Today, social media isn't really all that social. What can a marketer do when people are consuming content individually and even anonymously?Read More
If you’ve been on Facebook for awhile, you know that social media is ever changing. The tools they have out there for businesses are amazing (and mostly still free), and you could increase sales by taking advantage of these 5 tips.Read More
Guess what? No one says anything when you're average or your baby's ugly. When you look fantastic personally and professionally, people notice. They say something, buy something from you or refer you. It is the same for your brand marketing.Read More
What if you could attract more clients, investors, job opportunities or even a better paying position? Here are 3 common mistakes professionals make on LinkedIn...and how you can fix them fast!Read More
We are all the 'drywall' guys of our own businesses. We see things that many do not see. We need outside eyes and ears to come in and assess what we are doing and help optimize the areas we are not strong in.Read More
Well, we live in an extremely visual world. We are being bombarded daily with images, text, sounds, videos, moving objects, scrolling Facebook feeds, and attention grabbing Tweets. How do you stand out as a brand? How do you get 'seen' instead of fading into the background?Read More
As the year comes to a close, what are you doing to inspire your soul and reinvigorate your passion for why you started your business in the first place? Don't just 'get through' the holidays. Take this time to nurture your spirit, and redirect your energies to transforming your business. Here are 3 ways I am doing just that.Read More
You don't have to be a graphic designer to succeed in social media. Trust me, I am by no means a graphic designer. In fact, if a project comes across my desk that is graphically something that I don't feel I can tackle, I hire a professional graphic artist to handle it. Why? Because effective graphics and visual content can make a huge difference in your business. And please note: graphics that make you money, don't necessarily come across as SALESY! In fact, the best ones sell you on emotion, feelings, an...ooohhhh, I want that, without even saying BUY ME NOW! Facebook will actually penalize you for 'overly promotional posts', and you will not reach as many people. Let your fans do the 'show and tell' for you. Trust me, they are your best sales people. Give them great visuals to share and oohhh ahhh over, to educate them, make them laugh, or inspire them.
Here are a few tips on how they can help you MAKE MONEY when done correctly:
1. Size matters: Make sure your graphics are sized correctly for the platform you are using. Many people just slap photos/graphics up and don't take into account how they will appear on their platform. For example, a shared photo on Facebook can be max size of 1200 x 1200 pixels. That same photo on Twitter will appear strangely because Twitter photos in the 'feed' display at 1024 x 512 - cutting off quite a bit of the image. Yes, you can click on the image on Twitter to see the 'full size', but most people respond to what they see in the preview. Make sure it's clear.
I use this cheat sheet daily from Constant Contact: http://blogs.constantcontact.com/social-media-image-sizes/
TIP:The only size they are missing from this list is the event photo for Facebook. That is 784 x 295 pixels. If you post events, please size accordingly.
Another TIP: When you use a hyperlink on Facebook - it will generate a preview with an image. Make sure that image looks good and makes sense for your link post. Sometimes it doesn't. Click on the little arrow to scroll through your choices. You can always upload your own image, it should be 1200 X 627 pixels.
Not as clear:
2. Tell a story:Graphics, photos, infographics and videos tell a better story on social media than text ever could. Video is especially great for this - and native video (that means you actually OWN the video and can upload it to your Facebook page yourself - not from a YouTube account) get HIGH engagement rates and lots of love from the Facebook algorithm, too. You can now upload short videos on Twitter from iPhones as well. I'm hoping Android follows suit soon!
Here are some graphics that could have told a story as text, but make more of an impact - and more SHAREABILITY than plain ol' text could.
Tip: I used www.picmonkey.com and www.canva.com to create these - for free! I also have a subscription (under $5/month) to www.clippingmagic.com for easily converting images into transparent backgrounds.
3. Call to Action: Images ARE powerful, but in order to make sure you are making money from your visual content, a call to action should be included in the text portion of your post or the graphic itself. A link to contact you, email address, phone number, link to an event that they can RSVP for (join), link to purchase tickets, special code they should use, etc. So, don't leave your fans hanging - tell them what you want them to do. Contests are especially important on Facebook. How will people enter? Using Like and Comment to win is perfectly acceptable now on Facebook, and I like to use www.Woobox.com's free tool to easily pick a winner (or multiple winners).
