The 6-step social media audit every Small Business Owner should be doing

When was the last time you reviewed your social media strategy?

Do you even have a strategy? Or have you been posting just to post, inconsistently, without any sort of plan?

All good marketing starts with a plan. If you don’t have one, you need one.

If you do have one, you need to understand what you’ve been doing and how well it’s been working.

When it comes to social selling, that means doing a social media audit. Hearing the word “audit” might send shivers up your spine, but don’t worry. This kind of audit is well worth the time and effort. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be daunting.

There are common elements to all social audits, regardless of the platform. These six steps cover the core social strategy components you need to be on top of.

  1. Your Profile: Are your images clear and professional? Is your bio compelling?
  2. Your Posts: Are you posting regularly? Is the content interesting? Is the frequency right for the platform?
  3. Your Formatting: Do you have your posts customized for each channel? Are you using the appropriate tools for that platform?
  4. Your Tools: Do you have a way to track and analyze your progress, such as Google Analytics?
  5. Your Competition: Are you reviewing what your competitors are doing and figuring out what’s working for them?
  6. Your List: Are you capturing leads to build your email list?

See? It’s not so hard. With these easy steps, you’ll have a better sense of how your social media strategy is moving you toward – or away from – your company’s goals.

Are hashtags on the way out?

The big news at the Super Bowl this year wasn’t the rivalry between the teams. Well, okay … it was. But in the world of social media, the big news was that hashtag usage during Super Bowl commercials had fallen 5%. Marketing Land reported that hashtags were in 45% of Super Bowl ads in 2016, dropping from 50% the year before – which, in itself, was a 7% drop from 2014.

Maybe this is because hashtags are sometimes more of a hindrance than a help in marketing. For example, according to Re/code, tweets without hashtags or @ mentions get 23% more clicks. In that 140-character landscape, hashtags can be a risky investment. This is especially true when it comes to branded hashtags. They may or may not get clicked, and they’re vulnerable to misappropriation by trolls who have an ax to grind.

That said, hashtags still have their place. For example, they make it easier to follow an event and connect with attendees. Or to celebrate annual occasions like #WorldNutellaDay.

And, of course, hashtag effectiveness depends a great deal on the platform. Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags for a single photo, enhancing the discoverability of your content, which can increase your engagement and following significantly.

After you’ve factored in the platform specifics, it comes down to what you’re trying to achieve with your social media marketing. If joining the conversation is the goal, the hashtag should definitely be included. If moving followers to a website is the desired action, adding a hashtag may take up valuable real estate and ultimately be a distraction.

The three-step process to mastering social media marketing

The formula for social media success can be elusive. That’s because there isn’t a formula.

Effective social media marketing is a mix of art and science.

Think of it this way: Social media is the digital version of word-of-mouth marketing. If it’s done right, it’s a low-cost way to build brand awareness, goodwill and credibility – which can ultimately lead to sales.

But there can be downsides. It can be difficult to control. Just ask anyone who’s tried to make a post go viral. And evaluating the results takes skill.

The basic framework for social media marketing success comes down to these three steps:

1. Failing to plan is planning to fail. You need a content and marketing strategy for your online efforts, just as you do for your offline efforts. What are you trying to achieve with your social media? Which platforms are best for your business? Do you have knowledgeable staff internally or do you need to hire an agency?

2. Measure appropriately. Tracking likes and followers is easy. And doing so has value, but it’s just one tool to evaluate what’s working or isn’t on your social platforms. Make sure you’re reviewing all the analytics and know what they mean. Again, if your staff isn’t qualified to find and interpret that information, hire out.

3. Connect rather than sell. Social media, more than any other marketing platform, is about connecting and engaging with people. Selling is a very small component of it, and when it’s done, it should be done subtly. Let consumers get to know your brand and the people behind it. Give them valuable information so they keep coming. And most importantly, interact with them.

Following this framework, your social media marketing will create a positive experience for your customers and potential customers – which will likely lead to referrals and sales.

How to brand yourself properly on social media

Each social media channel allows a customized profile, banner or background image. If you’re not using branded imagery, you’re missing out on a powerful way to magnify your brand.

Bad imagery – that’s improperly sized, of poor quality or looks thrown together – leaves visitors with a negative impression. However, visuals that are properly sized for the platform, look appealing and include your logo, tagline or website address make a positive statement about your business to both prospective and existing customers.

Each platform is different in terms of the size, shape and area they allow you to customize, and they frequently change their specifications.

Strong brand equity enhances your perceived quality and demonstrates the added value you bring to your customers. Make sure your branding is visible, consistent and engaging. If you need to, hire someone to do it for you. Branding yourself properly is that important.

The secret of repurposing your content

What if you could give your SEO a boost, reach new audiences and expand your authority – all at once, using something you already have?

That’s the power of repurposing your content.

Content creation takes time. Since time is always a limited resource, you want to make sure you’re using it as effectively as possible. That’s why repurposing your content is such a great secret weapon.

Here’s how to do it:

First, review past newsletter articles, blog posts or other marketing materials.

