Selling Your Products and Services With Social Media

 

 

In 2012, more companies will come to realize that doing business through social networks is a huge payoff. People are becoming more aware of how social media works and are getting comfortable with it.

With this level of comfort with social media finally reached, it is now the goal of marketers to experiment with ways on how to go above and beyond with social media! While using social media correctly takes lots of patience, finding the latest tricks to make your social media efforts unique is the key to becoming (and maintaining) a thriving business.

The main cause companies do not find success with social media marketing is when there are merely sending out sales messages through social networks. Communicating sales messages might work to an extent on an advertising and email marketing level, but they fall short when considering that most people do not join social networks to shop. With this in mind, sales pitches can come across as annoying or harsh to social network users.

If you want to find your optimal path to selling your products and services with social media, here are some tips.

1. Communicate to the right target market.

While there may be millions of people on Facebook, you do not need to target all of them. To find your perfect market, you need to communicate that, “We sell this” or “We help with that, and for anyone who wants this or that, we are talking to you!” It’s also important to use data to create your social media messages that will precisely spark interest to those looking for your product or service.

2. Use only the best messages.

With social media sites like Twitter, companies try to use 140 characters or less to advertise in attempt to get their audience to “retweet” and interact with their brand. But, this isn’t a technique that is easily mastered. Try using Google AdWords to experiment with compact messages. When you come across a message that gains clicks, you know that message is likely to have similar success as a tweet or other social network message!

3. Engage with your audience.

This is one of the most powerful Internet marketing tools. You want to gain information from your audience, on top of giving out your business information. You want your audience to share their thoughts and rate things in order for your business to get feedback and cater to your audiences needs/wants, likes and dislikes. Make feedback forms part of your way of doing business in return for providing great products and services. Make your content easy to like, tweet and email, so it becomes social.

4. Prove you’re a worthwhile company.

Even if you can compose the most convincing tweet, it’s still hard to get someone to buy into your company based off that one tweet. Make your relationship with your consumers about value and interaction right from the start. Think about giving something away that your target market needs and wants. Then become the company whose free products and services are better than other companies’ paid stuff! People will certainly want to engage with your company this way, and hopefully become loyal customers to your brand.

5. Listen to your audience.

After your company has authentically and carefully done all this work to get on the right track to social media success, let your target market know where your company is headed and keep them on board with you. Imagine how your current customers view your company and try to get them to see where your company could take them in the future. Don’t automatically think that your customers will see the full potential of your company! Help them by showing them how to get the most out of your business. If you do this, and still don’t see sales, you will at least have gained the right to ask your consumers what it is you’re not doing well, and they will guide you on how to serve them better.

Many Internet marketers use these tips in their social media efforts, but when all of them are used together, in a cohesive effort, your company will find the pay off in social media marketing. Always remember that it takes hard work and patience!

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Optimize Social Media ROI-Return on Influence!

 

 

Return on investment with social media can polarize several public relations, marketing and advertising efforts since there are a growing number of agencies and businesses utilizing social media marketing and analysis efforts to see return on investment. While some companies get ROI through social media use on Facebook or YouTube, marketers need to realize that in order to optimize their social media efforts, true ROI is about influence from consumers!

ROI needs to involve connections companies make with their customers. Companies’ social media marketing should act as recommendations and inspirations to buy certain products and services. The goal is not to get an instant purchase from consumers, but to get the customer interested as they search a companies’ social/mobile web, and potentially gain a customer for life.

Relationships with customers are directly linked to the value companies get in return from investment in social media. With Twitter, it should not be a brand’s objective to sell the most products by tweeting. Instead, Twitter should be used to inform customers and show them all about their brands’ experience so they understand what the brand is all about, not just what they’re selling.

The stronger the connection brands have with their customers, the more likely those customers will be inclined to buy into the brand for life. Some ROI models for social media are focused on a direct marketing approach, also known as an offer and response approach. The problem with that is that companies end up chasing a platform where their target market might be, instead of understanding how to influence that target market with a social experience. Companies need to stop focuses on seeing ROI from social media coming strictly through direct sales!

Strong, productive social media marketing will influence business outcomes, just as a good public relations campaign will. Positive media coverage leads to awareness and inspires interest and discovery of the brand. Social experiences can provide brand-advertising benefits and push consumers to purchase sooner, and/or more often.

When it comes to social media marketing, most markers are just chasing popular platforms with their own ideas of what they think will motivate their customers to buy. But, what they should be doing instead is interpreting customer preferences and optimize their efforts to address the kinds of social experiences that will bring about a purchase and gain loyal customers. Social media is a platform to help businesses serve customer needs throughout a lifecycle, not just during a time of peak sales. With this in mind, new opportunities in social media marketing are available for those businesses willing to be influenced by their consumers!

