Who’s on Facebook now? Why do I care? Why do they keep changing things on me? How can I keep up? We know these are the questions racing through your mind on a consistent basis in order to keep up with your social marketing plans.

We know who isn’t on Facebook. The teens & tweens have moved on to other platforms, ones that they perceive to be parent free. They have moved on to image rich platforms with little content. Eventually parents will follow, and some already are.

Why should you care? Because if you have a business, social media should be part of your marketing mix, and it means the adults are still on Facebook and it’s a great place to reach them.

Why do they keep changing things? Facebook knows that people are moving to the platforms that highlight image based stories vs. content, so they have drastically overhauled their news feed to accommodate that need.

How can I keep up? Read, read, read and enlist the help of people who can focus on your social media and develop your plans to maximize your exposure. Facebook states people will start noticing the changes over the coming months. The best move to is start rethinking your strategy and implement your plan of action today.

People will have a choice of feeds and the ability to toggle back and forth between different feeds: NEWSFEED, ALL FRIENDS, MOST RECENT, MUSIC, PHOTOS, GAMES AND FOLLOWING. Business pages will now fall under the “Following” feed. As a business owner, you don’t want to stay hidden, so, below are recommendations on how to keep your content in front of our audience:

  • Images, images, images, that’s what you need to focus on. According to research by Hubspot, “photos generate 53% more likes than average posts and 104% more comments that the average posts” (average posts included text, links & photo posts). As a company you will need to invest time in creating and sharing captivating visuals.
  • You’ll need to focus on publishing more visual content not just in your status updates, but ads as well.
  • Keep your copy short. Captions will now overlay images, instead of under your images.
  • Write compelling content. Facebook will highlight shared stories from your friend’s feeds. Utilize your blog as a means to share these stories on Facebook.
  • Integrate Pinterest with Facebook.
  • Influence check-ins. When a person checks in to your location it shows up in their Newsfeed.
  • Continue to increase your likes. Anytime a new person likes your page, your business cover photo shows up in their Newsfeed. Another great reason to be sure your cover photo is set to influence the friends of your new fan.

The popularity of more image based platforms have influenced the changes that Facebook needed to make to keep their platform strong & valuable to its user base. Are you confused, yet? We bet “Yes”, and if you don’t have the right people in place to navigate and utilize all of the new and older platforms, your efforts will not be seen. For more information on how your business will benefit from social media, we invite you to our Social Media seminar on April 3rd. Call SDB Creative Group at 432-218-6736 for more information.

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Training staff. Every company recognizes the importance of it, but few actually dedicate the resources to properly do it. This week’s blog looks at two methods of training and asks you which one you want to practice, and which one you currently are. Have you built your company where it can run on its own without you? Can your staff handle every situation without you? If the answer is no, your training program needs an upgrade. What kind of training are you currently using? Let’s take a look first at the most popular form.

The Tribal Method
Using the tribal method, companies pass information down from employee to employee. Is it effective? If you have a superstar employee passing the information down, yes. In many cases though bad habits and poor practices are passed down using the tribal method. This only multiplies these bad habits and practices in your operation. Unfortunately the tribal method of training is the most used.

Developing a successful training program takes a tremendous amount of time and energy. This makes the tribal method very attractive. It is easy and requires very little thought other than which employee to match up and train your new one. Don’t be tempted to take the easy road.

Now let’s look at an alternative to the tribal method that will get your employees producing faster with less effort on your end (except in the development phase)

The Systematic Method
The systematic method is very simple. You basically define how your entire operation functions. The hardest part for you is taking the time to define your operation. If you will take the time to do this, it will pay huge dividends for you in the future and will save you and your staff a tremendous amount of time training new employees. Here are some basics that you should include:

  • Welcome statement
  • Employee handbook
  • Time management
  • Company history
  • Company philosophy
  • Business model
  • Sales process
  • Products and services
  • Competitors
  • Industry knowledge
  • Specialized knowledge
  • Policies
  • Procedures

Next you should include testing on each section. These tests make sure your new employees comprehend the information. They should be reviewed with the new employees before moving on to the next section. This also gives you the opportunity to reemphasize key points of the training to set the appropriate expectations for your new employee.

Your training can be presented in a printed format or even better, online in a separate training website. If you would like to learn more about how to develop a systematic, online training program, give SDB a call. We’ll even let you take a peek at ours.

