Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Five New Year’s Resolutions to Level-Up Your Social Media Game

It’s time to ring in the New Year! That means celebrations, maybe some vacation days, and time to set your intentions and resolutions for 2019. We’re here to make the resolution part a little bit easier, with these five social media resolutions. We hope they’ll help support you and your business to go from coasting to thriving in 2019!

1) Wake up and smell the routine

“I posted on Facebook and Instagram twice last week, four times the week before, and I don’t think I’ve done any posts for this week...but next week I’ll try to get back into it and post- maybe three times…”

Sound familiar? You’re not alone in this struggle, but it really is an easy fix that can yield solid results. So if you only do one thing to improve your social media presence, let it be this! Get into a consistent schedule with your posts. Decide how many times a week you want to post on every platform, then stick to it. To do this, follow whichever method works for you - maybe you want to use your Google calendar to schedule mini appointments and reminders to write and/or post the content, or use the old school method of using a paper calendar as a physical visual of your plan. You also could create a spreadsheet that includes all of your platforms and the dates that you plan to post for each. The point is, get into a routine of weekly posts, and you’ll make your followers happy with the steady flow of content, plus you’ll pick up new followers along the way!

2) So fresh and so clean 

It’s time to clean up your act! But we’re not talking about literal dirt or even bad language. We’re talking about cleaning up your messaging and staying on brand. If the tone of your posts changes often, if the focus of your content seems to always shift, and if you don’t have a clear message threaded throughout all your posts, then it’s definitely time for some cleanup and brand clarity. One approach is to think about your brand as an individual person, with a personality and story that is all theirs, completely unique to them. What would he or she say? How would they act? If you’re not sure how to answer those questions, get your team together and brainstorm, so that you all know precisely who your brand is, and are all on the same page. When you get specific on who your brand is, then all your messaging should be aligned with that voice and style. And your core values should be communicated as a thread through all your posts.

3) Engage! 

Many businesses make the mistake of focusing only on the content they’re putting out, and they forget about connecting and engaging with their audience and potential customers. Don’t make this mistake! If this has been you, let 2019 be the year of engagement. Go to your followers’ social media pages/accounts, like their photos, comment when appropriate, and do so regularly. Then go to potential followers’ pages/accounts and do the same, and you’ll see your own followers increase. On Instagram and Twitter, an effective way to find potential followers is to search using relevant hashtags. If you already know the "how to" and the "why it’s important", but have had trouble making it happen, then add engagement as part of your scheduled weekly routine, in the same way that you set up time to create and post your content.

4) Should auld acquaintance be forgot… 

Something we often see when we start working with new companies is that they’re following a multitude of accounts on their social media platforms, many of which aren’t connected to them or to their business in any meaningful way. If that’s you, then it’s time to let some people go, so to speak. Set up some time to go through the list of who you’re following, and unfollow accounts that don’t make sense. For example, if you’re a restaurant in Seattle and you’re following a national shoe company. Maybe you really like the shoes, or they had a fun post you liked so you randomly followed them one day. That’s fine for your personal account of course, but it doesn’t really make sense in terms of your business. So go ahead and click “unfollow” and keep on filtering out superfluous accounts.

5) We get by with a little help from our friends. 

If you’re managing your company’s social media by yourself and are feeling overwhelmed, or if you’re working with a team but are unsure whether you have the right expertise involved, then it might be time to seek some help. If you’re experiencing the first issue (flying solo), then talk to the powers that be about how you could bring on other employees with social media management experience to share the load. If that isn’t an option or you don’t think your team has the necessary skills and expertise in the field, there are plenty of outside options to consider. A designated part-time employee could work well for you, or you could contract with an outside company to have them manage your social media. We admit that we’re biased, but for the latter option, The Social Stage is a great solution! We’d be happy to chat with you to see if we’d be a good fit for your needs.

Best of luck with your Social Media Resolutions, as well as with your other 2019 goals. From our Social Stage family to yours, we wish you a very Happy New Year!

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Don't Shoot for Perfection

You’ve probably heard the saying that “perfection is the enemy of ‘good enough’”, and in terms of starting up your social media presence for your business, this has never been more applicable. 

