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Choosing The Best Social Network For Your Business

Bedtime (3)
Bedtime (3)

Is your business social-ready? We all know that social media can impact business growth, but how do we know which platform will perform best with our marketing strategy?

Not only is social media an incredibly effective tool to connect your business with potential consumers, it's cost-effective and a great way to bolster your presence online.

If you're a business owner and new to social media, here are a few things you want to ask yourself to help determine which network to choose for your marketing efforts.

What is Your Objective?

Choosing which social network to use depends on what goals you're trying to accomplish. Do you want to spread the news about your business? Are you selling a product? Promoting an event? These are some questions you want to answer to make it easier to separate each platform.

Who is Your Audience?

People hang out on various social media networks for many different reasons. It's important to know which social media channels your target audience are using. This way, you can invest your resources more wisely and possibly reach a target audience with relatively smaller platforms, which can be cheaper and less time consuming.

SMTarget
SMTarget

An effective way to do this is to research your competitor's audience and look at where they invest their resources online. What channels are they on? Which platform are they getting the most engagement? Another example is to ask them yourself. Send out an email to your customers and ask them where they spend most of their time on social media.

Which Social Media Network Makes The Most Sense For my Business?

When you've accurately answered these questions, it's on to the fun part. Here is a small guideline to a few of the most popular networks.

Facebook

The most popular network with the largest amount of active users (1.15 billion at that). If you want to reach a broad and diverse demographic, Facebook is a must. You'll need to set up a business page to begin acclimating yourself with different tools and strategies for Facebook marketing success. This will give you the ability to create ads, events, and content for your target audience.

monthly-active-users-640x500
monthly-active-users-640x500

Image from Kissmetrics.

Twitter

People come to Twitter to discover what's happening in the world right now. It's is one of the best platforms to share content instantly and to connect with people and businesses across a broad spectrum. Twitter makes it easy to discover conversations related to your business, helping you build meaningful connections with new and existing customers.

Instagram

For a younger, trendier audience, Instagram offers a way to reach this demographic with a visually appealing design. It's best used for high-end products or services, food/lifestyle/fashion themes, and for popular personalities.

LinkedIn/Google+

These two networks are extremely useful for businesses (especially B2B service providers). Both have more of a 'professional' focus on content and design. On LinkedIn, your network of connections (employees and contacts) is the most important content. There's nowhere better for a company seeking clients and individuals seeking employment. For Google+, keywords and search engine optimization are central to its appeal to businesses. It's a bit more formal and professional than Facebook, but both share some similarities.

Conclusion

Now's the time to show off your goods online. No matter the business, social media needs to be a priority in any marketing strategy because of its multi-purpose use and ability to reach a target audience pertinent to your business. If you're having trouble deciding on which platform to use, try experimenting with all of them. It can't hurt to familiarize yourself with each network to help you choose the best option for maximum benefits.

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What We Learned At Social Media Marketing World 2016

nature walk
nature walk

I had the pleasure of representing Social Ape at Social Media Marketing World in San Diego last week and I must say that it was an incredible experience. Not only did I meet new people who have the same passion for social media and marketing that I do, but I learned so much from the dozen sessions and panels that I attended. I was also able to see several of the folks speak who have paved the way for social media marketers and continue to inspire me on a daily basis.

I returned to Charlotte with 14 pages of notes and the opportunity to listen to ALL of the sessions at the conference via audio recordings. But for those of you who weren’t able to attend, we’ve put together a list of takeaways from the event and included the tools and strategies that your business should be investing in over the next year. I hope the list is helpful!

-April

Snapchat

Strategy Tips:

  • Snapchat is the social media network to “un-brand” your brand. It is an opportunity to be real with your fans and followers. When people see brands having fun on Snapchat, they become more interested.
  • Use more colors and drawings when possible in snaps
  • Don’t let your followers consume ALL of the content. Keep your snaps as short as possible, giving them just enough time to view the content.
  • Create Snapchat stories that will last 24 hours. Create short snaps to “bump” your content back to the top of followers’ lists then after 24 hours, take a break to let the story disappear.
  • Give away freebies to make snap viewers feel important

Content Examples: 

  • Show your business behind-the-scenes using a combination of video, photos, drawings, interviews, etc.