 

 

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Business and Marketing Trends in Social Media in 2012!

 

 

 

What’s going to happen in the New Year with social media? Social Media is expanding quickly and marketers everywhere are catching up! Look out for these trends to come.

Disappearing Social Media Marketing:

Social media is becoming an integral part of all aspects in marketing our businesses. Therefore, social media marketing will be included in overall marketing plans; it won’t be a separate tool. Just like email marketing or SEO, social media will be a vital activity.

Integrating Social Media:

Big brands will start using social media more to connect to customers through user-generated content. This helps businesses get the most out of their true customers and loyal fans.

Supporting Social Media:

The integration of social media into marketing will result in people reporting their problems through their channel of choice. Companies should try and find ways to avoid having their social media channels turn into a mere helpdesk, but social media integration will indeed let consumer problems be handled by peers.

Increasing Social Sales:

Customers will get a stronger real user experience before making purchase decisions with social media integration. People can make purchase decisions based on a brand’s marketing materials and receive feedback from existing customers through ratings, comments and reviews.

Leveling off of Group Buying Sites:

Group buying sites will level off. They will not go away, but businesses will better understand how it works and use it accordingly. With group buying sites, businesses buy an opportunity to allow potential consumers to sample their offering at a discounted rate with the hope of getting continuous business.

Growing ROI:

Social media ROI is an important topic and still less than half of marketers claim to see it. As budgets grow, social media will become more important in a brand’s marketing mix. ROI will be seen through direct sales from Facebook, or perhaps more conversion rates of people from social channels.

Growing Social Media Advertising:

Social media channels are trying to find ways to get at your advertising budget so they can turn a profit. Social media sites are looking at new ways to display more marketing messages to users. This will result in larger budgets dedicated to social media advertising.

Mobilizing Websites:

More businesses will start making their sites mobile. 10 years ago companies began making websites because other companies were, now companies will start making their sites mobile as more and more companies are starting to!

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The Future of Branding, Marketing and Social Media: 3 Important Facts

A new report from Havas Media titled, “Meaningful Brands For A Sustainable Future,” is one of the most insightful reports in revealing the punitive aspect of the social business marketplace, which is often overlooked! It specifically examines the expanding awareness and capacity of consumers to punish brands that lack social responsibility.

Three key facts stand out in the report as warnings that all marketers need to be aware of!

1. Just 28% of consumers worldwide feel that businesses today are effectively working to solve the social and environmental challenges people care about.

There are two things to consider regarding this fact. First of all, this statistic proves that a very small percentage of consumers think companies are working efficiently to address social crises. Secondly, the phrase, “challenges people care about,” should be taken into consideration. A hallmark of social marketing is that it’s a real-time conversation between brands and consumers. If businesses want to get loyalty from consumers, they must perform and communicate in a meaningful way to be apart of their consumers’ lives. Ignoring social and environmental challenges that consumers care about means companies could become irrelevant and/or experience consumer backlash for their lack of social responsibility.

2. 64% of consumers feel most businesses merely “act” responsible to improve their image.

Consumers consistently demand that brands use social media platforms to promote their products and services in an authentic manner. It’s a major issue if over half of all consumers think brands are not genuinely addressing issues that are important to consumers. Our current marketplace gives consumers the ability to gather information and share it through social media. So, with more companies seeking to connect to customers, there’s competition in this marketplace to win the loyalty of consumers. But since consumers have so many options, if they feel a company is insincere in their social efforts, that brand will immediately lose that customer’s loyalty.

3. If 70% of brands disappeared in the future, most people would not care.

This fact highlights a deep consumer distrust of brands in the marketplace.  Just because a brand has strong leadership as a company does not guarantee its security in the market. Technology is quickly changing how business is conducted across all industries and now consumers are pushed more than ever before to find and embrace the tech-savvy AND socially responsible brands.

The Havas Media report concluded that brands that improve our personal and collective world systematically will be rewarded with greater consumer attachment and brand equity. The bottom line is brands MUST be meaningful to their customers’ lives!

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Successful Advertising with LinkedIn in 5 Steps

LinkedIn is a growing social media platform with over 100 million business professionals worldwide.

Business messages are well received within the professional environment of LinkedIn, which makes the site ideal for advertising for lead generation for B2B companies.

LinkedIn ads appear along the sidebar with a photo and text. They include the photo, a 25-character headline, and a 75-character description. You can also try different versions of your ad to test which ones drive the most click-throughs.

