Category Archives for "YouTube"

Feb 17

The Ultimate Guide to Hashtags [INFOGRAPHIC]

By Maria Peagler

Click to download a full-size version of the infographic

<< Click on the infographic to download your own full-size version.

Hashtags are ONE constant in an ever-changing social media world. So what are they and how can they help you in your online marketing?

Rely on the Ultimate Guide to Hashtags infographic and this blog post, where I demystify the hashtag and everything you ever wanted to know about it but didn’t know to ask. Browse the explanations of each tactic, why it’s important, and what it can do for you.

Remember to share this infographic with your own network, using the #hashtagprimer hashtag.

Definition

 

definition

 

1. Hashtag is a # symbol used before a word

The hashtag is the pound symbol (#) preceding a word used online, in television, and in print media. For example, the hashtag #BreakingBad identifies the television show and would display on-screen during episodes.

2. Hashtags were created by users on Twitter

Hashtags were invented by Twitter users who were frustrated over the lack of a robust search feature to find tweets based on topics they were interested in.  Creating the hashtag made it easier to search Twitter for topical content.

3.  Hashtags offer a simple way to organize & search for content

Hashtags provide an excellent way to make your posts easily found by others. For example, #SXSW15 identifies a post about the South by Southwest conference in Austin for 2015, making it easy to find tweets about the event, who’s attending, and more.

4.  Twitter turns a hashtag into a hyperlink

Twitter turns each hashtag into a hyperlink that, when clicked, will show all the recent tweets for that hashtag.  It’s a great way to see what others are saying about that topic and to find people with common interests.

5.  Hashtags are popular with the media and fans

All types of media — online, network, cable, and print — quickly adopted the hashtag and use it encourage fans to tweet about live events and shows.  You’ll often see a hashtag at the bottom of the screen when watching your favorite show.

6.  Hashtags help to brand your messaging

Hashtags provide an easy to way to brand your content, whether using your own hashtag or one identifying it with a popular trend. Look at how four different brands use variations of the #superbowl hashtag to brand their tweets:

the ultimate guide to hashtags

The NFL and the SuperBowl use the official #SB49 hashtag for SuperBowl 49

 

The ultimate guide to hashtags

AdAge uses the standard #superbowl hashtag to brand their article

 

ultimate guide to hashtags

StubHub created their own hashtag #SuperBall, branding an event surrounding the SuperBowl

 

Tips like these and significantly more are covered in Socialmediaonlineclasses.com

7.  Hashtags can provide colorful commentary

Using just the right hashtag can give your message a completely new twist. #awkward, #winning, and #fail add an ironic twist to a tweet, such as “Best hashtag ever for an @NFL press conference #flexball #fail,” when the Gillette Flexball was shown on the backdrop of the Patriots “deflate-gate” press conference: scrn_2015-01-22_05-36-54_PM

8.  Use local hashtags

Using a local hashtag for your city  makes it easy for people to identify where you’re located, and easy to find you in search results.  Using a hashtag like #ATL, #NYC, #LA, #CHI, and others immediately give your tweet its own “geolocator.”

Where to Use Hashtags

 

where_to_use

 

9. Twitter is the king of hashtags, especially #FF FollowFriday

Twitter is the dominant network for using hashtags. It’s where the hashtag was born, raised, and continues to thrive.  Twitter etiquette is to use one, two, or at most three hashtags.  Any more than that is #overkill.

10. Facebook started recognizing hashtags in 2014

Facebook jumped on the hashtag bandwagon in 2014, and now allows its users to search using hashtags.  Similar to Twitter, the etiquette here is to use one to three hashtags at the end of a post.  More than that is seen as spamming your fans. Note: In the past, Google has shown Facebook hashtagged content in its search results, as shown in the image below. This screen shot is from 2014, and as of 2015, they have discontinued it; but with Google, you never know if it will pop up again:

google indexes facebook results

Google displayed hashtag search results from Facebook & Twitter, as shown here. Clicking on the Facebook entry took you to the search results within it, as shown in the screen below

facebook hashtags linked on google

11. Instagram users make serious use of multiple hashtags

If hashtags originated on Twitter, Instagram users win the award for overuse of them. It’s not unusual to see Instagram posts with up to 25-30 hashtags, making the image easily found when people search. I don’t recommend using that many:  3-5 well-researched hashtags for your topic are certainly #enough.

Oprah uses just one hashtag to promote her upcoming cruise. But the commenter "spamming" her post is using far more.

Oprah uses just one hashtag to promote her upcoming cruise. But the commenter reaching out to her post is using far more (for his own purposes)

 

12.  Google+ automatically assigns hashtags to your posts based on your content

Google+ is unique from every other social network for this one reason: it assigns your posts hashtags based on the content in them.  You can still use hashtags of your own in the post, but if you don’t, Google+ tries its best to give your post at least one hashtag based on the words you used in the post.

Notice my post doesn't contain a single hashtag, but Google+ assigned it the #webinar hashtag based on its content

Notice my post doesn’t contain a single hashtag, but Google+ assigned it the #webinar hashtag based on its content

 

13.  Pinterest unofficially recognizes hashtags

Pinterest doesn’t natively use hashtags, but many people use multiple hashtags at the end of their pin description as a way to get found in search. Why not? It can’t hurt.

14.  Google displays the results of a hashtag used in search

If you search Google using a hashtag, it returns results from social networks and website/blog content.

google returns hashtag results in search

A Google search for #sm returns results from social networks and the web

 

15.  Tumblr users tag their content using hashtags

Tumblr bloggers use hashtags to identify their content, make it easily found in search, and add it to what Tumblr calls a “tag channel.” According to Pete Cashmore of Mashable, “Tumblr is getting into the real-time search game, allowing users to contribute to a tag channel and find others who share their interests. It’s a move that makes Tumblr more public: in its early days it was a fairly closed community.”

In Socialmediaonlineclasses.com, you get classes on every major social network, infographics, webinars, and 1:1 coaching with me. I hope to see you inside Socialmediaonlineclasses.com.

How to Use Hashtags

 

how_to_use

 

16. Don’t use spaces in hashtags

If your hashtag is more than one word or a phrase, omit the spaces between the words, as shown below in #17.

17. #socialmedia not #social media

If you want to use the hashtag for social media, the correct usage is #socialmedia, not #social media. You can also use the abbreviation #sm instead.  However, be sure to research if you’re using the correct abbreviation.  Many hashtags use the same acronym, and you want to be directing people to the right content.

18. Use hashtags at the end of a message

While a hashtag helps to identify your content, it isn’t critical to conveying your message, so use it at the end of your message.  You don’t want to force people to wade through multiple hashtags to get to the heart of your tweet or post. twitter hashtags end of msg

19.  Abbreviate long phrases

Hashtags are especially helpful on Twitter and Instagram where you have limited space, so it makes sense to abbreviate your hashtag if it’s a long phrase.

scrn_2015-02-03_01-09-40_PM

Coca-Cola uses the abbreviation #MLK in their Instagram post about Martin Luther King Jr. Day

 

20.  #tbt for Throwback Thursday and #FF for Follow Friday

Throwback Thursday, or #tbt, is a social media tradition of posting a photo from a previous era (think 70’s bell bottoms or the 80’s ripped t-shirts). Follow Friday, or #FF, is a Twitter tradition of listing people whom you recommend others follow for their great tweets.

scrn_2015-02-03_01-04-53_PM

Johnathan uses #FF for Follow Friday to give his post context: these are the people he recommends you follow (and shows that rules are made to be broken, like using hashtags at the beginning of a post!)

 

21.  Create your own hashtags

There’s no rule about who creates or owns a hashtag (even though Coca-Cola is trying to trademark a couple), so feel free to brand your business by creating your own hashtag.

