Today, Facebook has over 2.89 billion active, monthly users worldwide, and Instagram has been holding its own with roughly one billion active, monthly users.
Considering that Facebook and Instagram amalgamated, which has enabled users to easily post across both platforms at once, there’s a very high chance that small business owners and brand managers will be able to target niche audiences and expand their customer bases using Facebook and Instagram.
Not only are these joint social media platforms excellent places to organically advertise and spread brand awareness, but businesses can now sell directly to their followers and visitors via Facebook and Instagram Shop.
This is all to say that in 2021, every business should have a strong, engaging presence on both Facebook and Instagram.
If you’ve gotten behind the 8-ball, fear not. FTx 360 can quickly and effectively set up your Facebook and Instagram business accounts, and join both within Facebook Business Manager so that you’re able to start posting, engaging, and selling within hours. Contact us to learn about our rates and social media marketing services.
Or, you can use this concise how-to guide for beginners to create your own business accounts on Facebook and Instagram.
First things first, take a deep breath! This is not going to be as complicated as you might think. In order to create a business page on Facebook, however, you’ll need to have a personal Facebook account if you don’t already have one. Once you set up a personal account, follow these steps.
Creating an Instagram Business account is actually faster than it sounds and far easier than creating a Facebook Business account.
There’s no sense in attempting to manage your Facebook and Instagram accounts from separate dashboards. Luckily, you can merge the two accounts and access all of your content within Facebook Business Manager. The most beneficial aspect you’ll experience once you do this is that from one well-organized dashboard you can schedule posts and launch & manage all of your advertising campaigns that will run on both platforms. You will also be able to review your business Insights and analyze your follower & visitor data more easily and comprehensively, because the information will be consolidated from both platforms.
1 Step from Facebook:
Once you link your accounts from within your Facebook Business Page, you will not need to take further action. That being said, if you prefer to link your accounts from within your Instagram Business account, then use the following:
1 Step from Instagram:
That wraps up the steps you’ll need to take in order to create your Facebook and Instagram Business accounts. This article has only been an introduction to the world of how you can market your brand on Facebook and Instagram. If you’re ready to dive in head first, check out our Facebook Marketing Do’s and Dont’s, What’s New on Instagram in 2021, and 3 Ways to Increase Social Engagement.
Would you rather partner with a digital marketing agency for all of your Facebook and social media campaigns? FTx 360 could be the right agency for you. Our social media marketing specialists have created and launched impactful online marketing campaigns for businesses from all industries. From redesigning your company logo to rebranding your Facebook Business Page, we do it all and aim to please! Contact us to learn more about what FTx 360 can do for you.
Your Facebook marketing strategies have the power to either grow your brand quickly or waste your time. You don’t want to be pouring your time and energy into using marketing strategies on Facebook that are destined to fail, which means that your top priority should be to research the strategies that will work and avoid the ones that won’t.
You’ve come to the right place. The social media marketing specialists at FTx 360 have done the research for you. Based on market trends and first-hand experience, our Facebook marketing experts have put together a helpful list of Do’s & Don’ts to ensure that the time and energy you spend on Facebook will not only grow your brand quickly but also increase your bottom line.
In this article, you’ll also learn about the different Facebook Business Manager administrative roles that you can assign to your employees. And finally, we will wrap up the article by laying out five key marketing areas to be mindful of as you create, schedule, and manage your Facebook marketing.
The vast majority of Facebook users not only log onto the social platform daily, they basically live on it, and no, we aren’t using hyperbole. Most people who have a Facebook account keep the site open on their desktop or laptop computer all day long so that they can scroll through their feed whenever they feel like it. They also keep their smartphones nearby and as soon as a push notification from Facebook pops up, guess what they do? They swipe into the app to check out the alert.
All this is to say that if you use Facebook correctly, you will have the full attention of your audience. But first things first, be sure that you aren’t guilty of any of these self-sabotaging “don’ts.”
If you didn’t know, yes, it’s possible to purchase Facebook Page “likes” and even post “likes.” Years ago, when Facebook instilled an algorithm to identify and promote Pages with the most “likes,” a ton of ethically-questionable companies began selling “likes” to any business that would buy. The concept seemed logical. Purchase 1,000 or 20,000 Facebook “likes” from a company, then real people will discover and like your Page, and business revenue will increase, right? Except that’s not what happens. Because the “likes” are from fake accounts or bots, organic engagement never results. Plus, real Facebook users can tell. The fact of the matter is that the more fake “likes” you have, the lower your organic reach and post engagement will be.
This is extremely important, especially for businesses that are using Facebook to increase their overall revenue. Just because your marketing goal is to convert followers into paying customers doesn’t mean that 100% of your Facebook posts, ads, and Stories should be promotional. In other words, don’t use Facebook to constantly push your products or services. If you do, you’ll only end up losing your audience as followers “unfollow” you, “mute” you for 30 days, or block you altogether.
How many hashtags should you use in a typical Facebook post? Honestly, we don’t have a straight answer. The goalposts keep moving. For the longest time, the “no more than 30 hashtags” rule was applicable. We even advised ways to tuck hashtags beneath an attention-grabbing caption or post them into the first comment, and for a while that was sound advice. However, as of writing this article, it looks like including as few as five hashtags is ideal, and if you want to follow the hashtag trend, you should work them into your caption sentences instead of listing them out below the caption.
There’s a fine line between using an attention-grabbing heading and one that’s obviously click-bait. A basic rule of thumb to live by is to be honest and avoid exaggerating. Now, there are two kinds of headings you will use. When you share a web page link, a headline will automatically generate from the third-party’s website. In this instance, make sure the web page you’re sharing is appropriate for your brand and relevant to your audience. The other kind of heading is the one you compose yourself, which could have to do with an upcoming promotion or a business milestone. Just be sure to caption the information honestly rather than exaggerating the content with a shocking headline.
Eventually, you could receive a negative comment or customer review on your Facebook Page. How you respond is extremely important. The last thing you want to do is come across sounding callous, defensive, or downright argumentative. Do not argue with customers, followers, and visitors on your Facebook Page in view of the public. Even responding with an explanation could run the risk of being perceived as argumentative. Instead, reply promptly with a professional-sounding invitation for them to call, DM, or email your company. For all customer service complaints, just remember, it’s best to handle the matter privately.
Facebook Shops are growing in popularity due in large part to the fact that customers love the convenience of having the option to buy goods directly on Facebook. No brand should overlook the importance of setting up a Facebook Shop, but strangely, a lot of eCommerce retailers are guilty of this. Many eCommerce retailers assume that Facebook users will click their website button and willingly navigate out of the Facebook app in order to shop on their website. Don’t make this mistake. As a matter of fact, Facebook users are becoming less and less willing to navigate out of Facebook just to shop. Even if you have an eCommerce site, you should set up a Facebook Shop.
Now that you understand what not to do on Facebook, you probably want to learn about what you should do to capture the attention of your audience, grow your followers, and convert users, visitors, and followers into loyal customers. In a nutshell, you need to focus on presenting a clear brand image to your social media followers, which includes using a distinct voice to communicate with your followers and personally relate to your audience. If you’re using Facebook to gain B2B clients, make sure every post looks and sounds polished and professional. Are you a pet retailer? Punch up your posts with as much personality as possible! You get the idea…
Without further ado, here’s our list of must-do’s!
Once upon a time, business owners created Facebook Pages to promote websites and it worked. People found those businesses on Facebook and then visited their websites. Nowadays, Facebook Pages actually function like their own little business websites, which means that you’re going to want to encourage inbound traffic to your Page. You can do this by using your business website to promote your Facebook Page. Include clickable Facebook icons on every page of your website. You should also display your actual Facebook Page content feed on at least one page of your site. Even if website visitors only hop over to Facebook to “like” your Page, it’ll be worth it.
We can’t overstate the benefits of using Facebook Live and we wish more business owners would get into the habit of regularly broadcasting branded messages using this innovative Facebook feature. Facebook Live enables you to livestream events, lessons, performances, lectures, or anything you like. Viewers can watch the live broadcast from their smartphones, computers, or connected TV, and they can also react, share, and comment in real-time. We encourage business owners to use Facebook Live to broadcast 3 to 5-minute messages to build brand awareness. Branded messages can address your company’s mission, purpose, and goals.
Facebook users expect to receive a response within 30 minutes when they send a Direct Message, especially if they’re using DM to reach customer service due to an issue. For this reason, it’s extremely important to respond quickly to any Facebook DMs you receive. In fact, if you’re slow to respond, you could lose sales. We also recommend that you respond quickly to the comments under your Facebook posts as well, even if it’s simply to acknowledge a kind comment or answer a question. As an added bonus, the faster you respond, the higher Facebook will elevate your Page.
What is “compelling content”? The answer to this question will depend on who your audience includes. That being said, any post that provokes engagement will be compelling. Use your Facebook posts to ask questions. Questions naturally provoke responses because followers will feel compelled to answer them. You can also use CTAs in your posts, offer valuable information, embed a survey or pole, or post an evocative image. The trick here is to remember that the goal of the post is to start a conversation, which means that when your followers begin to comment, be sure to respond and keep the engagement going.
Not all of your Facebook posts have to be original content that you’ve created. In fact, your followers will appreciate gaining insights into your opinions and perspective on relevant topics, which is why it’s a good idea to share articles and links to other relevant websites. By sharing interesting, relevant information with your followers, you can spark engagement and start conversations in the comments. Also, be sure to share the links to any blog articles that you’ve written within a few hours of publishing. This will help pull traffic to your blog and also trigger conversations about the article itself.
