September 14th, 2012

As this weekend approaches, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on something I had been discussing with a friend earlier this week.  We were talking about running our businesses, and we both agreed that it’s always easier to get down to work when the work is good.  On days when the workload seems overwhelming, or at times when a project isn’t working out exactly as you had envisioned, it takes a little extra effort (and several extra mugs of coffee) to get work done.

It turns out, this type of thinking has been studied extensively by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania.  I did some searching and uncovered a case study in which researchers tracked new hires at Met Life - measuring their success and failure rates, and analyzing the employees’ moods to determine their effect on overall performance.

The study compared sales people with a optimistic outlooks to those who were pessimistic.  While the success and failure rates of each group were comparable, those workers with an optimistic mindset made far more progress - outperforming the pessimists by 20-40%.  The reasoning behind this, the researchers suggested, was that people who were generally optimistic attributed their failure to something that the would be able to change.  In other words, when they failed, they kept going, knowing that they could improve over time.  Pessimists, meanwhile, took each failure far more seriously, to the point that it detracted from the work they were able to do.

How are you feeling today?  Feeling a little overwhelmed?  Why not put this theory to the test by letting yourself off the hook for those things that may not be working out as planned.  Give yourself a pep talk and get back in the game. 

If you’re feeling confident, well, go out there and make it happen!

June 22nd, 2012

Getting Customer Engagement on Social Media

So you’ve set up social media accounts for your small business… but things are feeling a little lackluster.  Or, downright slow, even.  Don’t throw up your hands and walk away from the digital world!  Get your customers engaged with your posts, and generate excitement around your brand.  Here are several ways to generate customer engagement on social media:

1. Be yourself.  Yes, the same advice your mother gave you all those years ago rings true today!  Your customers love you & your brand for who you are, and that’s why they keep patronizing you.  The tone and attitude you bring to your business should be carried across to your social media campaigns.  This is a core element of successful branding, and will only help strengthen your business.  Speaking in a familiar, consistent tone conveys authenticity, and nothing is more valuable than that.

2. Ask questions.  Give your followers a chance to speak their mind, share a story, or voice an opinion and they will!  Come up with a question or poll that is relevant to the service you provide, and encourage your customers to tweet their reply or post in the comments.  Keep the conversation going by replying, retweeting, and posing follow-up questions. 

3. Create a contest on social media.  A little incentive never hurt anyone!  Inspire your customers to share something on social media - a photo of them using your product, a testimonial, a favorite memory - and offer a prize for participation.  Be sure to promote the contest to your fans through emails, and in-store posters, and watch the engagement happen.  Again, acknowledging participants is a must - even if they aren’t the big winner! 

4. Use images.  As this article from Social Media Today explains, images posted to Facebook generated much higher engagement than any other type of content.  Harness that power and share fun images from your business.  Encourage your fans to share their own pictures, and re-post them.  Keep it relevant, and keep it fun.

There are plenty of ways to inspire engagement on social media, and these will get you headed in the right direction.  What has worked for your business on social media? 

April 18th, 2012

Tools for Effective Tweeting: Buffer

Maybe in your dream world, you have a whole marketing team devoted to sharing your business’ message with your loyal fans.  But for now, you’re it.  Running a business means wearing a lot of different hats - perhaps juggling customer service, personnel, book keeping -  in addition to trying to keep up with your fans on social media sites.  With all those tasks to consider, finding ways to save time is key.  Lucky for you, there are several great tools available to make your social media marketing more efficient!

Buffer is a popular app that allows you to compose and schedule your tweets or Facebook posts ahead of time.  There is a lot to love about Buffer, but the biggie is the amount of time it can save you.  Instead of making time throughout the day to stay involved and share things on social media sites, you can prepare a few days’ worth of content in one sitting.  Type them into Buffer, they’ll be added to your queue.

Buffer also provides you with the analytics for each tweet.  See how many clicks it got, how many potential viewers it had, along with retweets, mentions and favorites - all from your Buffer dashboard.

