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  • Larry Alton 11:06 am on September 25, 2016 Permalink | Reply  

    5 Ways Social Media Can Be Used for Valuable Market Research 

    Social media obviously has immense value as a marketing tool. And while it’s very interesting to explore the different ways in which social media marketing can be leveraged for small businesses, it’s equally as fascinating to look at the role social media plays in market research. It’s arguably the most underrated and cost-effective research tool businesses currently have available to them. Are you taking advantage of this opportunity?

    Five Ways to Use Social Media for Research

    The reason most businesses don’t use social media for market research is that they simply don’t know how. Well, today’s your lucky day. Here are five specific ways you can begin using social media to propel your research efforts starting today.

    1. Reader Persona Development

    When starting a blog, social media can and should be used to help you develop reader personas. You can use any social network, but Twitter is arguably one of the best platforms for this. Using the Advanced Search feature, you can type in a set of keywords or phrases and find people who are talking about these topics.

    Once you find people who are posting about your topic, click on their profiles and start studying them. This means looking at their pictures, bios, and other posts. You’ll be surprised by how much you can find out about these people. After reviewing a few different profiles, you should have a pretty good idea of who your target readers are. This information can then be used to develop robust personas that guide your content.

    1. Popular Trends

    Every social media platform has a way for you to search for popular trends and topics. Once again, Twitter makes this easy. They list trending topics – based on hashtags – and will actually tell you what’s popular at any given moment.

    As a marketer, you should frequently mine trending topics to gain some insights into what your customers are talking about and what’s important to them.

    1. Audience Insights

    Much in the same way that social media can be used to develop reader personas when first launching a blog or business, it can also be continuously used to understand who your audience is.

    Facebook has an audience insights tool that’s extremely helpful. You can create different audiences based on what you know and then discover other details that you maybe didn’t know. These include everything from basic demographic information to location, activity, interests, and even purchase behaviors.

    1. Brand Reputation

    Do you know what others are saying about your brand when you aren’t around? Well, thanks to social media, you can. “Whether you want to observe quietly, learn about your customers and what they’re looking for, respond to critics or simply engage in conversation, you need to know what people are saying,” marketer Tamar Weinberg says.

    Using any number of social media listening tools, you can automate this process and receive updates and notifications whenever someone mentions your brand. This keeps you informed and ensures you don’t lose touch with reality.

    1. Surveys and Direct Feedback

    Finally, social media can be used for surveys and direct feedback. This comes in handy when you’re not sure if you’re doing something right or wrong – or if you need to know something before launching a new product or marketing campaign.

    You can try posting direct questions to see if your customers will respond. Otherwise, using a feature like Twitter Polls is your best bet.

    Maximize the Total Value of Social Media

    Don’t get the wrong idea – social media is an incredibly valuable marketing tool that all businesses should be leveraging – but if you aren’t using it for research, you aren’t maximizing its value. Thankfully, you can change this by making a few important decisions. Will you?

  • Larry Alton 10:13 am on September 22, 2016 Permalink | Reply  

    Instagram is Quickly Becoming a Staple for Social Media Marketers 

    Every brand is on Facebook. And while there’s nothing wrong with having a Facebook presence – it’s a wise decision, in fact – don’t you want to expand your social media marketing to include more progressive platforms? Thousands of other marketers are – and they’re overwhelmingly choosing Instagram.

    Five Reasons to Leverage Instagram

    Effective marketing is about reaching people in the right place, at the right time, using the right tools. Instagram allows most brands to accomplish all of these things. With that being said, here are some of the top reasons why leading brands are leveraging Instagram, and why you should be doing the same.

    1. Swift Growing Audience

    While Facebook clearly has the largest audience of any social network, few are growing as swiftly as Instagram. There were just 90 million users at the beginning of 2013, but that number swelled to 300 million by the end of 2014. Now, in 2016, the total number of monthly active users totals more than 500 million. Projections suggest this is just a starting point and that there’s plenty of room for growth.

