Category Archives: Pinterest

Why You Shouldn’t Abandon (and maybe even care about!) Social Media

social media marketingFacebook, Twitter and other social media networks are littered with abandoned orphans; business profiles and pages started with well-meaning intentions and enthusiasm, and left to rot when the enthusiasm ran out. We’re not pointing any fingers here; often these social media pages are left behind because the owner doesn’t have time, the employee that started the page left or the author didn’t feel like they were doing anything because no there were no likes. It happens.

The most unfortunate part of the situation is that the business is not reaping any of the benefits of a solid social media presence. While we’ve written about the dark side of social media, there are some definite benefits of a solid social media presence for businesses—small, medium and large—on the social media network(s) that fit their brand. For example, a bridal shop would benefit from a solid social media presence on Pinterest, which has a predominately large percentage of female users. Remember, don’t just join any social media network, find the social media network where your customers are and that fits your industry. Avoid joining a social media network just because “everyone is on there.” You won’t do service to your brand, and won’t be reaching your key audience interested in purchasing your product (remember, you are doing this to sell products).

When choosing what social media network to join, factor in the amount of time and commitment you have for the network or networks. Many a business has signed up for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and the works because they want to be everywhere and everything, without a thought about the amount of time it takes to properly maintain each social media network—yes, each network, because every social media network has its own audience and way of doing things. If you’re not playing by the “rules” on each social media network, you’re not going to get the results you signed up for.

So what are you signing up for when you hit the “I agree” buttons on the social media networks? Besides a marketing tool that requires time and commitment, you also get these benefits of a solid social media presence:

  1. Free connection to your customers (and potential customers). This is your potential customers’ chance to learn about you and you to learn about them. Note this is a two-way street! While you may be on social media networks for sales conversions, this is your chance to listen to what your customers want and give them relevant resources to help solve their problems (and no the answer to their life problems is not always your product or service!). This is also your chance to show potential customers that you listen to your audience, who you are as a business and that you can provide excellent and prompt customer service.
  2. Ability to provide excellent and prompt customer service (with an emphasis on prompt!). If your customer has a problem, this is your chance to help—and help quickly. Studies show that customers expect a response within two hours, and that number is dropping. Respond promptly, because studies also repeatedly show that customers come back to businesses who have delivered quality customer service in the past—even if their product or service costs more than competitors.
  3. Unsolicited testimonials. Customers can leave reviews or comments about your products on your social media sites. Obviously, these reviews can go both ways, but you can also turn those negative comments into a positive. Start by not deleting negative comments or reviews. Instead, choose the opportunity to show your business can provide excellent customer service. If the reviewer is particularly angry, use these tips to defuse the situation.
  4. Chance to sell your products, and your company. We’ve seen businesses where the customers messaged to set up appointments. They were sold based on what they had seen on social media and in the community and ready to buy. We’ve seen other customers comment on pictures on social media and tag their friends because they really like the product. The crux of getting to the point of sales is to create a social media site that is not all about the business. While this seems like an oxymoron, this is your chance to show how customer-centric is by providing excellent and prompt customer service and resources that meet your customers’ needs.

The takeaway: notice the catch. Your business can reap benefits from a solid social media presence, not just a social media orphan page with irregular and outdated posts. A solid social media presence has:

  • Regular posts (the definition of regular is dependent upon the social media network)
  • Relevant resources for your customers
  • A customer-centric presence, not a business-centric approach (remember, social media is not about your business!)
  • Prompt replies to customers questions and comments (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 network(s). We’ve said it before: there’s no shame or blame in outsourcing. There are some do’s and don’ts that come with outsourcing, but the goal is the same: to create a social media site for your customers. Remember, don’t measure your success on the number of followers, but on the number of engaged followers. These are the customers who are your advocates in the community and on social media. They are leaving positive reviews and engaging with your business—giving your business the results that you joined social media for in the first place.

5 (More) Online Marketing Mistakes You’re Making

company execMistakes breed inspiration, and inspiration breeds blog posts that help us all improve. We’re building on our last post 5 Online Marketing Mistakes You’re Making with five more common mistakes that we see business owners and marketers make every day marketing on the web and social media. Are you making these common online marketing mistakes?

