5 Social Media Marketing Tips for Small Businesses

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Social media marketing can be one of your most effective tools to increase awareness and drive sales. Here are 5 ways small businesses can use social media marketing to gain new customers.

Let Your Fans Promote You

If customers are already praising you on social media for free, consider contacting them with an offer, freebie or discount if they'll keep it up or use your official hashtags. Their smaller account may not have the reach of an influencer with 100K followers, but then again their appreciation is genuine and their help comes with a cheaper price tag. Even a shoutout or a retweet goes a long way.

Run Contests and Deals

Whether you're trying to build your followers or increase engagement with the ones you already have, both contests and deals can be a great way to do achieve your goals. Certain contests may encourage user-generated-content which, in turn, helps with content creation. Examples include sharing an exclusive coupon code shared with your followers for a percentage off a future purchase or a giveaway that asks people to tag friends and follow your page for a chance to win.

Post the Content Your Followers Want

Many businesses make the mistake of posting dry, straightforward content to their feeds. People don't spend time on social media because they like infomercials. You want to get the word out about your business and the best way to do that is with content that people are actually drawn to. Pay attention to what kinds of posts are popular on each platform and figure out how you can fit them to your message. Pro tip: a picture is worth a thousand words.

Use Social Media Advertising

Organic social media marketing will only get you so far. If you want to maximize your reach and lead generation, it pays to pay. Paid ads can benefit businesses of all sizes, from the smallest startup to the biggest corporation. For little spend, you can get your business in front of thousands of eyes in the form of an Instagram story, Facebook messenger ad, promoted tweet or Youtube video ad, growing your reach and your bottom line in the process.

Provide Customer Service

Growing a business is about more than sales. You've got to keep customers happy, so that they keep coming back, tell their friends and leave glowing reviews on your product or service page. Whether it's questions or complaints, social media has become a popular place for customers to seek customer support in recent years. It also helps to be proactive and actually seek out people who are confused about your product or venting their frustrations without directly contacting your page.

Want to learn more about our Social Media Marketing and Social Media Advertising services? We’d love to hear from you! Contact us HERE.

Meet the Media Monday: Taylor Bowler of Charlotte Magazine

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It’s time for round two of Meet the Media Monday! The series features a brief Q&A with leading Charlotte journalists as we get to know the faces behind the stories that matter most in the Queen City. This week, meet Taylor Bowler of Charlotte Magazine.

Taylor is one of Charlotte’s leading food journalists, but her experience spans many beats having written for Best Self, Jezebel and more. Currently, Taylor’s role as Associate Editor of Charlotte Magazine has led her to write about local cuisine and travel features (check out her Puerto Rico trip here). We caught up with Taylor over coffee to discuss the Charlotte food scene, The Real Housewives franchise (Team Bethenny) and everything in between.

What's the craziest story you've ever covered?

TB: “I’ve covered health and fitness, beauty, plastic surgery. Cool Sculpting… a corporate magician...like a motivational speaker but using it as a metaphor for leadership.”

If you could write for any publication what would it be?

TB: “The New Yorker.”

Something people would be surprised to learn about you?

TB: “Cannot cook to save my life even though I cover food (haha). Luckily, my husband is a great cook.”

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If you weren’t a journalist what would you be?

TB: “An illustrator or photographer. I went to SCAD as an illustration major and I still do illustrations on the side.”

What attracted you to journalism?

TB: “I love to write (first love) and love to tell people stories. I believe everyone has a story and I’m fascinated by what makes people tick. A majority of people, if you ask the right questions, like to talk about themselves. I also love to read.”

What are the challenges you face being a journalist in 2019?

TB: “Being at a monthly print publication where everything is digital now and keeping up with that. One luxury is we can spend six weeks on a story, but, at the same time, staying current and relevant. Finding that balance is a challenge. And the influencer phenomenon is a new one for me. It’s fascinating how much influence you can have now just through your social media platforms. It’s kind of expected now.”

What’s your favorite social media platform? (both professionally and personally)

TB: “Instagram. I was late to the game and have only been on for a year. I did Facebook and a blog, but Instagram is the source of so much inspiration for stories, pitches...it’s amazing. It’s fun.” Give her a follow @taylormadenarratives.

How long have you lived in Charlotte? What brought you here?

