Traditional marketing approaches recognise that defining the target market will help you choose the most favorable advertising approach for your brand. With the advent of the social internet, surely, everything has changed. Brands need marketing everywhere. Do you need to empower your publicity?
“To accept the future, one must renounce much of the past. New hopes, new styles, and most important, a new way of seeing. Revolutions do not come piecemeal. One account… replaces another. Old problems are seen in a new light, other problems are recognised for the first time.” ~ James Gleick, Chaos: Making a New Science (1987).
The challenge for any now product, especially one created by a start-up business having a tiny marketing budget is where best to spend that money. Better yet spend no money at all. The challenge is not only cost-effective marketing but monitoring and control. As a small business owner you need to look at every way possible to empower your publicity.
Marketing Without Money
Is it possible to market with no money? As a small bussines you need to know this to empower your publicity.
It has been the key question entrepreneurs and marketers have asked for decades. Traditionally, low-budget options have always existed. For example, printing leaflets, then marching the streets and dropping these in letter boxes (or paying a local kid to do this). In the electronic world businesses look to social media and search engines. Also, YouTube videos help spread the word. They provide many of the benefits without the legwork and stair climbing.
Zero spend options do exist. One example is the person having a spare room who advertises the space on AirBNB or VRBO then makes a supplemental income. Such services do not charge for advertising. They make money from a percentage of the sale, as do many on-line apps. This owner can make it a serious small business should they have three or more rooms available. The serious entrepreneur looks for ways to fill rooms, even during off-peak seasons.
It has long been accepted that to be successful in the modern world a business needs an on-line presence. They also need a presence in the social media world. It is important to recognise that there is a difference between posting and advertising. Posting doesn’t cost a penny (apart from the time and effort of the person making the posts. Advertising requires a budget.
Writer Joanna Penn concluded that marketing her content was necessary to attract readers to her books. “Facebook is the most powerful advertising platform around because of its laser-targeting abilities,” she stated. She has also determined that a large part of her readership use that social site. Ultimately, she is looking to:
- Grow her contact list,
- Promote webinars, on-line and other events.
- Sell books through direct channels, and
- Promote her book signings.
If the entrepreneur grows their on-line presence, do traditional marketing methods still apply? Is multi-channel marketing still required? One tactic is to expand the on-line marketing model. Perhaps, using paid search ads and a variety of social media tools.
Tip: Grow Your Network
Marketing expert Mike Michalowicz takes the view:
“Never Stop Growing Your Network — Expand your network of contacts and potential clients. Ask your best, most powerful, most influential friends or business associates to introduce you to the five people they think you should meet to expand your business. Take each of the contacts out for coffee and get to know them. Discuss your plans and future goals, tell them about why your business is special and ask for their advice. You will be amazed at how these new contacts will pay off ten-fold with recommendations to you for new business and innovative ideas you hadn’t thought of.”
This is the network marketing approach. Can you use it to empower your publicity? Yes, you can.
Please, do not confuse it with social networking. The two are distinct and different. For network marketing you start with people you know (often very well) and expand your circle. They will mostly be local and not on the other side of the world (which contacts on social networks can be).
Using Michalowicz’s approach it is not simply about building new, innovative ideas. It involves having people buy your existing products or services. The intent is to have these contacts recommend you to people they meet. Still a powerful approach even in the digital world.
Where are your customers? What are they doing? These questions are of concern when marketing any product. The challenge of digital marketing is recognising that your website and blog play a vital role. They work when everyone in your business is asleep in their beds.
The local prospect having a sleepless night, mingles at 2 a.m. with the Indonesian shopper.
The world wide web brings a world-wide audience. Additionally, “social media is a great place to let your brand off the leash a little. Voicey personas are common on Twitter. It’s a great-way to get interest, interaction, and even viral traction for your brand” Says digital marketing agency Outbrain. They are right, it is where your brand can develop a persona.
