Monthly Archives: August 2015

Common Social Media Sins to Avoid

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social media marketingThis article could be titled “How not to waste your time on social media.” Truly if you’re committing any of these common social media sins, you’re not getting everything out of social media that you set out to do. You might be achieving results, but your social media presence could be more. There’s so much potential in social media for businesses. Yes, we know Facebook has limited your organic page reach. Yes, we know it’s difficult to quantify the return on investment. When it comes to social media, with effort comes incredible rewards, such as customer retention, an opportunity to build trust with future customers, and the ability to sell your products and services—if you build a solid social media presence.

Note the catch. Your business can reap benefits from a solid social media presence, which has these key elements:

  • Regular posts
  • Relevant resources for your customers
  • A customer-centric presence, not a business-centric approach
  • Excellent customer service

If you want to cash in on the benefits and opportunities that come with social media but don’t have the time, outsource your business social media page or profile to experts that can manage your social media networks. You’ll still have to give input, but you won’t have to worry about making these social media sins (or about learning from them).

Jumping into social media without a goal

Hopefully you jumped into social media with a goal (though if you didn’t, it’s not too late), and not because everyone else was online. What did you want to get out of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn? Here are examples of a few goals you can set, including (but not limited to):

  • set your business up as a subject matter expert,
  • gain potential customers’ trust with great content,
  • build a community around your brand,
  • connect with your customers.

You don’t have to feel restricted to these goals, or to just one of them. The point is that you’re going to get the best results from social media by having a goal and a plan. Think strategically: how can I reach my goal on social media? For example, if your goal is to set your business up as a subject matter expert, what kind of posts and content can help you reach that goal? Have a plan, but be flexible. The world of social media is always evolving, and so should your social media posts; but at the end of the day, your goal is the same. At least for now, because as your business grows and changes so can your social media goal.

Not focusing your social media efforts

Bigger is better, right? Not necessarily when it comes to social media. When it comes to social media, choose quality over quantity. You can open five different social media accounts and proudly add the icons to your website, but if you can’t deliver regular and quality posts on all five of those platforms, you’re a letdown. Note: a quality post is also specifically geared to that social media platform culture and audience (i.e. hashtags on Twitter, longer posts on Facebook, etc.). Please don’t link your social media accounts, like your LinkedIn and Twitter account. Everyone can tell you did it, and the posts aren’t effective. In summary, you’re not going to set out to achieve those goals on social media if you’re not delivering what your audience wants.

That’s why it’s important to do research before you even think about opening a social media account. Ask yourself: who are my customers (female/male, age group, etc.)? What social media network fits my business? Where are my customers? If you are a wedding dress shop, consider Pinterest where a majority of the audience is female. If your marketing efforts are primarily B2B, choose the professional social media network LinkedIn. If your audience is younger, choose a social media network like Instagram.

Too much selling

We can hear you, “but that’s why I’m online! That’s why I invest my time and money.” Today’s customers don’t want to be barraged by advertisements and sales pitches. You’ll find that your engagement numbers—those responding, liking, favoriting and asking questions—quickly decrease. Don’t get us wrong: it’s okay to offer discounts (in fact customers follow your company for that reason), but your job is to be helpful and offer your customers resources so they can find what they need. Don’t get us wrong; that doesn’t mean you can’t sell on social media. Use the 80/20 guide. Try to schedule 20% promotional and 80% helpful and entertaining posts that bring value to your customers.

Thinking that social media is all about you

Many business owners think of social media as a one-way street, another traditional form of advertisement—a megaphone where they can shout out to the world all about well, them. If you follow their business, that’s what you want, right? The answer is very simple: no. Your followers want information that’s relevant to their lives, discounts/the inside scoop, a (human) connection. They don’t want to be yelled at.

Instead, post content that satisfies two requirements, the two R’s: relatable and relevant. Everything you post should be relatable to your customers and relevant to their everyday lives. What do they want to know? What do they need to know to solve their problems? For example, if you’re a pet store, you should post articles about pet nutrition, health issues, food and product recalls, and (believe it or not) funny pet memes and videos. Yes, we know that cat videos and memes have received a bad rap in recent years. But they’re also incredibly entertaining. Just because you are a business, doesn’t mean you can’t use humor. Just make sure you use it when it’s appropriate—and that it’s appropriate for your business.

Ignoring your customers (and potential customers)

This is one of the worst mistakes a business can make on social media: not being social. Remember, social media is a two-way forum. If your customers ask a question, or leave a review, you need to respond—and respond timely. Studies have shown that your customers’ expect a response on social media, and that they are responding a quick response. That doesn’t mean you need to stay awake all night responding to customers, especially if you put your hours on Facebook. It does mean that you need to reply as quickly as possible, even if the review or inquiry has a negative tone. We’ve even given you step by step instructions how to respond in a recent blog post.

