marketing

Choosing A Social Media Marketing Specialist

Do you think spending a couple of hundred bucks on your social media strategy is all that it takes to create the necessary engagement and depth of trust with potential clients and customers, as well as reach a broad audience? No way, Jose! (If you can’t afford more than that, I get it. I have experienced bootstrapping first-hand, and this post is not directed at you.) If, however, you can afford to spend more, but choose not to because you’re thinking “hey, these days anyone can throw some posts up on your Twitter or Facebook account”, let me just stop you right there! Yes, it’s true that your 14 year old nephew can use a mobile app on his phone to create a graphic that can be shared on Instagram or Pinterest and that you can buy clicks and likes for a few bucks any day of the week, but will using a person or a company that doesn’t have the depth of experience or the ability to customize an approach to your specific business really make you money? I don’t think so. You may as well not have a SM presence at all. And a lot of people chose not to. Sadly, those same people are missing out on a ton of sales.

My thing is, if you own a business and want to stay relevant, connect with customers and make sales, you cannot ignore social media, and by extension, unless you have the time and energy to run your Social Media efforts yourself, your absolute best bet is to plan to use and SM specialist to help you and budget accordingly.

Pay careful attention to that last word. “Specialist.” A specialist is a person who focuses on and is an expert on a particular subject or activity; a person highly skilled in a specific and restricted field. My focus is to build relationships with customers on a client’s behalf. In Social Media terms, we call that “creating engagement.”

I don’t know if you’ve heard, but right now, marketing is ALL about engagement. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. People buy from other people or companies they trust. Trust takes time. It takes conversation. It takes active listening – for your sake and that of the customer. Becoming *PERSONALLY* familiar with your business and the customers you serve is my job. Knowing just the right questions to ask is also my job. Both skills need to be present and well-honed in order to create and customize content for the right kind of engagement.

So yeah, if you’ve got the budget for marketing, but are choosing not to spend it on experts, you may want to reconsider. I like a deal as much as the next girl, but in this instance the cliche applies – you get what you pay for.

Remember that communication is key in building relationships. It’s absolutely a necessity to start and continue conversations on your social media platforms to start adding to your business’ trust account. Without that engagement, you will be losing customers to your Social Media savvy competitors every day of the week.

“When the trust account is high, communication is easy, instant, and effective.”
Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change

Public Schools Need Social Media Marketing??

If you’re like me, when you grew up, your parents didn’t have a lot of choice when it came to sending you off to school. Their options were likely something like this:

  • Public School
  • Private School

Alllllrighty then. So school that isn’t really free, but as close to it as we’re going to get … OR school that’s going to take a hefty chunk out of their bank account. The choice, for most, was a no-brainer.

Today – we’re faced with choices though. In my opinion – choice is good. It causes good brands to strive to be better. Same goes for schools. In the age of school option – the choices can be dizzying. Where do I send my child?

  • Private Religious School
  • Private Secular School
  • Public School
  • Charter School
  • Home School
  • Free Online Public Schools

I’m sure those are just the beginning of a long list of options available to parents today. It’s clear, then, that just sitting there – expecting parents to come banging on your door – is not going to yield the results you would hope for.

In the state of Indiana, schools receive approximately $6000/traditional student and approximately $10000/special needs student. Let’s say 1 school in 1 district loses 1 student to each of these with 5 students being traditional and 1 being special needs. That’s $40k lost. Just. Like. That. We all know that schools aren’t just losing 1 student to each of these alternative schools though. The numbers are far more staggering than that. But even at just 1 – $40k equals one teacher cut. That means larger classroom sizes, less individualized attention and then MORE students moving to alternative schools. Then you lose the next 6 students and now you’re $80k in the hole. It’s the proverbial rabbit hole  – there’s no end to it… unless you figure out how to put a stop to it yourself.

