The Engenius Blog

Ideas & tips on business, marketing, and using the Internet effectively.

4 Social Marketing Must-Do’s in 2016

I don’t know about you, but I am past the honeymoon phase with social media.

The beauty of connecting with friends old and new has faded behind the clamor of opinions and personal information I could have done without ever seeing.

But just because I’ve seen social media’s, er, less-attractive side doesn’t mean I’m leaving it. Nope. This is a long term relationship, and in spite of a few loveable flaws, social media has strengths that enrich my life. And that’s not all: social media engagement is still growing, which means plenty of potential growth for your business.

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Here are 4 tips that will help you tap into that potential and keep your business on your customers’ minds.

1. Use more photographs.

Posts with relevant images get 94% more views than posts without an accompanying image. We are drawn to visual content, because it’s easier to process and more interesting to the eye. (Source)

So it’s no wonder that the fastest growing social media platforms—such as Pinterest, Instagram, Periscope, Vine, and SnapChat—are all centered on providing a connected way to view photographs and/or video. For Engenius social media clients, I find images to accompany 95 to 100% of all Facebook and Twitter posts. We have also integrated more video over the past three months than ever before.

Free resources to use today:

Free Stock Photography – Download any of these high res images for free and use without fear of copyright infringement.

How to Take Good Photos – Improve the quality of your visual content with these super simple tips!

Online Photo Editing App: Pixlr – Edit photos in your browser; this app includes a built-in filter feature.

2. Enjoy social media.

Once you’ve created a profile for your business on Facebook, Twitter, or wherever your target audience is active, your business should begin communicating and interacting like other users do. This means you can let your hair down and have a little fun. Today’s social media crowd prefers brands that show a little bit of creativity, humor, and humanity.

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It also means responding to comments, liking and sharing others’ posts, and communicating information that will be valuable to your audience. If each of your posts reads like a billboard advert for your business, it’ll turn people off. Such a strategy discourages engagement on your page and defeats the purpose of the hours you just spent writing (and getting distracted while writing) all of those posts.

One action item:
Put the right person in charge. If you personally do not use social media regularly (or, if you use it but don’t really enjoy it), put someone else at the helm of your social media management. In addition to being well-acquainted with your company, the ideal manager should be familiar with the platforms, enjoy using them, and be able to handle customer complaints calmly and positively.

3. Get engaged. And stay engaged.

As I mentioned above, social media platforms aren’t billboards. Don’t just shout your sales pitch as people unwittingly scroll past in hopes of getting into their heads.

Sure, today’s consumer is fine with a little bit of self-promotion (you are using social media like the average user, after all), but they are looking for more than that: users want and expect engagement. They expect questions to be answered quickly and honestly—before they buy. Consumers also respond to platform-specific promotions, such as photo contests entered via hashtags, because they build the community feel that social media users love.

Once you’ve won your prospective client over, expect to continue engaging in conversation with them via social media. And, be sure your followers know they are a part of a mini-community, made up of all of the brilliant people who interact with your brand.

Quick ways to up your engagement:

  • If you don’t have one, establish a plan (and person) for handling customer questions, comments, and complaints online.
  • Establish times during the day to be present and active on social media. Use this time to leave friendly comments on others’ profiles and pages.
  • Don’t force it, but try to think of a name that represents your customers as a community. We’ve used #EngeniusClients and #BeautifulWebsites.

4. Grow your audience.

The force is strong with social media—you just need to tap into its potential.

There are two primary ways to grow your crew of followers: organic and paid reach. Organic reach increases your audience by providing the type of content and engagement people want to follow. Paid reach makes posts more visible to people close to and/or outside of your audience. While all social media platforms are primed for organic reach, the opportunities for paid reach may be limited by or beyond an average small business’s price range.

Two steps toward growth on Facebook:
1. Increase your organic reach: on your business’s Facebook page, take a look at your Insights tab. Which posts work the best? What time of day seems to work best for post engagement? Use this information to shape future content.


An Engenius client’s Insights page tells us which content to keep posting and when.

2. Try allocating a small portion of your marketing budget to running a campaign for a limited amount of time. Here’s a handy guide for beginners. After your ads have run their course, you will be able to compare cost/benefit and determine the value of an investment in paid reach.

Once you’ve completed your social media mastery action items, keep taking steps to improve your prowess across platforms.

If that doesn’t put the spark back into your relationship with social media, Engenius is here to help. We can answer your questions or give you a quote for social media management by our team of experts. Contact us today!

The 8 Most Helpful Posts from the Engenius Blog in 2015

Plus, Professional New Year’s Resolutions to Start 2016 Right

Creating quality content on our blog was one of our 2015 resolutions, so it’s been fantastic to review how far we’ve come this year. Note: If you haven’t reflected on your own progress and given yourself a pat on the back, do so before reading this post. It can be easy to think about how many resolutions you’ve given up on without recognizing your successes!

Each member of our team contributes to our blog!

Each member of our team contributes their personal experience and expertise to our blog!

Here’s a countdown of our 8 most useful blog posts, ranked using a combination of analytics (web traffic and page popularity) and social media engagement (likes and shares). Because we love measurable goals, each post has a number-driven New Year’s resolution—that you can customize—as a practical way to implement the best advice we gave in 2015. Without further ado:

 

8. Where Does Your Community Support Begin?

Written by our community service-champion and CEO Chris Manley, this brief post provides business leaders ideas for better community involvement.

Resolution: I will find one additional way to show community support—and/or provide roads to community service to my professional teammates and employees. Get Ideas

 

7. Does My Small Business Need a Website?

This insightful post addresses companies who rely largely on word of mouth for sales and growth. While word of mouth recommendations are powerful, most potential customers still check you out on the web before engaging with your company!

