Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and the list goes on. Building a B2B social media campaign for your business can be a very time-consuming process.
And if you run a small business, you do not have time to manage all those social media platforms yourself. In fact, you’ve probably may only have time to manage one.
On average, it takes an SME nearly two hours a day to successfully run just one social networking site. So should you even try to do it yourself? Or should you outsource your social media? Given the investment of time that is needed to perfect your campaign it is often worth calling upon the experts.
So why should you be outsourcing? Let’s break it down.
Are your competitors bang on the social media trend? Are they forever uploading their company updates onto Facebook and tweeting about the latest industry news? Staying on top of the latest news as well as publishing it can be one hell of a task and that is why many businesses are now choosing to outsource their social media campaign.
Outsourcing means that you have the added advantage of knowing that a professional social media service has the potential to convey professionalism and thought leadership. A good social media service will take the time to research your market niche and explore the key developments within your industry so that relevant quality content is produced on your behalf.
Do you ever read your competitors' tweets and Facebook updates and think, “Why didn’t we do something like that? Why isn’t our content as engaging as theirs?”
Social networking is a form of advertising, and advertising takes a lot of time and consideration. You can share and tweet to increase your social presence, but your posts need to be engaging, witty and smart, so that they integrate business and consumer needs.
With any social media campaign, content is king. Although it may only seem like a quick 140-character tweet or a short Facebook update, it takes time to produce quality content. If you’re a small business or a start up, you don’t have the time to manage your social media activities, yet you want an active presence over all the major networks.
By outsourcing your social media, you’re making sure that your messages are going out, you’re gaining followers and answering questions. All without you needing to invest your time or knowledge into knowing how the networks operate.
How do you know you’re getting value for money when it comes to investing in social media marketing? This is the question that deters businesses from getting started, because obviously you want assurance that your spend won’t be wasted.
An effective social media service involves much more than just liking and tweeting — a good social media service will have the appropriate mechanisms to track the results of your social media activity, and it will be proactive about getting measurable results.
Although social media services come at a cost, your service provider will be keen to demonstrate the ROI, because they will want you to invest with them.
Consider this — if you’re going to do it properly in-house, then you’ll need to think about changing a current employee's job role so that they can invest their working day in social media. Then you will also need to consider who will take on their previous role. This could lead to an unnecessary recruitment drive within the business, which requires investment of both time and money, both of which could leave you with more overall outgoings than you had originally anticipated.
If outsourcing to a dedicated B2B social media service is the best option for your business, undergo full research into the potential company and their services to ensure you’re getting the right package for your business needs.
What do you think? Should small businesses do their own social media marketing? Let us know your views below.
It’s no longer enough to simply measure how many followers you have on Twitter. To actively measure ROI on social media, you should also look at your followers’ profiles and any available demographics to make sure that you’re reaching your target audience. After all, these are your potential net promoters. Thankfully, there are some useful tools to help you do just that.
TweepsMap is a free tool that provides you with a handy map of where your followers are located. It gives you a percentage breakdown in the form of a pie chart and list, as well as a visualised map and list breakdown that can be sorted into countries, states and even cities, for the price of only a tweet.
This enables you to check that the majority of your followers are where your services are located. This won’t be a problem for an online product, but if you are a location-specific service — such as a restaurant, legal practice or local tourism provider, you will need to re-evaluate your Twitter strategy and find out how you’re attracting followers from so far afield.
With what must be a very detailed set of algorithms, Schmap.it takes a stab at your followers’ genders, interests, profession and even work and marital statuses. Seeing as Twitter doesn’t ask its users to select gender publicly, it would be very interesting to find out what indicators they analyse in terms of language to come to this conclusion.This is a fairly comprehensive social analytics tool which you can apply to make sure you’re engaging with key social demographics in your market.
Another fantastic SEOmoz tool, Followerwonk has many applications for the social media user. It has recently launched Social Authority, which analyses your followers’ tweets and influence, creating easy pie charts to track how many of your followers are highly-followed users and how many are not; you can check the frequency and recency of tweets, along with the type — is it a URL, Retweet or @reply. It also generates some nice bio word clouds so you can find out what the key areas your users self-identify in. These tools are great if you need to find out how active your followers are — and therefore how likely they are to retweet your activity.
As with all social media activity, it’s easy to spend a lot of time trying to get it right, and it becomes difficult to measure ROI. But your followers’ engagement with your brand and with other users is a tangible way to measure your progress, so it is worth spending time to get to know them.
Vivienne Egan writes for Brandwatch, the social CRM provider.
Are you doing enough to attract people to your website?
