The end of year to-do list…

With a brand new year just around the corner, and the increased efforts to make improvements and implement changes that come with that, I thought I would start the process a little early.  Before I can commit to any new projects and distractions, I’d first like to clear the current clutter.  The clutter is mostly in my mind but somewhat manifesting itself around my office too.  So here is the plan in short:

  1. Go through notebooks and diary.

I have several different ways of recording all the bits of information I process on a daily basis, so between my phone notes, notebook, and lots of pieces of paper I should be able to tie up all loose ends.  By which, all I will really be doing is compiling one even bigger to do list, but at least it will all be written in one place.  Of course, my intention is really to get through this list of small mundane boring things to do, or new ideas to follow-up on. Before the end of 2013 of course.

2. The calendar clean-up 

My husband and I both have a desk calendar, although one is like a large piece of doodle art and the other has all the family appointments on it.  Although we try to attend all the things we arrange, sometimes this is impossible so another aspect of clearing the clutter so to speak, is to go through the calendar for the year and check there is nothing important we have forgotten to rearrange.  Plus it’s also a good time to schedule in anything new coming up, like the new term swimming lessons schedule, or meetings, appointments and castings scheduled for the next month.

3. Moving paperwork piles into files

Overall most of my paperwork is already organised into piles so it’s mostly a case hole punching and flicking through files to insert the papers, but there is also a small unorganised pile to go through and sort out.  If you have large amounts to get through my advice is try breaking it up into chunks to tackle.  Divide it into 3 piles and spend no more than 20 minutes sorting through one pile, then take a break and go do something else.  Each time you return to the filing piles, you will see progress and that in itself is motivation enough to finish it.

1372The last couple of things that are on the 2013 to do list will be to organise a New Years event for one of the beer brands I work with and to sign the paperwork to become a Director in my husband’s new business.

With everything taken care of that way, I will then be fully free to focus all my energy on a positive, busy and successful 2014.  And put my feet up a little for the rest of 2013.

What do you plan to do before 2014 arrives?  What are you planning to do in 2014 anyway?  I’d love to hear how you plan to have a positive, happy, successful year too.

The Purpose of your Page?

Deciding early on what your expectations are in social media will help you start as you mean to go on.  All too often businesses are measuring their social media success on the wrong things entirely so it’s important to determine where you are heading first.

What’s the end goal?

  • To connect with your customers and clients
  • To deliver a better customer service
  • To gain new leads
  • To build brand awareness

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Image courtesy of smarnad / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Whatever it is that you want to achieve in your business, now is the time to align it with your social media efforts.  To get you on track, here are some questions you need to ask:

What are my expectations for the page?

What kind of exposure do I want – increase customer engagement, improve public relations, promote new products and offers or deliver exceptional customer service?

What kind of engagement would be most beneficial – knowing more about our existing customers or finding out more demographic info?

What demographic are we struggling to connect with that would be valuable to do so through social media?

What are my competitors doing that I think works or doesn’t work?

What are my ROI expectations?

The last question will get a variety of answers and most will probably be within some social media metric – saying they want a certain number of likes.  However in day to day business the main metrics would be sales volume, revenue and cost.  These may be hard to measure in social media, but reach and engagement are a good place to start.  How a piece of content is performing and how often people are engaging with your brand is important.

Remember having a lot of likes or fans is not everything.  You are no better off having a hundred people following your page who never interact with it, so focus on having real likes that really want to talk back to you, and gain valuable information from them, with your end goal in mind.