As you create your ads in LinkedIn, keep these five tips in mind for success!

1. Use powerful copy with relevant images

Come up with a great ad before fine-tuning your campaigns. Write an effective ad copy; on LinkedIn, it will only allow the copy to be 75 characters of description, so every character counts! In your copy, convey a sense of urgency and highlight a unique benefit. With PPC ads, the picture is very important! Make sure the image matches what you’re offering.

2. Target ads to specific audiences

Only target your ads to the most relevant prospects. You can choose this based on industry (marketing, Internet, banking, etc.), job function (academics, engineering, marketing) and groups. The more specific your offer and targeting are, the better chance your ads will be successful!

3. Split-test different versions of your campaign

Each campaign on LinkedIn has its own targeting options, daily budget and ads. It’s recommended that you create at least three ads per campaign, each with a different headline, different call-to-action phrases and images. You’re allowed to come up with 15 different ads per campaign, so take advantage!

4. Spend your money strategically

LinkedIn will display ads at different rates throughout the day depending on when users are active on site. So, consider spending 50% of your budget in the morning, and maybe 25% in the afternoon, and the other 25% towards the nighttime. After you hit your daily budget limit, your ads will stop showing for that day.  Keep calculations of your average spending per day for the past week, then compare that amount to your daily budget and figure out if you can increase your daily budget to get more clicks. Also, an “auction” will occur between your ad and other advertisers each time a prospect visits a page on LinkedIn. The site will give you a suggested bid range or an estimate of current bids from other advisers. The higher your bid, the more likely it is to win the auction.

5. Measure your ads performance

Pay attention to metrics to understand your ads’ effectiveness. Also consider your overall business and marketing goals before you consider your goals for LinkedIn ads. Be sure to measure CTR; according to LinkedIn, good ads have a CTR higher than .025%. Also measure leads and take your landing pages into consideration.

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The Best Facebook Page Apps to Improve Communication with Fans

With over 100,000 Facebook applications available, it can seem overwhelming to try and determine which apps will be the most important for your business. To help you out, here are four essential Facebook apps that will help you to communicate and interact with your fans!

1. Tweets to Pages

This app has about 1.2 million monthly active users! It creates a tab on your Facebook Page that shows your company’s most recent tweets displayed in a timeline. This feature is great for giving real-time information to Facebook users without a Twitter account and helps to avoid annoying fans by constantly streaming your tweets to Facebook as wall updates.

2. Static HTML: iframe tabs

With 61.8 million monthly users, this app simplifies the process of creating a custom landing page. You can simply copy and paste textboxes for your custom HTML, CSS and JavaScript instead of creating a developer account and your own application. You can also remove scrollbars and enable Facebook’s FBML if you’d like. And you can enable “like-gate” if you want to incentivize Likes on your Page.

3. ContactMe

This app has 180,000 monthly active users. It adds a contact form tab on your company’s Facebook Page that allows anyone visiting your page to easily contact you the minute they’re interested! It also has customization options, like choosing whether you want to show your company’s contact information or social media icons for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Skype. It also lets you add, remove, reorder and require specific fields in a simple user interface through contactme.com.

4. RSS Graffiti

With 1.5 million users, this app lets you post wall updates automatically, whenever there’s a new item in one of your specific feeds. This saves you time and effort in having to create a new wall update every day to distribute your company’s content. It also has customization options to make it stand out. The configuration interface is intuitive and easy to use!

If you don’t have time to sift through the hundreds of Facebook apps available, start with these four apps to better communicate with your fans!

 

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Combining SEO and Social Media

Experts suggest marketers integrate their SEO campaigns and their social media accounts into one strategy.

When SEO and social media are divided into separate entities, firms often end up choosing one over the other. This could end up being costly in the long run.

A more efficient strategy is to utilize a joint social media and SEO campaign in order for your business to get the most out of both tools.

Online marketing blogger for columbiatribune.com, Rob Stretch, explains, “One channel can be leveraged to improve another benefit to a whole campaign; such is the case with social media and search engine optimization.”

Stretch also explains how social media can be used to establish and expand brand relationships. These relationships can then be used by SEO to create links between the interested parties.

Additionally, Twitter can be added to generate content and spread banner messages to put businesses in contact with influential people in their distinct industries. This will then boost brand awareness and build further connections.

These social media connections should then be promoted. Place tabs on each web page to allow users to “Like,” “Tweet” or “+1” it, to help further promote the website and its content to the target audience while giving it greater authority in search engines as well.

On yourdailyupdateblog.com, Stretch concluded that, “Despite multiple differences, both channels are the same in that they can be leverages as traffic sources to your website.”

