Understanding Your Social Customer in 3 Steps

social-media-audiencesThe most daunting part of social media marketing for small business is understanding your audience.

After all, they are your customers and potential new leads.

Getting to know your fan base is the most important key to figuring out the best way to reach them with content that is engaging.  Here are a few tips to help demystify your marketing targets.

1. Find out where they are

It may seem obvious, but you should know which social media platforms your customer segment uses.  If you notice more fans active on Facebook, focus on putting great content into the news feed. This doesn’t mean to disregard other social networks because they could surprise you with new leads.  Go to where your fans are and show them your best.

2. Match the Network

The majority of social network users have at least two accounts on different platforms.  Which networks are used very much depends on what the user is looking for, like turning to Twitter for news and Pinterest for recipes.  Each platform is provides a unique experience, so tailor your approach to match the tone of the community.  Focus your content on the most relevant topics in your industry and target your audience.

sharing3. Sharing and Purchasing

Most social networks offer metrics and analytics now because of the rise of social media marketing for business.  For networks that don’t, other platforms have developed services to monitor metrics for you.  These simple tools allow you to see what of your content is getting engagement and how.  It’s like handing you the keys to what works and what doesn’t.  Social media drives roughly half of online and in-store purchasing.  Half of social media-related purchasing takes place within 1 week of engaging with the purchased item. Find out what your audience is looking for and give it to them by simply asking.

Ideally, after you ask questions about your customers’ interests, you will compare that to your metrics and plan your marketing strategy from there.

Understanding your customer requires listening and responding to make a connection.

Building these relationships takes time, but if you know what you are looking for it should be a breeze.



Facebook Marketing for Business

500x_facebook_macro_0Facebook is the largest and most used social networking platform out there, so it’s no wonder that your business’s presence there is important.  Tons of research has been done by marketing agencies to find out what works as content and what doesn’t.

Does sponsoring stories make a difference?

We’ve already covered why Facebook hashtags don’t work well for the platform, but here are some tips on what you should keep in mind when tailoring your content.

1. Mobile

Over three quarters of Facebook users are mobile.  The Facebook app is one of the most popular apps for across all smartphones. This means that slightly less than 100 million people log into their account through their mobile devices.  Make sure your page is optimized for mobile use. Your entire timeline is not visible, so pin your best content to highlight it.  Encourage people to check in at your locations or events and ask for reviews.

2. Paid Ads

Promoting your Facebook posts with a paid ad or sponsored story has been shown to significantly increase reach.  Keep in mind that paid ads do not draw as much engagement as non-promotional content, so stick to sponsoring stories that drive brand awareness and increase your customer base.

NegativeFeedback3. Negative Feedback

Negative feedback hurts your overall post reach.  Users can hide your content or unlike your page if they are given a reason to.  For most post types, negative feedback increases when paid ads are used.  Figure out what your audience prefers and share content they will enjoy.  Ask questions to show you are engaged with your audience on a personal level and care about what they have to say.  Mix up your posts and experiment with paid and unpaid versions.  Check your page Insights at least weekly.

The most important thing to remember with all social networks is that it’s about conversation.

Monitor how your brand is perceived and keep actively engaging with your audience.  Learn from your mistakes and never stop trying to be better. If you follow these tips, you will stay on top of your Facebook game.

Building Relationships in Social Media

social-media-billboardMost social strategies are mapped out with specific business objectives in mind such as brand awareness, customer care or sales. But regardless of specific business goals, there’s a central component to any successful social program: building relationships.

Relationships are the motivation and driving force behind social media.

Connecting with others and finding value in these relationships is why we as consumers use social networks in our daily lives. The companies who find valuable ways to build relationships win share of voice, loyalty and ultimately, new business. The catch is that these relationships aren’t built overnight. They must be nurtured over time by consistently creating great social experiences for your customers.

Social isn’t about “quick wins”, but rather approaching each social interaction as one step in an ongoing journey to building lasting relationships. Striving to make each social moment great is what creates likeable brands.

While the road to building lasting relationships is long, here are three crucial elements all social brands can implement to change their relationship status with consumers.

