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The Small Business Guide to Social Media Marketing

Welcome small business marketers! We have put together this guide for small businesses that contains everything you need to know to get started with social media marketing.

Contents:

  • Why Social Media Is Valuable For Small Businesses
  • How to Craft a Social Media Marketing Plan
  • How to Choose The Right Social Media Platforms
  • How to Develop a Posting Schedule
  • How to Create A Social Media Content Calendar
  • Social Media Tips for Small Businesses

Social Media Marketing Guide

It can be hard work finding the right strategies and tools to help your small business succeed on social media. We are here to help you find the right options for your business.

Why Social Media Is Valuable For Small Businesses

As a small business owner or marketer, you probably wear a lot of hats. You may have your hands in operations, graphic design and advertising, and more.

Whether you are just starting to scale your digital marketing initiatives or looking to implement social media for the first time, time seems to run out. We get it! There never seems to be enough time to do everything you want to do.

That’s why it is important to know where to use your time wisely. And, social media is a great place to start.

Not convinced yet? Social Media Marketing is valuable for your business in three keys ways.

Social Media Helps Drive Buying Choices

Social media offers a unique opportunity to break down the barrier between customer and seller. People enjoy buying from brands they trust and find personable and relatable.

Show off who you are and your values as a company. Use social media to connect and build real relationships with your customers.

Use your posts and Stories to share a more real side to your brand and business. In fact, 86 percent of consumers say that authenticity is a key factor when deciding what brands they like and support (Stackla, 2019).

People like to buy from other people, not a nameless, faceless entity.

Social Media Builds Brand Awareness

How will you reach more customers if they don’t know about you? Social Media helps, once again, to overcome this barrier to entry. Utilizing social media platforms gives you a social advantage.

By actively engaging with your community you can promote your brand to newer and bigger audiences.

Social Media Marketing Is An Affordable Way to Advertise

As a small business, you are probably strapped for cash! We get it. You need to save money where you can. Luckily, almost every social media platform offers ads, and most of them are very, very cheap.

Now that you are convinced of the benefits, let’s dive into implementation. What social media platforms should you use?

Where do you go from here?

How To Craft A Social Media Marketing Plan

Before you choose your platforms, you must have a plan and set goals.

It is important to create a strategy before you start the social media marketing process. The goal of your social media marketing should never be to simply bulk schedule and blast out posts without a plan!

Social networks will not reward you for publishing at random and neither will your customers. It’s important to note that being too promotional is one of the top reasons consumers will unfollow you on social media!

Research Your Audience

Start by looking at your competitors. Look at their strategies. What platforms do they use? How frequently do they post? What types of content resonate with their audiences?

For example, if you run a business in the real estate industry, your customers are looking for real estate, perhaps they would like to see content on what types of properties are worth investing in, they probably aren’t looking for lifestyle content.

Once you do the appropriate market research (i.e. demographics, audience, etc), you should be able to start to plan out what types of content will work for your business.

Set Goals Using The SMART Framework

Once you do the appropriate market research (i.e. demographics, audience, etc), you should be able to start to plan your strategy.

To create a strategy that drives engagement rates high, use the SMART framework.

SMART is an acronym that helps set achievable goals. This method helps you develop a plan that makes sense for your goals.

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Once you have determined your plan of action, it’s time to determine which social platforms you will utilize.

How To Choose The Right Social Media Platforms

There are so many social media platforms out there. Luckily, there is no reason for you to utilize all of them! You just need to choose a few that are most applicable to your business’s goals.

Take a look at a few of the most popular platforms right now.

Top Social Media Platforms

Youtube

More of a search engine than a social media platform, YouTube is a powerful channel! With SEO-friendly tags, descriptions, and titles, it is a great platform utilized to help boost search results.

Facebook

There are over 2.7 billion active users per month. Facebook is a must-have for most brands, especially for their ad offerings. You can run ads through Facebook’s Business Suite for both Facebook and Instagram.

Instagram

Instagram is one of the fastest-growing social media platforms to date. It boasts over 1.2 billion active users and is especially popular for businesses with shop-friendly features. It is constantly updating as well with new features like Reels.