The more pictures, photos, and videos you use in your Facebook posts, the better. People love social media in general because it’s highly visual. Be mindful of how your posts will appear in the average user’s Facebook feed. Try to find ways to ensure your posts are eye-catching and impossible to “scroll by.” You want your followers to stop scrolling when they see your posts, and using dynamic photos, stunning pictures, and attention-grabbing videos can help. This rule also applies to any Facebook ads you run, and remember, you can always use paid “boosts” to promote your most popular posts.
One of the most beneficial aspects of marketing your brand on Facebook is that you can split the marketing workload between multiple people thanks to Facebook Business Manager. Instead of handling 100% of your Facebook marketing yourself, you can assign roles to your employees.
There are many administrative roles that you can set within Facebook Business Manager, which include:
● Admin: Can manage all aspects of the Page. They can publish and send Messenger messages as the Page, respond to and delete comments on the Page, post from Instagram to Facebook, create ads, see who created a post or comment, view insights, and assign Page roles. If an Instagram account is connected to the Page, they can respond to and delete comments, send Direct Messages, sync business contact info and create ads.
● Editor: Can publish content and send Messenger messages as the Page, respond to and delete comments on the Page, create ads, see who created a post or comment, post from Instagram to Facebook, and view insights. If an Instagram account is connected to the Page, they can respond to and delete comments, send Direct Messages, sync business contact info and create ads.
● Moderator: Can send Messenger messages as the Page, respond to and delete comments on the Page, create ads, see who created a post or comment, and view insights. If an Instagram account is connected to the Page, they can respond to Instagram comments, send Direct Messages and create ads.
● Advertiser: Can create ads, see who created a post or comment, and view insights. If an Instagram account is connected to the Page, they can create ads.
● Analyst: Can see which admin created a post or comment and view insights.
As you can see, each Facebook administrative role defined above has a different level of access and responsibility. Admins have full access to the Facebook Business Page, and can create ads, view insights, respond to comments, and send Direct Messages. Whereas Analysts have the least amount of access and can only create posts, comment on posts, and view insights.
APPLY THE DO’S & DON’TS TO YOUR FACEBOOK MARKETING STRATEGY
Let’s assume you understand the do’s and don’ts of Facebook marketing, and you’re committed to applying the do’s. You’ve even hired a few trustworthy and passionate helpers to manage your Facebook Page. There are a few more strategizing steps you’ll need to address before your Facebook Page will be ready to roll like a well-oiled machine. These steps involve understanding who your audience is, how to communicate with them, and figuring out when they want to hear from you.
Once you know all that, the content that your entire team creates, schedules, and manages will spark user engagement and help you gain enthusiastic followers who turn into customers.
You can easily identify who your Facebook audience is by checking out the demographics of your CRM software. If you’ve had your Facebook Page for a while, you can also use the insights feature within Facebook Business Manager to understand the types of followers who engage with your Page.
You can take identifying your audience one step further by developing key buyer personas for your brand. A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer that’s based on your own market research as well as the real data you collect about your existing customers from your CRM.
The simplest way to leverage the audience insights you’ve compiled is to use the demographic information when you place your next Facebook ad. The best digital marketing campaign will target the right audience and you can only do this if you accurately leverage your audience insights, build a targeted marketing strategy, and run ads that spark engagement.
The key to success is planning ahead, and using your Facebook Page to help every area of your business succeed is no different. We strongly suggest that you use a social media content calendar like this one, which you can download and start using today, to keep your posts organized.
It shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that as a social platform, Facebook has peak hours and dark hours. That being said, your specific audience might be the most active on Facebook on certain days, or within certain windows of time on certain days. For example, if your target audience is comprised of nightclub owners, then the best days and times to reach them is probably from dusk until dawn Friday and Saturday nights. You get the idea, just be sure to research the best days and times to post on Facebook to reach your niche audience.
Would you rather partner with a digital marketing agency for all of your Facebook and social media campaigns? FTx 360 could be the right firm for you. Our social media marketing specialists have created and launched impactful marketing campaigns for businesses from all industries. From redesigning your company logo to rebranding your Facebook Business Page, we do it all and aim to please! Contact us to learn more about what FTx 360 can do for you.
Convenience is everything to consumers these days. Just as in-store retail shoppers would be seriously annoyed if cashiers told them to visit the retailer’s eCommerce site in order to buy all the items in their carts, today’s consumers do not want to leave the social media platforms they’re scrolling through in order to buy the amazing merchandise they’re looking at.
Are you featuring merchandise on your Instagram profile? If so, it’s because you want visitors to buy those items. Trust us, your visitors definitely want to have fast access to purchase the items you post on social, and we’re here to say that redirecting your Facebook and Instagram visitors to your eCommerce site is not going to make your visitors happy.
Instagram and Facebook now offer a new platform feature called Shop. Barely a year old, Shop is an eCommerce feature that enables your visitors to purchase your merchandise directly from your social profiles. Yes, by utilizing Shop, your Facebook profile is transformed into an eCommerce store unto itself, likewise your Instagram profile.
And the best part is that because Instagram and Facebook are connected, you only have to set up one Shop within Facebook (or Instagram) and you’ll be able to sell your goods on both platforms.
Consider this article your step-by-step how-to guide for setting up a Shop on Facebook, which will enable you to sell your goods on both platforms. And yes, we are going to focus on setting up your Facebook Shop which will link to Instagram, enabling you to sell on both platforms.
Let’s get started.
In order to set up your Shops through Facebook, you will need to have a Facebook Business Manager account. If you don’t have one, don’t worry. Turning your regular Facebook account into a Business Manager account is as easy as clicking a few buttons. Simply log in to Facebook, navigate to your Facebook page, and click the Edit Page button at the top right of the page.
Next, click on the Basic Information tab, which you’ll find at the left-hand side of the toolbar that appears across the top of your screen. A drop-down menu will appear. Click Category, select Local Businesses and Places, and when another drop-down menu appears, select the Type of Business that best describes your page. Save your changes.
Once your Business Manager account has been created following the steps we just covered, you will be ready to start building your Facebook & Instagram Shop via the Facebook Business Manager.
● Log in to Facebook Business Manager
● In the upper-left corner, click the horizontal bars icon
● Click Shortcuts
● A drop-down menu will appear, scroll down until you see Commerce Manager
● Click Commerce Manager
● Click Get Started
You will be presented with two options:
● Manage with Commerce Manager
● Sync & Manage with a Partner
You will have to choose one or the other.
If you already have an eCommerce platform, Shopify store, or similar, then select “Sync & Manage with a Partner.” If not, then choose “Commerce Manager.”
Commerce Manager is a great option for retailers who don’t have a pre-existing eCommerce site and aren’t prepared to create one just for the sake of selling goods on social media. You do not need any expertise to set up your Shop via Commerce Manager within Facebook Business Manager.
Commerce Manager is also an ideal option for businesses that primarily sell services, but want to attract new customers on social media by offering select merchandise. For example, SaaS businesses might use Instagram & Facebook Shops to sell computer cases, cell phone cases, electronic & hardware accessories, and swag, not because retailing those items is their core purpose, but because their social media profiles and posts contain critical information about the software they sell as a service. By magnetizing visitors to their page via Shop, their visitors will learn about their core SaaS business and hopefully become interested in purchasing Saas through their business website.
● Click Manage with Commerce Manager
● Click Next
You will see three options, which are:
● Checkout on Another Website
● Checkout with Facebook or Instagram
● Checkout with Messaging
The option to Checkout on Another Website is as literal as it gets. This option will enable your social shoppers to purchase your goods on another website such as Etsy or another platform that does not have a partner integration with Facebook & Instagram. We actually do not recommend this option since it will cause your social visitors to navigate away from Facebook and Instagram.
Checkout with Facebook or Instagram is the option to choose if you want to be able to sell immediately on these platforms.
The final option, Checkout with Messaging, enables your social visitors to purchase through the IM / DM messaging features of Facebook and Instagram. Pretty cool! This option, however, is limited, so we don’t recommend that you go this route during the set-up process. That being said, once you set up your Shop, your social visitors will still have the option to purchase via messenger!
● Click Checkout with Facebook or Instagram
● Click Next
The set-up manager will ask you where do you want to sell from?
● Choose Ad Account from Business Manager
● Click Continue
You will then be presented with a page that says, Setting Up a Test Account.
There are three primary steps to this process:
● Entering your business information
● Setting up your inventory and shipping preferences
● Setting up your bank account where purchase payments will be deposited
In the next section, we will walk you through all three steps.
Entering in your business information is a straightforward process. Once you’ve entered this information, it’s time to start entering your merchandise inventory. Here you will either create an inventory catalog or link Facebook to your pre-standing inventory catalog if you have one. This step is very easy to do if you already have a Shopify store.
If you don’t have a Shopify store or another eStore that has partnered with Facebook & Instagram, then you can manually enter each inventory item, along with all the pertinent information for each item including photos, descriptions, and prices. This could take some time so be sure to plan ahead.
Once all of your inventory items are entered and saved, click Next, and fill out the Shipping Options prompts. You can set up Standard Shipping, Expedited Shipping, and Rush Shipping. Even though you can always change these later from the Commerce Manager, try to fill out as much information as possible during this step.
That being said, we want to emphasize how important this step really is. Right now, Facebook & Instagram places massive importance on retailers’ shipping capabilities. So much so, in fact, that if and when you launch a Facebook & Instagram ad campaign, the bidding and ad placement process will factor in your shipping capabilities. Shipping directly impacts customer satisfaction so you must be completely honest when filling out the shipping section of your Shop. For example, if you cannot live up to Rush Shipping, then do not include it as a shipping option for your Shop customers.
