When a small business owner such as yourself hears buzzwords like Facebook marketing and social media marketing, what does it mean to you? Do you think it has significance for your business? Will engaging in social media marketing bring in customers?
The first thing you need to know is that social media consists of websites and applications that enable you to interact with other people online. Add marketing and it simply lets you connect with your customers.
Second, is it really necessary for your business? The truth is that while every local business needs social media marketing, itís not necessary to be present in all social media channels. However, not to be on any of the social media channels may be equal to burning a part of your profit.
All Businesses Need New Customers
Understand that social media marketing is an additional channel to expose your business - and an inexpensive one at that. To bring new customers through your doors, determine which social media platform would best extend your business to them - one that you can effectively and consistently utilize.
If you have a budget, you can use ads on Facebook to promote your business page. And even if you donít have a budget, you can still promote your business page to your current, personal network. Frequent funny, viral, or any relevant status updates make it easier for your page to be exposed to other people via shares and likes.
All Businesses Need Repeat Customers
Common sense aside, thriving businesses are those that provide their customers with the best products and/or services they have to offer. Doing so builds repeat customers. Itís your loyal customers that keep your business running when times get tough, or when your budget is too small to advertise.
So how does social media help with this? Social media channels allow you to connect with your current network. Keep our business page updated with information relevant to your customers and target audience.
Businesses are known to have different training practices. Some of them create learning programs in-house; others contract with third party service providers, while a number of organizations use a combination of both.
In most cases, outsourcing
decisions are based on the capacity of the internal training staff. In a study done last year, it was discovered that even if firms are satisfied with their outsourced training programs, the level of satisfaction is declining. This year alone, nearly 50 percent of firms are expected to tap a service provider to increase the capacity of their learning function, but then again, satisfaction is dwindling.
A monthly survey is conducted by IDC on the Chief Learning Officer magazineís Business Intelligence Board (BIB). It covers several aspects such as the outlook, challenges, and interests of senior learning executives. For this month, over 125 BIB members participated in the survey that aims to find out their thoughts on training outsourcing.
A post at CLOMedia.com
shares some of the surveyís important details.
The changes in training outsourcing activity amongst enterprises are minimal but evident. It was high in 2007, down in 2009 with 45 percent, and high once again in 2011 with 55 percent. In the latest survey, activities have normalized wherein the recent figures show that nearly 59 percent of the participants said they are outsourcing some parts of their training function.
Experts believe that the low figures in 2009 and 2010 are results of the resonating effects of the global recession. Firms were more careful with their spending which often resulted to non-renewal of outsourcing contracts.
This event - though rocked the outsourcing boat - resulted to better spending and recovery amongst enterprises. They utilized capability of external providers to beef up their training programs and have access to new tools and expertise at a more modest budget.
Organizations that outsource spend less than a third of their total training budget on outsourcing services. This is slightly higher than the total spending in 2013 and 2012. Meanwhile, the percentage of organizations that are spending over 40 percent of their training budget on outsourcing increased, from 20 percent back in 2008 to 28 percent in 2014. On the other hand, only seven out of 10 firms that outsource training spend below 40 percent of their total budget. Back in 2008, that figure was 8 out of 10.
It is projected that by 2015, about 46 percent of firms will spend more in training outsourcing. It is also anticipated that even as economies have not fully recovered from the global crisis, only 16 percent said their training outsourcing budgets would decrease next year.
Nowadays, a lot of business owners and CEOs look at marketing as something prescribed and standardized. The only time they even think of marketing is when the launch of their product or service is already near, or when the competitors are already a step ahead of them.
These entrepreneurs admit that they are not familiar with the tools and processes that are accessible - and sometimes even free - that they delegate the work to PR agencies and marketing firms for a hefty fee. They are also aware that the purchasing behavior of consumers had changed, which is also why they opt for external help instead of doing the research on their own. Having third party service providers is actually not a bad thing. The only issue is since they are working from the outside, they tend to miss out on the little details that make a huge impact when it comes to branding.
A post at Entrepreneur.com
shares three common marketing misconceptions that often lead to the demise of a campaign:Social media is not for the corporate world.
A lot of business owners still have doubts in social media as a business tool. They think itís just a platform for staying connected with friends and reading the latest trends in pop culture. With this myth in mind, they fail to maximize the opportunities social media has for their brand.
A study conducted on 3,000 marketers revealed that social media efforts are responsible for 14 percent of their targeted leads. In addition to that, 75 percent of the respondents said they saw a spike in referral visits from social media websites.
