One of my favorite movie lines is, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Ferris Bueller’s words have never been more applicable to the world of marketing than they are right now. The social landscape is changing quickly and in order to win, social marketers need to listen and engage where their audience is, rather than expecting audiences to come to them. The challenge is, there are more social channels than ever before.
In this blog, I’ll outline three ways to help you choose the right social networks for your business.
Get to Know Your Audience
I’m always surprised at how little time people take to really get to know their target audience. As you’re jumping into the tactical details of your social media plan, it’s critical that you take the time to understand who your ideal audience is and what they care about.
Here are some great questions to think about:
- Who is your ideal audience following on social media?
- What topics are they discussing/posting about?
- How old are they?
- What is their geographical location?
- What type of content are they regularly interacting with?
Taking the time to thoroughly research your audience helps ensure your social media marketing efforts are as effective as possible. Understanding what channels will most likely reach your audience, the best time to gain their attention, the tone that will most likely resonate, and the types of content they prefer will help put you one step ahead of your competition.
Go Where They Are
One mistake I see marketers make all too often is trying to incorporate too many channels into their strategies. This can be a very time consuming and expensive endeavor that yields less than ideal results. Focus your efforts on the channels that your target audience prefers. For B2B, it can be challenging to determine whether the latest and greatest platforms are worth the investment. A great way to get started is by looking at usage and demographics for each of the platforms. Let data inform your decisions, for example, the 2016 Social Media Update, Pew Research took an in depth look at where adults are spending their time online.
Maximize Your ROI
It can be easy to think you need to be everywhere in order to build a social community, but the truth is, valuable time and resources are lost when you aren’t thoughtful and strategic about when and where you’ll maintain a social presence. Think about the old adage, “If a tree falls in the woods and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” The same goes for your social media presence. If you’re posting to a channel that none of your target audience is utilizing, are you making progress? Here are some stats to consider as you vet social media channels for your organization/brand:
- 79% of internet users (68% of all U.S. adults) use Facebook. Pew Research Center
- Facebook remains the most-used social media site by Americans 12 and up. Edison Research
- Posts with images see 2.3X more engagement than those without images. Buzzsumo
- Facebook users are engaged users — 76% log on daily, including 55% who do so several times a day. Pew Research Center
- Facebook sends 82% of social media traffic to longer stories and 84% of social traffic to shorter news articles. Pew Research Center
- Facebook Messenger has 1.2 billion monthly active users worldwide, making it the second most used mobile chat app in the world. Statista
- Twitter has 313 million monthly active users. Twitter
- 24% of internet users (21% of all U.S. adults) use Twitter. Pew Research Center
- 42% of Twitter users log on daily, including 23% who do so several times a day. Pew Research Center
- There are 500 million Tweets per day or about 6,000 per second. InternetLiveStats
- Video is the fastest-growing media type on Twitter. Twitter
- Videos are six times more likely to be Retweeted than photos and three times more likely than GIFs. Twitter
- LinkedIn has 106 million monthly active users. LinkedIn
- 29% of internet users (25% of all U.S. adults) use LinkedIn LinkedIn
- 18% of LinkedIn users log on daily. Pew Research Center
- 92% of B2B marketers leverage LinkedIn over all other social platforms. Pew Research Center
- LinkedIn posts with images receive 200% more engagement than text-only posts. SocialPilot
- Snapchat has over 100 million daily active users. Snapchat
- 54% of Snapchat users log on daily. Adweek
- Snapchat users watch over 10 billion videos per day. Snapchat
- 400 million Snaps are sent daily. Adweek
- 8,796 photos are shared on Snapchat every second. Adweek
- Vertical videos are watched 9 times more than horizontal videos on Snapchat. Snapchat
- Instagram has 500 million monthly active users. Statista
- 51% of Instagram users log on daily, including 35% who do so several times a day. Pew Research Center
- 32% of internet users (28% of all U.S. adults) use Instagram. Pew Research Center
- 59% of adults ages 18-29 use Instagram. Pew Research Center
- Over 95 million photos and videos are shared on Instagram every day. Instagram
- Instagram drives the most engagement per post compared to any social network–84 times more than Twitter, 54 times more than Pinterest and 10 times more than Facebook. Sprout
- YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine and third most visited site after Google and Facebook. Pulse
- 300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. Statistic Brain
- There are 3.25 billion hours of video watched each month. Statistic Brain
- The average mobile viewing session lasts more than 40 minutes. YouTube
- The most viewed brand videos are on average 31–60 seconds long. Social Bakers
- Pinterest has 150 million users. Pinterest
- 31% of internet users (26% of all U.S. adults) use Pinterest. Pew Research Center
- 87% of Pinners have purchased something they’ve seen on Pinterest, while 93 percent plan to do so. Pinterest
- 36 percent of Pinterest users falling between the ages of 18 and 29. Pew Research Center
- Two-thirds of Pins currently on the channel highlight a brand or product.Pinterest
- WhatsApp has more than 1.3 billion monthly active users. Statista
- Almost two thirds of Whatsapp users are online more than once daily. GlobalWebIndex
- WhatsApp is most popular in markets outside the United States. Statista
- The WhatsApp audience is projected to grow to 25.6 million users by 2021. Statista
- WeChat has more than 938 million monthly active users. eMarketer
- 50% of users use WeChat for at least 90 minutes a day. WeChat
- On average, each WeChat users is connected with 194 friends. China Internet News
- The average WeChat user sends 74 messages per day. WeChat
- Only 14% of brands are currently sharing ads on the platform. China Channel
A recent study published by Statista outlined the top social networking sites worldwide. I was surprised that I didn’t see the three channels I generally think of—Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn—when developing my social strategy. It was a good reminder that if you’re developing a global strategy, it’s important to research and consider all the social channels global audiences are utilizing. Take a look at Statista’s data below:
Whatever channels you choose to develop and nurture, be sure you are focused where your target audience is. If you’re looking to engage people in C-suite in fin-tech, Snapchat may not be your best bet. However, if you’re looking to connect with a millennial interested in fashion trends, Snapchat and Instagram will probably be the best channels to showcase your brand, grow your audience and drive revenue. Businesses that strive to engage with their audience in meaningful ways, on the channels they prefer, will ultimately win.
Before Facebook, there was Friendster, while before YouTube there was ShareYourWorld. And do you remember when the iPhone was first introduced and MySpace was all the rage? That was a mere 10 years ago.
In the span of a decade, our modern culture and lifestyle have changed unimaginably. Computers and laptops have already been replaced by smartphones as the prime device to access the internet and everything seems to revolve around social media platforms. And while change is positive such uncertainty can lead to lower market investments.
Knowing that SMM is a crucial part of online presence, most business owners and marketers alike are often torn on the matter. Do you put all your money on a horse that might not race tomorrow?
Instagram’s ER is rising while Twitter’s user base growth has stalled, but just a year ago things were the other way around. Plus, who’s to say that in a year’s time we will still be using those exact platforms?
What if Google finally succeeds and makes the best next social media network or better yet, what if a super app replaces every platform we use with a clean and easy to understand userinterface?
Analysts worldwide are working on answering these questions regarding probability. We are also doing our best to keep you up to date with the latest developments on each social platform. But even with all the data, it’s just hard to predict what will happen next. This is especially in the fast-paced tech savvy world we live in.
All being said, how do you future-proof your social media marketing strategy? There isn’t an exact set of steps you can take to do so, but we think that we do have some great tips and tricks to share with you. Let’s discuss!
#1. Focus on Quality Content
First and foremost, it should be noted that machine learning is quickly changing the landscape of software services. Today AI algorithms help Google choose the top ranking websites and YouTube to show you recommended videos.
Facebook, on the other hand, has been using AI for face recognition for years now. While it’s hard to predict where AI will take us tomorrow and whether or not other social media platforms such as Instagram and Twitter will heavily rely on it, one thing is clear. AI in the future will have the power to understand the difference between bad content and good content.
Of course, this falls slightly on the speculation side of things, but it is nonetheless extremely plausible. Considering the fact that all social media platforms want to do is increase their user base and engagement to attract more people, the focus on quality should be a top priority.