Twitter

Twitter has some serious brand-name recognition, however, it is not as profitable as other platforms. Unless you’re in the media or news business, or a specific niche, it may not be the best platform for you to focus on.

Reddit

Don’t sleep on the power of Reddit! The anonymous posting platform is perfect for hyper-specific communities loyal to their niche. If you can tap into those areas, you can easily engage with extremely loyal customers.

However, Reddit has some extremely picky guidelines so beware of following the rules and not posting promotional content outside of the guidelines specified.

TikTok

With over 700 million monthly active users, TikTok still has plenty of room for growth! It exploded onto the scene and only continues to grow. The short-form videos are fun and engaging. If you are willing to create videos this could be a powerful way to sell products creatively.

Pinterest

Pinterest is a fantastic platform for retail-based businesses. It’s an easy way to earn organic traffic and reach if you can curate engaging content.

Medium

Brands and users alike flock to Medium to spill their thoughts on just about everything. This could be a good way to bring in more traffic to your site.

Vimeo

Vimeo, while less popular than YouTube, offers a lot of fancy features and editing capabilities. You can expect Vimeo to rise in popularity as the demand for both recorded and live video content continues to increase.

Honorable Mentions

There are many, many more social media platforms such as Twitch, Discord, Meetup, Telegram, Snapchat, Linkedin, MeWe, WhatsApp, and more!

Each platform offers different capabilities. If you are a product or retail-based platform, investing your resources into Instagram or Facebook is probably the best bet. If you are a software or streaming business, you may want to invest time into Reddit or Twitter. It depends on your business’ audience.

Now that you have an idea of what platforms you should use. Focus on two or three platforms, and go from there.

The Small Business Guide to Social Media Marketing

Developing A Posting Schedule

Now that you have defined your audience, developed a plan, choose your social platforms…now it’s time to set your marketing strategy in motion! In other words, it’s time to post!

Where do you start?

First, you’ll want to set up your social media accounts. For example, we will use Instagram.

You will need to fill out all relevant information per platform, including:

  • Your bio
  • Website link
  • Profile image (can be your company’s logo)
  • Connect contact information

Once your profiles have been created, it’s time to post. But, before doing that you need to create a posting schedule and strategy. By developing a calendar and keeping track of all your posts, your team can stay organized and on track.

How to Create A Social Media Content Calendar For Small Businesses

A social media calendar is an overview of your upcoming social media posts and captions. This information can be organized in the form of a spreadsheet, Google calendar, or even via an interactive dashboard.

Here Are The Main 9 Steps In Creating A Calendar:

  1. Audit your current content and social networks
  2. Choose the social media channels you’d like to use
  3. Decide what exactly your calendar needs to track
  4. Make a content library for your assets
  5. Establish a consistent workflow
  6. Craft your posts
  7. Invite your team members to review and use feedback to improve
  8. Start publishing and scheduling your posts
  9. Post!

Why Use A Social Media Content Calendar

Using a calendar helps you stay organized and on track. It can be hard to keep track of all the social posts for all the different platforms! Maintaining a calendar that clearly tracks when what and where posts will be posted, helps your team stay on top of things

Using a calendar helps you post consistently. If your posts are ready to go and scheduled out in your calendar, you’ll stay consistent. Posting consistently matters, big time, in the social media world.

Consistently showing up on your audience’s feed is the best way to authentically engage and build relationships with your followers. Populating your calendar with posts ahead of time gives you the opportunity to post consistently, whether it’s a slow week or the busiest week of the year!

Using a calendar helps you craft higher-quality content. Now that everyone is practically on social media, the quality is getting higher and higher. Today, it’s not surprising that some businesses have entire media teams dedicated to creating social media content! Thus, a social media calendar assists you in allocating your assets effectively.

Social Media Calendar

While the format for social media calendars may vary, they each contain these common elements:

  • The exact date and time the post will go live
  • The social network/account/platform where the post will be published
  • The post’s copy and content (image, graphic, video, etc)
  • Links and tags that will be included with the post
  • Any additional information (i.e. is this post or Instagram Story)

Depending on your social media strategy, this platform may include one or many networks.

