Get Social

  • Social Media Marketing: Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater

Social Media Marketing: Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater

  • July 13th, 2017

When I hear people debate the ROI of social media, it makes me remember why so many businesses fail. Most businesses are not playing the marathon; they're playing the sprint. They're not worried about lifetime value and retention. They're worried about short-term goals.

~Gary Vaynerchuk

This quote by Gary Vaynerchuk, CEO and co-founder of VaynerMedia, a full-service digital agency servicing Fortune 500 clients from 4 locations in the US and London, speaks volumes.

It’s one thing to question whether social media as you are deploying it or using it is working for you.  We encourage you to evaluate the effectiveness of your strategy and tactics.  But the fact is that social media works…

When deployed properly, social media:

  • expands brand recognition
  • keeps companies top of mind for referrals and periodic business
  • connects companies with the people who buy their products
  • encourages interaction
  • creates a dynamic, two way relationship

Businesses that discount the power of social media marketing are, as my mother used to say, throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Rather than evaluate and adjust, they assume it just won’t work for them, and they dismiss it entirely.

Here are a just few facts reported by Pew Research:

  • 68% of US adults, and 79% of US internet users are on Facebook
  • 56% of online adults use more than one social media platform
  • 81% of millennials check Twitter at least once per day
  • There are more than 65 million business pages on Facebook
  • 72% of Pinterest users use the platform to determine what to buy offline
  • YouTube on mobile alone reaches more 18-49 year olds than any cable network in the US
  • The number of businesses actively advertising monthly on Instagram increased from 200,000 to over 1 million in less than a year

The fact is that people – your customers and future customers – use social media.  It’s where they are.  And with the right strategy, you can reach them there to begin the process of developing a relationship that encourages loyalty to you and your brand.

So if you are one of those who believes that social media is not the answer for your business, what should you look at?  Here are 4 areas that you should be sure to consider:

1. Platform

Not all social media platforms are alike. Each caters to a unique set of demographics and each is used differently by the consumer.  Figure out who your audience is and where they spend their time, and then develop a plan specifically for that platform.  Take into consideration how people use it: are they on multiple times a day, once a day or just a few times a week?; do they want to see pictures, watch videos or read articles?; are they looking for resources or inspiration?  Cater your message to your audience based on the audience and the platform and you will have better luck engaging them.

2. Content

Is the content that you are posting relevant to the consumer that you are trying to reach? If not, they won’t be compelled to engage with your posts.

Remember, you are not always your target audience.  I once had a discussion with a business owner who was a 20 something male.  His target audience for the campaign we were designing was grandmothers.  When we showed him the creative, he told me that he wasn’t a fan, because “the piece just didn’t speak to him”.  I asked him to show it to women who met his demographic profile, and lo and behold, they liked it!

Content also needs to be high quality. Typos, poor quality images, lack of direction, or anything else that conveys a lack of professionalism will just serve to distract and deter customers and potential customers.  Even though it is on the fly and immediate, you can’t afford to skip over the thought and effort (and, yes, time!) that should go into the post.  Yes, other people post typos and use abbreviations.  But companies should be sure that they are communicating professionalism in their posts.  Period.

3. Frequency

Frequency of posts should be determined by the media platform that you have selected and how people use it (see #1!) Do NOT base frequency on how often you have time, how much quality content you can develop, or anything else.

If you are managing your own social media marketing and you have a smaller staff, it is very easy to get off track during your busiest times.  But since your busy times are when your customers are most likely to be thinking of you, it’s really the ideal time to post. Consider outsourcing some or all of your social media at least during your heaviest sales times to ensure that you can keep up with it, or you run the risk of falling out of favor with your fans.

On the flip side, many businesses attempt to post too often, which can also turn off consumers (again, see #1!)  Posting too often can turn consumers off.  On some media platforms, even those that are “daily visit”, some companies see their best results 2-3 times a week or even weekly.

4. Evaluate

This is the step that we see MANY "do it yourselfers" skipping over. To build an effective program, you must evaluate each post, looking at when and what you posted, and test variations.

Just like with other aspects of your business, it is necessary to make adjustments.  What works for some (companies, industries, social media platforms) won’t work for all. Test, learn and make adjustments. ALWAYS.

Social media marketing can be very effective if deployed conscientiously and properly! Discounting and dismissing it as a powerful tool is short-sighted and could potentially damage your business in the long run!

Larissa Hansen is a marketing and communications consultant, and founder/CEO of Springfield Illinois based Targeted Marketing Resources.  She spends her days (and often nights!) figuring out how to help companies connect with their customers both online and off.  Her passion is helping businesses grow!  

Is Content Marketing for YOU?

  • August 18th, 2015

Content marketing is the practice of marketing a business by establishing the business as an expert and reliable resource to solve a problem.  According to Bruce Rogers, Chief Insight Officer at Forbes and one of the world’s foremost authorities on thought leadership, “Content marketing can be defined as the creation and distribution of meaningful insights, perspectives, and best practices that are valuable to a specific audience. The aim is to retain existing clients including doing more business with them and to attract new high-quality clients.”   Content can be distributed through a variety of online and offline media.

Content marketing represents a shift in power in the buyer/seller relationship.  The buyer has control of content it receives and selects companies and products based on relationship.  A recent study by Axxon Media indicated that 70% of consumers prefer getting to know a company via articles rather than ads.  Customers want to be able to conduct research on their own, and select resource providers that have proven reliable, knowledgeable and  capable.

