How Wedding Planning Taught Me How to Nurture Social Media Leads

As a marketer, sometimes it ‘s hard to stop thinking about marketing and remind myself that I am also a customer. I’ll find myself during commercial breaks on TV analyzing the scripts and how I would change the copy. I hear ads on the radio offering free content, and I immediately think about the strategy and commend them for using content to market their business. It is hard to turn it off.

Lately, I’ve gotten a nice little reminder of what it is like being a customer with not enough information. It has come during one of the most daunting events of many people’s lives: Wedding planning.

Table set for an event party or wedding reception

#AdventuresInWeddingPlanning

For those who have been here in the past, you can probably attest to the daunting nature of wedding planning. Not only is getting married a major step in life, but there are also plenty of venues and options to choose from. Each has their own rules, regulations and offerings and sometimes it is difficult to grasp all of those options. To me, this can make the decision scary. What if I miss something? To make it even more terrifying, this is probably the first decision you must make.

That’s why one morning while answering emails and scheduling venue tours, I tweeted about my planning. To my pleasant surprise, a venue I hadn’t even found replied.

 

This got me thinking about how businesses should be using social media. I’ve written about listening posts in the past, and how you can use social media to identify potential customers. But it takes effort to reach out to potential customers, effort that is easily recognized by your customers.

Seeking out Social Media Leads

To identify me as a promising social lead, the venue had to search for people tweeting about wedding venues, and had to narrow the search to only those in the Kansas City area using the “Near Me” tag. Luckily, there aren’t that many people tweeting looking for wedding planning advice at any one time. These select few are your prime candidates and are deliberately looking for someone to trust. Why not reach out? If it takes 5 minutes to identify and reach out to these customers, all it takes is one conversion to make this worth your time.

I may not rent out this potential venue, but I wouldn’t have even known about them if they hadn’t have reached out. With a simple 140-character tweet, they took me through several steps of the customer journey. They introduced their venue to me while getting me to like and trust them just because of the effort they gave to reach me. Now, I have scheduled a venue tour, bringing me up to the try level of the customer journey.

What you can learn

More importantly, they have some insight about my frustrations searching for a wedding venue long before the tour. As any salesperson can attest, the more you know about your potential buyers, the easier it is to relate to them and prove your product will solve their problems, and the easier it is to make the sale.

Social media is not meant to be a place to broadcast your message. You’re not going to convert people or gain followers and influence by simply sending out un-engaging messages. What makes social media special is that it offers a direct channel your customers and potential customers. If you want the most from your social media marketing, you must take advantage of this, reach out to your customers and nurture those social media leads.

Have you ever searched for or reached out to potential customers individually on social media? Or has someone sought you out to any success? Let me know in the comments below.

Alex-Boyer-Photo-150x150-e1420769709443Alex Boyer is a Community Manager and Content Ninja for Duct Tape Marketing. You can connect with him on Twitter @AlexBoyerKC

The 20 Minute Social Media Routine for Haters

Haters Guide

Created with Canva

I love social media, but I acknowledge it can be time-consuming. Sometimes I find myself losing hours reading great content and keeping up on the latest news 140 characters at a time. If you’re a small business owner, you probably feel like you don’t have enough hours in the day to grow your business let alone tweet, post, like, share and pin on social media. You may even hate social media entirely.

At Duct Tape Marketing, we’re all about creating systems that help you execute your marketing tasks quickly and get back to running your business. John created a robust system that hit all of the important aspects of social media some time ago, but it does require some love and attention. For all you haters out there, it may be too much.

But, with a few handy tools, you can develop a quick social media routine that will help you reach your goals. Here are three steps that even the biggest hater can use to rock social media in less than 20 minutes a day.

Automatically Share Your Content

Your # 1 focus for your social media routine should be to drive traffic to your blog. You should make it a part of your posting routine to share your new content on social media. You can save a little time by installing a WordPress plugin like Jetpack Publicize to share directly from your WordPress dashboard. You can even adjust your settings, so the post is shared automatically as soon as you publish.

Est. Time Per Day: If installed as part of your content posting routine, less than 2 Minutes.

Schedule Updates

Social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook live in the moment, so to speak. Posts don’t last long in your customers’ timelines, and they don’t often go searching for past posts. That’s why your social media success relies upon your ability to post and share frequently when your customers are most active.

That would require multiple posts at peak times throughout the day but that’s far too time-consuming.

Luckily there are several social media tools you can use to pre-write and schedule your posts, including Hootsuite, Tweetdeck, and Buffer.

