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Social Media Research: Know What Works

social question2-cropThis is the third post in our series of understanding how Social Media works and how to tie it into a Digital Marketing Strategy. The first post Into to Digital Marketing and Social Media addressed the subject of Should my local, small business be on social media? The second post started us on the path of Social Media Research. We continue on with the subject of research.

Knowing what works saves you time, money and increases the chance of success of any social media strategy. Emulating what others have done is a great place to start. Copying successful strategies is just plain smart. We all want to be creative and come up with an original idea and this is a wonderful way to approach things, but it’s not always practical. There is nothing wrong with taking what others have done and applying to your business. Does this mean you will have the same success that they’ve had? Absolutely not. That is why it is important to try and test different approaches.

Test Then Invest

Now, before we get into the nitty-gritty of each channel that I have mentioned, there is something that needs to be said. Before we get into the details of properly tagging and organizing your websiteaccept-47587_1280to be more sharable, the necessity of having all of the correct image sizes on your pages, and the utter need to embed code so that your information is shared correctly — before we do all of that — you have to understand that you cannot possibly do it all (and don’t have to). At least, you cannot do it all across every channel available. As noted above, each social media channel is different. Each channel brings its own “particular set of skills” (to quote Bryan Mills from Taken). For a business or individual to sit in a conference room and brainstorm the best channels for their business and then take the next five years on those channels alone would be a complete catastrophe.

Rather, use the TEST THEN INVEST model.

Maybe you have had great success with a channel or two already. If you know for a fact that Facebook is your bread and butter then stick with it to avoid getting toasted by the competition. Stick with what works but be ready to try out new platforms before you map out your Social Media Marketing campaign hard and fast. Testing a platform simply means get familiar with it. Get into the social channel, create an account (even a faux user if that works for you), and begin engaging with the community that is already there. You’ll learn more about what works and what does not work once you’re on the inside. You will discover things like how well tweets with visuals, videos or pictures, perform versus those without imagery. You’ll get a better idea of what acquiring a shallow, spammy community can do to your page’s engagement levels. You’ll also find out how fun and exciting it is when reputable brands or local businesses seek you out or mention you in posts. Test, test, test! Create profiles for SnapChat, Path and Vine to see firsthand just how different the channels are and what makes them tick. All of the testing that was just mentioned was what the industry calls free promotion and earned promotions; You and your profile gain exposure just by being active and earning your spot in the ranks.

You should also take time to test paid promotions. Create a few ads in Facebook to get a glimpse of how you can very specifically target your ads, even down to a five-mile radius around your storefront. Get into the Pinterest Ads community and try your hand at putting your business in front of the millions of users! You can read up on how to use these Social Media Marketing ad platforms until your eyes ache, but nothing teaches somebody like getting into the trenches, investing a few dollars (I would suggest around $25-50 per platform to see any real results), and analyzing the results. Test both earned and paid techniques across all available channels to see what platforms may be most effective for your own brand or business — then map out how to dominate your niche! Speaking of planning ahead, let’s talk about that now.

 

Pouring time and money into one approach only to find out later that it was a failure can be disheartening and cost you your job. Find out what really works by testing.

Next up in our series is Determining a Social Media Strategy

Sanctuary Marketing Group has a dedicated team of Social Media professionals who are ready to help you with the advice, research, testing, development and implementation of a social media strategy. Contact us today and request a quote or call (330) 266-1188.

 

 

 

Social Media Research: Know What Works
Know Your Social Media

This is the second post in our series of understanding how Social Media works and how to tie it into a Digital Marketing Strategy. The first post Into to Digital Marketing and Social Media addressed the subject of Should my local, small business be on social media?

In this post we are covering the subject of Research and why it is the critical first step in developing a social media strategy.

Social Media Research: Know Thyself

Know Thyself, Know Your Business: Right, right … You have read enough business How-To and How-Not-To books to understand that knowing yourself is crucial. But in the world of digital marketing, knowing how you stack up in comparison to your competitors is vital. What’s more, your strengths (and weaknesses) are what are going to make (or break) you. In a polished and professional way, you will want to be able to translate your business’ identity (i.e., all that you do and say) into your social media outlets. We will talk more about channels, tools, and social media posting content later, until then — know what makes your business tick.

