The Clear-Cut Guide to Social Media Engagement

The Clear-Cut Guide to Social Media Engagement - Duct Tape Marketing

photo credit: Pixabay

As of 2016, there’s estimated to be 2.3 billion active social media users — nearly 1/3 of the global population.

While this eye-popping statistic presents obvious marketing potential, determining how your business can capitalize on it is decidedly less clear.

What every small business owner and marketing professional should know is that engagement is the engine that runs every successful social media campaign.

Do you want to improve your engagement and glean more benefits from social? This guide will point you in the right direction.

The Principles Behind Engaging Social Audiences

Before we consider what quality social engagement looks like, there are a few essential rules to keep in mind …

  • Be punctual — Respond to users in a timely fashion; schedule posts in a timely fashion and jump on trending topics that pertain to your core business/services.
  • Be personal — Ditch the formalities; your social audience wants to know they’re communicating with a person rather than an entity. Remember that social media is a free form conversation, leave room for spontaneity.
  • Be transparent — Be authentic and embrace your critics; responding to negative comments with a solution speaks volumes about your commitment to customer service, deleting it mutes the conversation.The Clear-Cut Guide to Social Media Engagement - Duct Tape Marketing

Making these principles standard practice ensures you have a strong foundation in place for your social media marketing efforts going forward.

Attracting Social Engagement

Why is it so difficult to captivate social audiences? The likely answer is you can’t fake it — static, uninspired, or one-dimensional postings are just adding noise.

Savvy social media marketers understand they need to provide their target audience with value — and consistently deliver it — in order to separate themselves from the crowd.

The rule of thumb: if people find it useful they will share it.

For example, a web developer might create a comprehensive list of sites that offer free tools if they believe it will resonate strongly with their audience.

The Clear-Cut Guide to Social Media Engagement - Duct Tape Marketing

photo credit: Zion & Zion

Browse forums like Reddit and social channels and see what real people are asking — provide an instructional guide that provides a detailed response and demonstrates your company’s expertise.

The Clear-Cut Guide to Social Media Engagement - Duct Tape Marketing

RELATED: High-value social media content

Targeting Influencers

The people and companies that matter most in your industry are known as influencers and making them advocates of your brand can attract social users in droves.

The most powerful social proof in social media, influencers function like high-level testimonials. People are much more likely to engage with your brand when a third-party they implicitly trust is pointing them your direction.

RELATED: Finding and targeting influencers in your field

Fine-Tuning Your Social Engagement: Channel by Channel

Although engagement requires different levels of finesse across each social channel, one thing remains fundamentally the same: emphasizing quality over quantity. It’s not the volume of your posts that counts, it’s whether you’re connecting with your target audience.

Here’s a clear-cut profile on each of the major social channels and how to drive more engagement across the board …

Facebook

Classification: Top social sharing site specializing in all forms of content

Audience: Broad, all ages

Peak Engagement: 12-3 PM Weekday

Key Considerations: Facebook remains the top social media site in the world, a melting pot of opportunity with over 2 billion pieces of content shared daily. Given its active user base, it remains the focal point for social media engagement for many businesses.

Facebook users primarily visit the site to consume content, not to receive blatant advertisements. The businesses that succeed in this channel find ways to integrate dynamic, easily shareable content into their target audience’s newsfeeds that resonate with their interests and core values.

Tasty, a division of BuzzFeed, has recently mastered this technique — utilizing quick-cut recipe videos that dynamically play in a user’s newsfeed when shared. This type of content resonates because it disrupts a typical newsfeed, provides clear value, and encourages engagement.

 

RELATED: Tips on increasing Facebook engagement

Twitter

Classification: Microblogging site limited to 140 characters; real-time engagements

Audience: Broad, younger generations & older working professionals

Peak Engagement: 12-2 PM Weekday

Key Considerations: Twitter enjoys the second largest base, with over 500 million active users. The size of its user base presents some awesome engagement opportunities, making a channel impossible to ignore.

While Twitter has plans to eventually extend their character count, business owners are currently restricted to shorter blurbs of text. Here, the balance in terms of quality over quantity is essential to success.