These tools will also give you the opportunity to schedule several posts promoting your new content posts throughout the day. Social media is more popular in the afternoons after work, so take advantage of that knowledge and make sure you promote your blog posts then, regardless of when you publish.

Don’t even want to write the posts? Use Emphatic and you’ll get a number of social posts handwritten for you, and can approve and schedule them directly from their dashboard. They’ll even collect content from a list of blogs of your choosing, and create posts to share that content. It’s almost as if you don’t have to do social media at all.

Est. Time Per Day: 8 minutes for plenty of social posts. Less if you use post creation services like Emphatic.

Share Content

One of the best ways to spread your social influence is to share content from other influencers. Take a few moments a day to read a blog post or two from influencers in your industry and share what you read on social media.

To save time finding posts to share, you can set up Twitter lists of your favorite blogs. Want to collect content to share outside of social media platforms? Use Feedly or any other RSS reader to collect all of your favorite blogs in one place, and take some time to read every day. Then you can collect the links, schedule your posts in Buffer, and you’ll never have to visit the actual social media site.

Est. Time Per Day: 10 minutes, most of which is spent reading. The sharing itself takes just minutes.

Hate it or not, social media is where a lot of your customers get their moment-to-moment news. Every day that you aren’t leveraging social media to reach them is another day that you and your business are forgotten. Installing a social media routine with these three easy steps can maximize your impact, without taking too much time out of your already busy schedule. Just 20 minutes a day is all it takes to rock social media.

Alex-Boyer-Photo-150x150-e1420769709443

Alex Boyer is a Community Manager and Content Ninja for Duct Tape Marketing. You can connect with him on Twitter @AlexBoyerKC

The Most Excellent Qualities of Shareable Content

Today’s post is by Duct Tape Marketing’s Kala Linck – Enjoy!

You posted a picture of your new shoes on Facebook, and now the whole world is debating whether they are pink and green or red and yellow. 50 thousand shares, and umpteen million interactions. People are going to your Facebook page; most are even liking the page for updates on the real color of your new shoes… The alarm clock buzzes. Time to face reality.

Does this sound like a social media dream you’ve had? Ok, maybe not shoes, but having a piece of your content go viral? For this to happen, you’ve got to create shareable content. Your followers are looking for certain qualities in the content they share. If you’re not ensuring that your tweets, updates, blogs, etc. have those qualities, you’re ensuring that no one beyond your followers will ever see that information. Here are three qualities to consider including if you want to make that viral dream a reality:

Relatable

You’ve seen the tweets that say something along the lines of “I’m at Applebees,” or “I take good pictures.” While this sort of content might get some shares because of it’s comic undertones, many people cannot relate to this content, and some might even wonder why you’re sharing these updates.

With your content, instead provide something that people will relate to or use to help their daily routines, their business grow, etc. For example, “5 Ways to Make Your Instagram Photos Stand Out,” makes me want to share this information that I find valuable and think other might as well.

Refutable

If you haven’t noticed, people love to argue on social media. The most famous thing this year is a black and blue dress or was it gold and white? If you can get people passionate about something, and keep them talking – they will enlist the help of their followers, and the process will repeat.

Now, this might not be the kind of shareable content that you want. There is an art to having a debate happen and it being beneficial for the poster.

For example, you need your content to be less like this, “Why I Think Wisconsin Will Win the National Championship,” and more like, “We are thinking of offering training on-line in addition to our in-person training, what are your thoughts?” The comments that you get are likely to support a business decision, and this also gets people talking about your organization.

Relevant

This word comes up quite a bit when we’re creating content, and can seem like a buzzword at times. What does “stay relevant” really mean? By definition, it means “closely connected or appropriate to the matter at hand.” A good starting point.

Photo courtesy of delightfuldisney.tumblr.com

Photo courtesy of delightfuldisney.tumblr.com

What is important here is to figure out what exactly is the “matter at hand,” and then provide information pertaining to, or providing value for it. For example, on LinkedIn, a post that says, “2015 PowerPoint Presentations are now available on the website from those presenters who granted us permission to post their slides,” might be relevant if your following went on LinkedIn to find your PowerPoint presentation, but is that what they are looking for?

It would be my thinking that the first thing people would do when looking for said PowerPoint presentation would be to check on your website, or send an email to your organization.

A more relevant post for LinkedIn would look something like this: “Meet the VP that could be hiring YOU.” People get on LinkedIn to look up connections and jobs, and to find encouraging workplace content. Think about your audience and what they are really seeking on each social media platform, and that will help you create more relevant content.