While retweeting one hundred posts per day might boost the engagement rates of your posts a tiny bit, a sophisticated AI bot in the future can see your account as a spam-related bot-controlled profile that is not worth promoting.
It’s the same with Instagram. If the platform implements a similar solution to DeepMind’s image recognition technology, imagine the hit your brand will get if you are trying to promote cats, but only have photos of dogs. Or, a more natural example, if your brand is about fitness trackers, yet you only have photos of girls doing yoga.
All being said, it’s difficult to predict how AI will change the algorithms social media platforms use to promote their content. Nevertheless, to increase your chances of future proofing your SMM strategy, your best bet would be to focus on quality content that adds value to the industry you are trying to excel at or to your brand.
#2 Focus on People and Natural Engagement
Paid advertising can greatly boost your content in the short-term. But if you want to future-proof your strategy, you should focus primarily on increasing your reach naturally. Instead of looking at just the numbers, make sure that you build an audience.
You don’t want to have numbers on a page that say “followers,” only to realize that those people won’t follow you anywhere. Instead, build an engaged audience that is influenced by your decisions. That way you will ensure that even if a new platform pops up, you will have a new following ready to come and support you on that new platform.
Of course, focusing on natural engagement and an honest and active audience can also help you retain your position within a social network. This means that even if there is a major update in how the algorithm works on a given platform, as long as your core audience is engaged with your content you won’t have to be that worried about the new changes.
#3 – Backup Your Data
One of the most important steps to take towards future proofing your SMM strategies is to create a habit of constantly backing up your data. While most of the content you have will probably be related to current events, you never know when you might be able to recycle some of it. Especially if a new platform comes around, having content ready to go will give you a huge boost going forward.
But even if this doesn’t happen, having all the content you’ve posted on a network backed up is a must for every social media marketer and/or manager. Whether for future proofing purposes or for general safety and security reasons, knowing that you have a local backup of your content in case of failure can save you a lot of stress and trouble in the unfortunate event of your account being hacked, the platform you are using breaking down, or if a new platform appears.
When backing up, make sure to categorize everything in a neat manner. Especially if you are running multiple accounts and profiles, keeping things organized can save you a lot of time and effort.
Make sure to keep the original content files, but also keep an edited version. Don’t forget to save up the text and hashtags of your posts even if you are keeping track of your hashtag usage somewhere else.
#4 – Focus Only on Long-Term Growth Strategies
For a social media marketer, short term boosts are a great way to entice the client and further build upon your own ambition and motivation towards success. But going back to the first and second tips, unless you focus on quality content and building an audience, you might fall short if a major change occurs.
Take for example the major keyword density shift by Google from a few years back. To make a long story short, when creating websites, people realized that if you have an exact number of keywords within a website, it is more likely to show up in the first results of Google. This resulted in an avalanche of websites exploiting keyword stuffing and hidden keyword techniques to appear on the front page. But when Google took note of that, they quickly removed such pages from the search results and changed their algorithm. Even though related to website SEO and not social media marketing, it is nonetheless a great example of why exploits for short term boosts might harm your strategy in the long run.
Short-term exploits and content boosts might be something that everyone around you is doing. But if you wait just a short while longer, focus on the quality and your audience, you will see that a long-term strategy is always the better option. This is especially true if we are talking about future proofing your SMM strategy.
#5 – Keep Up to Date with Everything SMM Related
Last but not least, make sure to always keep up to date with the latest developments in the SMM industry. Social media and internet-based services as a whole change almost each and every day.
With that in mind, the best thing you can do to ensure the future success of your SMM strategies is to constantly be up to date with what’s happening today and what might happen tomorrow.
What’s more, keep track of your own personal data and the data you have of your competitors. Draw your own conclusion from the analysis and share your thoughts within the industry.
Everyone might be saying that a platform is going down, but if you are seeing a huge growth on your own account and your competitor profiles, it might be nothing of a shift rather than a demise of a platform.
Furthermore, knowing that the owners of the social media platforms themselves are aware of the numbers and want to see better engagement and a growth in their user base, consider what their future plans might be and be prepared.