What can you do to get your enrollment numbers where they need to be AND KEEP THEM THERE? It’s simple – but not easy… as most things in life are. First, you are now a business. Yes – you’re in the business of educating children, but it’s still a business. What is the #1 goal of most successful businesses? That’s right. Customer Service. Who are your customers? Your knee jerk reaction is probably to say “parents” – no?? Well, I’d challenge that answer and say your actual clients are your students. Momma Bear likely comes to you with her claws out when baby bear comes to her with a story about how he/she has been mistreated before you see her; however, Momma Bear is going to be the one spreading the good (or bad) word about you. All. Over. Facebook. All. Over. Twitter. Oh yes – it’s the age of Social Media.

Oh… Wait… You’re not ON Social Media? Oh yes you are. You might not know it yet – but you have between 700-5000 parents talking about you on (at bare minimum) a monthly basis. You can use that to your advantage – or it can destroy you. This should absolutely not scare  you off. Why wouldn’t you give it your best effort? You could be using software such as [Pivot] to measure improvement in your student/teacher performance – then report on it. You can hi-light students of the month – let parents know you really do care about more than just test scores. You can address problems before they escalate and get out of hand. Parents appreciate a heads up on what’s going on with their kids – God knows teenagers aren’t the most forthcoming creatures ever.

It all boils down to this:  Social Media is about relationship building. If parents trust you with their child, with their well-being and with their future – they’re sold. If you’re ambivalent, seem wishy-washy or not fully committed… well, the Charter School down the road seemed to care. Social Media is your chance to show the reason you became an educator to begin with. It’s not about the money, the test scores or the board members. It’s about young minds and your ability to mold them to be the leaders of tomorrow. If you truly believe your school has the ability to do all of those things – it’s time to jump on the Social Media bandwagon. Be active. Engage your audience. Respond to concerns – or be proactive and report them first yourself. Then and only then are you going to have the opportunity to not only gain, but keep the students you have.

 

The Urgency of Engagment

Although not everyone understands that engagement is an absolute necessity in any social media marketing efforts, I’d say the vast majority of people are either on the bandwagon or they’re at least starting to climb on it. Why, you ask? Excellent question. The answer is simple, really. If you don’t engage – then there’s no social aspect to your social media. At that point, it’s just media… In which case, it would probably be more effective for you to paint your face on one of those bus benches and pray for clients.

People no longer buy from you simply because you tell them to. They buy from you because they’ve built a relationship with you. What’s most important in ANY relationship is trust. That’s what you’re focused on building with your existing and your potential client base.

Now comes urgency. Let’s say you pose a question on Facebook to promote engagement. People start answering that question – or – they start asking questions back. You let the post sit…. and sit… and sit… ya know. Until you finally get the time to answer those questions or comment on those responses. NO! As [Robert Caruso], CEO of [Bundlepost] has said on many occasions in our phone calls, social media is REAL TIME. You need to be engaging your following consistently and actively. Your lag time should be no longer than an hour. Much quicker if at all possible.

The screen shot posted here is used with permission from one of my high school classmates. She very recently returned from a trip to Mexico and had an awful time trying to make it back home to her two kids. This was her tweet – which she then screen captured and posted on Facebook. While it didn’t make her experience any better, per se, US Airways did respond to her rather promptly – asking her if they had deplaned yet. If nothing else, that response let her know that they cared that she was on a return trip from hell and that they were addressing it. Reassurance does wonders for your customers.

So you can’t respond and/or engage while you’re in the back cooking, working on payroll, handling employee discipline problems, dealing with the state tax issues that have been haunting you for the last 2 months? Understandable – but as with anything else, understanding where you are weak and where someone else is strong is absolutely imperative in making a successful business. If you don’t have the time, hire someone. Hire someone who knows what they’re doing – AND has the time.

If you think you don’t have the budget to stay on top of your social media – look at where you’re spending your marketing dollars now. If you’ve done any research at all on marketing today, you’ll know that this is where you’re going to get the most bang for your buck. So you either find ways to trim in other marketing efforts to make room for Social Media Marketing or you absolutely MUST find a way to make time in your day to respond and engage.

Public Speaking and SMM – Easier than Pie.

Photo Credit: @posherov (Twitter)
Speaker: @SimpleADHDExpert (Twitter)

In addition to my strictly marketing clients – I represent speakers. I have for years. I do their marketing, booking – the whole sha-bang. Call me an agent, manager, bitch… whatever you want ;-)  It’s actually how I became so invested in marketing and saw it turn into what it is now – digital marketing.  Having been a part of this industry for 13 years now – I’ve seen some drastic changes.  So, to all of my artists, speakers, authors, etc… This one’s for you.