I prefer to collect email addresses to win contests, however, if you don't have an email list - this is either a GREAT way to jump start one - or you can simply do the LIKE/COMMENT option on Facebook. I also pick winners on Twitter - RT to win - and let them know what to do!
4. Facebook Ads: There is no doubt about it, Facebook ads work...Ifyou put together all the principles listed above: correct sizing - maximize your space!, tell a story, use video to your advantage and create a compelling call to action. However, Facebook does only allow 20% of your image to be 'covered' in text, so make sure what text is on there, is important. AND try to tell the story with the image. Photos with people do very well. We are ...well human! Remember to brand your images with your logo - even if it is small in the corner. People will get used to a certain style or color and you will be branding yourself with every post - whether you pay to boost it or not. Facebook reach is down, so understand, you will have to pay to boost some posts - it is a very economical way to get a large reach.
What other tips do you have for using visual content to make money? I'd love to hear them!
Stay Social, Terri
I hate that I've been 'away' from blogging for so long! However, I've been spending an incredible amount of time helping race tracks and other business owners navigate Facebook changes and updates over the past year. Here are 3 quick things you should do TODAY to help with your reach - because let's face it, we are all feeling the effects of this mega media giant!
1. Timing might be everything...
In general, posts that are not boosted have a 3-5 hour shelf life. Once it’s posted, it’s basically not seen after 3 hours unless it’s viral. Take a look at your Insights page, and go to the 'Posts' tab. Scroll over the days of the week to see when your users are typically online. As you can see in this graph, these fans tend to be online around noon and 9pm (spikes during those times). Plus, we determined their fans are online on Thursdays more than any other day of the week. So, that says - they need to make sure their message is LOUD AND CLEAR on Thursdays (post 3 times!) - noon, 5pm ish and then again around 8-9pm to have the BEST chance of reaching their audience.
Are you paying attention to your peak times and still not seeing reach? Consider posting at very 'off' times. Why? Because there is less competition out there on Facebook in newsfeeds. Try a 10pm or 11pm post. Is your audience international? Be sensitive to shifts in time zones.
You have to be creative! You have to engage with your fans and not ‘always be selling’. There is an 80-20 rule. 80% of content is informational, fun, educational. 20% is selling. You should post at least once, 7 days a week and 2-3 times on the days when your audience is online the most. Determine what your ‘secret’ formula seems to be for a Facebook ad budget - does $200 really get you a lot of activity and $50 not much? Does $50 do it just fine? I know that’s not possible every week, but it is effective when paired with fun, interesting and ‘behind the scenes’ content. Add in a blog post, email newsletter, plain-old text updates, links, photos (stay tuned - graphics are my biggest passion on Facebook) and of course - native video.
Another tip I've seen, is posts from your mobile phone AT YOUR PLACE OF BUSINESS tend to get better reach. Maybe Facebook knows you're there and identifies that as more of an organic, and authentic post? I'm studying this carefully.
Here are some great articles I have come across recently that will help with more ideas and reach:
3. Power to the People
Facebook just introduced a new way for fans to prioritize your content. It's called 'See First'. Basically, either via your mobile phone or desktop, you can click and make the posts of friends or fan pages you choose to see first. For example, my daughters are at sleepaway camp this week. I am following the Facebook page like a hawk looking for pictures of my sweet teenagers. However, to make it easy, and not miss a post, I simply went and said I wanted to 'See First' this page. I'll do it for a few weeks, and then I can switch it off if I want to.
Simply ask your fans to do the same by creating a cool graphic showing them what to do. I chose to 'white out' some of the personal information that pops up as an admin of a Facebook page and did my editing on www.picmonkey.com (love this site).
Try these 3 tips this week, and see if it helps! I'm curious to hear.
Stay tuned for my next blog post about graphics!