For example, if news breaks out that Facebook’s engagement rate is way down, be aware that Facebook is probably going to make major changes in the way their algorithms work.
The rise of the internet, digital technologies and social media platforms have transformed the way consumers make purchasing decisions—and not just for B2C consumers, but for B2B as well. In fact, according to CEB, B2B buyers are 57% of the way through a purchasing decision before engaging with a sales rep.
But, as a savvy B2B marketer, you already knew all this. So, you’ve designed an integrated strategy featuring a hearty mix of marketing tactics to help build trust and awareness as prospects do their research. You’re turning out thoughtful, relevant content that informs, engages and inspires action. You’re working with industry influencers to add credibility and authority to your efforts. Heck, you’re even driving what you believe are solid marketing qualified leads (MQLs).
However, there’s a problem: The leads you’re generating in aren’t translating into sales. What’s a savvy marketer to do? You know this, too—it’s time to double-down on nurturing those MQLs.
Simply put, MQLs are warm prospects who are not ready to make a purchasing decision yet—and lead nurturing can help you turn up the heat. And most of you are probably doing some form of lead nurturing already. According to DemandGen Report’s 2016 Lead Nurturing Benchmark Study, 89% of marketers use lead nurturing programs as part of their demand generation strategy. In addition, the remaining 11% said they plan to start a lead nurturing program in the next 12 months.
But whether you’re seasoned at lead nurturing or just getting started, you’re likely facing some common struggles. DemandGen Report’s study also revealed that more than half of marketers ranked “developing targeted content by buyer stage/interest” as their greatest challenge. Other top challenges included adapting to modern B2B buyer expectations, changing and unpredictable buyer behavior, and processes and workflow.
In this post, we share tips and best practices for heating up your MQL nurturing efforts, so you can build trust and relationships with prospects, and hopefully hand them off as SQLs (sales qualified leads) when the time is right.
#1 – Determine what qualifies as a qualified lead.
Every company has a different perspective on what MQLs and SQLs actually look like—and some may not differentiate between them at all. In addition, every lead is different and not all leads are created equal. Depending on your product or service, and your marketing mix and program goals, you’ll want to work with your marketing and sales team to define each lead type.
Why is this so important? At a basic level, it makes sure that everyone is on the same page and enhances communication between the two departments. But perhaps more importantly, understanding the differences between the two helps you craft a more effective strategy—and ultimately—help you serve up higher-quality sales-ready leads.
#2 – Make sure you have a deep understanding of your target customer.
It’s no secret that audience and customer knowledge is the foundation of all marketing initiatives. If you want to create relevant content that nurtures them throughout their journey, you need to understand your audience’s pain points, what they care about, how they like to get information, and what influences their purchasing decisions.
If you don’t already have them, build out customer personas that define who your ideal customers are—and what they look like at each stage of the sales funnel. Ask yourself:
- What are the common characteristics of my best and worst customers?
- What are their content preferences, search phrases, social networks, and the types of products or services they buy or “like”?
- What does my ideal customer look like at the top, middle and bottom of the funnel?
#3 – Understand where your leads are in the sales funnel.
The modern customer journey is far from linear and requires multiple touch points throughout the sales funnel. When it comes to your bucket of MQLs, while they’ve signaled their interest through some type of conversion, that doesn’t mean they’re sales-ready. As a result, you need to make an effort to map your leads to a specific area of the sales funnel if you want to nurture them properly.
For example, for new leads—such as those that have just converted for the first time through a download or newsletter signup—they’re likely pretty new to your brand. As a result, the content you use to nurture may include tactical blog posts, curated third-party articles and long-form thought leadership pieces aimed at engagement.
Leverage your MQL and SQL definitions, customer personas and any analytics data you have to audit your existing list of MQLs. This gives you important insights into where you stand with prospects, and can help you plan you segment your list to create nurture more effectively.
When it comes to segmenting or categorizing your list, it may seem like a daunting task. If you’ve been building your list for many years, it will take a bit of work—but it’s worth it. In addition, begin incorporating and requiring segmentation information in your lead capture forms. This ensures that new audience members are categorized appropriately from the start.
