive program includes classes on EVERY major social network, webinars on strategy & management, case studies, mobile marketing, visual content, and more.
Plus, you get 1:1 coaching with founder Maria Peagler, who will mentor you in your studies and in landing your dream job and/or clients.
Finally, once you pass your final exam, you can be listed in our social media certified consultants directory.
How Long Does the Program Take to Complete?
Our certificate program contains 56 hours of instruction in multimedia classes, video webinars, articles, and infographics. However, it’s completely self-paced. How long it takes you to complete depends on your skill level and experience. Some people take two hours to complete a class, others need two months. You go at your own pace. You have one full year from your date of enrollment to complete the program.
How Much Does the Program Cost?
The online social media certificate program at Socialmediaonlineclasses.com costs $897, which is all-inclusive: the entire curriculum, coaching with founder Maria Peagler, and your final exam. I’m proud to offer a superior training program at an affordable cost that doesn’t place an undue burden of student loan debt on our members.
What is Required to Earn My Certificate?
To earn your certificate, you must take a final exam which is approximately 100 questions, and score at least 75%. You have only one opportunity to take the exam and pass it. You can purchase additional opportunities to take the exam for $150 each.
How is Your Certificate Program Different Than Those Offered Elsewhere?
Excellent question, and I’m glad you asked! Our program is unique in these ways:
entire curriculum is up-to-date with what works NOW in social media marketing, not six months ago or last year
you get 1:1 coaching every month with founder Maria Peagler
you learn how to get ROI on every major social network for your clients
you learn from a teacher who DOES social media marketing every day to earn her full-time living
you learn search engine optimization, mobile marketing, visual content, and other topics not covered by other programs
all this at a cost not requiring you to take out student loans
Why Do I Need to Renew My Certificate?
Because social media marketing changes so quickly, it’s imperative that your skills reflect the latest tactics, techniques, and strategies that work for social networks as they operate now, not as they did last year. And employers and clients need to know that your skills are up-to-date.
Most major certifications require retraining, including CPR, lifeguarding, and other critical skills.
When you renew your certification for $150 each year, you get access to the entire curriculum for an additional three months so you can update your skill set.
When Can I Start?
Right now. Our program is live, and you can proudly earn & display your certificate within 30 days when you enroll today.
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.
For small business owners, searching Google is an important tactic for competitive research, finding the best tools, and solutions for problems.
But, getting the results you can actually use is tricky. Fortunately, today I’m showing you my seven secrets for finding ANYTHING using a Google search. These are the tactics I use most often to refine the results Google displays when I’m searching.
Here’s the one-page infographic, with each tactic explained in more detail below:
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Let’s get started —
1. Search for an Exact Phrase
Google search is smart, but it’s not human-brain smart, so you need to be able to tell it exactly what you’re looking for. For example, if want to find social media online classes, and type that in the Google search field, it will return anything using those words in any order (and sometimes the results don’t use every one of those words). You often get content that’s only remotely related to what you truly need.
Instead, when you need to see only those results using an exact phrase, surround the phrase in quotes, like this:
Then, Google will return ONLY those results using those words together in that exact order.
2. Search for a Phrase in Any Order
Sometimes you just want to do a general search and see what’s out there. It’s not important in what order the words appear, but you do want all of them to be included in the results. Then you surround your search phrase in brackets:
Google will return a much broader variety of results than the search done in quotes. I use this search when I’m early in my research and want to see the breadth of content available on my topic. It’s important that all those terms appear in the results, but not necessarily in that order.
3. Search within a Specific Website
This is one of my favorite Google search tactics.
When I’m looking for results that appear on a certain website only, I can limit my search using the site: parameter, as shown below:
This is the search I do most often, as Google search is far smarter than any search option a website offers for its own content. I use it to search for content with social networks, on a specific website like Zapier.com or neilpatel.com, and Google returns only those results from that website only.
Notice I included the word “journalist” in quotes. That way Google shows me only results on Twitter using the word journalist. It doesn’t matter where it appears: it could be it a tweet, in the twitter account name or bio, but journalist will appear somewhere on Twitter to be included in those Google search results.
4. Limit Your Search Results to Only Those within the Last Year
Every time Google returns search results, it offers a toolbar allowing you to refine your results. If you select Search Tools>>Any Time, you can then select from a specific time frame. It could be within the last 24 hours, the last week, month, or year, or you can specify a custom date range.
This is really important when I’m search for only the latest results, as what worked online two years ago doesn’t necessarily work today.
5. Search for Images
I extremely selective about who I trust with content online. These days, everyone’s a publisher, but not necessarily a quality one. One of the big differentiating factors that separates the high-quality content from the rest is their images.
So I LOVE using Google Image search. It allows me to separate the quality results from the dregs that appear in my search results.
It’s easy to do: just do a regular Google search, then when Google returns the results, click on Images.
You immediately see which images are high-quality, and which are, frankly, crap.
Other times, you truly need an image: a checklist, an infographic, or a blueprint. And only an image will do.
Google Image search is the trick!
6. Find Something Similar to
Quite often I find that Google will return results that are close, but not exactly what I need. So, here’s my all-time favorite search tactic. Use the related: search parameter. It will find those results that are the most similar to what you’ve specified.
For example, I tried out Piktochart, an online application for creating infographics. While it was great, it wasn’t exactly what I needed, and I wasn’t able to find what exactly what I wanted. So, I used this Google search:
I then saw all the related tools and resources I could use for creating infographics that might better serve my needs. I have found little-known resources on the web using this tactic. Sometimes it’s not necessarily the best-known resources that serve your need, but using this search parameter, you can find those that best fit you & your business.
7. Search for a Video
Just as you can search Google for an image, you can also search for a video to show you exactly how to do something. What Google returns are the most popular YouTube videos for your search topic. I do have one caveat for this search: the most popular videos are not always the best. I don’t use this search tactic a lot, because frankly the results are not always quality videos.
But, it’s a place to start.
To find results in videos only, do a normal Google search, then click on Videos, as shown below:
Google returns videos that address the topic you’re looking for. It’s a place to start find the solution to whatever problem you have, right now.
An important note: these tactics will work in ANY search engine, not just Google. They work on Bing, Yahoo, Duck Duck Go, you name it. So bookmark this page, download the infographic and share it. You just became an online search ninja for your business.
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:
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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.