There are lots of reasons that things go viral. Maybe they contain a cute baby or a puppy, or maybe they make you laugh or bring you to tears. More often than not, viral content pulls an emotion out of the reader or viewer. Making sure your content is relevant, refutable and/or relatable is a good way to start inviting those emotions that will make people want to share your content. And who knows, maybe your dreams of viral shoes will come true. What aspects of content make you want to share it?

Kala LinckKala Linck is the Community and Content Manager at Duct Tape Marketing. You can find her blogging her travels, praying for summer or tweeting about coffee and cats @tadasunshine.

Where Does Social Media Fit into the Customer Journey?

Businesses know that they must have a presence on social media, but they don’t know how to use it. The wonderful thing about social media is that there are multiple platforms and countless ways to use them. It can also be overwhelming for some business owners who begin social media marketing without a plan.

To understand how to use social media marketing, you first have to understand how your customers think. We’ve posted a lot about this idea customer journey a lot in the past, but it is critical to your customers. The bottom line is that there are seven behaviors that all of your customers exhibit as they interact with your company: know, like, trust, try, buy, repeat, and refer. It is your job to guide them through those behaviors.

You can use social media to assist in guiding several of these behaviors, particularly know, like, trust, repeat and refer. If you go into your social media marketing campaign with the mindset of achieving these behaviors with customers and potential customers, social media suddenly becomes much clearer.

But each of these behaviors requires specific tactics to achieve. Here’s how to use social media to guide your customers through their journey.

Know

Social media is incredibly helpful in first introducing your customers to your business or product. Being active on social media, especially Google+, and engaging with your local community can help your SEO ranks. Often, social media channels will show up high on any local search. Frequently use keywords for which you want to show up in searches, and you can improve your search engine rankings in those keywords.

In addition, social media advertising has become more robust and effective over the years. You can target potential customers based on interest, who they follow or like, even location getting your brand/product or service in front of more of your ideal clients.

Like

Because social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook give businesses unlimited opportunities to interact with their fans, you have a chance to get them to like you and your business beyond your product. Be active and present in local social events, even cheer on local sports teams during big games. Enjoy the moment with your community, and your community will respond.

Trust

The longer a person is engaged and likes a business on social media, the more likely they are to trust that business. Share customer testimonials and ask your customers why they like and use your product, prospective customers can see what value your product provides.

In addition, if you use social media as a customer service tool, (I’ll explain how later) potential clients can see and know that they will be taken care of after they buy.

Repeat

At Duct Tape Marketing, we know that if you hold a customer’s hand for 90 days, you’ve kept them for life. Maybe the customer doesn’t need as much hand-holding. You can interact with them using social media to increase brand loyalty. If they post something related to the use of your product, respond and reach out. They’ll feel important to your business and want to continue to work with you.

Refer

Finally, you can use social media to not only get your customers to refer your business, but share those referrals with other potential clients. Ask your customers to tweet with a photo using your product, or post a picture of the completed service on Facebook. If you share and retweet those referrals and endorsements, you can reach an even larger audience than the individual networks of your customers.

Social media platforms are powerful tools to help you market your business. Knowing which behaviors your customers exhibit, and how to tap into those behaviors on social media are critical to having a successful social media plan.

Alex-Boyer-Photo-150x150-e1420769709443Alex Boyer is a Community Manager and Content Ninja for Duct Tape Marketing. You can connect with him on Twitter @AlexBoyerKC

How to Maintain a Consistent Brand Identity Across Social Networks

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing – enjoy this post from Xavier Davis

When social media marketing first began it was rather easy to maintain a consistent brand identity. This was due in large part to the fact that there were only a few social networks. Oh, how things have changed! Today it is common, if not necessary, for business to be active on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Google+, Youtube — just to name a few. Each one of these networks provides businesses access to a unique demographic of current and potential customers.

The strategies required to excel on each of these networks is very different, which creates a dilemma. How can a business maintain a consistent brand identity while active on several, very different, social networks? We are going to dive into this dilemma and figure out how to master a consistent brand identity on social media!

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Understanding your business’s audience is the most important aspect of social media marketing success. It is nearly impossible to have any success if you are blindly posting without first understanding who your audience is, why they are following you and how your business can bring value to them. Imagine putting on an amazing heavy metal rock concert only to find out the audience was hoping to hear classical music. It is also important to keep in mind the audiences for each social network are different. For example, LinkedIn users will expect content to be more professional than Twitter users. Sharing the same content, but in a form that is appropriate for the specific network is crucial for success.