1. Be a trusted connection by listening first, and never stop.Social-Media-Listening-Image-two

We don’t stay friends with people who only talk about themselves and we don’t want to engage with brands on social that do the same. As valuable as it is to get the word out about your brand, listening is essential to building relationships with customers. It provides brands with insight into their audience, their likes and dislikes, and what they can expect from you on social channels. In addition, listening for any negative customer feedback allows brands to always keep improving and ultimately give their customers what they want.

2. Fuel conversation by responding and engaging.

In today’s connected world, when customers take the time to engage in conversation with your brand, they often expect your company to take the time to respond back. As a result, brands can no longer get away with being unresponsive on social channels. Responding to, and engaging with, your social customers signals that your brand is invested in each individual relationship. Acknowledging negative feedback provides an opportunity to turn a negative customer experience into a positive one. Engaging with customers to answer a question or send appreciation can instantly turn a good experience into a great one.

storytelling3. Become a storyteller by sharing and inspiring stories.

Storytelling is one of the most powerful ways we as people communicate. A great story captivates and engages emotionally, leaving people inspired to share. Social brands can now tell their story – and stories of their customers – easier than ever before. Sharing a customer anecdote can ignite community-wide excitement, and revealing the faces and voices behind your company can connect customers with employees on a personal level.

Every brand has a story to tell – be it customers who have overcome obstacles, humble beginnings or a glimpse inside the lives of leadership. Tapping into emotions and giving people a reason to share your story is one of the most effective ways to build word of mouth and deepen customers relationship with your brand. Unlike with traditional media, social offers the ability to tell new stories instantly and with little cost.

Creating great social experiences that build lasting relationships is no small task.

It requires dedication and we are only scratching the surface of what it takes to make these meaningful connections. Take the time to nurture your social media relationships and they will pay off.

Social Trends for 2014

It’s clear that social media is here to stay, but many businesses are still slow to adopt a strategy on how to best utilize it for marketing.social-media-trends-for-2011  New social networking platforms continue to appear and the existing ones, like Facebook and Twitter, continue to evolve to keep up with the changing market.  We have analyzed the current trends in social media and have made some predictions for next year so that you can be ahead of the curve.

1. Investment in Social Media is a Necessity

It’s already been clear that your business should have a presence on social media, but in the coming year it’s absolutely necessary.  Integrating social media into your marketing plan is key for generating leads, referrals and brand recognition which in turn leads to higher revenue. Brand awareness, word-of-mouth advertising, improved search rankings, and direct customer interaction are just a few of the key benefits from having engaging social media pages.

google-plus-3602. Google+ is on the Rise

Google+ already has the second highest number of monthly users behind Facebook, and that user base continues to rise.  It’s proving itself to be more than just another social network, with the integration of higher SEO rankings for Google+ pages, improved social signals and a more personalized search experience for users. Also, with the new Google Authorship, You can link content you publish on a specific domain to your Google+ profile. Businesses that are having trouble keeping up with multiple social networks at once could turn to Google+ as their main outlet because of all the benefits associated with content search optimization.

3. Image is Everything

We cannot emphasize this enough, but image centric content is key in generating engagement on social media platforms.  Many studies show that users are much more likely to click on posts with images or videos than just text-based content.  Coupling important information with eye-catching images or graphics is a great way to stand out in the news feed, so do it.

4. The Rise of Micro-Videoinstagram-vine

Vine and Instagram have revolutionized real-time video sharing in social media. With a max of 15 seconds for Instagram and 6 seconds for Vine, users can create short pieces on their smartphones to share instantly with their fans. We’ve already talked about the many benefits of using these services for small business marketing, so it’s only fair that more and more companies will be jumping on the video bandwagon.

5. LinkedIn Will Become a Major Player

LinkedIn has always been the #1 social networking site for business professionals, boasting nearly 240 million users, but now with the launch of its Influencers program, it will become a source for content creation and curation.  This program allows for selected “thought leaders” to share original content directly with LinkedIn users. Where LinkedIn was already a great source of information, now it will provide insight from some of the best minds in business.

Looking ahead to the future is not easy, but if you keep these trends in mind going forward with your social media plan, you should be ahead of the curve.