A friend of mine recently started her own therapy business, and when I asked her why she doesn’t have any social media set up for her business yet, she said, “I’m working on it, but I don’t want to push it out there until it’s ready. What I have isn’t perfect yet, and I still have a lot of preparation to do before it gets there.” 

My response? Don’t let your high level goals hold you back! Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to set lofty goals for your business and for what you envision for your company’s social media presence. But waiting to get started because of those standards will only set you back. 

Instead of waiting until you have all your social media platforms decided on and you’re ready with great content for each, start with just one. Facebook is a strong option, since you’re probably already familiar with it, or maybe go even simpler and begin with Instagram, if Facebook seems intimidating as a first step. The first part, a short bio for your business, might be something you can pull from your website if you’ve already gotten that set up. Or if you’re really starting from scratch, set a deadline for yourself for when you’ll launch the platform with the bio. and your first post. Don’t prolong it! Set a reasonable goal, like one week ahead, and stick with it. Ask a trusted friend or professional for a second opinion if you like, then go for it! Even if it’s not exactly what you had envisioned, it’s a start. You can go back and adjust it whenever you need, but at least you’ll have that step checked off the list.  

Now that you have at least one live platform, set yourself up for success by creating a schedule for releasing your content. This can seem daunting when you’re new to it, but it’s really quite simple. Start with deciding what you can realistically do in terms of your own time and bandwidth, which might only be two posts a week to begin with, and that’s totally fine! Then set a time where you’ll write those posts in one sitting, and at the same time schedule when you’d like to post them in the upcoming week. If you struggle to know what to write when you’re starting out, check out other professionals’ pages for inspiration. For example, if you’re a jewelry designer, take a look at some other designers’ pages and see what images and messages you’re most drawn to and what resonates with you. 

Next, once you’ve created content for the first week, there’s a number of ways to schedule the posts to be published in the upcoming week. If you’re using Facebook, you can save a draft of a post and then schedule what day and time it will be posted. For Instagram and Twitter you can eventually use a program like Hootsuite if you like, which is a place for you to write posts and also schedule for them to be posted automatically at times you choose. Alternately, there’s the old fashioned way of setting a calendar reminder on your phone to take a minute and publish them manually! Again, rather than waiting until you have all the bells and whistles set up in terms of programs to automatically publish your content, it’s better just to start with the simple old fashioned approach. 

In the end, if you’re still feeling like your head is spinning at the prospect of setting up your  social media, then it might be time to ask for help. You might have someone on your team who already has a strong grasp on social media marketing and would be willing to help, or you could always give us a call at The Social Stage, to see if we would be a good fit for your needs. Whichever route you choose, there’s no time like now! 

Monday, March 12, 2018

Social Media Marketing Doesn’t Have to be a Chore

We all have had “that” coworker, who is a literal chore to deal with, in almost every way. You cringe when they get in the elevator with you. And you certainly don’t want to be stuck sitting next to them at an all-hands meeting or company dinner.

Do not let social media marketing be that coworker! Unfortunately, so many professionals do. Many of the small business owners that we chat with about their social media work seem instantly fatigued when discussing it. It’s clearly a very unenjoyable part of their job. Perhaps it’s because they’re spread thin and they feel that they’re juggling too many responsibilities in too little time. Or maybe it’s because they are overwhelmed by it, since they don’t understand how to navigate the work. Either way, running your social media presence does not have to be such a chore.

Our perspective on social media outreach is one centered on connection. We believe that following this principle can make the job a fun one.

Let’s say that you’re the person running your company’s social media marketing. Chances are you also have your own personal social media presence. You probably like your friends’ photos, and comment on their posts and updates. This is all done in your free time, and is something you genuinely enjoy, right? So why does doing this exact thing for your company have to be such a heavy task? All that’s required is a perspective shift.

Social media marketing isn’t only about creating content. It’s about engaging with your current customer base and with potential customers.

