Ok businesses, Facebook is not the only platform to consider when determining your social media strategy. Yes, I will grant you it's a great starting point, the analytics and the marketing abilities with Facebook is very impressive. However, there are a few other platforms every business needs to consider. I am not going to list them all, and there are no hidden gems in here. You no doubt have heard of them all, but the platforms listed below have the runs on the board and you need to consider them if you are looking at social media marketing.
I touched on Facebook but for those that read this and still aren't sure what Facebook can offer, here is a small synopsis of why Facebook can still claim to be the number one platform for the majority of businesses' social media strategy.
Firstly, if you want to hear it straight from the horses mouth, here is a link from the Facebook page. It's a good read.
Now Facebook is great. When you create your business Facebook page, the support that is provided and the analytics is second to none, Facebook have put a great deal of time into helping you build your online community. You can have conversations with your customers and post important information about your services or products instantly, and then promote it. It's a great tool to funnel people to your website. It also tells you how many people are engaged with your posts and it will prompt you to write something to your community if it has been a while since you posted something.
The only downside to Facebook over the last couple of years is the 'organic reach' of your business page posts. This means that once upon a time, you could post and all your friends or people who like your page would see it in their feed. Those days have passed. It now only shows in some of the feeds of people who choose to follow you. Therefore, your organic reach takes a hit. However, Facebook gives businesses the ability to purchase paid advertising for a reasonable fee. The paid advertising isn't like google's paid advertising where you pay to be put on the first page of search results. Facebook gives you the ability to structure your advertising to:
There are many other categories as well, so if you own a business and haven't made the step, it's time to set up a Facebook page now. After all it's free, and you can't beat free marketing right!
Many businesses I talk too don't really think that Twitter can be a useful tool with a businesses social media marketing strategy. But bear with me as I throw some of these impressive statistics your way:
I actually really like Twitter. For my business it keeps me up to speed with the ever changing world of social media. However, to promote a business's product or service, if done properly it can be used successfully to gain exposure of your product or service to a broad range of people who you have never targeted. Also, it is free! (You can pay to promote and advertise now, but we will cover that in a later blog.)
The greatest thing about twitter is that users go on this platform to gain information. They jump on to see what is trending. They jump on to search a hashtag and get opinions, product knowledge or advice.They also know they can talk directly to and engage with their favourite brands. Businesses can instantly promote their product, service, information, blog or connect with their customers, AND if you can creatively attach a trending hashtag (maximum of two recommended) your message could potentially end up with hundreds of thousands of 'impressions (when a tweet has been delivered to the Twitter stream of an account). Another great thing about twitter (in fact this point also goes for all social media platforms to some extent) is that you can instantly build an email list. Its a little easier on Twitter as it's the platform's culture to follow and be followed.
An example of why I use Twitter is after returning from a client's meeting, I simply tweeted a statement thanking them and tied it into a hashtag which was trending at the time. It was retweeted 17 times. It had 144,000 impressions and 1,770 profile visits. The client also had a spike in their website analytics. Not bad for a tweet which was less than 22 words.
However, one of the downsides to twitter is that your tweet is easily forgotten, information is posted so quickly that in a blink of your eye, your new tweet is an old tweet and may not be seen by many of your followers.
If you have a product that is classed as visual, by that I mean that you sell something that is visually pleasing, like a food product, photography service, fashion or accessories, the list goes on, well basically you need to be on Instagram.
Instagram is getting big and popular by the day and more businesses are turning towards this platform to raise exposure for their products and services. Now Instagram isn't for everyone. If you are an accountant etc, it might be a little hard to properly utilise Instagram. However, if you can post photographs of your end product or service on Instagram and attach a strategic hashtag to it, you could find yourself being inundated with new visits to your website. However, paid advertising is limited and expensive compared to others. This might change soon. Actually I guarantee that advertising will become cheaper and more flexible in the future. I personally like this platform as we are finding that the trend is to post less text and more visual content, and what better platform to use than Instagram.