Having a sound social media campaign helps a business gain more exposure in a broader market. It also helps in showing customers that they are forward thinking and innovative through the insightful content that they share. Everything will be okay as long as you are running paid online ads.
Pay-per-click advertising is the first thing that comes to mind when talking about online ads. It is a tried-and-tested method, but more costly compared to other online advertising approaches. In addition to that, pay-per click ads need to be monitored regularly since a minor mistake in budget, ad schedule, and keywords can lead to expensive campaigns.
Pay-per-click ads are also known as short-term solutions since once you stop funneling funds to the campaign, the ads stop running and you are left with nothing, unlike search engine optimization in which the effects are long-term and it helps businesses gain leverage over time.Blogging or creating new content is not the CEOís job.
What better way to delight the customers (and sometimes investors) than a story from the top executives of the company? Some of the top business leaders around the world have been found reaching out to customers through creative approaches such as viral videos, interesting facts through blogs, among others.
The ones that are thriving in marketing today know that well-crafted and interesting content trumps all types of marketing hype. So instead of prefabricated articles, why not publish a real and genuine write-up that speaks directly to the consumers? If you were an executive, wouldnít you want to delight and inspire your audience wherein they will actually click the contact us button or make a purchase?
Nothing online happens by chance. This is what makes digital marketing a science. What you see today - a video, comment, GIF - is most likely the by-product of somebodyís social media marketing strategy, a side effect of the globalization of the internet.
Todayís major social networks were never intended to be marketing tools; Facebook was originally for college students to connect, YouTube was a channel for you to share your homemade videos, and Twitter was a platform where friends could keep tabs on each other based on short status updates. Surely, this "age of innocence" did not last long.
The more perceptive amongst us, perhaps those we could refer to as "ahead of their time", saw an opportunity in the internet while the rest of us merely engaged with it. When Matt Wheeler founded his first search marketing business at age 15, he knew the social impact the internet could have, and understood that identifying how different people used the internet would be the key to harnessing its power.
A number of successful businesses and realizations later, Matt builds Driftrock, a platform that helps brands find their audience online, using data from around the web to power better targeted ads. In other words, they have tools to help optimize social media campaigns - itís every digital marketerís dream!
As a bonus, Driftrock shares these five social media campaign optimization tips with Forbes
- Experiment. Digital marketing is a science, so treat it like one. Digital media is highly measurable, therefore you can optimize quickly by piecing the data together. Create experiments with hypotheses and run tests - do more of those that work and conduct more experiments for better performance over time.
- Ignore the Facebook Boost button. Facebook has great digital media targeting, but using the boost button on posts doesn't make the most of this. Instead, click "Use Adverts Manager" to create ads and, ideally, Facebookís Power Editor or use third party tools to boost performance.
- Jump at the chance to try new ad products. Weíre talking about the early mover advantage - being one of the first lets you enjoy lower costs, more engagement, and reach. Better watch out for new ad formats and features Facebook and Twitter launch every month.
- Reach audiences at the right time. Advertising to a given market just doesn't cut it anymore. The mobile world is competitive, so brands need to think about context. There are platforms and tools like Driftrock that let you reach the right people at the right time, like advertising sunscreen when itís sunny or broadband when itís raining.
- Use Custom Audience campaigns. Custom Audiences, Tailored Audiences - these ad formats are game-changing. These campaigns are useful for retargeting customers who havenít converted, or marketing to customers similar to your best ones. Driftrock has seen clients scale to hundreds of sales a day, using nothing but Custom Audience campaigns.
Given how everyone is using technology these days, traditional events like trade shows and press conferences are expected to be featured in/covered by digital media as well. Sure, the expectation may create more work for you at the beginning, but the return is incredibly greater.
Blending digital and traditional media not only supplies content for your PR initiatives, it also paves the way for greater brand awareness and coverage.
Integrating the two media types means creating content before, during, and after your event:
Before. Besides sending email invitations and special offers, you can generate buzz and attention by placing content at relevant sites. Itís what we call the "snowball effect" - adding more content to your PR ball makes it larger and more noticeable.
During. Encourage attendees to share their own experiences. Remember to use visual media in addition to online submission forms. Establish a specific hashtag for your event, and invite people to share their images and videos on social.
After. Write recaps of your event, curate content submitted by the audience, and craft "best of the best" posts. Donít forget to ask feedback from attendees, and analyze and use the data to produce a better event next time.
Up to this day, outsourcing
and shared services are often misconstrued by a lot of people. Shared services, back-end or administrative functions are centralized throughout the company - particularly on the service provider side. Outsourcing, on the other hand, is the process of contracting an external party to deliver specific services.