Create a Familiar Look

Before you even worry about posting, make sure your business looks the same on your different social networks. Each social network has a different layout, but make sure items such as your profile image and bio are consistent. If possible, your social accounts should be consistent with your company website as well.

Choose a Brand Voice

How will your business interact? Will you use a lot of humor? Respond using we or I? There is not a right or wrong way to approach brand voice, other than it should be consistent. Your brand’s voice should also reflect your business as a whole. Social media is about showing off who your business is, so try to embody it in your voice. Understanding your audience should also make it easier to decide what type of voice your brand should have. Do you have a favorite business you follow on social media? Study their brand voice and see if you can apply aspects of it to your brand’s social media presence.

Post Consistently

Creating a consistent brand identity requires consistent posting habits. Sounds like a no brainer, right? Nothing hurts a business more than creating social media accounts and then not posting to them. If a potential customer searches for your business on Facebook and sees that you have not posted in a month, they could easily assume you went out of business. Terrible, right? Investing in a social media management tool will help you to plan out posts ahead of time and make sure that your brand is posting consistently.

Repurpose Content 

Time is such a crucial asset for small businesses. Repurposing content WILL save you time! Repurposing content is taking existing content and putting a spin on it. Most of the time required for creating content is spent researching facts, finding relevant pictures, etc. Why put in all that work and then only use it once? Review some of the content you have already created and see if you can repurpose it! One example would be turning a text-based blog post into an infographic. You can use all the same statistics, but visual content will resonate with a new audience. Another example would be turning that epic “List of Amazing Facts About…” blog post you wrote into smaller, more in-depth posts.

Final Thoughts

Being consistent at anything in life requires proper preparation, active experimentation and commitment by everyone that is involved. Make sure anyone that will be a part of your social media efforts is trained to understand how to maintain your business’s identity. When a business is noticeably consistent, customers begin to trust them and want to buy from them!

Screen Shot 2015-01-30 at 3.31.48 PMXavier Davis is the Social Media Superhero at eClincher, a single platform which allows businesses to efficiently manage and track social media and website activities with insightful, actionable, and meaningful real-time reports. Companies can view, plan, manage and analyze social media activity and online advertising campaigns and, crucially, understand the impact of that activity on the business website. When Xavier takes off the cape, he can be found watching basketball, playing Xbox or enjoying the outdoors.

How to Set Social Media Up from Scratch

We just started working with a mid-size software company and, in digging in to build their marketing system, it quickly became clear they had no real social media integration.

social media set up

photo credit: Jason A. Howie via photopin cc

Sure, they had several Twitter accounts, many of their top folks were on LinkedIn and there was a Facebook page, but nothing was connected, no routine was established and certainly no strategy existed for taking advantage of the fact that their clients were increasing social.

In order to get them taking advantage of the strategy we were to recommend we first had to get social more deeply integrated into their daily work processes.

My experience is that this scenario is still quite commonplace – even as the buzz and hype around social has died down a bit.

So, since we needed to basically start from scratch to help them employ a routine for listening and sharing internally and externally, I thought I would document a bit of the process we put them through as it could be a good starting place for many organizations.

1) Created a list of industry related blogs that included publications, influencers, journalist, clients and competitors and set up subscriptions in Feedly RSS reader. (Used IFTTT recipe to make it easy to tag content to Salesforce Chatter)

2) Created list of alerts for key terms, brand names, clients and topics in Talkwalker and Mention. (I like to use both as they seem to pick up different things)

3) Set up Hootsuite for marketing team with Saleforce app integration. Used TacticsCloud tool to create and upload Twitter list of clients, journalists and influencers

4) Created Buffer account and added Buffer bookmarklet for scheduled sharing of content from Feedly or the web to all social networks.

5) Located and Liked Facebook pages of clients, prospects, publications and journalists.

6) Located and joined a number of active and relevant LinkedIn Groups and followed several industry related channels in Pulse.

7) Added mobile apps for Feedly, Hootsuite, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn

8) Created Cyfe dashboard for single reporting interface to monitor and measure ongoing social media impact. (Also created some custom segments in Google Analytics and integrated it with Cyfe)

This basic set-up doesn’t get into the daily and weekly amplification, sharing and posting routine that we are also working to install, and there certainly are other more sophisticated ways to set this up, but this is a fairly simple and repeatable plan to work from.

Is It Good For Your Customer?

I get asked lots of questions about tools, tactics and networks these days. People want to know what to join, what path to take, what new thing is going be hot.

