The Facebook Hustle

Facebook recently celebrated its 10-year anniversary and let everyone see their “memories” on a one-minute lookback video. What a genius move! So many people were fed up with Facebook’s algorithms, news feed changes, but those lookback videos really made us feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Facebook Hustle

Facebook is a popular marketing tool for small businesses these days. And with numbers like these, it’s not hard to believe:

  • 71% of online adults are Facebook users
  • More than 60% of Facebook users visit the site at least once a day
  • 40% visit Facebook multiple times a day

How many times did you check your Facebook page last weekend? I confess, I probably checked Facebook about 25 times, which is low because people with smartphones check their pages about 14 times a day – so that would’ve been 42 times from Friday to Sunday!

So I bet you’re saying, “Okay Apryl, I hear you. We all know Facebook is popular, but how exactly do I get people to notice and engage with my business on Facebook?”

The truth is Facebook is a place where people go to catch up with friends, read amusing posts and find out stuff they didn’t know. This means posting day in and day out about your products and services isn’t going to cut it if you want people to engage with you.

Patience and a hustler’s mentality are two things you need to effectively market your business on Facebook. Your audience will not grow overnight and you won’t build your community if you don’t hustle for fans through post consistency and studying what works and doesn’t work for your audience.

I used to preach the 80/20 rule – spend 80% of your time sharing informative content, showing your audience that you’re an expert in your field and 20% on marketing your products (after all – you do need to sell your products/services).

But it’s really not that cut and dry. For example, a week or two ago I went on my Facebook business page and asked my audience for potty training tips (my son Alston has his own agenda and unfortunately, he is not on mommy or daddy’s timeline when it comes to using the potty on a consistent basis). Sure I could have asked this same question on my personal Facebook page, but sometimes, you just gotta break out of your circle. My audience stepped up and shared their wisdom with me and I was so very thankful.

Now that post didn’t land me any new clients or get people beating down my door, but it built awareness and recognition for free. And that’s important on social media.

New Rule

So I’m breaking up the 80/20 rule to 60/20/20. Spend 60% of your time sharing information that’s relevant to your audience, 20% letting your audience see your human side and another 20% promoting your products and services. Now this will surely shift depending on what’s important to your audience but it’s a good guide.

Your Turn

If you have a Facebook page, look at the insights of your page to see which posts are most popular with your audience. This will help you see what information is most relevant and interesting to your audience. Once you look at your past results, put together a schedule for the rest of February, using the 60/20/20 rule.

Now when I say show your human side, I mean share your human BUSINESS side. While you’re showing that you’re human, some things – like extreme profanity and having too much of a wild and crazy good time – really shouldn’t be shared on your Facebook business page. A good rule of thumb: if it’s not politically correct enough to share with co-workers at your most recent job (co-workers who you only saw at work), then you probably shouldn’t share it with fans of your Facebook business page.

Bonus Tips

Facebook’s algorithm on who sees what posts is ridiculous to say the least. Because of this, you’ll need to work a little harder to get your posts seen by your audience. Basically, the more people who engage with your posts, the more Facebook sees it as valuable content and shares it.

If you have a Facebook business page separate from your personal page, be sure to:

  • Edit your profile to show your business as your employment information
  • Go on your business page as YOU and share with those who are fans with your personal Facebook page (before doing this, I wasn’t seeing my OWN business posts in my News Feed).

If you DON’T have a Facebook business page, set a goal to get one up soon. People can say what they want about Facebook, but right now, it’s a marketing tool that small businesses really can’t afford to ignore.

Cheers,

P.S. I’m no Facebook expert, just learning as I go, so I want to hear from you. What ridiculously brilliant Facebook marketing tips do you have to share?

5 Secrets to Building an Online Community of Crazy-Loyal Fans

We’re continuing our discussion on reaching celebrity-style customer loyalty with a conversation on building an online community of amazing followers. building an online community

There is yet but one thing standing in the way of you making millions and reaching Justin Bieber status. And that’s building an online community. Sure, most of us can tell you exactly who we’re looking to buy our products and services, but actually connecting with the right audience is an entirely different story.

Start Your VIP Email List

Everyone loves feeling like very important people (VIPs). That’s why we join clubs, pay extra cash to walk the red carpet and sit in a cramped section of the club behind a velvet rope.

If you have any customers or business contacts at all, you have a VIP list … you just need to know what to do with it. Build your online community by treating your “peeps” like royalty. Every customer and business contacts are prime candidates to receive special offers and information via email from an industry expert – that would be you.