Contest Examples:

  • Send a snap with a bit.ly URL and ask your followers to take a screen shot of it, then visit that specific page later to enter a contest
  • Create a digital maze then ask your followers to find their way through the maze and send a screen shot back with the solution. The first person to send the correct solution back will win the contest. (Mind blown!)
  • Create a scavenger hunt by snapping photos of where the hidden prizes are located. The first person to find the prize will win!
IMG_2286
IMG_2286

Live Video (Periscope, Facebook Live)

Strategy Tips:

  • Reveal what your followers are missing by going behind the curtain using live video
  • Inform followers of critical situations that need live updates or give insight to live events
  • Create a blog post to summarize the questions asked during the live video and embed the video in the post
  • Share "snackable" content to share and promote live video
  • When working with Influencers, choose influencers who understand your niche, not the influencers who have the most followers

Content Examples:

  • Southwest Airlines answered questions on Periscope during a storm where there were lots of delays and cancellations. They confronted a difficult situation head-on to provide transparency for customers.
  • Southwest Airlines also live-streamed the unveiling of a new plane to give customers a sneak peek

Social Media Customer Service

Strategy Tips:

  • Embrace complaints! Answer them every time and in every channel.
  • Only reply twice to complaints. Do not let the user publicly shame you. First, apologize publicly (for the “spectators”) and ask the user to send you their contact information. Take the conversation offline. If the user refuses even after this attempt, walk away. It will only make the situation worse if you continue to engage.
  • Treat online and offline customers the same. You wouldn’t ignore someone calling your business to complain, so why would you ignore someone complaining via social media?
  • Do not ignore review sites, including Yelp

Facebook Ads for Online Businesses

Strategy Tips:

  • Make list-building a priority. Which “bucket” will each person end up? Create Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced buckets and place appropriate users in those buckets based on their behavior.
  • Create an awesome piece of content that will draw people in and make them click through. It is MUCH cheaper to do this than asking users to buy right away. Once you do this, you can create other actions. Selling to warm leads is more successful than selling to cold leads.
  • When using images in Facebook Ads, photos of the person selling the product work better with people who already know that person. For people who are not familiar with this person, clean graphic images work the best.
  • Use pixels (conversion codes) to create a funnel. If people have already opted in on your website, create a different path for them compared to someone who have not opted in.

Questions to Ask:

  • What is my trigger for these people? What can I give to them that will provide value?
  • What is the end goal? How do I get there?
IMG_2241
IMG_2241

LinkedIn

Strategy Tips:

  • Edit your LinkedIn profile to people you want to attract today and even tomorrow. By adding more keywords that suit your needs now, you’ll be able to attract those type of people.
  • Create your profile to solve problems for the people looking for you on LinkedIn. What problem do you solve? How can you help future clients or employers?
  • Include personal tidbits in your profile to appear more personable.
  • Give endorsements to 10+ people per day to encourage them to do the same. Genuinely give recommendations to your peers and ask for them in return.
  • Tip: Turn off profile updates when you edit your profile! You don’t want to “spam” your connections when you overhaul your profile.
  • According to LinkedIn, one update on LinkedIn per day will result in reaching 60% of your connections. Post interesting ideas and insights at least once a day.

Want to receive information like this in your inbox every week? Sign up for the Social Ape Weekly, a weekly newsletter chock full of social media tips, best practices and productivity tools to help you become a better marketer!

LinkedIn Endorsements are NOT the same as LinkedIn Recommendations

If you're a LinkedIn user, you have probably noticed that each time you log into the professional social network, you have notifications signaling that you have been "Endorsed" by someone in your network. LinkedIn added this option over a year ago but I feel that most people still don't fully understand the function of the Endorsement option or the difference between Endorsements and Recommendations. Therefore, I'll explain the difference between the two and how each option can help you to expand your LinkedIn network and increase your number of business connections. LinkedIn Endorsements

LinkedIn Endorsements are a quick and simple way to endorse the skills of your connections. This feature is beneficial in the fact that it allows the skills of LinkedIn users to be showcased in groups within their profile. For instance, for someone in Sponsorship Sales, their top skill endorsements would most likely be Sponsorship, Marketing, Advertising and Sales.

LinkedIn Endorsement Sample
LinkedIn Endorsement Sample

Having these skills highlighted on your LinkedIn profile, in theory, proves your top skills by the endorsement of your connections, however, actually doing this does not require much effort. To endorse a connection, all one has to do is simply click on a button that says "Endorse" beside the skill that you choose. There is also an option to endorse several skills at once on the LinkedIn homepage, which makes for even less effort from your connections to endorse you. The downside to this feature is that anyone can endorse you for a skill, which could lead to false information on your profile. People who have never worked with you can blindly endorse a skill that is not within your scope of work, which could be confusing to those browsing your profile and disrupt your personal brand. Thankfully, though, there is an option to remove false endorsements. To do this, click on the Edit tab at the top of your LinkedIn profile, then scroll down to the Endorsements feature to remove any skills that you don't want listed. You can also completely turn off the Endorsements feature so that no endorsements are made on your behalf if this option will work better for you.