Know Your Social MediaWatch Your Competitors

While you shouldn’t spend too much time on this, you will certainly want to spend some time on it. Create a running list of similar businesses and keep an eye on their social media efforts. Because Facebook recognizes the importance of keeping an eye on your competition, the business end of Facebook has even created means to watch other businesses in your industry. Other than seeing how many page likes a business has, which is arguably tangential to any worthwhile marketing results, you can see what type of exposure your competitors are getting as well as what is and isn’t working socially for your industry. Let their mistakes be your gain!

Know Your Audience

Wait a second. Did you get that? Let me repeat. Know your audience. This is the hingepoint to be social and to be engaging. This right here is the social media marketers stumbling block. This step of knowing your audience leaves people scratching their heads. How are you going to connect with your followers if you don’t know them? Even before that, how are you going to garner potential buyers and the right social following if you do not know who you want to follow you? Remember that shift we talked about at the beginning of this article? What is unique to Social Media Marketing is that, to an extent, you have power over who your audience is (especially in paid promotions, which we’ll discuss later). No, you do not own your audience, but unlike old school ads in the printed Yellow Pages, you can build exposure to your brand and it can be done to a certain demographic. Do you know what audience best converts for you? You should stop and figure that out before you go any further.

Know Available Channels

Find your SoMe ChannelSo far, we have stood at the shore of the massive ocean that is Social Media Marketing. Getting a better understanding of who we are and who we want to reach is important, but that is only half of the battle. Imagine, for a second, wanting to climb a mountain or bike across country. These are lofty goals, I know, but they are goals nonetheless. In those scenarios, you have the person (you) and the goal (reach the finish line). Do you know the best equipment to get you to the goal most effectively? You likely wouldn’t tune up your mountain bike or unicycle to pedal from sea to shining sea. And, while it is beneficial if you were descending into the ocean, you wouldn’t secure your scuba mask to help you reach the mountain’s peak. What’s the point here?

There are specific tools for specific tasks. Begin to see each social media channel for what they were created for and then ride that vessel to the finish line. Most business owners haven’t got a clue what to do with the messy world of social media, and that is likely because they see each platform as the same. Before we discuss how to get started with your business’ Social Media Marketing campaign, here are a few distinguishing points for channels to get you started:

      1. Facebook: Facebook has nearly 890 million daily users (ahem, the United States has 319 million people at present). The platform of Facebook is flexible and can handle pictures, videos, lengthy text posts, hashtags, business pages, unique interest group communities and much more. While all age groups are represented, the typical user is 40+ and spends time connecting with family or getting lost in viral news and video posts. Facebook has the most robust advertising system available for social media marketers, enabling businesses to specifically target their ads by hundreds of categories.
      2. Instagram: Since Facebook acquired Instagram, the network has been refined but has held true to its mainstay. Instagram is a visual network that focuses on filtered pictures and short looping videos. The ability to search collections of images by #hashtags makes Instagram a powerful resource for marketers. Typical Instagram users are teens through young adults and power users upload images as often as 3x a day!
      3. Google+: Many deem Google+ the Search Engine Optimizer’s Social Media Network, and that is whether or not Google+ is here to stay. While it often feels as though you are shooting into the dark, Google prioritizes their own community over that of others and it is important that you are established and active here in some form or fashion. Most users are deep in their professional niche and are not on Google+ simply because they are love with the channel. The network is built primarily around Google Hangouts (on Air), a digital hub for chatting online and being a part of incredible interviews.
      4. YouTube: Touted as the second largest search engine available (second to Google and ahead of Bing), YouTube is part social media, part blogging (Thanks to “vlogging”), and part search engine optimization. All that to say, it is an incredibly powerful channel that has the ability to both grow a massive audience and be easily discovered from search engines, especially its parent, Google.com. As far as what works and what doesn’t, if you could crack the code you may rightly end up a millionaire. Video genres range from How To’s to how not to (“epic fail” videos appear to have that special sauce causing them to go viral) and everything in between. Of course, if you can aptly splice a screaming goat with Miley Cyrus, you have a shot at raking in the views as well. YouTube is a special niche that has a lot of opportunity.
      5. Twitter: Who knew that a social network that requires updates 140 characters or less would be such a hit? With Twitter’s recent addition of video and adding multiple images to a single post, not to mention the introduction of Periscope, the Twittersphere has only grown bigger and better. This audience demands consistent, quality content if you’d like them to turn an ear your way.
      6. And the list goes on and on. Vimeo, FourSquare, Tumblr, LinkedIn and many others … but what platform would you like insight on? Contact me directly and let’s chat!

