Three ways to use social media for word-of-mouth marketing

One of the best forms of marketing occurs when a happy customer shares their good experience with others. People trust recommendations from friends and family more than they trust advertising by companies.

Word of mouth is a powerful way to boost sales, and social media presents the opportunity to multiply this person-to-person sharing exponentially.

The key to creating experiences that are worth sharing is to focus on engaging with your audience, rather than on adding followers.

Start by being present. It’s not enough to post glossy product pics or motivational quotes. Really listen to what your audience is saying. Respond to what you’re hearing. Be part of the conversation. Use social media as a customer service tool as well as a sales tool.

Give your audience something to talk about. Ask for feedback on packaging. Share behind-the-scenes glimpses. Invite them to name your next product. Query them about what they’d like to see next from you. Create a custom hashtag to tie the community together and give fans a way to talk to each other.

Add a charitable component. One of the best ways to inspire people to share is to do good. This type of consumer-driven charity is very powerful because it’s a win-win. When your customer buys from you, they know that they’ll be supporting an important cause at the same time. Run a campaign where you donate a percentage of your proceeds to a charitable organization you’re passionate about.

For word-of-mouth marketing to be successful, it’s got be authentic. So make sure that any shareable content you create or any interaction you have is genuine. It’s a two-way street. When you build your community this way, your social media followers become ambassadors for your brand, which is the best kind of marketing there is.

Use social media to pack your next event

You’ve got an event coming up, and you want to fill every seat. How do you throw a champagne event on a beer budget? With social media!

Here’s how.

  • Have a unique, event-specific hashtag. The key here is to research it first. You need to make sure it hasn’t been used before or associated with something negative.
  • Encourage attendees to tell the world they’re going. After they register include a “share on Facebook” button. Or write a tweet for them — with a call to action, like “Click to Tweet.”
  • Answer back when your biggest supporters talk about the event on social media. Engage them in conversation.
  • Offer discounts through social media and create social contests.
  • Before the event interview the speakers or attendees and post those interviews on all your social media platforms. Ask the interviewees to post on their platforms, too.
  • During the event give people a reason to take photos and share, share, share. For example, have a box of cool photo props available by the step-and-repeat.
  • Give a sneak peak behind the scenes by sharing snippets of video.
  • After the event, put any presentations up on SlideShare, releasing them once a day to keep people engaged.

With these easy tips, your next event is sure to be a success.

Going Viral: Give luck a hand by stacking the deck in your favor

Every marketer wants their content to be a hit and “go viral.” Viral content gets your brand in front of huge numbers of people, which can result in an impressive boost to your bottom line.

There’s no set formula for making your content go viral. A lot depends on luck. But there are some things you can do to push your content in the right direction and increase the chances of your content going viral.

Make a connection. Emotions are what motivate people to act. So making an emotional connection is a powerful way to influence behavior. When crafting your content, strive to make it resonate with your audience by incorporating emotional imagery and words. People will want to spread your message.

Partner with influencers. Find influencers by researching well-known blogs in your niche or tracking popular hashtags on Twitter. Before reaching out to influencers, comment on their blog, share their content, include them in a round-up post or thank them for their insights on social media. Once you’ve established a relationship, message them to let them know you’ve created content they might like. If they like it enough, they might share it with their followers.

Opt for imagery. Posts with images or video are more likely to be shared. It’s easier to create an emotional connection (see above) with visuals. Plus, people retain more information when content is paired with visuals. Create an infographic, turn a PowerPoint into a slideshow, or use your smartphone to record a behind-the-scenes video.

Not every piece of content you craft will become a viral sensation. But when you include these approaches in your content strategy, you’ll help turn the tables in your favor and improve your chances of going viral.

How to reach more customers, without adding more minutes

Do you ever wonder how much work you could get done if you could squeeze a few more minutes into each day? You could probably reach a handful of extra customers, or polish your sales pitch. You might even be able to take that power nap you’ve been longing for.

Unfortunately, time is fixed. No matter how much you wish on a star, you can’t add an extra tick to your tock. But that doesn’t mean you can’t extend the reach of your business with the hours you have.

