A group that’s started to attract potential customers and turn them into satisfied clients is going to have a different atmosphere than a special insider’s group that’s only accessible to people you’ve worked with.
How Much Privacy Should My Group Have?
Currently, Facebook has three different ways of categorizing groups. Public groups are groups where anyone can see the content as well as the members. Closed groups allow for more privacy. With closed groups, anyone can see which Facebook users are members but they won’t be able to view posts unless they join, too.
Private groups are invisible. No one will know a private group exists if they aren’t invited to join. This can be helpful if the purpose of your group is to get feedback from a select group of users or you want to discuss sensitive information, like details about your upcoming products. However because of the nature of private groups it can be hard to grow them beyond a few members.
What Will the Guidelines Be?
Every group needs guidelines about behaviors that are acceptable and those that aren’t. Some group creators don’t want members to post about controversial topics like politics or religion. Other group creators don’t care what’s discussed as long as the conversation is civil and members are respectful of each other.
Regardless of what topics are acceptable, don’t rule your group with an iron fist if at all possible. You want to guide and create a great culture, but members won’t respond well to you acting the dictator. Doing this can actually cripple your group and make members think poorly of your brand.
Be sure to protect your members from spammers and marketers that use aggressive tactics. One way to avoid this is to ban members that only promote themselves or their businesses.
That might sound too good to be true, but it’s not. The trick is knowing what makes someone a brand ambassador – and then leading them down the road instead of hoping they’ll get there on their own.
What Can Brand Ambassadors Do for You
Brand ambassadors are more than just enthusiastic fans. When brand ambassadorship is at its best, customers identify heavily with the brands they love.
One example is Apple customers. You’ve probably noticed that they:
Brand ambassadors can also help you build customer loyalty. Knowing that others are enthusiastic about your products can increase their perceived value. A truly enthusiastic fan can even create new brand ambassadors for you.
What Does Engagement Have to Do with It
You know that engagement is the Holy Grail of social media marketing. What you might not know is what engagement means nowadays. Your engagement might be up while your sales are down – and when that’s the case, it’s hard to get excited about a few hundred likes on Facebook or Instagram.
Not all engagement is the same. There are levels and you must understand them if you want to understand how to create brand ambassadors. Here’s how I break it down:
The Four Steps to Brand Ambassadorship
As I said before, there are four steps you can follow to create brand ambassadors. They’re not difficult, but they do require some planning and persistence on your part.
Starbucks runs a white cup contest on Instagram every year. They challenge fans to create designs on plain white cups and post photos of them. The company shares the posts with their fans and produces a limited-edition run of the winning design.
Beauty brand Dove often asks its fans to tell stories about themselves and their families. They’ve run Mother’s Day promotions where they request information about customers’ mothers and then create one-of-a-kind social media “cards” for them.
What you can see from these ideas is that fans will engage with your brand if you ask them, incentivize them, and reward them.
Your brand ambassadors are waiting to be inspired…
It’s time to start thinking about what’s going to convince your current customers and followers to embrace your brand as ambassadors.
Not sure where to start? Try asking on social media! Your fans who are already engaged will be eager to tell you what they want – and you can use their advice as guidance to get things started.
How Popular is Snapchat?
I want to start with some Snapchat statistics because I’m finding that a lot of the local business owners I meet have ruled it out as a potential marketing platform.
Here’s what you need to know according to HootSuite.
Create a Snapchat Business Account
Ready to use Snapchat for marketing. You’ll need to start by setting up a Snapchat business account. The process is very easy. You can start by clicking here.
You’ll be prompted to enter your:
Grow Your Audience
Attracting new followers on Snapchat isn’t difficult but you’ll need to do a bit of work. The first and easiest things you can do are:
We’ll talk about paid advertising a little later in this article.
Create Snapchat Stories
Snapshot Stories are Snaps that are meant to be viewed sequentially. Unlike stand-alone Snaps, which disappear almost immediately, Snapshot Stories live on the site for 24 hours before vanishing. They’re an ideal way to connect with your audience.