As a speaker/artist – if you aren’t flying solo (doing your own event), you’re likely a part of something bigger. You’re doing a keynote or a break-out session for a larger conference, right? So are you following that group on Twitter? No?? Facebook?  NOO??? Why not – that’s gold. You have access to an entire organization’s audience. This is the perfect opportunity for you to connect with the organization. Find out what’s important to them and incorporate it into your presentation. Nothing makes a better impression than being on your A game and caring about what’s important to your client.  Re-tweet information from your upcoming clients. Mention their conference in your own tweets – but don’t forget to tag your clients. That (likely) means you’ll get re-tweeted by them – which means you’re getting seen by their entire following.

Here’s the one that many of you probably haven’t considered:  Socially – it’s been unacceptable for years for people to play on their phones while someone is up speaking.  Before you get up and start speaking on your topic, address that very fact. Take 2-3 minutes. Something like, “Ok, I know all of you are probably going to feel some kind of way about this, but… if you have a smart phone or tablet – take it out. Go ahead….. Now, go to whatever twitter app you use and follow me.” Make sure to use a projector of some sort that have your Twitter handle so it’s visible to everyone.  Here’s the other thing – you may have read about hashtag campaigns. If you haven’t – [Click Here] – to read my blog about them. If you’re a speaker who speaks about overcoming fears – maybe your hashtag would be #FearThis.  So if it were me speaking about fear, I would have this on a projector:

Follow me: Twitter – @amberkpowers
Use Hashtag:  #FearThis

Encourage your audience to tweet throughout your presentation using that hashtag. If they find a statement funny, they should quote it with that hashtag. If they like a quote you used, quote it with that hashtag. Teach your audience to market you properly. It just takes minutes.When people start to see that hashtag enough, they’re going to click on it and be linked back to you. Viola, hello future clients.

Your social media campaign doesn’t end there. Etiquette is still insanely important, be it virtual or not. Anyone who uses your hashtag and tags you in a post gets followed back. Grant it – it won’t be real time, but when you get back to the hotel or back home, it should be the first thing you do. Well, then first thing you do after you invade the mini-bar.

Also – in terms of etiquette – be informed about the conference where you’re speaking. If they have a hashtag campaign already, encourage people to use that as well. You can use multiple hashtags in one post – it’s just important to use them in moderation.

You are, indeed, your biggest voice – so use it. It just so happens that your megaphone is now digital, which works to your advantage since your reach is nearly infinite. You have a new tool in your tool belt. One that can bring you substantially more money if you use it properly. Why not?

CLICK HERE IF YOU’RE A SPEAKER SEEKING REPRESENTATION/MANAGEMENT

How to Annoy Fans and Lose Followers

As you can imagine, I spend A LOT of time online. The internet is a vast universe and I enjoy studying companies, large and small, to see what they are doing with their social media. How active are they? How consistent? Are they posting content that is relevant to their audience? Is it not just relevant – but quality? It’s not hard to see when content is merely slapped on a social media outlet just to say it’s been done.

Consumers these days are smarter than ever. They expect quality and anything less than that is going to alienate them. They also don’t want to be bombarded with the same boring message.

In the words of Jay Baer, from his book YOUtility (used with permission)

Top-of-mind awareness requires companies to send messages consistently, but today’s consumers are besieged with every company of every type, size, and description jostling for attention, making pleas to friend, follow, subscribe, read, watch and click. Unimaginative marketers attempt to stand out with message frequency, or by exchanging bribes for attention (resulting in an explosion of Facebook contests and giveaways, among other tactics.)

But sending messages too often can have unintended consequences. Exact Target’s 2012 United Kingdom version of “The Social Breakup” study found that the most often cited reason consumers “unlike” a company on Facebook is that they felt “bombarded by messages.” And, as noted by Jeff Rohrs, Exact Target’s vice president of Marketing Research and Education, all consumers “have to do is just ignore the messages over a period of time, and they slowly get suppressed by Facebook. You simply won’t show up anymore, even if your brand is technically “liked.”

