On being truly committed to social media in 2018…

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2018 is in our crosshairs and conquering social media is on top of every brand and business’ to do list. Owners, Chief Marketing Officers, and Brand Managers, are trying to answer a myriad of key questions including – “What is the ROI, what KPI’s should I be assessing? Do I outsource, handle internally, use a hybrid model etc.?”  You must have confidence in your product or service, have some goals you want to achieve and then you can deploy strategies and tactics that can work.

Of course, Video, Stories, Paid Social, Influencers, Voice (and others) are the hot-button topics that forecasters and marketers are chattering about, but before jumping into any of these you have got to get your head around the fact that social is not a sometimes thing, it is an always on-all of the time thing.  You have to believe it in your bones and you must be all in and not half-hearted in your execution. This is about your brand’s survival, act as if!

First, it is important to remember two very important facts: 

1)   Social Media is not a vertical like PR or Direct Response.  It is a horizontal layer that touches all aspects of a business and therefore shouldn’t lie solely within the marketing department.  It cannot only be assessed by ROI and KPI measurements, both marketing metrics.  It must be looked at more holistically than that.

2)   Prior to choosing whether or not to outsource or handle internally, you must sit down and really map out the business objectives.  Once you really know what you want to accomplish, you can then have a social media plan that is commensurate with your real objectives.  An expert can help you get there and internally everyone must be onboard.  You will quickly learn that it is impossible to dominate in social with one junior level salary allocated, so you either need to hire an agency (who can provide the bodies and skills) or invest in an internal team of more than one.

Business owners and senior management need to focus on growth and the underlying business and they often struggle with how to get social media started. A company’s voice in the social realm needs to be driven from within and then shaped and broadcasted by someone who knows what they are doing.  In the end, your goals don’t change with social media, they drive it!

The problem is that while businesses are sitting on the sidelines and reviewing proposals and plans, they are still doing most things wrong.  A sound marketing strategy is always recommended of course, but there is a very important interim step that is being overlooked.  It is mission critical to get “your house in order” as soon as possible so as to tie the tourniquet and stop any bleeding (i.e. loss of opportunities to engage).

Social media is just a new and en vogue term for the Internet as a whole, and social networks have just made the sharing of relevant and “important” information simple.  In order to be successful, you need to create content people care about and then give them reasons to share it.  You must have your own branded platforms that tell your story and encourage fans/followers and customers to engage with them. Simple right?

Once you really know what you want to accomplish on the Internet in 2018 (and beyond) then, and only then, can you really have a roadmap for a social media strategy.  Based on your real objective(s) you can craft a make sense plan to leverage the web accordingly.

With e-commerce, the main objective is to sell a product to a customer. It is highly recommended to have all platforms work to seed sale opportunities and to invite traffic back to product pages.  Try to reduce how many clicks it takes to get the user to take out their credit card and buy. There are different nuances associated with a website looking to sell product and the business should be thinking like a “store” in their online/social efforts.

For all brands (e-commerce focused or not), the main objective should be new user acquisition and not necessarily a direct sale on their own website. It is imperative to make the transition from social platforms to the website a seamless one and to use content outside of just product promotion to get them there.  It I also highly recommended to make signing up very easy and front and center wherever possible. Social platforms need to be tributaries to sign up pages where new users can/will be converted.  It might all begin with simple awareness campaigns, such as boosting posts, IG Ads and other reach based efforts, to initiate the acquisition. These should be a part of the mix for sure and then efforts need to be made downstream to pull them out of the river and onto the boat.

Regardless of your goals, social influence will dictate behavior.  Whereas a website is so important to help convert your objectives, it is often only a one-way conversation.  Nowadays consumers care less about what you say about your product and more about what others say about it.  The power of social is in helping customers become brand ambassadors and influencers about your product or service.

In the end, the most important thing is to not overthink social, or even worse to sit on the sidelines until you feel that you have it figured out.  There is a foundational responsibility to your business, to get started and to allow for users to spread the word about you.  Know your plan and then lay a social media strategy over it to help you get there. Just keep in mind that your business drives social and not the other way around. Every day that passes without a plan to improve will translate into lost business or lost WOM (Word of Mouth) traction.  What’s the ROI on that?

Good luck next year, I hope you crush it!

 

 

 

 

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Start Getting Serious About Social Media, Or Lose.

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It is mind boggling to me how some brands and businesses are still debating whether or not they need a social strategy.  I hear things like “it doesn’t apply to my industry,” or “it doesn’t sell product or create revenue,” or “my client base doesn’t use this network or that,” etc. People…you are over thinking it. If you have set out to be in business, then you need to define your goals as a company and then layer in a social strategy that is consistent with them…This is fact, not fiction.

Social media is the internet and the various social networks are just a part of the ecosystem.  Look around; are people using computers, tablets and smartphones everywhere you look?  Trust me, you will be interacted with online and to not have a real, make sense strategy in place is detrimental to your business.  Stop the insanity.