Businesses that receive engagement here involve themselves in the real-time conversation — they observe trending topics or start a dialogue. You don’t need to be an influencer with thousands of followers to turn heads — involve yourself in their conversations as you build your own base.

 

The Clear-Cut Guide to Social Media Engagement - Duct Tape MarketingRELATED: Tips on increasing Twitter engagement

LinkedIn

Classification: Business-oriented social network

Audience: Niche, working professionals ranging from Millennials to older generations

Peak Engagement: 7-9 AM Weekday

Key Considerations: LinkedIn gives an opportunity for your audience to make a direct connection to your business. Highlighting your services is fair game as the majority of users who connect with you are considering your business in a professional capacity. Don’t forget to provide value — businesses that succeed on this platform provide great resources.

RELATED: Tips on increasing LinkedIn engagement

Google+

Classification: Dormant but growing network consisting of users and brands

Audience: Google users, predominantly older in age

Peak Engagement: 8-10 AM Weekday

Key Considerations: Due to its lower user base — hovering near 400 million — Google+ isn’t the first place you’d look for social engagement, but it does pack some benefits for businesses willing to go the extra mile. Brands that succeed in this channel understand the nuanced differences of Google+ audiences and supply a constant stream of value tailored to their needs.

RELATED: Tips on increasing Google+ engagement

Tying It All Together

Instead of looking it at engagement as a numbers game, prioritize the quality of the connections you’re making with your target audience — the shares, retweets and everything else will soon follow.

Tyler ThursbyTyler Thursby is a Senior SEO Analyst at Zion & Zion, a leading advertising agency based in Phoenix, AZ. He frequently writes on search engine optimization, social media, and content marketing. Follow him on Twitter at @tthursb.

Why Social Media Isn’t Working and What to Do About It

social media

Social media as a way of life is approaching ten.

Already there have been proclamations of its supreme awesomeness accompanied by more recent claims of its demise. But look, here’s the deal – social media isn’t dead – it’s just fed up with how it’s being abused.

I wrote this post – Why Social Media Doesn’t Matter Anymore – around six years ago at the height of the social media hype and today I would like to weigh in with a similar look at how this potent form of communication has evolved.

Social media, I observed some six years ago, isn’t a platform or channel so much as it is and remains a behavior.

Yes, of course, these are platforms, such as Facebook, that do serve as channels for some organizations, but more than anything it’s how people have come to depend on social media activity in their day to day lives that dictates how a business might benefit from its use.

But therein lies the issue we face today.

As more and more people bought into the usefulness or at least hype of the usefulness of social media, more and business decided this was the next great broadcast channel.

Now, few people figured out how to sell using social media, but awareness creation, audience building, and free traffic, now that was pure gold.,

A recent study by Social Fresh, called the Future of Social Media, showed that the primary goal of social media for 76% of those surveyed was to create awareness.

This is an oversimplification, but you can read that to mean broadcast channel – kind of another form of TV.

But the gap between how marketers use social media and how consumers consume social media content has turned into a vast and gaping chasm the likes of which many will not cross. (Yes that was a less than subtle nod to Geoffrey Moore.)

If you seek to take advantage of the awesome potential of social media you, have to do some work. This has always been true, but in the early days, you could afford some laziness if you were an early adopter. Today the sheer volume of noise in social media makes your signal much harder to hear. (Again, another not so subtle nod to one of the earliest blogs I read )

Today there are five practices for social media use that I’m am trying to embrace and that I am advising anyone that will listen to embrace. (I could also write the flip side piece as five social media bad habits you must break.)

Get smaller

There was a time when one of the primary goals of social media participation seemed to be growing large followings. In fact, we bought likes (how did that turn out), we gamed Twitter, we competed to add people who had no interest in our products and services to fan, follow and circle us.

This seemed logical, I mean everyone knew you needed a big email list, why not a big Twitter following. In fact, services like Klout attempted to use follower metrics to measure influence and thereby create scorecards for people building and seeking influencer status.