    By adopting Instagram now, when it’s in the middle of substantial growth, you can build a strong audience and make the most of this influential network.

    1. Visual Appeal

    Digital marketing is clearly moving away from text-based content and towards immersive visuals that engage customers. Your strategies should be following the same trajectory.

    “Visual content is riding an upward trend in popularity, and Instagram is one of the best visual content platforms available,” says PeerBoost, an online automation tool designed to get more Instagram followers. “If a brand is planning to inject more images and videos into its content marketing campaigns, Instagram is a solid place to do it. The platform makes the visual production process much easier, which reduces the creative burden on brands.”

    1. Concentration of Millennials

    Millennials have a love affair with Instagram – there’s no other way to put it. According to eMarketer, there will be an estimated 48.2 million millennial Instagram users in the U.S. this year alone. By 2019, it’s believed that two-thirds of all millennial smartphone users will have an Instagram account.

    “Instagram has a lot of momentum with advertisers, and its revenue is increasing rapidly. For marketers that want to target mobile millennials, Instagram is an attractive option,” says Debra Aho Williamson of eMarketer.

    1. Marketer-Friendly Nature

    Instagram is surprisingly easy to use. Even the most inexperienced marketer can hit the ground running with very little preparation. Thanks to a bevy of photo editing options, you don’t even need professional photography equipment.

    If you’re looking to increase brand transparency and connect with customers in new ways, Instagram is ideal. It lets people see your world, and gives you the opportunity to humanize your brand in visual ways.

    1. Cool Factor

    Finally, we would be remiss not to mention the inherent “cool factor” that Instagram has. It’s a fun, exciting, fresh, and hip social networking platform that automatically elevates the status of brands, simply as a result of participation.

    Regardless of your brand’s marketing strategy, cool is something that never hurts. Couple that with the ability to penetrate the highly-profitable and growing millennial consumer segment, and it’s clear that Instagram is a must.

    Don’t Settle for the Status Quo

    You can launch a Facebook page and share listicles and memes, but how much value are you actually extracting from doing this? Instead of spending your time doing exactly what every other marketer is doing, mix things up a bit and try your hand at Instagram. There are plenty of reasons to love what Instagram has to offer, and your marketing strategy will certainly benefit.

  • Larry Alton 5:48 pm on September 21, 2016 Permalink | Reply  

    8 Types of Social Media Contests That Can Boost Your Strategy 

    Social media marketing is appealing for a number of reasons. It’s relatively approachable, it’s cost-efficient, and it has the potential to attract thousands of new followers to your brand. But earning a large following and getting actual value from your customers isn’t a cakewalk. You have to give people a reason to follow you, and one of the best ways to do that is by using a contest to attract attention.

    The Advantages of Contests

    Executing a social media contest has a number of potential advantages for your brand’s reputation and following:

    • Cost-efficiency. Many contests will cost you something upfront, such as the cost of a giveaway item. However, when compared to the costs of traditional advertising, it’s a highly affordable marketing strategy.
    • Self-perpetuation. One of the most rewarding events in social media marketing is getting one of your posts to circulate virally, but it’s not easy to achieve. Because contests give people feelings of excitement, they’re likely to share that material, leading to increased attention and a greater likelihood that the contest will “go viral.”
    • User participation. Most contests require that users participate in some way—whether that’s by clicking “like” or submitting a photo. Participation increases visibility and loyalty for the participant.
    • Standout nature. Because of their attractive, colorful nature, contests tend to stand out in user’s newsfeeds, making them more visible and shareable.

    Types of Contests to Leverage

    There are a few main goals you could pursue with a contest:

    • Earning more followers. These contests revolve around getting more people to follow your brand.
    • Cultivating more content. These types encourage more user submission of content for added visibility and engagement.
    • Getting more people to your site. You could also use contests to attract traffic to your site.