Think for a minute about this number: 50 million. It took radio 38 years to reach an audience of that size, even with the help of Little Orphan Annie. When television came to town, it took 13 years to reach the same crowd. But communication continues to improve. The Internet hit the 50 million mark within 4 years. And Facebook, the world’s largest social media platform, achieved 100 million users in just 9 months.

So what’s the point? That it doesn’t always take more time to reach more customers. Its about tapping into the right technology. Social media has dramatically changed the information landscape, opening the door to business in ways that would have been unimaginable just two decades ago.

Think about it. When’s the last time you cracked open the Yellow Pages when searching for product or service information? It’s been a while, right? Well, it’s been a while for millions of other people, too.

Have you defined and redefined your online marketing plan to keep up with the constant changes of social media? Without one, your chances at a solid online presence may be lacking. If you’re still sort of on the fence, consider these benefits of a solid online presence:

  • Increased brand awareness
  • More visitors to your online and offline doors
  • A broader reach in audience
  • An increase in sales

Believe it or not, 90 percent of all purchases begin online. Customers do less window shopping and more virtual browsing. The trick is making sure you are found in the places where your customers shop. Give it a thought. You may not be able to add minutes to your day, but you can still reach more customers.

Here’s why you should think before you post.

With only 140 characters or a couple lines of text, getting a social media post perfect is important. It can be tempting to throw something together and forget about it. Sadly, this tends to be too many people’s social media strategy, and it’s not a very good one. Those two lines of text are extremely important and can make or break a company. Here are some questions you should ask yourself before you click post.

Has someone else read over it? When you’ve read two lines of text over and over, you’re bound to miss something. Typos are not a good thing. You lose a lot of credibility when you have the wrong there, their or they’re.

Are you the only one who thinks this is funny? A bad joke gone wrong can cause a lot of heartache. While humor is good, use it wisely. What is funny to you may not be funny to everyone else.

Does it have a photo? With a few exceptions, your post should always contain a photo. Even on Twitter, photos help increase engagement and are more likely to be looked at. Images draw people in. It’s going to be what catches their eye and what makes them look at your post.

Ultimately, the one question you should always ask is how the post will impact your or your business’s image. Does it add value? Does it align with the company? What are you really trying to say? All-in-all, make sure you think before you post!

Here are some tips for increasing your email open rates.

Crafting the perfect email to send to your large list of subscribers can be intimidating. Saying just the right thing, making it look perfect and everything in between takes a lot of work – and it can be frustrating when your open rate is low. Here are some tips to get more people interested in reading what you have to say.

Segment your lists. Ask them when they sign up what type of content they would like from you and then send them that! If a person only wants to know about deals and specials, they won’t even touch your emails after a while if you only send them updates about the company.

Send email blasts only when you have something really important to say. People will start to flag you as spam if you flood their email folder with daily, sometimes even weekly, emails that have little to no importance to them. If you are sending relevant information, they will look forward to reading it.

Say it in the subject line, but in as few words as possible. Remember, most people are going to be reading their emails on their phone, and this means limited room for a subject line. Put the most relevant information up front so people have no doubt what your email is about, but make it interesting enough that they will want to read it. It’s easier than you may think. You just have to think about it differently.

If you’re sending the right people the right messages, then your open rate will increase. Make sure your messages are on target, relevant and what your customers want to read.

PPC and Content Marketing: It’s not an either-or proposition

Do you put pay-per-click advertising and content marketing in two different buckets? You shouldn’t. These two strategies work beautifully together.

PPC delivers targeted traffic to your website. Great content makes those visitors stick around.

To see the most benefit from this partnership, start with your pay-per-click strategy. Leverage your paid opportunities to boost your free marketing efforts. Choose your keywords carefully to improve brand awareness. Design your PPC campaigns to piggyback off your social media presence. Keep in mind that some keywords may be more expensive to buy, so include those organically in your content rather than paying for them via PPC.

Once you have visitors on your site, make sure they stay. Make your content useful by answering questions and freely sharing your expertise. Include high-value keywords. Build trust with unique, engaging content.

You can also flip the formula and use PPC to promote great content. Use identity-based ad targeting to get that powerful post in front of specific people. Paying for eyeballs is worth it if you’re smart with your ad campaigns. Just make sure you have an action plan in place to take advantage of those visitors.