There are hundreds of free social media templates out there for free! Or, there are posting platforms such as SEMrush, Hootsuite, Loomly, Buffer, and many, many more that offer their services for a pretty penny. Additionally, almost every social media platform offers scheduling for free – you just have to explore a bit to locate these settings.

Social Media Marketing Tips for Small Businesses

Alright now that you’ve set up your content calendar and identified your platforms and maybe even made your first post…it’s time for some tips to help you ensure success!

Keep Analytics In Mind

Some posts may flop and others may perform better than you ever anticipated! There is a little bit of mystery with social media. You must continuously monitor analytics for your posts.

Look at what does well, look at what flops, and implement these changes into your future social strategy. What works this month, may not work next month! Keep an eye out for what you can improve.

Engage, Engage, Engage

You aren’t just posting to help spread the word about your brand, you (we hope)) are also trying to provide real and valuable information for the world. Engagement is critical on your social media accounts. 71 percent of customers are likely to purchase from a brand after a positive experience on social media, according to SproutSocial!

Even if you don’t have a dedicated employee focused on social media, you should put some effort into responding quickly and answering questions as soon as you receive them. Remember, there are real people on the other end of the screen, and you should be reminding your audience there are also real people behind your brand.

Post At Optimal Times

Each social media platform comes with its own system that is optimized for them. You will have to adapt to each platform in order to get the most out of them. It is important to post at the right times when more of your audience is on the platform.

However, there is not necessarily one “best” time. However, there may be a “best time to post” for your business specifically.

Take a look at your analytics after a few weeks of posting. What time is your audience usually active? That is your best time to post.

Use The Right Hashtags

Hashtags are critical for social media growth, especially on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Hashtags help your post reach more people, so, using the right hashtags can put you in front of the right audience.

Create Great Visuals

Blurry pictures and not-so-great graphics are a great way to get low engagement. You want your pictures and graphics to stand out and catch your attention. Either hire a graphic designer through a freelance site or use creative apps like Canva to craft beautiful graphics cheaply!

Video content is another great way to increase engagement.

Consider Ads

If you think you have got your social media strategy under your belt, but you just aren’t seeing the returns you want, it may be time to consider ads. Luckily, you can run ads on almost every social media platform for cheap – most start as low at $1.

Small Business Social Media Is Easy: Start Posting!

If you have made it all the way through this post, we know you are serious about making your business’ socials succeed.

If you have any questions or need help optimizing your social media marketing strategy or choosing marketing tools to use, give us a call today. We offer a completely free estimate!

Contact us today!

Facebook Slams Door on Marketing Giant Rally Forge

It is clear in the current political landscape that social media plays a huge role.  In fact, according to data from the Pew research center, 8 out of 10 Americans say that social media platforms are effective for raising public awareness about political issues.  But what happens when organizations abuse these platforms?

In an unprecedented move, Facebook announced one of the heaviest punishments a marking firm can face.  Rally Forge out of phoenix, Arizona was banned from the Social media giant for multiple infractions around using fake accounts and pages to sway political influence.  All the accounts in questions were related to a conservative political group run by Charlie Kirk

Who Are Rally Forge and Turning Point USA?

Rally Forge is no small force in marketing.  Started in 2016 by Jake Hoffman, they now represent several companies and nonprofits in the Phoenix area.  They have become a major player in the market with annual revenues exceeding $11 Million.

According to their website Turning Point USA is a 501(c)3 organization founded by Charlie Kirk.  They focus on educating and training students in freedom, free markets, and limited government.  They claim to be the most organized, active, and powerful activist network in high schools and colleges across the country.

An Environment Ripe for Scandal

According to Facebook head of security, Nathaniel Gleicher, they removed 200 accounts and 55 pages on Facebook.  They also remove 76 Instagram accounts as well.  The question becomes how did they do it and why is it a problem.

While people make political comments on social media every day, these accounts stood out because of a few key factors.  It was noted that many of the accounts were operated by teenagers in the Phoenix area.  Additionally, the accounts often had cartoon like Bitmojis and seemed to oddly mirror real accounts.

