Content Marketing

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Should You Ever Pay for Social Media Advertising?

by Joanne Dolezal on 19th October 2018

Many of you have been using social media for a number of years and can’t believe how much things have changed in that time, but should you now be paying for social media advertising too?

When the main social media platforms were launched, they were free to use.  Over time, as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest have grown their user base, they have introduced paid tools to increase ‘reach’ but also ‘revenue’.

In this series, we’re going to look at the pros and cons of paying to reach more people on the platforms we regularly use to share content, attract website visitors and raise our brand awareness.

There was an assumption that social media would allow us to connect with our customers free of charge, create profiles and build a following. When Facebook went public (i.e. floated their shares on the stock exchange), they had to start making money from advertising revenue. Almost immediately, business page reach went down.

The other social platforms followed suit, which is to be expected.

There is a clear trade-off: we get to access our customers, communicate with them and let them talk to each other. In order to reach people we don’t already know, though, we have to pay.

They gather the consumer data we share with them to build a picture of who we are as individuals. They know what we’re interested in, which is based on everything we do and every interaction we have. Selling access to this data is how they make money.

In this series, we’ll be looking at the pros and cons of social media advertising on some of the most popular platforms, what sort of costs are involved and the potential benefits.

First, you have to decide what your goals in using Social Media are

Some of the goals that a business or organisation will have for using social media are marketing goals:

  • raising awareness of your brand and products
  • engaging with people and building on their awareness
  • encouraging them to be willing to share contact data or details with you
  • using their contact data in lead generation to convert them to purchase.

Predominantly, your goals will include lead generation, generating enquiries, finding people who are interested in working with you and getting that sale – either as a one-off or repeatedly.

Other goals could included: customer service, enquiry handling, complaint handling, recruitment, public relations, etc.

 Before you start using social media advertising, there are a few things to have ready and wise steps to follow.

Step 1 – The Target

Every time you go into the advertising tools on your social media platforms, you need to consider your advertising goals and who makes up your target audience. This is the first question they will ask you as their templates and tools serve different goals, i.e. the Call to Action button will say something different. Yes, it is often as basic as that.

The question you need to ask yourself is, do you want people like the customers you already have, because that already works for you?

Or do you want to reach out to a new type of customer? You can define the categories or characteristics using the knowledge you have about the people you want to target.

 Step 2 – The Message

It may take some time to work on the ad creative – the graphic design, photography, ad copy and tone of voice – the language you use. This includes the ad copy (the words) and the call to action, and these can often be ‘the make or break’ of an advert.

Step 3 – The Design

You may use a self-service tool such as Canva or Pic Monkey, or you may be working with your graphic designer or agency. The ad creative (photography, graphics, animation) was always vital for advertising, and continues to be so now. This is where time and budget needs to be focused.

Step 4 – The Positioning

Selecting ad placement is about where your ads will be seen. Will they be on the main feed or in an advert sidebar? Are they on both the desktop and mobile version, or just one? Depending on what you want to achieve, there may not be much difference between them. However, if you feel that your customer makes decisions about you ‘on the go’, consider a mobile-only campaign.

Step 5 – The Budget

Deciding on your budget and scheduling is also important. You may run this ad as a one-off, or you may do it regularly. Either way, start small and build. Monitoring is really important, but one of the good things about social media advertising compared to traditional ad campaigns is that you can stop, pause and modify your ads at any point.

The key question is always what the Cost of Acquisition is (the average of how many people you reach, how many convert (respond) divided by the total cost). If it is more than you can afford to spend on each new contact (who may not be ready to buy from you just yet), then focus on other tactics to increase your reach on social media.

Step 6 – The Impact

The great thing about all these platforms is that they have fantastic FREE analytics, so you can dive in in real time and see how your campaigns are doing.

Your customers are almost certainly on social media. Most people are on something, even if they’re just on Pinterest for their hobbies or they WhatsApp with the ‘rellies’ – without realising they are social media platforms.

As with any of your activities on social media, though, are you confident that your customers expect to see you there and are they happy to hear from you on that platform? Is there a conversation you can add to or enhance in some way?