Feel free to leave any comments if you would like to share your ideas or experience in this…

10 ways to create a successful content strategy in social media

1.Know what the goal is?
Before you decide that social media is not working for you the way you had hoped it would, be specific. Have you decided on the goal posts? Are you wanting to generate more traffic, create a following, generate engagement with your fans or generate revenue. Your metrics will depend on your end goal so if you want to generate more revenue, work out the exact dollar value every lead a social media post generates. If you want a larger following, make sure you are on all the platforms. If you want more comments, mentions and engagement make sure your content is of high quality that promotes engagement.
2.Ask Questions
This is your chance to really interact with fans and generate engagement to gain leads. You are able to get inside their heads and find out what their interests and lifestyles are. It’s an instant focus group, which allows you to explore what your customers or fans like and where you can expand.
3.Monitor your competitors
Keep an eye on what others in your industry are doing. It’s interesting to note which social media platforms they are using, which are working for them and which are not necessarily. Are you posting or tweeting as much as them, do they have more engagement? Maintain an active presence on the sites that are working for you so that you don’t get left behind, but keep evolving and try new platforms that seem to be successful for your competitors too.
4.Customer is King
Spending a little time on where your customers are is key too. Find out what channels they use – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest and Instagram seem to be the most commonly used in Zimbabwe at the moment but chances are different customers will be on different sites so find them and follow them too. Create content that they want to engage with or talk about and then listen to what they are saying.
5.Post more
Increasing the posts and updates will generate more traffic. It is not uncommon for business to tweet 5-10 times a day and Facebook averages between 1-4 posts a day. Business hours usually have the highest traffic but anything between 8am and 8pm is usually safe, depending on your brand.
6.Bring your posts to life
Using infographics and hashtags is a great way to add a little something to your posts. Infographics are appealing as they present a lot of otherwise boring to read information in a visually attractive way that is easy to comprehend and remember. Using hashtags can track promo activity across platforms and people who use them are likely to engage in social conversations more.
7.Linking in-person events and social media
A great way to get more exposure for your brand on the social sites is to integrate it with your in-person events. Create an event on your page, pick a hashtag for the event to get engagement or stream a live video of your event. Post blogs, pictures, videos, press releases and even attendees names to excite other potential attendees.
8.Be generous with tips
A search on the keyword ‘tips’ yields incredible results and as this is the information age and everyone is looking online for something to make their life easier, why not be the one giving it to them. Tip related articles always go down well so if there is something you an share, you will be pleasantly surprised.
9.Don’t rely on auto-posting
Auto-posting is fine, but being available for real conversation back and forth is important. It’s called social media for that reason, real time social conversation. This is where you may get your best insider tips from, early morning or late night conversations with people who are keen to tell you what they are thinking about your brand.
10.Outsource where necessary
Research has shown that companies that have the most effective social media presence have a combination of both internal and eternal people. Internal administrators can deliver messages and updates as the news breaks so to speak and can help keep the content fresh. Whilst the expertise and knowledge of a social media consultant, who understand social media across all platforms, can also add great value to your campaigns. Try covering all bases and have both internal and external resources to rely on.

If you have any comments or further suggestions on creating an effective social media content strategy then I would love to hear them.

Facebook paid advertising…are you doing it?

Advertisers everywhere are making use of social media to enhance their business. The majority of these are using the free tools such as Facebook, Twitter and Youtube, but a lot more marketers are realising the need to increase their social media budgets for the year. In order to reach the right audience, at the right time and direct more traffic to your website and gain new customers, it’s becoming essential to also pay for advertising in the social media space.

However unlike other marketing campaigns, this can even be done on a small budget. There are various paid media channels to choose from on Google, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook so right now we are only going to concentrate on what Facebook has to offer, since is this where most people’s social media campaigns start.

Currently Facebook only shows 10-16% of your fans your posts. Facebook’s algorithm ranks your posts according to how people have previously interacted with content type, the weight of a post, ie photos get seen by more people, the time decay on a post or how old it is and the connection/affinity you have with the fans. So unless each of your fans go and check out your page EVERY day, chance are they are missing a lot of your posts. And I’m sure you are all familiar with those certain fans who always seem to comment and like your stuff. You might think they are your biggest fans, and in a way they are, but it’s more likely because of their previous interactions that are part of the 10-16% usually selected to see your recent posts.

FACEBOOK ADS

To start a new paid advertising campaign on Facebook, go to your page.  On the right hand side, near the top of the page you will notice an Ads Manager button.  Once you click into this, the option will then be to Create An Ad.

Choose what you are advertising – Your page, Another URL for your website, a Place, an App that you have designed or a link to iTunes for example, or an Event.

