5 Reasons to Outsource Your Social Media

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Social media is one of the most powerful marketing tools in today’s digital driven world and is a tool that requires a specific skill-set. Many businesses make the mistake of trying to incorporate the role of social media into an existing position. Making the decision to outsource your company’s social media can be the most effective way to help your brand take its social media marketing to the next stage.
A recent survey done by Social Media Examiner found that 92% of brands said that social media was important to their business. However, of this group, how many of them have the time or experience necessary to deliver a solid social media presence?

Here are 5 reasons to outsource the role of social media

1. Time
Social Media is a 24/7 job and it never takes a break. This is not a job that can be added on to a current marketing position or done by the owner of the company in between running their business. Having a dedicated community manager handling your brands accounts will ensure that posts are executed and responded to in a timely and acceptable manner. The day’s of having “hours” listed on social media accounts are over. Customers simply won’t accept waiting 24 hours for a response.

2. Experience
Think of your social media accounts as your brands chance to make a good first impression. The voice and tone of your online presence will set the stage for how you are perceived and valued online by your audience and customer base. An experienced community manager understands that a strong social media presence is critical for your brand and can build a strategy that will resonate with your customers. They will also know how to handle the unexpected such as customer complaints!

3. Content
Crafting a compelling story for your brand requires time, experience and creativity. Content needs to be developed and curated specific to each platform. Social media is not a one size fits all approach and requires that each platform have content and images that will resonate with its unique audience. An experienced community manager will work with your brand to develop your social story and will know when its time to re-develop or amend that story based on its results.

4. Reliability
To build an engaged online community your brand needs to be present on social media. This means being available to respond to comments, answer questions, and be online when news hits that is relevant to your brand. Having a dedicated community manager to handle your social media accounts will ensure posts are engaged with and responded to in a timely fashion. There is nothing worse than a dormant online presence.

5. Measurability
Understanding the ROI of your social media efforts is key in continued social media success. A skilled community manager will have the tools and knowledge to present reports and key findings that will help your team build on its social media plans. Knowing which platforms resonate with your customers, what time of day your customers are online and what types of posts inspire comments and shares are all key KPI’s that your brand needs to understand.

Making the decision to outsource your social media will allow you the time to focus on building your business and ensure that your online presence is in good hands. If you are interested in learning more about how H2O Digital can help your company, please contact us.

5 Benefits of Using Instagram for your Business

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5 Benefits of Instagram for Business

People go to Instagram to become inspired and to explore the content they are interested in. Instagram is the digital marketing go-to for displaying images in an easy, creative and expressive way- especially because of the application’s digital editing capabilities. In fact, 60% of people say that they discovered a new product because it appeared on their Instagram feed.

With an increase in functionality, Instagram for Business is a key component to a successful social media marketing strategy.

Here are the top 5 benefits of using Instagram for Business in your social media marketing strategy:

 

Learning the Likes & Dislikes of your Audience

 

Whether your business is located online or has a physical geographical location, your consumers could be raving about your business on Instagram without you even knowing it.

 

Instagram is a great social media marketing tool to gain consumer feedback. In most cases consumers post images of things, food, attractions they enjoyed. By simply searching your location on Instagram you will be able to see all the postings your audience have posted while interacting with your brand.

 

Increase consumer engagement

 

Instagram only continues to improve their interactive features as time goes on. New features such as Instagram stories and Instagram live allow you to communicate with audiences in real time, in addition to simply posting a single image.

 

Explore New Audiences

 

With Instagram’s new search options and location tagging, it is now easier than ever for new audiences, and customers to find you!

 

The easiest way consumers explore new content is through hashtags. Hashtags simply group together all postings that have similar content.

 

In addition to Hashtags, Instagram also has a Discovery tab that allows a user to find similar profiles and accounts that may exhibit the same interests as theirs.

 

Generate Sales

 

Instagram has added the ability for businesses to add important information such as their phone number, store hours and website to make it easier for a user to connect with them and see a full line of their products.

 

Become Digitally Connected

 

Instagram posts can be easily shared across different social media marketing channels. By enabling social sharing on your Instagram business account one is able to share postings to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr, and Swarm with a click of a button.

 

In addition, the interconnection between digital platforms also increases the cross-channel engagement. If your Instagram feed is displayed on your website, a consumer will be able to click through the postings and be redirected to your account with a hope to gain a new follower, if they haven’t done so already.