For all of the shipping options that you are confident you can live up to, click the Edit icon to the right of the option and fill out the information, which includes Estimated Days to Delivery, Price, Price Per Additional Items, and Cart Minimum for Free Shipping.
Pay particular attention to the Estimated Days to Delivery field. As we mentioned, you must be honest, but please be realistic, too. Do you project that it could take 20 days to ship an order? Facebook is not going to like that. You may need to reinforce your shipping department, hire who needs to be hired, and implement the best shipping operations as possible so that the “estimated days to delivery” that you’re capable of offering your customers will please Facebook as well as your shoppers. For the sake of full disclosure, 3 – 7 days for a delivery timeline is acceptable. Any shipments that take longer than that are not generally considered competitive, unless you’re using Drop Ship via a distributor or manufacturer. In that case, you need an even larger buffer. Remember, your customers would rather have a realistic estimate than a delivery promise you cannot fulfill.
The next Shipping Options field to fill out is the Price. Unlike Amazon and other eCommerce platforms that offer advanced intelligence and customized shipping cost estimations, Facebook Shop is not capable of this. Instead, you will have to plug in a fixed shipping cost that will be used to deliver all orders to any location. For example, if you plug in $10, you will collect $10 per order. If the order is 50 lbs and the destination is 3,000 miles away, you’re probably going to lose money. But if your goods tend to be light, such as 5 ounces, then shipping to a destination that’s clear across the US for $10 is reasonable.
The Price Per Additional Item should be reasonable, as well. Remember, profiting from the shipping costs you collect from your customers is a big no-no, but at the same time, you don’t want to lose money. Be careful when you calculate these figures, and be mindful that you will also need to calculate the Cart Minimum for Free Shipping. Will your customers need to purchase $50-worth of goods or $100-worth in order to receive free shipping? Do the math and try to get that figure as low as possible.
You will go through the same process and fill out the same fields for Expedited Shipping and Rush Shipping if you are able to offer those shipping options. If not, then do not select them. Once you’ve completed the Set Your Shipping Options page, click Next.
You do not need to draft a legally-binding return policy, because Facebook supplies one. However, you will need to plug in how many days a customer has to return an item. Thirty days is fairly standard for retail, so we recommend that you allow customers to return items for up to 30 days if they want a payment refund for their purchase. But the return policy time frame is really up to you. That being said, the information you supply here is extremely important and Facebook will penalize your future ads if you plug in an unreasonable time frame, such as stating that customers only have 5 days to return items. Finally, enter in the Customer Service Email address that visitors and customers can use to contact you, and click Save.
You will be redirected to the Setting Up a Test Account page where you must now fill out the 3rd and final section of your Shop—Payouts. This section is as straightforward as it gets. Simply enter in all of your banking information, business information, and tax information, and click Save.
Once you’ve completed those sections of entering your business information, setting up your inventory and shipping preferences, and setting up your bank account where purchase payments will be deposited, you can then begin to focus on your product catalog.
As we mentioned earlier, you can either link to Shopify or another partnered eCommerce online platform or enter your products manually. But the set-up manager will walk you through this.
● Click Catalog
● Click Items
Here you will have three options:
● Add Manually
● Use Bulk Upload
● Use a Pixel
The next section of this how-to article will focus on the process to Add Manually.
● Click Add Manually
You will see a form with blank fields and upload boxes where you can enter in product information, photos, descriptions, and prices. Pay particular attention to the Content ID fields. If your catalog is relatively large or if you’re pulling your catalog in through Shopify, you may need to include a Content ID per item in your Facebook Shop. In this case, the Content IDs will be your SKU codes or UPCs. That being said, entering Content IDs is optional, so you can leave these fields blank if you prefer.
A cool aspect to be mindful of is that you can create an automatic discount that your visitors will see. Let us explain. The difference between the Sale Price and the Price fields will appear to your visitors as an item’s discount. For example, if you enter an item sale price of $50 and plug in $100 for the “price” of that item, then your product page will show a $50 discount. However, if you enter a Sale Price of $50 and leave the Price field blank, then the product page will only show one sale price with no discount. Depending on the sales you’re managing, you can adjust your products’ Sales Prices versus Prices.
There are more fields within each Product page, including Variations, which pertains to various sizes and / or colors of your products. If such variations apply to your products, then be sure to fill these out so that your visitors can see all of the item options that are available.
As you can probably tell, manually filling out a Product Page for every inventory item you have within your catalog will be a time consuming process. For this reason, we don’t recommend that you enter your items manually unless you do not have a product catalog ready to import.
You can also Activate & Deactivate inventory items and set your on-hand inventory quantities.
This is the really fun part, and best of all, designing the look of your Facebook & Instagram storefronts won’t be time consuming since the Shop platform has highly limited options. That being said, by adjusting and modifying the stylistic options that are available to you, you will be able to present your unique brand to your social visitors in the right light.
On the left-hand side of your Facebook Shop screen, under Catalog, you will see an icon for Shops.
● Click Shops
You will be able to start setting up your storefront.
Once the Shops page loads, you will see your Facebook account as a visitor. Based on what you see, you can enter additional information and change the design layout and features to your liking, though there aren’t that many variables to toy with.
● Click Style
You will be able to change the design colors and theme colors of your Shop to suit your unique brand, including the color of the links and buttons that appear and the text content, font, and alignment. You can also use Tiles to spruce up the exact layout of your Shop. You can also group your items into Collections for an even more stylized layout. Take your time and play around with the options until your Shop captures and presents your brand exactly how you want!
Why do we recommend that you create your Shop on Facebook and not Instagram? We’ve lived and learned, and therefore we strongly advise that you set up your Shop within Facebook, as opposed to setting up your Shop from Instagram. Though these two platforms are conjoined thanks to Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram a number of years back, the Shop set-up process differs between the two. In our collective experience, the Facebook Shop set-up process and the functionality that subsequently results on both Facebook & Instagram is superior to that which is offered by Instagram.
Want the social media marketing experts at FTx 360 to set up and handle your Facebook & Instagram Shops? Our social media management team can have you up-and-running in no time! Contact us to learn about our rates and what FTx 360 can do for your business.
In 2021, social media has gone way beyond digitally connecting friends online and providing a place for them to socialize.
Social media platforms are in large part providing businesses with secondary, virtual, operational hubs.
Take Facebook for example. Within this single social media platform, a company can promote products, maintain an eCommerce store, and handle customer service inquiries, all while posting regularly and engaging with followers.
If you’re a business owner who isn’t using social media as an extension of your everyday operations, you’re missing out on a major business opportunity that has the potential to expand your customer base and increase overall revenue.
Integrating social media into your business strategy will afford your brand countless benefits, including:
● Social media can spread brand awareness
● Social media can expand your customer base
● Social media can encourage online engagement
● Social media can increase the virality of your brand
Social media is such a powerful tool for business growth, in fact, that you don’t have to use every platform under the sun. Simply maintaining accounts on one or two social platforms will be enough to support your business needs and social media goals.
If you need help determining the best social platforms for your company, we recommend that you take a moment to read our prior article, Which Social Media Platforms Are Right For Your Business?
If you’re already clear on which social platforms will best serve your business needs, it’s time to get even clearer on how you can use those social platforms to grow your business, which will be the focus of this article.
Before you can really get started utilizing social media for your business, be sure to complete the following actions so that your social accounts are ready for action:
● Fill out your social profile(s) with your company’s telephone number, email address, and other contact information, and be sure to include a concise description of your business.
● For your Instagram account, add to the description box any affiliated IG account handles your company has, such as your customer service and help desk accounts; and be sure to add your branded hashtags as well, if applicable.
● For your Twitter account, keep your bio short and personable, and don’t forget to include your website and the Twitter handles of your affiliated accounts, if applicable.
● For your LinkedIn account, connect your business profile page to your website blog, if applicable, so that published blogs automatically post to your page.
Once you have all of your social media accounts set up, the next critical step is to add social media icons to your website, email signature, newsletter footer, and any other digital marketing tool your company uses. These social media icons should have clickable links that will direct users to your social media account.
Are your bases covered? If so, let’s dive into the specifics of what you can do to make the most out of your social media accounts.
You will experience far more engagement and social success if you regularly and consistently publish posts on your social media accounts, as opposed to only publishing posts ad hoc when the mood strikes you. Business profiles that consistently post twice a week end up generating more valuable social interactions than businesses that post three times during a single day and then fail to post for eight consecutive days. Adhering to a realistic posting schedule should be your first step towards effectively utilizing social media for your business. We recommend that you specifically integrate the following types of social posts into your organic posting schedule:
● Products & Services Posts that Use “Tags”—1x per week
● Contest or Giveaway Promotions—2x per year
● Posts with Hashtags that Target Your Audience & Location—1x per week
In addition to these specialized posts, be sure to develop a consistent posting schedule that features the kind of content and conversation starters that best represent your brand.
This social posting idea only relates to Facebook & Instagram, or any social platform that offers an in-app eCommerce store. Assuming you have set up your business’s social accounts as well as in-app eCommerce, the biggest benefit of using product tagging in your posts is that the click-through rates of your posts will increase, which will help you gain visibility and increase direct sales.
When a social media contest or giveaway is executed properly, it’s a powerful way to build immediate social engagement and long-term followers. Social users might not automatically know that your brand exists, but by including the right hashtags in your social contest, social users will quickly find out exactly who you are!
Did you know that every social media post has the potential to target your audience? By including specific hashtags you can help to target the audience you want. Location tagging can also help draw in the right audience, especially if your business has a brick-and-mortar location.