In your company’s social media efforts, it’s clearly a wise choice to consider integrating social media and your SEO campaigns to a single strategy to see the greatest benefit!

 

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Be Heard with Social Media Marketing

 

 

 

Businesses today have an increasing number of online tools for social media marketing to quickly inform consumers about their products and services.

In addition to the well-known sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and now Google+, companies can access over 300 social media sites, like Buzzy, StumbleUpon and ZingMe.

But, with such a multitude of social media sites, businesses must develop a proper online marketing strategy to see success. Managing director of the Institute of Online Business, Nicole Coughlin-Smith, claims that, “Creating a social networking existence is paramount in this age of new technology and businesses that don’t engage in some form of social media communication will struggle to survive over the longer term.”

Smith suggest to, “Invest in a Facebook page dedicated to your business, a Twitter account where followers can see instant news and updates, and a YouTube account which is an ideal platform to show how-to tips or product testing videos to potential or current customers.”

Here are five simple business tips to make social media work:

1.The key factor to remember when making a social media platform is to always redirect customers to your original site. You will maximize potential conversions by allowing customers to link back to your main business site.

2. Focus your social media marketing on a few platforms, rather than taking on too many at once.

3. Interact with customers through social media before, during AND after a sale.

4. Remember that Twitter is very effective for short news updates and information bulletins, so take advantage of short 140 character postings.

5. Facebook’s recent change to give businesses more functionality on the site allows businesses to no longer have to link their profile back to a personal profile. This makes it easier to track traffic, control posts and customize settings.

 

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Generating Content To Lead To Sales

In Internet marketing, a company’s target audience is never made of impulse shoppers, but rather thoughtful buyers who want to invest in a quality product. This means it’s important to continually deliver relevant, meaningful content so that when your customers are ready to purchase, you’ll be in their minds.

There are three steps to take in communicating with consumers:

  1. Give Something (tips, insights, information)
  2. Share Something (referrals, resources)
  3. Say Something (give an opinion, start a discussion)

If all you ever deliver to consumers is promotions or a hard sell, you will be quickly tuned out. If you come across as a thoughtful, generous expert who wants relationships with consumers, your business will be more effective.

Next, consider these three ways to be on the top of consumers’ minds.

1. Make it easy to be found online

To attract target consumers, optimize your website with the right keywords. Consumers do lots of research before making an important purchasing decision, so if you take the time to strategize the keywords/phrases people will search, you will become more visible. Think about the main five words/phrases you want to be known for and optimize your Internet presence based on those.

2. Leverage Social Media

Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are the three most common social networking sites that companies use to market themselves. Utilize these sites by attracting fans and enticing them with unique, fun posts so you’ll be consistently remembered. Choose the social media sites you want to use and build a strong presence in them and provide continual, updated posts to keep consumers interested.

3. Consider a regular newsletter

While a regular newsletter seems like a big commitment, ongoing communication to your target audience is always worth it. Consider a regular correspondence to your target audience, and use the 80-20 rule: 80% of the content should be informational, and 20% should be promotional.

To create and maintain positive visibility with your target market, you must give and share first before you can sell. This will ensure sales in the long run as you will be a memorable brand to of your consumers.

 

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Using Twitter As a Reactivation Strategy

 

 

 

 

While Twitter is great for sending out messages to a mass audience, its main strength to marketers is in its ability to build one on one relationships.

What marketers should strive to do is deliver campaigns in the public timeline when there’s an opportunity to get the audience’s attention by utilizing the @mentions feature. @mentions lets users put the @ sign before a username with a message that goes directly to that user’s homepage.

After the user sees that tweet, they either can reply, retweet, mark as a favorite, or ignore it. This is where an intimate relationship with a consumer can begin or be renewed.

To develop a Twitter reactivation program, start with an initial test group. Keep in mind that these campaigns will happen in a public timeline, so do not flood the stream with span-like behavior.

When choosing your test group, remember that it’s recommended to use a maximum of 30 total outbound tweets a day from any account. If you have an account that currently has high volume of outbound tweets for customer service, perhaps use one account for customer service and one for marketing.

To match email addresses to Twitter users, you can import your email list to a gmail account and upload it from the “find friends” tab of the “who to follow” tool on Twitter. You can then choose to follow all the matches, or save them to a list. Because you want to keep your following and follower counts in check, don’t automatically follow everyone. Try instead to save the matches in a private list.

Also consider using customer relationship management platforms, like Salesforce, to help maintain your lists, manage and analyze campaigns, and export campaign messaging for uploading to a Twitter dashboard like HootSuite.

 

 

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