Depending on your prospect base and how the information will be used you can include simple qualifiers such as:
- Company Name
- Area of Interest
#4 – Audit your existing content for repurposing opportunities.
Chances are that your team has a huge portfolio of existing content. As TopRank Marketing CEO Lee Odden often says: “Content isn’t King. It’s the Kingdom.” So why not get the most out of the kingdom you’ve built?
Take an inventory of your existing content, paying special attention to the unicorns—the content that is generating the awesome traffic, engagement and helping move people to the next step. Then look for ways to repurpose and personalize the content in ways that maps to your leads at every stage of the funnel.
#5 – If you’re new to lead nurturing, start small.
This one’s pretty simple. If you’re just beginning to dip your toe in the lead nurturing waters, don’t dive head-first just yet.
Get started by launching a single campaign such as a bi-monthly newsletter or monthly offer for all leads. By starting small, you can get something in front of your prospects right away and keep your brand top-of-mind.
#6 – Invest in marketing automation software when it makes sense.
Marketing automation software from vendors like Marketo and HubSpot can be an incredible lead nurturing tool. However, if your lead nurturing program is relatively young, don’t spring for marketing automation software right away. Marketing automation software is an investment that requires budget, and the appropriate resources to execute effectively.
When it’s time to scale your lead nurturing program, ask yourself the following questions to help you make the right decision:
- What is the organizational goal you hope to achieve with marketing automation?
- What is the health of your current database? (Hopefully, your recent audit can help you answer this one.)
- What content assets are available? (Again, your work up to this point should help you answer this.)
- Do you have the resources to dedicate to the planning, implementation and measurement of a marketing automation system?
- Are sales and marketing aligned?
- What does success look like?
Ready. Set. Nurture.
At the end of the day, your marketing efforts aim to drive leads that have a high chance of turning into paying customers. But without effective lead nurturing, valuable prospects will inevitably slip through the cracks or find your competitor.
Use these best practices to bolster your integrated marketing strategy, build relationships with your prospects, achieve marketing ROI and eventually deliver your sales team with better quality leads.
While social selling isn’t a new concept anymore, there are still plenty of companies that haven’t yet made social media a standard part of their sales toolbox.
According to LinkedIn, “Social selling is about leveraging your social network to find the right prospects, build trusted relationships, and achieve your sales goals.” Elsewhere, it’s been defined as the process of researching, connecting and interacting with prospects and customers on social media to make sales.
Social media is a tool not unlike email, marketing automation, CRM software and, of course, the almighty phone call. While it’s not uncommon now for sales professionals to look up new prospects and customers on LinkedIn, for many that’s where social selling ends. So why are so many sales people still wary of using Twitter or Facebook to do business?
The IBM Case Study
Over four years ago, IBM launched their first formal social sales program, which was limited to seven inside sales reps from their cloud computing division. The focus was on intelligent listening, which meant searching out the conversations that were popping up on social media about cloud computing.
Using LinkedIn and Twitter accounts, each program member was given social media training and supplied with both branded collateral and curated content that they could use to engage in those conversations. At the end of six months, the reps had increased their collective reach on LinkedIn significantly, going from 535 to 3,500 total followers. The program was eventually rolled out to all of IBM’s inside sales reps.
There have been several studies done since then to back up the idea that social media is playing a larger role in the buyer’s journey. A study reported in Forbes a few years ago found that 78% of salespeople who use social media to make sales perform better than their peers.
We also know that buyers are heading online to do their own purchase research. From the recently released PwC Total Retail 2016 survey, a majority of consumers said they prefer to research products online, even when they ultimately end up making the purchase in-store. Similarly, most B2B buyers (74%) say they do at least half their purchase research online before either making a purchase or even contacting sales.
Don’t Wait For Your Company to Catch Up
Even if your company doesn’t have a formal social selling program in place, there’s no reason why you can’t get started on your own. Success on social platforms is linked to how often you deliver new content, and how consistent you are in your efforts. Choose your social platforms based on where your customers are likely to be spending their time. Look at niche or industry-specific communities too.