You should make sure to give your Snapchat Story a compelling narrative arc. Some of the Snapchat Stories I’ve seen businesses use include:
All the content you share on Snapchat should meet the site’s technical specifications. They are:
Tips to Make Your Snapchat Content Sing – (Chris Format into Checklist graphic)
One of the cool things about Snapchat is that there are lots of fun tools and tricks you can use to amp up your content. Here are a few of my favorites:
Track and Refine Your Results
Like other social media platforms, Snapchat has some useful analytics that you can draw on when you pay for advertising. You can use them to track:
Once you’ve started using Snapchat for Business, you should keep an eye on the above results. You can use them to refine your Snapshot marketing strategy. You may notice that your video Snaps are getting far more engagement than your other content and adjust your marketing budget accordingly.
Marketing on Snapchat can give you a leg up on your competitors...
Remember, only a little over a quarter of businesses in the United States are using Snapchat. If your competitors aren’t – and they probably aren’t – then you can get access to a huge audience of Millennials and grab them as customers before your competitors know what hit them!
Facebook groups can also be leveraged to help you grow your business. You’ll meet new potential customers and learn more about your target market. Plus, here are three more ways that running a Facebook group can build your brand…
Members Get to Know the Real You
Facebook Pages allow you to share content but don’t give you any privacy controls. This means if you want to say something to one customer, you have to say it to them all. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it does make it harder for followers to get to know the person behind the brand.
A Facebook group gives you more privacy options. You can make your group closed so no one outside of members can see your posts. This can allow you and your participants to be more relaxed and share more personal details with each other.
Members Can Share Their Feedback
Another advantage of creating a Facebook group is that you can learn a lot from your members. For example, you can post about your upcoming product and ask for feedback on the sales copy or request comments about the graphics for your project.
Some group creators have also used Facebook groups to generate community content. Ask about a controversial topic and feature answers from different members on your blog or website. Invite members to share their best tips for doing something in your niche.
Members Will Look to You for Guidance
As you share valuable content with your members, they’ll begin to trust you. The more they trust you, the more they’ll come to you for guidance and advice. This gives you the chance to offer even more value and share product recommendations.
All you need to do is observe, think, and ask a few key questions about what they’re doing.
Where Are They Marketing Themselves?
The first thing you need to know is where and how they’re finding customers. You don’t need a copy of their marketing blueprint to figure it out. Here are some suggestions.
What Makes Them Unique?
You’ve spent some time figuring out how to distinguish yourself from your competitors – but how do they distinguish themselves from you?
A brand’s Unique Value Proposition tells you a lot about how they see themselves. Are they branding themselves as innovators? Solid and reliable? Affordable? Luxury?
You can pick up a lot of clues about your competitors’ unique qualities by looking at their websites and ads. What you learn can help you figure out how to be more competitive.
What Marketing Techniques Are They Using?
It’s not enough to know where your competitors are putting their marketing dollars. You also need to know what they’re doing with it. It can take some time to get a handle on their strategy, but it will be time well spent.
You may notice that they’re running both search engine ads and retargeting ads. That may indicate that their target audience requires a lot of nurturing before they buy. Or, you may notice that they’re relying heavily on customer-created content on social media, and that could inspire you to create some brand ambassadors of your own.
You should also make note of the kinds of content that performs best for them in terms of engagement. Are they posting lots of videos or sticking mostly to photos? Are they using infographics or instructographics? Every technique they use could point in the direction of more effective marketing for you.
What Are Their Strengths and Weaknesses?
As you observe your competitors’ marketing and check out their websites, you’ll probably notice that there are some things they do exceptionally well. Maybe they’ve got killer blog posts that fans love and that get tons of shares on social media. Or, maybe they’ve got a YouTube channel with hundreds of useful videos.
At the same time, you should look for things they’re not doing so well. Maybe their website’s out of date or their social media posting is irregular. Maybe they haven’t done a good job of differentiating themselves in the market.
Make note of anything that might be helpful. Your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses can help you fine-tune your own marketing strategy.
What Are Their Values?
It’s become increasingly important to consumers to know that the brands they buy have a moral center. You know that because you’ve seen the way brands can suffer when they misbehave. Customers can turn on brands in a flash if they feel they don’t share their core values.