I branded my Slideshare presentation with #college2career to immediately identify it's purpose

I branded my Slideshare presentation with #college2career to immediately identify it’s purpose

 

22.  Audi created #WantAnR8

A great example of not only creating your own hashtag but building a buzz around product demand is Audi’s #WantAnR8 campaign. Audi, its dealers, owners, and wannabe owners all use the hashtag: scrn_2015-02-03_01-36-51_PM

23.  Use at events #SXSW15

A widely adopted use of hashtags is at events: conferences, sporting events, and concerts. South by Southwest uses the hashtag #SXSW15, abbreviated with the current year’s event. Simply use the hashtag in your post making it easy for others attending or shadowing the event to follow what’s happening.

24.  Learn popular hashtags

It’s important that you understand the most popular hashtags in your industry. Every field from accounting to consumer goods to schools and universities use hashtags to brand their messages.  The best way to learn which hashtags are appropriate for your market is to follow industry leaders on social media and observe how they use them, and which hashtags appear frequently.

Examples of Innovative Hashtags

 

examples

 

25. #RT gives a shout out on Twitter as a retweet

One of the most common hashtags is #RT on Twitter, which is a retweet of someone’s tweet you liked. It’s considered a recommendation of their post, and some of the most retweeted content are funny and ironic tweets.

26. #NYC, #ATL, #austin all identify cities in a tweet

Use a local hashtag to identify yourself or your brand as being located in a city and proud of it!

27.  Fashionistas use #ootd to show off their “outfit of the day”

Beauty and fashion bloggers use the #ootd hashtag to share their outfit of the day. It’s a great way for readers to find fashion inspiration, and the bloggers gain new followers.

28.  #socialmedia, #entrepreneur

Hashtags identifying your industry are a great way to give context to a post. #socialmedia and #entrepreneur are just two of the hundreds of hashtags that identify yourself and your content as relevant to your field.

29.  Television encourages viewer engagement for #breakingbad, #idol, #xfactor

Television shows commonly display their hashtag on screen during an episode, encouraging viewers to live tweet about the show.  Networks often generate more buzz by making the show’s stars available afterward to chat with viewers on twitter.

30.  Recommend colleagues with Follow Friday #FF on Twitter

A Twitter tradition is to recommend new followers, colleagues, and those you admire by tagging them with the Follow Friday hashtag. The tweet “#FF @MarketingMel @PattyFarmer @EbonyLove @EkaterinaWalter awesome #interviews” would recommend those entrepreneurs as people I’ve interviewed and recommend.

31.  Hashtags help raise awareness and funding for #curechildhoodcancer

Hashtags aren’t limited to for-profit brands. Causes like #curechildhoodcancer have run highly successful fundraising campaigns using a branded hashtag. One of the most successful non-profit campaigns was the #icebucketchallenge for ALS in 2014.

32.  Charlie Sheen’s #winning is best known, most ironic hashtag #fail

Probably the most ironic, and well-known hashtag is #winning, used by Charlie Sheen during his personal meltdown. What #hashtag do you want your brand to be known for?

Branding Your Business with Hashtags

 

branding

 

33. Southwest paints #bagsflyfree on their airplanes

Southwest is famous for not charging travelers for checking a bag, so they display the #bagsflyfree hashtag in big bold letters ON their planes.  Where better to advertise than at the airport to travelers who DID pay to check their luggage?

Happy customers love to share their Southwest #bagsflyfree experience

Happy customers love to share their Southwest #bagsflyfree experience

 

34. Lancome encouraged celebrated their clients with #BareSelfie

While Dove is famous for using real women in their television and print ads, Lancome brilliantly encouraged women to take a selfie without makeup and tag it #BareSelfie, as part of a marketing campaign for a new serum. It generated 500 photos with the hashtag, and website sales were converting at four percent.

35.  Lexus teamed with Instagrammers with #LexusInstaFilm

Lexus collaborated with over 200 Instagrammers to generate a stop motion film using Instagram photos. Tagged with #LexusInstaFilm, the campaign generated 1,000 new followers on the social network.

36.  Coke so successful with #smilewithacoke they’ve applied for a trademark

Generations fondly remember commercials & jingles singing Have a Coke and a smile, and the newest version for the 21st century is #smilewithacoke. Now they’re applying for a trademark to protect it.

37. LiquidWeb hosting offers helpful #lwtips on Twitter

One of the best ways to connect with potential customers is by being helpful, and LiquidWeb hosting does that on Twitter by offering #lwtips

38.  LinkedIn encouraged users to predict what the year would bring #BigIdeas2015

LinkedIn tapped into the “new year, new predictions” habit of many bloggers and thought leaders with their #BigIdeas2015 hashtag.  They started the post series with big names like Richard Branson, then encouraged their users to write their own LinkedIn posts using the hashtag: #bigideas2015 linkedin hashtag

39.  Dell computers sets up #DellLounge at industry trade shows

At its major trade shows, Dell Computers sets up an elaborate lounge for people to stop by, see their latest innovations, and take photos of themselves tagged #DellLounge.  They team up with movie studios to show their movies on Dell computers, with charities who need exposure, and more, all in the lounge. They make #DellLounge a social destination at trade shows. Their marketing strategy is brilliant, resulting in trade show attendees generating massive buzz for Dell.

40.  Who doesn’t love to share about a Wendy’s #Frosty?

Do customers love your products and share them with their friends? Then create a hashtag for them! Wendy’s uses the #Frosty hashtag on Twitter to announce the proceeds of coupon books going to the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption: wendy's #frosty hashtag

Hashtag Etiquette

 

etiquette

 

41. Use relevant hashtags

Stick to hashtags that are topical to your content. Don’t resort to “hashtag spam” by using hashtags that are popular but have nothing to do with your message.

42. Twitter etiquette allows one to three hashtags

Since a tweet is a brief 140 characters, limit your hashtags to only those most relevant to your content: from one to three hashtags.

43.  Instagram reigns with up to 30 hashtags

Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags per image (yes, really).  Why you need that many is frankly beyond me, unless you’re trying to over-promote yourself. It’s not unusual to see Instagram images with 10 – 20 hashtags.

44.  Use hashtags at the end of your message

The most important element of your message is the content, whether text or visual. So don’t force people to wade through your sea of hashtags to get to the good stuff — because they likely won’t.

45.  Keep hashtags short

As much as I would love to use my brand name in a hashtag, #socialmediaonlineclasses.com is just too long. So I stick to #sm or #socialmedia. Some Instagrammers use long hashtags like #curlyhairdontcare, but they’re often tagging personal photos instead of brand images.

46.  Use them to brand your content

No matter what social network you’re using, you can use hashtags to brand your content. I’m using #hashtagprimer for this post, and LinkedIn used #BigIdeas2015 for their post series.

47.  Use hashtags to brand your event

Event marketing routinely takes advantage of a hashtag to promote the event, the people speaking & attending, as well as the great images and takeaways attendees love to share.  Make sure that your guests know the appropriate hashtag to use at the event by announcing it at the beginning of each session.

48. Use hashtags to brand contests and run them across multiple platforms

YesToCarrots ran a great promotion called #YesToColor, and announced it via email. I received this email from them asking customers who had purchased from their online store to enter the contest and use the hashtag #YesToColor.  Notice they did not specify which social network or online platform to use.  It didn’t matter.  They could search for the hashtag using Google, HootSuite, SproutSocial, or other social media marketing management tools to find all the entrants and the buzz they generated: #yestocolor hashtag contest

Search Using Hashtags

hashtag search

49. Makes content easy to find

Want to find the latest entries in Jimmy Fallon’s hashtag of the week? Search Twitter for it or click on the hashtag from Twitter to see the entries.  Here are the tweets for #WhyImSingle (the hashtag for Valentine’s Day):

A Google search displays the results for the #whyimsingle hashtag

A Google search displays the results for the #whyimsingle hashtag

scrn_2015-02-13_03-23-38_PM

See a tweet with the #whyImsingle hashtag? Click on it and Twitter shows you all the tweets using it

 

50. Use hashtags in search engines

Notice I searched Google for the #WhyImSingle hashtag? It shows me the results not just on Twitter, but across the web from sources like HuffingtonPost, YouTube, Tumblr and more. Doing a hashtag search from a search engine doesn’t limit you to one particular social network, so it’s great for finding hashtags across platforms.