More so the accounts seemed to create a perception of widespread support though commenting on posts by influential leaders and public filters.  The accounts were able to pass the security of the platform because they used modified spellings of real names that went undetected at account creation.

Additionally, twitter suspended 262 accounts related to the same issue.  Though neither platform has banned Turning Point USA, both platforms are continuing to investigate the issue further.  Rally Forge also put out a statement that it will be working with the platforms to correct this and remove the ban.

A History of Social Media and Politics

The use of social media to sway an election is nothing new.  In recent history, it was found that Russia interfered with the 2016 election through the active use of social media campaigns laced with false and extreme views about political candidates and issues

The US is not the only democracy to have dealt with this issue.  In, fact it is estimated that 26 out of 30 countries had similar types of interference in their last election.  It means that the social media companies are in a dire spot to reduce or remove this type of behavior from their platforms sooner than later.

What Does All of This Mean to You?

It means that in marketing we have entered a new era of ethical dilemma on how we approach social media.

The Ethical Use of Social Media

Marketers are constantly under the gun to drive more leads that will ultimately build more revenue for the company they represent.  At what length will marketers go to grow accounts and generate leads?

The good news is the majority will follow platform guidelines and behave in an ethical manner to ensure they are working within the values of their brand and the brand they represent.  Occasionally though you will find marketers that will step out of the straight and narrow because of an over promise or a “system” they have been shown.

What Does an Unethical Strategy Look Like?

There is no one size fits all clear answer to this question. However, there are several things business owners can look out for that are clear red flags:

  • It seems too good to be true: Often you will see marketers saying things like, “I can get you 50,000 followers in 1 week” or “I sell social media accounts with 10,000 followers.”  While both of these sound great the methods to achieve a huge audience, these often violate the terms and conditions of the social platform. They could ban your account while the scammer walks away with your money and prepares to do it to the next guy (or girl)
  • An offer for completely free services: Recently a slew of “marketers” (I use that term loosely) have taken to Facebook professing, “I have just learned a new strategy to grow your business through Facebook ads.  Before I start charging, I am looking for a business to see if I can get them results.” There are two ways to lose with this one.  You provide them access to your account and they steal all your follower data and run, or they waste your money on Facebook ads that do not work.
  • Fake Influencer Marketing/Influencer fraud: It is no lie that there are people making real money on social media as an influencer.  The reality is that the influencers are often a fad and their audiences come and go.  What you need to look at is not how many followers they have, but how many engaged followers they have.  They could have 2 million followers. But if they only engage 500 then their reach means nothing in the way of conversions to sales.

Learning From the Fall of a Giant

Rally Forge shows us that despite the size of the organization, social media platforms desire to keep the peace. Additionally, they want to make sure users are behaving in an ethical manner.  What is interesting though is how many advocates are on the platforms reporting issues that arise as well.  Seeing the user community for the most part as engaged in keeping the platforms ethical as the platforms themselves is refreshing.

Over time tolerance for unethical behavior is becoming less and less.  Some may call it censorship. However, it becomes an ethical obligation. Companies like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and TikTok must maintain safe platforms for users.

This news does not come lightly and will most likely be the center of many heated political and censorship arguments.  This is not the last we will see of social media companies seeking to maintain a safe platform for the users. Are you ready for the dominoes to fall as social media platforms start holding companies more accountable?

Our team is here to help you navigate the challenges of marketing. Ask us how we maintain ethical standards while getting the best result.

 

How to Use Pinterest in Your Company’s Marketing Strategy

When you hear of Pinterest, do you automatically think of recipes, crafts, and endless hours spent scrolling through a sea of pins? While the social media platform has a reputation as a place for women, the number of men using Pinterest doubled in 2014. And though those numbers are two years old at the time of this blog, think of the number of potential customers for your business.

What is Pinterest?

Having dubbed itself as “the world’s catalog of ideas,” Pinterest is pretty much that. Launched in March 2010, the social media network features the ability to ‘pin’ anything that can be found on the internet to user created boards. The platform is commonly known for its collections of recipes and crafts, but if it catches a person’s eye, it can be saved.

