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5 Ways Social Media Can Destroy Your Business

Social media has arguably become the most powerful media platform. It allows brands and businesses to directly reach their customers anytime and anywhere. It has helped small businesses grow larger faster than before.

Eric Siu

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Social media has also led to the downfall of several businesses that, in one way or another, misused the marketing platform and destroyed their reputation or wasted a ton of money.

Maybe you’re spending too much time on platforms that your customers don’t use or not spending enough time analysing the right kinds of data.

Here are five examples of how businesses fail when it comes to using social media:

1. Your social personality isn’t likeable.

Not every social brand needs to be funny or clever. Over social media your brand should be welcoming, entertaining and show that you’re not all business. But keep your audience in mind.

If you’re providing them with a serious and vital tool for running their business, you shouldn’t be sharing cat videos on your social channels.

Also, keep your personal beliefs off your business’s social-media networks. Talking about controversial issues that don’t make sense for your business to comment on is a good way to split your following and turn them against you.

This of course happened to kitchen appliances company KitchenAid after it sent an insensitive tweet about U.S. president Barack Obama’s grandmother during a presidential debate.

The person responsible for the tweet was let go and the company was forced into social-media crisis mode.

2. You’re not following the laws of ‘social karma.’

If you want to get value from your fans and customers you have to provide value first. Most social-media users are looking for a few simple and satisfying things: entertainment, information or share-worthy content that makes them look interesting to their own following.

If you can provide them with those things you’ll earn the karma that later leads to clicks, leads, and conversions.

If not, you’ll just be shouting to an empty room and possibly damage your brand in the process.

3. You don’t tie social to sales.

There have been a lot of companies that learn the hard way that social media is essential for marketing success. What usually happens is that they allocate a significant portion of their budget to social media without having a plan to measure and create a return on that investment.

The problem is most social media users don’t go directly from Facebook fan or Twitter follower to customer.

If you use Google Analytics, try measuring with assisted conversions so you can see how social plays into your sales cycle.

4. You don’t measure what matters.

There are plenty of metrics tied to social media. These numbers can be helpful to the people managing your marketing efforts but they don’t always relate directly to the bottom line.

Social analytics are not a way to track the success of social-media efforts for your business.

They’re a way to track the success of your social-media efforts. You need to identify key performance indicators that are specific to your business that are measured on a regular basis so you know.

For instance, the number of ‘Likes’ on a Facebook page is not a great performance indicator. You can have millions of likes on one page, but no one talking about it.

The better option is choosing something like ‘engagement rate’ (people talking about us/the number of likes on a page). Then you can tie that in with traffic and conversions from social-media channels.

5. You think an intern can manage your social media.

Despite repeated disasters, businesses continue to entrust their social media to people who are unqualified. Interns may have experience using social media for themselves, but managing a business’ presence is something else entirely.

Inexperience can lead to disaster.

Take the Red Cross for example. It had to clean up its own social-media mess after an employee who was unfamiliar using Hootsuite accidentally posted about getting drunk to the Red Cross’s main Twitter account instead of her personal account.

Also, you can’t assume that one person will be able to handle it all. You need someone who understands how to analyse data to track your results and refine your efforts.

You need someone who understands the audience and knows how to engage them through various forms of media. And you need someone to tie it all together.

You might consider hiring a social-media manager who can delegate tasks and responsibilities, and can oversee the bigger picture and produce the best results.

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Which social media platform do you use for your business? Tell us in the comments section below…

Eric Siu is COO of of Single Grain, a digital marketing agency based in San Francisco. He also co-runs Storemapper, a store locator widget for e-commerce stores and other businesses.

Online Marketing

3 Reasons You’re Not Seeing Tangible ROI With Your Social Media Efforts

Not telling your brand story, posting inconsistently and missing out on paid advertising opportunities could sink your brand.

Colton Bollinger

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When people hear these numbers, they don’t wait long before they too dive in head-long, eager to have their own slice of the huge pie. Typically, they open one social media account after another, in the hopes that one or two platforms will somehow convert and compensate for their overall investment of time and money.

But is “the more the merrier” approach delivering the desired social media returns?

Social media success has little to do with the number of profiles you have, the photos you like or the people you follow – just as the success of your dating life isn’t based on how many Tinder profiles you swipe right on. With so much content out there and just so much time in the day, the mindshare of the consumer is becoming more and more competitive among brands.

It is no longer just a numbers game. Quality over quantity will win every time, which all comes down to your content and how you make it resonate with your target audience. So, create content you know your audience wants to see on their feeds. It’s not about you or your company; it’s about them.

How an online product could be the focus of a “share-able” joke

Just as happens in real life in our efforts to meet that special someone, most of us also go on a blind date with social media: We settle for the “one-night stand” of a few likes and reciprocated follows, then hope to find true love with great returns.

But true social media success stories are not developed over a night. They are built with strong foundations and strategies in place for sustainable, value-adding content creation that engages with target audiences. Imagine how much more successful you could be on those blind dates if you had your date’s entire life history pulled up in front of you to stir conversation, instead of awkwardly sitting there for half the night twiddling your thumbs.