51.  Search for content within a social network using a hashtag

Looking for a hashtagged post within a social network? Most let you search within the platform for hashtags. The results will vary by network and their privacy policies. For example, Facebook will return hashtagged content from people you’re friends with and public pages.  You won’t see hashtagged content from people you aren’t friends with.

52.  Hashtags are clickable in almost every major social network

Just as I clicked on #whyImsingle in Twitter, you can do the same to find inspiration for #weddingbouquets in Pinterest. In fact, you can click on a hashtag from almost every social network and it will display posts using it: scrn_2015-02-13_03-38-41_PM

53.  Find messages across online channels

Searching for a hashtag from a search engine returns results from multiple online channels, not just social networks, as shown in #49 and #50.

54.  Motivated users find you

Hashtags make it dead simple for people looking for your brand or content to find you. Be sure to clearly announce which hashtags you’re using and people will find a path to your brand.

55.  Great for contest entries

Running a contest but don’t want to limit it to just a single social network? No problem. Tell contest entrants to tag their #entry using your hashtag, and you can search for them in Google, Bing, Hootsuite, or other social media management tool.  You’ll get more buzz and more entries.

56.  Use in email & chat to make topics easier to find

While you don’t get any marketing buzz from this tactic, some people do use hashtags for their own purposes in email and chat.  Using a hashtag #Introduction in the subject line of an email makes it much easier to find later than searching for “introduction” which will likely return too many results.

Marketing Using Hashtags

 

marketing

 

57. Brand your contests using a hashtag

Follow the excellent example from YesToCarrots in tactic #48: brand your contest using a unique hashtag. It immediately makes the contest buzzworthy. They were able to run the contest across multiple social networks, allowing customers to post where it was easy for them, all using the same hashtag.

58. Hashtags provide cohesive cross-platform messaging

Every social network has its own etiquette and rules: Twitter is limited to 140 characters while there’s almost no limit for Facebook. Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags while Twitter discourages more than three. By using a single hashtag for your marketing campaign, you can follow those guidelines and still successfully brand your message.

59.  Use in visual content: images, video

Smart brands use hashtags even in their visual content, like images and video (notice #hashtagprimer on the infographic on this blog post?). While it’s not searchable or SEO-worthy, it does provide a cohesive marketing message, and educates your audience on the proper hashtag to use when mentioning your brand on social media.

The Nobel Prize organization branded this video of Patti Smith signing Bob Dylan’s Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall with the hashtag #NobelPrize:

60.  Let people tell their stories

The best writing & marketing tells just enough to get people motivated to tell their own stories.  Fiction authors know this, and often leave out important details in a story to let readers form their own stories and meaning.  Do the same with your marketing: people had diverse reasons for #IWantAnR8, but the sentiment was the same.  Why they wanted one was the power of that marketing campaign (tactic #22).

61.  Domino’s #LetsDoLunch offered a discount for all customers

Domino’s UK ran a savvy hashtag promotion: for every customer who tweeted #LetsDoLunch within a specific timeframe, they took one pence off the price of a pizza. The resulting price went from £15.99 to £7.74 ($24.56 to 11.89), and everyone else ordering during that time got the discount too (including people who didn’t tweet). The key to success was a group effort and a sizable resulting discount.

62.  Know your reputation: #McDStories

Before you run a hashtag promotion, be clear on what your brand reputation is.  If you have too many negative stories for customers to tell, don’t encourage them. McDonalds asked people to share their #McDStories on Twitter, and the result was horror stories of disgusting food and terrible service.  What they had hoped to be a successful hashtag promotion turned into a bashtag fest.

63.  Use on SWAG giveaways

If your business gives away great SWAG, brand the items with a hashtag, motivating the lucky recipients to thank you publicly on social media.  You’ll likely see lots of photos and happy people with your giveaways.

64.  Identify your brand as local

Know the phrase, “all politics is local?” The same can be said for business: “all business is local.” Take advantage of your brick-and-mortar location by identifying your brand as local using a hashtag. If you’re traveling on business or doing a promotional tour, definitely use the hashtags for the cities you’ll be visiting.

What hashtags are a fit for your small business? Are you using them?

[ninja-popup ID=16864] Click HERE to download the full-size infographic[/ninja-popup]

Every small business has a tremendous opportunity to increase their visibility using the simple hashtag.

Go through this post again and identify which tactics best fit your business. You don’t have to completely change the way you market your brand; instead, simply start using a hashtag in your social media posts, visual content, and contests.

Use this infographic as a “to do list” of tactics, and experiment with a few to see which ones generate the most buzz and results for your brand. Don’t forget to let me know which ones worked for you, using the hashtag #hashtagprimer.

Share this #hashtagprimer Infographic On Your Site

social media strategy template
Feb 10

Social Media Strategy Template: Develop Your Social Media Strategy in 60 Seconds [Version 2.0]

By Maria Peagler

[UPDATED FOR 2016] — download your free social media strategy template and worksheet, and learn how to develop your unique social media marketing strategy for your business.

social media strategy template

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.

Identify your potential customers down to their:

  • age
  • sex
  • education level
  • income level
  • what publications they read
  • what websites they visit
  • what their budget is
  • are they local or nationwide

Use the Social Media Strategy Template and Spreadsheet as your guide to identify your target audience (link is to my free Social Media Strategy class).

 

2. What Are Your Goals?

Don’t know?

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:

  1. Grow my business
  2. Increase my sales
  3. 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).

social media strategy template spreadsheet

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

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.

If you need help identifying which social network is best for your business, take this 60-second quiz to find out.

4. When Will You Communicate?

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:

scrn_2014-11-19_09-43-03_AM1

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:molly mcgrory branding

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:

  1. what you need to learn to do your social media marketing
  2. what tools you need to use
  3. who is responsible for doing your social media marketing
  4. how will you measure success

 

my favorite business books
Jan 06

My Favorite 15+ Books for Small Business Owners

By Maria Peagler

my favorite business books

What’s the one thing profitable business owners have in common?

They’re lifelong learners.

After all, if you generate profits in your business year after year, you need to stay up-to-date on your industry, how business practices change, and how to stay current.

As an author, I’m a voracious reader, not only of fiction, but non-fiction business books. Today I’m sharing with you those business books that helped the bottom line of my business.

415-zyGlFSL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_1.  Less Doing More Living

Author: Ari Miesel

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.

Favorite Highlight

“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.”

41Qn40zaexL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_2.  The Checklist Manifesto

Author:  Atul Gawande

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.

Favorite Highlight

“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.”

download3.  Anything You Want

Author: Derek Sivers

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.

Favorite Highlights

“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.”

51HtHc4sTvL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_4.  12 Week Year

Author: Brian Moran

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.

Favorite Highlight

“In 12 week planning, you identify the top one to three things that will have the greatest impact, and pursue those with intensity.”

515vWYjaFzL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_5.  The First 20 Hours

Author:  Josh Kaufman

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.

Favorite Highlight

“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.”

41Jl9XR0HqL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_6.  4 Hour Chef

Author: Tim Ferriss

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.

Favorite Highlight

“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.”

41O9Zptxu7L._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_7.  168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think

Author: Laura Vanderkam

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.

Favorite Highlight

“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.”

download (1)8.  Delivering Happiness

Author: Tony Hsei

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.

Favorite Highlight

“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.”

51gn6AuFkNL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_9.  The Lean Startup

Author: Eric Ries

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.

Favorite Highlight

“Success is not delivering a feature; success is learning how to solve the customer’s problem.”

10. Mastering Evernote

Author: Brandon Collins

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.

Favorite Tip

Add most-used notes to the the shortcut bar so you don’t have to search for them repeatedly.

download (2)11.  Moonwalking with Einstein

Author: Joshua Foer

Summary

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.

Favorite Highlight

“The more we pack our lives with memories, the slower time seems to fly.”