If your competitors are affiliated with causes or charities, it’s important to know about it. You should look especially hard at any marketing efforts that tout their involvement and values. It’s quite common for brands to dedicate pages on their websites to their charitable efforts and values.
Millennials put a very high premium on corporate values both when they seek employment and when they shop. If you’re not clearly articulating your values and your competitors are, you might be at a disadvantage.
Keep in mind that when you express your values, you should look for causes that align with them. For example, a lot of food manufacturers and restaurants get involved with local food pantries and soup kitchen or sponsor food drives for hungry families.
How Do They Engage Fans?
Perhaps the most important question to ask is what your competitors are doing to engage their followers and fans. Engagement can mean a lot of different things from reading a Facebook post to creating unique, brand-based content – but it matters at every level.
One of my favorite ways to track engagement is to look at my competitors’ CTAs on social media. What are they asking fans to do? They might:
What your competitors are doing shouldn’t be a mystery to you…
If you think of yourself as a detective or a corporate spy, you can learn a lot about your competitors by tracking them online, taking notes – and then using what you find to improve your marketing strategy and beat them at their own game.
Since you can’t count on marketing suggestions knocking on your door, let me help. Here are 7 things you can start doing right now to market your business better.
#1: Identify Your Unmet Goals Where You Expected to Do Better
The first step is to review your marketing plan and business plan and figure out what you still haven’t accomplished. You might have specific goals that remain out of reach, like attracting a certain number of new customers this year or passing a profit milestone.
Even if you haven’t articulated a goal, you might still feel disappointed about some of your marketing. Maybe readers aren’t finding your blog or you’re not getting as many people to sign up for your newsletter as you’d hoped.
Whatever it is that isn’t meeting your expectations, write it down.
#2: Update Your Market Research
The answers to marketing difficulties are nearly always found in the data. If it’s been a while since you conducted any serious market research, it’s time to retest those waters and see what’s new.
You should be gathering two sets of information about the people in your target audience. They are:
#3: Sneak a Peek at Your Competitors’ Marketing
Competitor research doesn’t get enough attention, and if you’ve never checked out your competitors’ marketing for ideas, you’re missing out.
You should be looking to see:
#4: Find Out Where Your Target Audience Is
Once you’ve evaluated your competitors, it’s time to start thinking about where to focus your marketing efforts to reach your target audience. For example, if your customers are mostly women and you have an aspirational product, then your marketing budget will be well spent on Pinterest. If you’re a B2B company, you should focus on LinkedIn.
You’ll also want to think beyond social media and ask how your target audience will find you. Remember that voice search is on the rise and think about where people are going to look for your products – and how they’ll do it.
#5: Revamp Your Marketing Plan
This is step is a big one – but it’s necessary if you want to achieve your marketing and growth goals. Take all the information you’ve gathered and sit down and rethink your marketing plan. You should be planning:
#6: Automate as Much as Possible
Marketing automation can save you a ton of time and money as you work to achieve your goals. If you try to do everything yourself, you may wind up missing deadlines or failing to keep up with your intentions.
I’m a big believer in email automation for marketing. There are tons of good marketing email providers, including companies like AWeber and Constant Contact. You can use them to create email sequences to send out to your subscribers – or hire someone to create them for you.
I also suggest using automation to monitor your social media mentions and post on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites. You’ll need to set up the posts and schedule them, but the beauty of this approach is that it means you don’t need to worry about remembering when to post something. You can also use Your Social Plan which includes 3 daily post ready to brand and schedule!
The automation will do it for you.
You may also want to consider setting up automatic replies on your Facebook page. Lots of companies use bots to handle customer questions and increase engagement – and you should think about it, too.
#7: Test Everything (and I Do Mean Everything)
The final step is not to assume that your new marketing plan is perfect. Even seasoned marketers make mistakes. They guess wrong and need to correct course.
Tracking your results will help you figure out what’s working and what isn’t. You should know:
And there they are…
Marketing isn’t an exact science but doing these 7 things can help you realign your marketing strategy with your most important business goals – and at the same time, increase your profits and help you attract new customers.
But, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. It just means you need to try harder. The thing is, your customers want to talk to you. They want to know what you think, and most importantly, they want to believe that you care what they think.