Businesses that use social media to the fullest provide their social visitors and followers with the option to shop directly on their platforms, ask questions, and leave comments. In other words, these savvy businesses provide customer service to their social visitors. Directly within the platforms, customer service representatives can respond to questions and concerns, as well as shift public customer service conversations into private DMs when it will best serve the customer. By providing social media users with customer service avenues on social platforms, businesses are able to meet customers where they are, which ultimately results in better customer satisfaction. Here are three tips you can use when integrating customer service into your social accounts:
● Amp Up the Human Connection by Being Personable & Humble
● Carefully Compose Any Auto Replies You Set Up
● Use Direct Message CTAs at the Bottom of Your Social Responses
The most important tip we can give you when it comes to integrating customer service avenues into your social accounts is to designate a real-life employee to manage the interactions and responses in a timely fashion.
The days of generic auto-replies are long gone, but unfortunately, a lot of businesses still use these canned, antiquated responses when it comes to social media. Yes, Facebook, Instagram, and other social platforms provide you with auto-reply templates that can be used in your DMs and Chat Messages, but unless a real-life person is overseeing them, it could backfire badly.
If your staff is really pressed for time, then compose FAQ responses that they can choose from, and remember, as time-consuming as it may be to personally respond to every social question, comment, and DM, replying with personality and humility will get you a lot further in terms of building customer relationships than letting a chatbot spew out nonsense replies.
As your customer service representatives monitor your social accounts for the purposes of responding to user questions, comments, and concerns, they will need the option of shifting the conversation from the public feed to a private DM, or Direct Message. This option is now available. Your customer service reps can include a DM link to the bottom of their responding comments when interacting with users on social.
For as little as $20 per day, you can run sponsored content on Facebook & Instagram for a fixed duration of time and see a massive ROI. “Sponsored content” is a type of native advertising that is available to marketers on Facebook & Instagram. Chances are, you’ve seen more than your fair share of sponsored content on these joined platforms, and you may have even formed opinions about why they work. By placing sponsored content ads, you can target your niche demographic within a location radius, which means that your promotional advertisement will definitely reach your ideal customers. There’s really no downside to running sponsored content on the social media platforms Facebook & Instagram, especially if you run your ad for a limited time and with a specific business goal in mind. We recommend using sponsored content to promote “social only” discounts and to collect email addresses for your loyalty program, newsletter, and other marketing needs. But above all else, respect Facebook’s new “Personal Attributes” policy or your ad will never see the light of day.
● Obey Facebook’s “Personal Attributes” Policy or Perish!
● Offer “Social Only” Promotions
● Use Lead Generation CTAs
Let’s take a look at the specifics of these three pointers:
The Facebook Personal Attributes Policy was recently added to the list of “prohibited content” that Facebook restricts. If you’re going to run any kind of ad on Facebook, we strongly recommend that you become intimate with this policy. In essence, Facebook’s advertising policy prohibits the use of mentioning the “personal attributes” of the viewer, including but not limited to their ethnicity, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, and the list goes on. Think you can type the words “you,” “your,” “you’re,” and “other” in your ads? Think again… and read the policy.
A great way to generate, track, and analyze social engagement is to run a sponsored ad that features a discount or deal that’s only available to social users on social media. Exclusivity has long remained a strong promoting factor when it comes to successful sales campaigns, so by making an upcoming sale exclusively available on social media, you can gain followers, increase engagement, and boost sales, all in one fell swoop.
One of the easiest ways to organically grow your social media followers and get the word out about your brand is to occasionally remind your followers that they can find your brand on other social media platforms. An effective way to cross-pollinate your audiences is to highlight the variety of content your other channels provide. For example, if you primarily manage Twitter and YouTube accounts, you can interest your Twitter followers in checking out your YouTube channel by highlighting the long-form video content you’re offering exclusively on YouTube. By providing different content on different platforms, which will be the focus of the next section of this article, you will give your followers a reason to follow you on every platform you use for your business. Apply the following tips to your cross-promotional goals:
● Use a Content Scheduling Calendar
● Expand Your Online Presence
● Make Trending Topics the Focus of Certain Posts
In addition to applying the specific tips we just listed, be sure to use social media to network with non-competing businesses and brands. By building your own professional network on social media, you can cross-promote with other brands to reach their audiences and vice versa.
Planning the publication of daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly social media marketing posts can be daunting, which is why we strongly recommend you use a content scheduling calendar, like this one offered by FTx 360—2021 Content Schedule Calendar. By relying on a content calendar to organize your social posts, you can take the guesswork out of planning, which will bring you one step closer to reaching your marketing goals.
Using multiple social platforms has the power to expand the online presence of your brand, so long as you don’t spread yourself too thin in the process. As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, pick only one or two social platforms to focus on and be sure that you’re offering unique content on each one. The more you interact on social media and the more you include your social handles in your emails, newsletters, and other digital correspondence, the quicker you’ll get the word out about your brand online.
If you’re struggling with a bit of writer’s block in terms of trying to figure out what type of content to post, try incorporating topical, timely, trending conversations into your scheduled posts. Depending on what’s going on in the world, what’s popular in the media, and what’s recently gone viral on social media, make a post about it! There’s only one caveat: do your best to stay away from controversial topics such as politics and religion.
As we mentioned in the last section of this article, offering different content on different platforms is one of the smartest social media marketing moves you can make. One of the biggest mistakes that businesses make when managing accounts on multiple social platforms is repeating identical content on every channel. Think about it, if the content you present is the same across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn, why in the world would a single individual need to follow all of your accounts? They certainly won’t benefit from it if they do. Just because every Facebook post you publish could automatically post to Instagram, doesn’t mean you should actually use this function. Instead, tailor your content for each platform, or better yet, publish unique content on every platform account you manage. As you do, bear these rules of thumb in mind:
● Maximize the Visual & Minimize the Text
● Use Social Media Optimization Strategies
● Prioritize Building Relationships Over Gaining Followers
Before we take a closer look at each of these, we want to take a moment to emphasize that every social post you publish could and should feel like the start of a personal conversation with your followers. Inviting each follower into what feels like a personalized, one-on-one conversation will yield the greatest customer-relationship-building results.
Speaking in broad terms, all social media platforms are more visual than readable. Meaning, social posts that feature photos and videos perform much better than posts that only feature written text. Even Twitter, which has always been text-centric, has incorporated photos, GIFs, polls, surveys, and graphs to help users add visual elements. This is why we recommend that you amplify the visuals of your social posts and streamline your captions.
Social media optimization simply refers to using your social media networks to manage and grow your business’s online presence. There are specific ways you can accomplish this as part of your overall digital marketing strategy. Key optimization tactics include using social media to direct visitors to your website, promoting the eCommerce offerings of your social account to convert followers into customers, and integrating lead generation forms into your promos and ads to collect valuable customer information that you can leverage in your future email marketing and / or SMS text message campaigns.
The final piece of advice that we’ll leave you with is to not be so hard on yourself when it comes to growth on social media. Social media automatically places a very high premium on followers, and there’s a user perception that social accounts with millions of followers are “better” than social accounts with only hundreds. The reality, however, couldn’t be further from the truth. Rather than obsess over gaining followers and trying to attain thousands of followers as if doing so will give your brand clout, instead we recommend that you focus on building genuine relationships with your social followers, even if you only have one hundred. Remember, not every follower you have on social media will be your customer, but every relationship you build on social media with a follower will produce a customer for life.
Have you hesitated to look for a digital marketing agency to handle all of your social media and market your brand online? Have you assumed you wouldn’t be able to afford management services or a marketing specialist to develop your next social media marketing campaign? What if we told you that FTx 360 can work within any budget to create a stunning online campaign that influences people to love your brand? For more information about the social media marketing services at FTx 360 and how our team can benefit your bottom line without breaking the bank, contact us today.
Instagram has had quite an evolution. Just two short years after launching in 2010, the photo-sharing app was acquired by Facebook for a sum of money that shocked the then-burgeoning social media industry—$1 billion. While the price tag seemed jaw-droppingly high at the time, Mark Zuckerberg had no choice but to make Instagram’s founder, Kevin Systrom, an offer he couldn’t refuse or else Facebook would’ve seen a nosedive in users, engagement, and revenue. Yes, Instagram was that big of a threat.
The acquisition occurred right around the time that other social media platforms were launching and rising in popularity. Platforms such as Vine, Snapchat, and Periscope each brought unique features to the market, which pushed Instagram to update and enhance its photo capturing features as well as add additional features that diversified its engagement capabilities.
“We’re no longer a photo-sharing app. The number one reason people say that they use Instagram, in research, is to be entertained.” —Adam Moserri, CEO of Instagram
In a lot of ways, Instagram has not stopped evolving since it was launched over a decade ago. Today, Instagram users can shop, video chat, watch IGTV channels, and engage with other users on the platform in countless ways. Businesses can advertise and interact with potential customers, all while building their brand and social media presence.
Instagram has launched many improvements throughout the first half of 2021, and more features are yet to arrive as summer turns to autumn later this year. Here are the new Instagram features and how you can make them work for you.
There are upwards of twenty Instagram updates, upgrades, improvements, and new feature launches to watch out for in 2021—far too many to cover in one article. So, we decided to focus this section on five new Instagram features that are most relevant to your business account.
