Social & Digital Marketing for Small Business
From social media to online business directories, most businesses have a huge presence online. Social and digital advertising can be simple and profitable for all levels of business, but without a team of highly-skilled marketers, small businesses may not know all the tips and tricks that corporations do.Tweet This When it comes to generating revenue online through social and digital channels, here are some very important things you need to know:
Basics of Facebook Advertising
Facebook advertising is perhaps one of the best tools that small business owners have to get the word out on a digital channel where many people ACTUALLY are all the time. Facebook advertising can be so “simple” to do in some ways, but it can be easy to blow your budget and get nowhere. That’s why you need to be smart about what you’re doing and educate yourself before you jump into Facebook ads. We’ve compiled a few of the basics you need to know before you spend any money.
Where You Can Advertise On Facebook:
1. Right Hand Ads – These are small ads that run along the right side of the home screen of Facebook. Any business can run these ads, even if you don’t have a Facebook Business Page.
2. Sponsored Posts/Page (Desktop) – Ads that show up as “sponsored” content in your timeline when viewing on a desktop.
3. Sponsored Posts/Page (Mobile) – Timeline sponsored posts that show up on your mobile viewing of Facebook.
4. Instagram Ads – Facebook owns Instagram and allows you to send sponsored posts through Instagram as well. They even let you do that if you don’t have an Instagram account! You have to use the Facebook Business Manager in order to send ads to that, though.
A Few Tips As You Think About Advertising On Facebook:
Beware of the “Boost”
We alluded at the beginning of this article that it is easy to blow a lot of money. Specifically, “boosting a post” can be very tempting, but might not show much Return on Investment (ROI). Facebook will alert you when your page’s post does exponentially better than your average post and ask you if you want to “boost” it. You’ll also note that you can simply click the blue button at the bottom right of any post on your business page to boost a post. Boosting is simply paying to get your post out to more of your current audience, or other audiences. It’s easy to access, and in very simply language. However, you could spend hundreds of dollars to boost a post that doesn’t really do much for you. Think about any advertising you do and consider if that post you want to boost tells your audience something core to who you are, provides a call to action, and provides the essential tools (links, phone numbers, etc.) for people to actually do what you’re asking them to do. If your post is simply a fun, organic post that is doing well, but lacks any of these essential items, it’s not worth boosting.
Consider Business Manager
Facebook has set up an highly sophisticated portal called Facebook Business Manager, which allows you to execute complex advertising strategies involving audience behavior tracking, multiple ads monitoring, Instagram ads, and more. The system definitely looks different than the normal Facebook account user interface (UI), but it has more tools than you will know what to do with.
Segment Your Audience
Facebook makes it easy to target audiences based on gender, age, location, and interests. For example, if you like The Honest Company, then a natural grocery chain might have its ads served up to you based on the sole fact that you hit “Like” and follow The Honest Company. They know you’re already interested in holistic, natural solutions, and therefore, are qualified already to be interested in their holistic, natural food options too. Segment your audience with ANY advertising you do, including social media advertising.
Watch Your Timeline
If you are monitoring your ads on your own, make sure you watch how long you let your ads run. If you set a daily budget, and never turn it off, you will spend money ongoing and may realize too late that you’ve blown your budget.
Facebook ads can be one of the cheapest entry points for online advertising and are great to reach audiences who are actively connected to this social network. But be sure, as with any advertising you are pursuing, you have a focused approach with your Facebook advertising.
Facebook Live to Help Boost B2B Profit
Like every other trend in digital marketing, video marketing is constantly shifting and evolving. If you’re just hopping on the video bandwagon, don’t worry – you’re not too late to take advantage of all this growing medium has to offer. In fact, it’s never been easier to use video marketing – and live stream video in particular – to drive B2B business and sales.
Pre-Recorded Video is the Past
If you’ve ever had a marketing agency or SEO firm encourage you to create and publish more video on your website or YouTube channel, there’s a good reason – video content drives organic search results.
When you publish content that includes video, you’re much more likely to get found earlier in search engine results for certain terms. And when your website appears at the top of the search results for terms relating to your business on Google or YouTube, it’s that much easier for prospective customers to find your business.
