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Social Marketing Overview: What You Need to Know.

Social Media Marketing is, to many, a dark and mysterious art that leaves business owners (and marketers alike) dazed and confused.

Dennis Armstrong

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Social-Marketing-Overview--What-You-Need-to-Know

Social Media Marketing is, to many, a dark and mysterious art that leaves business owners (and marketers alike) dazed and confused.

Executed well it could be a very worthwhile exercise and to great benefit of your company but it’s not easy, it is not a “part-time” thing and it is not something that should be considered lightly.

Mark my words gentle readers, “A half-baked social media effort will do more harm to your business than good.”

The online world is filled to the brim with companies who follow no clear strategy, with no clear targeted audience or goals in place.

Social Media encourages conversation – sometimes brutally honest conversation – between companies and clients. If you are not interested in listening to the people you serve then I strongly advise you to read no further.

First things first, however. . .

Related: (Infographic) Marketing Automation: How to make it Work For You

Do you really need Social Media Marketing?

The question is, “how well do you know your existing (and target) customers?”

There are some industries where decision makers are most certainly not going to interact with you via Facebook or Twitter. In fact there are many industries where, if you think you will connect with the right people on those platforms, you would surely be mistaken.

I just cannot see busy C-level execs at a financial institution going onto Facebook to interact with you. Not impossible but highly unlikely – agree?

The point is that Social Media includes a wide variety of platforms and communication solutions through which people interact and that also then covers well-known products like LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram and others that can literally be used by any company, in any industry, to promote and communicate with specific audiences.

In my next column I will delve deeper into social channels and tactics available to businesses but, today, I’d like to touch on the basic rules companies should follow in order to make social work for them.

7 Golden Rules for Social Marketing

1.  “Why So Serious?” Let us not forget the “social” part of social media. Yes you are there to engage with the audience and yes, your ultimate goal is to turn some of that engagement into better acquisition or retention of business – but – it doesn’t hurt to show the occasional signs of a heartbeat or, heaven forbid, a personality, regardless of the product or service you specialise in.

People buy from people – always.

2.  You still need to cast a line before you can catch a fish. Inbound activity is not enough. You cannot start a social media channel or all-encompassing social media marketing strategy without normal promotional activity to spark interest and drive conversation. Social Media Marketing does not replace normal digital or, even, traditional marketing – it compliments it and provides you with a way to engage with those taking part or responding to activities.

3.  Quality content and good offers remain king. Again, the modern customer is a savvy one and they can spot nonsense a mile away. And if they don’t, someone else will and post the revelation online. If yours is a B2B marketing model where Thought-leadership content, white papers, industry reports, case studies and the like form the bulk of your marketing then you have to invest in well written, well produced work.

And no, your wife’s friend’s kid who is “good with design” cannot do it for you. Spend the money on professional work – you will not be sorry.

If you are going to run a promotion then don’t insult the intelligence of the public by quoting a “special price” that’s anything but. You will be found out and you will end up with truckloads of digitally-enhanced egg on your face.

4. The Stronger the call, the greater the action. A strong call to action is of equal importance in social media as in other marketing activity. You need to present your audience with clear steps to follow otherwise you will “lose” their hard-gained interest and you will struggle to attain any of the pre-campaign goals you set.

5. Add Value, always. Whatever your offering is (content, advice, service, product or promotion) you need to offer value to those interacting with you on social platforms. They do not have a lot of time and are choosing to spend it interacting with you – best make sure it’s a meaningful interaction or it will be your last.

6. Speak Easy! Social is about having a two-way conversation. It’s not there just for you to broadcast your message but, also, for recipients of that message to respond and interact with your company. Your response has to be quick, honest and decisive where need be – also make sure that you keep a healthy balance between valuable content and promotional material.

7. Smile from Peer-to-Peer. People “like, share, tweet, plus, mail, pin and post” the content and offers they like in a multitude of ways. A largely skeptical public mainly believes what their trusted friends and online communities have to say about a company or product. Be mindful of this and make sure your message is worth hearing, and worth sharing.

Marketing in the 21st century is a very difficult beast. More and more people are on “do not call or contact lists” – excluding them from traditional marketing communication channels.

For example, in the broadcast television space many people have access to devices like PVR where advertising is skipped past and, even if they do not have access to technology like that, research indicates that most people ignore advertising when it appears anyway.

This does not necessarily mean the creative is bad mind you – it just means that it now requires clever boxing and sustained engagement to entice (and then keep) the average customer.

Not everything you try will work and it’s unlikely to work immediately – but if you do decide to give it a go you have to do so with conviction, both in management buy-in and resource allocation.

Half-baked efforts will yield exactly the results you fear most.

I look forward to next month’s article where we will delve into the options, strategies, metrics and methodologies you can (and should) consider.

Dennis Armstrong is the managing director of Interface Media, a full service digital agency with over 2 000 clients and, more recently, contracted service provider to a host of agencies across SA. Dennis’s expertise include marketing and business development, more recently taking on a national sales role before being promoted to MD. Dennis manages over 200 staff and is directly involved in growing some of the biggest digital accounts in South Africa from search, to SEO and display marketing. He is a hands-on individual and available to advise on all digital marketing requirements.