Engaging with them is the same as what you do when you engage with your own friends and connections on your free time, but within the style and context of your brand. On Instagram, for example, you can start by liking and commenting on the posts of people who have already interacted with your posts. You should also interact with any posts or comments where you are mentioned. Another way to interact with your customers that can make a big difference is to repost their content. Two options for that approach would be to include their pictures in your posts (and credit them for the photo) or quote them in a post.

These are just a few examples of fun, simple ways you can engage with your customers, which will help to expand your social media following.

All that being said, if you feel like you’re already doing these engagement practices and you’re still feeling like the work is burdensome, then maybe it’s time to delegate. If you really enjoy the content writing, then divvy up the tasks so that you can continue to write while another staff member takes on the engagement piece. Or vice versa, depending on what part of it you like doing. Of course, if a perspective shift is a struggle for you or if you still feel like you don’t have the bandwidth to manage it, we at The Social Stage are also happy to help tackle any and all of your social media tasks. We love what we do, and we promise we won’t ever be that annoying coworker you don’t want to sit next to at the holiday party.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Measuring Social Media ROI in Real Life

The other day, someone impressed the heck out of me by doing something that few businesses do well: he asked how I heard about his company. This is an essential piece of the social media strategy puzzle, especially for brick-and-mortar businesses, and often a missing piece. When a retail client asks me how their social media strategy is doing, my response is usually, "Well, you tell me?" I can track and report from my end what kind of reach and engagement their posts are getting, but success for them is most often measured by an increase of foot traffic and physical sales. If businesses aren't asking customers where they are coming from, they will never know if their social media efforts are paying off.

"But won't that seem weird?" No one is going to be put off by being asked how they found you. (Well, there are always exceptions, but they are few and far between!) If someone is browsing your small retail store, a simple "Hey, welcome in! How did you hear about us?" can work wonders. Another thing to keep in mind is that you don't have to wait to ask them until you close a transaction. But if chatting them up is out of place, your point-of-sale system may give you a short survey option for them to fill out as they're checking out.

To make this process worthwhile, make it more than just anecdotal evidence. Create a way to track it systematically, whether it's a spreadsheet, a physical piece of paper, or a relationship management software.

If it's overwhelming for you or your staff to work this type of tracking into your everyday business routine, simplify it. Try it once a week or once a month. Something is better than nothing, so even an occasional snapshot will give you an idea of how effective your social media efforts are.

This post is an extension of a quote I gave to fellow Social Media Today contributor Steve Rayson for his post about social analytics. Kudos to Steve for getting my creative juices flowing on this topic.

As always, if you have questions on social media best practices, I'd love to hear them. Please get in touch via my website.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Social Media is About Interactions

My approach to social media is focused on social networking, not social marketing. Marketing and sales happen, but as a result of successful interaction and engagement with customers.

I watched the Pope's TED Talk yesterday and was struck by one key point he made: "each and everyone's existence is deeply tied to that of others: life is not time merely passing by, life is about interactions." The same can be said for how people use social media. The endless streams of posts are not merely flowing through our news feeds; they represent moments of connection, both actual and potential.

When someone posts on their social media accounts, they are, whether actively or passively, seeking a connection, whether with individuals or with brands. They are sharing a bit of themselves with the world, with the understanding that by doing so, they open themselves up to connections with others.

Capitalizing on this element of connection is what the most successful brands (and people) on social media are doing right. The brands with the least effective (and most cringeworthy) social media presence are either ignoring the power of these connections, or getting them completely wrong.

When customers and fans tag a brand in a post, they do so with the understanding, if not expectation, that the brand is listening and could potentially respond to them. Often, customers will turn to social media for customer service before interacting with a representative in person. Brand evangelists, as well as would-be influencers, engage with brand accounts in the hopes of elevating their own credibility and influence.

Whether social media user interactions are positive or negative, truly enthusiastic or self-serving, the best brands are listening and responding. Are you?

If your business needs help listening and connecting to your fans, customers and prospects on social media, please get in touch.

Happy Networking!


Monday, March 20, 2017

Are You Missing Social Media Opportunities?