 

Remember knowing is half the battle. Do the research up front and save yourself time down the road. Next up: Social Media Research: Know what Works.

Sanctuary Marketing Group has a dedicated team of Social Media professionals who are ready to help you with the advice, research, testing, development and implementation of a social media strategy. Contact us today and request a quote or call (330) 266-1188.

Social Media Research: Know Thyself

Part 3:
Sanctuary Marketing Group Founder, Chris Auman and Online Marketing Strategist, Jason Jividen field common questions received from our customers seeking to improve their Online Marketing Strategy.

Question: When you have discovered a link that someone is pointing to you, is it advantageous to link back to that Website?

Chris: The value there would be if that is content that is related to what you do. Not all links are created equal. If you get a link from some random site and you make widgets and they make a completely different type of widgets, that link may not have as much value as another Web site in your same industry.

Jay: If it is related content and you feel it’s of good quality, it could add value (indirectly) in that you’re providing more information for your readers even though it doesn’t add direct SEO value or weight.

Chris: Yeah, what I would say it has to be related and what you can do is incorporate that link with a keyword on your page and if they are a highly regarded, reputable site that linking is going to build some sort of weight on your page too.

Additional notes:

  • There may be some indirect value in linking back to a site that links to you, even if there is no direct SEO value.
  • The link presents and opportunity to establish and build a relationship among related businesses in your industry that may share the same customers.
  • Search Engine Optimization is just on component of a successful online marketing campaign.
  • Linking to high quality, related sites can increase the chances that customers will find you organically — whether through a Google search or through the network of connections formed by one valuable site, leading to another valuable site, leading YOUR valuable site.
VIDEO: Does it Make Sense To Link Back To Other Web Sites?

According to a September 2010 study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, ‘58% of Americans now reporting that they perform online research concerning the products and services that they are considering purchasing.’ In fact, on any given day 21% of adults perform some form of product research in advance of making a purchase.

What does this mean for your business if you’re a local retailer? For one, it means a better informed customer who, if they haven’t already determined the exact model, color and style for their desired product, have narrowed their choices down to 1-3 possibilities.

This can greatly expedite the sales process. It can also win you a lifelong customer if you take a consultative selling approach.

Here are some ideas to use this trend to your advantage:

Welcome the Informed Customer The next time a prospective customer enters the store with a stack of print outs of the information they gathered from the night before, don’t roll your eyes. You may have valid concerns that they’re coming in with misinformation that you need to correct. Embrace them as the customer you NEED to win over.

After all, if they went online BEFORE they bought, chances are they’ll go online after…and that means whatever their experience…(good or bad)…they will share it. (more…)

58% of Americans Perform Online Research Before They Buy

When reviewing your pay-per-click options, Google by far gets the bulk of the attention (and revenue).

Google, Bing / Yahoo, and other search-based PPC models are powerful in that they tie the audience’s topic of interest to the marketing message. But what if you’re looking for an online marketing solution that allows for better audience segmentation?

What if you’re a B2B marketer whose ideal prospect is the CMO of an Ohio-based Financial Services Company with 50+ employees?

It could be the difference between generating a lead with a $1000 annual marketing budget and a $1,000,000 annual marketing budget (i.e. someone with the cash and authority to invest in your solution?)

That’s where a service like LinkedIn has an advantage. With 98,213,000+ active members, LinkedIn has a huge audience.