But times are changing. Staying relevant online isn’t just about creating great video content anymore – it’s about broadcasting and streaming live video. That may sound a) kind of scary, and b) potentially irrelevant for B2B businesses. The truth is that live video is actually much easier to create, promote, and publish than pre-recorded video.
Even better, it’s proving to be a powerful tool for B2C and B2B businesses alike.
What is Facebook Live, Anyway?
Facebook Live launched early 2016 and has been steadily gaining steam. This new Facebook feature allows you to instantly broadcast a live video right from your smartphone. There’s no editing, no uploading, and no fancy footwork required.
- Publish a new status update on Facebook
- Select “Live Video”
- Fill out a short description of what viewers can expect to see
- Select the audience you want to share the video with
- Start streaming!
Now that you know how user-friendly Facebook Live is, let’s take a look at how to use this feature to boost B2B sales.
Facebook Live for B2B Businesses
Just like a business-to-customer relationship, a business-to-business relationship is all about people. The key is to be engaging, connecting with, and convincing the right people to partner with you or to purchase your products for the mutual benefit of both companies.
And what better way to engage, connect, and convince than by inviting prospective clients into your office or worksite via live video?
Facebook Live allows you to:
- Make a deep, authentic connection with prospects – even if you’ve never met them in person before
- Educate prospects about your business
- Demo products
- Build authority as you demonstrate your industry expertise
But the hands-down best part of Facebook Live is the ability to engage prospects and business associates in real time.
While you’re live streaming, you can verbally and visually respond to the comments people post beneath your video feed. You can call people by name, give them the answers they seek, and invite them to take action on a special offer or meeting invitation.
Facebook Live for B2B: 7 Best Practices
1. Make sure your audience cares
First and foremost, make sure your video is laser-focused on the audience. You may want to educate them about an exciting new product or service your company is offering, but don’t forget to put yourself in their shoes – no one likes feeling sold to.
- How will this content benefit the viewer?
- What problems am I solving?
- Do I have social proof this topic will be popular with my audience?
Even if you don’t have the budget to send out surveys or do formal market research, you can still take stock of Facebook comments, blog comments, and other social clues that reveal what your audience most wants from you.
2. Promote your broadcast ahead of time
Just like promoting a webinar with email marketing, social campaigns, and paid advertising, you can promote an upcoming Facebook Live video before it airs. The more promotion and preparation ahead of time, the higher your viewership will be – both in terms of quantity and quality of viewers.
Interviewing industry experts is an excellent way to provide valuable content while promoting your video before it airs – the more experts you showcase, the bigger your reach and potential audience during the broadcast. By leveraging the audiences of each of your guests before your Facebook Live stream begins, you can triple or quadruple the number of people who tune in to your video.
3. Take care of the technical stuff
In addition to preparing your topic and promoting your broadcast, you also have to prepare the technical stuff.
- Make sure you have a strong Wifi connection
- Place your smartphone on a tripod to avoid that shaky ‘hand-held’ effect
- Make sure you have good lighting and good sound – that means it’s easy and pleasant to see and hear everyone who needs to be seen and heard
4. Optimize Your Facebook Description
Some people in your audience may have Facebook videos set to autoplay, where any video in their newsfeed plays automatically. Others may have this setting turned off, and only press play if a video description or thumbnail catches their eye.
That’s why it’s crucial to create a great video description using keywords, hashtags, and compelling benefits to encourage the viewer to click play. Keep your description between 40 and 80 characters – that’s the length that’s been statistically shown to have the highest number of conversions and shares on Facebook. 40 characters is not a lot to work with, so remember – keep it brief and benefit-rich.
5. Engage Viewers
The beauty of Facebook Live is that throughout the broadcast, you’ll be able to directly interact with your audience. When they comment on your video, you’ll be able to view the comments and respond verbally right on camera. Being able to call viewers by name and answer their questions in real time is a fantastic way to build instant trust and rapport.
6. Be prepared but not too polished
The feeling of spontaneity is crucial for success on Facebook Live. The whole point of watching a live video stream is to see things happening in real time. If your live stream feels more like a calculated presentation, your audience may view your company and brand as inauthentic.
7. Repurpose your content
One of the best things about Facebook Live is the fact that the video stays on your newsfeed and prospective customers can watch it any time – even if they missed the original broadcast.