Using Hashtags


In the tide of social media feeds it can be difficult to keep your posts above the waterline.  Thus, the Hashtag was born in 2009 on Twitter as a solution to this problem. The best way to explain a hashtag is a way of grouping information together. Since 2009 many other of the most popular social networking sites have adopted it’s use as well.

The main problem with hashtags is that many people don’t understand them.

To someone new to Twitter, putting the “#” in front of words looks like nonsense, but don’t avoid using them.  Connecting your content with others using the hashtag ensures it’s getting to the audience that is interested.  Use hashtags that are already being used in your industry as well as a few of your own to join in the community of dialog.

Another benefit of using hashtags is connecting your business to people you don’t already know.

You will appear in the stream of the hashtag which can lead to new resources and opportunities.  Relevant posts tracked through hashtags help build your audience and community. They help people sort through the clutter to focus on what they truly care about, so make sure you are giving it to them.

Being consistent with the use of your hashtags and sticking to them increases visibility.  Don’t be discouraged if something doesn’t take off right away because exposure takes time.  Reshare other’s content, keeping the original information, hashtags and poster but add your own hashtags as well.  Associating your spin on shared content not only lets people know you are participating in what others post, but you have something to add.

If your hashtag is interesting, it will generate activity. twitter

Participating in live conversations on Twitter, tracked via hashtag, is a great way to get your name and brand out there. Many live events has special hashtags so that event organizers can track what people are saying about it and provide feedback.  Schedule conversations with your audience and enjoy hearing what your fans have to say.

Being afraid of making mistakes on social media should not deter your from experimenting with new ways to generate content.  Hashtags are a simple way to branch out and connect to others, so use them.  Be be aware, there is a fine line between participating and overuse. If done correctly, hashtags could help elevate your brand to a new level.

Standing Out with Unique Content

uniqueUnique is a word that’s thrown around a lot now a days, but I’m not sure it applies to everything that it’s used for. The competition for content marketing in social media is fierce because you not only have to worry about your direct competitors, but also all other marketers. We are gonna go over some tips to help you develop unique content around your brand that should make you stand out from the crowd.

1. Perpetual Content

The very first step in making your content unique, is constantly churning out quality posts multiple times per week (or per day depending on the platform). Competitors can’t really copy you if you are putting out your distinctive content on a regular basis and engaging with your fans.

2. Vary Content Platforms

All marketers re-use content across multiple platforms, but give thought to what you are sharing and why you are using that format. Don’t pigeonhole yourself into always doing the same things with your content.  Some platforms are better suited for visual media than others, so keep that in mind as you are recycling your best bits of information.

3. Surprise People

Always wearing the same thing to work get’s pretty boring, right? The same idea is true for your content. Do things your audience Social-Platformswouldn’t expect from you.  Surprise product giveaway? Awesome! Covering a new topic? Go ahead! Share content from others that is interesting to your fanbase, even if it doesn’t directly relate to your business.  Give people a reason to recommend your pages to friends.

4. Take a Stand and Stay Relevant

Provide useful information to your fan base about changes in your industry and how they might effect business.  Obviously you want to avoid negative positions, but you can be objective about the things that effect your customers directly.  Do a video or blog post on the changing landscape of Facebook or an industry specific source. Your fans will appreciate the insight and information you provide.

5. Keep Tabs on Your SEO

All the work you put into your content will be for nothing if it’s not showing up in search results.  There are many services that help you monitor your SEO, for both your social media pages as well as your website.  Keep up with both to ensure that your content is visible to the world.

Creating interesting, special content for your business shouldn’t be a chore, so approach it with excitement.  You are getting your business name out there.  Make sure what’s associated with you is what you want people to see.  Stay fresh and engaging, and you will have no trouble being a content superstar.


whySocial media marketing has become a must for business.  Period.

With so many people in the pool, it’s easy for your pages to get lost in the crowd. Making unique, engaging content is not only difficult, but tricky when online reputation means so much. Many business owners find themselves asking “how do I market myself?” or “what do I post and where?”, but these are not the most important questions when it comes to your business.  For marketing purposes, as well as just good business practice, the most important question is “Why?”. Why are you creating content? Why should your audience choose you? Why should they listen? Your “Why” is what makes you special. It is the basic building block of your business and should be the foundation for your social media strategy.  Knowing the higher purpose of your business helps guide decisions and give you focus to your content.