Since its inception, Instagram has been an in-app platform, exclusively. Unlike Facebook, which allows users full access to their platform via desktop and laptop computers, Instagram made it virtually impossible to comfortably navigate, upload posts, comment, and DM via computer. Though users could sign in to Instagram on their computers to search hashtags and view profiles, the platform intentionally disincentivized this option. Well, all that has changed. As of the middle of last year, Instagram has upgraded its desktop features so that users can DM. The messenger API update that Instagram used to accomplish this also allows users to DM multimedia files such as photos, images, gifs, pictures, and other kinds of media, as well as start group chats. Even more exciting is the DM messenger interface, which offers better organization and an ability to access and manage your DM conversations across account profiles so long as they’re integrated. There are a few caveats, however. Messenger API for Instagram will have a staggered rollout as follows:
● Starting June, only IG business accounts that have between 10,000 and 100,000 followers will have access to this new Messenger API.
● Starting July, this new Messenger API will be available for business accounts with between 1,000 and 100,000 followers.
● Finally, by the end of the third quarter, 2021, all business IG accounts will have access to Messenger API.
Though Instagram has offered business accounts for years, only at the beginning of 2021 did they launch their Professional Dashboard, a new organizational tab for Instagram’s business account users. The purpose of Professional Dashboard is to consolidate other business account features in one place—features such as Badges, Instagram Shop, Checkout, and Branded Content. By consolidating these tools and resources into one central hub, Instagram hopes to better assist businesses to reach their marketing goals. There are three key features of Professional Dashboard that will help you stay organized and productive:
● Performance Tracking: this feature allows business account users the ability to analyze trends and study engagement insights, among other critical metrics.
● Business Growth: this feature helps business account users discover new marketing tools that will help them run their accounts more efficiently to build up their businesses. Most importantly, this feature allows users to check the monetization status of their ad campaigns.
● Stay Informed: this feature shows business account users personalized, curated, educational resources that will help them promote their businesses on Instagram. These resources include tips, tricks, guidance, and inspiration.
Shocker of all shockers—recently, Instagram initiated the option to hide “likes” so that they aren’t displayed! Why would a user want to hide the number of likes their post has? The answer is complicated. Psychologically, social media has done a number on all of us, especially young people. Research has proven that these platforms are physiologically addictive and impact the mental health of users. Users often experience a “high” when their posts receive a ton of engagement such as likes, comments, and shares. That’s all fine and dandy, but unfortunately, when users experience low engagement with their posts, it actually affects their mood, making them feel low, disappointed, and dejected. Instagram, and its parent company, Facebook, have decided to give users the option to hide the number of likes their posts have so that other users can’t see. Time will tell if this new feature positively improves user experience.
This feature isn’t too new. Suggested Posts actually launched in the middle of last year, but it’s still catching on, so we wanted to mention it. The purpose of Suggested Posts is to expose Instagram users to other user accounts, both business and personal, that they might enjoy. Suggested Posts only appear once a user has finished scrolling through the most recent posts of the accounts they follow in their feed. The actual posts of other users that are suggested will be relevant to the user’s personal preferences and interests. Instagram’s machine learning A.I. uses an algorithm to determine what a user likes based on the other accounts they follow and posts they “like.” At the moment, Instagram is still playing around with this feature and compiling user feedback. Due to the fact that there is no current way to turn this feature off, many users have complained that Suggested Posts are intrusive and at times infuriating. Have you encountered Suggested Posts? What do you think? The general consensus at FTx 360 is that they seem to be the “personal account” version of straightforward Instagram advertising. Meaning that we’re keeping our eye on them.
Interactive stickers for Instagram stories is easily our favorite new feature! The concept of story stickers emerged a few years ago, but in the last few months, Instagram has really leveled up its sticker game by adding brand new story stickers that provide far better interactive user experiences. If you’re unfamiliar, the purpose of story stickers is to add clickable links to your posts. In essence, these stickers serve as in-app CTAs, which can be a powerful marketing tool for businesses. Right now, the most popular stickers available on Instagram are Location, @Mention, #Hashtag, Donation, Music, Poll, Questions, Challenge, DM Me, Countdown, Quiz, Stay Home, Food Orders, Gift Cards, and Support Small Business. Let’s look at the story stickers that can best support your business’s Instagram marketing efforts:
● DM Me sticker: Instagram launched this new story sticker to help users DM business accounts easily and promote messaging interaction. By altering the DM Me text to state “Get More Info,” this particular sticker can become a powerful CTA that drives private discussions about products and services that could lead to sales.
● Food Orders sticker: if you own a restaurant, coffee shop, or quick-serve business, this story sticker is for you. The Food Orders sticker enables users to tap the sticker and get redirected immediately to your business’s online ordering platform. Connecting with popular food delivery service platforms such as GrubHub, Uber Eats, or DoorDash is possible with this sticker.
● Support Small Business sticker: this story sticker is excellent for businesses that want to partner with other non-competing businesses and cross-promote each other’s products and services. With the Support Small Business sticker, you can tag the business you’ve partnered with, which will introduce your visitors to the other business, and vice versa. By tapping the sticker, visitors will be redirected to your partner’s IG account or website, depending.
In addition to the Big Five that we covered in our last section, there are thirteen additional features to be aware of, which will be the focus of this section. These features affect both business and personal accounts.
At long last, Instagram offers in-app eCommerce solutions for business accounts. This Shop feature has to be accessed through your Facebook business account, however, since the platforms are married.
Depending on the nature of your business, you may have several Instagram accounts that appear under a larger umbrella company. Previously, there was no way to post the same content across multiple accounts, but now there is. This feature is a bona fide time saver.
Featuring user-generated content has become a highly effective social media marketing strategy, but efficiently “sharing” and “reposting” user-generated content hasn’t always been so easy on Instagram when it comes to stories. Instagram improved this by creating notifications for business account handles that users “tag” in their stories. If you’re tagged in a story, a notification will appear in your account.
In their effort to save businesses even more time, Instagram now offers Create Mode—a way to create, save, and reuse story templates. If you’re in the habit of including stickers, text, and a lot of bells and whistles in your story posts, this Create Mode template feature will save you a ton of time in the long run.
“Have you ever wanted to turn off your video or audio when you’re Live? Now you can. Hopefully, this gives you more flexibility and lessens any pressure to look or sound a certain way during a Live.” —Adam Moserri, CEO of Instagram
Have you ever hosted an Instagram Live only to have your child, dog, or neighbor make an unwelcomed, albeit unintentional, intrusion? Even Live videos you record at the office can be suddenly sabotaged by the unexpected. There’s nothing worse than scrambling to quiet a mysterious noise or correct a visual issue while your entire virtual audience looks on. That’s why Instagram now offers an “Off” option, allowing users to easily and quickly turn off their video, audio, or both.
Instagram TV, or IGTV for short, offers long form video content (longer than 60 seconds). This content format has grown in popularity, which is why Instagram is now working to promote IGTV channels and episodes. Using organic reach, Instagram will include IGTV Previews as though they are regular posts. The only downside is that you will have no control over the preview content. Instead, Instagram will automatically play a 15-second clip from your IGTV episode as a preview.
Using the Instagram app can be a huge drain on cell phone battery life, which is why Instagram launched Dark Mode, a “dim” version of its content. The main difference is that Dark Mode features a black background, as opposed to the traditional white background.
Taking a cue from Google, Instagram now divides its Inbox into three tabs—Primary, General, and Requests. Messages from users you follow or who follow you will show up in the Primary tab, and the rest will appear in the Requests tab, which you can then manually move to either Primary or General.
We’re not sure how we feel about Instagram’s new “Suggested Unfollow” feature… Instagram will now suggest to users, not accounts they should follow, but rather current accounts that they should unfollow due to the fact that they haven’t been engaging with those accounts anyway. Generally speaking, the accounts that Instagram will suggest you “unfollow” will be the accounts in your “Least Interacted With” list.
Sometimes, it’s necessary to block a follower. Sad, but true. But what if you don’t want to completely cut your profile off from a follower? That’s where Remove Followers comes in handy, Instagram’s “soft block” feature. In your Followers list, you’ll now see Remove buttons next to each account name. Simply tap “remove” and the follower won’t be blocked from finding your account in the future, they just won’t see your posts anymore since they’re no longer following you.
Instagram Alt Text is a great new feature for business accounts that want to cater to their followers who are visually impaired. With Instagram Alt Text, you can compose shorter captions that will appear in large print font. As an added bonus, using Alt Text is another opportunity to plug in SEO keywords and hashtags that Instagram will pick up.
As an alternative to Remove Followers, Instagram now offers the new Restrict Accounts feature that enables users to disable a follower’s ability to comment on their posts. Originally, this feature was designed to fight online bullying, but it’s helpful for businesses, as well.
Depending on the nature of your business and the content of your social media account, it might be appropriate to prevent users who are under a certain age from accessing your posts. For example, vape retailers and CBD shops might want to restrict underage users from viewing their content. With the Age Limit feature, you can “hide” your profile from younger audiences by defining the “minimum age” setting within your account. Once a minimum age has been set, only users who meet the age minimum will have access to your profile, posts, and stories.
Instagram remains the most popular photo-sharing app, and yet this social media platform has evolved to become so much more. Instagram’s success and continued popularity are due in large part to its ability to adopt and mimic the successful features that competing social platforms offer.
At the moment, the social platform that’s giving Instagram the biggest run for its money is TikTok. TikTok is young, fun, and growing at a rate that has been making other social media platforms very nervous. Currently, TikTok has over 1 billion active users across the world, but why? What makes TikTok so appealing?
What makes TikTok unique is the app’s discovery feed, known as the “For You” page. This view serves as the user’s primary timeline, or feed, and it uses a special algorithm to populate the most optimal and personalized content for the user. The algorithm’s artificial intelligence uses machine learning to record, analyze, and leverage the specific posts that a user interacts with in order to show them highly relevant content that they’re likely to enjoy.