While the excitement of watching a live broadcast isn’t as acute after the fact, you can still generate buzz by promoting and showcasing your live video recording to those who missed it. Your B2B customers and prospects still get valuable content, and you can use the recording to start promoting your next Facebook Live video.
Facebook Live is a powerful, engaging, cost-effective way for B2B businesses to attract leads, demo products, build trust and engage prospective buyers.
Live video generates buzz and excitement in a way other types of content simply can’t. By tapping into the innate power of Facebook Live, you can create powerful publicity for your brand, connect with interested buyers, position yourself as an innovator in your industry, and generate revenue faster than ever before.
Is Snapchat Right for Your Small Business?
As a small (or medium-sized) business owner, you’ve probably got your hands filled with staffing, cash allotment, growth targets and revenues. But now your interns and young workers may be suggesting you start using Snapchat to market your business.
Snapchat is the fastest growing social media network, with 150 million daily active users on the platform. That’s more than Twitter, which counts some 136 million users. More importantly for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), Snapchat is topping the likes of Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest as the 2nd leading social media network of choice, behind Facebook. While most of the coverage on Snapchat advertisers has centered on big brands like Starbucks, Procter & Gamble, Taco Bell, movie studios and others, some small businesses are really making Snapchat work in their favor.
- Eyeglass retailer Warby Parker is offering its followers on Snapchat an exclusive URL for users that lets them order a special pair of sunglasses.
- DayDream Cinema, a multimedia marketing agency, uses Snapchat to go behind the scenes at its brand shoots.
- Coffee shops, local retailers and others attract followers on Snapchat by posting interesting photos, showcasing people, products and work events.
What Makes Snapchat Appealing
What makes Snapchat appealing to small businesses is that it’s quite simple to get started. Download the Snapchat app (Android phone or iOS phone), set up your business profile, and then start adding content to your channel. Post interesting, fun pictures or videos showing your people, your customers, your products and environment and start trying to attract followers. You might run a contest through your Snapchat account, offering followers something in exchange for their engagement with your brand on Snapchat.
On top of pictures or videos, your business can add Snapchat geofilters for your principal location for local search interest (Take your picture, then swipe right a few times and you’ll get the idea). You might also want to share local community-specific events and happenings where your small business is based.
Snapchat also offers paid advertising options for the innovative SMB marketer. Small organizations can promote upcoming events or product launches by building a sponsored Snapchat Geofilter, creating a Snap Ad, or trying out a sponsored Lens which allows your followers to interact with your brand.
By tapping into Snapchat’s local geo-filters on its app, business owners can bring a customized filter to its followers. It’s definitely a great way for smaller brands to get involved with Snapchat and test the waters on an affordable budget. (Click here to learn more.)
Need more convincing? Check these Snapchat tips and tricks.
Three Ways to Look at Your Digital ROI
How do you really KNOW that something is working? Everyone wants to see a good return on investment, and the only way you can know if something is a good investment is by measuring it.
Here are three ways you can look at your digital ROI:
You’ll also want to look at the performance of any email campaigns you do. MailChimp provides great options for small businesses starting out, and you can track how many people opted-in for your newsletter, how many people opened and clicked in your newsletters, and how many people unsubscribed. These are all easy numbers to track to see how well you are building and interacting with your audience.
There are so many metrics that a small business owner can track. It can start to make your head spin. However, if you focus on a few simple metrics, you’ll be able to see if you are trending in a positive or negative direction. Once you see these basic stats, you can make smart decisions on how to improve and grow your online presence.
Actions To Take Today
- Set up a basic spreadsheet where you can track all of these numbers in one place.
- Set up Google Analytics; even if you don’t look at it for months, once it is set up on your website, it will track the information. You can retrieve it later if you forget to look at the results right away.
- Look through your recent social media posts to see what got the most impressions and greatest reach. List out these popular “topics” to help guide you to create engaging social media posts in the future.
7 Costly Mistakes to Avoid When Buying Online Ads
It can be easy and cost-effective to target your audience using Search Engine Marketing across a variety of online channels. The trick is knowing which of those channels will give you the biggest ROI, and which types of online ads will inspire your audience to take action.
