Every year I look forward to the Social Media Rockstar Event (SMRE), and every year I leave with so much information, excitement and passion for what I do. Social Media Rockstars. Woohoo! It’s awesome, but unfortunately, that excitement tends to be fleeting because, really, as a busy marketer, I. Don’t. Have. Time. Case in point: It’s been more than a week since SMRE 2016, and I’m just publishing this post.
SMRE speaker Nick Westergaard nailed it on the head when he said marketers are overwhelmed. We don’t have enough time. We don’t have enough money (really, what small business marketing budget does?). We don’t have enough resources. But we do have our knowledge and experience—thanks for that SMRE 2016! Ultimately it takes an organized, focused approach to getting things done. That means going back to the basis, starting with goals and a well-defined strategy to meet these goals. Once you’ve mapped where you are and where you want to go, you can begin to implement the strategy to make that happen—that’s where what we learn in the breakout sessions—and the second half Nick’s presentation—of SMRE really come to play.
“Knowing where you came from is no less important than knowing where you are going.”
Nick Westergaard, @nickwestergaard
As marketers we need to get scrappy, which means doing more with less and simplifying. Get your people involved. It doesn’t matter if they have social media know-how. They know your business. More importantly they know things about your business you don’t. They have intimate knowledge that you may not. Embrace it. Promote it. And when it comes content, reuse, recycle and curate. And for crying out loud, use your people to help you create that content! Above all, make sure the content you create and promote helps you accomplish your goals and aligns with your overall brand strategy and voice.
Lee Odden, @leeodden
You can do more than just use your people to help create content. You can also use your fans and customers, your groupies if you will. In fact, customers are more likely to trust their peers than ads. A whooping 82 percent of people use customer recommendations to make purchase decisions, resulting in an increase of customer conversion and higher retention rates. Social influencers offer authenticity, expertise and variety. They can help your engagement, reach and scale. And you can measure the results. Anyone on social media can express their interests, create content and connect with like-minded people to form communities. Use that power for your brand’s good. When you help other people become influential, you can grow your own influence as a brand. Remember, it’s vital that you connect with influencers who will be good ambassadors for your brand.
Ashley Zeckman, @azeckman
Successful digital marketing strategies identify who consumers are, what they care about and who influences them. As you begin building your social influencer strategy, it’s important for you to understand what your audience needs, more specifically what they want. And you have to be able to deliver it in a way they want to consume it. Do some research, ask customers what they want, review your analytics and uncover top questions in your industry. Then build customer personas with key traits of your ideal customers. With your research in place begin to strategize about what kind of content will be most impactful with your audience.
Jon Rognerud, @jonrognerud
To really get to know your customers to deliver the kind of content they’re looking for, don’t be afraid to, figuratively, get your hands dirty. Dive into data to learn more about your customer. Many tools—paid and free—can help you get to the bottom of what your customers like, what they really want and where you’re effectively reaching them. These tools should help you strategically develop your POEM (paid, owned and earned media) strategy.
Dennis Yu, @dennisyu
Speaking of paid media, Dennis Yu is one of the best. And he proves that you don’t have to—although you certainly can—spend buckets of money to do it. In fact, his strategy is just a dollar a day on Facebook advertising. But you can’t just do this willy-nilly. His six-part social media amplification strategy consists of building your social audiences and tracking your results, setting goals, developing and targeting your content to the right audiences, amplifying your content to drive engagement and finally optimizing your content to optimize your success. Quality content, when targeted and promoted the right way, will generate more quality leads for clients. Ultimately it will perform, putting content in the hands of your consumers to share to their heart’s content.