Are you using the right keywords and phrases? Are you active on social media channels? Do you have a blog? Have you tried pay-per-click advertising? Are you sending out an email newsletter? If you answer yes to most of these, then you can pat yourself on the back. But why — when you look at the analytics — do you find that visitors are taking one look at your website and leaving again?
Your website is your online calling card — it is the hub of all of your marketing activity. It is the place that you are driving everyone to in the hopes of converting interested browsers into loyal buyers. But is it up to the job?
Here are eight ways that your website could be putting people off:
Do a “we” and “you” count on your website. Is your copy all about you? It’s time to change the focus — tell your audience what you can do for them. Show that you understand their needs and can solve their problems. And make sure this is crystal clear on your home page.
Many businesses use the About Us pages to write a potted history of the company. Stop living in the past and refocus your content on what you do in the here and now. Describe what you offer clearly, show how you can help and make it relevant to your audience today.
If you run an ecommerce website, work out how many stages someone has to go through to buy from you — and then try and reduce them. Do they have to register first? Is that really necessary? Make sure you offer automatic address look-up options — they speed things up and improve accuracy.
Slow-loading website pages are a massive turn-off. All the research shows that faster speeds lead to more business, it’s as simple as that.
If you’ve got a news or blog page, you must keep it up to date and fresh. If someone arrives on a page and the most recent post is several months old, it looks unprofessional and it could even suggest that you may have gone out of business.
The great thing about a website is that it can provide all the information that your customers needs in one place. So when they make contact, they’ve done their research and are often ready to buy. I was researching hotels online recently and one website was asking customers to email them if they wanted a copy of the latest menu! That is absolutely daft. It’s vital that your website provides the information your customers need so they get the reassurance that will prompt them to make the next move.
It’s tempting to brag about your achievements on your website. But instead of blowing your own trumpet too much, let your customers do the talking. Testimonials and case studies are a great way of demonstrating your credentials and proving that you are the right people to do business with. Without that third-party endorsement, you’re expecting new customers to take you on trust.
More and more of us are doing our searching online via our smart phones. If your site doesn’t look good on a mobile phone — and especially if it’s hard to use — you are alienating a growing number of potential customers.
As social media has become too big to ignore, most companies are dabbling with it in some way. There are also businesses that take social media extremely seriously.
Meanwhile, others are merely dipping their toe in the water. Of course, the million dollar question that every company wants to know is this — will social media be an effective communication channel for my business and will my investment in it pay off?
To be honest, I have become bored with the question. In fact, asking the question in itself shows a complete lack of understanding of the communication revolution that we are experiencing.
I have yet to work with any business that has not acknowledged that one of their most important lead sources is word of mouth; in other words, recommendations and referrals from existing customers, or those people who have been “touched” positively by your business in some way.
If word of mouth is not an important marketing channel for your company, then you can stop reading right now. However, if it is, then the truth is quite simple:
There is no point thinking of social platforms as one channel to market and word of mouth as a separate route to gain customers. They have become one and the same.
For example, I recently saw an extremely funny sketch about an electric toothbrush that the comedian Rhod Gilbert received for Christmas. I was crying, I found it so funny. In the past, I would have mentioned it to several friends, in conversation, until it was something about which I forgot. Instead, however, I found the sketch on YouTube, and posted it up to several friends who I thought would appreciate it as much as I did.
The point is, whether the platform be Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube or Twitter, these tools have become the way we regularly share stories, events and information. For many individuals there is no difference between telling a friend face-to-face or tweeting the same information. We do both things seamlessly depending on where we are and who we are with.
The single biggest inﬂuence on human behaviour is “social proof”. That is, our actions are greatly inﬂuenced by what others say and do — especially if these are friends and colleagues whom we respect and trust.
The simple truth is this. Social media is a vital channel for your business because this is increasingly where the conversations are taking place. The challenge is to become part of the conversation. In order to do this you have to ask, “what value can I give which people will want to share with others?” Whether your audience comprises mechanics, estate agents, footballers or lawyers, what value can you provide that they may share with some of their colleagues?
With old marketing, your reach was limited. If your company had a database of 5,000 people and you decided to send them a direct mail piece, your biggest hope was to reach 5,000 people. This is because people generally, when receiving a direct mail piece, don’t carry it about in their pocket, or handbag, with the intention of showing it to others.
However, with digital media, this is not the case. If we read an article, listen to a podcast or watch a video, we will often retweet it or send it on to friends to whom we think it will be appreciated. In other words, with digital, you are not limited to those people with whom you are in direct contact.
As a professional speaker, I have more professional speakers in my network than the average person. Therefore, if a business wants to engage with professional speakers, and I see a communication from them that I decide to share, they are likely to reach a disproportionate amount of professional speakers. Whether you want to reach lawyers or accountants, recruitment agents or doctors, the best access to these people is via those with similar proﬁles already in your network.