Well, it appears that Kevin Kelly’s proclamation to artists trying to stand out in the long tail digital world was both true and prophetic – when it comes to social media use for most small businesses the goal is to embrace and nurture 1,000 true fans or 100 true fans and not the shifting universe of Twitter devotees.

Stop following and start listening, sorting, engaging and conversing. Focus on the social streams of your customers and hottest prospects. Eliminate the noise from social media and get your streams to a place where they can be useful.

Here’s a useful post on 20 tools to help eliminate social media noise.

Find your 1000 true fans and try to ignore the rest and you’ll time spent via social media will pay off.

Tell stories

Stories have always been an important form of communication, but never more than now.

Stories help make the complex understandable, and they help people connect with emotion – the essential ingredient for attraction, loyalty, and referrals.

But, in the current state of social media clutter stories also help you stand out, they help people get what they turn to social media for most – to fight boredom, be entertained, and, what the heck, be social.

Here’s the thing about stories – they don’t have to relate to your product or service, they don’t even have to be about you – good stories simply have to help people enjoy or understand some aspect of who they are or aspire to be.

The storytelling palette in a focused social media initiative can include your ads as well as your posts and updates – in fact, it should.

The bloggers over at Social Media Examiner shared 5 Ways to Use Storytelling in Your Social Media. There are some great ideas in this post for any business wishing to embrace storytelling in social media.

Show your face

Social media has become increasingly visual.

The most engaging posts and updates today come with stunning visual content. Visual platforms such as Pinterest, Instagram and Snapchat continue to grow at a stunning pace. (As of this writing more images are shared on Snapchat than any other platform including Facebook.)

With the introduction of live streaming video platforms such as Periscope and Blab and the rollout of live video on Facebook, there’s never been a better time for people to meet and see the real you.

I know a lot of social media folks are jumping on these visual platforms as a way to create more buzz and more following as early adopters and thought leaders and that’s okay – but for the typical small business with a focused following, there’s still a great opportunity here.

Use the more visual platform to let people see behind the curtain, let them see you at play, let them see how the product is made, let them see a day in the life.

My friend Marcus Sheridan is currently shooting a boat load of video chronicling his travels and how he moves to balance work and play and family. He’s dedicated some resources to shooting and editing, but any business can create similar content that helps people connect and trust beyond the typical marketing speak.

Understand this isn’t “look at me, look how cool I am” content, this is perhaps just the opposite if it is to connect. This is “look at me, look how much I care, look how regular I am, look at why I might be the perfect person to guide you to the result you are seeking.”

Have conversations

This one might be the hardest of them all because now I am going to suggest that you put in the time and actually care about what you are doing. Yikes, I know, tall order.

Once you have your 1,000 true fans, it’s time to start having meaningful conversations with them about what they want, what they don’t have, what they fear, what brings them joy. (Of course, you can do this via email and at the next networking event as well.)

Here’s the trick though – a real conversation happens naturally – it doesn’t flow like a qualifying script.

Even if you only have ten minutes a day to dedicate to this activity start asking individuals – not followers – about things. Get very, very curious about helping people and, here’s one you might not have thought of, about how other people can help you.

Give people more reasons to talk to you, ask for feedback at every touchpoint, and don’t shy away from conversations that start on negative terms – those are how you learn, how you get better – and those are the only conversations you can’t fake

My friend Jay Baer wrote a book call – Hug You Haters – go read it now.

Make impact

My last point has to do with money – or perhaps more accurately – revenue.

When you follow points one through four, you start to realize that all this focus, storytelling, personality sharing, and conversing turns into something meaningful – a relationship or two.

And out of these relationships built on paying attention and being genuine, you can start to recognize ways that you can make a significant impact on someone’s life or business.

You’ll identify mutually beneficial opportunities that lead to customers and sales and if you keep at it, repeat sales and referrals.

Yes, I’m on record here to tell you that you can sell through social media if you take the time to help people.

So you see, social media isn’t dead, and it’s no different than any other sales channel – those who care, those who educate, those who provide utility – win.