 

So why not jump on the Instagram for business bandwagon and reap the benefits? By switching your Instagram account to an Instagram for Business account you will be able to interact with your audience in new and creative ways while also getting insight on how each of your posting is doing.

 

 

To learn more about simplifying your Instagram marketing, check out these three simple tips!

Digital Marketing Guide

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Digital Marketing has changed the landscape of how we measure and value our marketing efforts. Digital marketing allows us to access a massive amount of insights and data about target audiences more intelligently than traditional methods.

Consider how much of our day is spent on connected devices; whether it’s our smartphones, TVs or, of course, computers. In 2005, the average adult spent 9 hours a week on the internet, including time spent on the internet at work. As of 2014, that number more than doubled to over 20 hours a week. Of course, these numbers are taking into consideration the whole population. If you look at a younger population, 16-24 for example, they currently spend, on average, more than 27 hours a week actively using digital media, the key to digital marketing success.

Now consider that no matter what you are using, or where you are, your data is being recorded and used to deliver selective information and advertisements to you. If you make a search on Google, your interests and search habits are being recorded. If you have your smartphone on you and driving, your device is tracking the places you are visiting and determining your potential shopping habits. When you are on Facebook, your family size, political interests and your likely income level is also being determined. For digital marketing, this amount of data is equivalent to a gold mine, and it offers many advantages over traditional marketing, for example:

It’s Specific: Your digital marketing efforts can reach a very specific and defined target audience. Every dollar will be a dollar well-spent.

It’s Measurable: Unlike traditional marketing, your digital marketing efforts can be analyzed to understand your ability in applying it correctly as measured by the impact it has had on your company’s bottom line.

It’s Cost-efficient: Digital marketing costs are significantly lower than traditional media. Traditional media has a limited amount of space and real estate that can be used for advertising, and therefore the costs are higher.

It’s Immediate: Digital marketing efforts can be modified and reviewed in real-time. Even simple mistakes like a typo are practically impossible to fix using traditional marketing without significant costs. On the other hand, even major strategic changes can be carried out on digital media relatively quickly.

All the previously-mentioned advantages, combined with the massive amount of data made available through online advertising platforms, mean that digital marketing is essential for any business in the current age.
Is Digital Marketing a Replacement for Other Marketing Efforts?

The answer is definitely not. Digital marketing is complementary to your marketing efforts. Very few things can replace the efforts of your sales staff, as well as good customer service and of course word-of-mouth. However, what digital marketing offers is a cheaper way to generate leads and approach customers. Ideally, you want to find a perfect balance and a good mix of digital and traditional marketing.
How Much Will Digital Marketing Cost Me?

One of the best things about digital marketing – you can determine exactly how much it will cost you. You can simply determine a budget to allocate towards digital marketing and no matter which platforms you use, you can set that budget as a maximum and not go over it.

When determining your budget, you want to consider the following:
• What is your primary objective?

• How much is a lead worth to you?

• How many leads do you need per month?

• Do you have any other ongoing marketing efforts?

• What is the percentage of leads that typically convert into a customer?

After considering these questions, simply multiply the worth of your leads by the number of leads you need to get. You can make that your starting point. Eventually, after a few weeks of digital marketing, you will need to asses if your cost per lead matches the value of a lead. You also want to compare conversion rates between leads coming in through digital marketing vs. traditional marketing. Make sure to consider overhead costs for each.

Using all this data, you can determine with ease if your digital marketing efforts are working. If you need more help, contact us now and we will be happy to help you with your digital marketing efforts!
Which platforms to choose?

Determining the right platforms for your digital marketing efforts is dependent on your business and your objectives. Even then, it is very likely that more than one platform will be of great benefit for you.

Don’t hesitate to contact us now if you need help with your digital marketing! We can help you allocate your efforts to the right place!

Recipe For A Successful Twitter Party

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For years we have been hosting Twitter Parties, also referred to as Tweet Chats and have often been asked what our secret is to hosting a  successful Twitter party! Twitter parties are a highly effective way to build awareness for your brand and get you into the conversation. Think of a Twitter party as an organized gathering of Twitter users who have all come together to chat about a common topic.

All the ingredients needed for a successful Twitter Party:

Choose Your Topic Wisely – The key to a successful Twitter Party is to spark a conversation and to do this your topic must be interesting, relevant and engaging. These might sound like buzz words but it is truly all about the topic.  If you are selling a line of fitness gear talking strictly about your products will not entice anyone to join in.  However if you offer fitness tips and provide fitness related articles and examples you can be sure that you will engage in a real conversation with party goers.