51GWfhjxetL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_12.  The Stupidly Simple Way to Backup

Author: Christian O. Schilling

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!

Favorite Highlight

“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).”

download (3)13. The Power of Visual Storytelling

Authors: Ekaterina Walter and Jessica Gioglio

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.

Favorite Highlight

 “. . . usage of visuals has resulted in a social media era that rewards creativity.”

download (4)14. Thinkertoys

Author: Michael Michalko

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.

Favorite Technique

Lotus Blossom Diagramming

download (5)15.  The Ultimate Sales Machine

Author: Chet Holmes

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.

Favorite Highlight

“The key to being productive is to stick to the six most important things you need get done that day. “

illust-ebook16. 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.

Favorite Highlight

“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!

100 social media resources 2014 post
Dec 16

100+ Social Media Marketing Resources from 2014

By Admin Tester

100 social media resources 2014 post

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.

Enjoy!

Social Media Strategy

  1. My Social Media Presentations, Templates and Videos
  2. First 100 Days of 2013 Challenge: Creating a Social Media Action Plan
  3. Marketing Infographics on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Social Media Strategy & More
  4. The Ultimate Guide to Productivity Tools for Small Business
  5. How to Automate Your Social Media Marketing: Webinar, Slide Deck, Audio & Infographic*
  6. Content Generation Infographic
  7. How to Give Thanks to Your Audience Using Social Media
  8. Where is Your Most Profitable Network Hiding?
  9. Social Media Engagement Swipe File
  10. How a Local Business Uses Social Media as Their ONLY Marketing
  11. How to Avoid Freebie Seekers in the Sharing Economy
  12. 7 Surprising Secrets I Learned from Beauty Vloggers
  13. What Millennials Need to Know About Social Media for Business
  14. Which Tool is Best for Scheduling Social Media Posts for Multiple Clients?*
  15. How to Write a Press Release That Doesn’t Get Ignored*
  16. How to Find Your Most Profitable Marketing
  17. How to Use Hashtags Across Social Networks*
  18. What You Need to Know BEFORE You Do Social Media Marketing in Europe
  19. How to Go on Vacation without Abandoning Your Business
  20. What’s New in Social Media: 3rd Quarter Round-Up
  21. How We Wecome You at SMOC (or How to Onboard Your Clients)
  22. Beyond Strategy: How’s Your Social Media Execution?
  23. Why Your Social Media Marketing Isn’t Generating Revenue
  24. How to Rebrand Yourself and Launch a New Career
  25. The One Thing You Should Do on Social Media Every Day
  26. Online Training for Different Learning Styles: Social Media Training
  27. The Learn Startup Approach to Education in America: Minimum Viable Education
  28. New Cheat Sheets in Your Swipe File
  29. Learn How to Build Your Own Stock Photo Library Using Your iPhone
  30. Most Popular Articles from the First Half of 2014
  31. Our Top Presentations — Get ‘Em Here!
  32. This Surprising Social Network Outperforms All Others*
  33. Want Us to Do Your Social Media?  We Do That!
  34. The State of Social Media for Small Business
  35. Great Hashtag Contest by YesToCarrots
  36. The Ultimate Guide to Social Media for Local Business
  37. How Can I Rebrand My Business?*
  38. What’s a Good Click-Through Percentage?*
  39. Small Business Websites Live or Die by These Reviews*
  40. How to Get Your Business in Front of 10,000 Visitors Every Month*
  41. Advice on Starting a Local Social Media Marketing Business**
  42. Unified Social Media Strategy: Content+Website+Social+SEO+Email
  43. Help! How Do I Market a Painful Business (Literally!)?*
  44. Redesigned Social Media Strategy Class: 2014 Edition
  45. Download Your Online Marketing Multi-Tool Bonus
  46. Have You Updated Your Marketing Strategy Yet?
  47. How to Use Infographics to Increase Your Search Engine Rank*
  48. Online Marketing Multi-Tool*
  49. Never Again Be at a Loss for Your Next Blog Post*
  50. Create Your Own Branded Images*
  51. Your First Online Store: Webinar, Audio, Slide Deck & Infographic
  52. 2014′s Best Social Media Marketing Infographics
  53. New Cheat Sheets in Your Swipe File
  54. What to Look for in Online Social Media Training
  55. How to Write a Blog Post in 10 Minutes Flat
  56. Press Release Template*
  57. How to Allow Visitors to Submit Blog Posts & Images to your Blog*
  58. How a #1 Local Business Monetizes Social Media Marketing
  59. Most Effective Way to Pitch a Guest Post to Top Bloggers*

Facebook

  1. Facebook Marketing Infographic
  2. How to Reach More of Your Facebook Fans and Get Higher Engagement
  3. How Facebook Just Made Your Life Easier*
  4. How Often Should I Post to Facebook in 2014?*
  5. How to Get Double Duty from Every Facebook Post*
  6. What Facebook ISN’T Telling You About Its Latest Business Page Redesign
  7. HUGE Facebook News: Google Search Now Links to FB Posts Using Hashtags
  8. How to EASILY Increase Your Facebook Post Reach*
  9. How to Create a Facebook Timeline with a Clickable Button*
  10. New Timeline Design Goes LIVE this Week — Are You Ready?*
  11. Facebook 2014 Changes — What You Need to Know*
  12. Website Images Won’t Appear on Facebook Post Links*
  13. How to Find Which Apps You Have Installed on Facebook*
  14. Facebook Like Box *
  15. How to Boost a Post, Create an Ad Using FB Ad Manager*
  16. The Most Successful Small Business Advertiser on FB*
  17. Facebook’s Changes to Business Page Timelines & NewsFeeds*
  18. How to Stay on Top of Facebook’s Latest Changes*
  19. Facebook Changes 2014 Checklist *
  20. Five New Videos in Facebook 101*
  21. How Can I Ensure My Facebook Posts Are Seen by the Public?*
  22. How Do I Ask My FB Friends to Like My Page?*
  23. New Videos in Facebook 101*
  24. Contests & Fundraising on Facebook*
  25. Facebook Doesn’t Offer a Category for My Business?  What to Do?*
  26. Facebook 103 is Entirely New for 2014*
  27. How to Generate 1,200% ROI on a $50 Facebook Ad
  28. Easy Facebook Ads on a Budget
  29. Facebook Primer for Small Business*
  30.  Facebook Marketing Infographic*
  31. SMOC Forum Focus-Facebook

Webinar

  1. How to Do a Blog Tour*
  2. How you can use Visual Content to Make your Marketing “Sticky” with your Audience
  3. Three Brands and How they use Visual Content in their Marketing
  4. Social Media Manager Learning Track
  5. Your First Online Store
  6. How to Find Your Target Market*
  7. Visual Storytelling: Video Case Studies
  8. Free Hootsuite How-To Video*
  9. How to Get More Sales from Your Website 1
  10. How to Create a Stock Photo Library
  11. How to Get More Sales from Your Website 2
  12. How to Get More Sales from Your Website 3
  13. Outsourcing Your Social Media Marketing*
  14. How to Brand & Watermark Your Images*
  15. How to Outsource Your Social Media*
  16. Social Media for Local Business*
  17. Content Marketing Made Simple*
  18. Member Website & Social Media Critique*
  19. Easy Facebook Ads on a Budget *
  20. 1:1 Coaching with Maria for SMOC Members*
  21. How to Get More Sales from Your Website 4

Pinterest

  1. What’s the Perfect Size for a Pinterest Pin?*
  2. Pinterest 101 – Updated to Newest User Interface Design*
  3. Profitable Pinterest Marketing
  4. Pinterest Contest Swipe File*
  5. How to Make a Pinterest Pin Go Viral Even before Your Website Launches*

Twitter

  1. How a Brand Differentiates Themselves on Twitter
  2. How to Differentiate Your Brand on Twitter in Just 10 Seconds*
  3. The Difference Between Twitter’s Retweet Button and @RT*
  4. Twitter Image Size Cheat Sheet*