(more…)

LinkedIn as a pay-per-click (PPC) option for your online marketing

These days, the question should not be whether or not you should be using social media marketing, but how much you should be using and how to make sure that it blends well with your existing marketing campaigns. Can you really afford to ignore the social media platforms?

Social Media Marketing Opens the Conversation

Advertisements are just messages that are crammed down our throat, blasted out over the airwaves to confront us wherever they may be found-leaving us little choice but to make our statements with our wallets and checkbooks. It’s a one-way, cram down your throat, force-fed messaging system  — shouting what a great buy their product or service is.

But, what if you only needed a minor change in things to make the ad acceptable or the product better?  What if you could engage potential and existing customers in a way that they came to you and asked for your advice?  What if you could learn how to better sell to them in the future? What if they helped you decide WHAT to sell (and at what price) — and the result was more effective marketing and a better bottom line?

Wouldn’t it be better to be able to reach your audience and have them be able to respond?
(more…)

Social Media: Advertising vs. Customer Engagement

Facebook AdvertsingAmong social media networks, Facebook and, to a slightly lesser degree, Twitter are the kings. While it is true that there are countless other social networks, including smaller, niche sites that cater to special interests and have limited memberships, it is not every company that will want to advertise via those. Facebook advertising, on the other hand, can work for everyone in every industry and across every genre.

The Critical Factor

Brand recognition has been identified as the number one concern for those who are interested in advertising on Facebook, whether they are planning to do so locally or globally. If you are a local business, you might think that using Facebook may be a waste of your advertising budget, but you can be seriously loosing out on some very targeted ads that can be directed at the very people that you need to reach at a time when they may need you the most.

The Demographics

A quick glance at who is actually using Facebook and what they do while there may be all the enlightening that most marketers need. After all, there is no way to argue with the numbers when they include these facts:

  • There are 500 million active users on Facebook.
  • Half of those users log on to their Facebook account every single day, accounting for 700 billion minutes spent on the site every month.
  • The average Facebook user has around 130 friends.
  • There are 900 million individual objects to interact with on Facebook including community pages, groups, events and more. (more…)
Sanctuary Marketing Group’s Guide to Facebook Advertising

Online marketing has continuously changed and evolved. The smart marketers are the ones who are able to keep up with what the market wants and needs as those changes arise. If you have not yet considered mobile marketing for your own business, it is time that you realize how gigantic that market is now and how much it will continue to grow as time goes on.employing mobile search for akron, cleveland ohio businesses

The Current Market

The typical person is using mobile devices for more than just making quick phone calls- they are updating Twitter, checking Facebook and looking up information. People should be seeing your business information and ads whenever they do any kind of search on their smartphone or internet enabled mobile device.

Currently:

  • There are 234 million mobile subscribers
  • 42.7 of those subscribers are using a smartphone
  • Of the more than 300 million active users on Facebook, 65 million access the site from a smartphone. It is 25 million of the 125 million MySpace users.
  • The growth of mobile users across all social media platforms has been 187%.

(more…)

Is It Time for Your Business To Include Mobile Marketing In It’s Online Marketing Strategy?

A website is supposed to do two main things: educate and make a sale. It is simple, beautiful, almost elegant in its way. Some sites may look more complicated than that, but they are all dedicated to those two main goals. And both of those goals are related to one another as well.

In the world of senior living facilities, the competition is fierce. After all, consider this: the senior population is the largest growing age group so products and services that are aimed directly to them or to the family that is responsible for caring for them can be very big business, indeed. But, in a market that is that choked with choices, you have to be able to stand head and shoulders above everyone else to get anyone’s attention at all.

It is the rare business that does not have at least some information on the internet these days and online marketing is quickly replacing other forms of communication to get the initial interest and the chance to hook a customer’s attention. But the old adage still applies – you only get one chance to make a first impression, so your website has to zing and pop. It has to:

  • Spell out its basic premise quickly and succinctly
  • Have visual appeal and ease of use
  • Deliver on its initial promise
  • Give the customer the chance to leave contact information for more details (more…)
In a Crowded Market, You Either Lead or Get Swallowed: Increasing Traffic for the Senior Housing Market