Aaron Weiche, @aaronweiche
Your customers can make or break your business. It’s hardly a revelation, but it’s certainly a good reminder. People don’t trust brands. Of course we’re going to say we’re awesome, and if we aren’t, we’re probably—scratch that, definitely doing something wrong. People trust people; it’s why influencer marketing and customer reviews are so important. As brands we can shape our own story, our own messages, but the stories (cough, cough…complaints and, hopefully, praise) of our customers tell a story, too. One that other customers are all too ready to consume. So make it easy on your customers to review you—particularly the ones ready to sing your praises—and make sure they know how they can review you. Give them a chance to review you onsite or direct them to where they can. And when a customer complains, just respond. Don’t delete it or try to brush it under the wrong. News flash: your brand isn’t perfect. No one expects it to be. But they do expect you to be transparent, to be responsive, to take care of their complaints. Your customer’s story is your story, and you can use it to your advantage with the right strategy.
Writing this blog has forced me to review my notes from SMRE 2016, something I’ve failed to do in past years. (Go me!) I encourage you to do the same. Yea, yea. You’re busy. But you managed to read this. Write down the points that stood out most to you. Now think about how you can work them into your marketing strategy. It doesn’t have to be big. It just has to be. After all every success story has a beginning.
Let’s get real here. It’s time you started getting real on social media. What in the world am I talking about? I’m talking about the way you communicate with your customers. I’m talking about humanizing your brand.
I’m a big advocate of building your brand—or at least your marketing content—around the people that make up your business or organization. Why? Because ultimately those people help set your business apart. As a small business, the relationships you’ve developed with your clientele are the biggest advantage and differentiator you have! And who is developing those relationships? You. Your employees. People.
Your customers (i.e. the humans you interact with online) are the same ones who live and work in your communities, the same ones who visit and shop in your business. They’re the people who know who you are and what your business is all about. In developing relationships with them, which goes both ways by the way, you are learning more about your customer needs and wants and how you can deliver the best possible service or products to your customers!
How can you humanize your brand? Here are a couple of ideas.
1. Put your employees on your website or in e-newsletters. Don’t use boring old stock photos. Hire a photographer, recruit a photography student or find an employee who is good at taking photos to get pictures of your people doing their thing day in and day out.
2. Let your staff (and you) shine on Facebook. Feature employee profiles, ask employees to showcase their favorite products or something unrelated to your business entirely, share employee news (Deidre just got promoted to general manager. Congrats!) or take your fans behind the scenes.
People get on social media to, well, be social. They want to interact with friends and family—and even businesses they care about! But they don’t want to have products and services shoved in their faces every time they log in. Having fun on your social media channels featuring the people who make up your business can still keep what you do top of mind!
How do you humanize your brand?
What is branding? And should your small business be doing it? The short answer: yes! In some ways, you probably already are branding. You may not even realize it.
Ultimately branding is something that triggers associations in our minds. It’s about creating an identity, an awareness of your organization. Branding builds trust and credibility. It’s what can set your company apart from a competitor. It tells us what to expect from that company. But when it really comes right down to it, branding is about the perception your consumers, your fans may have of your company. That perception may not be the same one you have. That’s why building a consistent brand is so important. You want to create the same image you have of your company in your fans’ and consumers’ minds.
It sounds pretty easy? Right? With a brand strategy, you’ll be well on your way to building a consistent brand online. Here are a few elements that are important to every brand strategy.
TIP: Often times it’s easiest to develop a voice as a small business when you have one person who developing that content or just a couple working together!
Above all when developing your brand, I can’t stress enough the importance of being consistent—from the look of your company to the way your company communicates!
Of course branding alone won’t get you results, but it is an important element of getting your company online.
If you’re interested in developing your company’s brand, see how Impressions by Chelsea Lund can help!
You’re busy so sometimes running your social media accounts takes a backseat to all your other to dos. But it doesn’t have to! That’s great news. Right? So how do you do that? With a little bit of planning up front, you can take control of your social media once and for all in just 15 minutes a day.
At the end of the month, evaluate and adjust. Review your social media stats to see what’s working and engaging your fans and do more of that. If something’s not working, think about why it’s not and what you can do differently.
Just like everything else in life, it can take awhile to get into the swing of running an effective social media effort online. Good luck!
Download a free daily social media checklist from Impressions to help you get started.