TB: “Six years, and we moved here because of my husband’s job. I was in Atlanta before that. I've moved around a lot, but I grew up mostly in Northern California. For SCAD, I received a brochure in the mail and knew I wanted to see a different part of the country. I went to SCAD sight unseen and loved it.”

What's your favorite activity in Charlotte?

TB: “Things I do with my kids. I do an Annual Day of Yes where the kids get up in the morning and can make any request and I have to say yes. Last year we went to Duck Donuts in our pajamas. Aside from that, my favorite activity is taking my kids around Charlotte for a “mural crawl” to see different artwork in the city.”

What’s one thing you could change about Charlotte?

TB: “I wish public transportation was more accessible to me. The light rail is great though. I love city living and wish I lived on the light rail.

What has surprised you the most about Charlotte?

TB: “How easy it is to make friends. Majority of people here are imports or transplants. And having kids helps with making friends.”

What’s your favorite season in Charlotte and why?

TB: “Fall. I’ve always loved fall. The new school year, anticipation for holidays. A lot to do in and around Charlotte. Fun, seasonal stuff.”

Dream location for a travel piece?

TB: “Capri or anything that pushes me outside my comfort zone.”

Favorite beat?

TB: “Food & drink is just fun. foodie culture (I have an adventurous palate), self-made people have been interesting, creatives, entrepreneurs, risk-takers and tracing how they got there.”

Favorite restaurant in CLT?

TB: “I love sushi. It’s my favorite thing to eat. I love Sushi Guru, O-ku and Flourshop (try the lamb bolognese). I also love Poppy’s Bagels (She orders an asiago bagel toasted with cream cheese and salmon). I love a good breakfast.

Favorite kid-friendly restaurant?

TB: “JJ Red Hot’s, Hawkers, Cantina 1511.”


Want to learn more about Charlotte Magazine? Head to their website or follow along on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook for the latest.



Meet Communications Specialist: Paxton Shaw

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We’re thrilled to announce the latest addition to the Social Ape team, Paxton Shaw. Paxton is our newest Communications Specialist and will be working closely with clients to help increase their brand awareness through public relations and events. We asked Paxton a few questions so that you can get to know her a bit better. Welcome to the team, Paxton!

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Where are you from? How long have you lived in Charlotte?

Born in Charlotte, raised in Gastonia, NC. I’ve lived in this area my entire life aside from college.

Who is someone you admire, and why?

In my personal life, I admire my mom because she’s always been a hard worker, funny and super creative. She’s also very independent. A celebrity I admire is Bethenny Frankel because she built her business from the ground up and is constantly working on new things and evolving.

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Finish this sentence. On Sunday mornings, you can usually find me…

On my couch with a coffee.

Your top 3 favorite Podcasts/Books?

  1. Podcast - The Morning Toast

  2. Podcast - Ladygang (the podcast is better than the show on E!)

  3. Book - The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F%$k

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Outside of work, what do you do in your spare time?

I like trying new restaurants, catching up with friends, spending way too much time at T.J. Maxx, whipping up a HelloFresh recipe and watching Bravo with my basset hound/husky mix Pippa.

How to Track Email Marketing Performance

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With so many different email analytics to consider, it can be tough to know which numbers really matter. To simplify reporting, we've gathered the important metrics every email marketer needs to track.

Open Rate

The first metric to evaluate is your open rate. In your email marketing dashboard, find your open rate statistics. This metric measures how many recipients click to open your email. Keep in mind that your open rate isn't the best metric for evaluating campaign performance as it's difficult to accurately measure. An open rate of 29% or higher is widely considered a healthy number. Open rate is tracked in two ways:

  • By an image loading in the recipient's email client

  • By the recipient clicking a tracking link within the email

Even with its inaccuracies, when the open rate increases, it indicates that your message is likely being read. That's the first step to a successful email campaign.

Bounce Rate

A high bounce rate can affect your overall deliverability. For example, if the email address doesn't exist, it's a hard bounce. Generally, after three hard bounces for one email address, the address status is changed to undeliverable, so make sure these are removed from your database. A healthy bounce rate is 2% or lower. There are a number of other reasons an email may bounce:

  • If it's a temporary condition, such as a full inbox, it may be marked as a soft bounce.