While many small business owners use Search Engine Marketing to connect with their target markets online, most focus solely on Google AdWords campaigns. However, there are many online advertising opportunities that can be just as effective as AdWords, if not more so.
When you move beyond the traditional definition of a search engine, you can open yourself up to advertising on more strategic search channels – channels like Facebook and LinkedIn, where it’s possible to develop deeper connections with your target audience while creating ads that pinpoint their unique wants and needs.
Although Search Engine Marketing has become more strategic and more effective than ever thanks to social media, many small business owners still waste precious time and resources advertising in the wrong places, to the wrong audiences, with the wrong messages.
Here are the 7 most common Search Engine Marketing mistakes small businesses make, and how to avoid them:
1. Choosing the wrong platform
When you buy online ads, you are essentially ‘paying to play’ in the online space; in other words, you’re spending money to attract your target market online and get them to click on your ad. Choosing the right platform is crucial to Search Engine Marketing success. If you don’t advertise where your target market hangs out online, you’ll waste money marketing to those with no interest in buying your services.
Why do so many small business owners create a Google AdWords campaign and stop at this point? While advertising on Google search can be an effective strategy, it can also be wildly expensive and ineffective for certain types of businesses.
People use Google search to find information and answers to problems they’re having. If your business has a “how-to” blog where you focus on solving hyper-specific problems, such as how to troubleshoot smartphone issues or how to bake the perfect soufflé, buying AdWords could be an effective Search Engine Marketing strategy. If, however, your business is built on relationships, or creating tribes, or providing consulting services that require a lengthy courting process (as opposed to a ‘quick fix’), AdWords might leave you lost in the giant sea of Google.
When thinking of search engines, remember that Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube are all search engines. Because of that, your Search Engine Marketing can focus on any of these platforms, all of which offer paid advertising opportunities and the ability to target smaller, more specific target markets.
2. Writing the wrong ad copy
When purchasing online ads, you have very limited space to craft the perfect marketing message – one that will get the user to click on your ad. Because of this limited space, it’s important to create a powerful, benefit-rich headline and text that includes a specific Call to Action (CTA).
Let’s say your company sells accounting software, and you want to run an ad on Google. Every part of the ad – from the headline you choose to the URLs you include – has two jobs:
- Intrigue the user and distract them from what they were already doing online
- Get the user to click on your ad
The only way to achieve these goals is with copy that gets attention and clearly states the benefits of your product.
Instead of focusing on features of your product or service (“offers payroll and payments”), use your limited space to focus on benefits (“free trial,” “custom solutions,” “quick to deploy,” “money back guarantee,” etc.).
Next, use the rest of the ad space to tell the user what to do next. Move beyond “click here” to more specific, benefit-rich CTAs like:
- Get the app
- Take a free tour
- Try it free for 30 days
Remember that with Search Engine Marketing, every word counts. Choose your keywords carefully by asking yourself “What is my target market searching for?”
Whether creating an AdWords campaign for Google or advertising on a different search engine, it’s helpful to use the Google Keyword Planner to find affordable-but-competitive keywords for your ad.
3. Using a bad design
The design of your ad matters, not just in terms of getting people’s attention, but in getting them to actually click on the ad. With AdWords, you don’t have much say in how your ad looks. But if you’re advertising on Facebook, Pinterest, or another website, the visual aspects of your design become very important.
The design of your ad should be appropriate for the platform.
- If you’re placing a banner ad on a professional-looking financial website, don’t use a flashy design with crazy colors and frenetic animation.
- If you’re targeting Millennials on Reddit, on the other hand, a fun, eye-catching GIF or wild image could be just the way to get the click.
4. Clicking through to the wrong landing page
With all the time and money you’ve spent getting the click, you’d think the story of your ad would end there. The user clicks your ad, you kick back with a latte, and the profits start rolling in. Right? Wrong.
Getting the click is just the beginning. What happens once the user clicks your ad is the most important part of the process. Make sure you’re sending them to…
- A landing page, website, blog post, or opt-in form that delivers on the promise made in your ad. Don’t hype up the amazing benefits of your accounting software and then send them to a generic homepage about your accounting firm.
- A page that offers something of value, followed by an opportunity to interact with your brand. This might mean a sales page where they can make a purchase, but it could also mean a lead capture form where they can sign up for your email list.