It’s not as hard as you might think. Here are 7 simple conversation starters to get your audience talking to you.
#1: Express an Opinion about Industry News
You want to build authority within your industry or niche? One of the best ways to do that AND start a conversation with your followers is to express an opinion – particularly if it might be new or controversial. Of course, you should only do this if you can back up your opinion.
A good way to get started with this tactic is to follow relevant publishers and influencers in your industry. When you see them post a piece of news that’s relevant to your followers, read the article (or watch the video) and figure out what you can add to the conversation. Then share it – and make sure to include a call to action that encourages your followers to chime in with their own opinions.
#2: Ask for Stories and Experiences
Everybody has a story to tell – and when you’re speaking to an audience who all have something in common with you, then it’s easy to think of a topic that may inspire people to share their stories.
The key here is to share your own story and then ask your followers to share their best stories with you. For example, say you own a travel agency. You might tell a story of a trip you booked for yourself before you were a travel agent and how it went wrong. Then, you could ask your followers for their travel horror stories.
The benefit of this type of sharing is that it provides you with an opportunity to respond, express sympathy or amazement, and build a bond with potential customers online.
#3: Get Recommendations
People might love to tell stories, but do you know what else they like? Giving advice and making recommendations! And asking them for recommendations is a great way to get them talking.
What kind of recommendations should you ask for? Ideally, they should be relevant to your product or service. For example, I’m a marketing guy. I might ask:
#4: Promote Your Events and Your Community
Are you appearing at a local street fair or charity event? Sharing your involvement is a great way to remind people that you stand for something other than making money – and to underscore your involvement in your community and industry.
Even if you’re not appearing at an event, there’s a benefit to letting your followers know what’s going on in your community. Giving a nod to other businesses or to local charities can help you build trust and earn the admiration of your followers. You can encourage conversation by asking questions like these:
#5: Ask about DIY Projects
Whatever industry or niche you’re in, the chances are good that your followers have some DIY experiences that are relevant. Asking about them is a great way to learn about potential customers and build a warm rapport with them by responding to what they share.
Ideally, a DIY project should be something that uses (or could use) your products. However, it doesn’t have to be. The key is to find a way to make what you post relevant to your brand – and then stand back and let your followers do the rest.
#6: Ask Open Questions
Asking questions is one of the best ways to get your followers talking. It’s especially helpful to you if you can get them talking in a way that helps you to learn more about them – because that’s information you can use to create future content.
For example, if you’re targeting small business owners, you could ask questions like:
#7: Ask for Testimonials
You already know that reviews and testimonials are hugely important in the world of marketing. What better way to get some new testimonials to share on your site than to ask your customers to provide them on social media?
Not only will asking for opinions help you get some positive testimonials, it may also help you discover potential issues and nip them in the bud before they become big problems. You should be prepared for some surprises – but if you approach the request with the right mindset, this technique can help you learn a lot about your customers.
Look who’s talking…
The bottom line is that your audience wants to talk to you. They don’t read your blog or follow you on social media because they’re looking for a lecture. The key is to give them the encouragement they need to share their thoughts, experiences, and opinions with you – and then, to stand back and listen to what they say.
The verdict it in... simpler is better!!!
Some "experts" are pushing social marketing strategies that are incredibly complicated... and frankly, I'm tired of it! This is 2019!!!!!
There is ABSOLUTELY no reason to be spending more than ONE (1) hour a month marketing your business online. So let me make is simple... 5 steps that are giving my clients their LIVES back!
Here we go...
1. Know your niche.
The niche research you did when you first started your business should have revealed your people's interests, pain points, problems, and spending limits. If you’re not sure, do some research. Above all, find out where they spend their leisure time on the Internet and target those sites. There’s no point in banging away on a social network if the ideal customer in your niche isn’t hanging out there.
2. Brainstorm better content.
Good content is the kind of content that will speak loudest to those you want to reach. As you do your niche research, you will probably see the same questions coming up repeatedly. Make a list of them and create content that answers these questions. Be sure to create paid products that do as well. Free products lead to paid products.