Collect email addresses on your website, social media sites and in-person. For example, if you’re at a networking event, you could say something like, “hey I send out weekly articles on small business marketing I know you could use, can I add you to my mailing list?” And, you have started your journey in email marketing.

Spread the Word

Whether you have an email list of one or 100,000, it’s important that you share good content on a consistent basis. Don’t send one article today and the next in six months. Set a schedule and stick to it.

Also, remember every connection with clients and contacts is a representation of your brand. So you’ve got to look good! Get a professional to design an email template that matches your website for brand consistency.

Get Some Online Love

Nope, we’re not talking about Match.com or Christian Singles, we’re talking about building an online community of fans who will ‘like,’ retweet and otherwise show their love for you online.  They key here is to say something worth sharing. Be conversational, funny and informative.

Give Some Online Love

Do you like controlling conversations? This is a good characteristic in some situations, but in social media, you need to focus on engaging in, not controlling the discussion.

Social media marketing etiquette says you should give love when you receive love and simply give without expecting to receive. Now, I’m not suggesting you share tweet for tweet or meaningless Facebook posts. I’m saying, don’t do all the talking. See something juicy your audience will love? Share it and give credit.

Be Patient

While it may seem Justin Beiber, Nicki Minaj and others reach overnight stardom, that’s not the case. These celebrities were on their grind for years before they became the household names they are today, we just didn’t see their behind-the-scenes hustle. So, be patient, your hard work will pay off very soon.

What’s the Word: Building an online community of loyal customers takes time and dedication. Get on your grind, stay true and focus on sharing amazing content and you’ll reach superstar status in no time.

How to Maximize Your Social Media Marketing Strategy Now

Use social media management systems to maximize your social media marketing strategy.

social media marketing, social media management system

For startups, nothing is more important than building a buzz for your services or products. And social media marketing can help you do just that.

According to an article on Inc.com, social media campaigns have been a vital part of many companies’ marketing strategies for the past five years or so.

Nowadays, it seems like everyone’s on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and various other social media sites. So yes, your buyers are probably interacting with information on social media sites right now and, of course, you want to be found wherever your prospects and customers spend their time.

While we know the importance of using social networking to drive sales, it’s still difficult for many of us to find the time to tweet, share Facebook posts, interact with our networks on LinkedIn and upload product images on Instagram.

Want to save time by managing your entire social media campaign from one location? How about build a buzz for your online web presence as efficiently as possible? Of course you do.

We have four words for you: social media management system (SMMS).

Social media management systems are about much more than managing your social media campaign … they help you efficiently and effectively manage it.

The Digital Marketing Depot outlined several benefits and challenges to using a SMMS platform in its report, “Enterprise Social Media Management Software 2013: A Marketer’s Guide,” including:

Benefits

  • Enhanced workflow management
  • Ability to monitor and control all social media campaigns from one location

Challenges

  • Can be a significant investment, especially for small businesses
  • Some platforms require extensive training and integration with your existing business systems

Today, we want to introduce you to HootSuite – an SMMS platform that allows users to schedule posts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and several other social media sites. Not sure about the best times to share social media content? You can use the platform’s automated post option to schedule the timing of your tweets and posts.

Simply write up your post and HootSuite will post it automatically for you, whether you’re online or not. So what would take hours each day now only requires a few hours in one day for entire month or the coming months. Talk about maximizing time spent on social media marketing!

And the best part – it’s free.

Promotion across multiple social media sites isn’t the whole story with HootSuite. You can also receive analytics about how your posts actually reach your potential customer base, manage team promotions, cross post to your Google+ page (which Hootsuite is one of the few apps out there that Google has actually partnered with to do this), and there’s even an educational series that HootSuite developers offer to business owners, called “HootSuite University,” which highlights the various ways to benefit from advertising on social media platforms.

While the basic plan is free (and provides everything you need to effectively and efficiently manage your small business social media marketing), HootSuite offers paid plans with all the bells and whistles if you need a more robust SMMS platform. We know our audience loves free stuff, so we’ll focus on that plan in this blog post, but feel free to scoot on over to HootSuite and check out details on its paid plans.

Free Social Media Management

You can get quite a bit of mileage from HootSuite’s free service. For starters, you’re allowed to promote on five social media profiles of your choice including Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Google+, Foursquare, WordPress Blogs and multiple other sites such as Tumblr, Instagram and Vimeo.

As mentioned, you’ll have access to HootSuite’s built-in automated posting tool, which will pick a time in the future to share social media content on the same day you’ve posted it. Also, you can have two RSS feeds as part of your free HootSuite account.