Are there places where your customers wouldn’t expect to see you? You don’t want to be the gatecrasher.

The same approach applies to your ads as it does to your posts and general social media activity – if customers would be happy to see you there anyway, they’ll be open to seeing your ads too.

You can now advertise on almost all of the social media platforms. With some of the newer platforms, they haven’t opened the whole advertising suite fully to everyone. For example Snapchat who launched the first tier of social advertising tools, but you had to use one of their affiliate marketing providers to access these tools.

Now for the fun bit

You now need to decide which platform is best for you and what type of social media advertising (or paid promotion) to create. Over the series, we’ll focus on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube, because they are the platforms where you’re already most active, no doubt, and they are a good place to start.

In our next blog, we look at the ‘pros and cons’ of Facebook advertising.

If you like video, check out our recording of this fascinating topic and learn from these amazing thoughtleaders.

Our new online programme Content Marketing Conquered is designed with you in mind. Based on our successful workshop programme and latest strategies, we guide you to the top in 6 easy steps.

Don’t leave without grabbing your free eBook.

 

Photo by Neonbrand on Unsplash

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Joanne DolezalShould You Ever Pay for Social Media Advertising?

Are your Goals ‘SMART’ Enough for Social Media Success?

by Joanne Dolezal on 5th October 2018

You need to have SMART goals for your social media if you don’t want to be a ‘busy fool’.  It is an excellent digital communication channel but requires time, creativity and some financial investment.

So, what is the real purpose of your social media activity?

This ties in with your marketing goals and what you want social media to achieve for you.  This could be lead generation, customer service, raising brand awareness or telling people about a new product or service.

Set your goals for social media with the following questions in mind, or apply them to the one you’ve already got:

Who exactly do you want to like or follow your page?

Customers, peers, influencers, suppliers, competitors? Even if they don’t Like your profile, they can still follow you and see your updates. If this is a concern, you’ll need to keep an eye on your followers and either block them, set up Private Twitter accounts or develop key messages for each audience.

Which social media profile/s should you prioritise?

You may have the time, team and appetite to be ‘everywhere’ so try to modify your posts and schedule to reach target customers when they are in the right ‘zone’. Deciding upon the Right Place is individual to your organisation – you will know where you get the warmest welcome and it’s okay to be choosy. Have branded profiles on all the platforms if you wish, but focus your time and energy on the two or three that really make a difference.

What content would they find valuable?

What content will my target market engage with? Research, observe and listen. It’s okay to be passive for a while. Take as long as you want, because there’s no hurry. What’s key, is developing the Right Message. Social media is going to be there for a long time and isn’t going to run away without you!

Do you need a content calendar?

Developing one is really useful, even if it’s a simple one created in Excel.

Many businesses will have ‘seasons’ of key dates and events and having a calendar makes sure you are ready and you are prepared to talk about the right things at the right time.

How often will you post?

Although you don’t need to post dozens of times a day, it does need to be done regularly and consistently. If you have big bursts of activity and then nobody hears from you for months, people will gradually lose interest.

Don’t leave social media to the last minute.

It’s a really valuable communications tool so include it in your campaign plans. Develop your messages alongside the rest of your campaigns and schedule them in advance. Then go and make that cuppa!

You need a plan, because planning prevents poor performance.

Your Customers Set the Tone…

When you know the tone and language of your target market (informal, hip, corporate, industry jargon?) it’s easier to join the conversation, to fit in. If you’ve spent some time following what they post and engage with online you’ll learn the topics they talk about regularly. You’ll gauge what they most care about.

Once you know the questions they ask and know you have the answers that could help them, start experimenting. Post regularly and see what gets a reaction.

SMART Goals are ‘Realistic’ too.

Be realistic about what social media can do for you. The volume is at the top (likes and follows) but it’ll be a much smaller number of people who’ll move through the funnel to subscribe and buy from you.

This is how sales and marketing have always been and always will be, so don’t worry.

Build social media into your regular marketing and it will help to attract, convert and engage customers.