Hire a Co-Host – One of the benefits to a Twitter Party is increasing your brand’s twitter following and reach.  Hiring a co-host will help you increase your overall reach and expose your brand to a new set of followers.  Choosing the right co-host is key! Look for an influencer who has a large twitter following and whose audience is similar to the audience you are trying to reach.  Co-hosts can also be an expert in your brand’s related field.  For example, if you are hosting a “fitness” related Twitter Party bringing on a local personal trainer or nutritionist would offer credibility to your brand, expert advice and exposure to your target market.

Timing is Key – Choosing the right date and time for your Twitter Party is critical to it’s success. Choose a time that your audience is likely to be online. If you are a local coffee shop why not host an early morning party  when your customers will likely be active on Twitter.  Twitter has become a busy platform for parties, especially during the evening hours, so be sure to check local Twitter Party calendars to see what date and time other parties are being hosted and avoid competing against conflicting parties.

Promotion – Spreading the word about your Twitter Party is key in ensuring that people will join in! Create an invitation, share it on social media, promote it with an ad and make sure that all of your followers are aware of the party date, time and rules & regulations.

Be Prepared– Twitter parties move fast and without the right organizational plan in place, a party can quickly get out of hand. Prepare a script ahead of time, schedule all of your brand’s questions and messaging (tools such as Tweetdeck or Hootsuite are great for scheduling) and have a couple of people logged into your main account who are available to engage, retweet and respond.

We love a great Twitter Party and know from experience that they are an effective way to engage your audience and grow your following and online exposure. When done right you can host a successful and top trending Twitter Party for your brand!

Looking for help on hosting your first Twitter Party? Reach out and let H2O Digital help!

 

5 Best Social Media Practices

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Social Media can feel like a big undertaking for any business, especially for a small business whose primary focus is growing their business.  The days of simply throwing up posts on Twitter and Facebook and hoping for engagement are over.  To truly reap the benefits of social media (and there are many benefits), a business most put in the time, effort and strategy behind their social media efforts.

We have put together our 5 Best Practices:

Have a Plan – Take the time to build a strategy behind your social media. It is no different than any other marketing tactics you plan for.  Think about what your goals are, who your audience is and what you hope to achieve through your social media efforts.  Once you have done this take the time to create an editorial calendar so that you are less likely to scramble with each post. Think about your editorial calendar as your social story. Craft the story and then tell it through your social posts. Having a plan will  save you time and make your social media efforts more effective.

Use Data- Understanding if your social media efforts are effective is key to the success of your social media marketing strategy. Platforms such as Facebook & Twitter provide free analytics that are readily available for you to review.  It is critical that you look at these weekly/ bi-monthly and assess what is working and what is not. The great thing about social media is that your efforts can be changed instantly. If a post isn’t gaining traction, simply try something new.

Create a System– As a business owner it is impossible to balance it all and social media can seem like a 24/7 commitment.  With the right scheduling tools like Buffer, Tweetdeck & Hootsuite you can be efficient in your social media planning.  Choose 1 day a week, block off a few hours and schedule your content for the week ahead.

Be Present– The key to any successful social media plan is to be social.  Scheduling is a great efficiency tool but it is imperative that you are  present to respond, engage and interact with your followers.  42% of customers who use social media as a forum to launch a complaint expect a 60 minute response time. This doesn’t mean you have to be on social all day/ every day but it does mean that you should be checking in and putting aside some time each day to be social.

Just Be You-There are no shortage of books that will teach you how to leverage social and become a social brand but the best tip we can share is to just be you. The personality behind your brand is what will help connect you to your customers.  Being authentic may sound like a cliche but it should not be overlooked. Your greatest asset is yourself.  Let your customers see who you are and why you are passionate about your business and your customers.

 

 

Social Media is not a one size fits all approach

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Social media has emerged as a powerful marketing tool and in today’s digital driven world, your business needs to be in the social space.  However, social media for business is not a “one size fits all” approach.  Your customers go to social media for different things at different times and it is critical that you navigate through these waters to identify which is the right space for your business.

Every day it feels as if a new social media platform is being introduced to the market but that is not to say that each of these is the right fit for your brand.  Understanding what each platform has to offer and what audience they attract is key to identifying the right platform for your brand.