Google Plus

  1. Should I Use a Google+ Business or Personal Account for My Marketing?*
  2. Google+ Circles Impact on SEO*
  3. Should You Use Google+ for Business, Personal, or Both?*

LinkedIn

  1. LinkedIn Sales Checklist Infographic: 5 Ways to Rock Your Profile & Generate Leads
  2. LinkedIn Master Tactic: Search a Colleague’s Contact List*
  3. LinkedIn Quietly Removes Activity Feed from Profiles*

 Instagram

  1. Instagram Marketing Infographic
  2. How to Make Photos from Followers are Visible on Instagram*
  3. Instagram 101 Debuts This Month!*

 YouTube

  1. How to Customize Your YouTube Channel with a Welcome Trailer*
  2. Multiple Businesses Need Multiple YouTube Channels?*

WordPress

  1. WordPress 101 is all new for 2014*
  2. In Between Jobs & Learning WordPress?*

SEO

  1. How to Identify Your Most Profitable Keywords for SEO*
  2. SMOC Forum Focus-SEO

Slideshare

  1. Slideshare 101 is All New in Our “Chunked” 10-Minute-a-Day Format!*

* Indicates Members-Only Content

How to Crowdfund Your Next Project
Dec 09

How to Run a Successful Crowdfunding Campaign – Interview with Ebony Love, LoveBug Studios

By Maria Peagler

How to Crowdfund Your Next Project

Have you considered crowdfunding your next project?

If so, you definitely want to listen to today’s interview with Ebony Love, founder of LoveBug Studios. She ran a successful crowdfunding compaign that generated over 2X her goal (and she admits she had a few #fails along the way).

I was surprised at some of the revelations Ebony shared with me: I thought I understood crowdfunding, but the tactics she used (and those she didn’t) turned traditional advice on its head.

Crowdfunding with Ebony Love: Interview Audio

You can listen to the full 30-minute interview, or get bite-sized “tips” below:

Listen to the Full Interview with Ebony Love (30 min)

Bite-sized clips are below, each about 5 minutes in length. Click on the link to listen:

Members – Find out where the largest percentage of Ebony’s supporters came from, if she had help promoting her campaign, and her advice to others considering crowdfunding by logging in:  Click here to login!

 RESOURCES FOR CROWFUNDING YOUR NEXT PROJECT AT Socialmediaonlineclasses.com

Interview Transcript with Timestamps

0:00:00 MARIA: Welcome everyone this is Maria Peagler with Socialmediaonlineclasses.com. And today I have with me Ebony Love the founder of LoveBug Studios and a successful Kickstarter campaign generator. Welcome, Ebony!

0:02:02 EBONY: Hi Maria. Thanks for having me.

0:02:05 MARIA: Absolutely, Ebony I have wanted to do this interview with you for a while because I was fascinated at the whole Kickstarter campaign that you did. I supported you. I contributed to your Kickstarter campaign. Can you tell our listeners out there a little bit about your campaign and your funding goal?

0:02:30 EBONY: Absolutely, Thank you so much Maria for supporting my campaign it really meant a lot to me to see your support there. When i initially started a campaign it was for a book about fabric die cutting and that particular topic is a very niche topic and there’s only a certain segment of the quilting community that’s going to be interested in something like that. Before I went to the expense and sort of going down the path of spending all this money investing in illustrators and graphic artists to solve these things. I wanted to make sure that there was actually a market to support this book that i was writing so part of this was market research a sort of test. We have to water a little bit and see if there was enough support for an idea like this to come out with a book for this particular niche. My initial funding goal was $5000 and when I put together my budget, when I thought about was. I’m willing to make an investment in this project and if other people are willing to invest with me as well then, I’m going to kick in some funding. My actual budget was about $10000 for the production of the book and so i set the campaign budget for half of that. If I can raise half the money I can kick in the other half and that would make it ok.

0:04:05 MARIA: Ok, so you came up with the budget of 10000 is like a fifty-fifty.50% you would be putting in and then 50% your contributors will be putting in. Now, what did you end up raising from your $5000 goal?

0:04:26 EBONY: I ended up raising just over $12000 for the project which it only took about 6 or 7 days to hit the $5000 mark and then the whole campaign went for about 30 days. So I was really elated to raise that amount of money so quickly the thing about Kickstarter is that when you set your campaign timeline you set it typically 30 days and even if you raise your target early the campaign doesn’t end it just keep going that’s how we went over the $5000 amount.

0:05:12 MARIA: How did you decide to use Kickstarter rather than someplace like Indiegogo. The reason I ask is because with Kickstarter for those who may not be familiar with it, with Kickstarter it’s an all or nothing thing if you don’t reach your goal or you don’t get to keep any of the contribution but on Indiegogo you don’t have to reach a goal you get to keep whatever you raise. And so, tell me how you decided on Kickstarter.

0:05:48 EBONY: Yes, both platforms when I’m just in this campaign back a couple of years ago both platforms are really really early on in there sort of introduction and the modelling. One thing about Indiegogo and I haven’t look in a while but at the time if you didn’t raise your campaign goal there actual cost to you was higher than if you hit your goal. So that was one factor, the other factor I thought to myself if I can’t get the support that I need to do this project then i really need to think very hard about whether or not i should go forward and take this, so it wasn’t just about raising a certain amount of money it was also making sure that I was able to garner enough support to go forward.

0:06:43 MARIA: Right, right, which was really smart to use Kickstarter as a market research tool because I know so many authors who just jump in they spend the money and then find out really that they didn’t know how to promote the book there is really know readership for the book and if they have done something like this beforehand they could have save themselves a lot of heartache.

0:07:06 EBONY: Yes, Absolutely!

0:07:08 MARIA: So let me ask you Ebony, It took you 30 days. The campaign was 30 days. How long did it take you to prepare for the campaign to actually get everything on Kickstarter get your video, get all that materials that you needed, how long did that take you?

0:07:29 EBONY: It took me probably about 3-4 weeks of planning part of that time Kickstarter had a pretty rigorous review process also so you couldn’t just put something out there and hit go and it just public they actually would go through and review your project to make sure it was appropriate for the platform the other component is writing the compelling copy. So I think in the media industry we call it romance copy. Writing that copy that’s really going to inspire and really reach the folks that I’m trying to reach and communicate my own passion and devising the reward that In and of itself I was racking my brain trying to think about what types of reward I mean obviously the book a copy of the book that’s pretty simple but in order to get people to sort of contribute that higher level i had to come up and really get creative with something and the thing about Kickstarter is when you offer a reward they have to be tangible reward it can’t be like a coupon for a future purchase for something like that it’s got to be something that people actually receive and it’s worth something at the time and it’s not some sort of “Hey if you don’t knit here I’ll contribute 10 dollars to charity. It has to be something that the backer get out of it. And i think i refer to it as investment but it’s really not an investment because you’re not yet shares

0:09:13 MARIA: Right, right

0:09:15 EBONY: But you should get something out of it. It’s not a donation when you contribute you’re getting something in return.

0:09:19 MARIA: And so, how crucial do you think to be the big prices were? That the prices they should offer and the levels that you offer, how crucial were those?

0:09:25 EBONY: I think that they were instrumental in helping the campaign go as far as it did. When I think about my entire network of people so just in my own personal network not everybody is a quilter not everybody is a die cutter so if all I offered was the die cutting book that’s not going to be of interest necessarily to everyone so there could be folks think: “You know what? I support what you do I’m really thrilled about this and I want to make sure it is successful but I really don’t need a coffee-table book.

0:10:13 MARIA:*laughs*

0:10:17 EBONY: The other piece two is by having different levels of contribution it gives people the opportunity to look and say “There’s a level here that I can afford. Because not everybody can just say here’s 30 bucks for a book that I’m not going to read. Some people may be able to contribute a dollar other people might say.”You know what I really support this artist, I know this person I feel good about what they’re doing, I can actually contribute a higher level so actually having those different reward level it gives you a choice i personally think i had too many and at the end of the day you’re the one who has to actually fulfill all those rewards.