The point is this — I do not know a business that would declare they do not want word of mouth recommendations. That being the case, social media is impossible to ignore, because it is where word of mouth is now taking place.
Asking whether social media works is akin to asking whether referrals and recommendations work, a dumb question by most people's standards.
The reason, however, why so many businesses fail to make social media work is their complete failure to produce, or say, anything of value or interest to their prospects and customers. One of the keys to making social media work is to ensure people are sharing and talking about you. This requires companies to produce comments, materials, contests and information that are worth talking about. If a business succeeds in that, then they will get a “return on sharing”.
Does social media work? Please, don’t make me laugh.
Further reading on the Marking Donut:
Why does good writing on websites resonate? Often writing strikes a chord because the writer seems to encapsulate something you were already thinking. They capture an idea that was swirling around in your mind, and they skewer it perfectly. That’s it, you think! That’s what I meant to say! That’s what I need to do!
The intimacy that this kind of resonance creates is powerful. We trust people that understand us and share our view of the world. We want to get closer to them.
So how do these writers do it? What’s the secret for writing so it feels like a one-to-one conversation?
Sadly there is no magic formula, but there are some techniques you can learn which will give your writing more power, and make more people feel that you are genuinely talking to them.
Picture someone you know well — a client you’ve been working with, a colleague you know inside out — and tailor your writing precisely for them. This act of visualisation will set the right tone. You want writing that feels like a conversation, not a lecture.
Don’t tackle too broad a subject. It’s better to be deep than wide. You worry that fewer people will read it? Perhaps, but it means that the people who do choose to read it are already in the zone. Your niche headline will pull in the right readers, who in turn are more likely to share it with their circles of like-minded contacts. Try and be everything to everyone and you end up pleasing no one.
There’s nothing like a spot of confession to make people feel more inclined to warm to you. I’m not suggesting you fill your business blogs with your deepest darkest fears, but revealing something of yourself instantly makes your writing feel more intimate. If you want to see this done brilliantly, sign up to Chris Brogan’s newsletters. He’s the master of copy that feels like it’s written just for you.
Don’t be afraid to tackle difficult subjects. Some of the strongest writing touches us deeply because it taps into things we’re not even admitting to ourselves that we’re thinking. It’s a cliché to ask clients what keeps them awake at night, but writing that addresses those issues in a helpful way demonstrates that you understand, and will be welcomed.
If you know your clients well, you’ll know precisely what it is that they’re searching for, and you can provide the answers or guidance that will help. The right article, at the right time, creates that buzzy serendipitous feeling that gives your writing power.
Owning an email inbox can, at times, feel like a game of guard the castle, where you have to defend it from unsolicited – and sometimes solicited – emails you have no interest in reading.
According to research conducted by Smarter Tools, an average email account receives about 65 emails a day. Common sense tells us that we can safely assume that a lot of those emails are moved to the trash can without getting so much as even a glance.
So how do you ensure that your emails are not the ones that are being thrown away unread? Or to put it in other words: how do you make sure your emails get the open rate they deserve? By being relevant, that’s how.
The first thing you need in order to send relevant emails is a database where you store information about your clients, prospects or recipients. What products are they interested in? Which kind of emails have worked best for them in the past?
Assuming you only recruit opt-ins that have interest in the product you’re selling, or at least have some affinity with the industry you operate in, this shouldn’t be too hard.
Using the information in your database, you can start sending your recipients relevant information. Centuries ago the Romans built an empire by adopting the “divide and conquer” strategy, and now it’s your turn to conquer your customers’ attention using the same technique.
By segmenting your database you are able to approach recipients personally, providing them with relevant content. And one of the best ways to do so is by sending event-driven emails.
An event-driven email, as the name suggests, is an email that is sent after an event takes place. For instance, when you email someone a user manual for the product they purchased in your webshop yesterday. Because of their relevancy, event-driven emails not only help you increase your open rate, they also give your conversion rates a boost.
Take the abandoned shopping cart email for example, reminding your customers of a purchase they didn’t finish. Research suggests that up 75% of online shoppers abandon their shopping cart during the purchase process. However, up to 20% of these shoppers can be won back if you use abandoned shopping carts.
The last thing your recipients want is for you to contribute to the endless stream of useless emails they are swamped with every day.
Don’t send your customers an email with an iPhone5 offer a week after they already bought a new mobile phone in your webshop. Not only will it annoy them, it’s also a waste of your time and effort.
Your energy can be spent better on creating relevant emails your recipients are interested in.
Michael Linthorst is an internet entrepreneur and CEO of Copernica Marketing Software.