Is your social media reaching target customers at the right time?

Not everybody wants what we do and what we make, or even if they do, they may not want it right now. That doesn’t mean they’re not interested, it just means that it’s not the right time for them.

Once you have realistic goals, you’ll enjoy using social media a lot more, because it can be a lot of fun. You can meet and chat with people you wouldn’t have come into contact with ordinarily.

Social media allows you to take the first steps in developing relationships that could last for years.

We hope you enjoy the The Three Rs of Social Media Success.

Why not check out the other blogs in the series:

  1. The Three ‘Rs’ of Social Media Success
  2. Know the Right Place for Social Media Success
  3. How do You Know the Right Time for Your Customers on Social Media
  4. Get the Right Message: Get their Attention
  5. Build Your Social Media Following versus Buying Reach and Followers
  6. Are your Goals ‘SMART’ Enough for Social Media Success?
  7. Mobile First and Live Streaming Video Help You Succeed in Social Media

If you like video, check out our recording of this fascinating topic and learn from these amazing thoughtleaders.

Our new online programme Content Marketing Conquered is designed with you in mind. Based on our successful workshop programme and latest strategies, we guide you to the top in 6 easy steps.

For more Content Marketing tips and tricks, grab your free eBook here.

 

Photo by Rawpixel on Unsplash

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Joanne DolezalAre your Goals ‘SMART’ Enough for Social Media Success?

Build Your Social Media Following versus Buying Reach and Followers

by Joanne Dolezal on 28th September 2018

It’s never a bad time to look at how you attract people to your social media profiles and build your social media following.

There are two sides to the audience building argument.

One side will tell you to focus on quality, build your following slowly based on quality of connections and a real affinity.

The other side will tell you to focus on quantity, building your following quickly with paid social media campaigns, buying likes and followers and creating sensational content to ‘go viral’.

You will know what works for your organisation…

You will need to gauge what feels right, how much time and money you want to spend on achieving the ‘numbers’ – how many page likes you have on Facebook page, followers on Twitter or your Linked In company page.  You may prefer to focus on building your audience slowly and look at the ‘quality’ metrics: engagement – comments, retweets, shares – instead.

But you should know that these options exist, i.e. through paid advertising or ‘likes’ campaigns, if only to analyse others’ social media following more dispassionately.

Remember, though, that anyone promising you instant success is trying to sell you something…

You want to go for quality and build your following ‘organically’

It is still possible to build your audience on social media through content marketing and organic growth, by regularly posting a variety of content that is relevant and appealing to your target audience (or customers). Bear in mind that what you post on social media will depend on what type of business you run.  There are many different types of content for business to business (B2B) and business to consumer (B2C) companies, and most of it will be familiar to you.

The diagram below charts the most common formats for content marketing.

The best content is user-focussed, non-selling, informative and engaging.

Content marketing uses many different formats to deliver quality content.

Think ‘person to person’, not ‘business to business’.

What you’ll find, even when you are selling to another business person (as opposed to a consumer) is that it’s ‘B2B’ for the first five minutes only. It soon becomes you speaking to another person, another human being, and seeing them as an individual.  Everyone in business knows that this is what relationships are based on, and you’ll be on first name terms within the hour.

On the B2C side, with consumer marketing, the people who follow brands on social media want to be rewarded in some way. They want offers, deals and coupons or to know when the ‘flash sale’ is going to be. There’s very little brand loyalty these days, so think about different types of content which could be appropriate for your audience.

This quote is about Twitter, but I like it because it’s relevant to any social media platform:

“…humanize it.” Talk like a human, treat your readers like a human and empathise -this is how you get people’s attention and start to build trust with them. Be real!

Pam Moore

You want to go for quantity and grow your following quickly

All the major social media platforms have launched advertising tools in the last few years.  These are not to be underestimated, either in terms of their targeting capabilities or the potential reach they offer you, regardless of geography.  If you are familiar with the principles of display advertising (picture or video adverts) and pay-per-click (PPC) you will understand the advertising tools immediately.

For successful content marketing, you need to build your inbound marketing funnel.

