Category Archives: Social media

Common Social Media Sins to Avoid

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.

Social Media 102: Twitter Basics for Business

twitter social media“Twitter doesn’t make any sense!” “It’s just a random group of words!” “I can’t make any sense of the twits!” We’ve heard it all from skeptics, including the most common, “Is anyone even on Twitter?” The answer is yes, with more than 300 million Twitter users log on every month to converse about everything from news to marketing to well, everything. To be sure, Twitter has evolved to a social media platform in its own right with its own identity—and advantages for businesses looking to engage with other twits, tweeps and all the other nicknames given to people who enjoy the 140-character conversations. Other advantages of using Twitter include:

  • Give your business a voice. Use Twitter as a chance to communicate and build relationships with your audience (make sure you know who that is) with a voice unique to your business. If appropriate, don’t be afraid to use humor and fun to engage with your audience.
  • Real-time engagement. Unlike other social media platforms, your tweets are seen by all your followers in real-time. There are no algorithms that impacts who sees your posts—and who doesn’t.
  • Establish your business as a subject matter expert. Twitter gives your brand the opportunity to show that you have expertise in your industry and to build trust with potential customers.
  • Provide quality customer service. Remember, Twitter is real-time. That means you can get positive and negative feedback from your customers. Don’t delete the negative comments; use the interaction as a chance to show that you listen to your customers, can provide quality customer service and are responsive to all feedback. With the negative also comes the positive feedback; monitor and record these comments to use as future testimonials. Oh, and don’t forget to say thank you to your loyal customers for taking the time to engage.

Because of Twitter’s uniqueness, it’s not unusual to feel intimidated and lost in the ocean of information. Ready for a Twitter breakthrough? Use this list of the must-know terms of Twitter, and some guidelines as you learn this micro-blogging site.

Twitter tweetTweets. A tweet is 140 characters (max!) of thoughts: silly thoughts, fun words, valuable information, teasers. Your tweets are about your business, your industry, your community and your passions. You can also attach a photo to your tweet, so know optimal sizes for your Twitter images. Tweets with links have been shown to get more favorites and retweets (see below) than tweets without. One note: it doesn’t matter the size of your link, as all links over 22 characters are counted as 22 characters. If you want to create a link that is smaller, use a link shortner which can be found with a simple search on Google, Yahoo or Bing.

Feed. A feed is a real-time list of tweets from accounts you have chosen to follow.

Hashtags. What was once known only as the pound sign has now become the source of useful and snarky additions to tweets. Hashtags are usually at the end of a tweet, though they can be in any part of your tweet. Hashtags can be used as a label that tells you the category or theme of a tweet. Businesses have also had great success in using hashtags as part of an event, such as a business conference or community outreach event and as part of fun campaigns to increase engagement with their customers and create a sense of community. Hashtags can also work in reverse, and are a great way to find tweets on a common subject, or all the tweets about a recent event.

Retweets. Retweets are your way to share other users’ tweets. Twitter recently added a feature that allows you to retweet and add a short comment, but you can retweet without. Remember that a retweet is an association with your brand, so make sure you click on links and know what you’re sharing before you hit the retweet symbol. You’re tweets are a reflection of your brand; be careful to stay on topic and when tweeting about sensitive issues. Treat your retweets the same way you would your dinner party conversation.

Favorites. A favorite shows that you like the user’s tweet. To find out how many retweets and favorites a tweet has, just look under the tweet. The star indicates number of favorites, and the rectangle is the symbol for retweets.

Direct messages. Direct messages are private messages sent between two users on Twitter. DM’s, as they are commonly referred to, are found under messages in the upper left corner.

Followers. Followers are the accounts that want to see what you have to say. These accounts see your tweets in their feed, and are most likely to engage with you.

Following. Following are the accounts that you want to see tweets from. These accounts show up in your feed, and can be sorted in lists if you want to organize them.

Twitter chats. Twitter chats are a group of users that converse about a certain topic. You can follow a twitter chat by typing in the hashtag associated with the twitter chat in the search box.

Don’t feel like you have time for this unique social media platform and mastering the art of the tweet? Trust your business Twitter account to experts who can build and grow your presence with your guidance. Use these do’s and don’ts of outsourcing, and be prepared to create a plan that takes advantage of all the opportunities that come with Twitter.

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.

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.