Unlike competing social media platforms that foster social networks and connections with people you know in real life, TikTok actually does the opposite by connecting users with content that’s generated outside of their social circles.
Why mention this?
TikTok is a bigger threat to Instagram right now than any other social media platform, and Instagram knows it. Over the course of the past year, Instagram users have begun to split their social media time between Instagram and TikTok, which has affected Instagram’s user engagement as well as its ad revenue.
What’s Instagram doing about it?
Instagram plans to study TikTok and adopt as many popular TikTok features as it can.
“The important thing is that people are seeing stories that resonate with them and are meaningful to them.” —Adam Moserri, CEO of Instagram
Truth be told, Instagram isn’t suffering due to TikTok… yet. Instagram is still the #1 platform in conjunction with Facebook for effective advertising. In fact, posting regularly on Instagram for marketing purposes will gain you more followers and daily interactions than posting on TikTok at the moment… But we’re definitely watching both platforms closely.
As of writing this article, TikTok has upgraded its ads, making them personalized and also unavoidable. Meaning, users can no longer opt-out of seeing ads on the platform. This upgrade took place in April earlier this year, and the marketing specialists at FTx 360 are still tracking ad performance metrics to determine if advertising on TikTok will at some point rival placing targeted ads on Instagram.
If the scales tip in TikTok’s favor, we’ll let you know! In the meantime, Instagram is where it’s at for social media marketing if your content contains highly visual photos and videos.
FTx 360 provides social media marketing services that can help you get the most out of your social media presence, increase social engagement, build followers, and convert users and followers into website visitors and loyal customers. No matter how big or small your business is today, or what industry you’re in, our team of experienced digital marketers can increase social engagement for your brand on Instagram, Facebook, and other social platforms. Using paid advertisements, PPC Marketing, and social media marketing strategies, our marketers combine the power of hashtags, SEO, and geo-targeting to deliver results. Contact us to discover what FTx 360 can do for your brand.
As a business owner, you’re probably aware that social media should play a role in your digital marketing strategy. But which platforms should you invest your time in?
There are many social media platforms to choose from. In fact, new social platforms hit the internet regularly, which can be overwhelming for business owners who are trying to keep up. The good news is that you don’t have to. When it comes to using social media to promote your business, accrue followers, and increase brand awareness, there are only five major platforms to consider. Those are:
Should you create profiles and attempt to publish on all of these platforms? Absolutely not. As counterintuitive as it may seem, if you try to tackle managing accounts and publishing content on all five of these social media platforms, you will cause the adverse effect of diluting your brand and weakening your digital presence.
Ensuring that social media marketing works for your business will depend on choosing the right platforms. Each social media platform offers users a different experience. Each platform provides brands with advantages and disadvantages. And each social platform must be carefully analyzed for its business marketing potential. In this article, we will assess the major platforms listed above to help you determine which ones will best serve your marketing goals.
In order to reach your social media marketing goals, you must first get clear on what those goals are. Social media goals can range widely from one business to the next. Some companies strictly use social media platforms to sell directly to consumers. Others choose platforms that will enable them to collect thousands of followers, because building general awareness about their brands is their greatest goal. Company owners who want to promote their B2B businesses might expect their social media marketing efforts to result in gaining podcast subscribers and website visitors since those are their two biggest conversion channels.
What are your social media marketing goals? Your answer will depend on the following factors, so first ask yourself:
● What type of business do you own?
● Who are your clients or customers?
● Which social media platforms do they spend the most time on?
● What type of information do you want to impart to your targeted audience via social media and what would be the best content form to communicate that information to them?
Let’s take a look at each question, the possible answers, and how your particular answer will inform your social media marketing goals.
The first major differentiator is whether you own a B2C company—”business-2-consumer” company—or a B2B company—”business-2-business” company. The industry in which your company operates is the second major differentiator. B2B companies that operate within the manufacturing industry, for example, will have very different social media marketing goals than B2C companies that operate as pet supply stores, golf & country clubhouses, or 24-hour diners. Certain social media platforms will serve B2B companies better than B2C ones, while other social media platforms will benefit retailers more so than restaurants, all of which we will examine further in this article. For now, simply identify the nature of your business.
This question goes much deeper than what meets the eye initially. The answer we’re looking for is all about customer demographics, customer interests, customer favorites, customer “pain points,” and the list goes on. You really must know who your customers are if you want to engage them online using your social media content. Do you have a digitized Point-of-Sale system at your retail location? Are you using Customer Relationship Management software at your hospitality business? Do you have a customer loyalty rewards program in place at your quick-serve diner? Any of these software tools can tell you exactly who your clients and customers are. Simply review and analyze all of the valuable customer data that has been historically recorded. You can access this data via the reporting function of the software.
We admit, if you already knew the answer to this question, you probably wouldn’t need to read this article in the first place. Obviously, you want to focus your social media marketing efforts on whichever social platforms your customers spend most of their time. That being said, determining which platform your current customers—and also your potential customers—spend the bulk of their time on isn’t as straightforward as it should be. Answering this question will require research, but the good news is that there are several independent websites that have conducted this kind of research already by comparing user data from one platform to the next. Not to mention that any social platform that is a publicly traded company has to provide key demographic information as part of their financial reporting transparency obligations. Check out Facebook’s Investor Reporting website.
In terms of identifying and reaching your social media marketing goals, this is the most important question you will ever answer. Social media is all about interaction and engagement, which means that you must understand what kind of content your customers want to find on social media in order to provide them with content that will effectively engage them. For instance, if you own a holistic dentistry practice, your customers are probably concerned with the toxins that are known to leach out of dental fillings and implants, and the dangers that mixed metals are suspected to cause in the human body. The dental materials you use, as well as your services, are toxin-free. So, how can you communicate this information to your potential customers, quelling their fears while educating them at the same time, all while using the most accommodating social media platform to relay your message?
As you can tell, a great deal of thought goes into figuring out what kind of information your customers are seeking online and which content form will be best to communicate that information to them. In the next section, we will look at each social media platform to help you understand how using it could benefit your business and to also help you eliminate the platforms that are less likely to serve you, your customers, and your marketing goals.
Each social media platform has a fluctuating number of daily users, and depending on the specific demographics of those users, your business could have access to a very deep pool of potential customers if you choose to market your company on those platforms. But is it better to be a big fish in a small pond, a small fish in a big pond, or a fisherman who casts the widest net possible? Only you will know what is best for your business. Here is the social media platform information you can use to assess which platforms will be right for you.
A veteran social media platform that has been around longer than the others on this list, Facebook is by no means passé. Yes, there are newer, more trendy platforms out there, but in terms of ideal user demographics and the ability to connect businesses with new customers, Facebook remains an excellent choice for social media marketing.
● Over 2 billion active users visit Facebook daily
● The biggest demographic on Facebook are male users (19.3%) and female users (13.2%) between 25 and 34 years of age
● 75% of social media users with an income of $75k or more are on Facebook
By using Facebook as part of your social media marketing strategy, you will be able to attract users and gain followers organically. Simply posting content regularly, using relevant hashtags, and replying to comments as they come in will do wonders for gradually building brand awareness and converting visitors into customers over time.
But that’s not all Facebook can do for your business. What makes Facebook one of the best platforms for B2B and B2C companies who ultimately want to increase revenue is its targeted digital advertising platform.
Between running PPC advertising campaigns and selling goods to customers from the platform itself, Facebook has helped to transform a lot of companies into eCommerce powerhouses, and it can do the same for your business.
Bottom line, Facebook is an excellent platform for B2C companies that want to post micro-content to increase brand awareness, gain followers, stimulate social engagement, and convert followers into customers.
Founded in October of 2010, Instagram hit the social media scene and instantly won over a multitude of users across the world. More so than any other social media platform, Instagram is all about the visual. As the ideal platform to post photos, images, graphics, and viral memes, Instagram has taken over and dominated the social media marketing space for businesses who sell products that “give good photo.”
Instagram really isn’t a listening and learning platform. In terms of fostering conversations, it pales in comparison to Facebook, but that doesn’t mean this platform is any less valuable. In fact, Instagram can do what Facebook can’t, which is present the beauty of life in a visual format with no distractions such as written commentary, website links, random polls and surveys, and other chaotic options that tend to be presented on the average Facebook feed.
● 200 million+ Instagrammers visit at least one business profile daily
● 70% of shoppers use Instagram to discover new products
● Instagram’s potential advertising reach is 928 million users
If you’re already convinced that including Instagram in your social media marketing is a must, you aren’t alone. That being said, Instagram tends to benefit businesses in the B2C retail consumer goods space where the primary customer demographics are teenagers and young adults.
Bottom line, Instagram is best for B2C retail companies, especially when those companies primarily sell on an eCommerce platform.
The social media platform, Twitter, was launched back in 2006 and frankly, most users did not comprehend its potential for about ten years. Once upon a time, Twitter had a primitive look, Tweets were referred to as Updates, and Followers were referred to as Friends. Most Tweets were basic if not random, and because Twitter lacked the visual components of Facebook, as well as the number of characters one would need to write a paragraph, many users were initially confused about how they were going to use the platform to connect with friends.
● 77% of Americans who annually earn $75k or more use Twitter
● 80% of Twitter users are affluent millennials
● 71% of Twitter users say they use the social platform to get their news and stay informed
The last statistic sums up everything you need to know about Twitter. Twitter is an information-spreading platform that serves news outlets and organizations that either cover or contribute to current events. Twitter tends to be politically charged and entire debates can unfold within a single thread of Tweets.