3. Leverage the content you create.
Make every piece of content you create work hard for you. One of the best ways to do it is to put it into more than one format. For example, the same content could appear on your sites as an article, social post, top-10 list, or a PowerPoint. Your PowerPoint could become a video on YouTube which you would then embed on your site.
4. Create a publishing schedule and use automation tools.
Once you leverage your content, make scheduling and posting easy. Automation will make your life easier, and if done right, no one will know you aren’t slaving away behind your computer all day to hand-post your content.
5. Limit your time on social media to 30 minutes a day.
Social media can devour your time if you’re not careful, so block out 2 appointments of 15 minutes each, morning and evening, so you minimize the danger of getting distracted and wasting hours wandering around in an unfocused manner.
Your content is already scheduled and ready to go. So use these 15 minute blogs to respond to comments, questions, and messages.
If our current websites are up and running – even if they’re not perfect – we put off redesigning them because we think it’s not a priority.
Spoiler alert: it should always be a priority.
Having an out-of-date website can erode trust with your existing customers and make it difficult to attract new ones.
Does your site need a facelift in 2019? Here are 10 sure-fire signs that it does.
#1: It’s Not Mobile Responsive
I know you probably think I’m beating a dead horse with this one, but mobile responsiveness is no longer an option in 2019. It’s a necessity.
Google penalizes sites that don’t adjust to the size of the device they’re being viewed on. And the truth is, this is an easy fix. There’s no excuse not to do it – and it can actively hurt you if you don’t.
#2: Your Site Is Difficult to Update
You might use the difficulty of updating as an excuse NOT to update, but in fact, it’s a clear sign that you must update – and right away. It’s the best way to be sure you can stay on top of future Google updates and technological improvements.
Updating from whatever it is you have now to a WordPress site where you can easily change your theme and add plugins as needed will make your life easier in the long run.
#3: It Looks Outdated
There are lots of little things that can make a website look out of date. For example, which version of the Twitter and Instagram logos do you have on your blog or homepage? If your Twitter logo has the old bird with the tuft of feathers on its head, your site may look like it’s from the dark ages.
Trends in web design are constantly changing. If your site looks like it was designed in the early 2000s (or even the early 2010s) then it’s time to embrace the present and update it.
#4: Your Conversion Rate is Too Low
There are lots of factors that can contribute to a low conversion rate, including your social media presence and marketing strategy. However, there’s no question that your website – its design, loading time, usability, and other factors – plays a role.
It’s an especially good sign that your site needs updating if you’ve tweaked your marketing campaigns and you’ve still got a low conversion rate. Something’s scaring potential customers away – and if it’s your website, there’s only one way to fix it.
#5: You’ve Got Autoplay on Your Website
Autoplay is dated and annoying, but there’s a more important reason that you need to ditch it in 2019 as part of your website redesign. It is very likely contributing to a slow page load time. I get that you were probably eager to have people watch your video or listen to your audio at the time of your LAST redesign, but it’s time for a change.
Honestly, I think the irritation level of autoplay far outweighs any potential benefit. You’re much better off putting your video above the fold with a killer thumbnail and a compelling pull quote than you are autoplaying it.
#6: Your Branding Isn’t Current
Have you rebranded your business since the last time you updated your website? If so, that means that your website is out of sync with your branding – and visitors aren’t getting a true picture of you and your company when they visit it.
Even if your branding changes are minor – such as an updated logo or tagline – it’s still worth redoing your website to match it.
#7: It Takes Forever to Load
You’ve probably heard the statistic that says that human beings have a shorter attention span than a goldfish. It sounds absurd, but when it comes to how quickly a site loads, it’s true.
Not only that, but Google penalizes sites that take too long to load. You can use their Page Speed tool to check your site’s loading time.
#8: Your Web Design Isn’t Consistent
Perhaps your last web redesign was ten years ago and in the interim, you had a different designer make a few tweaks to the design. Maybe you even did a bit of programming yourself. If that’s the case, you may have a Frankensite that looks like it was assembled by committee – not a good thing.
If your fonts, colors, menus, and other design elements are a hodgepodge and not consistent throughout, a redesign can help you present a cohesive design that will attract new customers instead of frightening them.