Endorsements Off
Endorsements Off

LinkedIn Recommendations

LinkedIn Recommendations require much more effort and authenticity compared to Endorsements. Writing these recommendations takes MUCH more time than a simple endorsement and also requires specific fields to be filled in order to be completed, including position title and the relationship that you had or currently have with the person you are recommending. Recommendations also hold prime real estate on LinkedIn profiles below each appropriate position held as well as in the "Recommendations" box located at the bottom of the profile, which in turn will appeal more to the eye of those scouting your profile.

LinkedIn Recommendation Box
LinkedIn Recommendation Box

LinkedIn Recommendations are a great way to show appreciation for business partners, co-workers, and former or current employees and hopefully result in the reciprocation of LinkedIn Recommendations written for you as well. Think of LinkedIn Recommendations as a public and permanent testimonial... only write Recommendations for those that you would proudly refer to your friends and colleagues.

April Recommendations
April Recommendations

A Golden Rule to remember with using these features on LinkedIn is to be authentic in incorporating them in your LinkedIn strategy. Do not endorse or recommend others in hopes that they will do the same for you. Instead, be genuine helping others and those people may return the favor in the future.

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How to (Seriously) Find a Job Using LinkedIn

LinkedIn
LinkedIn

We all know how difficult it is to find a job in an economy as tough as ours today. Applying blindly to jobs online will most likely get a job-searcher nowhere considering 100-300 people are applying for a typical position. To set yourself apart from the rest, use LinkedIn as an additional resource in your job search. Below are some ways that will get you noticed and perhaps land you that interview that you've been craving.

Contact people on LinkedIn who have the job that you want. I’m not suggesting that you bother people that you don’t know but in a brief message state that you are searching for employment and would be interested to know how they got to where they are today. Most people don’t mind giving advice to those who are passionate because they themselves can remember when starting from nothing. If a message may not be enough, you could always invite that person to coffee or lunch, your treat of course.  Doing this the right way could easily land you a new network connection and someone who could perhaps serve as a mentor.

Reach out to recruiters listed on LinkedIn. Obviously, LinkedIn is a huge resource for recruiters today. If you see a position online that you’re interested in, search for recruiters who work within that company and contact them directly. (Easiest way to do this is to search for the terms “recruiter” and the company you’re interested in. Inform the recruiter that you are very interested in the position and that you would like to apply. Ask the recruiter if you could send them your resume directly to speed up that process. This usually always leads to a new connection for you on LinkedIn as well.

Follow the companies you want to work for. It’s as easy as it sounds. If you do land an interview with the company you’ve been lusting over, you want to be as knowledgeable about the company as possible. Following them on LinkedIn is a great way to do that. Learn who the CEO, CFO, and other top-ranking employees are. Read up on the most current news within the company so that you can show your research skills during your interview. Not being prepared in an interview is the ultimate death wish.

Perfect your LinkedIn Profile. Creating a great profile on LinkedIn takes time but is worth it’s weight in internet gold. Make sure that you upload a professional head shot as your profile picture. This doesn’t have to be a photo shot by a professional but one that will make you look like you are indeed serious about your career. Add plenty of keywords to your profile so that your profile will without a doubt be found by recruiters and employers searching for new hires. Fill out your profile as fully as you can and try not to leave any gaps in your work timeline. Describe each position that you have held by using more keywords. Just because you know what your last position entailed does not mean that everyone else will. Play up your best attributes and sound confident without bragging.

Ask people to recommend you. LinkedIn Recommendations seems to be a tool that most people don’t fully use to it’s advantage. Another person’s opinion of yourself goes a long way in the business world! Kindly ask your former employers or co-workers to recommend you on your past work. You can ask these people in person, through email or a LinkedIn message but make sure that when asking for this favor that you explain that it would help in your job search. Also, don’t ask people who wouldn’t normally recommend you anyway as that could make the other person feel uncomfortable. People are very busy these days so writing a recommendation for someone else means a lot. If someone writes a recommendation for you, it would be a nice gesture to then write one for them.

I’m sure there are many more creative ways to use LinkedIn that I haven’t mentioned here. Tell me, what are some other ways to use LinkedIn to it’s fullest potential?

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