0:11:04 MARIA:*laughs* Right.

0:11:08 EBONY:*laughs*After a while but i think having at least 3 or 4 options gives people sort of a way to contribute at a level there comfortable with.

0:11:18 MARIA: And so you had levels from a dollar all the way up to 1500 dollars and what was your most popular level?

0:11:29 EBONY: My most popular level I believe was at the 50 dollar level you’ve got a copy of the book and some other little trinket so I think my average donation across the board was about 46 dollars so some people came in lower than that, some people came in higher than that but most people were right in middle of a reward.

0:12:00 MARIA: I’m looking at your Kickstarter site right now and it looks like you had a 104 backers at 30 dollars. Now, do you think it was the dollar amount? Do you think it was just the right amount? Or do you think it was the acknowledgement that they’ve got in getting the book as the reward?

0:12:22 EBONY: I think so, I think most of the people who purchased at that level were once who wanted the book. They were rolling to get that book so it was a way for them and what’s interesting when you structure your reward, is it’s not necessarily meant to be a like discount of a retail price although some that way it’s actually meant to be because you do need feed bonds so the book actually retails for 30 dollars so that was like the level. I think that level people were going to buy the book anyway when it came out and that’s the level that they supported.

0:13:09 MARIA: Okay, And what did you do to promote the campaign as far as social media and email marketing and get the word out, What did you do to promote it ?

0:13:22 EBONY: so I actually did a several tiers of marketing and I didn’t want to bombard my network with you know just post after post after post of this particular campaign. The first method that Senel was just a family and close friends just to first get started with the toe on the water and also when you put it out to just friends and family you tend to get kind of that bubble of will support anything that you do and that makes you feel better. You feel better about what you’re doing to get some of that initial push and then I put it up on Facebook to wider the audience which will include my friends and friends of friends and hope to unnecessarily no personally but we’re friends on Facebook and that’s the next level campaign and some of those folks even shared my campaign with their friends and that’s another way to get to expanse. The third way was just through my newsletter list so I have an email list for my business where I send out announcement about where I’m going to be and what’s going on with my business and where you can see me that went to my email list. I also posted on my blog talking about the Kickstarter campaign and what it meant and what I was trying to do. I have several avenue to pursue but I didn’t do them all at once. I didn’t’ post everywhere on the same day. I spread it out over probably a week to 10 day period to reach all those audiences.

0:15:13 MARIA: Ok, and do you have any idea of which promotion garnered the most support?

0:15:22 EBONY: I believe it was probably the Iddy mount campaign just because there were thousands of people on my email list versus a couple of dozens on my Facebook page.

0:15:39 MARIA: So you have an email marketing list with several thousand contacts on?

0:15:47 EBONY: Yes. I think it’s the time I probably had under a thousand people subscribe to my email list. Now it certainly grown as my name has gotten out there but I think it’s the time it was under a thousand people on my email list but it was certainly a lot bigger of an audience than on my Facebook page.

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Your Ultimate Guide to Productivity Tools
Dec 02

The Ultimate Guide to Productivity Tools for Small Business

By Maria Peagler


Your Ultimate Guide to Productivity Tools

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.

My secret?

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.

Related resources: How to Combine Social Media and Email Marketing to Capture Leads You’re Missing

WordPress.org

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
WordPress 101 Learn how to build your own blog/website — no coding required
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Wishlist Member WordPress Plugin

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.

 

Swipe File "Steal" these tactics from successful brands for your own business
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Evernote

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!

 

Nov 20

How to Avoid Freebie Seekers in the Sharing Economy

By Maria Peagler

How to Avoid Freebie Seekers in the

I’ve got some tough love for you today . . .

Do you give away too much in your business?

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.

how to avoid freebie seekers

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.

Period.

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.

how to avoid freebie seekers

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.

how to avoid freebie seekers3

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.

how to avoid freebie seekers4

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:

How to avoid freebie seekers

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.

This process is called onboarding, and it’s critical to reduce refunds. Read more about how we onboard new members in this blog post.

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.”

Summary

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:

Nov 11

7 Surprising Secrets I’ve Learned from Beauty Vloggers

By Maria Peagler

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.

7 surprising secrets i learned from beauty bloggers

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:

what i learned from beauty vloggers

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:

what i learned from beauty vloggers

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:

what i learned from beauty vloggers

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+:

what i learned from beauty vloggersJenell 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:

what i learned from beauty vloggers

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.

 

2. Beauty Vloggers Share Their Editorial Schedule

What day is your favorite television show on?

You knew immediately, didn’t you?

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:

scrn_2014-11-10_12-54-21_PM copy

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:

scrn_2014-11-10_12-55-20_PM

 

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:

scrn_2014-11-10_01-51-13_PM

 

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.

 

5. Beauty Vloggers Understand the Power of Images

Their fifth secret is one that showcases the power of images.  Yes, their main content is a video, but vloggers know the first glimpse anyone will ever see of their video is the thumbnail.

Here, Sprinkle of Glitter showcases her videos with thumbnails that usually have her looking directly at you and display a clear title:

sprinkles of glitter optimizes her video thumbnails

 

 

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:

sprinkle of glitter collab video

 

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.

Summary

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:

80/20 of social media marketing
Nov 04

How to Identify the 80/20 of Your Social Media Marketing: Where is Your Most Profitable 20%?

By Maria Peagler

80/20 of social media marketing

You’re going to thank me for this . . . .

I’m going to show you how to exponentially multiply your visibility, leads, revenue and profit in your business using the Pareto principle: that 20% of your effort that leads to 80% of your results.

As a small business owner, you need to be ruthless with how you spend your time. The marketing efforts that aren’t not paying off — ditch them. In a moment, I’m going to show you how to identify which marketing efforts are paying off and how to do more of them to grow your business.

Forget coaches who tell you how to get more time in your day and expensive consulting for someone to tell you how to grow the revenue in your business.

Today I’m going to show you how to do all of that yourself.

1. Identify Your Marketing Goals

Can you articulate the goals for your marketing? According to a recent survey of SMOC members, their top three business goals are:

  1. Grow their business
  2. Get more sales
  3. Develop a personal brand

Awesome! Now, exactly what is your plan for doing that?

If you’re not sure HOW to achieve these goals, take a look at my three-part series on setting SMART Goals/Creating an Action Plan/Measuring Your Results. It walks you through every step of that process so you can turn your goals into actionable tasks you can measure to identify your progress.

First, you learn how to set SMART social media marketing goals for your business:

How to Set SMART Marketing Goals

Second, you learn how to turn those goals into actionable tasks you can accomplish:

How to turn your marketing goals into an executable action plan

Third, you learn how to measure the results of your goals & action plan. This is the critical part of the process most people skip.  Don’t miss this post:

How to measure the results of your marketing - simply & easily

If you can’t articulate what your goal is, your customers don’t know what you’re asking of them. Tie your marketing to your business goals using the three-part series (it’s one of our most popular blog posts).

2. Identify What’s Working Now

If you’re already doing social media marketing, do you know which of your marketing efforts is is generating the most business? Being able to look at all of your marketing efforts, from social media to content generation to advertising, is neither simple nor easy. But it’s essential for you to prune the campaigns not paying off and double-down on those that are generating the most revenue.

If you don’t already have Google Analytics (GA) installed on your website, then do it now (or hire someone who can). Read this post on using Google Analytics with WordPress — it walks you through how to install it on your website, plus the most important reports for identifying what’s working now:

Google Analytics for WordPress

 

It’s easy to be overwhelmed with the amount of data GA throws at you. Don’t let that happen to you.  Read this post for the most important year-end metrics to measure using GA:

3 Year End Metrics to Measure

Also, you need to be able to read Facebook Insights and identify who your most profitable fans are. This post identifies how to use Insights to drill down to find where your results are in Facebook:


Facebook Insights Explained

 

Facebook Insights Lesson How to measure what matters in Facebook
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3. Automate Social Media Tasks Not Requiring Engagement

Social media marketing is an effective marketing tool, but it can be a huge time drain if you’re not savvy about how you spend your time.  Not every administrative task requires your attention.  Instead, identify what you can automate or delegate to a staff member.