Stay social, Terri
I am very fortunate to have an incredibly diverse clientele. It's what keeps me on my toes and keeps the creative juices flowing! One of my clients is Carolina Speedway, located in Gastonia, NC. It's a historic dirt track that operates every Friday night from March through October. There's nothing like the roar of the race cars as you approach the track. If you've never been to a dirt track (no, not NASCAR - this is the real roots of motorsports, exciting bumping and sliding on red clay of the Carolinas) you need to go. You're about as close to the action as humanly possible, without being in the driver's seat! Carolina Speedway had a new racing series coming to the track as well as a special guest from a popular reality tv show. They needed to fill the seats, and with Mother Nature giving them a run for their money this season, they needed to make up for some previous rainouts. We decided to put social media and email marketing to work for them. Here's what we did:
1. The speedway has a great email list - over 2,000 passionate race fans. We advertise the link to their email fan club on social media and front and center on their website. We email fans every Wednesday (no matter what), and fans get used to receiving this communication. We did do one additional 'last minute' message the Thursday evening prior to the race.
2. We posted various times on Facebook and Twitter a race 'flyer'/poster image.
3. Two weeks prior to the race, we did a quick 'boost post' of the flyer and paid $300 to reach 75,000 'fans and friends of fans.' Somehow, Facebook allowed this to go through - I was truly amazed, as I have had a REALLY hard time squeaking through Facebook's 'no more than 20% of an image covered in text rule.'
4. The quickie boost post got them 203 page likes, 60 comments, 193 shares and reached over 71,000 people. Not bad you say...however, we weren't convinced we reached all the 'right' fans, since we knew that the tv celebrity was popular all over the SouthEast, and we wanted to target those who would actually GO to the race.
5. The week of the race, we used Facebook's Power Editor and used the SAME post and targeted men and women ages 18-44 in Gastonia, NC and a 50 mile radius. We did not do a different post for a few reasons - 1. Facebook had previously approved the ad, so we knew we were in the clear and 2. it had TONS of engagement on it with really good looking numbers, so it would look more 'viral' to someone seeing it. Everyone likes to be the 'popular kid!' We spent $50/day for 3 days. With that targeting, we reached an additional 35,000 people, grabbed 215 shares and almost 200 more likes to the page. This was VERY targeted, and with half the budget, we did very well.
6. Finally, we decided to shake things up a little bit and offer the chance to win an autographed t-shirt. This was important as the track had just purchased some new camouflage t-shirts, and wanted to sell them during the race. On Thursday evening around 6:00pm, we posted the image to the right. Almost immediately, we were getting close to 50 shares A MINUTE. By Friday evening, just prior to the race, that post had reached 131,000 people and had been shared 2,149 times - for FREE! In fact, we had such a great response, that the track gave away 3 shirts.
So, you're probably wondering how it all turned out, right? Did the track have a big night? Was the celebrity worth it? Did the social media postings work? The short answer is YES - to all of them! They had their biggest race attendance of the season (and they've had some BIG races, with huge crowds), lots of new faces were there probably due to the celebrity, but a way to give the track lots of exposure to gain a new fan was brought to their doorstep, and yes, for $450 total in Facebook Ad spending and the cost of three t-shirts, it was WELL worth it. It should be noted that the track did do guerrilla marketing, a newspaper release and some radio. However, the only advertising medium with analytics, is social media.
The biggest take away from this is to remember to use the Facebook Power Editor (instead of just randomly hitting 'boost post'), and really figuring out who you are trying to reach. You'll ultimately spend less by really zeroing in on your target audience. And, use some creativity. Ask for the 'share', give something 'valuable' away, and give people the 'chance' to get something really special if you can. In the end we are all selling an 'experience.' Whether it's a dirt track, a beach vacation, a new piece of jewelry to wear on your special day or a great meal.