Next, consider the quality of the content you want to share online. Who will find it useful? Is it something you would clickthrough or re-share if you spotted it in your newsfeed? It’s also important not to be overly promotional. Instead, offer a variety of valuable content, and include your own take and insights on any curated content you share.
Social media is all about the conversations, and how you run your social accounts should reflect that. Post content, share links, but more importantly, engage with other platform users. Comment on their posts, retweet their insights, get involved, and have a plan.
Your Social Selling Starter Plan
As with any new project, your chances of success rises substantially if you hammer out a plan beforehand. Here’s a framework to get you started.
- Revamp Your Profiles
You are 11 times more likely to have your LinkedIn profile viewed if you’ve included a photo. In fact, on every social platform where you maintain a presence, make sure you’ve included your photo and that it meets that platform’s specific size and resolution requirements. Keep your profile descriptions and bios up to date and review them quarterly.
- Build Credibility
Become a resource by sharing relevant articles and contributing insights to open conversations on Twitter chats, LinkedIn groups or forums like Reddit.
- Start Listening
Where do your clients go to find info about products like yours? Become a contributing member of those communities and listen to the conversations.
- Get Organized
Make your life easier with apps. There are apps out there for almost every task you can think of, so put some of them to work for you. Scheduling apps like Buffer or Hootsuite can allow you to set up your posts in advance, which can also help you determine the optimal times or days of the week for posting.
- Measure Everything
Track your social selling efforts. Depending on your which platform you’ve chosen, you will often have access to built-in analytics tools, like Twitter Insights. There are also lots of tools you can use that will include reporting features to help you track follower growth, click rates and engagement on your posts. Although it might take some time before you start to see results, start measuring right out of the gate so that you have a baseline established.
Content marketing is an important part of any business’s online strategy to engage consumers and convert new leads. When done right, it will not only help sales, but also educate your respective target audience and create awareness for your service or product. Establishing a successful content marketing strategy within your brand is not as simple as writing words on a webpage though. It involves correctly implementing intricate steps to bring your content to life. We have addressed a few areas to focus on when creating your business’s content marketing strategy.
1. Identifying your Goal
Defining your goal is an important first step in the content process. It lies the ground work to what kind of content you will be developing for your brand. To establish your goals some important questions to ask yourself are ‘what is your aim for creating a content marketing plan?’ and ‘what is your purpose of creating a content marketing plan?’ By answering these simple, yet helpful questions, you will have a clearer understanding of what specific type of content your target audience will resonate with.
2. Conduct Consumer Research
In order to develop a successful content plan you need to do research that involves defining your business’s target audience, also sometimes known as your ‘buyer persona.’ Having an in-depth look into your consumer will allow you to produce more relevant and valuable content that your reader will want to convert on. Google Analytics is one great tool that you should use to receive consumer insights for your brand’s product or service. You are able to extract key data from your website’s visitors such as geographical location, gender, and age. Through these statistics, you are able to paint a holistic view of your ideal customer and what type of content you should be pushing out to them.
3. Identifying the Right Content Strategy
Content marketing incorporates pushing out content to current and future consumers that they then can use to help solve a problem. Two major factors that will help you figure out how to create high-engagement content include:
- Creating content your consumers want
Many brands make the mistake of not marketing the right message that is relevant to their customers. Think about your target audience when planning out your content as this will ensure that you create something of value to readers.
- Develop content across multiple channels
When distributing content, take the time to analyze and figure out what platforms and channels your audience is consuming off of. Then try to diversify where and how you publish your content, as it will allow you to extend your reach to as many people as possible.
4. Run a Content Audit
Performing performance audits is an important step of content marketing as it will offer a chance for you to see if you’re resonating with your consumers. It serves as a report-card and will allow you to make changes to the business’s strategy if needed. Some indicators to look at when conducting a content audit include bounce rates, lead conversions, and website traffic. Start to create monthly reports to map out progress within your company and identify overarching trends.
Content marketing is an imperative part of any business, and you should treat it as so. Implementing these steps into your strategy will help build a solid foundation to attract consumers and grow your overall brand.