The tasks I like to automate:

  • posting to Pinterest – because it requires little engagement and we use the Pinvolve.co app to automate this process
  • posting to multiple social networks — use Hootsuite to post once and have it go to all your social accounts
  • creating a library of content — we create a content library by adding each social media post URL to a Google Spreadsheet file.  We automate this task using IFTTT.com.
  • repurposing content – my assistant creates our Weekly Top posts from the most recent lessons, blog posts, and forum Q&A here at SMOC
  • automating blog post creation — be careful with this one. The only time I automate a blog post is when I upload a video to YouTube: I created a recipe in IFTT.com that creates a blog post draft automatically that contains the video.  We then edit the blog post, add an awesome title, a transcript and time stamps.  I do have social media services clients, however, for whom we’ve created an entire blog post automation process: these clients are working multiple jobs or on the road 50 weeks out of the year. Their staffs are overworked already and dread writing blog posts.  So we created a process where they can automatically create blog posts generated by tasks they were doing already.
  • create content in 10 minutes – yes, this is an authentic tactic I use. Not all the time, but when I’m pressed for time, this workflow saves the day.  In fact, I created the framework for this blog post using my 10-minute tactic.

Summary

No matter where you are in your marketing journey — beginner to advanced — identifying the 80/20 of your social media marketing is critical  to streamline your efforts, be more efficient, and grow your brand.

I’ve shared how to identify your 80/20 goals, create an action plan, measure your results using both GA and Facebook Insights, as well as how to automate tasks that don’t require your individual attention.

Which is your favorite tactic? What did you find was the 80/20 of your social media marketing? Tell me in the comments below:

 

visual storytelling infographic
Oct 29

Visual Storytelling for Brands

By Maria Peagler

 visual storytelling maria peagler

Editor’s note: We’re continuing our Visual Storytelling theme this week with a look at how brands can market using visual content, along with examples of those doing this well.  You can listen to my interview (or read the transcript) of my interview with Ekaterina Walter, co-author of The Power of Visual Storytelling here.

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:

visual storytelling case study

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 tutorials

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:

visual storytelling case study

Marketing Experiments offers their “marketing clinics” on video as well as slide deck presentations

visual storytelling case study

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

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.

Related Resources

Visual Social Media Webinar*

Your First Business Video Webinar*

Facebook Image Sizes Cheat Sheet

Google+ Image Sizes Cheat Sheet*

Instagram Marketing Infographic

Instagram for Business Case Studies

How to Build a DIY Stock Photo Library for Social Media

VIDEO TUTORIAL: How to Build a Stock Photo Library Using Canva

Your First Business Video Checklist

Our Most Popular Infographics from 2014

Our Most Popular Infographics from 2012

* denotes members-only content

how to outsource social media marketing
May 12

How to Outsource Social Media Marketing: Live Webinar + Recording + MP3 Audio

By Maria Peagler

how to outsource social media marketing Free webinar Thurs, May 22 @1pm EDT/5pm GMT.  Join Maria Peagler for this brief live webinar:

  • Learn how to successfully outsource your social media marketing
  • Thurs May 22, 1pm EDT, 5pm GMT
  • 30-Minute Webinar + On-Demand recording + MP3 Audio + Checklist
  • $297.00 value FREE for Members (Membership is $57 per month, cancel easily anytime.)

Get Webinar FREE with SMOC Membership

Already a member?  Your webinar access codes will arrive in your Inbox a few days before the webinar.

Have you considered outsourcing your social media but don’t know where to start?  Then don’t miss this webinar!  Maria Peagler will reveal what you need to know before you trust your marketing to an outside agency. In this 30-minute webinar, you’ll learn:

  • whether you’re a good candidate for social media marketing outsourcing
  • what to look for in an outsourcing team or candidate
  • how to measure the success of your outsourcing team

Plus, plenty of time for Q&A, so come with questions, so sign up today!

Get Your $297.00 Webinar ticket FREE When You Join SocialMediaOnlineClasses.com Today  (FREE for college students)

Purchase your Webinar ticket for $297.00 now, or get it free when you join as a Member today for $57 per month. Cancel easily anytime.

SocialMediaOnlineClasses.com is a continuous service, including instant access to over 200 online lessons valued at $1,997.00 plus $397.00 worth of new Bonus Webinars & infographics each month, billed to your payment card every 30 days at the lowest rate then in effect, currently just $57.

In total, you’ll get instant access to $2,297.00 (and growing!) worth of practical Members-Only training to grow your business using social media. SocialMediaOnlineClasses.com Membership helps you:

#1. Get Access to One Billion Potential Employers in 10 Minutes

Learn how to identify the social networks best for your unique career path, then build a profile that WOWs potential employers. SMOC brings you ‘what works’  training that cuts through the noise & crushes social media overwhelm.

Members  instantly access how-to videos, screen shots, checklists, infographics, and case studies — tools which can be put to work on your website & social networking right away.

#2. Get More Fans in Less Time

Discover how to get fans & connections without spending all day in social media.  You really can post to all of your social networks in as little as 15 minutes a day, and you’ll learn how to generate content & posts that get your business noticed, attract fans, and turn them into paying customers.

Members immediately get their hands on how-to checklists (like 13 Ways to Get More Facebook Fans), videos that teach you how to do search engine optimization yourself, and real-life examples of successful small businesses who’ve achieved great success.

#3. Customize Your Learning Track

Online training is often a one-sized fits all plan, but not for SMOC Members.  You’ll get a customized social media assessment that details the optimum social networks for your unique career path & industry, and you can use it as your guide for what classes you’ll need (Members are often surprised at the results).   Plus, Members can instantly access:

  • hands-on video tutorials
  • monthly social media makeovers (for your website or any social network)
  • bonus webinars that dive deep into profitable tactics
  • infographics to print as your cheat sheets
  • a private community forum
  • virtual office hours

#4. SMOC networking plus exclusive Q&A Webinars & Workshops

Members get instant access to a private online community of peers eager to connect and discuss what’s worked and what hasn’t for them.  Each week, members also get one-on-one Q&A time with Maria during Virtual Office Hours.

Plus, your Membership includes a complimentary pass to SMOC’s monthly Bonus Webinar or virtual workshop focused on a hot social media business topic — ranging from one & done posting to getting listed on search results — with plenty of time for extended Q&As . The webinar alone is a value of $297.00 per month.

As a member you’ll get immediate access to all the materials on the site plus that month’s Bonus Webinar. After that, you’ll be billed the lowest available monthly fee (currently just $57) via convenient automated billing. It’s risk-free and guaranteed, you can easily cancel at any time.

So why not join today and see how SocialMediaOnlineClasses.com can help your career grow!

Get Webinar FREE with SMOC Membership

Apr 28

The State of Social Media for Small Business [INFOGRAPHIC]

By Maria Peagler

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) state of social media for small business

Share this Image On Your Site

Majority of Small Business Owners Do Have a Website

website

Most small business owner do have their own website, which is big jump from 2011, when less than 50% did (according to the SBA).  That means more entrepreneurs sare making the transition from traditional marketing to digital.  It’s also a positive step in owning your space online: social networks may change, but you own your website and your domain, and can control its look, feel, and what you share on it.

More Business-to-Consumer Brands Use Social Media

b2c It’s no surprise that more business-to-consumer brands (B2C) use social media, as far more social networks exist for those channels.  Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram are definitely stronger in the B2C market, while LinkedIn, Twitter, and Slideshare are focused more on the B2B space. Google, Google+, and YouTube cross both spectrums.

Are Your Clients Mostly Women?

pinterest The response to this question was surprising:  women are more active on social networks, and Pinterest is primarily a social network for women.  But a clear 63% of Socialmediaonlineclasses.com members said that women were not the majority of their clients.  Greater than half of small brands reach out to both men and women in their marketing.

