Monthly Archive December 18, 2015

Is This Like-able?

like-allI believe a common mistake amongst brands is that when they are creating and posting content on Facebook, they forget to wear their “Facebook user” hat. It is understandable from a brand standpoint to be enthusiastic about promoting and sharing information about products and/or services, but the interest level and “value” of content from the eyes of the reader needs to be taken into consideration.

As content developers we need to frequently ask ourselves this question… “Would someone like, share and/or comment on this post?”. That question should help social media marketers to step out from behind the brand and think more like a user.

People use Facebook to be social and not to be sold to. They want to connect with friends and family, see what they are up to, share pictures/video and so forth. It has a personal vibe. People go to Facebook to see and share things they think are funny, interesting, important, inspiring, moving and useful. It is important to remember this when you are deciding whether Facebook is the right platform for your business. How will you as a brand interface with your audience in a manner that interests and engages them?

For those of you who don’t use Facebook personally, I would recommend spending a little time looking at what type of content people are sharing and responding to. Try to get into the mindset of your target customer. Take the time to understand who your customer is, what their interests are and how they are using social media.

To be successful on Facebook, posting should be varied to maintain the interest of your audience. Your followers have given you permission to market to them but don’t misinterpret what that means. Reward your followers with interesting and valuable content. They’ll be much more likely to engage with your post and remain loyal to your brand.

The Pitfalls of the Bribe-Influenced Follower

42bis-likeenwin-720x340Increasing followers is quite often on the list of objectives for many brands. Considering the fact that building a bigger audience could yield greater marketing reach, it makes sense that marketers look for clever and creative ways to entice social media users to like and/or follow then. Brands should be careful, however, not to make the incentive more attractive than enhancing authentic customer loyalty.

It’s an easy trap to fall into. Larger follower numbers look impressive to brands, to their customers and to the competition. Unfortunately, it can also cause marketers to feel unjustifiably confident about brand loyalty. Some might even feel inflated, believing that their tactics prompted significant results. That’s one drawback of being quantity focused, as opposed to quality focused. I’ve viewed business pages that have a large following but very little engagement. What that signals to me is that they’ve invested considerable effort into motivating social media users to follow them and less into building follower relationships.

Conversely, I’ve seen pages that at first glance don’t appear very impressive but, ironically, have a high percentage of engagement. Many of these pages even “violate” what I would deem as essentials for a thriving social media presence such as an attractive cover image, varying post topics, using visually stimulating images with posting and so forth. Despite that, their followers are liking, commenting and demonstrating other behaviors that signify that they are interested. Initially, I scratched my head at this but after a little reflection, it was clear to me.

Because I am familiar with these particular businesses, I actually know that there is much more going on behind the social media scene. I didn’t fully appreciate the impact of these factors until recently. These pages with great engagement were bringing a lot more to the table such as outstanding service, strong customer relationships and community ties, and quality product. In a couple of cases, the owners of these businesses were visible at their establishment and interacting with customers face to face, sometimes on a daily basis. Influences of this nature will obviously bring more than great social media results. Happy customers will support and patronize your business. They’ll be more willing and likely to endorse you, recommend you and spread the good word about you…on social media and out in the world.

There are some fundamental principles in play here. It is basic human nature to want to be acknowledged and appreciated. When brands put the emphasis more on relationships, they are communicating a powerful message to their customers that they care. That trumps prizes…well, in most cases.

I am by no means disparaging the use of fun, creative promotions. I suggest them to my clients all the time. The problem lies in thinking that we can rely solely on this type of marketing to woo customers. When we think about marketing from a more holistic perspective, we wind up with more than just a follower…we build brand loyalty.

Saying Thanks-the Advantages of Acknowledging Your Customers

Sometimes the simplest act of expressing your appreciation can have a tremendous impact on your relationship with customers. As a consumer, I understand firsthand how much a seemingly small acknowledgement of my patronage and support for a business further ingrains my loyalty towards them. When we feel valued, appreciated, listened to, understood, accommodated and recognized, it strengthen the ties… whether it’s to an individual or to a brand.

I am surprised, however, at how many business owners neglect to incorporate Customer Relationship Marketing into their overall marketing strategy. Customer Relationship Marketing is described as recognizing the long term value of customer relationships and extending communication beyond intrusive advertising and sales promotional messages. It is a more enriching, personalized approach where the emphasis in on customer experience. This encompasses making efforts to meet customer needs, listening to their feedback and responding to their interests. When a business recognizes the true value of practicing Customer Relationship Marketing and takes the necessary steps to implement it, they’ll reap the rewards of a loyal following.