  1. Not remembering the #1 rule of marketing. Though it’s the rule of successful marketing, many business owners and marketers forget that we’re reaching out to people—real, breathing people. That’s why it’s so important to use another guideline when producing marketing pieces: the two R’s of Social Media Marketing. What do your customers want? Who are you talking to?
  2. Ignoring hashtags on Twitter and Instagram. Hashtags are a valuable way to reach “outside the box”—and, no, we’re not talking about thinking creatively. Adding hashtags to your tweets and Instagram posts exposes your tweets and posts to another audience—to users who are following the hashtag or looking for information on that topic. If you’re tweet or post is useful, this is a sure-fire way to gain followers.
  3. Thinking your social media sites will grow on their own. If you want to gain followers, fans—whatever the social media user base is referred to on your social media site—you need to tell people. Use these ways to spread the word about your site, and don’t forget to give people a reason to want to follow your site.
  4. Making “knee jerk” decisions. This happens to business owners in so many different ways: by responding to an angry customer without thinking (find out how to respond professionally here), selecting an SEO firm without doing research, by tweeting or posting without thinking about the ramifications of what you’re saying. Proper social media posts, choosing the SEO firm that gets results, even responding to customers via your website or social media, takes careful thought (and sometimes training). If you don’t have time, don’t risk it. Look into outsourcing, training or to other business owners for information.
  5. By responding to your customers once a week. It’s not enough! The average American’s time online is growing, giving them more opportunities to reach out to your company with questions through your website and social media. Ignoring their questions, or waiting too long, is a definite way to lose your customers’ interest, and their business. Respond to inquiries (read how to set up an efficient customer service system here) within a few hours of the question, even if it’s just with a “Thank you for your question. Can you please give us more information so we can answer your question completely?”

Effective online marketing takes time and effort, so don’t cut corners. Do your research and keep up with SEO and social media marketing trends, or hire experts who can. You’ll find the rewards from a well-thought out online presence to be worth the time and funds, plus you’ll save the embarassment of common online marketing mistakes.

The Dark Side of Social Media Marketing

social media_croppedWe know this blog post seems contradictory for a firm that believes in social media marketing, and even offers social media marketing services. We can even hear the question, “Wait, there’s a downside to social media???” The fact is: business social media marketing is a world of untapped potential with endless possibilities. We’ve seen customers make purchasing decisions on Facebook and Twitter, and we’ve seen potential customers become loyal customers because of social media. That being said, businesses have to remember that marketing opportunity comes the potential for negatives. The more you know about the negatives of social media marketing, and common mistakes other businesses make, the more prepared you can be to avoid them:

  1. Losing business because of slow response times. Customers expect prompt responses when they ask questions on social media. What is a prompt response? Think minutes or, at worst, a few hours—not days or weeks.
  2. Brand image problems associated with an angry online customer. This does happen, and sometimes it happens in spite of all your best efforts. The most important part is to respond, and respond professionally and quickly. Try to take your discussions with the angry customer into messages where you can gather details and offer customer service. Just make sure you respond promptly—an unanswered angry customer is an angry customer who posts disparaging comments and reviews all over your social media pages until they get an answer.
  3. Losing customers because of sporadic social media posts. This negative is especially true for your younger customers who rely on online engagement with companies. If they don’t see you (or hear from you), they are not going to turn to you for information and questions when it’s time to buy.
  4. Unfavorable business reviews. Don’t delete the unfavorable reviews, or angry customer comments. Customers see this as hiding from the truth and manipulation. Rather, respond to their reviews with a professional reply, and ask them to message you with details about their unfavorable encounter. Ask them questions, offer them a discount (but make it a meaningful offer so you don’t insult them) and promise them better assistance in the future. Remember, in today’s day and age, any encounter with a customer can go viral—both the good and the bad.
  5. Backlash from inappropriate business social media posts. As a rule of thumb, don’t post or tweet about politics or religion. Stick to what you know—your products, services and industry—without selling too much. Before you post anything, think “how will this be viewed by my customers?” If your post can be taken in any negative way, err on the side of caution. Don’t post or tweet it.

