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Know Thy Audience

Set yourself up for success on social media by learning everything you can about your audience. Take time to research what your audience needs and what they do online.

This research comes from social media listening – or monitoring what’s going on. Here’s how to start listening and building your understanding of your audience and their needs.

Define your audience.

Your audience is not everyone. It’s not all women or all men. You need to get to a much more specific definition of your audience in order to be effective.

Knowing who your audience is and what they expect on social is key to creating content that they will like, comment on, and share. You want to define demographics, motivations, common objections or issues, and the emotional needs of your audience.

Gather real-world data.

Social media analytics can also provide a ton of valuable information about who your followers are, where they live, which languages they speak, and how they interact with your brand on social.

Each platform offers metrics. There are also insightful research studies published by Pew and others. Data insights allow you to refine your strategy and better target your content to your audience.

Making Money from Social Media

Photo by John Schnobrich on Unsplash

Guest post by S.L. Hoffman

Ditch the Old-School Advertising Mindset

When today’s consumers seek a product or service, they have multiple options. Through the Internet, they aren’t restricted to local businesses any more. If you fail to take proper care of your customers, they can easily switch to other local, regional, national, or even international companies that will gladly handle their business.

Now, your customers are highly Internet-savvy and sophisticated, and they expect your company to build a personal relationship with them. This expectation is far different from the conventional sales model where you blast out an advertising message, highlight the benefits of whatever you’re selling, and expect consumers to be delighted enough to make an immediate purchase.

Social media has made it easy to reach the target audience you want, whether that’s a group of local consumers or buyers from multiple countries. Unfortunately, many business owners still adopt the classic tactic of using conventional “buy me right now” advertising messages on social media. Customers reading those posts are left wondering, “Well, that’s nice. But what’s in it for ME?”

Building Relationships with Customers Is Critical

It is highly important to build relationships if you expect to make money from social media. There are two ways to have social media generate money for you: either from the money you save or the money you earn.

For example, Facebook posts can be easily boosted to reach a wide audience. For about $15, you can reach hundreds or even thousands of people, according to Hootsuite. Some of those people might even share your posts with their own networks, which results in free advertising for you. By contrast, reaching those same people through printed postcards would cost you hundreds of dollars for printing and mailing.

Similarly, the relationships you build on social media can generate revenue over time. For instance, I generated revenue as a freelance writer by carefully building a network on LinkedIn. Over time, I kept up those relationships and eventually it led to work for which I was compensated.

Basic Rules for Using Social Media the Right Way

If your company has decided to utilize social media sites as essential components of its marketing, be sure that your marketing manager is savvy enough to use these sites well. Here are some basic social media rules:

  • Avoid insensitive, cringe-worthy posts. Although this rule might seem like pure common sense, some businesses have created public relations disasters simply by not realizing the impressions their messages give to the public. Campbell’s Soup, for instance, attempted to use its cheerful SpaghettiOs mascot for a tweet posted on the anniversary of Pearl Harbor. The company ended up deleting the tweet and apologizing publicly.
  • Show your company’s personality. Charmin is known as the sassiest brand on Twitter for a reason, because this company has a sense of humor about their product. Customers respond to a company that they feel is staffed by warm, caring, and authentic people; they will be more likely to respond to your company if you show that you truly care about them, not just their wallets.
  • Stay alert and answer customers promptly. There are some social media sites where nothing has been posted for a long time and messages go unanswered for weeks or even months. That’s as bad as failing to answer your business phone when it rings.

If customers need to reach you urgently, they often resort to social media to get your immediate attention. By not responding in the same hour or at least the same day, you create the public impression that your company is uncaring and that bad impression could deter other customers from doing business with you.

  • Don’t forget your analytics, but don’t get caught up in vanity metrics. It’s a thrill to see your posts get likes and shares, but don’t let those vanity metrics blind you. There are multiple digital analytics tools to help you track how your website performs and how social media sites refer customers to you. Use your digital analytics tools to determine user behavior on your website and keep refining your content until you find what works.
  • Be patient. While it’s possible for posts to go viral and increase your revenue in a short period of time, this is the exception rather than the rule. You didn’t build your business overnight, so why should your social media be any different?

Social media provides an amazing opportunity to create real relationships with current and prospective customers and there are many ways to prove your expertise, such as videos, podcasts, photographs, infographics, and blog articles. If you take the time to carefully nurture customer relationships over time and ease back on the conventional advertising mindset, your efforts can eventually pay off in terms of company growth and revenue generation.

Header photo by John Schnobrich on Unsplash

5 Ways to Up Your Email Marketing

Email is still one of the most effective tools available for your digital marketing toolkit. Here are five ideas to improve your email marketing effort.

Make Every Message Count

Provide value or don’t send an email! In boxes are crowded. To earn an open, you need to provide something that’s valuable, tangible, and resonates with your subscribers.

People will open emails if there is value in it for them. Make sure to clearly communicate that message in the subject line, teaser text, and body of the email.

  • Answer a question that is on their minds
  • Address a common pain point
  • Provide updates on valued products and services
  • Provide valuable offers that aren’t otherwise available
  • Share exclusive content

Focus on the Needs of Newbies

Your newest email subscribers are the most likely to open your emails and take action. Capitalize on this enthusiasm by welcoming new people with a series of welcome emails. Keep it simple.

Focus on the action you most want people to take. Refine the welcome series over time as you learn what works and what doesn’t.

Personalize and Segment

Personalized emails deliver higher transaction rates. Personalized subject lines are more likely to be opened.

Email personalization can be as simple as adding the first name to the subject line and body copy. More complex approaches can change the content based on subscriber preferences.

Personalization is most effective when combined with list segmentation. Most, if not all, of your messages are not relevant to every subscriber. Take time to target the set of subscribers that receive each message.

Update Your List

Don’t forget to add new contacts to your list! When you connect with someone who you would like to add, ask for permission and then add them. I work with so many clients who are working with the same subscribers as the day they started the list.

Don’t count on your email tool to remove bad addresses. Keep your list accurate. Do you know that someone is no longer interested? Remove them. Do you have a new email for a contact? Update your list.

Did your last send get auto-replies that tell you a person has left a job, provided a new contact or listed a new email? Make the necessary updates.

Touch base with your subscribers periodically to allow them to update preferences and give you feedback about what they care about.

Set Expectations and Stick to Them

When your audience opts-in to your email list, be clear about what they will get and how often. Let subscribers know how often you will communicate with them, what you will communicate to them, and how they will benefit.

If you add people to your list after they register for an event or download a white paper and don’t tell them how often you will email them, you are not starting on the right footing. Be clear and stick to your promises.

I recently signed up for a business email list. I was amazed to receive emails daily. When I clicked the unsubscribe link, there was an option to receive fewer emails. I tried that. After two weeks of more daily messages, I completely unsubscribed. I am still interested in the business, but the lack of clarity and control means I am no longer connected at all.

Don’t put your email marketing on autopilot. Pay attention to signals from your subscribers as well as emerging email best practices offered at this blog and other places. Refine and adjust to make sure you continue to get the best use of this tool in your toolbox.