#9: Your Google Rank is Too Low
Google prioritizes well-designed, quick-loading sites with great content. If it’s been a while since your last redesign, the chances are good that your site isn’t ranked as high as it could be on Google.
It’s an especially big red flag if your ranking has slipped despite increased social media visibility and a higher-than-usual marketing budget. Don’t ignore Google’s response to your site. It’s not going to get better if you wait to update it.
#10: It Just Doesn’t Look Good
This last one might seem obvious and unnecessary, but I’m including it because a whopping 48% of consumers say that a company’s website is the most important factor in determining credibility. In other words, an ugly or poorly designed site can scare potential leads away.
If that’s not enough to scare you into updating your site, I don’t know what is!
It’s time to give your website a new look…
If any of the ten things on this list sound familiar, don’t wait. 2019 is the perfect time to update your site and take advantage of increased conversions, an improvement in your Google rank and – most importantly – more profits!
So, with that in mind, here are the biggest SEO trends of 2019 as I see them – and some tips about how to use them to your advantage.
I’m starting with a big one that many small and medium-sized companies are still ignoring. Voice search isn’t going anywhere – and in fact, it’s going to become increasingly important in 2019.
Why? Because pretty much all of us are using voice search in some way. Whether you’re starting a mobile search by saying “OK Google” or calling on Alexa, Cortana, or Siri to help you find what you need, you’re using voice search. And, estimates are that 50% of all searches will be voice searches by next year.
And guess what? That means your customers are too. One of the best ways to capitalize on this trend is to optimize your site with voice search in mind. That means incorporating common questions into your content – because your customers are asking questions and your website should answer them.
Google’s mobile-first indexing is still relatively new, but only a fool would believe that it won’t increase in importance in 2019. Right now, about 60% of all searches are mobile – and that number’s only going to go up.
How do you take advantage of this trend? First, make sure your site is mobile responsive. Honestly, at this point there’s no excuse for it not to be. Next, think about how your site’s design will impact mobile users. You want a clean design that’s easy to use. That means single column next, right-sized buttons, and other mobile features like direct dialing.
You may also want to think about accepting mobile payments in your store, if you have one. The idea is to make it easy for mobile customers to patronize your business.
SEO is in an interesting place right now. We’re still heavily mobile-dependent, but the increase in voice searches and use of artificial intelligence means that we all need to be thinking about how our websites can be easy to access as AI increases in importance.
One way to do that is to use Schema and other structures to organize your data. Things like information architecture, tags, metadata, and structured mark-up can all help ensure that your site is easy to crawl and index.
I know that all sounds very technical, but an experienced SEO can help you navigate the tech requirements while still providing a site that’s user-friendly, readable, and engaging.
Brand as a Ranking Signal
SEO is no longer just about what’s on your website. It’s also about how people are talking about you on social media sites and other places online – and those brand mentions are now having a big impact on how Google perceives your company.
If you’re not already tracking your social mentions, now is the time to start doing it. Following other brands on social media will reveal that some of them are responding when people mention them – and they’re making a big impact doing it. Even a word of encouragement or a quick joke can make a huge difference in how people think of you. Awario is a great tool for tracking your mentions.
Focus on Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness
The big trio of online impact is E-A-T – Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness. Technically, E-A-T isn’t part of Google’s algorithm, but it is a guideline for Google’s algorithm raters. That means that you can’t afford to ignore it.
What you can do to offer E-A-T to your site’s visitors is provide content that’s:
You can demonstrate E-A-T by creating a system of internal links to help visitors to your site navigate the information that’s available and easily find content that’s related to what they’re viewing.
Speed is another topic you may think I’ve covered too much – but when I repeat myself, it’s only because I know how important it is and I want to make sure that you’re not overlooking something that can have a huge impact on your SEO.
There’s no such thing as a website that loads too quickly. All web users are impatient and mobile users are more impatient than most. Very few are going to wait longer than five or six seconds for your site to load. Anything that might be slowing your site down needs to go. That means:
Riding the Waves and Staying on Top.
What’s going to keep you riding high in 2019 is knowing which waves matter in the world of SEO. The six things I’ve identified here are the ones that are going to make the biggest impact this year – and that means they’re the things that will help you rise above the competition and make 2019 your best year ever.