  • Your email marketing platform may have up to 20 types of bounces.

To reduce the frequency of bounced emails, use a clean email address list. A clean list only has legitimate email addresses that opted into receiving your messages. Cleaning your list reduces its size, but improves your metrics with more accurate data.

Click-Through Rate

The primary goal of email marketing is to entice your audience to click a link in your email campaign. Your CTR measures the number of unique clicks in an email, divided by the number of emails successfully delivered. Generally, the more relevant your message is to your audience, the higher your CTR. Some marketers see high open rates but low click-through rates. This likely indicates the message sparks interest, but the internal content fell flat. A healthy CTR is 5%. That being said, you want this metric to be as high as possible.

Use your email metrics to learn what valuable information your audience wants to receive from you. When you act on what you've learned from your email marketing analytics, you can improve your metrics and grow your audience's loyalty.

Want to learn more about our email marketing service? Contact us today!

How to Use Google My Business for Your Small Business

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Do you want to stand out from your local competition on Google? Google My Business is a free tool set up by the search engine giant to help businesses take control and ownership of their brand and location. If you haven't started using it already, you're running the risk of customers receiving incorrect information or not being able to find your business. Google My Business allows you to get noticed by genuine potential customers, manage your reputation and generate more business. Get started and set up your profile with these easy steps.

Create your listing

1. Log in to Google and click Manage Now.

2. Start typing the name of your business and if Google already has a listing, click the name.

3. If your business isn’t listed, fill in the details including address and/or delivery area. Pro tip: If you run an online store from your home, you might not want to have your address visible.

4. On the next screen, move the pin to your exact location, if you want customers to find your business. If you offer deliveries, you can determine your delivery method and service area.

5. Select the category your business falls under by typing it in and picking the best fit. Then, choose how you want your customers to contact you by providing a phone number and/or website link. Pro tip: If you don't already have a website, you can get a free one built based on your Google My Business data.

Check your email

If approved, you'll be notified by email. If you're denied, you'll be notified by email and have the ability to suggest an edit to the listing or, in some cases, request an appeal. If you don't receive a response after seven days, look for a claim or verify button on your dashboard and you may still be able to claim the business.

Verify your listing

Once you've filled out your information, Google needs verification that you are who you've claimed to be. This can be confirmed in a variety of ways. Here’s how to complete verification via mobile.

  1. Choose the business that you'd like to verify, then click Verify Now.

  2. To receive the code via an automated phone call, click Verify by Phone.

  3. You will be given a code on the call. Enter it on the website and click Submit.

Optimize your listing

Add key information to your profile like an address, business description, website, hours and phone number. Next, you'll create and add media to your listing. This should include a profile image or logo to allow readers to quickly identify your business, as well as a cover photo to showcase the personality of your business. You can also add a 30-second video clip to highlight your brand even more. Pro tip: they need to be 100 MB or smaller and 720p resolution or higher.

Google My Business is an essential tool for businesses of all shapes and sizes. It's also very straightforward to set up, so why not make it easy for your local customers to find you?

5 Evergreen Content Ideas to Drive Traffic to Your Website

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Does your business need content that consistently drives traffic, shares and links to your site? Find out why evergreen content is one of the most useful and effective content marketing strategies to boost your SEO and website traffic.

1. Interview someone with authority in your niche

Ask a handful of questions to someone that is interesting or authoritative within your niche. The great thing is you don't have to write it yourself, the interviewee creates the content for you. Additionally, the interview doesn't have to be conducted face to face and can be done via Skype or email.

2. Secure guest posts

Invite well-respected bloggers to contribute to your site. This allows for guest writers to get in front of your audience, while you benefit from additional blog content. You could also consider partnering with newer or smaller blogs that could benefit from the exposure and invite them to guest post on your site!

3. Follow the top people on Twitter within your niche

Bring attention to influencers in your industry and other colleagues, friends or accounts you discover that are sharing valuable content. It's a great resource for your followers and it's an even better way to get people to notice you.

4. Create a resource

Create a post, infographic or video that people will find useful. For example, if your website is in the photography industry, why not create an Instagram Photography Cheat Sheet? These are resources that people will find useful while giving you a web asset that will always attract traffic.