Social media helps with branding, partnerships,  improved search rankings, lower marketing costs, better customer service and generating qualified leads and sales. These are just some baseline reasons, as to why you need a social presence and social minded strategy coming from the very top.  It is mission critical to stay the course on your social efforts if you ever plan to reap the benefits listed above.  It does not come over night. It requires time, energy and effort.  It is an undying commitment to be a good company and a provider of positive interactions.  If you are genuine in this approach people will take to it and they will buy.  Marketing costs will go down, sales will go up and your economic model will benefit greatly. Faking it will lead to clean up work, customer service issues and will be counter-productive to your company’s goals.

Each week you need to drive the message and focus on all of the benefits listed. It is not a marketing campaign that you run for 2 weeks and then review ROI’s and KPI’s on a spreadsheet.  Some success will be measured by gut, while some will be in responsiveness.  Some will change on a dime based on pivots in your industry or your business.  You need to define what is important to you (aesthetic? service? troubleshooting? interaction?) and then execute a plan that is consistent with any and all of those.

It is a living and breathing thing and will develop with your brand.  It is not a silver bullet, it is a suit of armor that will allow you to be strong and win online. This social media plan must be planted, and then you must nurture it and let it grow. Then you will be the beneficiary of a business built to last.

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Social Media- Beyond Fans and Followers

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I think one thing that sets our agency apart from the others is that I’m a salesman first and foremost.  Because of this, my wiring is to build businesses, generate revenue and close sales.  I’m not a creative who decided to open an agency and I’m not a PR person reinventing himself in social.  I am a business builder who is looking for ways to add revenue to the bottom line and grow.   This is an important distinction because I think most business owners still think social media is important, but does not generate dollars and this just isn’t true. Every day I get up, come into the office and get to work to prove the doubters wrong and to help my clients win online.

Social media has evolved over the last few years and it’s moved away from fans and followers and more towards a holistic digital approach. This has been our take on social from day one which I think gives us a leg up and helps us get ahead.  Helping clients understand this is usually the hardest part, because some even say that they hired us because they feel competitor pressure to get in the game, but they are fully expecting that it doesn’t lead to sales.  Not only does it directly generate revenue, it also helps them convert sales in other, less tangible areas too.

When we work with clients, we look at their website, content, emails, promotions, search and social as all being part of an ecosystem.  We then develop strategies that help our clients navigate that ecosystem the right way.   Some of our greatest success stories are felt behind the scenes in sales, web traffic and email captures and often less so in fan growth or retweets.  This wider view on social is mission critical if you want to truly succeed.

When we start with clients we go deep and we reverse engineer a plan based on their main objectives.  Now they usually have many, so we have to create a balanced approach to social media.  That being said we always recommend that they get their house in order first.  Some have Google Analytics, but never check them or worse don’t even know how to.  Some capture email addresses, but don’t send out emails.  Some post on social networks, but never respond when people speak to them on those channels.   Things are just a mess.

The truth is that social media is just a new term for the internet.  Social networks are just some of the tools you use to navigate today’s web, but not the only ones.  You really need to have a wider view on social media, and somebody at the helm who can drive the ship and keep you on track.  I touched on this in a piece I wrote for Forbes a few months back and I live it every day. Managing a brand’s social media is a full time position (or multiple full time positions) and needs to be integrated into your bigger digital strategy.

As retail continues to struggle and more and more consumers turn to the web and mobile, you need to make sure your thinking and your approach are in order.   Your web traffic, fans, followers, emails, prospects and of course your customers, are all opportunities to tell your story and grow your business. Be wise, or you are planning your demise…

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Rolling in the Deep: Instagram Analytics

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This week Instagram launched deeper analytics for advertisers. With these analytics they offer greater visibility into how their campaigns are performing on the network.

The new metrics, similar to impressions, reach and engagement will be great tools to provide data to advertisers and marketers. According to Mashable, the Facebook-owned photo social platform plans to start the program to all potential advertisers in the coming months. For now, instagram has rolled out to their ad partners. Their ad partners range from Levi’s to Taco Bell.

These analytics will allow advertisers and marketers see an age and sex breakdown of users who are interacting with the brands. Moreover, there will be visibility to how an ad on Instagram will look like on a mobile phone. Advertisers can also get a detailed view of the posts and ads they have previously done. They can sort it out by chronology, impressions and likes. Instragram also created a raw data feed, which advertisers and marketers can use to sort data.

With these deeper analytics it will be easier to see which creative outlet works the best for various brands.

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Sircle Media on Salesforce Marketing Cloud

I was so honored to be featured on on the topic of using Social Media Marketing to drive conversions.  Each brand/business has specific goals and social media networks and the sharing of content on them is a must have component for success. Each business is slightly different and therefore their implementation of tools will be slightly different. That being said some basic principles apply.

I firmly believe that social is a horizontal layer that touches every department of a business or brand.  It shouldn’t be treated as it’s own vertical like PR or direct response and in fact it has a major impact on the success of both of those.  It is typically remanded to the marketing team, but it goes much deeper than that.