Online Marketing

Everything You Need To Know About Instagram’s New Shopping Features

The app is giving influencers and brands new channels on which consumers can discover them.

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Influencers and brands have two new ways to sell products to users scrolling and tapping through their Instagram feeds. After a summer of testing shopping buttons that drive purchases via Stories, the Facebook-owned app has launched them for businesses in 46 countries.

It’s also begun rolling out a personalised shopping section in the Explore tab, which Instagram redesigned earlier this year to feature AI-powered channels categorising content based on topic (e.g. travel, art, decor).

The shopping tab will be a place for users who know they want to browse and potentially buy, with Instagram’s algorithm serving up brands the user already follows or would likely be into, based on past activity on the app. Meanwhile, the shopping bag stickers in Stories will give users a chance to not just admire their favourite influencers’ outfits, but actually click through and learn more about promoted items.

Since Instagram began testing the feature in June, more than 90 million users per month have tapped to reveal tags in shopping posts, according to a Sept. 17 Instagram blog post. The app already allows brands to purchase ads in the form of Stories.

More than 400 million accounts watch Stories daily, and one-third of the most-viewed Stories are from businesses, Instagram also reports.

Instagram has been testing shopping in feeds for nearly two years.

Related: Creating Power Digital Campaigns

Back in November 2016, the company explained on its Business blog that online shopping often involves research and deliberation, rather than impulse purchases, which is what led Instagram to build out shopping posts that would provide consumers with information about products without having to leave the app until they’d made a purchase decision.

Salesforce has forecasted that the referral traffic Instagram drives to retailer websites will increase by 51 percent between the 2017 and 2018 holiday seasons, according to Adweek.

Speaking of leaving the app, Instagram is rumored to be developing a standalone shopping app, according to The Verge, but the company declined to comment on these reports to both The Verge and Entrepreneur.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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Online Marketing

Social Media Marketing For Start-ups: Essential Tips

There are plenty of ways to get the leads your start-up needs, but only a few tactics you’ll need in your arsenal to get the job done at a limited cost to your burgeoning business.

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Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing, when you’re short on funds, can seem like an intimidating prospect. If you and your team aren’t already knowledgeable about digital marketing strategy, you may think it’s impossible for you to manage marketing campaigns yourself. With a bit of determination and a great deal of studying, however, your startup will be able to successfully launch, direct, and refine your own digital marketing strategies.

What things can you do to help your start-up get more press, attract more customers, and get more brand awareness? There are plenty of ways to get the leads your start-up needs, but only a few tactics you’ll need in your arsenal to get the job done at a limited cost to your burgeoning business.

Get to know your niche

Many young companies adopt random acts of internet marketing. They’ll throw a few hundred dollars into promoting Facebook posts without necessarily understanding how to communicate to their audience.

Before you dive into advertising and promotion platforms, you should spend some time to define – and to get to know – your niche.

To help define your target market, use questions like:

  • Who are your existing customers?
    • How would you group them?
  • Who does your product or service help?
    • Does your product help business owners, stay-at-home parents, college students, or someone else?
  • Who are you looking to reach out to?
    • That is, are you looking to refine your target market or expand it?

Once you’ve answered a few questions like the ones listed above, you should be able to get a better idea of who you’re marketing to. With an understanding of who you’re communicating with, you should be able to craft a tailored message about your brand.

Related: 10 Laws Of Social Media Marketing

Choose social media platforms wisely

Many start-ups try to master as many social media platforms right at the start. Instead of dividing your attention between Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, you should identify one or two social media platforms that will help you market your product or service. This is why defining your target market at the beginning is so very important.

You must first decide who your message is intended for before writing, editing, and positioning that message. After you’ve got your target market down, you’ll be able to pinpoint which social media platforms can serve you best.

Here are a few examples to give you an idea of which social media platforms are best suited for your needs:

Twitter

  • Best for blog links
  • Frequent posts: 1-4 posts every few hours is the most effective
  • The community is open to businesses promotion

Facebook

  • Best for communicating to existing customers
  • Daily posts: 1 post every 2 days is the most effective
  • Users respond best to images, videos, and clips

Reddit

  • Strictly promotional posts are undesirable
  • Building readership and/or a following is slow
  • Better suited for long-term growth strategy

Do your social media research

Start conducting some preliminary research about social media platforms. Build a profile of each, listing their pros and cons. Try investigating other social media platforms such as GitHub, Stack Overflow, and Quora. While these aren’t platforms as large as Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, they could have a far greater impact on your start-up.

Answering questions on Quora and interacting with other users on GitHub, for example, could help you build genuine business and customer relationships.

Related: Beginners Guide To Digital Marketing In South Africa

Concentrate on mastering a few channels

Ultimately, it’s important to concentrate on one or two social media platforms based on your target market and your goals. Attempting to have a significant presence on all of them will prove expensive, time-consuming, and, at worst, counterproductive.