No one likes to be talked about behind their back. So, when it comes to social media, why are so many business owners okay with letting that happen? Here are four ways businesses miss opportunities to connect with their customers and prospects on social media, and what they should be doing instead:

  1. Ignoring Yelp Reviews: "My Yelp reviews are almost all four or five stars. I don't need to respond to them, right?" I've heard this countless times from business owners who are only checking their Yelp listings once a month, or less. If someone was raving about you in person, you wouldn't ignore them, would you? Thanking someone for a rave review is a great way to keep them coming back to your business! Claiming your Yelp listing (another step many businesses miss) and monitoring reviews on a regular basis ensures that less positive reviews don't slip through the cracks. Responding to each review you receive, positive or negative, shows that you are responsive and on top of your customer service. This applies to other review sites as well, like Google and even Facebook.
  2. Ignoring Facebook Interactions: From check-ins and messages to wall posts and even simple comments, some businesses just ignore interactions from people on Facebook. They do so at the risk of damaging their relationship with people leaving positive interactions, and further angering those with negative interactions. Negative feedback can also have a snowball effect, with others chiming in when you don't see or respond to the first interaction. Following up on each interaction instead ensures that you will maintain positive relationships with happy customers and that you will control the conversation around negative interactions.
  3. Missing Twitter Mentions: Savvy Twitter users know that often the best way to reach out to an organization for customer service is by mentioning them in a tweet. A company that isn't monitoring their mentions closely risks the ire of people who can't get in touch with them. Instead, follow up on mentions with a response, like or retweet, and follow the user if appropriate. Following a user shows them that you care about what they have to say, and allows you to engage with them in the future, whether they're talking about your business or not. Creating a private list of users who have mentioned you in the past is another good way to keep track of customers for future outreach opportunities.
  4. Missing Instagram Tags: Especially if a business has a physical address and a Facebook Page, there's a good chance people have tagged their location in Instagram photos. Businesses, or their representatives, should monitor photos tagged at their location and follow up on these posts by following the user, if appropriate, and liking and commenting on the post. This also applies to mentions and hashtags using the business's handle and name. Regramming and sharing these photos on other social social media channels is also a great source of content for you!
These missed opportunities on social media happen for a few reasons. Sometimes it's because businesses are afraid of negative interactions, or don't know how to respond in general. Sometimes it's because they see social media only as a sales tool, and not as an opportunity to connect with current and prospective fans and customers. Most often it's because the business owners and staff don't have time to keep up with their social media interactions. If any of these apply to you and your business, I can help. Please don't hesitate to get in touch.

Happy Networking!


Thursday, January 12, 2017

Your Business Needs a Social Media Checkup - Here are 5 Reasons Why

January is a great time to review your social media strategy and the content you’ve posted to make sure you’re on track. Review these items to stay on top of your social media presence in 2017.
  1. Goals – Your business may have different goals now than it did last year, several years ago, or whenever you got started on social media. Whether you’re trying to generate walk-in business or to send people to your website, having clear goals in mind will help you establish an effective social media strategy.
  2. Target Demographic – Is your target demographic the same now as it was when you started? Your target may have shifted, or your demographic’s favorite social network may have changed. You may need to add a new network like Instagram or Snapchat to make sure you are still reaching them.
  3. Content Mix – You may have fallen into a pattern without realizing it, posting the same type of content (photos, links, plain text) or even the same wording all the time without realizing it. You may also be focusing too heavily on selling your business rather than developing a relationship with your customers and prospects. Reviewing your content mix will help you freshen up your content and generate new engagement from your audience.
  4. Industry Trends – Monitoring trends like live video as they gain popularity and assessing whether they’re right for your business can help you make the most of your social media presence. But be careful not to jump on trends right away. I’ve found the best practice is to watch and learn from early adopters to see if the trend is a good fit and how you can best utilize it to your advantage.
  5. Consistency – Review your post frequency to see if your social media activity is consistent. It’s a lot to keep up with! There may be long gaps between posts without you realizing it, if you’re not keeping track. If you’re having trouble keeping up, it may be time to bring in outside help. Consistency can also be an issue when it comes to voice and tone. If multiple people are contributing to your company’s social media presence, your audience may be confused by inconsistency in your brand’s voice.
My best wishes for the year ahead and if you have any questions or need any help with your social media presence, please contact me.