Pinterest

Social Media Strategy Before Social Media Tools

10-Steps-To-A-Successful-Social-Media-StrategyIt seems easy, right? Just choose which social networks you want to appear on and then post away! Wrong. Unfortunately, many businesses have taken the approach of tools before strategy and the results are, not surprisingly, poor. A posting schedule lacks focus, approach, and direction, which are the crucial first steps in driving your business’ success.

Social media is just another tool in the marketing tool box, much like your website, advertising, special promotions, and campaigns, so you need to look at creating a social media strategy BEFORE you decide on which network to use (Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, etc.). Tools need to be considered last, not first. Why? Because tools change. They always do. There was a time when Netscape seemed invincible. Yahoo, too. And how can we forget about MySpace. If you fall in love with tools, you’ll constantly be changing directions, with no real plan to guide your way.

The strategy will further outline how you brand yourself in social media networks. For businesses with an established brand, this may not be a problem, but you will need to investigate how your offline branding strategy translates into social media marketing.

Unless you have the internal skills and expertise, I’d strongly recommend you engage the services of a strategic marketer to help you create your strategy.

In addition to kicking off the strategy with a clear definition of what makes your business unique, you’ll want to make sure your strategy includes consideration of what your relationship is with your audience, how they use social media, how you’ll deal with unfavourable comments, what resources will monitor the conversations and what metrics you are going to use to determine your success.

What do you think? What are your special tips for making social media engagement effective at driving your business’s success?  I look forward to your comments below.

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Should You Consider Using Pinterest For Your SMB?

pinterestbiz-3_600You may have heard the hype about Pinterest updating its iOS app last week, adding the ability to edit your profile from your phone, and a new close-up view of pins on the iPad.

This new capability may be exciting for us marketers, but many of my SMB clients simply want to know what Pinterest is and why they might want to consider using it in their business.

Pinterest is a pinboard-style social media site built around the concept of sharing photos. Users create and manage theme-based “boards” on topics that interest them (such as fashion, food, travel, home design, etc.). Users then “pin” photos to their boards for sharing and engaging.

While still relatively new, Pinterest has now become the third largest social media site based on the number of site visits. It has proven its ability to impact purchases, and is fast becoming an important source of referral traffic for websites, with some businesses reporting it surpassing Facebook for referrals in their analytics. Despite popular belief, your business doesn’t need to be product-based in order take advantage of their benefits.

However, while it might be easy enough to understand how B2C could use Pinterest to showcase their products, the manufacturing process, the ingredients, the lifestyle around the products etc., figuring out how to use it for B2B requires a little more thought. Here are a few questions to consider when deciding if “pinning” should be part of your marketing strategy.

  1. Is your marketing strategy focused on brand awareness? How can you use Pinterest for this purpose? E.g. how can you tie brand awareness into visual tactics?
  2. If you are a B2B business, is the investment of time equal to the return? E.g. if it costs you time to develop the creative visual and post it,what are your expectations of the return?
  3. Who is your target audience?  As Pinterest is most popular with women in the 25-44 age bracket, is this audience considered influencers or consumers of your service or product?
  4. On a very practical level, do you have the resources to execute and implement an on-going Pinterest social media site? E.g. do you have an art or creative department who can design infographics and repurpose images, and a social media person to post and measure its success?

Pinterest grew by 4000% in six months and its potential is huge. As the links to your site are being created and clicked on by real people, it can give your SEO a wonderful boost.

Do you use Pinterest in your marketing strategy?  If so, is your business B2B or B2C, and what type of success have you had?  Would you recommend using Pinterest for B2B?  I look forward to hearing from you in the comments below.

Social Media: Understand Why Before Hiring an Internal or External Resource (1 of 2)

As the owner of a marketing agency, I am often asked whether a company should take on social media themselves, or hire an outside agency to do it for them. It’s a good question. In fact, it’s one of the most important and frequently asked questions of our digital business age.  However, before I answer who should implement your social media, I want to address why you should make social media an integral part of your marketing strategy.

 

Small and medium business (SMB) owners, particularly those of B2B businesses, struggle with finding the value of social media. They often think of it as nothing more than people talking about what they had for dinner last night, or the music they are listening to (which, depending on your company’s field of expertise, may be rather useful information!). To be sure, there are many conversations occurring, covering a wide array of topics. Regardless, if you have a brand and want to further it,I advise you not toignore social media.

 

If we think back to about 14 years ago, in 1998, when the internet was at its infancy, many SMB’s were questioning whether or not they should have a website.  Although it is hard for us to imagine this debate happening today, business owners were questioning the validity of websites, and wanted to see hard evidence to substantiate their investment.

 

Their questions made perfect sense then, as they do today regarding social media – they want to see real proof to justify an investment in social media, either with internal staff or an external agency.

social-media

 

There are various statistics bandied about the industry when looking for this “hard evidence” or value in social media, but the top four stats that stand out for me are:

 

  • 62% of the world’s population uses social networking, making it the most popular online activity.
  • Over half of social networkers follow a brand online.
  • Over half of consumers say they are more likely to recommend a brand if they are fans of the company online.
  • Online ad spending increased to just over $30 billion in the U.S. last year, over 20% increase (Source: ComScore).

 

I share these four stats as I feel that they best provide the “hard evidence” a SMB needs to understand why they should integrate social media into their marketing strategy: the audience is there, your competitors are there, the audience wants to engage with brands there, and you can target your advertising there.

 

Simply put, social media is not going away anytime soon. As such, if you are not using social media in your marketing strategy, you run the risk of losing business to other companies that are.

 

In next week’s blog, I’ll outline some points to consider when making a decision to use internal or external resources to execute your social media strategy.

Have you integrated social media into your marketing strategy?  If not, why not? If so, do you have any success stories you’d like to share? Please let me know in the comments below.