And there it is, my friends in small business. While your intentions, I’m certain, were to build your following and build relationships – one of my life mottos is “All things in moderation.” There are some social media professionals that will tell you there are specific times to post – be it to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or any other platform. They’ll also tell you there’s a magic number as to how many times you post in a day. I personally think that’s a bit bogus. It’s not about how MUCH you post anymore. It’s about how CONSISTENT you are.

Sure, analytics can tell us when the majority of our audience is online – however – you need to keep your eyes open. Watch what you post. Pay attention to the content, the reaction of your followers, amount of engagement. Idle posts get you nowhere. Once people start seeing others talking – they’re going to want to be heard as well – and YOU need to listen. No computer can replace human contact, interaction… relationship building. This is all dependent upon you, someone who knows you and your business or someone you trust can learn it.

Moral of the story – Is marketing via social media a science?  Of sorts – but the truth is that there isn’t a cookie cutter approach to it. Each business is different as its audience is different from one to another. Audience = people. As we each are different, our businesses must cater to that uniqueness. This is the joy of relationship building, therefore, the joy of social media.

You May Need to Tweak Your Twitter

My friend and I were discussing new followers we had on Twitter this morning. She and I both use Twitter for business, as do many others. One statistic I found said that as many as [85% of B2B marketers use Twitter.] Suffice to say, business people are certainly using this micro-blog for more than entertainment. In fact, I would venture to guess that 90% of my tweets are business related. Do I sprinkle bits and pieces of who I am – my character – my personality – in there? Absolutely. As I should… And so should you.

Here’s my point. You want others to at least THINK you know what you’re talking about. You want to provide valuable content, keep them intrigued and from time to time a little entertainment isn’t such a bad thing. When people click on your profile on Twitter, what do they see? This morning when I was discussing profiles with my friend, she stumbled on one profile that literally made her laugh out loud – followed by, “and WHY would I follow this guy back?” I can’t remember exactly what his profile synopsis said, but it was about 4-words long and may as well have said, “I like chocolate milk.”

Your social image is a huge part of your overall image. Your twitter profile should contain… well… a micro-blog of you. If you use your Twitter account primarily for your CPA business, that’s what the majority of your Twitter profile should be as well.  While “I like chocolate milk” may be funny as a Twitter profile for [Zach Galifianakis], he has established himself as a comedian. It fits who he is.

Here is my Twitter profile – just to give you an example.

President, Powers Digital Marketing / Social Media Professional / Entrepreneur / Supporter of Small, Local Business / Coffee Queen / Lover of all things bacon

Indianapolis · amberkpowers.com

It sums up what I do and who I enjoy working with with just a peppering of who I am outside of work – or things I enjoy.  If you use your Twitter account for business, make sure when people look at your profile, they leave knowing they could have an intelligent conversation with you about the industry you work in. More importantly, since it’s a social site – make sure you give them reason to follow you.

What Does The Fox Say? YouTube and Your Business

I’ve heard the question asked over and over again.  Why would I want to use YouTube as a channel to market my business?  I’m going to take the unconventional approach here.  I might get my throat figuratively slit by a few social media gurus when I say this.  You don’t necessarily have to.  Now wait.  I didn’t say you SHOULDN’T.  I said you don’t necessarily have to.

Lemme ‘splain myself.  If you’re a social media professional and your target clients are tech based, gamers, musicians, artists, etc… Then yes.  You should absolutely have a YouTube channel and you should actively use it to market your business.  Maybe you should consider that – even before you should consider blogging.

My target client is altogether different though.  My focus is on the mom and pops.  The small, home-grown, local businesses of Indianapolis and the surrounding towns/cities.  They don’t spend copious amounts of time browsing YouTube for Flula’s latest misunderstood colloquialism or Hannah Hart’s latest episode of My Drunk Kitchen – although they’re both two favorites of mine.  They’re busy making sure that stack of bills dwindles to zero, only to watch them stack back up tomorrow.  MY clients are on Facebook.  Why?  Let’s be honest:  They have little to no time to maintain relationships with people face to face.  Sometimes, this is all they’ve got.  Small business takes a TON of time to manage and run.