    There are no right or wrong answers here, but you’ll need to figure out what your priorities are before you get started. From there, you can choose among a number of different contest types:

    1. Referral-based promotions. In this straightforward model, you could offer users a reward for referring other users to the brand. Typically used as a way to generate site traffic and brand engagement, you could reward referrals with a discount, a free gift, or some other benefit. For example, Jay Suites recently offered up an iPad Mini to successful referrers.
    2. Giveaways. Giveaways aren’t really contests because they don’t demand any competition. However, they offer the same advantages as contests, so they’re worth mentioning here. The idea is to give away a product or series of products to a select group of followers. This is especially effective if you’re promoting a prototype of a new product or a new line of items from your brand.
    3. Sweepstakes. Sweepstakes are like giveaways, but with a caveat. To participate, users must take some action; users who take the action are pooled together, and from them are randomly selected a number to win the prize. For example, shirt company Qwertee recently ran a sweepstakes contest encouraging users to “like” the brand in exchange for a chance to win a shirt.
    4. Photo contests. Photo contests encourage users to take certain types of photos—perhaps of a given subject or a given location. Usually, a brand declares a hashtag to be used for this purpose. Then, the “best” photo (or randomly selected participants) are chosen to win the prize. Get creative here! For example, Om Nom Nom Cookies encouraged users to take selfies of themselves eating the product.
    5. Caption contests. Caption contests take a piece of content that already exists—usually a photo—and encourages users to come up with clever or humorous captions to accompany that image. You can choose the winner yourself or ask your users to vote among themselves.
    6. Essay contests. Essay contests are more intensive, and are generally more serious in nature. If you sponsor an essay contest, know this will require significant effort from your users and offer a prize that rewards that effort. Have your users submit a written essay on the subject of your choice.
    7. Video contests. Video contests work much in the same way as photo contests. You’ll encourage users to submit a certain type of video—from a review of your products to a monologue on why they deserve to win—and select a winner from there.
    8. Discount and small-reward contests for participation. You could also shrink the scale of your efforts by offering smaller rewards for smaller levels of participation. For example, you could give a 10 percent discount to anyone who “likes” your brand within a certain period.

    Over the course of your social media strategy, we highly encourage you to try out multiple types of contests—especially if you don’t know your social media audience that well. Each of these possible contests has advantages and disadvantages, so you’ll need to experiment to see which one works best for your brand. From there, you can tinker with the specifics until you have a fully optimized contest to draw power from.

  • Larry Alton 5:01 pm on September 14, 2016 Permalink | Reply  

    Guides and Reviews To Help With Social Media Marketing 

    Social media marketing is a constantly evolving practice, and that means that in order to stay competitive in that field, you have to constantly adapt to circumstances and new technology. And sometimes that can be overwhelming. It can be hard for a single person to absorb all that data, and then figure out how to use it according to a complex set of plans to add value to your brand.

    But, sometimes it’s better to synthesize work that’s already been done with respect to that learning curve. For instance, by regularly going over tech-related guides, product reviews, affiliate suggestions, social etiquette advice, and brand management analytics, you can essentially take the best of each part and incorporate them into your own framework.

    Tech Related Guides

    For instance, tech support is a massive industry. If you don’t want to get lost in that world, and lose sight of your personal social branding goals, the smart money’s on hiring a tech support team as soon as you can afford it. Especially if you don’t want to either pay for the infrastructure behind your media marketing machine, utilizing 3rd party information and resources will save you money and increase your visibility.

    New Product Reviews

    What your industry is, you can create more marketing value from within your brand by setting up products review pages on your website. Simple listings of top 10s, within either your industry or a related one, can drive traffic to your site and increase your trust value with the people searching for information about your products and services. Be cautious about reviewing products outside of your realm of specialization though, because that will water down your value instead of improving it.

    Working the Affiliate Angle

    And if you want to mix the idea of making money into the equation, along with your typical social media marketing conventions, add some affiliate marketing value as well. It’s extremely common to link to Amazon products that support your brand, industry, or company, and once you set up an account, you’ll get money for you knowledge regarding advice on these products.