Resolution: I will take charge of my online identity. (Or, I will let someone else manage my online presence!)

 

6. 10 Reasons Why You Should Blog

Written exclusively for our clients, this post series created a splash with practical reasons to add a blog with fresh content onto your web presence.

Resolution: I, or a trusted employee/marketing teammate, will blog at least two posts per month to engage my audience. Where to Start

CEO Chris Manley speaking during the ReFrame Conference

CEO Chris Manley presenting at the ReFrame Conference last fall

5. Engenius Core Values: People

Written by our Support Specialist, Susan Lesser, this post is part of a series on our core values. “People first” means putting people over profit, which looks like caring for and respecting our coworkers and colleagues—and putting their needs first. Good outcomes for our clients should always come first; the rest will follow.

Resolution: In 2016, I will find one way to go above and beyond for a client and a colleague each week.

 

4. Engenius Core Values: Passion

We all hope to find a job that ignites our passion. Engenius values both finding roles we are passionate about and putting our passions into play in our professional lives wherever we’re at. Accordingly, Executive Assistant Anna Beam wrote about how to foster a genuinely passionate spirit at work.

Resolution: This year, I will be confident in my abilities and passionate about the difference I make in my company.**

 

3. Engenius Core Values: Integrity

Without integrity, the whole company-client relationship crumbles. That’s why integrity is one of our core values, and in June, Brooks Manley wrote on how to build and maintain trust at work.

Resolution: I will honestly evaluate my ability to follow through and own my mistakes.**

**Core values resolutions are harder to put a number on, so we encourage you to think about ways you can specifically demonstrate your values in 2016, and create goals accordingly!

 

2. Why It’s a Game Changer

Posted on April 15, this post by writer Catherine Ryan discusses significant changes to Google’s search algorithms, also known as “Mobilegeddon”, and how our readers could test their websites to measure mobile-friendliness.

Mobile optimized websites and other content, like email, is going to be even more important in 2016—so much so that many designers are starting in mobile to be sure that size and user experience are optimized on smaller devices.

Resolution: I resolve to test my website and email content to be sure it’s mobile responsive and mobile optimized.* Test Here

*Already mobile-friendly? Resolve to stay on top of Google search trends and to respond quickly to changes that could affect the health of your business!

 

1. How to Make a Growing City Feel Like Home

Director of Ops, Cate Buckingham wrote a fantastic personal post about how she made Greenville smaller and fostered a closer community in her life through service. Her story inspired the most people, putting her post at the top (er, bottom) of our list!

Resolution: In 2016, I will serve the community (list a specific way)and be intentional about getting to know new people in the process.

 

Have other ideas? Share your professional New Year’s resolutions in the comments. And remember: the right time to make a fresh start is today.

Does My Small Business Really Need a Website?

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Digital marketing is quickly becoming the number one way consumers interact with brands, products and services. Why? Because it’s cheap, reliable, specific, powerful, and a host of other adjectives attractive to the small business owner.

If you’re part of this group of professionals, you may question the validity of such tools. “The large majority of my customers find out about my business through word of mouth,” you may say, “so do I really need a website?” The short answer to this question is simple:

Yes. You absolutely need a website.

Many small business owners ask the same question that you may be pondering – 85% of small businesses get customers through word of mouth1, and 86% of consumers trust referrals from friends and family2. It makes complete sense that one would question spending money on online marketing when most of their business is referred to them for free. More often than not, however, the things that seem to have obvious answers are more nuanced than they first appear. This is most definitely one of those cases.

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First, people are looking for your business online—even if they are referred.

This is an important clarification to make, because it’s one that small business owners don’t often realize. Yes, you may be getting plenty of clients through word of mouth marketing. Unfortunately you are probably losing a number of potential customers due to the lack of an online presence. Nearly 90% of Americans use the Internet regularly3, and 70% of those people use the web to shop locally for products and services4. That number jumps to 81% when it comes to making significant purchases5. If someone recommends your product or service to a friend, that’s fantastic! But if that friend looks online and can’t find you, they’re likely to research the options that appear at the top of their preferred search engine.

Second, people trust online reviews just as much as friends and family.

Consumers love to leave and read reviews: 59% enjoy telling others about the products and services they use2, and 92% read online reviews for local businesses4. With this in mind, think about the fact that 7 out of 10 consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations4.

“That’s fine,” you may think. “I just so happen to have online reviews.” And while sites like Facebook or Yelp can present positive reflections of your business, you have little control over how these resources illustrate its identity. They may not properly communicate what you do, demonstrate the benefits of working with your business, or delineate your call to action. Lack of control means less opportunity to educate people about your business, and a loss of potential clientele.

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Third, you’re limiting yourself by relying solely on word of mouth.

It’s clear that word of mouth is one of the strongest ways to get new clients, but relying on this marketing strategy limits you and your business. While you may attract new customers, they are all from the same network, rising from your existing client base. Like a stock portfolio, it is dangerous not to diversify. You become reliant on one small branch of a community, a limited pool that will eventually dry up. By using online marketing, you are able to attract new customers actively, and those that choose to work with you extend your group of word of mouth devotees.

There are thousands upon thousands of individuals waiting to learn about your business, unaware of the benefits you can provide them. Take charge of your online identity, and start founding an online presence you can be proud of today.

Sources

1. http://smallbiztrends.com/2014/06/small-businesses-get-customers-through-word-of-mouth.html
2. http://www.referralcandy.com/blog/word-of-mouth-marketing-strategy/
3. http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/07/28/15-of-americans-dont-use-the-internet-who-are-they/
4. http://localvox.com/resources/small-business-marketing-statistics/#sales
5. http://www.retailingtoday.com/article/study-81-research-online-making-big-purchases

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