Now… ALL that being said:  If you do, indeed, find yourself with a little spare time on your hands, that time would be wisely spent on YouTube.  Here’s why.  What’s the #1 search engine in the world?  You betcha.  Google, baby.  So popular it’s now a verb.  “Google it.”  What’s #2?  Any guesses??  Most people don’t consider YouTube a search engine because of the content it displays – but it is.  YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine in the world.  Now I’m going to weave a tapestry of mind-blowing goodness.  Who owns YouTube?….. (It’s ok, I’ll wait for you to Google it.)…………. (hint, hint.)

Yep – GOOGLE owns YouTube.  So what does that mean?  Adding your videos from YouTube to your website (of course with proper tags, etc…) is perceived integrity in the eyes of Google. Perceived integrity then moves you up in the rankings of google (aka – SEO – Search Engine Optimization)  In other words, this gets you one step closer to being on the front page of Google when people search for your product or service.

Then of course – there’s the opportunity for your video to go viral. And let’s be honest. We all know what the fox says, right? :-/

What’s Your Poison?

Hi.  My name is Amber and I’m a prisoner to my schedule.  I’m also something of a social media addict.  I don’t know which came first: the job or the addiction to be quite frank.  Neither here nor there, truth be told.  There’s something I’ve noticed as a trend with social media pros.  Our job is also our entertainment.  While there are times that I definitely enjoy just breaking away, the reason social media has exploded the way it has is because we love being connected with others, right?

I don’t have a family, but I do know myself well enough to know that I’m a workaholic.  Workaholics often get their priorities all sorts of screwed up.  I wake up at around 7.  Immediately, I pick up my phone to check my morning schedule, see if I’ve missed texts, emails or social media messages from clients.  Return said calls, texts and emails.  Some days, I’ll then reach over, pick up my laptop and start working right there in bed before even getting up to brush my teeth and start my morning routine.

We live in a world obsessed with technology.  It feeds our never ending narcissism.  The more we get, the more we crave.  In the meantime though, what we’re doing is alienating the very people we’re trying to stay connected via a multitude of social media platforms.  We’re so sucked into our computers and phones that we fail to recognize the beauty of the person that’s sitting right in front of us.

I’ve found that what I have to do (as bad as I know it sounds) is schedule alone time.  I said at the beginning of all of this – I live by my schedule.  If I don’t set aside 30 minutes to step away and go for a walk, I’ll end up a vitamin D deprived mess.  If I don’t schedule time to spend in prayer or meditation, my spiritual walk goes straight down the toilet.  If I don’t schedule time to be with friends, I end up alienating them.

I know this isn’t much of a “how to” guide to making your social media more effective – but sometimes we have to take care of each other.  Give one another a gentle reminder that there’s more to life than the monitor we sit in front of 12-14 hours a day.  Hopefully I’ve given you a swift kick in the butt to push back that chair, open the front door – and appreciate the life we’re helping other people live.

The Marriage of PR and Marketing

I skimmed through an article today about the importance of making sure your social media team is also well versed in public relations.  My first thought was, “Well, crap. Someone else got to it before I did.”  It’s alright though.  It just lit the fire under my butt to write it myself.  Every person’s experience is different, right?  Right.

Names and company names will be changed (or eliminated) here to protect the…. less than innocent.

I offer my social media services in different ways.  I can be the person who hovers over your different social media platforms and pats you on the back when you do something great.  I will also tell you when you’re wrong.  But in this role – I’m pretty much hands off.  Merely a consultant.

Then there are the clients that I do everything for.  All of their marketing.  I look for trade shows that would be good for them.  I’m the voice at the end of their client’s line.  I do all of their social media, including engagement, etc…

Well – I do all of it until they decide they want to muck things up a bit. And here’s where the fun begins.  Social media is…. well… it’s social.  And so, it involves many things – one of which is emotion.  There’s something to be said for being transparent (some of the time.)  However, when being attacked by what seems to have been coined as “haters” – you HAVE to let that slide (to a certain extent.)  There’s a lot of ambiguity in the last two sentences so let me clarify by using an example.