- A page with a clear CTA. Just as your ad tells the user what to do next (“click for a free trial”), the page you send them to should tell them which action to take (“download your free trial here”).
5. Failing to test
Search Engine Marketing can only be successful when you test, test, and test again.
What does that mean? Constantly tweaking:
- The copy you use
- The images you choose
- The platforms you advertise on
- Your daily per-click budget
If you create an AdWords campaign and find that it’s not working, don’t throw in the towel just yet. Try changing one aspect of the ad – say, the headline – and see if that improves your click-through rates.
You can also run simultaneous ads with slightly different elements to see which ones are more effective.
- Try creating two different campaigns with exactly the same copy, but different pictures.
- Test what works best, and use what you learn to improve all of your current and future campaigns.
6. Not tracking ROI
Search Engine Marketing can feel really expensive, especially if you fail to track your Return on Investment. If you’re spending $1 every time someone clicks your ad, what is your ROI for that?
Things can get a little hazy here, especially if you have a sales funnel with multiple steps. If a user clicks on your ad, then completes a series of additional steps, and ends up purchasing from you six months later, how can you tell whether that ad was worth it or not?
- First, set specific goals for every ad campaign you create. Only when you define clear outcomes can you measure the success of those outcomes.
- Second, make sure you’re tracking the right metrics when running an ad campaign. This might mean creating tracking URLs in AdWords, measuring email opt-in’s after someone clicks a Facebook ad, or modifying your AdWords account to better reflect your specific advertising goals.
- Third, use all of the tools at your disposal – from Google Analytics to social media metrics – to determine a specific dollar amount that indicates the ROI of each ad you place. You should be able to say “if we spend $1 per click on this ad, our ROI is $1.25, or a twenty-five percent profit.”
7. Not scaling ROI
Once you’ve successfully determined your ROI, don’t stop there. Many small businesses make the mistake of getting stuck into an advertising cycle and ‘failing to scale.’ If you’ve created an ad with the right copy, the right design, and are advertising on the right platform, you should see a positive ROI. Once that’s in place, it’s time to scale your ad in order to increase profitability for your overall campaign.
Let’s say you’re spending $100 per month on an AdWords campaign, and that’s generating $125 in revenue. If you scale your campaign by spending $200 per month on advertising, will your revenue increase to $250?
The only way to find out is to test.
If you increase the amount of your ad spend and find that your profits hold steady, try continually increasing in increments ($500/month, $750 month) to see if the campaign scales. If it does, you’ve discovered a ‘secret sauce’ that works with your target market – keep scaling up to keep increasing your profits.
8 Forms of Social Proof that Increase Revenue
Social proof, also known as social influence, is a psychological phenomenon in which people mimic the actions and ideas of others in an attempt to exhibit the “correct” behavior. Essentially, we take cues from others to make our decisions easier. In any given social situation, only about fifty percent of people actually make individual decisions. The other half follows their cues without thinking about it. In some ways, we are all subject to social proof every day and don’t even realize it.
By displaying your social proof to potential customers, you can create a sales machine that sells for you 24/7, creating customers who seek you out, rather than vice versa.
Below are eight forms of social proof that can help establish enough social influence to evoke the behavior you want from customers, leading to increased sales and more business.
The rule of thumb is the more product reviews you display, the more sales you are likely to get. The largest ecommerce site in the world built its empire on the backs of user reviews.
Social proof doesn’t truly exist unless you share it—particularly to potential customers. Your business website or office is not the place to be modest. Don’t make your customers do the research on their own; let them know what you’ve accomplished.
How to Get Listed in the Right Online Business Directories
Social media is one way to help show customers that your business is present and trustworthy, but some customers may not be on social media, and could be using online business directories instead. If your business is a local business, it’s highly likely that your customers are already using online business directories to find you. How likely?
According to hyperlocal business monitor Street Fight, over 92% of internet users utilize online directories to find local products and services in their area. Customers crave the hyperlocal details and location-specific knowledge that larger search engines can’t always provide.
The problem with online business directories is that over 50% of these local listings contain business information that is either outdated, missing, or just plain wrong. Many directories aggregate information without your knowledge or permission, capturing what they can find from other websites. Before long, this game of digital ‘telephone’ results in completely incorrect listing information for your business – sometimes all over the internet! And that can be a huge problem when customers are trying to reach you.