Three Inexpensive Online Marketing Techniques Your Business Should Utilize

Three Inexpensive Online Marketing Techniques Your Business Should Utilize - Duct Tape Marketing

photo credit: Jack Moreh

How you market your business to potential and existing customers is critical to your success. Your marketing efforts need to be timely, relevant and within your budget so you can attract the people you want and keep current customers loyal to your brand. Companies, now more than ever, are looking to internet marketing to create these affordable and effective strategies.

According to the Marketing Budgets 2015 survey, which was published in association with Oracle Marketing Cloud, 79 percent of companies planned to increase their spending on digital marketing technology in 2015, which was an increase of 13 percent from the previous year. Despite the trend in budget increases, online marketing does not have to be a costly plan.

Successful internet marketing not only puts yours business in front of the right people, it gives them a reason to learn more about what you can do for them. This can be accomplished through a myriad of inexpensive online marketing techniques. Below are three cost-effective digital marketing measures your business can utilize to increase your customer base and remain pertinent among existing ones:

1. Create Unique and Varied Content

Content is one of the most significant aspects of online marketing. According to Demand Metric, this type of marketing generates three times as many leads as traditional outbound marketing, but costs 62 percent less. To ensure your content marketing works, the information should be unique and it should appeal to your target audience.

Content affects how your business will appear in search engine rankings, and it impacts how users will interpret and respond to your company. You want to make sure any content on your website — or anywhere associated with your brand — is written specifically for that avenue, is created exclusively for your business and is accurate. Stale, outdated or incorrect content could affect your overall brand appearance.

Some of the most successful content marketing plans include a healthy mix of informational text, videos, infographics, photographs, screenshots, maps and other forms of content that will help your audience get interested. Changing up your content makes it more appealing and easier to interpret, and it could generate more views. For instance, according to Kissmetrics, content with relevant images gets 94 percent more views than content without relevant images.

2. Indulge in Social Media Networks

Another inexpensive marketing technique businesses can implement is social media marketing. Of course, most business owners already know the value of using social media platforms to promote their businesses. However, some may be unsure of how to maximize their efforts. What you share on social media, when you post and what social media platforms you use all could affect the outcome of your marketing plan.

Some of the most common social media sites businesses use include Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, and about 42 percent of marketers say Facebook is critical to their business. Some of these allows users to post blog-type content, and others provide a more real-time approach to communication. The way businesses use these social media platforms vary, but the general goal should be to connect with potential customers, as well as current customers.

The best way to reach people via social media is to post innovative content that other users will want to share. According to Buffer Social, visual content is more than 40 times more likely to get shared on social media than other types of content. This could mean posting photos, videos, screenshots or interesting graphics. One of the most popular forms of visual content on social media is infographics.

Infographics, which are visual images like charts or diagrams used to display information, garner some of the most attention on social media. According to Mass Planner, infographics are liked and shared on social media three times more than other any other type of content. With a little time and creativity, you can create a unique infographic related to your industry, helping your business get more exposure with little costs.

3. Develop Effective Email Marketing Campaigns

Email marketing — depending on the software you choose — can be an inexpensive way to reach new customers and reconnect with some who may have forgotten about what you can offer them. Email marketing lets you connect with a person directly through their inbox, reaching them nearly anytime, anywhere. This convenience is beneficial to you and the recipient.

When developing an email marketing campaign, you need to establish your goals and determine what you hope to accomplish. This will help you determine the rest of your plan and your budget. You could have one overall goal or a few small, incremental goals. No matter which you decide, the goal should be something that can be measured. This ultimately will help you gauge if the emails were successful and could give you perspective on how to improve.

Again, the content within the email should be something useful to the reader. Business also should consider that 80.8 percent of users report reading email on mobile devices, according to HubSpot, which makes having a mobile-friendly website critical to this plan. If the reader is intrigued by your email, but cannot view the content properly, the plan could be essentially fruitless. You should make sure your information is valuable and is provided in a coherently.

Conclusion

The way people communicate and the way consumers interact with businesses are changing. People want to be connected more than ever, and they want to have practical information presented in ways convenient to them. Using these marketing techniques can help you connect with your audience in a fundamental way without having to expand your budget.