PPC and content marketing may seem like polar opposites. But PPC is actually an essential component of a successful content marketing campaign.

Do you use PPC and content marketing together? You should.

Social media for the holidays

The holiday season is upon us, and that means sales, discounts and promotions!

This is a perfect opportunity to utilize social media. It is a great avenue to build awareness for your promotions or sales and do so at a minimal expense. Here are some tips for using social media during the season:

1. Social media should only be one part of your marketing strategy. Use it on top of all of your other marketing activities. Even though social media doesn’t directly translate to sales, you can link back to your website.

2. Use holiday themes to spruce up your feeds. Use images to decorate your profile pictures and banners to get in the holiday spirit.

3. Use Pinterest to promote the sale of your products. Pinterest serves as an inspiration to potential customers. Make holiday boards with your products and ideas for how to use them. If you sell kitchenware, make a board of holiday recipes that use your product.

4. Run contests on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to celebrate the holidays. Successful campaign themes have included: The 12 Days of Christmas, Lightning Round (an online sale lasting from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m. or sunset to sunrise), or a Black Friday give-away.

Don’t miss out on the opportunities the holiday season offers for you to engage on social media.

3 tips for building your business with LinkedIn

LinkedIn, the business-oriented social networking platform, is still being overlooked as a prime way to strategically grow your business. It’s time to change that.

No matter what your industry, LinkedIn can provide you an opportunity to connect with potential leads and other like-minded professionals. The average household income of a LinkedIn user tends to be higher than users on other social spaces, proving that those you connect with on LinkedIn ‘mean business.’

Would you like to begin optimizing the time you spend in this highly optimizable space? Here are some tips to get you going in the right direction.

1. Complete Your Profile

LinkedIn will prompt you for the information needed to fully flesh out your profile. Be strategic about the wording you use and ensure that you’re using the proper keywords for your industry. Use a professional headline, be thorough in job titles and descriptions of experience, and optimize your summary and interests. Be sure to upload a current headshot with a professional tone.

2. Connect, connect, connect.

Connect with professionals already in your arena, but consider also using LinkedIn like a live networking event. Introduce yourself to people, find connections that are linked to other users you’d like to get to know. Ask for introductions. Customize every LinkedIn connection request that you send. Join groups on LinkedIn that are part of your industry. Join in the conversation.

3. Become a Content Marketer with LinkedIn Pulse

LinkedIn’s publishing platform gives you the ability to create unique content and to become a thought-leader and influencer in your industry. Create original and compelling content and share it with your networks.

LinkedIn is so powerful thanks to the professional connections that are at your fingertips. You won’t regret taking the time to make sure your presence is strong and professional. If you’d like some help, The Cloud Skimmer is here!

How targeted Facebook posts can boost your engagement

A bigger audience is always better when it comes to social media, right?

Turns out, that may not always be the case! By targeting who sees your posts, you may actually be able to increase your engagement. Facebook’s targeting feature allows you to reach the audience most likely to engage with your content.

Here’s how it works: Facebook lets you pick certain subgroups within your followers and direct a post to those groups. Without targeting, a post can pop up in the newsfeed of any of your followers. But with targeting, you can direct your post based on a variety of factors. Here are a few:

  • Age
  • Education
  • Gender
  • Interests
  • Relationship status
  • Language
  • Workplace
  • Location (country, state, city)

So for instance, if you are a business with multiple locations – but only one has a special – you can target only the audience in that geographic area.

Obviously there are pros and cons to targeting. If you do nothing but targeted posts, you are limiting the potential reach of your message. Only those in your targeted group will see the post in their newsfeed (though anyone can see your targeted posts by visiting your Facebook homepage). But even though the audience is smaller, they are receiving posts that are more relevant to them.

If you use the shotgun approach, you’re limited to posting broad content that will appeal to your entire audience. And, if you don’t select a specific audience and choose to do posts directed at a specific audience anyway, you may end up alienating a large section of your audience. They may un-like your page if they are constantly seeing content that does not match their interests.

Concerning your ROI analysis, even a few dollars per week can make a huge difference when it comes to reaching those followers who are most likely to engage with your brand. The best marketers know how to combine targeted posts with broad-spectrum posts that appeal to a wider audience.  The Cloud Skimmer can help you get started!

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