It’s clear that you should keep your online business directory listings up-to-date. If you don’t, you could be missing out on new business. Prospects who become frustrated by calling the wrong phone number will quickly move on to the next competitor on their list. But with hundreds, possibly thousands of online business directories to monitor, how can a busy small business owner find the time to submit to all of them? How can you find out where your business is listed? More importantly, how can you find out where your business information is listed incorrectly?
Here are three fast, powerful ways to help achieve flawless local listing management and make sure your business is listed correctly on the right online business directories:
1. Know where your customers are searching
Knowing how your customers find you is a crucial first step in the listing management process. Begin by conducting some keyword research using Google’s Keyword Planner, or by entering some keyword sets into Google’s search engine.
Let’s say your business is a local florist. When you search “your city + florist” a bunch of local listings should come up, but in most cases you will also see several local business directories on the search results page. Take a look at the top 3 to 5 directories and search for your business. You can also try searching for local competitors.
These top-ranking directories in your community are likely to be searched by your customers. While it’s possible to update your business information on more than just a handful of sites, begin with those directories that are most likely to be seen by your target market. You can update this information manually by claiming your business listing, contacting the directory manager, or editing the listing yourself once you’ve established it as yours.
2. Conduct a citation audit
Now that you have the top business directories in your local market updated with your correct business information, it’s time to see how accurate your business listings are elsewhere online.
Listing consistency can be crucial to your business being discovered. That means your NAP+W (name, address, phone number, and website) are the same across business listings and directories. Inconsistent listings with different addresses, missing suite numbers, or incorrect phone numbers won’t just confuse your customers – they can confuse search engines as well. This can make it infinitely harder for customers to find you and give you their business.
To find out if your business listings are consistent, use a search tool like the one available on Moz.com. In just a few seconds you’ll be able to see if your business is listed in multiple categories or with different NAP+Ws.
From there, you can find out where the different information is coming from. For instance, there might be one listing on Google My Business and another one on Facebook Places. Using this tool, you can check for duplicate listings and determine the source of your problem. Once you know where the wrong information is coming from and how widespread the problem is, you can make an educated decision about how to fix it.
3. Choose the right tools with the biggest reach and impact
By this point, your business information should be accurately listed on the very top-searched business directories in your local area, and you’ve discovered discrepancies by conducting a citation audit.
The third and final step is to choose a tool to help you create accurate NAP+W listings across major online business directories and beyond.
Choose a tool that will help you get listed and stay updated on sites that your customers use. There’s no point in focusing on hyperlocal search engines like Yelp if you’re targeting customers all over the U.S., just as there’s no point in focusing on big search engines if your customers only find you through local search engines.
There are a few tools on the market and Dun & Bradstreet has several products that can help distribute your information:
- Credibility Review can help you create a business listing that will be distributed to over 125 local search platforms, directories, navigations devices, and mobile applications. There are 3 tiers that include different features:
o Silver – featured in search results, 750 word description, and 15 keywords for enhanced search
o Gold – featured in Silver search results, VERIFIED™ Plus, Hoover’s Direct Submit Data Distribution, 1500 word description, 40 keyword for enhanced search, and hide competitors & stats on your profile
o Platinum – featured at the top of all search results, VERIFIED™ Premium, Hoover’s Direct Submit Plus Data Distribution, 3000 word description, 80 keywords for enhanced search, hide competitors & stats on your profile, and advertise on your competitors profiles
- VERIFIED® – verify your business information and social networking accounts through a third-party verification process; distribute your business data and reach up to 90% of U.S. consumers through Dun & Bradstreet’s network of local search platforms, mobile apps, navigation solutions, and more; and access to a real-time VERIFIED business report verified by Dun & Bradstreet
These services range in price. However, all of these tools offer pricing packages for a variety of small business budgets, and some provide for free options.
In order to get found online, it’s imperative to have a consistent online presence. For local small businesses, that starts with consistently publishing the correct name, address, phone number, and website wherever your customers search online. Once your NAP+W is up-to-date, you can grow your presence in search engines and online business directories in order to get found by more and more customers locally and globally.
Photo Credit: eddieespinal, Twenty20