Once you answer your “why?”, the next point should be “how?”

How do you accomplish what you are here to do? How are you different from your competitors? These basic facts can essentially make up your entire social media plan.  Choose the best platforms for your message and tell the world why they should care.  Living your brand’s “why” and “how” ensure’s that not only is your content focused but genuine.  Who you are talking to, your audience, can tell if you are pushing content for the sake of it.  Genuine content develops genuine interest from consumers.

Your company cares about it’s customers and social media is the perfect channel to express that.  You are giving relevant information Hand holding a Social Media 3d Sphereand listening to feedback.  Communication matters for your business so make sure you are communicating to the people who are in your niche.

You can’t be all things to all people with your business, so cater to those who are or may be interested in what you do.

Stick to the platforms that are most effective for your market.  Not all brands are suited for Pinterest, Instagram or Twitter.  Remember to ask yourself “why” when it comes to the channels you choose. Why use Facebook over Google+? What are the advantages of each platform?


If you dig deep into your brand at the beginning of your social media adventure, you should be able to develop a comprehensive strategy that satisfies your audience as well as yourself.

Don’t be afraid of letting people really get to know your brand and what it stands for.  Above all, be true to yourself.

Divorce and Social Media


Marriages take effort. However, when a couple walks down the aisle, they generally don’t take this into consideration. The “honeymoon” phase brings amazing memories and fun moments shared together. Unfortunately, for some couples, the potential of divorce becomes more imminent as time goes on. According to the CDC, 33% of first marriages end in divorce within ten years.

So what does this have to do with social media?

Well, a successful business partnership is much like a successful marriage where all parties want to grow the business equally. Business and marriage are hard work.

It is easy to get along when things are going well but what happens when a business or a marriage is facing issues? We are going to look at the top 5 reasons for divorce in the U.S. and see how they apply to social media marketing for business.

1. Communication issues

It is true – talking and communicating are two different things. When communication shuts down, individuals may feel as if their spouse no longer cares about them, their feelings, or what is important in their life. Social media works the same way, after all, it is all about communication.  Communicating your message and values properly not only enhances your businesses’ social media presence, but it makes your audience feel as if they have a real relationship with your company.

2. Disagreements over money

The best way to steer clear of this difficult situation is to clearly discuss the topic of money before marriage. This means determining how bills will be paid and how money will be spent on extra activities and various purchases. The same is true for social media.  What is your budget for marketing? Can you afford paid ads on Facebook or an upgraded Linked In membership? You must decide what services you cannot live without and plan accordingly.

3. Jealousy and trust issues

Many couples think that as long as their spouse is wearing a wedding ring, they will no longer suffer from the jealousy issues they experienced while dating. Unfortunately, the ring rarely changes anything.  Social media audiences are fickle and will run at the first sign of mistrust. So keep your business open and honest on your social media channels and your customers should have no problems trusting you.

4. Differences in life plans

“You want three children? I never agreed to that!” So many couples enter into a marriage without first discussing their plans post-marriage. To best avoid the chance of unforeseen differences in life plans after the wedding, these issues should be discussed in great detail before the big day and agreed upon. Your social media plan should be similarly discussed and thought out with your employees.  Your message should be focused, not bogged down by a bunch of different directions.

5. Infidelity

Finally, infidelity is a huge marriage ender. The moment at which one spouse makes the conscious decision to cheat on the other is a defining day in any marriage. Similarly, your clients and audience can feel slighted by your deviation in your core goals and ideals.  Customers want to know that they are working with a company they trust and agree with personally.  Changing the way you handle your business can make your audience feel as if you haven’t been true to them or what you’ve promised to offer when the relationship was started.

Remember, customer engagement is your priority and social media is the key. So here’s to a long, lasting partnership with your audience, may it be ever fruitful.