Are customers wearing your brand? Drinking it? Playing video games with it? Chances are they will be talking about your brand on social media and not always in the most glowing of terms.
Social Media Examiner suggests asking fans to show their love for your products. This is possible in many ways. Sharing photos, videos, wearing the T-shirt are all ways to show their love.
But customer engagement doesn’t end there. Customers tend to scream out loud when something goes wrong. This is where customer engagement is tested to the limit. The customer is complaining about a software bug. Have the programmer post a blog about a workaround that users can use while they fix the problem.
Social media engagement is more holistic than traditional customer service. It is not about supplying a marketing approved message. You must genuinely engage the customer. Track the services to ensure you provide timely feedback. With Facebook you have external tools, requiring no system maintenance. Through them you may connect with existing and potential customers. Have your brands communicate, influence customers, often at zero cost.
What is the long-term vision for your brand? Have you set one? It is vital you set one. The Internet branding proposition should be consistent that vision.
When planning your brand’s on-line social impact dedicate at least one long-term team member to it. They must understand how to be popular on-line. It is their role to get involved with the target group. Interact with them and build relationships. Mirroring the need to grow your network. Their real-world network should be the basis for a strong social network.
Your business’s social vision is to encourage the involvement of consumers and potential consumers with on-line activities. The idea being that they bring along their friends and family and involve them in the social media activity.
Part of that vision should be about engaging the right mix of social media monitoring tools.
Tip: Marketing Gamification
Is this a way to empower your publicity? Sound as if it may. Lets look further…
Yu-kai Chou promotes Marketing Gamification as a technique. It occurs, “when you create your own viral content that… indirectly promotes your brand or services”. Examples include creating a viral video or hosting a competition. Even having people earn points by clicking on parts of the web page works. It retains them as a reader and drives curiosity about what happens when they reach a certain level.
It is about using emotion, touching people, causing them to do something different. Watch this video:
Viral interaction can lead to more costs. The aim of course — go viral. Even Chou admits “the odds of it really turning viral are extremely low.” It is exciting, but is it worth the cost?
Social Brand Pages
Madhur Chaturvedi, Director of Insight and Customer Strategy at Oracle says the explosion of social media use all over the world has made it an important platform for businesses to connect with. Customers, prospects, employees and even job candidates are all there. Of course, social media platforms are recognising this through their advertising provision.
On the Facebook page you can create your own brand page. They are for businesses, brands, celebrities and public figures, and organizations. Used to share stories and connect with Facebook members. For a business the Facebook page provides the foundation for advertising and other business tools.
E-commerce solution provider, Shopify, will add a shop section to your Facebook page linking directly to your e-commerce site. Fans can learn more about the products, view photos and even click the “Buy” button to make a purchase.
Empower your Publicity: Social Media Posting
Entrepreneur Chris Anderson in Free: The Future of a Radical Price (2009) says “‘FREE’ CAN MEAN MANY THINGS, and that meaning has changed over the years. It raises suspicions, yet has the power to grab attention like almost nothing else.”
Posting on social networks is free. The point about free is that you can do a lot with it. It suits the small entrepreneur with a minuscule marketing budget. It also suits the global corporation looking to reduce advertising spend. Social networking platforms are unlikely to ever charge to post items. This remains a great publicity resource. It is where they build their advertising audience.
Yet, there is a penalty for posting material that looks as if it may be advertising. You may lose followers. So, you must be clever about what you post and how you post it. Items on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn about an event is acceptable behaviour. It may be advertising. Remember there will be many organisations at the event. Each giving their own view. Disseminating the word to online communities, before, during, and after the event.
Blogs are another way to gain support from a community. For a business, blogs should drive not only readership but sales. Yet no business blog should concentrate solely on sales. They are a way to demonstrate brand vision and show expertise in the industry. They support your web-site. Social media postings can also build blog readership and hence improve sales.