Let’s take a look at what each has to offer for your business:

Facebook: The most popular of the bunch, Facebook is a great tool for engaging with customers through posts, stories, photos and articles. Building a Fan page is a great forum for conversation but this tool is no longer simply a “free” option. Facebook offers many advertising options to acquire fans, reach and engage them and these options are necessary in having an effective fan page that will grow over time.

Twitter:  The very premise of Twitter is based on bite size conversations. With only 140 characters to say your peace.  Twitter provides a forum for real conversation. Used correctly and consistently you can connect with your audience and your customers and build true engagement.

Instagram: One of the fastest growing platforms with over 400 million monthly users, the once trendy IOS only app is now a mainstream staple in the social media world. Based on photos, editing and filters, Instagram is an incredibly popular visual tool that allows you to connect with your customers through photos, product images, behind the scenes and more. Its users expect creativity and quality photos so try to avoid stock photography and standard product images.

Pinterest: Classically known for its array of recipes, crafts and outfits, Pinterest has emerged on the scene as one of the most powerful Social Media platforms. For businesses in retail, fashion and service industries Pinterest provides a “scrapbook” approach that allows you to show off your product lines and entice your customers through beautiful images that link back to your site where they can purchase those picture perfect products.

LinkedIn: As the only truly B2B platform LinkedIn has created an online networking event that you can join as often as you please. LinkedIn allows you to connect with your customers, colleagues and associates while generating new leads through posts, ads and sponsored updates.

Periscope: The newest player in the social media game is Periscope.  It’s “in the moment” approach offers users a chance to engage with your business in real time. The very essence of social media is about connection and Periscope has created a space where your brand can share live updates, Q&A’s, behind the scenes and more simply by logging in and hitting “start broadcast”. There is no need for a fancy video production or a rehearsed performance. You can be yourself and interact with your customers in real time.

Your business model and consumer base should dictate which social media channels your business chooses to appear on. It is more important that you are consistent and authentic with your online voice,  than it is to be on all channels and only somewhat engaged.   Do your homework, feel out the various platforms and create a strategy that you can successfully stick to.

 

What is the ROI of Social Media?

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As a marketers who deeply believes in the power of social media, we have to say that the question “What is the ROI of Social Media?” is by far the most asked question.  The answer however, is not so simple…

The truth of the matter is this…the answer to this question is not always quantitative – the answer is based on sentiment and engagement.

Ask yourself this:

What is the value for your brand to have customers engaging daily with you, sharing their feedback, spreading their excitement and organically sharing your message with their network? The answer is “priceless”. No form of traditional advertising can offer an ROI nearly as impactful or effective as building a positive sentiment for your brand on social media.

What other form of advertising provides you a platform to genuinely talk to you customers and potential customers?

Where else can you share your expertise through casual conversation?

Social Media is a forum where as a brand you can showcase your expertise and content without feeling like you are “selling” your brand. This is not to say that Social Media can or should replace traditional media, only that it can amplify your traditional marketing strategies using messaging that engages your audience and motivates an immediate response and action.

A recent study by The Business Insider revealed that 90% of customers will recommend brands who they interact with on social media. The voice you create for your brand can turn your customers into loyal brand advocates. Think about your experiences with brands – the ones you trust, value and believe in. These are ultimately the brands you buy from time and time again.  Social Media transforms a customer who “likes” you into a customer who “loves” you.  This might sound corny but a customer who loves your brand will buy from you – each and every time.

So the next time you are questioning the ROI of your social media efforts consider the following:

  • Do your Facebook posts receive likes, shares and comments?
  • Do your posts evoke an emotion with your followers?
  • Are your tweets getting retweeted?
  • Do your blog posts receive comments?
  • Do your followers initiate conversations on your social media platforms?

If the answer to any of these questions is YES then you should consider the ROI of your social media efforts to be a success!

Paid vs Organic Social Media

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Back in the day social media marketing was an organic marketing tool with a focus on creating engaging and interesting content that people would want to read. Brands have spent the last few years working diligently in hopes that people would consume and then share their content.

Social Media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram created forums of open conversation and free promotion for brands. It seemed too good to be true (especially for a small business) and maybe it was.