Now, what you won’t get is full access to its analytics (although some reporting is available with the free option), and the ability to schedule multiple posts of the same content all at once. You also won’t be able to set you multiple user accounts to have other members of your team using Hootsuite to share content.

Don’t Forget to Socialize

Now, SMMS platforms like HootSuite can definitely save you time in sharing social media content. But don’t forget that social media is all about being social – so don’t forget to engage in the conversation by retweeting and commenting on content shared by others in your online community.

What’s the Word: As a startup, you wear many hats and saving time and money is critical. Using a social media management system like HootSuite will allow you to do just that. By the way, we use HootSuite’s free plan to manage our social media marketing campaigns and it meets our needs just fine. 

13 Ways to Maximize LinkedIn for Small Business Marketing

“I have a LinkedIn page, now what?” We are keeping the Small Business Week 2013 celebration going with tips on how to maximize LinkedIn.

Forget what you heard about 13 … today it’s your lucky number. In celebration of Small Business Week 2013. Here are 13 ways to maximize LinkedIn for small business marketing.

1. Connect with everyone you know on LinkedInmaximize Linkedin, small business marketing
Contacts are golden for small business owners. Maximize LinkedIn by connecting with past bosses, co-workers, colleagues, friends, etc. Visibility is the key here – when you connect with others, you connect with their network and that opens up a world of opportunities to build your customer base.

2. Follow competitors, prospects and clients
Now that you’ve connected with everyone you know, start following your competitors. How can you corner the market if you don’t know what you’re competitors are doing. You should also follow prospects and clients so when you are called for that initial meeting or opportunity to sell more products and services; you have something to talk about.

3. Maximize LinkedIn connections
Now that you have connections, use them – that’s why you spent time making the connections through LinkedIn. Have a friend that works for a prospect? Contact him and request a referral. It’s just that easy.

4. Gain credibility
LinkedIn profiles are like cash in the bank, when completed properly! Be sure to complete your profile, keep the content fresh and updated to show your background, experience, education, etc. Your history could be valuable to a prospect or client. But if your profile is incomplete – you may never know.

5. Connect to others in your industry
As a small business owner, you benefit most from staying abreast of what’s going on around you. So be sure to join industry groups and keep your ear to the streets.

6. Connect to prospects
Increase your rate of relationship building by connecting to prospects after the first contact attempt. Studies indicate that LinkedIn increases response to communications by 300 percent versus email. Don’t stop there. Also, try searching by keywords to find prospects.

7. Conduct prospect analysis – five is number to reach
Take five minutes before calling a prospect to find five common topics to discuss. Check LinkedIn for a resume, company details, education, common trade groups. Also, Try Facebook (I know this is all about LinkedIn …) for details on hobbies, sports.

8. Join LinkedIn groups
Find industries that you want to prospect and join relevant services groups. Also, type in Cleveland or surrounding areas and see if there are any relevant groups close to your location that you may be able to attend in-person versus communicating online.

9. Try double responses
Remember when we would always follow up a voicemail with an email or vice versa? New Rule! Respond first to email, then by LinkedIn. When someone contacts you via email, simply response by email and mention that you will be connecting by LinkedIn. Then connect and remind them of the email. Remember that LinkedIn frowns upon those who try to connect to too many people who reject them to prevent spammers from running rampant on the site.

10. Add value to your connections
Interact occasionally with your connections by sharing valuable information. This could be a blog you read, free webinars, etc. Don’t try to sell – just share content. This could be daily, weekly, monthly – be sure to stay visible.

11. Give LinkedIn recommendations
Freely give recommendations to colleagues, co-workers, vendors, former employers, etc. There’s no need to wait until someone asks for a recommendation. Set a personal goal to recommend at least two people a month.

12. Ask for recommendations
Asking for recommendations from colleagues, former employers, clients, etc. is a great way to build your credibility. So don’t be shy – ask for recommendations and remember to recommend others. Customer recommendations via LinkedIn can be a bit trickier. It’s important to build a rapport with the client prior to jumping in and asking for a LinkedIn recommendation.

13. Send sales and marketing messages via LinkedIn sparingly
Sending sales and marketing messages via LinkedIn are considered faux pas. But we say send your messages but only if what you are promoting is valuable information for the recipient(s). Be smart about sending promotional messages.

What’s the Word: Social media presents a whole new way to build your customer base. By take a strategic approach to maximize LinkedIn, your small business will cash in on the many benefits offered by this highly popular social media site. If you don’t have a LinkedIn page, set a goal to create one and complete your profile by Monday. You never know who could be waiting to hear about your product or service.