Instituting Customer Relationship Marketing can have a variety of long term benefits for your business. Studies have shown that several factors that occur once a relationship has been established with a customer. Here are some advantages:

Long-term customers tend to be less inclined to switch, and also tend to be less price sensitive. Experts say that customers who feel taken care of are less concerned about what they are paying.

Long-term customers may initiate free word of mouth promotions and referrals.

Customers that stay with you tend to be satisfied with the relationship and are less likely to switch to competitors, making it difficult for competitors to enter the market or gain market share.

Regular customers tend to buy more often and they are less expensive to maintain because of their familiarity with your business and the processes behind it.

Increased customer retention and loyalty makes the employees’ jobs easier and more satisfying. In turn, happy employees feed back into better customer satisfaction in a virtuous circle.

I think many business owners understand the implications of keeping customers happy, so to point out that customer satisfaction should be high on the priority list might seem obvious. But in addition to recognizing its importance, businesses need to put an action plan into place. If you are not designating the time and resources to carry out your intentions, then your plan may very well fall by the wayside.

You’ll need to determine: What will your Customer Relationship Marketing consist of? What percentage of your marketing budget are you designating towards implementing it? Who on your team will implement it? What will your “voice” or message be? What processes and procedures need to be put into place to support it? Take the time to iron all of these details out. Once you do, you’ll be on the path to enhanced rapport and connection with your customers.

A variety of features can comprise an effective Customer Relationship Marketing program. Thanking customers is just one aspect of the equation, albeit an important one. There are an infinite number of ways to express your customer appreciation. Here are 5, as an example:

Showcase a customer on Social MediaThis simple act of acknowledgement can do wonders. If you don’t want to single out one customer in particular, you can send out a general “thank you” message to all your customers. This is great to do around the holidays or random days throughout the year.

Give a GiftThis doesn’t have to be a huge investment, just a simple token of your appreciation. Offer a $5 gift card, a free appetizer, drink or entree, free product or service, tickets to a show or gourmet sweets. Depending on what your budget allows and the nature of your business, you can determine what you think your customers might enjoy.

Offer and Exclusive MembershipCustomers feel special when they are invited to be part of a club that entitles them to special privileges.

Send a Special InviteHost an exclusive invite-only party or gathering.

Offer a Special DiscountThis could be a one-time discount or continuous discount.

Happy customers become an advocate for your business and broadcasters of your message. They are a beacon of light that shines positively on your brand. There are a number of creative ways you can thank and reward customers and you’ll have to discover the methods that are most applicable and appropriate for your brand.

3 ways to Use Images to Enhance Social Media Engagement

create-more-engagement-with-visuals-copyLet’s face it,  there can be a considerable amount of “noise” on the landscape of social media. As a marketer, you will need to keep the reality of this potential barrier in mind as you compose your posts and advertisements. Now a days, with a high volume of stimuli competing for the attention of your target audience, creating impactful visuals is imperative.

I believe It is always an effective practice to place yourself in the position of your viewer and try to see things through their eyes. It’s also helpful to think about what attracts you when you navigate through the social media newsfeed. Take note of what other brands are doing that you find visually appealing. Be sure to ask yourself before you create a post “Would I share or engage with this?“.

There are a multitude of ways to be impactful with your social media visuals and you’ll need to decide what type of tactic best represents your brand. Here are 3 ways you can use images to encourage more engagement with your followers when you are posting on social media:

The Human Element-Social media users, especially those using Facebook, like to see the people behind the brand not just the product. Highlighting customers enjoying your product, employees in the midst of their workday or featuring someone doing good deed in your community all have a draw for the Facebook follower. Followers will especially be more likely to engage with the post if they recognize and/or know the person featured in the image.

A View from Behind the Scene-We all like to know what goes on behind the scene of our favorite brands. Providing a snapshot of the process behind creating a product makes followers feel like they are part of an exclusive club. It can also serve the purpose of educating and/or informing your followers about the process of bringing your product or service to market. It’s a great way to add value in a visual manner.

Use Humor-In addition to staying informed about what’s going on with friends, family and brands, social media users turn to social media to be entertained. Using humor is just another way to add value to a follower’s social media experience. Posts with high entertainment value, gets shared. Depending on your brand or industry, there might be a plethora of funny images you can use but feel free to get creative and design your own.

Of course,  the social media tactics that you decide to use will depend on other factors as well. Some platforms will require you to facilitate a more visual approach than others. And in some cases, featuring the copy or “story” will be the emphasis of a particular post. The different types of posting tactics work together to create a well-rounded social media mix. You’ll have to ascertain what type of strategy and post-type mix works best for your audience and  goals.