Where does that leave the business?  They need to be able to develop a reputation, across whatever channel their buyer is likely to use, of becoming a trusted advisor.  Understanding their customers pain points, relating to the issues that might inspire a customer to use their service or product, and providing value helps to build a relationship over time.  Companies should develop and distribute content that will attract, capture, nurture, convert and expand its audience over time.

One of the biggest benefits of content marketing is its leveling nature.  Small businesses can compete with larger competitors by establishing a professional presence in the marketplace.  Customers are less likely to buy from a larger company solely based on its size.  It’s the relationship that matters, and smaller organizations are inherently better at building and maintaining solid relationships than large ones.

The development of the content is important too…and larger companies are simply not as effective at it as smaller ones.  According to a study by Gleanster Research, midsize to large B2B organizations waste an estimated $958 million each year in inefficient and ineffective content marketing spend.  Waste comes from failure to meet task deadlines, redundant content creation, and coordinating the people contributing to and reviewing content.

That’s not to say that small companies can’t grow to become large ones through the use of content marketing.  As a business grows based on relationships and using content marketing techniques, the process becomes central to the infrastructure of the business, so as long as content marketing is utilized properly as a company grows, it is able to remain competitive and attract even more business.

There are still issues facing organizations who want to implement a content marketing program.  According to the 2014 Benchmark report on Content Marketing in the B2B space, B2B marketers cite lack of time (69%), producing enough content (55%) and producing the kind of content that engages (47%) as their top three marketing content challenges.  These are significant issues and many companies struggle with workflow that content marketing requires.

Additionally, many companies fail to recognize content marketing for what it is, and therefore don’t adequately plan for or analyze results of efforts as they would for other marketing programs.

A detailed and well designed plan, commitment from all levels of the organization, and the establishment of accurate analytical benchmarks allowing for adjustments and tweaks to the plan can resolve many of the issues that companies may run into as they venture into the world of content marketing. It’s important to also allow for educational time, and ongoing research, as the marketplace is shifting at a rapid pace.

For more help in developing a content marketing plan for your business, or to determine if one is right for your needs, contact us!

Blogging with a purpose

  • June 27th, 2015

Because blogging is “free”, many organizations enter the blog world without clear direction and without a plan.  At TMR, we believe that the only way to make a blog truly work is to approach it with a strategy and goal in mind.  The more thought you put into your blog and its role as a marketing tool BEFORE you launch your blog, the more valuable a tool it will be.

Let’s pretend for a minute that you are an expert on fish.  You love fish, own a fish store, and you want to share your knowledge with other people.  You set yourself up with a (free) blog, title it something “catchy”, and start to write.  In a few days/weeks/months, you haven’t seen any benefit, you are sick of writing and coming up with new ideas, you decide blogging is too much work and it doesn’t work for fish topics and you quit.  Maybe fish people don’t like computers, who knows?

The problem probably isn’t the blog or the fish people.  The problem is that you don’t have a plan.  Who are you talking to?  Fish lovers, who are already hooked on the concept of fish and want information about how to take care of exotic varieties? Organizations which have fish in their lobbies and need someone to help them take care of them?  Or people who think they want a fish, but want to know the basics about their care, where to get the right kind of equipment, etc?  Are you trying to establish yourself as an expert so that people will hire you as a consultant or caretaker of large aquariums, or drive people to your fish store, or are you just trying to share information and passion? Are you a believer that fish are the best kind of pet, but they are not for everyone? Or do you think that fish can be a great way to teach even the smallest children responsibility, so you are trying to reach non-fish people, or people not quite sold on the concept?

Although you probably aren’t a fish expert, you probably understand where we are headed here… without a plan, a blog, even about topics you are knowledgeable and passionate about can fail.  A blog can be a valuable tool but needs to be developed with an understanding of what you want that tool to do

Blogs are a valuable and cost effective way for organizations to stay in touch with their current customers (or donors or supporters) and to reach out to new ones.  Like other forms of social media, the general purpose of a blog is to provide your readers with relevant content that they can relate to, and that will encourage discussion and sharing with their friends, and their friends’ friends.

To blog with a purpose, you should start with these 4 key questions as it relates to your blog (note that the answers to these questions may or may not align perfectly with the organization that you are supporting; your blog may have a different goal than the overall organization) :

  1. What is your goal?

 

  1. What topics are important?

 

  1. What is your perspective?

 

  1. Who is your target audience?

 

 

Once you have answered these key questions, you should be ready to build some specific blog titles.  The titles alone (knowing what you plan to write about) are sufficient to build your plan.  You don’t need to write every blog now!  Take your titles and lay them out on a calendar to develop your plan.  Make sure the titles and topics are in a reasonable sequence, so that your 5th blog doesn’t assume some base of knowledge that isn’t really covered until your 20th blog.

Once everything is laid out, you have a plan.  Remember that plans are flexible; if there is a relevant current event that comes up that you want to blog about you can move things around.  Just be sure that you keep your goals in mind.    And remember that a blog with no new content can’t achieve your goals…you have to write and post content on a regular basis in order to capture and retain your audience.

TMR helps our customers with blogging in several different ways…we can help develop a strategy for blogging, research and develop content ideas, and help to write or edit and post content.  We can also handle general blog maintenance (reviewing stats and adjusting layouts).

For more information about blogging and how you can use it for your organization, please call Larissa Hansen at (217) 622-3618.