Still not sure? Here are some impressive stats for you to consider:
That last statistic tells it all, and I wouldn't be surprised if that figure increases, so if you have a visually pleasing product or service, then Instagram is a social media platform you can't afford to ignore.
We mentioned that Instagram may not be the best social media platform for accountants. However Linkedin is definitely a more suitable platform for this and similar industries. If your business is more tailored for Business to Business services then this is your platform. Linkedin can boast that it is the world's largest professional network. It is a great mechanism to build your client base, participate in forums linked to your industry and, therefore, promoting networking opportunities.
Linkedin is also a great vehicle to source partnerships and relationships. This mechanism is useful if you want to test a new product or service with your peers. I have found that similar people in your industry are more than happy to offer advice and even promote or disseminate to their clients on your behalf.
Here are some impressive statistics for Linkedin:
I always thought Pinterest was a site that people posted recipes, herbal therapies and great ideas. Yes, it is great for this but it is also an extremely useful tool for business.
Pinterest is a visual centric social media platform like Instagram. However, Pinterest is quickly turning heads as a marketing avenue for businesses with features like profile pages, advanced search, Rich Pins and Promoted Pins. It has been around a while and although it doesn't pull in the figures like Pinterest's big brothers in the field, it is closing the gap. There are some amazing business profiles on there sharing information about their products and services.
One of the advantages for Pinterest, which shows in the statistics, is that around 75% of users access this social media platform by a mobile device. This is pretty impressive and highlights the importance of having a mobile responsive website. Remember the whole aim of social media management is to 'funnel' traffic to your website.
What you can do on Pinterest is pretty amazing. Again like Instagram, if you have a visual pleasing product or service, Pinterest is a must do. Here are some stats to consider:
Just looking at the title of this social media platform suggests 'trust'. I know that Google+ is used as a corporate Facebook, such as how Yammer is used. Also, if you are serious about SEO for your business website you will know how important it is to have a google+ account to enhance your page rank on google. However, Google+ can be a great marketing tool as it's user's demographics are a little different to other social media platforms.
The number one advantage that google+ has over it's rivals is that Google+ content itself, which is the content you post to your page, can rank in search engine results on occasions where your website may not. This is due to the fact that each post has it's very own URL. This is incredibly useful as it could be an article, blog, product description or details about a service that you offer, and if someone is searching for something similar through google, it will show in the feed. No other platform that I am aware of does this. Social media platforms such as Facebook and twitter will come up in a search feed only if you have searched the name of a business.It wont show any posts or articles that you have posted. This is a big tick for google+.
Another big tick for google+ is that it is listening to it's users and always trying to utilise the best features from all the social media platforms. Google+ is also following the lead of Instagram and Pinterest by building functionality towards more visibly engaging information.
Here are some interesting facts about Google+
So there you have it. There are other social media platforms out there. However, the ones above are the main players in social media marketing for now. There are some snapping at their heals though, and I'm sure by the time I update this blog their will be others that I have to list due to their popularity and usefulness.
Hopefully this article will help you out a little regarding which social media platforms you need to consider. Just remember, if you plan to do it yourself, it might be best to pick one or two that you think best will suit your social media marketing strategy. To do it right takes time, instead of spreading yourself thinly across all, its best to focus on one or two. The other option is to get someone to look after the social media for you.. hint hint :)
One of the issues we experience with building websites is asking clients to either supply images for their website, or they request that we supply them on their behalf.
There are heaps of websites out there claiming they offer 'free' photographs to use, I know, I found myself going 'wow' when flicking through these websites, finding a 'free' photograph I want to use and then clicking the download button to find out you need to pay for it or buy a pack of credits before you can have the photo.
Now, I don't begrudge this method at all. Why not get paid for a beautiful photo. I've actually purchased this way and loved the product.
However, there are actual free websites that supply amazing photographs. I actually like to visit these sites when not looking for photographs for clients. They really are amazing and I recommend you do the same.
So lets get stuck in. These are in no particular order.
Please note, if you do wish to use any photos from these sites its best to check with the site and make sure that you are allowed to do what you plan to do with the photo. Most of them work under an agreement of the Creative Commons CC0, which allows you to use and adapt them for commercial purposes.
