Earlier this week we started the process of walking step by step through the elements of an award-winning inbound marketing plan. Today, we are going to continue that series, and I’m going explore some of the more effective social media marketing tools for those of us who have businesses in Anchorage.
Choose Your Inbound Marketing Tools
Now that you know why you are marketing, what your goals are, and who you are marketing to it’s time to choose your marketing tools. Here’s a list of some of the ones you might consider, it is not an exhaustive list by any means.
- Website SEO
- Website Maintenance
- Landing Pages
- Facebook Ads
- Google AdWords
- Email Marketing
- Digital Ads
- TV Ads
- Radio Ads
- Printed Advertising (brochures, flyers, signs, etc.)
Keep in mind that there are some items on this list that are not as useful in some areas of the country or, in some industries as others. Also, it does change depending on your audience. That being said, barring some of the obscure marketing channels and the ones that are new and not tested yet, these are the main ones to consider. Obviously, on your own, there is pretty much no way any business owner can manage all of these, you have a business to run after all. Unless inbound marketing in all you do, we want you to know, there is no human way you can do all of these, so I hope you can stop feeling bad now. My goal with this blog is to give you enough information to make the decision about which one(s) you can realistically manage, consistently, with your schedule.
I’m going to take off on a side note for just a second, bear with me; it’s important! Consistency is a foundational piece to any successful local or national inbound marketing plan. Posting heavily for several days or weeks and then disappearing for weeks or even months at a time is worse than if you had never started doing social media or inbound marketing at all. A good analogy would be if you had hours posted on your store front that you were consistently open for several weeks in a row. That’s a good thing! But then if for the next month, customers showed up and found the store closed during posted business hours one day, then open a few days later and so on; they would lose confidence in your company and probably start to frequent your competitor. It’s extremely hard to get that trust back if it is ever lost. So pick a schedule you can keep up with and stick to it. As we go through the different inbound marketing tools below we will give you some suggested posting frequencies.
Side note finished and we’re back on track!
Social Media Marketing Tools
Let’s move on to some of the great social media marketing tools that are out there!
Facebook is a no-brainer to start with. It is the juggernaut of social media marketing as it boasts more active followers than any other online platform. In our experience, it is also the most effective channel when we are talking about the market in Anchorage, Juneau, Wasilla, Fairbanks, and indeed across the whole state. Here are some of the specifics about Facebook:
- Pick how often you will post. In our experience, you can either post about five times per week and promote three of the posts or post three times per week and promote each one you post. It is rare for people to go and visit your actual Facebook business page anymore. Most of the time they are going to be seeing whatever comes up in their newsfeed that you have posted.
- You HAVE to promote your posts. You might have 10,000 followers, but believe me, if you don’t promote or boost your posts, no one (or almost no one) is going to see them. According to Facebook, while the average user will have access to 1,500 posts on any given day, they will only view about 300 of them. So for your post to organically get through Facebook’s complicated algorithm and into someone’s newsfeed is just about impossible. The option that is available to us then is to promote or boost our posts. You can choose a very specific target audience to see your posts and pay Facebook for so many views of that post. This helps your return on investment (ROI) since we know that only people who are more likely to be interested in the post (if you have selected the right target audience) will see it. But know you have to invest time in learning how to boost (check out our classes on Facebook marketing) and money in the actual boosting. Expect to spend at least $150-$200 per month.
- Use short 15-second videos. Whether you use Facebook live or prerecord and post, videos must be a part of your regular posting schedule. Even as much as one per week is enough, though more would be better. Through the Pages Manager app, you can do live video directly onto your business page. These videos should have professional content, meaning that if you wouldn’t say it to a client or customer’s face, then don’t put it in the video. Your videos do not have to be professionally made, however. There are a lot of programs out there that can help you make great, short videos to share on Facebook. People want to see the real you; they are attracted to “raw” footage so feel free to shoot with your mobile phone and have fun!
- Build brand awareness. Facebook is powerful for building brand awareness and is good for business to business and business to consumer style companies. Considering that there is such a large pool of people to promote to, it can be relatively easy and comparatively inexpensive to get your name out to a lot of people quickly.
- Drive traffic to your website. Arguably the most important purpose of Facebook, for most people, is to drive traffic to their site. You can post blogs you write (we’ll get to blogs in next week’s blog) with links back to your website. You can do ads that drive traffic back to your site. We see more followers convert to leads and then customers when they go back to your website (when it is a good site). So keep in mind that your goal is to connect, engage, and make it easy for them to go back to your website.
Instagram is focused on images (photos and short video) and is primarily a mobile app. It is very casual, and users are looking for businesses to tell a story, to let them in behind the scenes as it were. They want to know who you “really” are. Late in 2016 Instagram launched a live video feature that put it in direct competition to Snapchat. Considering the number of users already on Instagram, they have a good chance at truly competing with the newcomer. This social media platform is particularly popular amongst Millennials and GenX’ers.
- Expect to post photos or videos 2-3 times per day to have a strong presence. The minimum is 1 per day at least during the work week.
- Instagram is particularly powerful for a visual business like retail, restaurants, coffee shops, interior designers, personal trainers, photographers, and much more. Keep in mind though that just about any business can effectively use Instagram; it just might mean thinking outside of the box. Companies like American Express, FedEx, Home Depot and many others use Instagram to connect with the next generation of customers. Car companies like Jeep and Mercedez Benz have done a fantastic job over the years, and their feeds are worth following just to see how they do it.