In today’s world, you don’t step into the batter’s box hoping to hit a home run, you step in with a strategy based on the limitless data at your fingertips, expecting to hit one. Successful content opportunities don’t just pop out of thin air into your lap, they are facilitated. If you take the time to understand not only who your target audience members are, but their correlated interests and passions, you’ll be on your way to effectively preparing a unique content-creation strategy that will lead you to those returns on social everyone is buzzing about.

Related: 4 Key Social Media Mistakes You Might Be Making – And How To Avoid Them

So, if you’re not seeing enough returns on your social media efforts, here are three possible reasons why:

branding

1. Not telling your brand story

Stories are powerful, because they engage the mind. If well-scripted, they can attract visitors to your product or service, engage their emotions and get them doing exactly what you want – without being salesy or downright “in your face.”

If you sell umbrellas, for instance, you could post a picture of your product and say, “Buy this umbrella now.” But no one would like that post. However, what if you took a picture of a man opening an umbrella for his date and helping her out of her car? You’d be telling a story that aligns with your product in a way the consumer can relate to: “This month’s forecast calls for rain, and lots of it … and as our fathers used to say, ‘Always keep protection handy in your car; you never know when you might need to use it, but she’ll appreciate it.’”

Without directly asking people to buy your umbrella, the picture you paint with words generates the feeling of desire for the umbrella. If you’re targeting single men, they’ll chuckle at the witty spin on sexual protection and put themselves in the situation most have been in when their date asks, “Do you have an umbrella?” And because the answer is typically “no,” next thing, they’ll be clicking “Purchase” and sharing the joke with friends.

The message? Compelling, brand-optimised stories that your target audience can relate to are key. 

A brand that does this well: Warby Parker doesn’t sell just glasses, but fashionable glasses that don’t break the bank, especially for the millennial generation. To do this, Warby Parker turns every post on social media into a story, and allows customers to relate and “see” themselves in the product, illustrated by this recent Instagram post showcasing the brand with kids.

A brand that’s missing the mark: Lincoln Motors sorely misses the mark on its marketing, especially in telling stories. Lincoln is not always top of mind in many car-buyers’ decision process, in contrast to its parent company, Ford. If class and high-end appeal are Lincoln’s goals, storytelling will be how the brand reminds the market it still exists – and let itself be a consumer’s “second thought.” In contrast, Ford dominates, because of how its creative team connects with consumers through social strategy efforts.

social-media-engagement

2. Not engaging consistently

Consider the expression “Out of sight, out of mind.” In that context, any business with a “when I can” approach to engaging online customers will eventually see its brand buried. The reason is that even more crucial than crafting persuasive content is consistent content.

In the fast-paced social media space, you must consistently push out compelling content (by developing a content marketing strategy and sticking to it).

The message? If you post content today, then skip several days or weeks before posting the next one, your overall online engagement efforts will fail to deliver desired returns.

A brand that engages its audience consistently: Look at Wendy’s Twitter feed to see how consistent the brand is in engaging with fans. These tweets are the humorous go-to source for laughs, and often get into play “fights” with other brands. All eyes are on Wendy’s because it “gets” engaging consistently.

A brand that’s missing the mark: American Airlines had an automatic responder go out on Twitter to all that mentioned the company. But this was a big error because many tweets looked out of place and responded to offensive messages. The automatic responder wasn’t doing any favours for the brand, which clearly needed to have a real person engaging the audience.

Related: Social Media Marketing For Start-ups: Essential Tips

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3. Missing out on paid advertising opportunities

Captivating copy + consistent posting = successful engagement, but are you engaging the right online audience? Facebook, alone, has an impressive 2.2 billion active users daily, but that’s just traffic if you’re not targeting and generating the right leads (those more likely to buy from you).

Paid advertising offers a great opportunity to target your ads. For as little as $1 a day, you can advertise effectively and affordably on a platform of choice like Facebook. But 62 percent of small businesses still fail with Facebook Ads. This is because (a) the target audience isn’t spending time on Facebook; (b) The business doesn’t understand its audience; or (c) The business doesn’t have the right hook.

Again, businesses must tell a story that gets into the heart of the audience, and tell it strategically and consistently. To do this, they should take advantage of paid ads on social media. This can result in impressive returns on ad efforts almost immediately.

The message? If you aren’t continually testing new content ideas behind your ads, you will lose to a competitor who is.

A brand that does a great job with Facebook ads: One of our own advertising success stories centres around the product Gorilla Bow. With creative content, the mix of perfect targeting offered by our Facebook advertising manager together with a team making sure the product was stocked and ready to resulted in a 3.5x return on ad spend, a 350 percent increase in total sales and a 450 percent decrease in cost-per-click.

A brand missing the mark: This would be any brand on Facebook now that doesn’t have an advertising budget. With Facebook’s limits on your business page’s reach, businesses are left with no “air space” on the Facebook feed. If you have a product or service worth sharing, then paid advertising on Facebook is a must.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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Online Marketing

Black Friday Automated Marketing: 7 Must-Do’s

If you’re going the automated marketing route, whether through email or SMS, here are seven key fundamentals to implement before the big day.

