target markets

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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

How You Will Know the Right Time for Your Customers on Social Media

by Joanne Dolezal on 13th July 2018

For your customers, time may be a movable feast. Showing up at the ‘right time’ is therefore the ultimate challenge. So how do you know the right time for your customers on social media?

There are always 24 hours in every day, 7 days in a week…

But the bottom line is, for your customer, time may feel like it’s in short supply. This will be more noticeable at different times of day, days of the week or whether they’re just about to take some time off and want to clear out their inbox.

Your goal is to post social media that reaches them

at the right time or day of the week, for them.

A quick look at your social media analytics will tell you when your followers are actively on that platform.

Facebook Analytics Posts even gives you a visual of when your connections were on Facebook each day. So as long as you are active on Facebook, or scheduling important messages for those key times, you will show up at the right time for them.

 

Work pressures and other life priorities are a big factor too.

Sometimes your LinkedIn update might have just popped up at the wrong moment and they didn’t have time to respond to it. This doesn’t mean that people don’t care, or are not interested, you’ve just caught them when they’ve got other things going on that are more urgent for them.

 

 

If you look at the analytics for your social media accounts and also look back through your feeds to see the time of day or day of the week you get the most engagement, you will start to build a picture of your followers. It really is different for each person/business, but as a rule of thumb, if you’re B2C (business to consumer) you should try scheduling posts to go out early morning, in the evening and at weekends, as these are good times to reach your audience.

If you’re B2B (business to business) early mornings, lunch time, and early evening are good times to reach your followers, as these are common times for people to dip into social around working hours. Weekends can work surprisingly well too and LinkedIn is a busy place even on a Sunday evening.

Remember, not every workplace tolerates social media activity on site or in working hours. Even B2B posts may not reach your audience until they ‘clock off’ and head home.

Your customer may have a short little attention span

Sadly, you may find that your lovingly crafted social media posts are competing with lots of other things happening in their lives. They may be dealing with their kids/pets/partners or have the laptop and the TV on at the same time, whilst having a quick dip into Snapchat or Facebook.

Multi-screening customers mean you have a third or a quarter of their attention at best, which is a lot of competition for your social media. Don’t just post once. Share the same posts at regular intervals throughout the day or week to ensure that they don’t your followers don’t miss them and potentially, miss out.

http://www.netimperative.com/2015/05/rise-of-media-multi-taskers-the-battle-for-consumers-attention-spans/

And your customer is mobile too

Location is important: where are people consuming your content?

The chances are that if they’re reading it on a mobile phone, they’re on the move (or having a quick ‘social snack’). They may be travelling or waiting for someone, checking out your restaurant or pub on Tripadvisor en route, or looking to see if an item is in stock en route to your shop.

Whatever they’re looking for, they will want to do it quickly and make a decision now. How well does your social media support these kinds of searches? Photos, maps, videos, quotes, testimonials, product reviews, links – social media platforms support just about any kind of content you need to help your customer find and choose you.

Smartphone screens are still quite small so make graphics and text overlay REALLY BIG so it can be read easily on a small screen. With imperfect eyesight!

Get ready to take your customer on a journey

There’s another dimension to time as well, which is thinking about the right time in that customer’s journey. Using the Inbound Funnel below as a guide, then typically if they’re at the early stages they’re just beginning to perceive a need or want. Content and posts that will intrigue and attract them and get them to visit your website are important.

 

Later on in your customer’s journey, as they progress, they’ll need deeper content, such as a video to show how to do something or how something is used.

An ebook, guide, whitepaper, email series, etc that offers them more information will garner their email address.

Later still, they may welcome a webinar or Facebook Live, which gives you an opportunity to expand on the topic and answer their questions.

The further they go along that journey, the more they need. Your posts in social media need to help customers to make the best choices and decisions for them, which is a key strength of content marketing.

Plan posts and schedule ahead if you want to reach them at the right time

The best way to plan is to use some simple tools.

Everybody uses a spreadsheet, and you don’t need anything more complicated than that, because it needs to be flexible and easy to update.

There are also a number of scheduling tools, and Hootsuite and Buffer are particularly good when you’re just getting started. As you develop you may want something more sophisticated, but only if you are doing a serious amount of social media on a variety of topics.