Tip: Events and Standing Out
The conventional approach to publicity for events are somewhat hit and miss. For example, organisers contact journalists from local and regional newspapers or news services. Provide them with information about the event and have them talk about it as a news item. The plan: build buzz etc.
Yet events take on a whole new dimension. This is as true for the organiser as it is for both exhibitors and even attendees. Both have a lot of effort invested.
Using social media for event marketing can enhance your reach. What are the appropriate hashtags? You should be talking about your event months before it happens. Discovering what posts event-goers engage with is essential says Rachel Grate of Eventbrite. People need to get excited. They need commitment to go. It needs special significance — it should feel like going to the Super Bowl. Each event needs a hashtag, which everyone should be encouraged to use.
Exhibitors may also wish to generate their own hashtag and generate a buzz for their display. What are you displaying? How is it special?
Tweets and social posts at a live event are a part of the process of engaging next year’s audience. Those that could not attend feel the buzz generated as the event happens live. They ensure next year’s event is in their calendar.
Stacey Bird of Slinky Productions makes a valid point, most employees use at least one social media site. Is it possible to get one of them to share corporate material? This is a terrific way to extend corporate reach. Some employee will never do so. For them Facebook remains the exclusive domain of family and friends. That is fine and is their choice. Others will be happy to help.
Even if an employee only shares things that interest them, it makes a great contribution. The lesson: social media engagement is not a sole part of the marketing or customer services domain. In theory it should be open to everyone, yet employees need training and guidance.
Facebook and Twitter are the most widely used social platforms. Yet they may not be the most appropriate sites to use. Know your industry demographics and where people gravitate. LinkedIn is also powerful for business networking. Many industries have a great presence on other sites, including specialist groups. Pay attention to these. They will also impact your advertising strategy.
With social posting, businesses must remember it is a two-way channel. Learn to enrich customer relationships by this. Engage with people in your niche. Customers, potential clients, and other people who share an interest in what you do. Listen to what they are saying.
Empower your publicity with dedicated ambassadors.
People with whom you work on a daily basis can become dedicated ambassadors of your brand. Spend time building meaningful business relationships with them. The Wix Blog offers “24 Free Ways to Market Your Small Business,” including:
- Ask clients to share their experience on social media.
- Tag related people in your posts to encourage engagement.
- Write guest posts on relevant blogs.
- Create a contest or challenge requiring social sharing.
- Establish your business expertise.
- Get involved with community projects.
- Discover niche social media platforms.
Each, when used appropriately will increase your social reach.
Advertising on Social Sites
Hootsuite proposes that advertisers should run targeted ads with real-time results. “Run an ad campaign on LinkedIn, you can segment by things like location, company, job title, gender, and age — the list goes on.” Each social site will have different targeting capabilities. Based on the information they hold about members.
There are two types of advertising on Facebook. Those that appear on the Sidebar and those that appear in the Newsfeed. Both are shown here:
Additionally, there are “Suggested Posts” that appear within your Newsfeed. They tempt a user to like a page, shown as follows:
These are sometimes shown as “Mary Jones Likes…” Facebook makes significant earning from their advertising spots. For the advertiser they have the flexibility of targeting a focused set of people. Based on their profile data or the types of stories they follow/like.
Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social sites aid marketers with much information. Each has a large potential audience. Each have profile data to segment. The challenge is translating this target group into large sales volumes. Truth is many users have learned to ignore the adverts.
According to Social Media Examiner one trick is to attract leads with offers that are specific to Facebook. This could also be an opportunity to promote via a competition.
Your campaign should appeal to two sets of people. Those who already follow your page and customers or prospects that are yet to follow it. Appeal to your audience, touch their emotions.
The more your audience participates in the social media campaign, the better and more effective it will be! The Ultimate Experience, who provide social media promotion for events, look at viral content. 35.6 Million people tweeted about the 2014 World Cup semi-final where Germany beat Brazil 7 to 1. Also 16,000 people tweeted about the recent Grammy awards.