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The popularity of Black Friday in South Africa seems to be exponential in nature. Battling it out for consumer attention on the day will be, quite frankly, impossible, so a coordinated effort to do so beforehand is key. If you’re going the automated marketing route, whether through email or SMS, here are seven key fundamentals to implement before the big day.

1. Start small, build up to big

For Black Friday, there’s no need to go all in from the get-go. Start small and work diligently to craft your emails and build an audience. If you’ve been busy with automated marketing throughout the year, remember your wins and learn from them. Black Friday is going to be all about audience curation and timed delivery, so don’t wait – but certainly don’t rush either.

2. Hypertarget!

Talking about curation, yes, you can offer a broad variety of offers, but hyper-targeting will get the best results. By starting to offer different types of content beforehand that your customers can click on to show interest, you’ll be able to subdivide them into very specific audiences, each with its own preferences.

Remember that in the lead up to Black Friday, if you market the right message to the right person before others do, you’re set to score big.

Related: How SMEs Could Cash-In On Black Friday And Cyber Monday

3. Getting the message right

By advertising compelling offers that provide real value, you’re already halfway there. When crafting your email message, most important is getting the subject line right, but equally important is having an engaging preview message. A general rule is to have a question in the subject and the preview message hinting at the call-to-action required.

A/B testing is crucial to this, as you can send smaller samples and get feedback on which subject/preview pair is working best before opening the floodgates. The A/B testing of content is done quite easily with marketing automation systems, which include detailed email-click heat-mapping.

4. But when?

Being too late with your marketing is not going to get you anywhere, but starting too early will be money thrown down the drain, especially with expensive SMS campaigns. Two weeks ahead of the big day is about right, keeping in mind that the Black Friday buzz will really kick-off on the Monday of the same week. If you are dependent on a call centre to manage sales, ensure that you are able to scale your marketing efforts either up or down depending on the amount of seats available.

5. Marketing co-ordination is key

The left hand needs to know what the right hand is doing. If your social media person is different to your marketing person, let them come up with a coordinated strategy going forward. While marketing automation works as a stand-alone solution, it performs best if the company incorporates other marketing efforts around it. Constant retargeting of the consumer puts your message front of mind.

Related: How To Prepare Your Business To Win Big On Black Friday

6. Have a back-up plan

Apart from receiving no response on Black Friday, perhaps even worse is getting the response but your site crashing. We’ve seen this happen to the best of them over the past few years, so have a strategy in place in case something horrible happens. Make sure you can put a hold on outbound email and SMS messages.

If the system sends out all one million emails you have no way of stopping the onslaught and your marketing budget has been wasted. Critical is that you are able to adjust your outbound marketing immediately, based on your call centre or site uptime.

7. And don’t forget about Cyber Monday

Yes, Black Friday is important, but don’t forget Cyber Monday. Usually reserved for online offers only, email marketing is by far the biggest value driver for e-commerce sales in general. Use the lessons learnt during the Friday to get the marketing message right for Monday. Don’t forget the mantra: The right message to the right person at the right time. Get it right and you’re heading towards major success on the day.

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How The 21st Century Digital Marketing Landscape Changes Our Lives

For more insight into the fascinating digital marketing landscape of the 21st century, join the Wits Plus Digital Marketing short course and learn how to select suitable digital marketing channels for specific needs.

Wits Plus

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Vital Stats

In the course of only 25 years — a single generation — Amazon has grown from a start-up online bookseller to one of the most powerful corporations in modern history.

Consumers trust Amazon with everything from their personal information and buying habits to the literal conversations they have in their own homes through the purchase of smart home appliances and technologies. One possible explanation for this trust is that the company has a strong relationship with its customers, thanks to both its commitment to low prices and an apparent never-ending quest to make modern life more convenient in every possible way.

They started with print books, moved on to digital versions and e-readers and continue to crash through technologies and the media industry at an astonishing pace. All the while, they maintained an aggressive push into even faster shipping and all new retail formats. Prime Now, the same-day shipping initiative, and includes groceries — even fresh produce and refrigerated and freezer products —and makes Amazon competitive in still more types of retail industries.

Related: Rethinking Learning In The 21st Century

Digital advertising spend worldwide finally surpassed TV in 2017. Paid online search — through Google Adwords — is one way that companies/advertisers can get their message across. And in an online, connected world, many customers are reached through their mobile devices, which they carry wherever they go. Mobile commerce has not yet overtaken desktop but a typical customer journey now has more touchpoints than ever before, which means that mobile devices factor into purchases most of the time, even if the actual transaction happens somewhere else.

On top of all its other achievements, Amazon has become as much of a search engine as it is an ecommerce platform. Research has showed that Amazon has been the starting point for more product searches than Google for the past few years. Amazon has already changed how we shop and, by extension, how we live our lives. What will be next?

For more insight into the fascinating digital marketing landscape of the 21st century, join the Wits Plus Digital Marketing short course and learn how to select suitable digital marketing channels for specific needs.

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