2 min read

The basics of creating great social media content

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Social media marketing is only as good as the content created to support it. Jumping into Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest is all very well, but you need a coherent strategy for the meat that will make your presence a compelling attraction to clients and potential customers.
 
Here’s a short guide to creating a social media content strategy.

  1. Find your platform
  2. Who are you trying to reach and where are they? You need to know this to produce the right sort of content for each social media channel. Lots of links won’t work on a smartphone-accessed platform.

  3. Tailor your content
  4. Content can be broadly the same across all platforms, but you need to use the right language and format for each one.
    And remember how short attention spans are online. A steady stream of positive company news will soon get people turning off. Mix it up.

  5. Plan ahead
  6. Social media is a long term project that will fail if it launches in an explosion of enthusiasm that turns to a slow dribble.
    Plan ahead to keep your content coming.
    A monthly calendar will help you time your posts and you can buy automating software like Hootsuite to get ahead with your content creation while the posting is left to the machine.

  7. Don’t step back
  8. If you do automate then be double sure to keep on top of posts. Check for broken links – nothing looks worse – and follow up comments and likes. Keep a note of interactions to measure the success of your posts and repeat what works.

  9. React
  10. Social media is a new way to interact. Interaction is the key. Post and forget and no-one will take you seriously. Answer questions, respond to complaints. And, be timely, particularly with negative comments. Even if you can’t provide the full answer, acknowledge complaints as quickly as you can.

  11. Don’t ignore the results
  12. Take advantage of all the free metrics tools you can find and note all comments.
    Keep an eye on your audience as it grows or changes. You need to know what they enjoy and when they’re available for messages and to be ready to react accordingly.

2 min read

Inbound marketing – Newsjacking for small teams

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Newsjacking is a buzzword in inbound marketing right now. The web is a fast-moving environment and if people are searching, sharing, hash tagging and linking to a story you could get your page or blog into the mix with quality, current content.
 
However, a word of caution, newsjacking can backfire. Horror stories of companies which appear to be trying to cash in on tragedies fly around the web. Never let newsjacking hijack your sense of what’s right and tasteful.
 
Here are four ways to get it right.

  1. Fast reaction
  2. Speed and accuracy are paramount as news breaks. You can see an example here – just the bare bones, but remember that you can update and expand at a later date.
     
    It’s tough for a small team to break news, you need to be really on top of things in your industry. But if you’re first, yours could be the page everyone links to.

  3. Added value
  4. Once the first wave of attention has passed, the facts are no longer enough. This is the time – and we’re talking hours – to bring your personal expertise to bear. What can your readers learn from a story? If you can add real value or insight to something that’s happening in your industry you could reap links galore for your page.

  5. A quick analysis
  6. Opinion follows news as surely as night follows day and if you can come up with a striking and considered view on a big story people will want to hear it.
     
    Be timely and don’t be afraid to be controversial if you’re prepared to stand by your opinions and they’re honestly held.
     
    This blog from internet marketing experts Hubspot on Tumblr’s sale to Yahoo got the writer BBC airtime as an ‘expert’ with priceless coverage for his company.

  7. Bringing up the rear
  8. As the news machine moves on to pastures new you can consider the long-term impacts of a big story. You’ll need to be able to work out what will last and is worthy of this sort of deeper analysis. Don’t take a false position simply for the sake of controversy, but do try to be creative and think laterally.

Newsjacking can send your traffic figures spiking if you do it well, but remember that to keep visitors coming back you need to give them something with lasting value too.

2 min read

Trigger marketing: react to your customer’s behaviour immediately

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If you are like most of marketers, you spread yourself thinly: you work on your campaigns, take care of leads, monitor your progress and plan into the future. Today we’ll talk about staying on top of your game with keeping in touch with your leads: in real time.

We don’t need to mention it’s important or desirable to engage with potential customers as soon as they look you up – after all, that’s when they’re thinking about you and are likely to be positively surprised that you contacted them.

If you’re already managing to allocate some time of your week to reacting to your customer’s behaviour, that’s great. Let’s see if you’re doing everything possible to keep them updated and how technology can help you achieve this objective:

Smart trigger marketing comes in many forms. Without a smart system that recognises various triggers (for example, your lead opens a new account, downloads a white paper or it’s their birthday), you better work fast. Alternatively, use a system that is highly scalable so you can specify and optimise plenty of triggers to make sure your messages are always highly personalised. Smart tip: look for systems that allow you to plan your campaign ahead, set the trigger criteria and pre-set the timescales between multiple individual messages. You’ll keep your customers posted!

But you don’t only need to send online content to stay in touch. To really up your game, you can use systems that offer real-time alerts, so you get an e-mail every time your customer performs an important action (registers for a webinar, visits your website, etc.). Some systems are very smart indeed: they tell you who the lead is and what they’re looking for (and their entire previous journey). So you can pick up your phone, know you’re calling them when they have you in mind, call them by their name and already know what to talk about to delight them!

3 min read

Incorporating Linkedin into your Sales Strategy

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If you are not actively participating in LinkedIn, you are definitely leaving B2B Sales on the table. Did you know that LinkedIn adds 2 new members per second? These are all businesses who may want to do business with your business and if you are not participating, you are not getting your share of leads.

So what is a good strategy to begin to get these potential leads and then close them to a sale? Well the old adage of ‘People buy from people they trust’ holds equally well on LinkedIn as any other medium. You cannot expect to turn up on LinkedIn, totally unknown and expect businesses to buy from you.

The following strategy will help you and your business

  • Build brand awareness.
  • Establish company representatives as industry experts.
  • Connect with prospects, customers, vendor partners and peers.
  • Drive leads and sales.

Getting Started

  1. Firstly, you need to benchmark your current activity on LinkedIn and determine what it is doing for you and how many, if any, leads and sales your business is receiving per month.Check the following:
    1. Are you, your employees and your company’s profile completely filled out and up to date? When did you last update it?
    2. How many groups are you and your employees a member of currently?
    3. How often do you participate in these groups per week?
    4. How many connections, recommendations and endorsements do you and your employees have?
  2.  

  3. Secondly, identify where your potential buyers are, assuming you know the profile of your typical buyer.

    Look for:

    1. Which groups are they members of?
    2. If they are members of a group, are they active in that group by regularly posting?
    3. Is the group active? Does it have regular posts in the group every day?
  4.  

    It is helpful to create an Excel document that lists potential groups with descriptions, number of members, links and notes to reference later and then use it to decide the best groups to join.

    Taking Action

  5. Join 3-5 groups maximum per person where your buyers are – more than this causes you or your employees to spreads themselves too thinly in participation. If you are members of many, many businesses currently look at pruning that back to something more manageable unless they have a specific reason for being in so many groups.
  6.  

  7. Begin to actively participate in those groups on a daily basis – there are tools that will help you do this by automatically scheduling your social media activity (Hootsuite, for example). Always be on the lookout for people asking questions that are in your area of expertise as this will increase your standing as a trusted subject expert. Also, do ask questions to instigate discussion. Remember, every time you comment or start a discussion this will go to every member of the group either by email (if they choose this) or by notification – this gets your name out there. Do not be afraid to offer white papers, blog posts etc. that might interest the group, even if it is from a competitor’s web site. This will increase your standing.
  8.  

  9. As you connect to people, start to use Inmail (LinkedIn’s internal mail system) to connect further with people and at this stage offer them something for free (it might be a free White paper, a web site audit, an audit of their sales process etc. etc.) – whatever you can do that will allow you to collect their e-mail address or phone number and get them into your sales funnel.

In summary, this might look like a great deal of work, however you need to work out what a hot sales lead is worth to you. Instead of cold-calling, your company has built a reputation and you and your employees have become trusted sources of information. This will continue to produce more and more sales for you as you continue to engage. Good luck!

5 min read

One Like is not one sale

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In recent times social media have emerged as the biggest target for marketers of almost every business sector. Try to find a business website without a “like us on Facebook” link… more difficult that you think, isn’t it? Facebook recently announced over 1.23 billion monthly active users, 945 million mobile users, and 757 million daily users. What other company holds this size of address book?
 
Let’s not forget what Facebook is though, it’s a popularity contest and the companies that understand this are the ones becoming successful in the social media space. Social media exist for this exact reason. Even business people will use Facebook to connect with friends rather than colleagues and the like (that’s what LinkedIn is for).
 
B2B companies are hardest hit by this, they are trying to sell a work-related product on an out-of-hours social platform. But they should look to learn lessons from B2C brands that are generating huge amounts of rapidly growing viral traffic through innovative and interesting Ad campaigns. On the flip side of the coin, certain huge brands are currently failing to make sales via social media and there are some key reasons why:

  1. They’re just plain boring
  2. People are bored enough, they come to Facebook for entertainment and respite from work and life. They are NOT there to shop. If you want to sell to someone, capture their interest first.
     
    Show them a picture of a new product and you will blend in with the crowd. Even with a B2B product, now is your chance to be irreverent and entertaining.
     
    Buyers have a sense of humour too, that’s why they’re on Facebook, and if you capture their attention, make them smile or laugh or move them in some way, they will take note, better yet they will share your content. People who share content on Facebook are adding their personal stamp of approval to it, and they are increasing your market size, but they will only share things with their friends if it’s interesting or exciting.

  3. They underestimate the competition
  4. Stop believing you are only competing against your competitors. If you think that, you’ll spend too much time focussing on your product vs. the competition. This information exists on your website already and with Facebook, your mission should be to direct people there when they are interested enough to really read and digest it.
     
    At the social media level, you are competing with EVERYONE. Every single brewery, clothing company, holiday provider etc. on the market is now your competitor. If you’re selling a B2B product, you face a disadvantage. Promoting social products like beer, clothes and holidays on a social platform is more applicable to this channel than say accountancy software.
     
    Good creativity and innovation is needed to interest your prospects enough to click your links or pick up the phone. We all know marketing is about standing out from the crowd, but when the crowd grows exponentially larger as it does on Facebook, it is much more challenging and requires much more creativity to stand out.

  5. They manage it poorly
  6. Managing social media is a full time job. The idea of paying someone to sit on Facebook all day might be a galling thought, but you pay marketing people to manage your advertising, why not social media experts to manage your social media?
     
    I personally, created and championed a fundraising campaign some months ago. When I was all over it, promoting and sharing and keeping it in the spotlight until 3am every night, people donated in droves. When I stopped, so did the donations, almost simultaneously.
     
    If you stop creating and posting content, you will drown in the sea of content that floods social media minute by minute. Manage it and keep managing it if you hope to see any results at all.

  7. They don’t track results properly
  8. So, someone likes your page! Hooray! You must have done your job …ah but wait… did they buy what you’re selling? What happens if 2000 people like your Facebook page, and your traffic to your website from Facebook goes up by 1000 hits per month. Success? No. How many of these people bought and how many bailed? What’s turning them on and what’s turning them off? It’s a good idea to invest in a good marketing automation system that helps you stop only tracking who’s clicked and starts telling you, who BOUGHT or showed interest in your product.

     

    Make the best out of it

    There is no avoiding social media; it is the new place to promote your product. But at the moment it is poorly understood and companies can waste fortunes in badly conceived strategy. If you use the right software, especially marketing automation, it helps you refine that strategy by identifying who came to your site and via which channel, what pages they viewed, how they chose to engage with you (filling in web-forms, downloading content etc.) and better yet, takes that data and converts it into sales leads. They might not buy then and there, but your salespeople can call them comfortable that they have a lead with plenty of pre-qualification information attached.

    It allows you to spend your marketing budget where it’s generating most defined ROI, not just the most site traffic. Not only that but you can use this data to streamline your site, capture more traffic and direct people to the content that is generating the most converted sales. Armed with information and contact details, it also allows you to automatically email market your prospects with content, tailored by you and based on their specific preferences.

    Remember, a like is not a sale, it’s just a like. I like Ferraris, do I own one? No, of course not! With a marketing automation tool (we prefer target360), you can sharpen your campaigns to filter out the buyers from the browsers and track your campaign success rates. It illustrates how you can convert Facebook likes into actual cash, by tracking their journey, letting you market to them based on what they want to see and helping you optimise your website. Surely, that must be worth a “like”?

2 min read

Attracting leads on social media 101

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No matter what sort of business you run, whether small or large, product or service based – if you aren’t using social media as part of your marketing campaign, you could be missing a trick.

Many businesses are now switched on to the fact that social media is a great way to engage with and retain customers – but you may not be aware that it can also be a fantastic tool for attracting leads.

Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn offer a cost-effective way to market your products and services – apart from the actual time involved (which, once you are up and running and have pages, groups and profiles set up, can be as little as just fifteen minutes a day), there are very few other costs involved.

Compared to traditional offline marketing such as leaflets, brochures, mailshots and posters, the cost-savings can be huge – as well as very trackable.

So, how do you start attracting leads?

First, think about where your clients hangout online. Is there a particular group they belong to, for example? So, for a business selling pet products, you may want to check out the relevant online groups for pet lovers.

Once you’ve done your research and found relevant groups, join them and start interacting. Keep your interactions professional, friendly and helpful, so that other group members start to get to know you and what your business is about.

Do not post personal messages or thoughts – you are the ‘face’ of the company, and no matter how funny you find a YouTube clip, for example, about a man falling off a skateboard, don’t share it (unless your business is selling skateboards!) So, bear this in mind.

You can also build your own groups and pages to attract engagement, too. Offer discounts and special deals to those who sign up and don’t forget to provide positive feedback on group members’ comments. Customers and potential customers love a bit of positive, and public, feedback. They are also more likely to share or retweet your message, reaching an even bigger audience.

This will all help build your brand as well as portray you, as the ‘face’ of the company, as someone personable, trustworthy and appreciative of the business. This will help generate more leads, as well as retain existing customers.

2 min read

Turning social media into links

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Google’s changing methodology has seen inbound links decrease in importance as a marketing tool. But they still matter, and social media can help you get them.

The days of buying links are long gone and it’ll take a little more effort and skill to earn social links.

Here are four strategies to give a try.

  1. Interact early and often
  2. When the links you’d like are from big, important sources you need to get in early where you’ll be seen.

    You also need to bring something new to the conversation, saying ‘I love your post’ isn’t enough. Add a link to some other relevant content (if it’s your own, even better), or ask a question. Use this strategy to get noticed and then jump in and offer to help out with some useful content of your own, you’ll certainly get gratitude and links that way.

  3. Use tools to find the right people
  4. You’ll need to do some research, so make use of the tools that are available. Google, of course, using the colon feature to limit your searches to specific sites, but also Followerwonk for Twitter, Fresh Web Explorer (subscribers only) is good for blogs, and so on.

    This will help you find people who are already in your area of interest and who will be good targets for links. The web, particularly the social web, can feel huge and random at times – that’s one of its attractions – but there is order out there if you search for it.

  5. Tell people when you talk about them
  6. This may seem obvious, but don’t-ask-never-got as they say. So, if you review someone’s product in your blog let them know.

    Keep it honest and if you produce content that might have a wider use in your industry then don’t be shy of suggesting it to other people, you may get a link and a reference.

    For some fresh examples, look at Kingcontent.com’s article on small businesses who make social content work for them. Especially on a small budget, smart social content can be a very effective way of getting the all-important backlinks.

  7. How it works
  8. Your Google ranking can improve from social interactions alone. Shares, clicks, adds, they’re all part of the equation these days. A large, active social following will get your content noticed and can lead to good, old fashioned republishing links from high quality site, which is what we’re all after.

2 min read

The Power of Video to connect with your Prospects

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Video has exploded as a medium for communication on the internet over the last few years due to the huge increases in speed and bandwidth of home and office connections and also the massive uptake of smartphones. Streaming HD quality video is now normal even on smartphones.

YouTube is now the 2nd biggest search engine behind Google and is, of course, owned by Google. As well as this, there is a huge distribution network of other video sites that can be used.

Video has undoubtedly arrived as a way to connect with prospects and draw businesses into your sales funnel. A strategy that has been shown to be consistently effective to connect with people and show your business to be both trustworthy and authoritative, is the…

7 x 7 x 2 Video sales Formula

Simply, you make 16 short videos (1 – 2 minutes long) that are loaded onto your YouTube Channel. In the first seven videos you take your most frequently asked questions and answer them. ‘What do businesses ask you during the sales process that when answered leads to a sale?’

In the second set of seven videos you answer the questions that businesses should be asking you but are not – this sets your business up as trustworthy and authoritative. The last two are important. The first goes on the landing page you are sending people to, thanking them for clicking on your link and asking them to sign up for the rest of the video series or a whitepaper or some other free item that has perceived value – as people sign up, they enter your sales funnel.

Once they have signed up and they go to the Thank you page behind the landing page, you have a soft-sell video for your product(s) and either contact details or a sales page – whichever is most appropriate.

This is a simple strategy and can, of course be repeated for each of your products or services. The other advantage of this is that YouTube videos, if set up correctly, can get onto the front page of Google within a few weeks as opposed to potentially months with a web page (if the SEO is correctly set up). This increases your exposure on Google and increases your click-through rate.

2 min read

Does Twitter help B2B sales and is it worth your time?

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Although it may seem that 140 characters is not the required length to be able to adequately sell something, it is becoming clear that those B2B companies that use Twitter consistently and build a following are making sales (or at least generating leads) through Twitter. The following two statistics reveal some important facts about twitter and B2B sales.

  1. 74% of B2B marketing companies use Social Media to distribute content (Content Marketing Institute)
  2. B2B marketers who use Twitter generate twice as many leads as those that do not (Inside View)

 

When these two are combined, it is a powerful argument that Social Media and in particular Twitter is a great way to create leads and therefore sales for your business.

There are three great (and very simple) features in Twitter that help B2B sales. Firstly, there is a Twitter option called the “following” page that allows users to view the Twitter streams of other accounts they follow. Basically, you can view Twitter through the eyes of your target B2B prospects. This is a powerful way to see what tweets your prospects have in their stream and then begin to link into those conversations.

Secondly, Twitter will allow you to be notified by e-mail if somebody re-tweets your tweet. Whilst this sounds very basic, it is powerful because it alerts you to content that you are tweeting that is interesting to people, and allows you to hone on in the things that matter to your prospects over time.

Thirdly, Twitter has acquired Tweetdeck, which is the foremost tool to control or view multiple accounts from your desktop. This means that in a few minutes, every day you can see what’s happening in your Twitter world but perhaps more importantly, you can schedule Tweets for the whole day or whole week.

So twitter is a great tool for B2B businesses. It does create leads and is worth the time to create a following and give them pointers to great content and also to join in with the discussions of the day.

2 min read

Inbound marketing – Make your copy work for you

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Advertisers used to be derided as ‘the hidden persuaders’. It’s a phrase with a long history, but today it’s being acknowledged within the marketing industry that the more direct – ‘buy from me now!’ – approach is too blunt.

Persuasive copywriting is about convincing someone that they want to click on your ‘buy’ button rather than bombarding them with straight-ahead ‘aren’t we great’ messages.

The key principles of persuasive copywriting include, urgency and scarcity, authority, consistency, consensus and reciprocity.

Here are some copywriting tips that go beyond those concepts, and should have a measurable impact on your conversion rates.

  • Identity
  • Try to think of your customers not as a group of people who behave a certain way, but who are that behaviour.

    A poll of American voters tweaked just one question, asking some respondents if they were ‘going to vote’ and others if they were going to ‘be a voter’. After the election there was a 13.5 percentage point difference in voting levels between the two groups, with identity trouncing behaviour.

  • Story telling
  • Forget numbers and statistics and tell a story. Research from 2007 on charity donations for African famine relief found that telling the story of one suffering child garnered donations twice the size of those inspired by statistics on the suffering.

  • Options and honesty
  • People are very cynical about marketing, they think they’re being lied to.

    Show a bit of honesty about any shortcomings with your offering and you’ll get people on your side. Don’t indulge in a feast of negativity and present the upside too, but don’t imagine that if you don’t mention something no-one will think it. Honesty is an attractive character trait and balance is more persuasive than propaganda.

  • People like saying yes
  • Start your copy with a question that elicits a positive response. Research on a Toyota ad found that Democratic voters found the ad more persuasive after watching Barrack Obama speak. Know your audience and get them to say yes.

The people who use persuasive copywriting, reckon that using techniques like these will push your conversion rates towards the 10-15% that giants like Amazon aim for.