The good news is that 90% of these problems can be avoided with education and research or outsourcing to an affordable social media marketing agency. Good social media marketing agencies offer affordable social media marketing packages, so you can select what’s right for your business. Hiring a social media marketing agency also means hiring social media experts who can answer all your social media marketing questions, and make recommendations based on what they’ve seen work for other businesses. Really, social media marketing is simple: to harness the positives, avoid the negatives by contacting the experts that can help you tap into that marketing potential.

Why would I want my business to be on social media?

social media_croppedYou can almost hear the exasperation in the voice of a business owner asking the question, can’t you? Exasperation or not, this question is excellent because creating a solid social media presence for your business takes work and time. Yes that’s right—work and time—because a good social media page needs relatable and relevant content on a regular basis to get results. It’s also valuable to stay up-to-date on the latest social media trends, which is another piece of the social media puzzle that takes time.

So why should your business be on social media??? Why? Good question, and we have equally good and solid reasons for your business to take the leap to social media:

  • 60% of customers make a purchasing decision without picking up the phone. One of our clients recently said to us, “It used to be that people would call, and I would have a chance to educate and sell to them. Now it’s not that way.” It’s true: people pick up a computer to decide what product is right for them or what company provides the best service. They make the decision when they want to (or are available to do so) on a mobile device easily at their finger tips. In the case of social media, people are on these networks daily anyways, so why not research the best companies while checking out the latest viral videos?
  • Customers expect customer service within minutes of their inquiry. We’ve all heard the frustration from a customer who has been put on hold way too long by a company. This is your chance to provide excellent online customer service promptly (learn how to handle a disgruntled customer in our recent blog post), leaving a lasting impression with your customer that will guide their next interaction and sale with your company.
  • Social media is your 24/7 connection to your customer. Consumers are retired, work first, second or third shift, are driven by their kids’ schedules…they’re busy. A recent study found that consumers expect your brand to be on social media, even if they don’t follow your page or profile. That means they expect you to be there, so they can reach out to you when they are available. We’ve seen potential customers schedule appointments with our clients while at work through social media, ask for information about a product through blog comments, and ask questions about services through social media posts. If you’re not on social media to answer their inquiries, they’ll reach out to your competitor for answers.
  • If you provide excellent products and service, your customers will let other customers know. We’re not going to lie to you. Not all customer reviews are good ones, but the good reviews are fodder for more good reviews—and for potential customers to find out what others think of you. Don’t cheat by asking your family and friends to leave reviews. Instead ask your satisfied customers to leave reviews on your social media sites. If you do get a customer with a bad review, make sure you respond promptly, sympathetically and with an apology if necessary.

Love what you hear about social media, but still don’t have the time? There’s no shame or blame in outsourcing your social media efforts to experts who can maintain your social media sites using your voice and the latest social media marketing information. The simple truth is that building a functional and beautiful website just isn’t enough anymore. It’s time to up the ante on your online marketing efforts. It’s time for your business to be on social media.

Social Media Marketing 101: Just the Basics for Businesses

social media_croppedSocial media marketing. Blog. Pinterest. You’ve seen these terms floating around, heard your fellow business owners discuss them…and have no idea what they mean. Fear not. We’re here to give you an education about social media, and you don’t have to tell anyone where you got the information from—just look smart using these terms (correctly):

Social media marketing
The term “social media marketing” sounds intimidating, but the definition isn’t. Social media marketing is using social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ and other social media sites to get your products and services in front of potential online customers. Ironically, though the goal of many businesses utilizing social media marketing is to get leads from social media, or get exposure for products, one of the keys to success is not to heavily sell on social media. Social media sites are all about conversations and connections, and customers are on these sites for those reasons—not to be banged over the head repeatedly with advertising. You can find other bad advice for social media marketing in our recent blog post.

Business Blog
Think of a blog like an online newspaper, with articles for customers. Like a newspaper, users flock to blogs for useful information and news—and not necessarily for the ads. Businesses can have advertisements next to the content, but the goal of a business blog should be to provide relevant, useful and entertaining information for current and potential customers. Blog articles are useful for businesses for three purposes: 1) for businesses who want to give out information on social media sites, 2) for businesses who want to get the attention of major search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo, and 3) to give your customers information they need to make a purchasing decision. Websites with new web pages (such as new blog posts) show up higher in results on search engines, and blog posts are an excellent way to attract customers with information (information that’s available 24/7) and get higher rankings.