 

Scheduling platforms have different price points and strengths. As you progress, MeetEdgar is mid-priced and very good at scheduled, yet randomised posting but it doesn’t give detailed analytics. Sprout Social is slightly more expensive but gives you a lot of analytics, particularly around #hashtags.

Choose what’s most appropriate for your business stage, size and goals.

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 You Will 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 Buyer 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.

Ready to take the next step? Download your free Content marketing eBook today.

 

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

 

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Joanne DolezalHow You Will Know the Right Time for Your Customers on Social Media

The Three ‘Rs’ of Social Media Success

by Joanne Dolezal on 30th June 2018

It doesn’t matter what kind of business you are in, social media success hangs on the choices you make. Whether you’re selling to other businesses or to consumers, whether you’re a tiny company or giant corporation: your choice of social media  platforms, type of content and timing will be specific to you and your target customers.

But, there are some basic principles that will help you to get it right…

Right Time. Right Place. Right Message.

We often have high expectations of social media and of the staff who are managing it on our behalf. It’s wise to be realistic about how much it can do for us, and where the limits lie.

Your customer journey has changed.

Today, your customers are looking for a lot more information before they pick up the phone, send you an email or fill in that enquiry form on your website. About 70% of their decision-making is done before they first make contact with you.

So, where are your customers looking? Their journey may take them all over the internet, online searches, looking at social media to see what you talk about, how you behave and how you respond to customers. They’ll also be looking for any comments, testimonials and favourable reviews from clients.

Potential customers are trying to build a picture of you to see if they can trust you and if you can deliver – are you the real deal?

Authenticity is important on social media, as it helps us to build trust. It’s one of the biggest downsides to outsourcing social media management, because it’s difficult to get your true voice and personality across.

Depending on your sector and who your customers are, they will be looking for information about you in different places. They may be on Facebook, looking at the videos or images you’ve uploaded and they are quite likely on Twitter, which works for B2B, B2C and business to government.

They may be searching on YouTube, particularly if they want to learn and educate themselves, see how you do something or how your products and services are applied. If you offer business development, they could be using LinkedIn to find out more about you.

Potential customers will expect to find lots of information about you to build a picture and build trust. Think about where you appear online and on social media at the moment.

 How does Social Media help with marketing?

People often assume that if they publish a couple of posts on Facebook the phone will ring and they’ll make loads of money. If you’re really lucky, that’s what happens, but more generally it works in two key stages in the marketing sales funnel.

Social media works at the beginning of the funnel (or journey) to attract visitors to your website.

You may be inviting them to read a blog article, watch a video or download a report or white paper.

This is what we consider as ‘weak links’, because these aren’t your ‘friends’, they are digital connections to your business and your online profile.

BUT, it could be the beginning of a relationship.

One of the pluses of social media is that it can quickly create a conversation between you and another individual, and works brilliantly at the top of the funnel.

It can also work superbly at the very bottom of the funnel, post conversion. Once somebody becomes your customer, they begin to like you and in time may think what you do is great. These can become your Promoters as they’re more likely to engage with your social media posts, commenting and sharing them.

These are your advocates.

The other stages – conversion and closing leads – need a good website with good content, a strong email funnel and the ability to close leads. Don’t expect too much of your social media at these points.

Either way, you will need to be in the right place, at the right time with the right message.

To find out more about the Three Rs of Social Media Success check out our video:

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 You Will 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 Buyer 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 Steinar Engeland on Unsplash

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Joanne DolezalThe Three ‘Rs’ of Social Media Success

Why your Sales Team holds the key to Content Marketing Video

by Joanne Dolezal on 15th January 2017

Sales and content marketing? What do the sales team have to do with content marketing? Or customer services? Or your service and site engineers, for that matter?

Your marketing team may have the customer data you need to market to the people on your database. But do they have the real customer insights you need to get results?

Content Marketing is most effective when it gets inside your customer’s head, speaks to their wants and needs and nestles closely to their heart. But for sales to occur, content marketing needs to attract and nurture your target customers.

Welcome to your sales team.  Your sales team hold the key to your content marketing.

Your sales team knows what your customers want.

Why?

Because they’re on the front line when it comes to the problems customers face, to the questions they ask – and they know the actual language that’s used when your customers describe their issues.

But how do you get everyone around the table and translate the sales’ teams insight into compelling content marketing?

This video will show you how to tap into this customer expertise and create Content Marketing your customers will love.

We want to be able to help business owners and marketers like you who are looking for a digital marketing consultant or sound advice, anywhere in the world.