Think of the boards as digital bulletin boards without losing push pins in the process. Boards are used to organize ideas and break user’s interests into categories. You can have as few or as many boards as you like. The author of this blog personally has 25 different boards on their Pinterest account. The boards I use most often are titled ‘running,’ ‘film photography,’ ‘food,’ ‘apartment decor,’ ‘yarn,’ and what I call ‘wardrobe updating.’ Secret boards were introduced in 2012 and allow only the creator of the board to view the contents, unless they add a collaborator to also pin.

How Does It Benefit Any Business?

Businesses of any size can reap absolute benefits from using Pinterest. It is a great source for back links. These are a crucial SEO ranking signal and a boost to your overall visibility online. It also falls under referral traffic which is argued by some as the number one benefit of Pinterest to any business.

Think of Pinterest as another way to show off and share your knowledge of your specific business or industry. As an image based platform, if you include even a single image or graphic on every page of your website, that is an opportunity for someone to pin your content. A single pin can be active for more than a year on Pinterest, a phenomena addressed further in a moment.

People can link to your content via widgets. What is a widget? It isn’t an abstract object from a fourth grade math problem. Instead, it’s the little red ‘Save’ button that usually appears on a photo when you hover the cursor over it for a few seconds. Widgets can be created for any photo or graphic you have on your website, opening the door for visitors to share every inch of your website.

Does Pinterest Help My Content Stay Fresher than Twitter?

It’s an ongoing strategy session for marketers and businesses who use online marketing alike. How do you get your content in front of people and keep it there, or at least for a few minutes for engagement? We’ve all seen how quickly tweets are pushed down a Twitter feed and Facebook posts are constantly adjusted by the platform’s algorithms. What worked last month – or even last week – could soon be outdated.

Enter Pinterest and its ability to see pins for content that is more than a few days old. If you’ve used Pinterest for any amount of time, you’ve seen pins that are at least a year or two old. How does this happen? One person liked that content and saved it to a board. Someone new came along, began following that person, also took an interest in it, and saved the pin. The cycle keeps moving along as long as Pinterest exists.

Exactly how many pins on Pinterest are re-pins? According to a September 2015 infographic from Social Marketing Writing, 80 percent. When you think of the 72.5 million people who use Pinterest, that’s a lot of pins floating on the internet since early 2010 and high odds of your content being continuously recycled.

How to Engage with Other Users

Like any social media platform, there are many ways you can engage with users. Our favorites for Pinterest start with the simple fact that people love sales, discounts, coupons, and any way to save a little money. Take advantage of Pinterest’s image base to share sales and drive traffic to your website or brick-and-mortar store.

Give your followers more opportunities to interact by using several images on each of your web pages. This goes back to the widgets discussed earlier in this blog. The more options people have, the more likely Pinterest users visiting your website will pin content.

If you’re looking to give your overall search engine optimization efforts another boost, take advantage of rich pins. Consider these citations specifically for Pinterest, individual pins that use meta-tags. Articles or mostly text content will have a headline, the author, story description, and link in its pin. A product or service can have real-time pricing, availability, and where to buy included. Not only are you giving yourself a little help in the SEO department, you’re giving your customers even more valuable information about your company and services.

Don’t be afraid to respond to questions and comments left on your pins. Like any other social media network, Pinterest provides space at the bottom of each pin to comment. You can also tag a person which will notify them of the comment on the pin. Just remember to follow the basics of responding to online comments at all times.

How Can Elevare Help Me?

While we can’t help you cull out the many delicious looking recipes that you’ll make someday from your boards, we can give your business another boost online. Pinterest may have started out as a place for people to save recipes and plan weddings, but we know it’s grown to much more than that. Whether it’s helping you build a strategy to further engage your customers or create a plan for restarting a listless campaign, we can help you use Pinterest to grow your business and bottom line.

Are you ready to grow your social media presence? Elevare has had great success helping people with social media goals including awareness campaigns for new business launches and conversion campaigns to grow revenue.

To get started, fill out the form below and we will contact you within the hour to start the conversation towards your success!