Avoiding Social Media Reputation Meltdown

reputationYour business’s reputation has always meant a lot, but now in the social media age it’s becoming harder and harder to maintain.  Companies that have otherwise maintained a good reputation with consumers have engaged in total public meltdowns on social media platforms. Why does this happen? What can you do to avoid tarnishing your own reputation on your social media pages?

Don’t Reply to Everyone– You cannot reply to every person that is critical of your business, period.  You can try to deal with customer complaints and negative experiences as best you can, always with polite and helpful responses.  Don’t give in to the impulse to respond to every comment defensively, but instead keep engaged in customer conversations in a proactive way.

Don’t Respond to Trolls– Internet trolls are people who seem to exist only to cause discord and negativity.  They actively try to encourage arguments and anger to illicit attention.  Recognize these people when they are commenting and don’t give in.  Responding to trolls just adds fuel to the fire because they are not looking for a solution to a problem.

Don’t React Immediately– Everyone’s gut instinct to criticism is to get defensive and angry.  Avoid this.  Take some time to think and stop-negativityplan your response.  Ask others to read your response to make sure it’s appropriate.  Sometimes the best response is silence. If you are addressing a negative review or concern, do what you can to be positive and helpful.  If you can help turn a negative customer experience into a positive one, your brand will be stronger for it.

Don’t Insult People– My grandfather was a big fan of telling me “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all”.  I still try to remember this as an adult and it very much applies to social media.  Once something is on the internet, you can be guaranteed it will never go away.  Negative and insulting comments toward customers/fans will not only blow up the situation, but make you look really bad.  It doesn’t matter if the commenter insulted you and your entire family, keep a level head and don’t engage in a poop slinging contest or you will come away looking like the bad guy.

Learn When to Leave It Alone– When facing negative feedback, it’s important to know when to give up.  Sometimes people just want to vent and cannot be helped.  Sometimes responding only makes things worse if you don’t have solutions to the original grievance.  People will leave you alone if you don’t feed into negativity.  Take criticism as learning experiences and try to avoid making similar or worse mistakes in the future.

Managing your business reputation can be a challenge, but if you follow these tips to avoid social media meltdown, it should be smooth sailing.


Facebook Hashtags are for the Birds

Facebook.HashtagIf all of social media is a like a huge party where everyone is talking at once, hashtags are like signs telling people where to go to join a conversation that is relevant to certain topics.  Facebook, a social network built on real, person to person connections, is more like a dinner party with the people you know. Unfortunately, Facebook is still trying to get into the huge party but seems to find itself out of place. At it’s core, Facebook is not really well suited for hashtags, which are designed to help break into public conversations on networks like Twitter and Instagram.

Hashtags are a way to give your content an extra boost of visibility to anyone who is interested in your subject matter.

Sites like Twitter and Instagram are not built around a users real identity, a stipulation that Facebook is fairly strict about.  Tweets have a shelf life of approximately 3 minutes and most users only look at their feed, whereas Facebook posts are tied directly to who you are and are easy to back track through.  This idea of near anonymity on Twitter helps makes the hashtag the only real way to connect with other people that you don’t know.

Very little communication on Facebook is meant for people that the users don’t know, making the user of hashtags relatively irrelevant.

Also, hashtags on Facebook are still subject to privacy settings, meaning that if you use a hashtag, only the people allowed to view your page can see it.  Facebook has spent years telling it’s users to be careful about their privacy because of the personal nature of the profiles, so it only makes sense now that platform wide hashtags don’t work the same way as Twitter.

Additionally, Facebook is not subjected to the limited character count of Twitter, so the metadata hashtags provide is not as useful in helping define posts. Hashtags connect tweets and Instagram posts to other posts like it, something that again goes against it’s primary function.  Some research suggests that using hashtags on Facebook actually hurt the engagement of the posts they were used in.


The study, done by Edgerank Checker, only measured pages, not profiles and how users were clicking them. For businesses, this means it’s detrimental to your overall engagement to use hashtags because users simply don’t click them.

Ultimately, it comes down to people versus thoughts.

Facebook is for peer to peer connection and Twitter is a platform designed to share short thoughts.  So for now, Facebook can stick to being what it’s good at and leave the #hashtagging to Instagram and Twitter.