A post is referring to an update on Facebook, the largest social media site with more than a billion active users. Each Facebook user sees a list of posts in their newsfeed from other users and businesses—from friends they allow to see their posts, and businesses they ‘like.’ Though Facebook is the largest social media site, it’s not the right social media site for every business. Find out what the right social media site is for your business by knowing your audience. Where are your current and potential customers so you can connect with them? One last note: even though a business may have thousands or millions of fans on Facebook, the way to measure success of a Facebook page is the level of engagement. How many fans like your posts? How many fans are commenting on your posts?

A social media tweet is associated with the logo of a bird, but these tweets come from 232 million active users on Twitter. Tweets are no more than 140 characters (including the url of the website you want to share), so you have to produce an attention-grabbing tweets to attract followers and give them a website to click on for more information. You can respond in three ways to a tweet: reply, favorite or retweet. If you want to ask a question about the tweet or tweet back, you hit reply. If you want to ask another user a question, type the “@” sign with the person’s Twitter name and then type a question in 140 characters or less. If you like a tweet from another user, simply click on the star under the tweet to favorite the tweet. This is one of the ways you can build relationships with other users, and they can “find” you when they are notified you favorited their tweet. If you want to share another user’s tweet, hit retweet to share the post with your followers. If you want more users to see your tweets, use hashtags (i.e. #packers or #marketing)—but know who else is using the hashtag by typing in the hashtag and phrase in the search box at the top of the screen. What’s the value of Twitter? Twitter is a great social media site to establish your business as a subject matter expert, spread the word about your products, “pull” users into your website by writing a catchy tweet and connect with potential customers and fellow businesses.

No we’re not talking about that sharp implement that pricked Sleeping Beauty. Not in this case. We’re talking about Pins on Pinterest, a social media site with a whopping 70 million users. People and businesses post pictures on Pinterest with a short description.  Eye-catching graphics are key, as well as a catchy description. Users pin photos they appreciate to their boards, which Pinterest defines as, “Boards are where you save your Pins. You can make boards for anything and everything—add pretzel recipes to your Grub board (done!), travel plans to your Going Places board, or watches and Aston Martins to your James Bond board.” So why should your business be on Pinterest? To get your products noticed and shared!  In addition, Pinterest is a great way to “pull” users into your website (which is a convenient button on each pin) because if a user is looking at your pin they already like your type of product—making them a potential customer.

One last (and very important!) key to social media marketing success: regularity. Businesses should not go into social media marketing with a half-hearted attitude. It not only embarrasses your business, but doesn’t yield the results you signed on to achieve. If you don’t have the time to post, tweet or pin for your business, hire a social media marketing firm that can. A good social media marketing firm can provide the regular updates on your social media sites—and expertise necessary for success.

5 Ways Not to Cut Corners In Social Media Marketing

social media_croppedThere always seems to be something more to do as a business owner, from day-to-day operations to trying to find the next big feature or service that gives your business the edge. Trying to find time to post to Facebook or tweeting can seem like a burden when your to-do list is long, but resist the urge to cut corners on your social media marketing. Your customers sense when you do, and you won’t achieve the results that you joined Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest to achieve.

  • Don’t cross post. Linking your Facebook page to Twitter, or your Pinterest account to Facebook may seem like a brilliant way to save time, however resist the temptation. Each social media site has its own atmosphere and set of rules, and social media players who play by those rules (your customers) do not look kindly on an obvious, automated cross post. In short, you are not giving your customers the good impression that you joined social media to achieve.
  • Using pictures without written consent is not recommended. With the advent of smart phones, it’s easy to snap a picture and share it on your social media site. Great time saver, right? Not so fast. If the subject of the picture is a customer, or someone in your store, follow a marketing best practice: get the subject’s written consent to use the photo.  This does not apply to pictures taken at public events.
  • Be prepared to be sued if you copy and paste photos from a Google search. We clearly remember the shocked expression of a local business owner when we told him that photos and graphics online are not for public use. This is a common misconception, and one that can get your business into legal hot water. Don’t assume the images that come up when you do a search are okay to use. Use your own photos or graphics, or be budget for stock photos from a photography site.
  • Don’t take a half-hearted approach to social media marketing. If we had a nickle for every time we heard a business owner say, “I meant to post regularly, but…” we’d own all of Wisconsin. Regular posts are important, because consistent customer interactions is the key to social media marketing results.
  • Schedule posts in moderation. Pre-scheduled posts seem like a great idea, don’t they? Just schedule all your posts for the month, then schedule the next. Your customers can see through the ruse. Schedule posts when you are on vacation, or for a short time period, but regularly check and live post your social media sites. You need to be able to respond to your customers, especially the occasional angry customer.