Paid vs Organic

Fast forward 3 years and now we have platforms where brands have created fan bases and loyal followings. They might even feel like they finally have a hang of this whole social media world. The only problem is now these loyal followings aren’t seeing your brands posts in their feeds anymore. Now these platforms that brands have built a marketing strategy around are now limiting when a brands posts will be seen and by whom.

The Days of Paid Social Media are here

The landscape of social media has changed and there is no going back. Brands not only have to continue creating engaging and interesting content but now they must learn how to maneuver through the many paid advertising options.

The strategy your brand created last week, last month or last year will not be as effective today. The question is why?

The answer is somewhat simple.

Social networks have exploded and with millions of users and these same platforms need and want revenue in order to continue offering a free platform for users. These platforms also have a responsibility to their users to deliver content that is relevant to them. With so many users logging in daily,  platforms simply can’t deliver all content to all users.

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The very premise of organic social media is based on “earning” your way into a user’s newsfeeds. Great content that people want to consume being delivered to their feed. In turn those same users share your content helping to increase its engagement. The more users interact with your content the more play it gets. The playing field is fair for all brands or atleast it was.

Paid social media is a whole other beast. Now brands have to create posts that grab people’s attention, stand out among the fierce competition and that fit within the parameters set out by each platform. Paid social media is about positioning your brand in front of a highly targeted audience and in many ways interrupting their daily dose of social media with your brands messaging. To be successful at this tactic you gotta be good and you gotta pay up!

When creating your marketing strategy a brand must have 2 buckets. 1 for organic and 1 for paid. Each approach requires different elements. What remains the same is the need for good content, relevant content and timely content. While the strategies are similar the execution is vastly different.

Things to consider:

  • Develop a paid and organic strategy for your brand
  • Develop content with a compelling call to action (you have limited space to make an impression)
  • Determine who your audience is and what platform they are on
  • Trial and Error – the paid space is new and ever emerging. Try a few different ads and see which performs and delivers results
  • Set a budget – There is no need to break the bank on a social media ad spend. Start small and increase your budget as you see results

 

3 Ways To Simplify Your Social Media

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By now you know your brand needs to be on social media. You also know that its not enough to just be “on” social media.  The question most often asked is “how as a business owner can I find the time to do social right”.  The answer is, social media does not have to be stressful, it is something that can be managed and organized in a way that will not only work but show you a clear ROI.

3 simple tips to simplify your social media:

Strategize

Before you jump in the social game, take the time to build a social strategy.  Define who your brand is and research which platforms best suit your brand.  If you are a fashion designer for example, you need to be spending your time posting images and creating boards on pinterest. This strategy however would not work as well for an accountant.  Understanding where your customers spend their time is key in planning where you will reach them.  Once you have chosen your platforms work on a strategy for how and when you will post.

Things to consider:

  1. What content is relevant to your customers?
  2. What expertise can you share with your customers. Always be thinking of the takeaway.
  3. How many platforms fit your brand?
  4. How much time per week can you devote to Social Media?

Schedule

Your time is best spent running your business and managing your social media can be a full time job.   I have always been a firm believer in real time marketing, be present, be engaging and be in the moment.  The beauty of scheduling is you can now do both! Tools such as Hootsuite & Tweetdeck  make scheduling your tweets and posts quick and simple. You can even schedule the exact same posts to appear on multiple networks simultaneously. The key to scheduling is to set aside time each week to work on your social content for the upcoming week. Once the hard part is done the scheduling is quick and can be done in under an hour.

The key to scheduling is to not become complacent.  Social Media is a 2 way street and your success relies on the engagement with your followers.  Take time each day to respond, share and chat with those who took the time to engage with your scheduled posts.

Outsource

When people think of outsourcing their first feeling is often one of losing control.  Outsourcing your social media does not mean you have to lose your online voice, in fact when done properly it is the perfect solution and one that allows you to continue doing what you do best…running your business.  A good community manager does not take over your voice, they in fact become an extension of your brand.  A seamless voice that works harmoniously with you to create the online presence you envisioned without the daily worry of taking it all on your own.  The cost of outsourcing may seem daunting for a small business but think about where you time is best spent and most valuable.  Most community mangers work remotely and simply need a laptop and smart phone.  Strategy sessions and check ins can be done via skype and held once a week. Your best investment to a successful social strategy is to have the right person managing it while still allowing you to run your business.

Social Media is here to stay and is changing rapidly with each new app and platform that enters the market.   With the right strategy and systems in place you can build a successful social media presence for your brand, while still concentrating on your business.