Well, first of all, Facebook does not hate your small business. It doesn't hate medium or large businesses either. Remember that Facebook was originally designed to be a way for people to connect with family and friends - not businesses. Fan pages and company pages on Facebook were a natural progression, and for many years, we enjoyed a really nice ride of free and 'magical' postings that could potentially reach thousands in seconds. Now, brands and small businesses need to be a little more aware, and a bit more proactive with their pages. Here are some things to keep in mind (and maybe make you feel a little better!):
1. Facebook is just like any other 'traditional media' form - really? Yes, think about how you 'ingested' brands and advertising prior to the age of social media. You saw a newspaper or magazine ad. Then, maybe you saw another ad on television or heard one on the radio. Finally, you're driving down the road and there's that burger on a billboard. You stop by, and you eat. Well, social media helps to shorten that 'ingestion' or 'digestion' period, but not by much. You still need to 'see, hear, feel, share, trust, believe or ask' about a product or service prior to purchasing it. All of those forms of advertising were paid. Now, Facebook's asking businesses to 'pay' for that exposure.
2. Pay to play - include social media in your advertising budget. Yes, it's time to actually put pen to paper and include paid social media posts (Facebook boost posts or Twitter ads) into your advertising budget. Comparatively, social media advertising is extremely affordable AND most of all, measurable. You can quantify results and explore click thrus and success rates to determine if the advertising worked, didn't work or you need to do more testing to figure out the best course of action for the next campaign. Television, radio and print are VERY difficult to analyze and determine an ROI. And, the amount of creative dollars involved in producing these 'traditional' forms of advertising are very cost prohibitive.
3. Be creative - think outside the box. The great news about Facebook reducing visibility of posts (it's not great, no one likes to know that no one sees their posts!) is that it's forcing businesses to get creative. Have you used YouTube, Pinterest or Instagram? If you are a visual based company, you should look into it. Google loves YouTube videos, and it could greatly help you gain some search engine optimization - organically (ie FREE). Instagram is hugely popular with the younger population, so if you want to reach that audience, find a teen to help you navigate it! Don't forget about your email lists - this is a GREAT time to beef that up and continue messaging your fans via email and text!
4. Don't just quit. I've heard lots of small business owners say, "Forget it, I'm just dropping my Facebook page, I won't pay to reach my fans, and I'm just mad!" I know it's frustrating, trust me, I do this for a living, and I've seen the best and the brightest in social media lose 30-50% of their audience overnight. They are not complaining, they are working harder than ever to engage and think creatively. When the big advertising 'bubble' burst 5-10 years ago, brands that said we have NO more advertising dollars, dropped all their campaigns and some went out of business. Those that continued to message customers, look into social media and engage in other digital, measurable advertising campaigns won big. Don't just quit. This medium changes by the minute. Stay the course, continue the conversation and spend a little more on your paid internet advertising.
If you truly shut down your Facebook or Twitter page today - completely - you just fell off the face of the earth, how would you talk to your customers? Are they REALLY going to your website? How would you keep the pulse of what your customers want? I'm pretty sure you'd miss them...and they would miss you!
Facebook will celebrate 10 years this year. Really! Google was launched in 1998, and they've done pretty well for themselves. Trends come and go, naysayers will still be negative, but savvy business owners will make sure they have a smart plan in place to take their business to the next level this year. Here are a few things to consider when either starting a social media plan, or amping up yours this year:
1. Look at your audience: Do you really know your audience and where they are? Is your company 'Facebook' material, or are they in a more niche place? Write down your target demographic and research where they are, what they respond to and ideas to reach them.
2. Look at me: Is your product or service visually based? If so, consider sites like Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube and Vine. Can you teach people how to use your product to better their lives? Does your product or service inspire others? Can you solve problems with your product or service?
3. Build a Lead Magnet: Do you have content that people would love to get their hands on? Do you have a special discount that you'd be happy to offer if only you could gather email addresses and basic data so you can continue to market to people? Integrate a product like LeadPages into your strategy this year.
4. Feel the Love - Reviews and Referrals: These are huge! Take the time to look at your Google+ page and ASK for referrals and reviews! Reward customers with a referral program that you can actually execute. Drive people to these pages with incentives like - review us for a chance to win a free day of X! Google likes reviews, so these will help with your SEO.