Don’t feel like you have to do all your social media marketing. There’s no shame or blame in outsourcing your social media marketing efforts. To the contrary, putting your business social media marketing in an expert’s hands can get you the results you desire: more customers, deeper customer interactions and an excellent online presence. Check out our do’s and don’ts of outsourcing so you know what to expect from hiring a social media marketing agency, then contact a firm that achieves results. Yes, it’s another thing to add to your to do list, but the long-term results, regular posts and shorter to do list are well worth it.

What do your customers want from your social media sites?

company execYou’ve heard the old adage “the customer is always right.” The advent of social media marketing may have altered how businesses communicate with their customers, but at the end of the day, the adage still rings true. Proving your customers are right by giving them what they want is the epitome of social media, sites specifically designed for conversations between the customer and the business. So what does your customer want to see on Facebook and Twitter, anyway? Here’s what our experience, and research, has shown:

Exclusive discounts. Want a sure way to attract customers to your site, and determine how many people are seeing your posts? Give out an exclusive social media offer with a coupon or discount code (with a graphic!), then sit back and see how often it is used. Remember, your customers only use the discount if it’s worthwhile, so don’t make it complicated.

Graphics & Pictures. Want to appeal to your visual learners? Studies have shown that posts with graphics are more likely to be shared and viewed than text-only posts. Use graphics and pictures as often as possible on Facebook and Twitter.

Relevant resources. Statistics have shown customers are more likely to buy from companies they trust. Build their trust by giving them resources (for information on the kind of resources check out our recent post) that help them.

(Occasional) giveaways. The number of fans and followers is not a true judge of your impact on social media. The amount of engaged customers is far more important. Are people responding to your posts? Are they seeing your posts? Use your social media analytics. If a person ‘likes’ your page and engages, they will repeatedly see your posts, and that’s what you want. Show your appreciation with occasional giveaways, but don’t feel compelled to repeatedly run giveaways. When you do run a giveaway on Facebook, make sure you follow the rules.

Most importantly, remember your customers are human. They are not numbers, they are humans using social media to interact and learn. Don’t post updates or tweets that sound like a robot. Be human and your customers will respond. Listen to them, and give them what they want—both in person and on social media.

If you can’t give them what they want because you don’t have time, or you just feel out of your league, we’ve said it before: there’s no shame or blame in outsourcing your social media marketing. Give your marketing firm direction, and trust them to give your customers what they want—even as that evolves with time. Believe it or not, outsourcing your social media marketing is more affordable than you think, giving you time to give your customers what they want—both on the phone and in your office or store.

Bad Social Media Marketing Advice You Should Ignore

man covering his ears so he doesn't hear bad social media marketing adviceJoining social media as a business can make you feel like you’ve just had a baby. Once you’re on social media, like a new parent, you receive advice from everyone and anyone that thinks they know about social media. And, like the woman that told you to mix whiskey into your baby bottles, you need to be able to filter out the bad—like these four falsehoods you’re bound to hear once you’ve given birth to a Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest page for your business:

  • “Social media is the place to sell, sell, sell!” Unlike traditional marketing, social media is a platform where the traditional advertising strategy yields negative results. Studies have shown that one of the main reasons consumers follow a business Facebook page is for special social media offers, but they don’t want to be sold to all the time. What they do want: information relevant to their life with a bit of entertainment and humor, if the nature of your industry allows it.
  • “Social media produces positive results and feedback.” This advice is partially true. Often when businesses join social media, they overlook the fact that they receive good and bad feedback from customers.  The truth: when you put yourself “out there” on social media, your followers can put anything on your page. Don’t get offended by one bad review or comment. Listen, and use the negative feedback as an opportunity to show the excellent customer service your company is capable of providing.
  • “Once you join social media, you don’t need anything else.” No, no, no! Don’t abandon your traditional marketing and sales tactics. Integrate social media into your marketing strategy, and use a similar tone and graphics on your social media channels so your customers recognize your brand. Studies have shown that email marketing, sending a message to your email list, is as strong as ever. Use that strength, and evaluate your results to find out what tactics produce the best results. Prioritize your time appropriately so you are reaching your customers through the tactics that get results.
  • “The more you post on Facebook, the more ‘likes’ you get.” Studies have shown that the number one reason customers ‘unlike’ a page is because business posts are crowding their newsfeed. They want to see their friends’ updates and a few business updates, but they don’t only want to see your company’s Facebook posts. On average, we’ve seen positive results from posting 1-5 times per week.

If you feel overwhelmed by the bad advice, put your social media marketing channels into the hands of someone you trust. Network with other business owners, and find a marketing firm that produces results for other small businesses. There’s no shame with utilizing a good “babysitter” that you trust—giving your business social media marketing results and relief from the overwhelming flow of good and bad advice.

What to Do When You Don’t Have Time for Social Media

social media_croppedYou’ve got a million things to do as a small business owner, and you can’t add anything more to your list. However, you’ve heard the social media buzz terms and talked to other business owners, and you’re sold on social media marketing. Your business is ready to embrace Facebook and Twitter, and reach out to your customers with solid content. Where do you start?

  • Hire a marketing firm you trust. Look past the buzz words and do your research. Network. Talk to fellow small business owners and ask who they trust with their social media marketing. Ask them what kind of results they’ve seen, and what to expect.
  • Stay involved. Don’t walk away and think that your work is done. Your marketer needs your input regularly. Anyone can create communications about heating and air conditioning, but the communications will be very general, and won’t reflect your business. What makes your business different?  What do you value and want the marketer to stress in your communications? Have your goals changed since your initial meeting with your marketer?
  • Be realistic. Rome was not built in a day, and neither are online marketing results. Give your marketer time to build momentum. Engaged followers, fans and customers are best attracted organically through quality content.

Remember that just as your business grows and evolves, so should your social media marketing tactics. A good marketer finds your online niche. It’s your job to give them the tools for that niche that embody your business—and give your customers something to talk about.

Where does social media fit into your marketing plan?

splash8_socialYou’ve heard about social media marketing and all the big names: Facebook, Google Plus, Twitter, Pinterest. But what does it mean for your business? Should you stop advertising and take your business exclusively to your fans on social media?

The answer: social media should be PART of your marketing plan. Like your website, a well-designed Facebook page or Twitter profile is a powerful marketing tool—on sites where customers and potential customers are already interacting with their friends and family. They can find resources, engaging content and a convenient place for interacting with your business on social media.

Social media should NOT replace your other marketing tools. Remember, it is only part of your marketing plan. Your website still needs to be updated with all the latest information and content. You still need to call and set up meetings with potential clients. Social media is just one outlet to reach out. If you have sale on a product, social media is an ideal platform to inform your customers—creatively. Want to let your customers know that you are a strong part of the community? Let them know about a fundraiser your business is sponsoring. Have a common question that your customers ask when they contact your business? Give them the resources on social media that give them the answer.

As with any other marketing tool, there are negatives to social media too. Maintaining a good social media site does not end the day of creation. If you find yourself pressed for time, trust your social media presence to the experts. They stay up-to-date on the latest trends and technologies, and can use the graphics and information strategically—giving you the best value for your social media investment and time to run your business. (KD Interactive has social media marketing packages that fit your budget—and your business. Click here to inquire about our experts and how they can give you the peace of mind about your social media presence and time to run your business.) Just one more part of social media marketing to note: customers can leave live reviews and comments on your page, so you need to be prepared for the positive and negative interactions that arise with an open format.

So don’t be intimidated by the social media jargon. Trust the experts, and embrace the opportunity to be social with your customers—and potential customers—that are already on social media.