With the rapid changes that organizations are going through, they have been seen applying any of these, sometimes even both. However, even if outsourcing and shared services have similar advantages and strengths, business owners should do their research first to get the most out of whichever solution they choose.
shares five factors that should be looked into by business owners when evaluating shared services and outsourcing:1) Are the internal structures ready?
If the process and infrastructure are not ready to accommodate a companyís initial setup or expansion plan, they can tap third party service providers that are already equipped with the skills and technology and are capable of implementing and aligning their processes with the clientís. 2) How complicated are the processes?
Majority of the functions outsourced are known to be repetitive and simple that these can be easily transferred to an external provider. Complicated and exclusive processes are best kept in-house. Some of the factors that make a process complex are: the value it contributes to the growth and progress of the organization, the level of exclusivity, and effects on business continuity. 3) Does the process depend on the scale of the personnel?
Niche providers are known to be effective in small outsourcing operations. If you are looking to outsource a unique process that requires a large volume of workers, then a large multinational is the better choice. However, if you still prefer a large, multi-faceted service provider then you can opt for service bundling where several processes are combined into one contract to reach the minimum or target number of full-time employees (FTEs).4) Does the process depend on the culture and environment of the operation?
Business owners should also analyze if the location of the providerís delivery centers will affect the outcome of the operation. This can lead to misaligned goals, loss of documentation, and process control. There are also regulatory and legal requirements that could put strain on the outsourcing operation, so these should be checked as well.
5) How much will the sourcing operation affect your budget and operations in general?
Business owners should evaluate the current status of their operations not only in the financial side, but the status of their current output and process maturity as well. In this way, they will be able to assess if outsourcing is a cost-effective move, or investing in an internally managed environment, new technologies and facilities will be better for them.
Social media is generally a fun way to communicate and engage with friends. For businesses, implement it strategically and social media can be used as a powerful marketing tool. Yet, some businesses still fail to develop a formal social media plan. Like any marketing strategy, having a plan for social media is equally important. A smart business owner doesn't buy traditional advertising without a well-developed plan, and the same applies with social media. A social media marketing plan consists of the same elements of a traditional marketing plan: target market research, analyzing consumer buying decisions, and identifying brand strengths and weaknesses.
Once you've conducted the research, you can then start outlining strategies and developing a plan. Here are six steps to guide you through developing a social media marketing strategy plan:
1. Identify a social media manager.
Running a successful business involves many tasks, and social media can go by the wayside. Before setting out on a social media campaign, identify someone who will be in-charge of monitoring and posting content. The social media manager should not only ensure that content is posted regularly, but monitor and respond to all comments and customer feedback as well. E-mail alerts and mobile alerts make it easy for assigned staff to monitor the companyís pages 24/7.
2. Create your social pages.
After identifying your manager, create branded pages. Determine which social media sites you want to use. Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ are the top networks for small businesses. LinkedIn and Pinterest may also be appropriate in some cases and for other businesses. Your social media pages should have the same look and feel as your company website. And be sure to include links to your website and invite all of your customers and friends to join or follow your pages.
3. Develop a planning calendar.
Ideally, this should be done on a monthly basis and may outline the following: number of posts per week, posting times (should be varied), and content for each post. A planning calendar lays the foundation and sees to it that you are maintaining your social sites and posting on a regular basis. Having a monthly planning calendar helps keep the excitement and momentum alive.
4. Generate engaging and relevant content.
As you consider content, think outside of your company and put yourself in your customersí shoes. What type of information is both engaging and worthy of being shared? Publishing sharable content is one of the quickest ways to build your following. Here are some content ideas:
- Weekly tips and advice
- Something humorous (in good taste)Highlight and recognize your customers
- Have "social media only" offers
- Be interactive - ask questions people will want to answer (i.e. Weíre thinking of adding this new featureÖ what do you think?)
- Photos and videos
- Coupons and contests
- Product or service overview
- "How To" videos
- Sales and special events
Always remember that to keep your followers engaged, you have to maintain their attention.
5. Monitor feedback and track results.
It is absolutely necessary to monitor all comments and respond in a timely manner. Feedback, whether good or bad, needs to be addressed. Thank those who have good things to say about your product and/or service and reach out to those who have concerns or complaints. Investigate the validity of the negative feedback and address it immediately. Customer feedback helps your better understand reception of your products and/or services.
6. Use results to better understand buyer behavior and reaction to your products/services.
The best way to gauge customer demand is to ask them. Engaging your followers and getting their opinions can help you identify areas of strength and weakness. Maintaining open and responsive communication is key to developing a relationship with your followers.