After trying a few similar programs, I decided to try Buffer myself.  I’ve been using it for a few days now, and have found it to be user-friendy, intuitive, and a very helpful tool.  Take one thing off your daily to-do list, and download Buffer to make your social media marketing a little easier!


April 10th, 2012

Social Media Survey: What Does It All Mean?

You rule

Social Media Examiner just released their 2012 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, packed with information about how marketers are using social media as well as some projections about the future of the field.  (You can view the full report here.)

Rohit Bhargava over at Ragan’s PR Daily interpreted the survey, and reached some interesting conclusions in his blog post, "Report: No. 1 Social Media Question: How Do I Measure?"

For me, the biggest take-away was that for all the hype that goes into measurement (which is an essential component of effective social media marketing), content and strategy have fallen to the wayside.  Having a well thought out strategy for your marketing program - specific goals, and an outline for how to reach them - will keep you on track, save you time, and give you a better results.  (Identifying the results you want will bring the results you want!)

Additionally, time and time again we’ve seen that content is king when it comes to successful social media marketing.  (That phrase in itself has become a sort of slogan for marketers.)  Create content that supports your mission and engages your audience, and watch the word spread!

April 3rd, 2012

Keys to Successful Location-Based Promotions for Your Small Business

The advent of social media has created endless, free, creative marketing options for small businesses.  Word of mouth travels fast on social networks, and if customers are responding well to your business, getting them to share that with their networks can translate into increased recognition for your company.  One easy way to build a loyal customer base (who is vocal about the frequency of their visits) is to offer incentives for visitors.  Location-based promotions that encourage the user to share their visit to your business - such as Facebook Places and Foursquare - are a simple and effective way to get your customers participating, and spreading the word.  (Bonus: It has been shown that social endorsements can translate into higher ranking for your company in search results.)

If you have a brick-and-mortar store or are hosting an event, it is simple to customize your own promotion and generate awareness through social media.  Before you proceed, read through these tips and familiarize yourself with the ins and outs of this marketing tool!

Who is using these apps?  Everyone has a smartphone these days - or do they?  Do your customers fit the demographic that is likely to respond to mobile marketing?  Just like any other advertising strategy, you need to know your client base before setting a plan in motion.  Own a busy cafe with tables covered in laptops and customers browsing the web on their phones as they wait for their beverage?  Clearly, you have customers who would be responsive to mobile marketing. 

Try it yourself!  Sign up for Foursquare and see what other companies are offering.  A free product for the ‘Mayor’ of a certain location?  A discount off of their services after X number of check-ins?  Figuring out what works for you as the user will help you craft a promotion of your own.  What would you want to be rewarded with for broadcasting how much you love or frequent your favorite businesses?

Clue people in!  So you’ve come up with a great incentive program for people who check-in at your business.  Great!  Now tell people that the offer exists!  Use visual clues - stickers, posters, scrolling text on your register screens - to alert your customers to this opportunity.  Also, don’t forget your biggest marketing liason - your staff!  Make sure your staff is fully aware of the promotion, including the rules and rewards, and let them talk it up to customers.

Monitor your results.  There’s so much to be learned from social media marketing, and there are a variety of social media measuring tools to help you keep tabs on your results.  Take a look at the metrics and see what’s working, at what times, on what days.  This will not only help you strengthen  your marketing strategy going forward, but it will help you learn what your business is doing best, and where you may need to focus next.  Tools like Google Analytics are user-friendly, and a crucial part of a successful social media campaign.

With these basics in mind, you’ll be able to craft and execute a location-based promotion that will get your customers talking!

March 26th, 2012

Understanding Facebook Insights: What Does It Mean To Your Business?

So, you’ve put your business on Facebook and you’re steadily building your fan base.  You’re adding content, and your fans are responding.  You have a sense for what content your fans like, but you are yearning for more information.  How can you tell what posts are getting the best reactions?  How can you measure how successful your company’s Facebook campaign is? 