I think its pretty cool how you can buy the photographer a 'coffee' if you feel like it. There is no obligation to do so though, so have a look at Pixabay and enjoy. Pixabay is great for a couple of reasons: the portfolio of photos, the ability to download a certain size, and it gives you the opportunity to message the photographer directly and follow them.
I like this site because it was started by a family. Matt and Shayna who have a deep passion in the field. Their website is a public domain image repository. They created it to showcase photography, and they have some great images. I highly recommend having a look.
I like this site. I have downloaded more photos from this site than any other. I actually think it's because they utilise the photo by reproducing it so it takes up most of your whole screen. It won't bore you with information. It's all about the photo and boy, is there some talented photographers on there. If I get a spare moment in the day I turn to this site to sample photography at it's best.
4. ISO Republic
Founded by Tom Eversley (this is one of Tom's photos) is another great site. You can subscribe if you like. I like it as it gives the photographer the ability to add a little history about the photograph, which I find interesting. It also provides details about the photographer and if they have their own website you can quickly jump to it using ISO Republic.
Some great photos, I particularly like this site as you can scroll and scroll and scroll and the amount of photos seems endless. I really liked the way you can search by colour (find a photo with the colours you need and the option will be available). I had to find a very dark photograph for a website so I searched for eerie black, and all the photos that were produced were of that nature.
This is a great website if you need a series of photos that have the same theme or medium. Raumrot curate and handpick the photos for you which saves you a heap of time. The photos are high quality and if you like one, you can choose to follow the photographer through Flickr.
PicJumbo is another free website which gives the photos a large piece of website real-estate, which is great for the viewer. Another great feature of Picjumbo is they give you the opportunity to 'test drive' the image and suggest ways the photo could work as a header for your website or blog.
8. Jay Mantri
I like Jay Mantri's style.The only blurb on the site is "Free pics, do anything (CCO), make magic". Another site that fully exposes the photo with a near screen size version. There are lots of black and whites on this site.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, Stokpic has heaps of photographs and heaps of information about them to make sure you are abiding by their rules, with FAQ's, the ability to subscribe and a great list of categories to choose from. You have heaps of options with Stokpic.
Photopin from the start gets you to the photos you want by only offering the ability to search for the type of photo you want, then it provides you with a load of good quality pictures. Once you have chosen one, Photopin then gives you heaps of options to the size of the photo you want to download.
So, there you have it, 10 useful websites. There are a heap more, but I really like these sites and, like I said, I do visit them when not working. Be careful though as you can spend quite a bit of time flicking through them. You have been warned.
Please note, the above was correct as of the date that the Blog was posted. The websites featured in this article may have changed their terms and conditions since this time.
So here I am, I have started helping businesses with their websites and I have not really let businesses know why they need a functional website. So what better time to do it. There are two common explanations I come across when I talk to businesses who don't use or have a website, and they are:
Have one but don't really need it...
So this gets broken down again in two parts. The first part is directed to businesses who have websites, designed them themselves or paid a fee for someone to design it, published it to the web and waited for the world to come to them. Sadly, it is not that easy getting your website on the first couple of pages of Google. It takes time for Google to trust your website. It also takes a bit of work to tinker with the link building and SEO (Search Engine Optimisation).
Secondly, I have found that when talking to some business owners who are experiencing 'good times' they do not rely on their website to generate sales and leads. They usually say they get all their work from word of mouth. I always immediately think they are lucky to be in this situation, however, when I ask them to think what would happen if momentum changed, if the leads stopped coming this way, what would they do...
The answer usually is:
'Oh well, I would then look at a website or pay more attention to the one I have'.
Yes, you can concentrate on it if this time comes, or, you could make sure your website is optimised now so it is ready to generate new leads if it is not already. Sure there are people out there that can help you with it, and like I said earlier, there is a bit to do to optimise your website. However, if you do this from the start or build a website now while the good times are here, it helps eliminate the risk of the 'gravy train stopping' and builds business continuity.