  • Look for “evergreen” content, which is content that stays relevant no matter how old it is.
  • Also look for popular pieces. Focus on newsletter articles that got a lot of positive feedback or blog posts that ranked well in Google Analytics.

Second, turn that content into something else.

  • Create a presentation from fact-laden content using Powerpoint and upload it to SlideShare.
  • A listicle can become several new posts when you break out each item on the list.
  • Summarize your content in an infographic, using a free online tool like Canva to design it.
  • Launch a daily email series by breaking your content into bite-sized chunks and sharing them, little by little, each day for a week or more.
  • Pitch yourself as a guest blogger and use the content as the foundation of your guest post.
  • Don’t change a thing but share your content again on social media at varying times. 

When you repurpose your content, one article or post can morph into dozens of other content opportunities. It’s the secret way to make the most of what you’ve already created while reaping invaluable benefits.

Sit back, relax and leave the social media to us.

Stress-and-multitasking-at-the-office-Vector-illustration-300x210We know running a business isn’t the only thing you have on your plate, and that alone is a big plate. You’ve got family, friends, networking, keeping up with the industry and a lot more. Because of this it is sometimes easy to let social media and online marketing be put on the back burner.

You have a million different things you could be working on. We’ve got one thing and that is your company’s social media and online marketing. Posting on social media, making sure SEO is good, and utilizing PPC is what we do!

All of these things are very important and even missing a few days can cause your reach and engagement to plummet. But really, we’ve got your back. We’re able to automate social media posts to ensure your company is being consistent and reaching the customers you want.

We want to make your life just a little bit easier. Give us a call and you will have one less thing to worry about.

Here are some tips for increasing your e-mail open rates.

Concept-young-attractive-woman-with-laptop-computer-sending-emails-on-forum-chat-or-blog.-Blogger-300x214Crafting together 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. There are some things you can try 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 e-mail 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 them 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 about 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 you’re open rate will increase. Make sure your messages are on target, relevant and what your customers want to read.

Using the 5-3-2 rule will help your social media channels remain relevant, and keep your customers engaged!

Hand-sketching-bird-holding-a-hashtag-symbol-in-its-beak-with-white-chalk-on-a-blackboard.-300x200Have you heard of the 5-3-2 rule? It may help you in deciding what content to post and what kinds of content to post.

The rule was proposed by TA McCann from Gist.com and is a rather simple, and genius idea. Out of 10 social media posts:

  • Five should be content from others, relevant to your audience.
  • Three should be content from you, relevant to your audience (and not directly selling your products.)
  • Two should be personal, something non-work related to help humanize yourself and/or your brand.

Even if you don’t follow this to the tee, the idea behind it should be the takeaway: focus on your audience more than yourself. Give your audience what they want ,whether it’s an article to read or something relevant about your company. Another takeaway? Don’t be too sales-y. You don’t want to be constantly promoting your own company. This can annoy your audience quickly. If they’re interested in the content you’re putting out, they’ll have a more positive reaction to your company.

Four steps to stellar social media content

37752955_S-300x300Social media requires a range of skills: writing, SEO, analytics, project management and image creation.

Of all of these, writing is really the key to social media success. Great copy is what sparks dialogue, inspires sharing and drives action.

Here are four steps to making your copywriting stellar:

  1. Make it part of the plan. Your copywriting should have a purpose, and it can’t really have that if you don’t understand how it fits into your overall content strategy.
  2. Hype the headline. It’s the first thing people see, and if the headline doesn’t draw them in, it won’t matter how compelling the rest of your content is. If headlines stump you every time, write your content first, and then pull the most captivating sentence out of it. 
  3. Ditch the complexity. This doesn’t mean you need to dumb it down. Rather, keep your writing tight. Avoid jargon. Be clear and concise. Skip those unnecessarily fancy phrases or words. 
  4. Bookmark ideas. Make sure you’re organizing any great ideas you stumble across for later reference. Whether you write things down in a notebook or keep track of interesting articles electronically, you want to be able to find those things quickly when you need inspiration. 

These four steps provide the foundation for great copywriting. And if your copywriting is outstanding, chances are your social media will be, too.

Why your 2016 budget should include social media marketing

48042159_M-300x199You know social media is a key component of your marketing strategy. After all, adults in the U.S. spend nearly three hours on their phones, which is roughly 12% of their day. That’s why you’ve been posting on your platforms regularly, responding to comments and engaging with your community. But now it’s time to take it to the next level – and actually allocate funds to social media marketing in your 2016 budget. 

There are two reasons your budget needs a line item for social media spending.

First, advertising. Sponsored posts build on your current strategy of increasing brand awareness and educating your market. They convert fans to clients. Earmark media dollars so that when the advertising opportunities arise, you’ll have the budget to take advantage of them.

Second, help. Creating engaging, snackable digital content takes time and a specific kind of expertise. That might mean turning your social media accounts over to professionals so you can focus on what’s most important. Set aside funds so you can invest in quality assistance.

Social media marketing is becoming more important every year. By making sure you include it in your 2016 budget, you’ll ensure you don’t get left behind.