5. Just Go Blog Already: Yes, I know, blogging is tough - it takes time, energy, coordination, etc. 'Creating great content on a regular basis and driving traffic back to your site is going to remain the number #1 way to generate new leads' and this is through blogging. Brainstorm a list of topics, distribute them to team members and assign due dates. Everyone needs to be a part of it!
Don't forget to make sure your profiles are robust, clear and carefully thought out. Did your objectives change? How about keywords? Adjust them, don't let them get stale.
Here's to your social success in 2014! What else do you have planned?
Recently I had the opportunity to launch and post all of the social media for Humpy Wheeler's (of NASCAR fame) brand new company, Speedway Benefits. I was tasked with setting up all of their social media channels and platforms prior to the public media event on October 8th. None of the channels could go live or have any real 'action' until 2:01pm when the press event began. Here I am just before the launch with my laptop battery charged and ready to go.
As the room filled up with media, camera crews, dignitaries, etc. I'm chomping at the bit to post our carefully planned content, Facebook posts, Tweets, videos, etc. It was very exciting! At 2:01pm Ralph Sheheen (MC) took the stage and introduced Humpy Wheeler and the Speedway Benefits team. It's GO time! Everything went live, and I began to publish, post, Tweet, blog and click away. It was incredible. In 5 minutes, we had 25 followers on Twitter, and it just snowballed after that. It was so invigorating to see the numbers continue to just double and triple in real time. We utilized the hashtag #wegrowracing and continued to ReTweet and Share any other comments coming from those in the room. The response was phenomenal. The fans, tracks, media and most of all our team was very pleased and looking forward to a bright future for grassroots race tracks all over America and Canada.
What did I learn from this experience?
1. Make sure you plan your content in advance, so that when people do hit your page for the first time, it's populated. One comment I received from a friend was that when she saw the page, it looked like it had been there for years. In fact, it had only been about 2 hours! When people like your page or want to follow you - give them something to look at!
2. If you build it they will not 'necessarily' come. Yes, it sounded 'easy', but trust me, it took some back end work, press release distribution, PR, networking and many other factors to get people to get moving. We are still networking with those who have worked for years to get to the numbers we hope to achieve. Reach out, ask for a mention or a referral. People are happy to support you.
And finally, 3. Have fun with it, and MAKE it exciting. If you act like this is the biggest thing in the world, people will believe it is.
Speedway Benefits is something I truly believe will impact millions of Americans in a very short time. Congrats to Humpy Wheeler, his son, Trip, and the whole team at Speedway Benefits. I'm happy and proud to have tagged on for this 'short' track experience that I believe will be a very long, and prosperous ride. Mint Marketing Solutions is proud to consult the team in social media, blog, SEO and web development. I will be speaking on a Member's Only call to tracks about the Power of Social Media. I look forward to helping more people see the benefits of social media marketing, no matter what industry, size or area of the country.
Recently, I was asked to help photography the ISF 5K for Kids Cancer. The race is in its 6th year, created in honor of Isabella Santos to raise money for pediatric cancer research and local children’s charities. In the last 5 years the Isabella Santos Foundation 5K for Kids Cancer and 1 Mile Fun Run has raised over $325,000 for Neuroblastoma research and charities. This was my first year being a part of this amazing event, and I was able to learn so much about this courageous little girl and her family. My daughter ran in the 1 Mile Fun Run, and my husband ran in the 5K (and then back to run the 1 Mile with my daughter).
There was a fabulous Silent Auction, Raffles, extensive Kid Zone and countless vendors who obviously LOVED being there. On this beautiful September morning, I could only imagine Isabella smiling down on the thousands of people who attended wearing purple (her favorite color) in her honor and memory.
There is SO much to be done to help pediatric cancer research, especially Neuroblastoma:
Did you know?
- The first symptoms are often vague and may include fatigue and loss of appetite which is why it can be hard to diagnose.
- 70% of cases at diagnosis have already spread to other areas of the body which places the cancer in a Stage 4 category.