If you get a negative review or comment, don’t try to sweep it under the rug. Don’t ignore it. Instead, seize the day and use this as a chance to listen and provide excellent customer service. Deleting a negative comment only angers your already angry customer and makes it look like you have something to hide. Your customers are taking the time to engage with you, now it’s your turn to return the favor. They’ll appreciate it, and you’ll earn their trust.

Giving up, even for a little while

Note that one of the elements of a solid social media presence is regular posts. The definition of regular is dependent upon your brand and the social media network. That’s why it’s important to post regular and relevant posts on social media, and don’t be afraid to automate them. In addition to scheduling posts on Facebook, you can also use programs like Hootsuite and Buffer to automate your social media posts and tweets on any of the major social media networks. The moral of the story is to not give up on social media, not even for a little while. Social media is a marathon, and you don’t want to interrupt the momentum once you get it going. If you can’t keep up, contact a marketing agency that can. It’s worth it to reap the benefits of social media—without worry about committing any social media sins.

Why your Digital Marketing Needs to Mirror My Buying Experience

customer experience

Here’s what you should learn from my decision to replace this ugly door.

Like most marketers, we’re always trying to learn and build upon our training and experience to guide our clients. To give them the best advice, content and strategic knowledge so they can give their customers the very best customer experience. And sometimes, that experience we use happens outside of work hours—like my recent experience in a hardware store on a Saturday afternoon.

Why should you care about my experience? Not because I was shopping for the most fascinating product. I was shopping for a door—a regular, plain entry door. And my experience isn’t going to set off a viral backlash against the company, because it wasn’t negative. In fact, my in-person buying experience was perfect—so perfect that it reminded me of what we’re all striving to give our customers, what we’re all striving for when we talk about customer experience.

That’s why you should care. Because my experience is what you need to give your customers. Not want to give, but need to give. Studies have repeatedly shown that customers are willing to spend more for a product from a company that provides great customer experience—and they are likely to come back to you again in the future.

That’s what I received. I had an errand to run in a nearby town. As long as I was there, I decided to drop in a local hardware store because I needed a door. My door had been damaged a few weeks ago but was still functional, so I had been doing research online about kinds of door materials, what I needed to purchase a door (measuring, knowing which way it swung, etc.), and general pricing.

I went into the store and found the door display. I started wandering around, browsing through the options and happy to be doing some pressure-free research (remember I wasn’t there to buy, just to look). Eventually, a salesman—we’ll call him “Bob”—came over and asked if I needed any help. He was friendly, and he answered all my questions with knowledgeable answers. I knew from my previous research that he knew his stuff. While I was there, I noticed that many of the doors were on sale, and he told me everything about the sale—including that that day was the last day of the sale. When we were done, I thanked him for his help and let him know that I was just looking and would be back with my husband the next day. Honestly, I did not intend to come back. I just wanted to call my husband and give him the information I had learned.

Fast forward 30 minutes later, and I was back in the store. I had talked to my husband, and he gave me the green light to buy. I came armed with more questions about storm doors because we wanted to replace both doors at once. The same salesman, “Bob” saw me looking at storm doors. He nicely answered all my questions, made several suggestions, and was incredibly patient as I made my decision. Incredibly patient. When the transaction was done, he wrote up the sale for me.

So what should you take away and apply to your content marketing (and digital marketing efforts) from my perfectly normal buying experience?

Your customers will come to you before they buy—several times, in fact. Treat every contact like they are a potential customer. It’s your job, via content marketing and social media, to be “Bob.” Be relevant and be there (“there” is the social media platform where your customers are), so you are available when it comes time for the customer to buy your product. Answer their questions with your content and your customer service replies on social media. Be prompt, especially when replying on social media, where studies have repeatedly shown that customers expect a response within a few hours. Be human and very patient. Make each customer feel like they are your number one concern, especially when you can’t face-to-face interact.

Create the right opportunity for a customer conversion. The store had a sale and a knowledgeable salesman: the perfect ingredients for a customer conversion. “Bob” answered my questions and didn’t pressure me to buy (to be honest I think he was shocked when I came back). You need to do the same thing online; create a blog with the information they need, and the opportunities to convert to a sale. This can be done through convenient links, great call-to-actions, visuals and lots of good, diverse content. You want to make your customer comfortable and build their trust so they buy from you once—and are willing to come back.

You don’t have to sell products online to create this same pleasant buying experience for your customers, but you need to strive for perfect. We pointed out how to use digital marketing even if you don’t (or can’t) offer e-commerce in a recent blog post, and this experience exemplifies why. If you “wow” a potential customer online, if you make them comfortable with your knowledge and interactions, if you speak to their pain points, they will reach out to you. We’ve seen it happen for our clients. If you use your digital marketing tools to create a great user experience online, they’ll send you a message on social media requesting an appointment. They’ll walk into your business ready to buy. So the next time you don’t feel like you have the energy to write another blog post or another minute for social media, know it’s important for your customers and potential customers. And if you don’t have the time or knowledge to devote to creating and building a great customer experience, contact a company that can. Your customers will thank you if you do—just like I’m going to do when I send an email tonight to the hardware store about how great “Bob” was to work with.