That is the type of participation advertisers desire, but rarely get. Get a fraction of these people tweeting about your event and it could be an instant success. Social media advertising should drive participation as well as sales. TV advertising, by comparison, is typically the costliest type of advertising. It rarely brings significant participation. Those posts on your news-feed can be shared and sent to friends etc.
Small business needs to control costs. Great! The business owner sets the daily budget for the target audience. The trick is focusing on the right audience, do you know what yours is?
Is all social media a single channel? Asking this question may puzzle you. There are more than 100 popular social media sites. Each accessible through a browser and a collection of apps built for the smartphone. Some, for example Baidu Tieba or Vkontakte, are for local markets, like China or Russia. They are distinct channels. Remember, not all offer the same flexibility.
Apps on mobile device are similar, but not identical to the main website. Mobile devices may handle functions differently. Mobile devices are important. People continue their social interactions away from their home or office. A significant percentage of Facebook’s 1.7 Billion users operate from mobile devices. Pay attention to mobile usage, it is beneficial for social media marketing.
Two other aspect to consider. First, the games that link to social networks and second the mobile game market. They are fertile ground for advertising opportunities. Users love free games and download them daily, each supported by advertising.
Does your Business have a Blog?
Most businesses have websites to showcase their products or services. Blogs go beyond that. They are a valid part of the social media landscape. They are also a crucial adjunct to your website.
The difference between a website and a blog is that the former tends to be fairly static. Blogs showcase expertise and are fluid with posts added often. Websites are only updated when products or services alter. It also happens when the business is going through a re-branding exercise. Add Blog posts regularly (monthly, weekly, daily, depending on the needs of the business). Make them topical, timely, and respond to the needs of the client. They can provide a conduit to the web site.
Take every opportunity to link the two. Promote them together and empower your publicity.
Social media encourages people interested in your industry to look at your blog. That blog should link to individual product pages as well as other blog pages. It should also link to pages of interest to the industry (sometimes even to competitor pages). Links serve an SEO function, bringing more visitors you visit your website. It provides further opportunities to share your site through social media. It also provides content whose performance ia tracked.
“You can empower the public with information about your products and services by writing and publishing informative and engaging blog posts” says Singapore based MediaOne Marketing. A business blog’s primary purpose is informing members of the public of your professional or commercial prowess. Sales are secondary to this channel, but they will happen because of it.
Monitoring Your Social Media
Social media can be a great tool for listening to customer expectations. What is their next great need? Have you seen what they are saying on social media? Do you watch the social web? You should, what people are saying includes:
- Industry updates.
- Product gripes (including problems with yours).
- Singing the praises of products (including yours).
- Industry futures.
- Where next?
The challenge is setting up a listening station. Of course, 99.99999% of everything said is of little relevance but the key is getting to the nub of the next great idea. It can provide a great advantage when updating your products. They help you empower your publicity, vital for cost effectiveness.
There are many monitoring tools available at a variety of prices. The starting point can be the social media site itself. Twitter Analytics, for example, provides a variety of information:
- 28 Day summaries (number of tweets, impressions, profile visits, mentions, and followers)
- Top tweet based on the number of impressions
- Best mention
- Top follower
Other tools provide other statistics. All derived from the data from Twitter servers.
The key point about analytics is when you have relevant data in front of you. Providing the power to analyze it and make informed decisions about what approaches you should be taking. The entrepreneur needs access to regular reports. This may help change your approach, or perhaps the marketing message.
Looking for ways to empower your publicity, then these posts may help:
- Publicity & Growth: The Personality of your Blog
- Consistency, Mood and Publicity — The Social Challenge
- Buffer the App — Should be Part of your Publicity Machine
- 34 Services to Help with Publicity
Do you use social media to publicise your business? Let us know the ways in it can empower your publicity. Please leave a comment and discuss your views.
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