Understanding the Two R’s of Social Media Marketing

social media_croppedEver feel like social media marketing for your business is like wandering around in the dark with a blindfold? That unlocking the power of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+ is a meaningless, hazardous path with no road maps or guides? There are so many factors not definite in social media marketing because your marketing efforts have to be specific to the demographic of your audience: when you post, what you post, how often you post. But there are two guidelines that can guide you as you navigate through the world of social media, no matter what demographic you are trying to reach. Just use these two R’s when selecting what content to post, or when creating content for posting:

  • Relatable. Is your content relatable to your audience? Can they relate to the problem you are writing about or choosing content about? Does your content relate to the age group of your audience? One way to choose relatable content is to listen to your customers as you provide customer service and find content that answers their questions. Remember social media is not about openly selling to your customer—that goal is met by posting relatable content that helps them, and makes you stand out—it’s about listening.
  • Relevant. At first glance, relevant might appear to be the same, but there’s a slight difference. A cartoon may be relatable, but it’s not always relevant to your product or audience. Remember your audience should be following your brand because they care about the service (find out how to attract that kind of audience in this blog post) or product. Don’t alienate your core followers because your posts are not relevant to their interests. Sometimes social media marketers try to be relevant to everyone, but lose that core engaged group in the process. Remember, it’s better to have 300 engaged followers than to have 30,000 uninterested consumers that don’t care.

Social media marketing is a marathon. You don’t achieve your goals unless you keep putting in the effort on a regular basis. If you don’t have time, or feel you can’t use these guides wisely, contact a social media marketing firm that can. Give them regular input that you see in your business, and achieve results (another R!) with an engaged audience connected to your business.

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.

How Hashtags Changed Your Customers’ Online Expectations

company execSocial media has revolutionized the way businesses reach their customers. Consumers swarmed to social media, and businesses saw an opportunity to connect in a more meaningful way. The result: a change in customer expectations that every business should use when delving into the world of online marketing and social media and crafting a social media strategy. It’s one of the oldest adages of marketing, with a new twist thanks to social media: know your audience, and know what they want from you.

  • They want you to feed them relevant topics. They get updates from their friends and twerps in one long list, and expect the same from businesses. Give your customers what they want, and don’t make them search for it. They want relevant information and resources pertinent to their lives and the latest specials on products and services. They want blog and social media posts with videos, photos and text. As a whole, videos are the preferred format, which are 12x more likely to get a response than text-only posts. If you want to reach every type of consumer, “mix and match” formats (i.e. photos, apps, video, etc.), and use photos with every post to capture your customers’ attention.
  • They want updated information, and they don’t have patience for companies that can’t deliver. If you can’t give regular social media updates and blog posts, outsource to marketing experts. It’s better to have updated social media channels than irregular posts and dated information. We’ve said it before: there’s no shame or blame in outsourcing.     
  • They want online customer service, and they want it fast. One survey said that consumers want a response to their inquiry within four hours, with some studies putting that number as low as one. If you have a social media channel (or channels) or contact us form on your website, your customers are going to reach out with questions. If you’re a flooring company, they ask about the type of flooring ideal for their living space. If you’re a construction company, customers can send questions about their project. They expect a response, and they expect it fast. Make sure you’re ready to give a quick response, and provide friendly customer service for those with negative comments.
  • They want you to listen! You’ve given your customers a place to express their ideas and opinions. Take the good and the bad as an opportunity to know your customers, and adapt your business to what they want. Listen to their comments, and respond with the same customer service that you offer in your office or store.
  • Give them what they want, in a mobile format for expanding smartphone usage. If you’re posting a link, make sure it’s to a mobile friendly site (and make sure your website is mobile friendly!). The number of Americans with smartphones is increasing, and they won’t wait until they get to their laptop to be able to browse your site—they’ll take their money to a more mobile-friendly site.

Every social media audience has different preferences for browsing times, so research the statistics and experiment with post and tweets to see when your highest response times are. Know your online audience, know what they want, and deliver it with the same smile and friendly service you give the customers who walk into your store.

Content Marketing Sells

Relevance. How do you show your customers that your product or service is relevant to their lives?

Genuiness. How do you reach out to them personally, even when you have so many?

Consider content marketing. It’s a buzz word that’s all the craze in the marketing world. Content marketing is a philosophy, a strategy that goes beyond the traditional “Sell! Sell! Sell!” advertising. When you use content marketing as part of your online marketing strategy, it puts your business on the digital map—and keeps it there with solid tactics:

  • Updated content. What is the question that everyone asks when they stop in? Give them the answer 24/7 by posting the answer online. How is your product or service relevant to their life? Post content that gives them information and shows them how it works in their life. This is your chance to give your customer service beyond a phone call, beyond your business hours. With our virtual world, this is how you can support them when they need it. Use visuals to catch their attention, and interactive content to appeal to visual learners. In addition, search engines (which judge your content when they rank the top search results) look for the latest and greatest content with on any given topic.
  • Social media marketing. Your customers are online every day, checking in with their friends. Why not give them information (or a smile) as they are browsing? Become a resource for them without them having to work to get it. This is also your opportunity to get your content out into the digital world, and get visitors to your company website.
  • Genuine marketing messages. Does that website content sound like it’s written by a robot? Could be. Write your content for your audience, and personalize that content for email messages to your customer.