- The 5 year survival rate for Stage 4 Neuroblastoma is 30%.
- 60% of patients with Neuroblastoma will relapse. Once in relapse, the survival rate drops to less than 5%.
- There are no known cures for relapsed Neuroblastoma.
- Neuroblastoma has one of the lowest survival rates of all pediatric cancers and accounts for 15% of all pediatric cancer deaths.
When you have the opportunity to learn more about pediatric cancer and the lives it affects, you will be moved to help in any way you can. Next year, consider participating in the ISF 5K for Kids Cancer! Want to make a donation or learn more about Isabella? Click here.
Do you have a special event coming up and need a photographer? Contact us!
I was privileged to attend an Inbound Marketing seminar at the beautiful Hampton Inn and Suites - SouthPark run by Rachel Cogar of Puma Creative. The purpose of the seminar was to educate wedding professionals about what inbound marketing really is, and why it's important to all business owners. Rachel explained the definition of 'outbound' marketing - print, radio, television, direct mail and other sources of advertising that in essence are 'pushed' out to consumers. Many of these methods are not trackable, and in many cases very expensive ways to spend your marketing dollars. Without an ROI, it's tough to maintain this level of 'outbound' marketing for very long, especially in the small business realm.
Now, we are seeing a shift towards 'inbound' marketing. Inbound marketing is pulling your customers towards you like a magnet, but on their terms through your valuable, relevant and remarkable content! Through the use of social media, blogs, SEO, websites, whitepapers, premium content offers, email marketing and much more, consumers are making decisions and decreasing the sales cycle by doing their research, getting involved, sharing your content and becoming advocates and disciples of your product or service. That's not the beautiful part - the beautiful part is - it's all trackable through analytics and data research. Sigh. We've really reached nirvana as marketers!
So, all of this sounds great, right? You're ready to climb on the 'inbound' marketing train and ride it into the sunset. Hold on there, cowboy - it's not that simple. A plan needs to be put into place, a content calendar needs to be developed, and well, the content isn't going to magically appear. Inbound marketing is tough, but it's also creative with a low cost and low barrier to entry - ANYONE can do it. They just need to put in the work.
Do you have some awesome ideas you want to implement or do you need a nudge in the right direction? Have you tried outbound marketing? How about inbound? I'd love to hear your thoughts!
Stay Social, Terri
I am very excited to launch our brand new website! As a marketer and project manager for many websites over the past three years, it's finally my turn to have a crisp, easy to navigate website! I had an amazing time working with a new friend on this project, Erin Hargis. Erin does it all - she's a professional writer, a food artist, and a web designer. Now if her life doesn't sound like FUN, I don't know what does! Thank you, Erin, for your tireless work and creativity. Contrary to 'old' thinking, a website is not just your 'brochure' online. In fact, it's much more: your image, your reputation, your SEO (Search Engine Optimization), your client's first encounter with you or your product, your trust, your branding, your statement of how you operate. Sounds a bit daunting now, doesn't it? It doesn't have to be. With guidance, suggestions, good organization and a clear budget and goal in mind, this can be accomplished. When your website is complete, you will shout from the rooftops - as opposed to just mumbling your URL when people ask 'Do you have a website? I'd like to do some research first!'
I see websites every day that are not updated, lack clear navigation, have hard to find social media links and don't include a call to action. You are not doing yourself any favors by 'hiding' key information to help a consumer choose you. People are busy, and nobody likes to waste time and energy on a purchasing decision.
Have you considered a lead page (or squeeze page) instead of a website? How about social media as your 'main' window to the world? Some industries only need a fabulous blog to keep engagement, interaction and SEO going! There are lots of options outside of a fully integrated website. Sometimes, all that's needed is a simple facelift, some training and a good eye for copy writing.
If you've decided that 2013 - 2014 is the time to make your web presence a priority, give me a call. I'm happy to discuss the options you have for any budget or goal. In the mean time, check out some colorful and creative websites to get those creative juices flowing.
Stay social, Terri