Twitter is a fast-paced social media channel which limits its users’ posts to 160 characters. We frequently get asked about Twitter and its effectiveness in Alaska. We have seen local businesses use it well especially for those promoting events, restaurants, or in the entertainment industry. For many Alaskan’s businesses, the amount of time it takes is not worth the return. You need to post 6-8 times per day, though some of the content can be the same Tweet posted multiple times a day. There is so much material coming through our Twitter feeds (they don’t curate it like Facebook does) that users who login in the morning and someone who logs in later in the day, will never see the same post. So if you tweet it again in the afternoon, it is less likely to get buried by the entire day’s worth of content.
I encourage business owners who think Twitter might work for them to do some research. See if your competitors are on Twitter. If so are they getting engagement? Then check to see if your buyer persona is active on Twitter. If both these things check out, then Twitter might be a place for you.
Pinterest is still a very rapidly growing social media channel that drives a lot of web traffic. It is a digital pin board where users can save images and links to anything that might interest them on “boards” they create in the app. Mashable predicted Pinterest would hit 50 million users in 2016 and by October of last year they had surpassed the 100 million active monthly users mark. By Pinterest’s 5th birthday in March of 2015, 50 billion pins had been shared by users! 71% of users are female, and on average a single pin can generate six website visits.
So particularly if you are selling a product of any kind, you should have a presence on Pinterest. It takes a bit of time to invest in setting up your business account and being creative in generating your boards. Remember that buyer persona? It comes into play here again. Obviously, you have boards populated with your products or services. Then beyond that, you need to create boards that will be appealing to your target audience. To pull in an analogy from our blog earlier this week, if you are selling wool hiking socks, then you might want a board that focuses on hiking boots, hiking trails locally, nationally, and internationally. You could do a board on different types of outdoor clothes, hiking gear for pets, adventure getaways and more. Next, you need to find other companies and individuals on Pinterest that are also pinning similar stuff and follow them. Then you need to post anywhere from 2-10 times a day. Not everything needs to be your own, original content. Most of your pins will be repinning other people’s content. Check out our Pinterest classes for more training.
LinkedIn is a great business to business social media channel and can be an invaluable platform for networking with other professionals. In recent years, LinkedIn has tried to catch up with Facebook on the business page side of things, and while they are getting better, they still have a long way to go. But you can now post articles on your business page on LinkedIn and promote them. This is a huge step forward for businesses. Historically LinkedIn has always been about the individual professional connecting with other professionals, and this is still at the core of LinkedIn. Posting a link to your company’s blogs on your business LinkedIn page is always a good plan. From there you can sponsor it so that it shows up in more people’s news feeds, especially people who might not have liked your business page yet.
YouTube is a video sharing channel owned by Google. It is a solid place to post the videos you are creating for Facebook. One of the best things about YouTube is that you can post longer format video and people will watch it. On Facebook, for instance, research shows that most users will move on after about 15-20 seconds of video. Not so on YouTube. As of October of 2016, there were 1 billion users on YouTube, and about 4 billion videos are viewed each day. Many businesses put their videos on YouTube and then share the link on Facebook, thus killing two birds with one stone. There are now more videos uploaded on Facebook every day than on YouTube, yet YouTube remains a force to be reconned with, especially for longer format video. Keep in mind that 91% of internet users in the US age 13-17 use YouTube (in addition to other channels). 81% of Millenials and 58% of Gen X internet users also use YouTube.
Snapchat is arguably the fastest growing social media channel of 2016. It is a purely mobile app in which users send videos and pictures that self-destruct just seconds after being viewed. It is also commonly used as a messaging app. By the end of 2016, Snapchat had taken over Instagram as the number two used social media channel for the 12-24 age group. Many are now saying Snapchat is here to stay and is not going to be a “one-hit wonder.” So does that mean you should invest your time in it? There is quite a bit of debate about this amongst marketers. Some believe that early adaption is the way to go, other want to wait. Here’s my take on it. For the Alaska market, Snapchat is popular amongst the 12-24 age bracket, just like everywhere else in the state. These kids and young adults early adapters no matter where they live. Most of this age bracket are not decision makers, however and don’t hold the purse strings in the family. Most businesses are struggling to find a way to use Snapchat, especially in the B2B (business to business) arena.
It is possible that as this age bracket matures they will continue to use Snapchat and older generations will embrace it as well (this is the trend we saw with Facebook as it matured). If this happens, it will have broader appeal as a marketing channel for the masses. As it stands right now, I believe Snapchat is only worth the time investment for B2C (business to consumer) companies who’s primary target market is 12-24.
From our list of inbound marketing business tools at the beginning of the blog you’ll see we only made it through the social media channels today. There’s a lot to talk about with social media, and we’ve only just scratched the surface today. If you would like more in-depth information about social media marketing, feel free to check out our blogs, we love to talk about Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and others (we’re kinda nerdy that way). Next week we are going to focus on additional inbound marketing tools like your website, landing pages, blogs, Facebook ads, Google Adwords, and more. I hope you come back and check out the next blog on Thursday the 19th. In the meantime and if you haven’t already, you can download a free copy of our Inbound Marketing Planning Guide by clicking here.