    Keeping Your Conversations Social

    The keyword when it comes to social media marketing is ‘social’. Start conversations that eventually end up mentioning your product. Give out good advice as your brand representative. Have consistent and transparent interactions, and people will naturally begin to follow your presence.

    Using Strict Brand Management

    If you don’t keep the tone of your social output consistent, red flags are going to go up in the social world. So if you want to have a successful social media marketing project, decide early on what that tone is going to be, and stick without throughout the course of the entire management period for that product.

  • Larry Alton 6:56 pm on September 8, 2016 Permalink | Reply  

    6 Social Media Policies Your Employees Should Follow 

    Social media is an amazing marketing tool, but it can be somewhat of a loose cannon if businesses aren’t careful. When people post to social media, the words, photographs, and videos there are immortalized. This can be devastating to businesses looking to maintain a professional attitude.

    Many businesses feel that what their employees post on social media is their own business, but that could be a major mistake. Though you don’t have control over your employee’s personal lives, there are some social media policies that are necessary for protecting sensitive information and the company image.

    When you have some carefully planned and worded social media policies in place, you can effectively avoid disaster. Here are some suggestions.

    1. Avoid Discrimination

    Favoring equality in business is extremely important, and social media can damage this endeavor. Employees have their own opinions, and sometimes those opinions can demean those of certain ethnicities, gender associations, races, and the like. Occasionally, their discriminatory posts can be associated with your business, which will make your company look very bad. Include a non discriminatory clause in your policies to avoid this issue.

    1. Separation of Employee and Company

    Most companies mandate a clear separation of employee and corporate posts on social media. Before an employee publishes something online, they’re required to disclose their affiliation with or without the company. Violation of this agreement can result in termination.

    1. Outline Confidential Information

    Make sure your employees know when they’re dealing with confidential information. Define the type of data employees can share online without legal repercussions. Very clearly spell this out so there are no loopholes and all confidential information remains secure, which is critical since leaked data could mean the end of your business.

    1.  Provide Education

    Have frequent trainings on your social media policies so that no one can claim ignorance when an incident arises. Employees who are well educated on the appropriate use of online media are also less likely to post inappropriate content that can jeopardize your company and their good name.

    1. Overview Contract Agreements

    Remind employees of certain contract agreements that may affect their online activities. If they’ve agreed to withhold affiliation with the company when expressing a personal opinion in the contract, they can be penalized legally for breaking that agreement in their social media presence.

    1. Honesty is the Best Policy

    Remind employees of the importance of being honest and playing nicely while online. Explain how this is important for maintaining professionalism for their personal careers as well the professional image of the company. It seems like this subject goes without saying, but many people simply don’t think before they post. A little reminder can go a long way here.

  • Larry Alton 7:27 pm on September 2, 2016 Permalink | Reply  

    10 Health Tips for the Busy Entrepreneur 

    Though most of your focus has been on business-related topics like online marketing and making great first impressions on clients, busy entrepreneurs also need to focus on their health and wellness. According to research, the American population is slowly working itself to death.

    Because of issues such as eye strain, back and neck problems, and emotional health issues, the general health and wellness of the workplace is decreasing. As a result, one million U.S. employees take a day off work each day due to workplace stress, and productivity losses are costing businesses $225.8 billion every year. This is one problem that needs to be fixed, and quickly.

    Obviously, you’re busy taking care of work and trying to balance your home life, but it’s essential to consider your own personal health. Here are some suggestions for squeezing that into your busy schedule.

    1. Get an Online Checkup

    Virtual hospitals are growing in popularity, and it’s easy to ask questions and get a quick checkup without leaving your desk. Most doctors recommend getting a full physical at least once every year, and visiting an online virtual hospital will save you a lot of time.