The second type of business usually tells me:
I Don't need one..
For the businesses I speak to who do not have a website, I usually point out the following to help them understand why a website is crucial.
Thousands and thousands of people use the internet to search for businesses that sell similar products or services to your business. By not having a website, or an optimised website if you have one already, you will be missing out on the action.
Online Portfolio - showcase your business
By having a website your potential customers can find out about you, your services, your products and your business. What businesses seem to forget is that a website allows potential customers to see testimonials which we are seeing as a massive advantage to businesses who can showcase positive feedback on their business website. It also allows for existing customers to promote your business by quoting your website - free marketing, how good is that!
The shop is now 24/7
Your website never closes. It can let customers, where ever they are, access your website and buy your products or request a quote for your services.
Engagement with customers
A website is a vehicle to build a customer base so you can directly inform them of special offers, new products, important information etc. It can also give you the opportunity to remind them a service on a vehicle, lawn mower or pool filter service is due. The possibilities are endless. It also gives them the opportunity to ask you questions etc.
If you are brave enough, you can link your social media platforms to your website, but thats another story. You can find out a little more about that in an earlier blog on this website.
In this modern age a website is a sign of authority for customers. There is an element of unease with some potential customers if they cannot find your website and look at what you do.
Lastly, we are moving to an age where referrals are the big deal. Potential customers are not relying on printed business lists anymore. It is digital all the way! Social media allows for instant information and this includes instant referrals. Businesses who are not relying on funnelling social media referrals, so they point towards their website, are being disadvantaged. This is all and well if you are lucky enough to be on the 'gravy train', but like I said earlier, what happens if momentum changes.
The times are a changing!
Traditional marketing and advertising channels are showing signs that they are not the most successful or effective methods of marketing your business. With the world moving to digital and the easy access to the web by smartphone and tablets, people are craving information. Through social media an individual can see what products their friends like, are buying or talking about. If the product/business has a Facebook page for example, they may have a look themselves at what is ‘trending’ with their friends, they may like the page and might even look at the business’s website… and they might even buy a product or service too.
This is just one example why every business needs a good social media strategy.
Another trend that businesses need to know about is that social media allows individuals to ask and respond to information requests immediately.
Referrals are big business
It is very common for a social media user to ask a question, for example, ‘Does anyone know a good plumber?’ and receive instant responses. A respondent to this question can now directly lead a person to your page, invite you (your page) to respond or invite the social media user to like your page, therefore, building your fan-base and opportunities to create leads.
Potential customers are also leaning towards referrals as a way to pick businesses that offer services. Research has pointed out that a lot of people search for a service provider, skim a business web page to see if it offers the product/service they need, get the business name and then search the business name and add the word ‘review’. For a lot of potential customers this is the way they pick their service provider, such as their carpenter or kitchen maker. It is solely based on what other people have experienced. If they cannot find any dedicated reviews on the business from feedback sites, some turn to social media to see if they have a business page or have received relevant feedback.
The clever businesses have this covered. They attract the potential customer to their social media pages, have the right content to keep them interested and before you know it, they have clicked onto their website, liked their page, requested a quote or bought one of their products. Smart businesses know that each time the above happens, the potential for the following will then happen. They will:
It is pretty amazing how attracting potential customers has changed!
There are some businesses that have dabbled in social media but have not harnessed the true potential of it. Yes, it is easy to set up a page, but it is a whole new ballgame attracting potential customers and building your ‘online’ community. There is a bit of work involved to do it properly and maintaining these relationships. That is why more businesses are outsourcing this component of their business.
With the above in mind, you can see why a good social media management strategy is needed. You can significantly increase traffic to your website. It will help increase awareness of your products and services, which result in more sales and leads to you. It will also help maintain your current customers by giving your business the opportunity to engage with them, provide helpful information about your products and services, allow them to provide feedback and importantly, allow them to refer (promote) your services and products to their friends and family.
Having a correctly established and comprehensive social media management strategy is a necessity in today’s digital world and reasonably inexpensive for the returns it will deliver.
So do not get left behind! Social media management is the next big thing!