One of my clients was recently targeted by a group of people.  They claimed his business practices were less than ethical.  Let me start by saying I wouldn’t work for such a client.  While he may not always be the brightest crayon in the box (hey, I keep it real) – he’s not morally or ethically inept.

So let’s call my client “Bob” – because that seems to be what I like to call my clients  (ADD moment:  All clients, male or female, from this point forward – will be called Bob. I like Office Space.  What can I say?)  Bob used to do business with another entity – a not-for-profit.  This group and he parted ways in one of the least amicable ways possible.  I knew things would blow up – and they did.  An anti-Bob Facebook page was started.  The anti-Bobs started harassing the Bob fans on his Facebook page.  Bob was called a thief, a liar, all sorts of nonsense.  It was a PR disaster.  It got so bad that it warranted being addressed, in a non-emotional, only the facts, ma’am sort of way, on his Facebook page.  And so, I did.  I gathered the facts and I wrote the letter.  I knew Bob was far too emotional to do so himself.  The letter was working exactly as it was supposed to.  It had a reach of over 15,000 people by the time it was all said and done. His following, at the time, was only around 4,500. About 95% of the comments that came as a result to that letter were positive, uplifting messages about how Bob helped them or someone they knew. Woo-hoo! Success!!

And then Bob’s family and marriage started coming under (written) attack from the anti-Bobs.  Keep in mind, this whole time, Bob was replying back to their hateful posts, then I’d call him and tell him to take them down.  Down they came.  Next day – same thing.  It was like babysitting a toddler for a week and a half of my life.  “Bob, ignore them.  They’re trying to get a response out of you and you keep feeding them exactly what they want.”  “Ok, Amber.  You’re right.”  Next day – any guesses?  Yes.  Same game.  I was one worn out shit storm stopper by the end of that week.

After a long conversation with Bob about what PR is and how his fans were viewing him because of his emotional outbursts toward the anti-Bobs – he chilled.  He got it.  Finally!

If I had been someone else, say just a Facebook poster… this story would have a much different ending. He’s called and thanked me more times than I can count – telling me that if it weren’t for me, he’d be out of business. Thirteen plus years in Marketing AND PR prepared me for what I handled.  If you’ve hired someone that can post on Facebook and Twitter and make it look nice, but doesn’t have any sort of background in marketing or PR, please… PLEASE…. for the love of….. well, Bob….. think about switching it up.  It’s not all about the posts.  It’s about being knowledgeable, implementation, engagement, staying one step ahead of the game – and if worst comes to worst – putting out fires.

Signed,

Fire Marshal Amber…. “Let me show ya something.”

#HashTagCampaign

^^Clever, no?  Haha – sometimes I amuse me.

I’ve covered it before, but I feel like I should again.  What is a hashtag and why should I use it?  Well, here’s the [definiton].  Why should you use them?  Well, a number of reasons, really. They can boost your [SEO], target your audience with better precision, make it easier for your potential clients to find your content… and the list goes on.  Use them – but do so wisely.  Whatever you do, please don’t hashtag every word in your post.  That’s going to land you a spot in [Hashtag Hell].

Now on to the title of this blog – a Hashtag Campaign.  You’ve seen them before and may not have even realized it.  On Twitter, specifically, hashtag campaigns have become one of the most effective marketing tools a company can use.  For Nike, however, their #MakeItCount campaign was used through Twitter, Instagram and Pintrest.  Their campaign started in 2012 and was so successful that it continued into 2013. After watching this video – maybe you’ll understand why.

So what are the rules for this hashtag campaign?  Make it easy to remember and most importantly – make it something that is intimately related to your business.  Maybe your business’ tagline?  Be creative, but wise when choosing.  If you’re doing product promotion or a short term promotion, make it something unique (that’s key), catchy – and something your audience will be excited to promote.

If you’re looking for further examples to help get those creative juices flowing – here are a hand full to help out.  [Hashtag Campaigns via Mashable.]  As always, collaborate with other great minds.  I have no doubt you’ll wind up on the road to #success <—- See what I did there?