The Inbound Marketing Funnel

For those who are new to paying to reach new ‘customers’, both operate on an auction model.

With paid ads, the most exposure (impressions or reach) goes to the highest bidder for that target audience.  It’s a fair system, in as far as you know either how much (the maximum) you are prepared to bid for either a click (through to your website or product page) or impressions, the number of people the ad will be presented to (sold per mille/’000).

When you are buying ad campaigns on each platform, you’ll be asked to choose your goals, based on the stage in the inbound funnel (see at right) / customer journey you want to reach your customer at.

Basically, you will be looking for Awareness, Consideration or Conversion.

Paid ads can help you reach target customers beyond your networks, sector, industry, location or language.

Some ads will present your picture ad, others may have a few lines of copy and Call to Action.  The success rate on all social platforms is low: typically the click-through-rate (CTR) will be lower that 0.5% or the people you are targeting.  You then have to follow up in some way to convert them.

Targeting can be based on the common characteristics of you target customer (or buyer personas) or you can create ‘look-alike’ target audiences based on the custom tools within the platform.  For more information about the paid ad tools on each platform, please see our blogs about each platform.

Buying followers can be done in a couple of ways.

The first option is to respond to a direct approach, normally on social media, offering to sell you followers.  These are normally sold per thousand.  Buy followers at your peril.  They won’t engage with your content (posts) and may distort your page analytics (metrics) significantly.

Accessing a pre-existing ‘community’ that has been pre-built by an agency can produce an impressive number of page (and post) likes.  Some will have millions of members who are, evidently, very obedient and do as they are asked.  This is a tactic if you need to demonstrate interest in your brand or products, perhaps to an investor, but it is not cheap.  Or particularly sustainable.

Am I against ‘paid’ social media?  No.  I think the targeting and advertising tools have the potential to put you in front of people you’d never reach otherwise.  I think the best combination is paid + organic, still delivering as much quality content as you can to your social media following.

But I would avoid buying followers, in the same way that I’d avoid buying contact data.  It is poor quality and unlikely to convert.

Whether you want to build a social media audience that delivers ‘quantity’ or ‘quality’, we recommend you:

1. Identify your target market – you may already have some information, but the more you know about who you’re trying to target, the better the social media platforms will support you. They have targeting tools built within them based upon the data they gather from users, and in the paid versions these are really sophisticated.

2. Know what they’re looking for – once you start to interact with them you’ll know what questions they ask and also what kinds of things they interact with.  Taking time to understand what your target customers care about helps you talk about topics they are interested in.

3. Attract and engage them – by being interesting, engaging and relevant, you’ll start to attract people to your profiles and pages.  Use the language they understand and use themselves and your posts will be relevant to them.

4. Build trust and earn leads – doing so will encourage people to visit your website, subscribe to your mailing list and download the lead magnet you’ve created in exchange for an email address. They WILL ring you or send you a direct message, because it happens all the time.

5. Measure and improve. Think about what you’re going to measure, because big numbers don’t always mean anything. The quality of interactions is what matters for a social media following who will ultimately buy from you, or recommend you to others.

Social media is great for weak links, so don’t feel too disheartened when things don’t go your own way immediately and don’t expect too much of people.  After all, you’re not face-to-face, so you can’t rely on non-verbal cues or the opportunity to have a proper conversation to build rapport.

At the bottom of the inbound funnel, once somebody has become a customer, it’s a great way to keep in touch with them.

Turn them into an advocate and they will make sure your posts, comments and shares ‘move’.

We hope you’ve enjoyed the The Three Rs of Social Media Success.

Why not check out the other blogs in the series:

  1. The Three ‘Rs’ of Social Media Success
  2. Know the Right Place for Social Media Success
  3. How do You Know the Right Time for Your Customers on Social Media
  4. Get the Right Message: Get their Attention
  5. Build Your Social Media Following versus Buying Reach and Followers
  6. Are your Goals ‘SMART’ Enough for Social Media Success?
  7. Mobile First and Live Streaming Video Help You Succeed in Social Media

If you like video, check out our recording of this fascinating topic and learn from these amazing thoughtleaders.