In this instance we are going to choose to advertise your page to get more likes.  After you have selected the page you want, you need to choose the goal:

Now you want to create your ad with the following:

Capture - step 1

Insert headline (25 characters) and some text about your product or service (90 characters) and which page – Timeline or Photos, you want people to land on when they click your ad, also known as landing view.

For no further cost you can also choose to show sponsored stories about people liking your page.

Now you have to choose your audience.  You can enter some very specific criteria here to narrow down your search to the most relevant people on Facebook.  This is how you grown your fan base with people who are interested in your product or service.

Capture - Choose audience

Once you have selected the country / countries you wish to advertise in, you will see a figure of the number of people you could potentially reach.  However you can target your audience even more specifically and this will either cause the reach number to fall or rise, depending on the criteria selected.  As you can see below, I have narrowed my search down by selecting to only show the ad to women.

Capture- Advanced targeting options

Capture- Audience Autos

Now I want to choose even more Advanced Targeting Options to select people that have an interest in Autos as well.  You will notice the reach potential then increases again.

Capture - Small business ownersOn top of people who have an Auto interest I also want to target Small Business Owners in Zimbabwe too, so I selected that option too.

Campaign, Pricing and Schedule

SO how much is this all going to cost?  Well the beauty of it is that you decide.  When you run an ad you are only charged for the number of clicks (impressions) it receives and this never exceeds your daily / lifetime budget.  The bigger your budget, the more people you will reach.  The distribution of your ad factors the following in: bid, marketplace competition, target audience and performance history.

If you choose a per day budget, Facebook will spread out the spending per day, however a lifetime budget will be paced over the lifetime of the campaign.  Ads will stop showing once your daily budget has been met.  Once you have input the info, you will get a chance to review your ad and then you will either Place Order or go back and Edit.  Once you click the Place Order button you will then need to add your funding source.

Capture - Campaign costs etc

Capture - Funding source

If you, like many others are sceptical  about the return on investment with social media and are unsure of how to measure your  efforts, you may want to initially just try simple yet interesting paid campaigns.  Another way to find more funding for Facebook ads is by cutting back on resources in other areas of marketing that just are not performing as planned.

Like they always say…don’t knock it until you tried it.  Have you tried it or are thinking about it?  Please feel free to share your thoughts on this.

10 ways to make your picture posts more appealing

We all know that pictures speak a thousand words so using them in social media is essential, but you can get bogged down with the usual posts and style of pictures so here are a couple of suggestions to spice things up a bit.  Photos get as many as 7 times more likes than just written updates and they get shared about 10 times more than links.

css unhealthy food1. don’t just say it, show it.  By adding text to your photo, you can get your point across quickly, or you can make your message a little more appealing.

2. Show readers step by step guides with pictures that link together to form a useful map of how to’s.  For something that is quite complex this is the simple solution.css logo 1

3. Use quotes.  Find the best ones online and put them onto your pictures.  Or use clever apps that do it for you.

4. Create infographics.  These are becoming huge, especially on sites like Scoop-it and Pinterest, so start with simple ideas and try it out.  By utilizing graphics to relay a large amount of information, you can enhance the ability to see patterns and trends on the things you really want to show.

anne frank quote5. Encourage people to share photos with your business.  Find creative ways to get users to submit photos to you, and do the hard work for you by generating content.

6. Make sure all your blogs have at least one pinnable image for Pinterest.  The Pin It button is clicked a lot so if you want your content to be seen, make sure enough of it exists.

7. Create an interesting cover picture on your Facebook profile.  The rules have changed now so you can have more writing and promo stuff on your cover picture, still not more than 20% I think, so this means you can get a bit more creative.

8. Get up close to the subject.  Extreme close up shots add a lot of depth and feeling. Give a new perspective to your shots, not all of them, but some really well thought out ones will work wonders.

9. Spend some time brainstorming on photo content ideas and create and build a library of photos that you can use over the next few weeks or months.

10.  Just do silly sometimes.  We just made a silly sign for our kids to hold and it got more likes and was seen by more people than any of the other more standard posts we had put up.  IMG_4449