We can hear you asking, “why does my business need content marketing?” Well, you have customers don’t you?  Customers who have questions outside of your business hours. Customers who can find your business online if you use content marketing. Customers who find your website through top search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo. Content marketing is a customer-centric marketing strategy that benefits your company in two main ways:

  • Customer service. Updated content is available as a resource for your customers, even beyond your business hours. Studies have shown that customers expect online customer service, even through social media.
  • Search engine optimization. Search engines tend to like what customers like: updated content with information that everyone reads.

If content marketing sounds out of your league, or you don’t have time for it, outsource to a marketing company that has content marketing experts. Ask your network of fellow business owners for local companies that achieve results. Put your marketing in their hands, be the perfect client (if you need advice on that, check out our Outsourcing do’s and don’ts post) and watch the results as your business shows up on the digital map.

Achieve Results: Outsourcing Marketing Do’s & Don’ts

Don't be afraid to let go of the marketing bicycle, but know the do's and don'ts along the way.
Don’t be afraid to let go of the marketing bicycle, but know the do’s and don’ts along the way.

We’ve said it before, there’s no shame or blame when you outsource your content marketing. To the contrary, outsourcing shows that your company wants to achieve results. It shows you as a business owner are aware of the strengths and weaknesses of your business so you can allocate your resources to the projects you excel at.

There are some real benefits of outsourcing (like results and using the experts), but you also have to be realistic and give supportive input to your marketing experts. So follow these do’s and don’ts that get you the best value for your marketing dollar, and achieve optimum results with your marketing partner:

  • Don’t just forget about your online marketing. Contribute. Set up regular calls with the company to give them input on relevant topics, frequently asked questions you hear and information about what your goals are. Send them new specials and coupons so they can create content in line with your marketing materials and strategy.
  • Do tell them what makes your company unique. What makes your company stand out? What does your company excel at?
  • Do give them existing marketing materials. You want all your marketing materials to be seamless—with the same tone and voice. Give them something to work off of so they can create content that doesn’t sound like it’s outsourced. Your company’s online presence is not an online, it should sound and look like it fits with what you’ve already produced.
  • Don’t micromanage. Give them direction, information to work off of, revisions and approval.
  • Do trust their advice. One of the main reasons for outsourcing is that you giving your business marketing to the experts—the people who breathe and live online marketing. The experts who stay up to date on the latest technologies and stay up-to-date on what works and doesn’t work. Remember, the digital world evolves and changes, and what used to work might not work tomorrow. You’ve trusted them to get the best results, now let them do it.
  • Don’t jump on every bandwagon. There’s always a fad or a new craze in the online realm, but that doesn’t mean that fad or new social media site is right for you company or you need to pressure the professionals to follow it. Trust their advice.
  • Don’t think that more is always better. If you’re outsourcing, let the professionals put your money into the social media sites that fit your brand and industry. Your company doesn’t need to have a million different social media sites. Choose social media sites that fit your brand, and you have the resources to update regularly.
  • Do stay in touch with what they do. Don’t just walk away. Watch what they do and find out what they’re hearing from your customers online.
  • Don’t expect unreasonable results. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is online marketing. It takes time and effort to build up an audience. An online presence does not get miracles. Don’t expect them.
  • Do tell your customers to check your blog and social media sites. Even with all the advances in technology, word of mouth is still the best way to draw customers and potential customers to your blog and social media sites. Spread the word casually. “Thanks for coming in. Make sure you stay up-to-date on store specials by liking our Facebook page.”
  • Do promise and follow through. You can’t have one without the other. If you promise to add a blog or update a social media site in addition to their posts, or you want them to use certain information for their next post, send it to them when you promise.
  • Don’t think you’re their only true love. The best marketing companies are in demand. You are not their only client, so don’t be a diva about their time. Remember, they are working on deadline and have other clients they work for. At the same time, do ask for a reasonable amount of time to touch base with them each month.

You may need to find the right balance with your marketing company, but finding the perfect formula yields results—and sales—for both of you.