Everyone Watches YouTube

youtube YouTube remains the biggest missed opportunity for small business, as over 98% of Socialmediaonlineclasses.com members have watched a video there, but fewer than 10% actually use video marketing.   Brands can learn to record and produce video quickly with smartphones, webcams, and even use YouTube’s built-in editing features to get started marketing their business with video.

Search Engine Rank is Essential

google Ranking highly in search engine results is critical to small brands for growing their business, as a clear 87% responded it was important. However, SEO services remain out of reach to small business budgets, with the average SEO project costing $4,000 (according to moz.com).  Entrepreneurs can improve their own SEO rankings by focusing on their domain names, content marketing, and earning high quality links to their websites.

Few Brands Give Presentations, Workshops, or Lectures

slideshare Only 36% of small business owners give presentations, workshops or lectures.  Educational marketing offer a tremendous opportunity for brands to reach a wider audience, provide “infotainment,” and build their client list.

Both B2B and B2C brands can benefit:  Fun Finds and Designs, a retail consignment store in Canton, GA, gives monthly how-to workshops in their store.  Here at Socialmediaonlineclasses.com we repurpose many of our infographics and webinars into excerpts on Slideshare.com – both are great marketing tools.

Small Business Needs Influencer Outreachtwitter

A little more than half — 57% — of small brands said they need to get the attention of influencers in their industry.  Twitter is an excellent, low-maintenance way to do influencer outreach, yet many entrepreneurs still see Twitter as a celebrity social network.

While the definition of an influencer will vary from one industry to another, you’re quite likely to find those key players on Twitter engaging in multiple conversations daily.  Brands should be on Twitter, focusing on their industry influencers, and engaging in those conversations.

Tip: a great way to group conversations by industry in both Twitter and Hootsuite is to use a list.  You can have separate lists for the media, vendors, potential joint venture (JV) partners, and more.

Biggest Challenge Facing Small Brands: How to Start with Social Media?

challenges

The top challenge facing small brands is this: they’re overwhelmed, with 48% responding they don’t where to start.  Almost every brand assumes they need Facebook: in reality, only those B2C businesses or those using Facebook regularly will benefit.

Few brands have a clear strategy, and usually don’t know the questions to ask to develop one.  (Register for the free Social Media Strategy class on the Socialmediaonlineclasses.com Home page to build your own strategy.)

A close second is being faced with far too many social networks, and not knowing which one holds the best potential for their business.  Too many brands feel the need to be everywhere, and end up burned out and frustrated over a watered-down presence not generating results.

The third challenge facing small brands is not seeing a return on their investment (ROI).  Not surprisingly, if brands are unsure where to start or which online platform will perform best for them, their ROI will suffer.  It’s critical to develop a strategy, identify your highest potential social network (take the quiz from our Home page), and measure results over time.

Action Steps: How to Capitalize on These Results

What can you take away from these results to improve your own marketing?

  • If you don’t already have a website, you need to get one
  • No matter who your audience is, there’s a social network for you
  • Every business should start video marketing in 2014. You’ll see improved search engine rank and increased traffic to your website.
  • Educational marketing offers major opportunities to build your brand
  • Search Engine Optimization is important, and small brands can do basic SEO themselves
  • Influencer outreach can be simple & low-maintenance on Twitter
  • Develop and clarify your marketing strategy and your highest potential social network
College Guide to Landing a Job Free Webinar
Apr 08

College Guide to Landing a Job: Live Webinar + Recording + MP3 Audio

By Maria Peagler

College Guide to Landing a Job Free Webinar

Free webinar Thurs, April 24 @1pm ET

Join Maria Peagler for this brief live webinar:

  • Learn how college students can differentiate themselves in a crowded job market
  • Thurs April 24th, 1pm EDT, 5pm GMT
  • 30-Minute Webinar + On-Demand recording + MP3 Audio + Checklist
  • FREE for enrolled college students or $297.00 value FREE for Members (Membership is $57 per month, cancel easily anytime.)

Get Webinar FREE with SMOC Membership
 
Are you a college student? Get the webinar free here:


Already a member?  Your webinar access codes will arrive in your Inbox by March 26. Are you a college student who will be graduating soon? Is your child a college student & you want to help them get the best start possible?  Then don’t miss this webinar!  Maria Peagler will reveal how college students can stand out in a sea of job applicants and WOW potential employers. In this 30-minute webinar, you’ll learn:

  • the changes college students must make to their social profiles
  • the secret to WOWing potential employers
  • how to land an interview when you’re not getting callbacks

Plus, plenty of time for Q&A, so come with questions: college students and sign up today!

Get Your $297.00 Webinar ticket FREE When You Join SocialMediaOnlineClasses.com Today  (FREE for college students)

Purchase your Webinar ticket for $297.00 now, or get it free when you join as a Member today for $57 per month. Cancel easily anytime.

SocialMediaOnlineClasses.com is a continuous service, including instant access to over 200 online lessons valued at $1,997.00 plus $397.00 worth of new Bonus Webinars & infographics each month, billed to your payment card every 30 days at the lowest rate then in effect, currently just $57.

In total, you’ll get instant access to $2,297.00 (and growing!) worth of practical Members-Only training to grow your business using social media. SocialMediaOnlineClasses.com Membership helps you:

#1. Get Access to One Billion Potential Employers in 10 Minutes

Learn how to identify the social networks best for your unique career path, then build a profile that WOWs potential employers. SMOC brings you ‘what works’  training that cuts through the noise & crushes social media overwhelm.

Members  instantly access how-to videos, screen shots, checklists, infographics, and case studies — tools which can be put to work on your website & social networking right away.

#2. Get More Fans in Less Time

Discover how to get fans & connections without spending all day in social media.  You really can post to all of your social networks in as little as 15 minutes a day, and you’ll learn how to generate content & posts that get your business noticed, attract fans, and turn them into paying customers.

Members immediately get their hands on how-to checklists (like 13 Ways to Get More Facebook Fans), videos that teach you how to do search engine optimization yourself, and real-life examples of successful small businesses who’ve achieved great success.

#3. Customize Your Learning Track

Online training is often a one-sized fits all plan, but not for SMOC Members.  You’ll get a customized social media assessment that details the optimum social networks for your unique career path & industry, and you can use it as your guide for what classes you’ll need (Members are often surprised at the results).   Plus, Members can instantly access:

  • hands-on video tutorials
  • monthly social media makeovers (for your website or any social network)
  • bonus webinars that dive deep into profitable tactics
  • infographics to print as your cheat sheets
  • a private community forum
  • virtual office hours

#4. SMOC networking plus exclusive Q&A Webinars & Workshops

Members get instant access to a private online community of peers eager to connect and discuss what’s worked and what hasn’t for them.  Each week, members also get one-on-one Q&A time with Maria during Virtual Office Hours.

Plus, your Membership includes a complimentary pass to SMOC’s monthly Bonus Webinar or virtual workshop focused on a hot social media business topic — ranging from one & done posting to getting listed on search results — with plenty of time for extended Q&As . The webinar alone is a value of $297.00 per month.

As a member you’ll get immediate access to all the materials on the site plus that month’s Bonus Webinar. After that, you’ll be billed the lowest available monthly fee (currently just $57) via convenient automated billing. It’s risk-free and guaranteed, you can easily cancel at any time.

So why not join today and see how SocialMediaOnlineClasses.com can help your career grow!

Get Webinar FREE with SMOC Membership

social media for local business webinar excerpt
Apr 07

Social Media for Local Business Webinar Sneak Peek

By Maria Peagler

Members had so many questions during the Social Media for Local Business webinar they stayed for an additional 30 minutes with loads of questions!

The best member takeways were:

  • how to get a steady stream of new customers
  • which local resources were best for their business type
  • how to optimize social resources to help local consumers find your brand
  • and much more!

Webinar Sneak Peek

Here’s an exclusive excerpt from the webinar:

Not a member? Start learning today by becoming a Socialmediaonlineclasses member.  Click here to learn more: