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Friday Small Business Roundup: Social Media Marketing and More

September 27th, 2013 ::

Should You Dump Your Brand’s Facebook Page For Google+? Get Monika Jansen’s take on the question.

Social media can do more than create fans–it can boost sales. Read Rieva Lesonsky’s post Study Shows Social Does Drive Sales to learn more.

Technology is powering today’s small business, but is your tech up-to-date? Read Maria Valdez Haubrich’s post Small Business Tech Spending: Do You Measure Up? to see if you’re keeping pace.

Marketing today requires keeping in touch with customers in real-time–not easy. Read Monika Jansen’s Real-Time Marketing: 5 Ways to Do It Right to get help.

Then read Rieva Lesonsky’s How to Attract New Customers With Public Speaking for a simple way to get more clients.

Are you marketing to Millennials, Baby Boomers or both? Get tips in Karen Axelton’s post How to Target 2 of Today’s Hottest Markets.

6 Top Myths of Social Media

May 6th, 2013 ::

mythsDespite the incredible amount of information out there on how to use social media for marketing, a few bad practices still linger. At best, following them makes you look like you’re new to social media, but at worst, you could get flagged for spam.

Here are the top 6 worst practices, or myths, in social media:

1 – You MUST be active on every social media network.

Well, sure, if you want to waste your time, go for it! But it’s highly doubtful your customers are active on every social network. Beyond Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, you really have to do your research to see if your audience uses Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, Vine, etc. Some popular social media listening tools include Google Alerts and Social Mention.

2 – Automate all updates to save time.

The first rule of thumb when it comes to social media is to be social. Do you automate texts, emails, and phone calls to your friends? Of course not! You can’t have a conversation that way. You can automate certain things, like blog posts and major news releases to go out, but otherwise, treat social media like a cocktail party and be present.

3 – Auto-DM new Twitter followers.

Automatically sending your new Twitter followers a direct message (DM) is such an impersonal, spammy practice that it will leave a negative impression on your followers and make you look like you have no clue what you’re doing. Instead, send them a short, public note around your area of interest: “@newfollower Thanks for the follow! What aspect of social media are you most frustrated by?”

4 – Auto-publish the same content on every social network.

Again, this will make you look like you don’t know what you’re doing, because every social network is different. It’s OK to tweet and pin a few times a day, but it’s not OK to post on Facebook or LinkedIn a few times a day.

5 – Respond to all negative comments.

While it is generally a good idea to respond to negative comments in order to fix a situation, remember that some people are just mean. Instead of getting into a virtual shouting match, do what you can to address the complaint, and then leave it. That person will only look worse, while you’ll look better for taking the high ground.

6 – Just wing it.

If you want to actually generate results, you can’t “wing” social media. You need to have a plan. For starters, you need to know what content you will post where and how often. If you want to learn more, check out one of my recent blog posts, The Online Marketing Project, Part 2.

What other social media practices make businesses look like they don’t know what they’re doing?

Image courtesy of lifehappens.org

Who Is Using Social Media, and Where Are They?

May 2nd, 2013 ::

Social media based on demographicsPew Internet released a short but incredibly useful report earlier this year called The Demographics of Social Media Users – 2012. While it’s imperative to do your own research to uncover where your customers are, use these stats as a general guideline as you plan and refine your social media marketing strategy.

Who is using social media?

By gender, race, and geography

Women tend to use social media a bit more than men – 71% vs. 62% – and Hispanics use social media slightly more than blacks and whites, clocking in at 72% (68% of blacks and 65% of whites use social media). Urbanites and suburbanites are on social media in almost equal numbers (70% vs. 67%), while 61% of those who reside in rural areas use social media.

By age

It comes as absolutely no surprise that the younger you are, the more likely you are to use social media. A full 83% of those between 18 and 29 use social media, while only 32% of those over 65 use it.

By education and income

When you look at social media usage based on education and household income, there is very little difference in usage rates. In fact, the biggest users had some college and the lowest household incomes. I am curious: Do those two stats taken together represent college and university students? Are they the biggest social media users overall? Unfortunately, the study doesn’t say.

What social media sites do they use?

In sum, this study confirms what we already pretty much know: Facebook is king, and young adults are on social media a lot.

  • Facebook: 67% use Facebook; the biggest users are young women, ages 18-29.
  • Twitter: 16% use Twitter; the biggest users are also ages 18-29, live in an urban area and tend to be African-American.
  • Pinterest: 15% use Pinterest; users tend to be white adult women under 50 with some college education.
  • Instagram: 13% use Instagram; again, it’s popular with young adults ages 18-29, but Instagram tends to be used the most by African-Americans, Latinos, and women who live in an urban area.
  • Tumblr: The smallest user base (with 6%) is used mostly by those ages 18-29.

Will these statistics change the way you use social media?

Image courtesy of 123rf.com

Web.com Small Business Toolkit: ThingLink (Twitter Images Tool)

December 21st, 2012 ::


If you’re looking to add some snazzy features to your tweets to get your business more attention, check out Twitter Cards and the role ThingLink is playing to help make tweets more visually appealing. TwitterCards allow interactive images to play directly inside a tweet, and ThingLink images are now viewable and linkable. This means you can drive traffic from an image in your tweet, not just a bitly link. Businesses can make their tweets more dynamic, getting customers more engaged. You can create images that include sound, video, text and more.

3 Reasons to Stick With Social Media Marketing

December 18th, 2012 ::

NumbersDiving into social media marketing is fun and scary at the same time. When you’ve been at it for a while and you’re not getting the results you want, it can be incredibly frustrating. Why so few likes, comments, retweets, shares? I totally hear you, believe me! Between trying to deal with Facebook’s EdgeRank and timing social media use so people will see your brilliant content, it is easy to give up.

Resist the urge – don’t give up! Here are 3 reasons why (statistics courtesy of HubSpot):

Your demographic is on social media

No matter who your customers are, they are using social media: 83% of 18- to 29- year-olds and 70% of 30-49 year olds are active on it. Even 51% of those 50 and older are active on social media. Whether your business is B2B or B2C, your customers will interact with you on social media if you share engaging, useful content.

Social media use is growing

Your customers are continually joining social media – and using it more and more. Consider these numbers:

  • Every 60 seconds, 66,000 things are shared on Twitter, 695,000 things are shared on Facebook, and 7,000 things are shared on LinkedIn.
  • Every day, 700,000 new Facebook accounts are created.
  • Every week, 7 billion (billion!) things are shared on social media.

The more active you are, the better your chances for engagement.

Social media marketing works

Just because you’re not seeing immediate results on social media (new leads, new customers, higher sales numbers), don’t give up. Marketers are reporting 3 significant results:

  1. 91% see improved website traffic due to social media
  2. 79% are generating more quality leads than those who don’t use social media
  3. 50% have successfully connected with new customers on social networks

Making sure social media marketing works for you is pretty straightforward:

  • Be real
  • Be remarkable
  • Show your appreciation
  • Make your fans and followers feel special

How has social media helped your business grow?

Image courtesy of englishwithjo.com

5 Ways Smartphone Shopping and Social Media Are Changing Retail Marketing

November 14th, 2012 ::

holiday giftsWith holiday shopping moving from in-person to desktop to smartphone and offline word of mouth moving to review sites and social sharing, retail marketing has entered a whole new era. HubSpot recently produced a fantastic (and very long) infographic called The Meaning of Like, which I went through and analyzed for insights all retailers should know.

There are my 5 favorite takeaways:

1. Shopping via smartphone is huge

If you don’t have a mobile site, you are missing out on the 64 percent of smartphone users who shop online with their devices. It is estimated that 167 million people will shop online this year and spend an average of $1,800 per person. You do the math.

2. Online shoppers are very social

Retailers who are active on social media have a distinct marketing advantage, as social media users are big shoppers: 40 percent of Twitter users search for products via Twitter, 51 percent of online shoppers conduct research on social sites, and 60 percent of Facebook users will discuss a product or service in exchange for a discount or deal.

3. Online shoppers check reviews

As I mentioned above, online shoppers do a lot of research, so it is worthwhile to ask customers for online reviews and spend time on Q&A sites like Quora to answer questions specific to your industry, product or service. Consider these numbers: 59 percent of online shoppers check customer reviews, 42 percent check question and answer tools, and 26 percent  look up Internet forums.

4. Online shoppers do more than just shop on their smartphone

A third of online shoppers use their smartphones to look for sales and specials, check store info, look at product reviews and compare prices. Make sure all of that information is easily findable on your mobile site!

5. Online shoppers use Pinterest

Do you have a Pinterest account yet? Half of consumers check for coupons and deals on Pinterest, 43 percent look for product information (which strikes me as odd, since Pinterest is a visual platform), 36 percent read or post comments, and 34 percent look for event information.

In my next post, I’ll share all the ways retailers are changing to accommodate this new shopping and sharing behavior.

Image courtesy of bigfrey.com

6 Common Reasons People Unlike Your Facebook Page and Stop Following You On Twitter

November 8th, 2012 ::

people running awayAs you may have noticed by now, I really like infographics. I found a great one published earlier this year on the Get Satisfaction blog that listed the reasons people will stop following a brand on Facebook and Twitter. All the reasons are super easy to avoid, so here the top ones that I see all the time, along with tips on how to not make those mistake.

1. Posting or tweeting too much

You know what they say: Too much of a good thing is no longer a good thing, especially in social media.  When it comes to posting on Facebook, once a day is plenty. As for Twitter, twice a day is fine.

2. Posting or tweeting too much about the same thing

This is where an editorial schedule comes in. By listing all the different topics you can write about and then spreading them out over the course of, say, two weeks, you won’t bore your followers.

A corollary to this is: Don’t post the same exact thing on Facebook that you do on Twitter.  Your audiences are different on each platform, so your content should be as well.

3. Posting or tweeting too much promotional stuff

People care about one thing: themselves. The more content you share that benefits your followers, the better. If you post too much stuff about your company and how great it is, well, where’s the value in that?

4. No value beyond one-time offer

Once you hook a new Facebook fan or Twitter follower, make it worthwhile for them. They responded to your offer for X, so that means they are interested in X. Post about X – tips, tricks, guides, funny quotes, photos, etc.

5. Not offering enough deals

If you offered a special promotion exclusively through Twitter or Facebook that got a great response, then your audience probably really likes deals.  Keep offering them weekly or monthly to build brand loyalty.

6. Irrelevant content

If you want to really engage your audience, be sure you’re sharing information about topics they care about. Whatever gets zero response should be pulled from your editorial schedule. Whatever gets a lot of response should be put front and center on your editorial schedule.

If you’re not sure what your audience cares about, ask them!

Have you unfollowed a brand or business for doing any of the above?

Image courtesy of fbei.wordpress.com

Twitter Goes Visual: What You Need to Know About the New Profile Header Image

November 7th, 2012 ::

Twitter headerTwitter jumped on the visual bandwagon and has updated their account profiles so you can now use images to tell your company’s story.  It is worth pointing out that unless you have implemented the change, your Twitter account will look the same as it always has. Eventually, you will be forced to make the change.

Here’s what you need to know about the new profile header images:

Twitter Looks Like Facebook…

You know the Facebook timeline cover image? That’s what the new profile header image on your Twitter account looks like now.

…But Different…

The header image is like wallpaper. Your Twitter account information (profile image, user name, Twitter handle, Twitter bio, location and Web link) are overlaid on the header image.

…and You Can Add Information

There are no limits on the content you can add, so consider adding a link to a landing page, email address, special offers, announcements and hashtags you use or follow on Twitter.

Get Creative With the Image

Here are a slew of ideas that will tie your image to what you do.  You could use a photo of:

  • Your products
  • Someone using your products
  • Employees
  • Your office
  • The outcomes of your product or service
  • Customers
  • A collage of the above

You could also ask a graphic designer to create an image that demonstrates what you do.

Ready to give it a shot?

You can start by going to your account page and clicking on the gear in the top menu. Select settings and in the left column, click Design. Twitter will walk you through the process from there. Have fun!

What did you choose as your header image and why? I am still working on mine!

Image courtesy of dailyblogging.org

12 Tips on Effective Live-Tweeting From an Event

October 11th, 2012 ::

TwitterOn the surface, the idea of live-tweeting from an event you’re attending seems to be pretty straightforward.  Live-tweeting can be a great way for you to enhance your expertise on a topic, attract followers who are interested in the event or topic, and connect with other businesspeople who are “in the know” about the subjects at the event. What could be simpler? And as long as you have the Twitter app installed on your smartphone, you should be good to go, right?

Not quite. Like any aspect of your marketing strategy, you need to have a plan in place to make sure your live-tweets are useful and valuable for your audience rather than noisy and annoying.   Here are 12 tips that will make your live-tweeting effective:

Before the event:

  • Ask about Wi-Fi and how to access it so you don’t have to rely on an overburdened mobile network.
  • Send out a few tweets in the days before the event to let people know you’ll be attending.
  • Confirm all hashtags for the event so your tweets can be easily found during a search.

At the event:

  • Be courteous: put your phone on vibe-only and stand or sit where your constant typing won’t bug others.
  • Do not tweet every little thing or you’ll most likely lose followers – and fast.
  • Tweet valuable quotes along with the speakers’ handle so they can see your shoutout.
  • Tweet any fun or interesting photos for further engagement.
  • Retweet other tweets from the event that are interesting.
  • Monitor and respond to replies, mentions, and retweets.
  • As the event winds down, tweet out a big thank-you to the speakers you most enjoyed.

After the event:

  • Compose a blog post based on your tweets – and the tweets of others.
  • If presentations are made available post-event, share them on Twitter.

If you have successfully tweeted from an event, what else worked well for you? Share your tips below!

Image courtesy of Twitter.

4 Easy Ways to Make Twitter An Effective Marketing Tool

October 4th, 2012 ::

You learn something new every day, especially when it comes to marketing. The always reliable Social Media Examiner published an incredibly useful post listing a bunch of new ways to make Twitter a much more effective and less noisy marketing tool – and a few ideas on the list were new to me.

Here are my 4 favorite tips, curated from their list of 16:

1. Create lists to organize followers

Did you know you can organize your followers on Twitter? Me neither. Because the noise on Twitter can be deafening, this will make it much easier to find relevant information by subject or group that you can retweet, reply to, mention, etc.

Create up to 20 lists for customers, friends, industry, media, etc. by clicking on the account drop-down menu in the upper right hand corner of your page. Lists is the third option.

2. Brand yourself

If your business has a Twitter account, it totally makes sense to use your logo as your profile picture.  But…I don’t. I tweet as myself, and my Twitter profile picture is a casual headshot of me.  That’s because I wanted to make Twitter more personal and have my followers connect my tweets with me, not my logo.

If you use your photo, make sure it’s an up-close pic of you that focuses on your face.  No animals, kids, lovely shots of you on a beach or mountaintop.  Your profile picture is pretty small in a news feed. Make it easy to see.

3. Update your Twitter bio

This is one of my favorite suggestions.  Your Twitter bio should include what you do, how you help people, and have personality.  Mine says:

Kickass copywriter with a focus on Web content and blogs for high-tech and mid-sized companies. Blogger at @growsmartbiz, lover of food, wine and the sun.

It doesn’t say how I help people, so I need to update that, don’t I?  It’s great to regularly review your Twitter bio, so set a calendar reminder to review your bio every 3 months or so.

4. Weed out the trash

By trash, I mean people who tweet a lot of junk (just check your feed for this – if it’s not relevant to you, it’s junk), people who don’t follow you back (use Manage Flitter) and people who don’t tweet at all (use unTweeps).

Yes, the number of people you follow will decrease, but quantity trumps quality, always – especially when it comes to marketing.

What is your most reliable, tried-and-true method, tool, or strategy to make Twitter a more effective marketing tool for your business?  Share your ideas below!

Image courtesy of marketinglearn.blogspot.com