Focusing on one platform will allow you to track your marketing efforts with greater precision, revise your marketing strategy more easily, and help you speak more directly to your target audience.

Digital marketing, while best left to a team of experienced marketers, content creators, and creative designers can be done by your team.

Start-ups tight on cash don’t need to fret, they only need to do a bit of market research and direct their energy accordingly. After narrowing down your audience and performing some preliminary research on social media platforms, you can start working on your social media marketing strategy.

Master a few channels rather than trying to dominate all of the social media space. Keep conducting research as you start your marketing campaigns. Each community naturally changes so you’ll want to keep up-to-date. Leverage your research and dedication to get the most out of your startup marketing.

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Online Marketing

How To Create The Best Small Business Website: 5 Easy And Effective Steps

Check the steps below and get ready to create a successful small business website.

Ethan Dunwill

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It doesn’t matter how big or small your business is. If you don’t have online presence, it will become difficult to obtain the results you expect. Your target audience is using the internet nowadays for almost anything. So, if you want to attract more customers and build your brand reputation, you need to build a website. This is how you will be able to expand your business in an easy and not so expensive way.

On the other hand, you don’t have to be a savvy web developer to create a basic website and let the others know about you. Web development and design software have evolved a lot and now you can use several website builders to develop a functional site. You will have plenty of templates to choose from to increase your business’ visibility.

Check the steps below and get ready to create a successful small business website.

Easy and Effective Steps to Create a Website for Your Business

1. What is the purpose of your website?

It doesn’t matter if you develop a simple or a more complex website. Before you start working on anything related to your website, you should start with saying what your company does. Your customers need to understand from the first minute they access your homepage what is your mission and vision. They don’t have too much time to invest when they enter on a website. So, you can make their journey smoother by telling them from the beginning about you. In case you are not so talented at writing, you can use writing companies like RewardedEssays or SupremeDissertations to give you a hand.

Related: 5 Mistakes To Avoid When Building A Website For Your Business

2. Choose a domain name and a web host

Even though many think they shouldn’t focus too much on it, the domain name is an important feature of your website. You will use the URL to promote your business to existing and future clients. So, this means that your domain name should be explicit and talk about your business to anyone who wants to find more about you. A domain name should be short, clear, without acronyms or numbers. What is more, you shouldn’t forget to check if your domain name isn’t already taken by someone else.

Apart from a domain name, your website will also need a server where all your data is stored. When you own a small business, creating your own web host will represent a serious financial effort. So, it would be more cost-wise to choose an external host.

As your business grows, you can choose a different host, or you can ask several providers to work on a personalised solution.

3. Build your website’s pages

website-pages-build

You will need more than a homepage to create a good website. If you want your customers to understand that you are a professional in what you do, you will create several pages dedicated to different elements of your business. For example, you can include a catalog with your products or a blog.

Natalie Andersen, CEO of GetGoodGrade mentions that “It is obligatory that apart from the homepage, a website should have at least a page with the products’ catalog and a Contact Us page.”

Below you can find a list with the minimum number of pages a professional website should have:

  • Homepage – here you will include details about your business, making sure that you also talk about your mission and vision.
  • List of products and services – your customers need to know what are the products and services you offer. This will help them decide whether you can answer their questions and provide a solution to their problems.
  • About Us – “About Us page is the place where you talk about your story. Your target audience wants to know more about yourself. This is how you will create a connection with your customers and let them know more about you”, says James Daily, Head of content department at FlashEssay.
  • Contact Us – it should include your address, email, phone number and working hours. You can also include the links for your social media profiles.

Furthermore, if you want to achieve an international presence, you can also use the translation services offered by IsAccurate. Thus, you will be able to address your message to a wider group of people and expand your business on new markets.

Related: How To Secure Your SME Website

4. Test if your website works properly

Christopher K. Mercer, CEO of Citatior recommends that “before you launch a website, you should first test whether it works. You cannot tell your future customers about your website without knowing for sure that it will work without problems once you launch it”. Therefore, you should click on each page and check whether it has any errors. You still have time to fix something if necessary.

Once you have launched your website and something goes wrong, it will become more difficult to do any change. Plus, always remember that the first impression matters. So, you need to be perfect in the eyes of your customers.

5. Maintain your website

After you launched your website, this doesn’t mean that your work is done. You will need to keep your customers engaged and curious about your business. Therefore, updating the products’ catalog constantly or producing content for your blog will keep your audience informed about what you can offer and the latest trends in the industry. Plus, you should also check if your website is up to date with the latest add-ons. If you don’t know how to produce new content for your website or you feel that you are not talented enough, you can collaborate with HotEssayService or RatedByStudents for professional writing services.

It shouldn’t be complicated to create a website for your small business. As long as you keep a clear structure and create a story around your business, you don’t have anything to worry about. It is very important to understand that a website is very important for your business visibility. Thus, you should put all your efforts into it.

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