5. Host a giveaway

Partner with a business to offer prizes for your readers through competitions or quizzes. As an online marketer, you’ll find that using giveaways as a marketing channel can be an effective way to generate leads and drive traffic to your website and social channels.

Meet the Media Monday: Kristen Wile of Unpretentious Palate

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Today, we’re debuting a new blog series! Meet the Media Monday features a brief Q&A with leading Charlotte journalists as we get to know the faces behind the stories that matter most in the Queen City. We’re kicking things off with Kristen Wile of Unpretentious Palate.

Kristen is one of Charlotte’s leading food journalists, largely due to her time as both Food Editor and Editor of Charlotte magazine along with her current role as Editor and Founder of Unpretentious Palate. We caught up with Kristen over lunch at The Improper Pig to discuss the Charlotte food scene, dogs and everything in between.

How long have you lived in Charlotte? What brought you here?

KW: “I’m originally from upstate New York, went to college in DC and was working there after graduation. My first introduction to Charlotte was when it hosted the DNC in 2012. A few months later, we moved to Charlotte for my husband’s job and didn’t know much about the city at all. Six years later and we are so glad to call Charlotte home.”

What’s your favorite activity in Charlotte?

KW: “Dogwood Bar is our go-to spot for a night out. We have a great time popping in and seeing who we will run into. My husband and I also collect bourbon and wine.”

What attracted you to journalism?

KW: “Like a lot of journalists, I was attracted to the public service aspect and this feeling that you are working for the greater good.“

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What’s something people would be surprised to learn about you/your job?

KW: “Being a food editor sounds super glamorous, and while it is a lot of the time, for every great meal I have, there are three bad ones. It also takes work balancing eating out for the majority of meals while still maintaining healthy habits.”

What are your favorite social media platforms?

KW: “I’m not a huge fan of social media to be honest! Twitter is mostly bad news while Instagram can be fake. If I had to choose, Facebook is the most helpful for me.”

What’s the craziest thing that ever happened to you on the job?

KW: “I was working at The Washington Post and had just moved to the news video team. Saturday was my first shift alone and it was the day that Gabby Giffords was shot. It was a long day of trial by fire, not to mention an adrenaline rush of trying to get video footage to the reporters that were covering this huge breaking news story.”

Want to learn more about Unpretentious Palate and their stories covering food and drink in Charlotte? Follow along on Instagram here.

Instagram Stories Insights: What Metrics You Need to Know

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If you are using an Instagram business profile and want an easy way to track the data behind your Stories, a feature directly in the platform can help! Insights give users the ability to review analytics, optimize story posts, and increase your brand's visibility right in the platform! Find out how to take advantage of this valuable data below. 

View Insights from Your Instagram Stories

It's no secret that Instagram Stories have become an essential tool for brands to add authenticity to their content. With over 500 million people consuming Stories, it’s vital to know what's working and how your audience is reacting to those Stories.

First, tap the Insights icon on the top right of your Instagram business profile. Scroll down to the Stories section and you'll be able to see data for older stories or from ones that have not yet expired. Insights from your Stories will be available for up to 14 days after they're published. Next, we'll dive into each metric you can explore. 

Impressions & Reach

Impressions represent how many times your Story has been seen. Keep in mind that Instagram only counts your entire Story having received one impression even if you have multiple photos or videos added. Reach tells you how many unique users saw your Story on any given day. A good indicator that your Story is performing well is a high impressions-to-reach ratio.

Taps Forward & Taps Back

Taps Forward indicate the number of times someone taps to skip to the next piece of Stories content. This can represent that either your content (video) is too lengthy or the content isn't engaging. Taps Backward indicate the number of times your audience taps to go back to a piece of Stories content. This may be a reflection that your media was engaging enough for someone to view again or maybe they missed a CTA.

Replies

The Replies metric reflects the number of times your audience sends messages through the "Send Message" text box on your Story. These direct messages are associated with your Story and hang out in your direct message inbox, making it a great time to engage with users.

Next Story & Exits

Next Story indicates the number of times a user swipes to skip to the next account's Story, not to be confused with 'taps forward' which skips to the next piece of your content. Exits represent the number of times someone leaves the Stories section entirely to return to their feed. This means a user has decided not to make it all the way through your Story. 


Have questions about setting up a Business Page on Instagram? Shoot us an 
email! We're here to help!