That being said, certain business owners can get a lot out of using Twitter for their social media marketing. Since Twitter is a real-time social media platform, every Tweet you post is equivalent to sending a group text message to the entire world. Currently, a Tweet can be up to 280 characters, which allows you to make a complex point, and because you can also share website links, Twitter is an ideal platform to drive traffic to your business blog or YouTube channel where visitors can gain even more information from you.
Thanks to hashtags and the immediacy of the platform itself, Twitter offers businesses a way to engage with their audiences in real time, having complete conversations. Your business can also take advantage of trending topics on Twitter by retweeting and commenting on whatever is going on in the world.
Bottom line, Twitter will serve B2B and B2C businesses that want to spread information, comment on current events, and elevate their professional authority within their industry. If your company serves a specific community, has a non-profit mission, or interconnects with the world of current events, then using Twitter as part of your social media marketing strategy could greatly benefit your business.
LinkedIn has had a slow evolution in terms of joining the ranks of well-known social media sites. Considered the world’s largest professional network on the internet, only in recent years has LinkedIn been regarded as an authentic “social media” platform. It wasn’t until LinkedIn provided newsfeeds and the ability for users to post blogs and other content that it joined the ranks of social media. Initially, LinkedIn was used strictly as an employment-oriented online platform that connected professionals and aided job seekers in obtaining the best positions on the open job market.
● More than 70% of LinkedIn users are from outside the USA
● 90 million LinkedIn users are senior-level hiring managers and 63 million are in decision-making positions at their companies
● LinkedIn makes up more than 50% of all social traffic to B2B websites & blogs
LinkedIn is an interesting social media marketing option. While it doesn’t have nearly as many users as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter combined, it has far more marketing potential than you might think. If you own a B2B company that does international business, you really can’t afford not to be on LinkedIn.
One of the biggest benefits of using LinkedIn is that you can be a big fish in a small pond. Unlike Facebook and Instagram that have crowded newsfeeds, there are fewer users on LinkedIn to compete with. And the users who actively use LinkedIn have specific goals in mind, such as connecting with relevant businesses, reviewing the resumes of qualified professionals, and gaining insights about their industries by reading newsfeed articles.
If you use LinkedIn to the fullest, which includes publishing posts regularly and updating blog articles to your business profile, you can potentially build massive awareness about your brand in a relatively short amount of time. And best of all, because LinkedIn isn’t crowded with consumers, you don’t have to advertise on the platform. Simply post regularly and use relevant hashtags, and you will reap the benefits of advertising without spending a dime thanks to LinkedIn’s algorithms.
Bottom line, LinkedIn is best for B2B companies that can commit to regularly publishing informative blog articles. If one of your social media marketing goals is to elevate your brand’s expert standing within your industry, then using LinkedIn is for you.
Last, but certainly not least, is YouTube. YouTube exclusively offers video content, though some channels publish audio-only files with a static image that fills the video field. When an internet user wants to watch video content, YouTube is the social media platform they go to, hands down. In this sense, YouTube has virtually no competition, not even from Vimeo. If you’re prepared to create professional-looking video content, then using YouTube for your social media marketing could prove more effective than all other platforms combined.
● 73% of U.S. adults use YouTube and 89% of YouTube users come from outside the USA
● The number of channels earning six figures per year on YouTube grows by 40% every year
● YouTube is the second-most visited website in the world after Google
In order to publish video content on YouTube, you will have to pick an account package that’s appropriate for your business size. Owners of startups can first use YouTube’s free publishing services and then when you grow, you can upgrade to one of their paid service options. The best part about YouTube, and there are many, is that the platform itself is a search engine. When you correctly categorize your channel and videos, and add hashtags, users will be able to easily find you. YouTube also provides analytic tools to help you gauge video performance.
YouTube can provide your business with an additional stream of income if you gain enough subscribers to your channel, which is something that other social media platforms simply do not offer. Bear in mind that there’s a significant delay on payouts, but once you earn the minimum dollar amount, which triggers the automated payment process, YouTube will email you an alert.
What kind of video content should you publish on YouTube? The answer will have to do with what your specific customers want to see. But here are a few ideas to get you started:
● Webinars, Tutorials, and How-To Videos
● Candid Customer Testimonials
● Q&A Videos
● Trailer Videos
● Stats Videos
Bottom line, when it comes to which social media platform businesses should use to publish video content, no platform compares to YouTube. Whether you own a B2B or B2C business, if you want to reach a massive audience using video content, then you must publish on YouTube, period. You can also take clips of your videos to use as micro-content teasers on Facebook, Instagram, and other social platforms as part of your strategy to drum up interest and drive traffic to your YouTube channel.
Hopefully, this article has helped you refine your social media marketing goals and aided your decision as to which social platforms to invest your time, money, and efforts into. The real trick is to pick only one or two social media platforms to focus on, rather than attempting to manage every platform under the sun.
Want personalized, hands-on social media marketing assistance? FTx 360 offers social media marketing services to B2B and B2C businesses of all industries. Our team of marketers specialize in both macro and micro-content, and know how to make the most out of each social media platform so that you gain a growing audience and provide your customers with the information they want most. Contact us anytime to find out how FTx 360 can benefit your bottom line without breaking the bank.
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Do you know how many customers are socially engaged with your brand online? Or are you scratching your head right now because you have no idea whether or not you even have a social audience, much less how many they number. You don’t even know who they are…
You’re not alone.
Many business owners focus on advertising and overlook the importance of increasing social engagement with their customers.
Though effective, advertising is impersonal whereas engaging with your social audience is highly personal. Interestingly, advertising campaigns that lack correlating social engagement campaigns don’t end up doing very well.
So, what is social engagement? The simplest definition is that social engagement is the process of actively interacting and communicating in an online community, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Reddit, Quora, or any blog, forum, third-party review site, or social media platform.
Strategies to increase social engagement emphasize initiating personal conversations in order to stay in constant contact with a given audience online. This means that your campaigns to increase social engagement cannot—and should not—include too many blatant advertisements of your products or services.
But why is that?
While overtly promoting your products and services on social media platforms is a valid form of advertising, it will not foster social engagement nor help you build a social community of online followers.
When social engagement efforts are maintained correctly, the benefits include gaining shoppers, building customer loyalty, and ensuring overall business growth.
Providing your customers with opportunities to engage with your brand in meaningful ways will lead to a better customer experience. Customers who have positive experiences while socially engaging with your brand online are more likely to tell their friends and family about your company.
There are many strategies to increase social engagement, but for the sake of expediency, this article will focus on the following three ways:
● Research & Utilize Trending Hashtags
● Provide Novel Content
● Use the A.I.D.A. Formula
Hashtags are the SEO of social media. Keywords are used to amplify SEO and drive web traffic, and in a very similar way, hashtags are used in social media posts and blog posts to attract site users.
Every hashtag is prefaced by the hash symbol—#. When hashtags are used correctly, posts get seen by large audiences. When hashtags are used expertly, posts can go viral. But when hashtags are used incorrectly, or worse, not used at all, those posts will never see the light of day.
In fact, almost 70% of Instagram posts go unseen! What does that tell us? That 70% of social media posts are not using hashtags correctly, which means that 70% of social media users are not utilizing those platforms to increase social engagement.
By adding just 1 hashtag to a post, the post’s engagement can increase by roughly 12.6%. That’s valuable!
However, you can’t just thoughtlessly slap a few hashtags onto your posts and expect to see results.
Finding popular, trending hashtags that are relevant to your business’ social media post requires research and testing.
If you have been using hashtags but haven’t noticed an increase in social engagement, then your hashtag strategy is flawed. Don’t worry, we have tips to correct your strategy. First, stop doing the following:
● Don’t copy / paste the same hashtags in each post
● Don’t invent your own hashtags unless doing so is part of a specific marketing campaign; a newly invented hashtag is “empty” of followers, which defeats your goal
● Avoid gimmicky hashtags such as #like4like, #follow4follow, and other bland, nondescript hashtags
● Never go over 30 hashtags in a single post, and make sure every hashtag you use is highly relevant to your business and the post’s content
Interestingly, whether a hashtag is added to the caption section or in the comments section it will work the same way, perform the same way, and be equally effective. That being said, users and followers become turned off when they see an ugly block of hashtags within a caption, so be mindful about how you present your hashtags. Remember, Facebook and Instagram will reward posts that look neat, pretty, and synchronized. The bottom line is that if you have a block of 30 hashtags and they’re all relevant, that’s fine, but use them in the comments section, and never the caption itself. Capeesh?
Instead of falling prey to the list of “don’ts” that we mentioned above, here’s what you should do:
Invest in a good hashtag tool. Instead of inventing your own hashtag or using a social media platform’s limited search function to manually collect seemingly relevant hashtags, try using a hashtag tool. Hashtag tools are designed to help you discover relevant hashtags, and you can even check the engagement stats of each hashtag to make sure it’ll be worth your while.
Watch out for high-density hashtags, though. Any hashtag that has 500,000 followers or more is considered high-density. If you only use high-density hashtags, the likelihood of your post being seen by a wide audience is nil. Remember, high-density equals “high competition.” That being said, including one or two high-density hashtags won’t hurt you, in fact it will help, but only if you’re primarily using a bunch of low-density, relevant hashtags.
Thoroughly research each specific hashtag so that you can make an informed decision about whether or not to use it. And be sure to include a mix of the following types of hashtags in your posts.
● Community Hashtags—These hashtags revolve around small niche communities, which means they’re highly targeted, yet they’re considered low competition because the overall audience is a comparatively lower number of users. For example, #oceanlife is a hashtag centered on a community of people, i.e. those who live near the ocean and have a beachy lifestyle.