Sarah BlanchardSarah Blanchard is a payments industry writer whose primary focus is in providing unique payment processing solutions for high risk businesses and credit repair credit card processing. Follow Sarah on Facebook and Google+.

5 Free Social Media Management Tools to Make Your Life Easier

5 Free Social Media Management Tools to Make Your Life Easier - Duct Tape Marketing

photo credit: Social Media via photopin (license)

Taking care of your social media presence is just as important as providing brilliant content for your audience. Not only do you inform them about things they might find useful, but you can also interact with them and receive valuable feedback and ideas for topics, connect with other people in your field and establish collaboration, and reach out to influencers, among other things.

However, since there are so many popular social networks you need to be a part of, plus some new ones which show potential, it is almost impossible to manage all of those accounts manually. Fortunately, there are plenty of social media scheduling apps you can use to make you job and your life easier. Let’s take a look at 5 most effective.

1. ScheduGram

Instagram is definitely hot right now, everybody is posting and checking out images all the time, and having a capable scheduling app that can handle all of your Instagram posts is essential. We recommend using ScheduGram, which, in addition to being able to schedule your posts, allows you to manage multiple accounts and grant access to as many users as you want to. You can choose whether to post single or bulk uploads, and there are also some photo editing tools included which can help you enhance you images, add filters, crop, and retouch. For each post, you will receive a notification via email at the time they are posted.

5 Free Social Media Management Tools to Make Your Life Easier - Duct Tape Marketing

2. Sprout Social

If you are looking for a tool that will not only allow you to schedule posts for all your social media accounts, but also to receive detailed reports and keyword searches at the same time within a single stream, you may want to give Sprout Social a shot. Currently, the app provides supports for several major social platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Twitter, and LinkedIn. You can also schedule posts and monitor social media activity on the go, since Sprout Social also comes as a mobile app for both Android and iOS.

5 Free Social Media Management Tools to Make Your Life Easier - Duct Tape Marketing

3. Hootsuite

Hootsuite is one of the most established and popular apps when it comes to social media scheduling and marketing. You can use it schedule post, receive in-depth reports, and collaborate with your team members, thanks to built-in team work features. You may notice than it sounds quite similar to what Sprout Social does, but there is one key difference between the two: whereas Sprout Social will display all the data inside a single stream, Hootsuite uses multiple ones. It is simply a matter of finding the former or the latter approach more preferable.

5 Free Social Media Management Tools to Make Your Life Easier - Duct Tape Marketing

4. Buffer

Buffer is also one of the best apps for managing your social media presence and scheduling your posts. The app also comes with analytics tools which enable you to track your audience’s activity and figure out when it is the best time for you to post in the future. We especially love its Chrome extension, which integrates itself seamlessly and never gets in the way, yet it is always there when you need. It is a simpler and more effective way of managing your social media, and you are never more than a few clicks away from setting up anything you want.

5 Free Social Media Management Tools to Make Your Life Easier - Duct Tape Marketing

5. Followerwonk

Those who rely on Twitter to get their message across will find much to like about Followerwonk. This tool comes with a variety on analytics tool which will help you determine everything there is to know about your audience, including their location and the hours during which they are at their most active. This will enable you to target your posts and increase their impact, because they will be read by more people. You can also do the clever thing and integrate it with Buffer, and set it to post schedule posts automatically at the time your readers are on Twitter.

5 Free Social Media Management Tools to Make Your Life Easier - Duct Tape Marketing

While managing your social media presence and getting your content to reach a wider audience is a challenging task, there are some things you can do to make it easier on yourself. That includes relying on apps to help you handle the jobs which don’t require you to use your creative capacities, and that includes scheduling. We hope you will find these apps helpful. Good luck!

Kenneth Waldman

Kenneth Waldman is a Professional Writer and also a Blog Editor at Essay Writing Service. The areas of his interest include the latest education trends and technologies, digital marketing, social media. You can get in touch with him on Twitter