In this video we take you through:

Check out the blog series that accompanies this video.

Questions answered included:

  1. our Sales team knows what the customer wants NOW but our Marketing team are working months in advance – how do you bring the two together?
  2. how do you make sure that we are consistent as a brand in all forms of communication so as to avoid confusing the customer?
  3. our marketing team are focused on building our brand, our sales team want leads and enquiries right now. How do we achieve both?
  4. if we can’t our sales and marketing staff to cooperate on other things, how will we ever get them working together on content marketing?
  5. what is the ROI of content marketing?
  6. how long does it take for sales to increase from content marketing?

If you enjoy our video “Why your Sales Team hold the key to Content Marketing” why not download your free guide:

“Top 10 Questions for Your Sales Team”

Look our for our online courses, starting Spring 2018. 

Sign up to our newsletter and be the first to know.

 

Photo by Daria Nepriakhina on Unsplash

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Joanne DolezalWhy your Sales Team holds the key to Content Marketing Video

Marketing Automation – are you ready for it?

by Joanne Dolezal on 15th April 2016

Are you ready for marketing automation?

The ability to automate (and schedule) your marketing communications activities, including email marketing and social media updates, can save you a lot of time.

It enables you to attract prospects (visitors) to your website and then guide them through the sales pipeline, with a set of prompts or messages designed to convert them.

Hubspot, Marketo, Eloqua, DotMailer, Infusionsoft et al are highly sophisticated marketing automation platforms and whilst I respect and admire the brilliant brains behind them, many businesses just aren’t ready for them (and may never be).

“You see, it’s a bit like giving a ten year old, who loves driving their go-cart, the keys to a Lamborghini and seeing if they’d like to take it for a spin up the Autobahn.”

Unless you know what you’re doing, you’ll never even get it off the driveway and out of first gear. And as with almost all software (and hardware) purchases.  Most of us will only use a fraction of the capabilities at our finger tips and end up wasting money.

What these software platforms have done beautifully though, is to practice what they preach. The internet is now awash with selling messages (in one guise or another) extolling the benefits of marketing automation.  The pressure to buy is definitely on.

What can they teach us?

  •  lead by example – using their own software platforms to publish original content
  • educate us, their market place, with free guides and content marketing (HubSpot excel in this area)
  • demonstrate the breadth and diversity of content formats
  • demonstrate the platforms that selling messages can be published to
  • create a sense of urgency (FOMO) – we don’t want to be left behind

So how do you know if you are NOT ready?

1. You don’t have any or enough contact data (thousands and thousands) so you can’t email or text prospects easily

2. You don’t have enough customer data so are shooting in the dark. Customer data tells you what customers buy, when they buy it, how and where (online, face-to-face, through a third-party). It also tells you why. Why it, why you.

3. You don’t have a product or service that can be scaled quickly and easily to the levels that would warrant an investment of £600 plus per month just on marketing automation software. Graphic design and copywriting could easily double or treble that figure.

3. You don’t know enough about the people on your mailing lists to know what you have, that they might want.  Customer insight takes time to build and will need the input of every customer facing team.  Your sales team will need to be involved in shaping content.

4. You don’t have the internal resources (people, time, money, know-how) to get it started, let alone keep it going. Even the best agency will need your time, ideas and input to do a good job for you.

5. You’re not ready to apply a content or inbound marketing strategy to your business and/or give it the necessary time (typically 6 – 9 months) to start taking effect.  Our Content Marketing courses cover: strategy, OVP, Buyer Personas, SEO, content generation, publishing and amplification.

6. You don’t plan to grow your business above a certain size in terms of turnover or personnel – and that’s absolutely fine.

So, is Marketing Automation only for the “big boys”?

No.

You can definitely start small, with automated email sequences, fantastic for onboarding new subscribers, customers or service users.  It’s also a powerful lead generation tool for MOFU (middle of funnel) and will be available on most paid email marketing platforms.  MailChimp has a great Automation function.

We use this at Dolezal Consulting and have helped a number of clients set up their content marketing and automation streams.  We’re not an agency or a software reseller, so can offer impartial advice and consultancy.

We are always happy to talk to you about your current and future business plans. and would love to help you explore all that marketing can do for you.

 

Photo by Freddie Marriage on Unsplash

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Joanne DolezalMarketing Automation – are you ready for it?