If a business knows what it is looking to accomplish then social media tools and strategies need to be integrated at every turn and wrapped  around all other initiatives to drive behavior and to convert opportunities.  Choosing your course in social should not be an either or decision.  Social exists in and around your brand whether you like it or not and once you embrace that you are on the path to success.

Give it a read and/or give me a call!  Let’s discuss.

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Sircle Media’s 3 Step Process to Social Media Success

Success through Social Media is not some voodoo formula that magically makes your business grow leaps and bounds over night.  Like anything else you need to employ make sense strategy and execute accordingly.  We have developed a 3 Step (Phase) process that we think works in achieving measurable success through Social Media Efforts:

Step 1- BE SEEN

We design your assets, update your touch points (Website Icons, Email Marketing Icons, and all of your Social Media Profiles) and devise a themed messaging strategy around what will be SEEN when fans/consumers/prospects SEE you online. We secure all of the necessary usernames across all platforms (even if you are not using that profile yet) and we make sure that everything is on brand. We focus most heavily on custom Facebook design because we feel this platform affords us the most robust messaging tools to communicate your overall message. We want to gain likes, encourage brand awareness around all of your products and services and encourage the sharing of your content by Facebook users amongst their friends and family.

Step 2- BE HEARD

This is where we actually get some new eyeballs back to your “home base platforms” (Facebook and Website) using tools such as “fishing social platforms” (Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram).  We need relevant content to share with these platforms as a tool to incent the visit.  What is your unique selling proposition and what is your brand strategy to drive buyer behavior? Some brands discount through sales while others might want to maintain a high end image.  These are different brand approaches and with each you need to employ a different methodology.

The other tools we implement during this phase are: Facebook Ads, Blogger Outreach (influencers who can do some editorial or advertorial coverage on us) Email Marketing to strategic lists in our target demo, Live Events etc. We need to use non-social platforms to drive eyeballs back to our home base platforms in order to get them as potential users of our service.

Step 3- BE KNOWN

Once we have employed methods to drive new fans and followers it will create fresh activity on our platforms.  Then the up front BE SEEN strategy starts to kick in as users engage with our EdgeRank optimized messaging plan (on Facebook) and our custom Facebook applications.  Now we employ contests and promotions to help carry the brand and marketing message across multiple channels.  We can also create collaborations with other brands and entities who will help us double down on our Be HEARD efforts. You cant jump to this step, because you first need to create buzz and a following to have these brand ambassadors doing the heavy lifting for you.  Also other brands will only want to collaborate with your business if you bring some sort of tangible benefit to theirs.  Having a real and active following gives them an audience to promote their services and they will be more inclined to enter into mutually beneficial relationships that allow you to both win.

So in the end it is very important to follow this 3 step (phase) process and know that you will squander opportunities and compromise success of the subsequent step if you cheat or rush the prior one!  I also think this roadmap helps put into perspective that you don’t just launch a Facebook Fan Page and buzz just starts. You have to dig in and work to get there, but it is well worth it when you do!

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All Marketing Efforts Will Be Ineffective Without Optimization

 

You should be learning, adjusting, and optimizing when executing any type of campaign whether it is a social messaging strategy or a banner ad campaign.  If you don’t, it will lead to poor results. Content is distributed in a variety of different ways such as search, e-mail, banners, social posts, mobile, tablets, or even gaming. It is imperative that cross – channel optimization is a key and central part to any strategy that is planned and executed.

Here at Sircle Media, we would like to give you a few tips on how to enhance your campaign(s) and strategy to receive the best possible ROI.

What are consumers telling you? Social trends, social behavior, and search queries represent some of the best data for determining what content is most relevant. Using outlets such as Twitter, Facebook, or Google are crucial because this is where prospects/users are already being vocal. Just listen for a few moments and develop and optimize content for your messaging strategy.

Is the content user friendly to the experience and readable? Get a basic understanding of the consumer’s needs in a specific environment i.e. mobile screen or desktop to ensure your content and can be displayed clearly.  Nowadays, with smartphones, tablets and so many different browsers there are many formats that graphic designers and programmers have to check. It is imperative to make sure you test them all out so that no potential customer is left dissatisfied.

How to use what consumers are already giving you? Consumers are creating their own content daily. For most brands there will be instances where a consumer is doing positive work for you known as user-generated content. You will want to highlight this content in other marketing materials and even interact with the person and thank them for their support at a low-cost. Brand ambassadors like these become your biggest allies.

Good practice is to take all of these things into account and then go and market to the right audiences. In running a true “marketing” campaign where you will want to measure KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) you must think the entire plan through. Often a well throughout out marketing plan can be compromised because the flow for ultimately capturing the acquisition is flawed.  As an analogy, if you are measuring your marketing partner’s success by how many patrons they bring into your night club and they bring people only to find the font door locked, who is to blame?

 

 

Here is a visual of how Sircle Media optimizes campaigns for our clients. Remember: target based on strategy, optimize based on performance and then be sure to have your conversion plan well thought out and presented to your new customers!

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