Our new online programme Content Marketing Conquered is designed with you in mind. Based on our successful workshop programme and latest strategies, we guide you to the top in 6 easy steps.

For more Content Marketing tips and tricks, grab your free eBook here.

 

Photo by Fleur Treurniet on Unsplash

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Joanne DolezalBuild Your Social Media Following versus Buying Reach and Followers

Get the Right Message and Get Their Attention

by Joanne Dolezal on 20th July 2018

The modern consumer is egocentric, and truly only cares about themself.

They care about what they are trying to achieve and what matters most to them.

So naturally, they skim (ruthlessly) over content in their social media feeds that aren’t of interest to them.

Unless you get the right message you will not get their attention.

This means that your content and posts need to be tailored to them. Just them.

They need to be interesting, engaging and relevant. To them.

If it’s about you, your customers really aren’t that interested. Unless it’s about them.

 

Zig Ziglar famously said:

“people don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care”

Particularly, how much you care about them.

If you can reach out to people with your content and demonstrate that you have something that will change their lives, then you will get their attention.

Listen with your eyes

You need to post and share content that’s relevant to their lives, so how do you find out what that is? Enter, ‘social listening’.

I highly recommend watching and listening (observing) your customers on social media, whether you’re just starting out or moving to the next level. Be passive and see what people are talking about, sharing and interacting with. If you don’t you can often get it wrong.

Develop buyer personas

When you are ready to move beyond the broader categories that people fall into (segments) and start thinking about what is influencing their decision making, you may want to develop your buyer personas. Our recent blog on buyer personas explored the different ingredients that go to make up a buyer persona, but if you take the time and really drill down into who they are and what makes them tick, creating content for them will come as naturally as speaking with an old friend.

Get inside your customers head

Who is your customer and what do they want? Perhaps they’re trying to overcome a challenge or tackle an issue that they’re dealing with. Or it could be something positive, such as an aspiration or desire.

If you appeal to their current mindset, rather than giving a lot of information about your products, services and staff, you will get their attention more easily. Concentrate on solutions to their challenges, ways to reach their ambitions and try to anticipate their questions. If you can give them the answers, you will be helping them to come to a decision. And demonstrating your expertise and trustworthiness.

And get inside your customers heart

When you start talking about someone’s problems, their fears, hopes and aspirations, in a way that shows respect, empathy and understanding, you get their attention.

“If there is any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from that person’s angle as well as from your own.”

Henry Ford (quoted in Dale Carnegie)

This is your opportunity to show the human side of your brand – social media is a great place for us to demonstrate our ‘personality’ – and make a personal connection.

What’s really interesting, is that even B2B purchase decisions will be influenced by how the customer feels. It is not just a rational decision, so think about how they feel right at the moment. Can you appeal to their emotions?

What is the Right Message?

We’re still selling something. Good sales people know that you’ve won the sale when the answer to all your questions is: YES. You’ve exhausted their objections, allayed their fears, gained their trust and confidence, then finally, their business.

It’s whatever you say, that makes them want to say ‘ yes’.

We hope you’ve enjoyed the The Three Rs of Social Media Success.

Why not check out the other blogs in the series:

  1. The Three ‘Rs’ of Social Media Success
  2. Know the Right Place for Social Media Success
  3. How do You Know the Right Time for Your Customers on Social Media
  4. Get the Right Message: Get their Attention
  5. Build Your Social Media Following versus Buying Reach and Followers
  6. Are your Goals ‘SMART’ Enough for Social Media Success?
  7. ‘Mobile First’, Live Streaming & How to Succeed with Social Media Marketing

If you like video, check out our recording of this fascinating topic and learn from these amazing thoughtleaders.

Our new online programme Content Marketing Conquered is designed with you in mind. Based on our successful workshop programme and latest strategies, we guide you to the top in 6 easy steps.

Don’t leave without grabbing your free eBook.

 

Photo by Adam Jang on Unsplash

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Joanne DolezalGet the Right Message and Get Their Attention