Facebook allows businesses access to metrics from their page - aptly named ‘Insights’ - that measure ‘likes’, reach, check-ins, virality and more.  Understanding how to interpret these statistics is a key step in crafting a successful social media campaign.  Once you’ve learned how to interpret your Facebook Insights, you’ll have a better picture of what your consumers are looking for from your company, what they like and what they are less interested in.  Here’s a brief overview of this valuable tool.

To view your pages’ Insights, you must be logged in as an Admin.  On your Admin Panel, click on the ‘Insights’ box.  This will take you to the Insights Dashboard, where you’ll see an overview of the various metrics.  A chart below will visualize the frequency of your posts, the number of people talking about your page(resharing your info), and your weekly total reach(people who have seen your posts).  It will look something like this: 

Below that, you’ll see a list of every post, organized by date.  You can view data for each specific post and learn the reach, the number of engaged users, the number of people talking about that post, and the post’s virality(a percentage based on the number of people who talk about a post out of the number of people who saw the post.)  This breakdown gives you the chance to determine what your fans want more of.  Remember, the more your content is seen, interacted with and reshared, the more your fan base will grow - that’s the whole point!

Scroll back up and you’ll see a few tabs running across the top of the Insights Dashboard.  Click on ‘Likes’ and you can see the demographics and locations of the people who like your posts.  Below that, you can learn where these likes came from.  Were they already on your page when they clicked ‘like’?  Or did Facebook recommend your page to them based on other businesses they had already liked?  Do you have a ‘Like Us On Facebook’ button on your site or in your e-newsletter?  You can see how many ‘likes’ that actually got you.

Click on ‘Reach’ and you’ll find out the demographics of who’s seeing your posts.  Towards the bottom of this page you can learn more about your reach, including how people are encountering your content.  Your ‘organic’ reach is related to your content showing up in a fans’ news feed, or perhaps someone looking at your page on their own volition.  Your ‘viral’ reach refers to content that people encountered through a friend - either something someone reshared, or something they saw through a friends’ activity.  If you are using paid Facebook ads, this is where you can determine how effective they have been.

Good news!  People are talking about your page!  But in what ways?  In the ‘Talking About This’ section you can see what types of stories got you the most chatter.

Finally, Check-Ins.  Again, demographic info can offer you some insight into your clientele.  A great way to build a fan base is to craft a location-based promotion… (more on that next week!)

March 23rd, 2012
March 20th, 2012

Twitter for Small Business: Why To Join & How To Make It Work For You

Why should your small business join Twitter?

In my work as a social media consultant for several small, local businesses, I frequently find myself met with skepticism when I suggest that joining Twitter is a logical addition to a marketing strategy.  There is plenty to be learned from joining Twitter, and plenty of benefit.  In my opinion, the there are a whole host of reasons why you should get your business on Twitter, but if you too are feeling wary, I’ll elaborate on some of the more obvious benefits.

First, and perhaps most obviously, it is a networking platform that can be utilized to increase your brand’s exposure.   The nature of Twitter is to spread information.  Create interesting content, and your followers share it.  Their followers read it and take note, and they begin to follow you.  (And so on, and so on.)  It’s an easy way to get involved with your immediate community, other professionals in your field, and with fans and potential customers. 

Secondly, in addition to simply getting your brand out there and building relationships, Twitter allows you to tell your story.   By sharing snippets of your day to day, whether you have a product on sale, are discussing a new service you’re offering, or collaborating with others, you are giving your followers a chance to see what you’re made of.  What are your company’s values?  What things concern you in your daily life? What projects are you working on?  Tell your story from an honest, inside perspective and you will engage your curious fans.

Now that you’ve gained an understanding of some of the benefits to joining Twitter, here are a few things to be mindful of as you tweet for your company.  Let’s call them ‘best practices’ that you should consider as you dive into the Twitterverse.

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Based in Princeton, NJ, Jacquilope offers marketing strategies for small business. From social media marketing to graphic design and branding to everything in between. Click on the 'Services' link to learn more about how Jacquilope can help you realize your marketing goals.