6 Useful Apps For Everyday Productivity

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Need a little help with improving your day-to-day performance? From time tracking to document organization, these resources can help you get—and stay—dialed in all day. Check out our favorite productivity apps that you can install now on your iOS or Android device.

NEWTON 

This app puts all of your email clients in one place. It also lets you track whether an email has been read, which is useful for when you are waiting on a response before taking action.

Key Features:

  • Read Receipts - Receive a read-status for every email you send. Know exactly who read your email with individual mail tracking.

  • Snooze - Set your emails to come back to your inbox at a more convenient time. Snooze emails, not productivity.

  • Undo Send - Pull back that email blunder you just sent. This is especially useful when you’re on mobile and need to reply in a hurry.

SLACK  

It's where work flows. Slack acts as a middle ground between email and instant messaging. You can easily send messages or files to a group or individual in a very organized manner.

Key Features: 

  • Communicate with your team and organize your conversations by topics, projects, or anything else that matters to your work.

  • Message or call any person or group within your team.

  • Share and edit documents and collaborate with the right people all in Slack.

Improving Focus

BE FOCUSED

This app is a timer that uses the Pomodoro technique, where you work for a set period of time and then take a short break. The Pro version comes with time tracking and reporting for clients.

Key Features:

  • Manage your tasks in intervals.

  • Track your progress throughout the day, week, or custom period.

  • Allows for fast and easy goal tracking.

POCKET

The Pocket app allows you to save all of the articles you want to read at a later time. It will even read the articles out loud to you. Pocket is great for the commute to and from work.

Key Features:

  • Boasts unlimited storage.

  • Use tags to quickly get organized.

  • Listen to your articles with Text-to-Speech.

  • Save with one click using Pocket’s desktop browser extensions for Safari, Chrome, and Firefox.

For Everyday Life

TRUECALLER

Once telemarketers get a hold of your cell number, you feel doomed every time the phone rings. Truecaller saves you the annoyance by blocking telemarketer calls. It claims to block over 2 million spam numbers.

Key Features:

  • Automatically identify spam and fraud calls before you pick up.

  • Filter junk SMS automatically.

  • Enter any number to lookup name and other contact info.

CALM MEDITATION

Meditation can do wonders for your mental clarity and productivity. Calm makes meditating easier by offering dozens of guided sessions on their app.

Key Features:

  • 80+ Sleep Stories: adult bedtime stories guaranteed to lull you to sleep.

  • 7 day and 21 programs for both beginner and advanced users.

  • Brand new Daily Calm every day: a new 10-minute program added daily to help ease you into the day or unwind with before bed.

5 Twitter Chats Marketers Should Follow

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A Twitter Chat is an organized Twitter conversation around one unique hashtag. Generally, the pre-arranged chat is moderated and focused on a particular topic. It's a great way to build a community, create exposure for your brand, and stay up-to-date with various trends in your industry. Check out which Twitter Chats we think are useful for marketers and content creators alike.

1. #ContentChat

#ContentChat is a Twitter chat discussion that encourages content marketers and creators to share their experiences and relevant insights with each other. The weekly chat is hosted by Erika Heald Mondays at 1 p.m. EST.

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2. #SocialROI

Manage Flitter hosts a Twitter chat series every Tuesday at 5 p.m. EST with topics ranging from Search Engine Optimization, content marketing, and social tips and tricks.

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3. #HootChat

Twitter users can follow along with Hootsuite's #HootChat every Thursday at 3 p.m. EST. This discussion group is hosted by different experts every week, sharing valuable insights to help boost your social media strategy. This chat is one of the more popular groups, generating thousands of mentions when live.

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4. #EcomChat

This Twitter Chat focuses on e-commerce and digital marketing best practices. Hosted by experienced digital professionals, James Gyrd and Dan Barker, Twitter users can connect with this group every Monday at 8 a.m. EST. People of all levels and interests are welcome, whether contributing or simply listening.

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5. #LinkedInChat

Every Tuesday night at 8 p.m. EST, Con Patrick Sweeney moderates a Twitter chat on topics around LinkedIn. This discussion is open to anyone who has questions about LinkedIn, complaints about LinkedIn, and best practices for networking. 

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Have you participated in a Twitter chat? How did it help? Let us know in the comments below!