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photo credit: fabiogis50

The answer I find myself giving is almost always the same. The way you make decisions about such things is to ask yourself this question –  Is it good for my customer?

If you can use any tool or make any decision with your customer in mind, you probably can’t go wrong.

In the early days of Twitter people wanted me to prove to them why they should get involved in such nonsense. I showed them how to build a list of their best customers and listen and respond to what their customers were saying only and all of a sudden it made sense.

With any new tool or tactic, if you can find a way to first use it to benefit your communication, relationship building, service or outreach with your customers, you’ll eventually find a way to use it in general.

People often rush to the next new thing so they won’t get left behind, but time simply doesn’t allow most businesses to get deeply into every new social network, no matter how much hype it’s drawing. And ever when you do jump in, jump in and master ways to use it for your customers first before you simply start mimicking how others are using it.

When you have this focus it’s never too early or too late to start using some new tool or tactic.

Stay customer focused, analyze the benefits of every tool or tactic with that focus, and you’ll rarely be led astray.

“But My Business Is Different”

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is from Laura Roeder – Enjoy!

The “Problem”:

Ever felt overwhelmed by social media advice? Everywhere you look, there are articles full of conflicting information about Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter strategies.

Much of the available advice seems not specific enough to apply for your industry or business. So instead of sifting through the mountains of resources, you end up spending your time (and hours of it) on Social Media without much direction, unsure of your ROI, and posting pictures of cats.

So, how do you use Social Media strategically if your business or industry is different from most other online players?

It’s especially challenging to know where to start when your industry doesn’t use social media at all or the predominant opinion among your peers is that it’s too casual or too personal.

But, think of it this way, if others in your industry aren’t using social media (yet – it’s just a matter of time), then now is the perfect time for you to start. You’ll be ahead of the curve!

When you’re on the forefront of using social media in your market, you can take inspiration from all kinds of other businesses. Just because you have a different business model than the examples you see in articles doesn’t mean that the strategies discussed won’t work for you.

What you thought was a problem (“these strategies don’t apply to my business”), is really no problem at all, it’s simply an opportunity to learn to think differently (“how can these strategies apply to me and my business”).

Make a practice of applying strategies from across different industries and markets, and see what sticks!

When I read a blog or business book, I like to force myself to apply the ideas to my business – what if I HAD TO use this pricing model or marketing campaign? How would I do that? Not only does this expand possibilities for how I can grow my business, but it also turns reading and researching into a game!

Here’s how to apply this approach to your business, no matter what your industry or model is:

1) Start following people from all different industries on Facebook and Twitter. Look for thought leaders and brands that you
respect or admire. Bookmark their content that interests you and dedicate an hour a week to reading ideas, opinions, and strategies
from a variety of people and businesses.

2) Practice translating ideas. Just because it hasn’t yet been done doesn’t mean that the idea or strategy doesn’t apply to you or your
field! Think of it this way: the more “no one does that in my industry” the better, as you will stand out!

3) Get more personal on social media. Generally, your customers want to connect with you rather than your business or brand. (Would you rather interact with someone’s face or a logo when you’re at a networking dinner?) Whether or not it’s “industry standard,” it’s important to share your values, your personality, and your uniqueness in order to forge connections with your customers. Social Media is an amazing tool for building the all-important “know, like, and trust” factor with your audience. Don’t miss the opportunity to use these free platforms as a way to help your prospects and customers get to know you.

4) Look at what’s working. Many Social Media sites (and tools like HootSuite) offer critical analytic information to help ensure that the content you share is “sticky” – i.e. generating clicks to your site, social sharing, comments, likes, retweets, etc. It’s important for you to look at this data – whether on Facebook Insights, Hootsuite, or Google

Analytics – and then optimize the type (and timing) of content you share to what is getting the most activity. Don’t be afraid to find out that you’ve been wasting your time – you have a business to run! Make sure the time you spend on Social Media is giving you a return on investment! The only way to know for sure is to look at the data.

Ready to step outside of the industry box and try some new Social Media strategies? Great! Leave a comment below with three potential resources for ideas that are outside of your field, and then make a habit of playing the strategy game to see what new ideas will stick!

Image Credit:  Moyan_Brenn flickr creative commons

Laura Roeder, founder of LKR Social Media Marketer, is a social media marketing expert who teaches small businesses how to
become welcome-known and claim their brand online. Social Media Marketer is an online classroom and community for extraordinary entrepreneurs.

Laura is also the creator of Creating Fame and author of Facebook Fame: The Facebook Marketing Bible for Small Businesses. Follow her on Twitter or find her on Facebook!