The job of handling your organizations brand can fall under a number of titles: Public Relations, Marketing & Communications just to name a few. No matter what the title on your business card says, if this is a part of your responsibilities, you realize it’s about what, how and when you put information out there. With the fast, ever-changing evolution of social media, you must adopt new skills, knowledge, and daily activities in your professional practice as they relate to social media, technology and your organizations brand. Below are some key responsibilities you must add to your job description for you to be successful.

Social Media Policymaker

Getting other team members involved in your organizations social media campaign is a great way to create content with various perspectives and personalities. Let someone from sales, customer service and even your management team be part of the conversation. However, with this many voices and platforms, you must have guidelines & best practices in place as well as training on various platforms. Employees need straightforward guidelines on how and what can be said. They must also know who to turn to if they have a question on handling a sensitive situation. Not every employee in your organization will be familiar or comfortable with social media. The education of these new communication tools is essential to the success. Employees want to feel part of the process not left behind

Internal Collaboration Generator

You know social media is an excellent tool for all areas of your organization to engage customers. As a PR professional you need to know what is going on in all areas of your company, since social media moves across all areas of your company. To develop your plan and strategy without leaving out an important piece, create your “dream team” by selecting a team member from each department with key players to be part of this team. Better sharing on the inside leads to better sharing on the outside.

Technology Tester

Keep you up to date on new platforms. Set time aside each week to research and test new platforms. Test them among your “dream team” internally to decide if certain platforms are a good fit for your organization and how they should be used.

Communications Organizer

Consider your company’s current communication process. Communication today comes from all departments rather than straight down from management. You must develop a process for gathering information, analyzing its importance and creating a message to be put out to the public. Plan the best ways to create cohesive and consistent messaging so that social media doesn’t fragment your brand.

Reputation Monitor

Last but not least is the responsibility of monitoring your company’s reputation, responding appropriately and in a timely manner. This is where your previous work of defining your company policies comes in to play. Your goal is to have people engaging with your brand. The downside is that people aren’t always going to be positive. With your new communication strategies in place, you and your team will already have a plan on how to quickly handle these situations. Use social media monitoring software that alerts you when important terms are mentioned; check back to your accounts briefly every hour or two to see if you need to respond to anyone, follow someone back, etc.

DYI Marketing

September 10, 2012

I live in a very old house. It was built in 1948 and it was to serve two purposes, to provide housing for my widowed grandmother and her two children and as a place of business so that my grandmother could teach ballet to the children of West Texas. The kitchen is tiny, the floors creak, and the plumbing is old, and at various times, we have opted to update either ourselves or when too big of a job, hire a professional. We are usually reluctant to hire someone else to do home improvement because we are more DIY type of folks. However, we have learned that some jobs are just more expensive when we DIY it! We simply spend more to fix our mistakes than it would have cost to hire someone in the first place.

Do you subscribe to the DIY approach to marketing your business? Most businesses do but sometimes their marketing plan can resemble a poorly patched wall more than a state of the art kitchen. Marketing success grows out of a good marketing plan. Craft it as well as you can, and then make adjustments as needed. Just like well-designed house plans are critical for building a house, so is a well-designed marketing plan to grow your business. Below are some steps to make sure you are on track with your marketing plan.

1. Develop a Marketing Strategy: How will your marketing plan support your business goals?

2. Create Mission Statement: What are you trying to accomplish, and why?

3. Find your Target Market: Who are you trying to reach with your marketing activities?

4. Complete Competitive Analysis: Who are you up against, and where do you rank?

5. Find a Unique Selling Proposition: What makes your business unique?

6. Develop a Pricing Strategy: What will you charge, and why?

7. Devise Promotional Plan: How will you reach your target market?

8. Commit to a Marketing Budget: How much money will you spend, and on what?

9. Create an Action List: What tasks do you need to complete to reach your marketing goals?

10. Review your Process with Metrics: How are you implementing, and where can you improve?

If you find that maybe you have steered off course and need some DIY help, give us a call. We are experts and would love to give you the help you need to grow your business.

Get Involved. Get Noticed!

August 27, 2012

Back to School is here! This time of year also marks the season when charity organizations and local social programs begin their budgeting and program planning, and these programs cannot be successful without the help of donors and sponsors. As a business owner, you should be involved in bringing and supporting positive programs to your community, not only helping people in need, but recognizing the marketing opportunities for the generous, smart and socially aware small business owner. By involving your business with a non-profit, you gain the notice of people who may be unaware of your presence in the marketplace. Some charities may be better equipped to work with sponsors and the media. Other programs are new, may have inexperienced staff and especially appreciate your business experience in helping them organize people and resources.