    1. Set Attainable Health Goals

    It’s much easier to keep up with diet and exercise when you make a goal. For example, hitting the gym every day becomes simpler if you sign up for a 5k race six weeks in advance. You have something to look forward to, and if you’re a successful entrepreneur, being goal driven is in your DNA.

    1. Pack Healthy Snacks

    Forget junk food and the routine vending machine binge. Pack healthy snacks like carrot sticks and hummus, fruit, whole wheat crackers, homemade trail mix, and other snacks that are low in calories and fat.

    1. Fix Your Sleep Routine

    If you’re staying up late and getting up early, it’s time to make a change. You need to hit REM in order to get a solid night’s sleep, and if you’re working (or playing) late and need to get up early, your entire health will suffer.

    1. Eat Breakfast

    A lot of busy people skip breakfast because they’re in a rush, but this habit has been linked with problems like obesity, heart disease, and diabetes risks. You can avoid these serious health issues and lack of productivity by eating a quick, healthy breakfast every morning.

    1. Make Working Out Convenient

    You’ll never hit the gym if it seems too complicated. Make it easy by stopping by on the way home, running on the treadmill while you watch the news, or throwing in mini exercises on your breaks at work.

    1. Drink More Water

    Staying hydrated not only boosts your metabolic function, but it also helps you feel full. When you drink more water, you have fewer cravings and resist the need to overeat during meals.

    1. Try a Healthy Meal Delivery Program

    If you have the means, a healthy meal delivery program is perfect for helping you stay on track for weight loss and heart-healthy diets. These meal delivery programs bring healthy, calorie-controlled food to your door. If you find a good program, the food can taste better than a restaurant without the negative consequences of one.

    1. Choose Business Meals Carefully

    Try to control where and how much you eat for business lunches. It’s easy to convince yourself that binging on unhealthy foods is worth it for the sake of a good deal, but it’s better to choose a place with more low-calorie options. You’ll make a better impression on your clients if you eat less as well.

    1. Bribe Yourself

    Sometimes all you need to be a little healthier is the right motivation. Bribe yourself with things you love if you complete a workout routine or maintain your calorie goals. Instead of motivating with food, try to motivate with things like a vacation or a night out with friends.

  • Larry Alton 6:18 pm on July 28, 2016 Permalink | Reply  

    10 Work-from-Home Jobs Almost Anyone Can Do 

    Need something to keep you busy and bring in money? It might be time to consider some work from home jobs that pay a decent amount. Whether you’re looking for a full-time gig or something to supplement your current income, here are some of the best work-from-home jobs currently out there: (More …)

  • Larry Alton 8:04 pm on July 25, 2016 Permalink | Reply  

    Under A Spell: Using Romance In Your Social Media Strategy 

    When it comes to social media marketing, there are dozens of different strategies, but one that may be overlooked too often is the romantic angle. While as a business, you may not think that digital wining and dining is a good approach, you might be surprised what warming up relations can do for your company.

    Not sure how to proceed with the romantic angle? Here are a few ideas to add a little love to your social media presence. (More …)

  • Larry Alton 4:23 pm on July 21, 2016 Permalink | Reply  

    How to Use Social Media to Promote Your Blog Content 

    Blogging is one of the best ways to establish brand expertise, while also increasing traffic from other areas of the web. But if you’re relying solely on search engines to direct users to your blog, then you’re missing out. Social media is an excellent platform for sharing the content you’ve made for your website.

    Let’s talk about how to integrate your blog content into social media. (More …)

  • Larry Alton 1:55 pm on July 14, 2016 Permalink | Reply  

    7 Key Performance Indicators You Should Measure on Social Media 

    Key performance indicators — or KPIs, as the industry refers to them — are extremely useful for measuring the performance and progress of your business, whatever it is. Every department can benefit from monitoring and recording the success of your marketing efforts, and this can lead to increased followers and engagement in every facet of your operation.

    Social media is a great place to gauge progress because it’s an excellent indicator of brand awareness and customer engagement. You can also tell a lot about your business by the way social followers interact with it online.

    (More …)

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