Some things to consider when planning your community relations:

• Research opportunities. There are so many worthy organizations that the difficult part is choosing where to spend your time and resources, so find programs that match or complement your business and personal beliefs.

• Set a budget. Decide up front how much you are able to allocate and consider this part of your annual marketing budget.

• Assess what resources you or our business can bring: Remember to include other members of your staff who can be involved with a skill set different from yours.

• Be creative. If you aren’t able to participate by offering sponsorship or donation, organizations are always looking for people to donate time.

• Spread the word. Some business owners feel shy about announcing their involvement. Don’t! Maybe your involvement will inspire someone else with resources to share and bring additional awareness to the charity itself. Use a press release to help get the word out. Send it to your local paper, radio and television stations, and submit it online. Your news may help a reporter complete a story giving you and the local charity publicity that money can’t buy.

Everyone likes to do business with a philanthropic company and if you’re sincere about community involvement, you might be surprised at how much your business will benefit and grow even faster. Get involved. Get Noticed!

The Power of a Testimonial

August 20, 2012

For the longest time all I heard about was P90X and Insanity. It was tiring reading  all the updates about what people had done in their daily workout, how many burpies they had done and how sore they were. Finally, the mania seemed to calm down a bit! What was the next big thing going to be? Then BAM, GOP VP nominee, Paul Ryan bursts onto the scene touting P90X. His testimonial led to other testimonials. P90X sales have jumped 400%. Google searches for Paul Ryan P90X have spiked more than 5000% since August 11th.

Never underestimate the effect of the personal testimonial in your marketing strategy. Testimonials from happy clients are an important part of any business’s marketing plan. They lend trustworthiness and experience to a business. Showing those testimonials in their best light is also important.

There are several important factors to consider to ensure your testimonials are effective:

• Your sales staff should always encourage testimonials.

• Have a process for collecting testimonials. If your sales staff does not have or know the process, they are less likely to ask their customers for a testimonial. Decide who or what department will compile this information and where it will be used.

• Don’t ever be shy about asking for testimonials. Ask your customers for a testimonial when they are the happiest. Typically this is at the end of the transaction or after a great job has been completed.

• Make sure the testimonials are real. Embellishing or removing details is a quick way to lose credibility with your customers.

• Focus on success stories and never let negative things be said about the competition. Stay focused on the positive benefits your company offered.

• Keep contact information about the person giving the testimonial. You may want to contact that person again for other stories or PR efforts.

• Use a photo or video of the testimonial. A video is a great way to add testimonials to your website.

If you’re not using testimonials in your promotional materials, start today. Contact the customers you have a strong relationship with and don’t be afraid to ask. Your social media platforms are a great place to showcase positive comments about your business.

When the Olympics roll around, one thing I can count on is spending time with my daughters watching the events and talking about the athletes. Anytime I can find things my kids are already interested in, I grab that opportunity to turn it into a teachable moment (or at least try). We discuss the time these athletes put into their sport preparing, planning and work that go into each competition, learning from each mistake, honing their skills until they have the perfect routine and the “never give up” attitude driven by discipline and desire. 

The same dedication should be applied to your social media marketing efforts. 

1- Research: Watch what other competitors are doing. Take a look at their tweets and posts and decide what your voice for your company will be.

2- Planning: You can plan your campaign monthly or weekly. Keep apprised of specific days that relate to your industry throughout the year to include in your campaign. 

3- Preparation: Be sure you have the tools you need such as dashboard for scheduling.

4- Expect and anticipate changes to your plan. Be sure to keep your posts timely. If something is a hot topic to your audience, be sure to include it.

5- Evaluate: Watch and learn from each post. Monitor what type of content gets a response, 
what time of day your audience appears to be online and never miss an opportunity to keep a conversation going with responses you receive. You will be able to tell by the analytics of each post (how many people saw the post). Adjust your timing to fit when your audience is online. This is where your scheduler comes into play. Post at your convenience, so they can view it at their convenience. Not every post will be a win. The important thing is to evaluate and redirect as needed.

6- Don’t afraid to show your company personality through your updates. Just as Olympic athletes show their success at mastering their skills, they place equal importance on showcasing their personality in their routines. Create a good mix of business and personality.

7- As with anything in life, success is achieved through consistency. You will not see sales improve, people visiting your website, “Liking” your Facebook page or following you on Twitter without you practicing consistency. If you already have an employee who knows their way around the social media scene, this would be a good responsibility to delegate to them.

When it comes to your social media efforts, remember the words of Olympic Gold Medal winner, Gabby Douglas, “Never quit. Never give up” After all you are reaching for the Gold in your business!