● Audience Descriptive Hashtags—These hashtags use words and phrases that describe your target audience. Audience descriptive hashtags work best when you use between 5 and 8, being careful that you aren’t using variations on the same description. For example, #bookloversofInstagram is a hashtag that defines an audience, and other descriptive hashtags can be used to complement it such as #readerslife, #kindleaddict, and #bookwormsunite.
● Location Hashtags—These hashtags are exactly what you might think, i.e. a geographical region that’s relevant to the post. This is not to be confused with adding a location sticker to a post, which will pinpoint the address where the post was uploaded. Location hashtags serve to cast a wider net than a particular address. For example, #NewYorkCityCatering is a hashtag that will attract the attention of everyone in the NYC area, whereas #catering is much too broad and #124FrontSteetBrooklynCatering is way too specific.
● Product Descriptive Hashtags—These hashtags are not as cut-and-dry as you might assume. Rather than hashtags that describe your products, product descriptive hashtags reference your customers’ “pain points” and the solutions your company offers to solve those problems. For example, #flattiressuck, #tirerepair, and #automotiveaccessories work very well together as three product descriptive hashtags.
There’s so much more we could say about using hashtags to increase audience engagement, but we’ll leave you with this final thought before moving on to the next section: be prepared to engage with your audience when users begin to comment on your posts. If you don’t respond promptly and keep the conversation going, your post will go dead no matter how effective the hashtags were at attracting an audience.
No, we aren’t referring to a 300-page paperback novel. The term “novel content” refers to digital content that is unique, exclusive, and time-sensitive in the sense that it will eventually expire. The social media platform Snapchat is based on the concept of novel content. Each “snap” is only available to be seen for a limited period of time, after which it disappears forever.
In order to understand why novel content works to increase social engagement, you must first understand what “conventional content” is, and why it’s too broad to foster social engagement all on its own.
Conventional content includes blogs, articles, ebooks, videos, webinars, and podcasts.
A blog post, for example, could spark a discussion in the comments section based on questions that were posed within the article itself. But will a blog post automatically spark social engagement? No.
The same can be said of videos, webinars, and podcasts. These mediums deliver information, provide entertainment, and boost brand visibility, but that doesn’t automatically lead to social engagement.
However, when novel content is added to conventional content, it serves to effectively increase social engagement.
So, what is novel content? The following is a short list of the most popular and engaging forms of novel content:
● Polls—The great news is that most social media platforms have integrated a “polls” feature, making it easy for account holders like you to craft an engaging poll for your audience. Polls empower you to gain insights about your audience by simply asking them questions. You can quickly gather feedback from your audience about the kind of content they’d like to see, what they think of your latest article, and even the challenges they’re currently facing. Polls are structured with multiple choice answers, so bear that in mind when you’re designing your next poll to increase social engagement.
● Quizzes—You can build Buzzfeed-style quizzes to trigger your audience into engaging. Use your most popular content to build your quiz around, whether it’s a recent podcast you aired or article you published. Establish the goal of the quiz, i.e. will there be a winner and a prize? Then create your quiz questions based on the information you shared in the podcast or article that the quiz is based on. Lastly, don’t forget to promote your quiz on social media.
● Contests—People love contests. The prospect of winning, even if the prize isn’t terribly valuable, is enticing enough to provoke healthy social engagement online. The best part about hosting a contest on social media is that it can serve to drive traffic to your website or eCommerce store, effortlessly converting visitors into customers. In your contest campaign, clearly define the prize, the rules, and the deadline. You can think of the rules as your CTAs. To define the rules, ask yourself, do you want participants to like the post, share the post, follow your account, and comment under the post with the answer to the contest question? Once you’ve established the parameters, be sure to market your contest across all social media platforms and also on your website.
● Call-in Q&As—A surefire way to amplify engagement for your podcast, webinar, or any live broadcast you’re hosting online is to allocate a segment to call-in questions so that your audience can make direct contact with you, ask you a question, and get an answer from you, an expert in your field. Offering Q&A segments can help to build a deeper relationship with your audience wherein they will trust you more and you will learn more about them. Be sure to advertise the call-in phone number with the date / time of the Q&A segment, then use all social media platforms to get the word out.
● Type-in Q&As—Hosting a call-in segment might be a bit advanced for some businesses. Alternatively, you can devise a type-in method for your audience to send their written questions to you. Type-in Q&As first appeared on YouTube Live, where audience members could type comments, questions, and observations into the live chat reply (not to be confused with the comments section below the video) as the live video broadcast unfolded. Nowadays, live chat reply boxes have been added to social media platforms like Facebook Live and Instagram Live.
● Disappearing Content—As of the writing of this article, there are a number of social media platforms that offer disappearing content features. Those are Facebook Stories, Instagram Stories, Snapchat Stories, Twitter Fleets, LinkedIn Stories, and YouTube Stories. Content you publish within these features will disappear after a preset time frame, usually 24 hours. You can include hashtags and location stickers to geotag your disappearing posts, which will help other users discover your content and engage with your brand.
When you invite your audience to engage with your brand in the ways we’ve mentioned so far, the organic result is that they will begin to socially interact with you by sharing their opinions, voting in polls, asking questions, and entering for their chance to win prizes from your company.
Smoke shops, cigar retailers, vape stores, hookah lounges, and even hemp wellness retailers within the CBD industry have one major challenge in common—severe advertising restrictions.
The US Food & Drug Administration has controlled tobacco and nicotine product advertising for decades, but it wasn’t until June of 2009 that the FDA clamped down hard on tobacco industry advertising, including advertising that fell within the scope of digital marketing.
These new FDA rules and regulations were imposed on secondary industries that carried nicotine, tobacco-related, and tobacco-simulated products, namely the vape and CBD markets. Can vape stores run TV ads? Nope. Are cigar retailers allowed to place paid ads on Instagram? Not at all. What about CBD stores, can this type of hemp wellness retailer buy a half-page magazine ad? Not even for a million dollars.
With extreme advertising limitations, how can smoke shops, vape stores, and similar retailers actually promote their tobacco, nicotine, CBD, and smoke-simulation products?
How will these businesses reach customers, sell products, and grow?
Though challenging, marketing tobacco, vape, and alternative nicotine products is not impossible. In this article, we’ll show you how to maximize lawful strategies while staying in compliance with the FDA.
Here are the dos and don’ts of marketing your store.
There is a critical distinction to be made between “advertising” and “marketing”. Just because you, as a tobacco retailer, are prohibited from freely advertising your nicotine products does not mean you’re prohibited from marketing your nicotine products. You can think of “advertising” as directly promoting a product to a consumer audience. By contrast, “marketing” raises brand awareness using indirect methods of promotion. Understanding the difference and sticking strictly to marketing is imperative.
Do: Focus on Marketing
Don’t: Invest in Advertising
First, you must educate yourself about the specific search engine and social media platform policies, and obey those policies. Familiarize yourself with Google’s products promotion rules. Pay particular attention to their prohibited content, restricted content & features, and dangerous products & services. Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook each have their own policies and restrictions on nicotine product promotion that you should take a look at.
You might be wondering, if marketing isn’t advertising, then what is it? For smoke and vape retailers, examples of effective marketing include maintaining a Google My Business account, using social media to passively and indirectly attract consumers, and launching a blog, all of which we will cover in this article, so keep reading!
Ready to get started with implementing focused marketing campaigns? Take these next steps:
● Identify your marketing audience
● Research the best marketing strategies for your industry
● Consider marketing automation solutions
FACT: In 2019, the global e-cigarette and vape market size was valued at USD $12.41 billion, and this figure is projected to rise 23.8% between now and 2027! This means that consumers want to find your smoke shop, so make it easy on them by focusing on strategic digital marketing! This according to Statista.com.
As we mentioned in the previous section, it’s essentially impossible to advertise your tobacco, nicotine, and vape products via traditional search engine and social media ads, but that doesn’t mean you should give up on the internet. Never discount the importance of your internet presence! Even if you own a brick-and-mortar retail store without a corresponding eCommerce site, you still must promote your brand online using digital marketing strategies that include SEO.
Do: Implement an SEO Strategy
Don’t: Discount the Importance of Your Internet Presence
For the purposes of expediency, we’re going to assume you know what SEO is, but if not, check out our blog What Is SEO? Go ahead, we’ll wait… it’s only a 5-minute read. Keywords are the backbone of effective search engine optimization. Choosing current, “hot” keywords as you build your digital content will cause search engines like Google to recommend your site to consumers who are looking for retailers like you.
Yes, as we touched on earlier, even physical retail stores need to invest in expanding their online presence. You don’t have to go so far as launching an eCommerce site, but if you have a website, we strongly recommend you launch an associated blog. Even if you start a simple WordPress blog, you can then create “posts” on your Google My Business account, sharing the article links. This is a great way to get your blogging feet wet while utilizing effective SEO that will communicate directly with Google.
Ready to get started integrating powerful SEO into your marketing strategies? Take these next steps:
● Launch a scalable, mobile-friendly blog
● Focus on Google My Business & building customer reviews
● Invest in professional SEO solutions
FACT: Popular SEO keywords for tobacco, vape, and CBD industry content are constantly shifting and changing as new products are introduced to the market. Regularly publishing blog articles is the best way to keep up, use current keywords, and ensure search engines recommend your store’s website to consumers. This according to Forbes.com.
Want to hear something excruciatingly unfair? Years ago, Big Tobacco tried to game the social media marketing system using paid influencers and basically ruined the concept for the rest of us. What really happened? In May of 2019, roughly 125 public health organizations issued a “cease and desist” order to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat to immediately end the promotion of cigarettes and e-cigarettes from Big Tobacco companies. The resulting ban included prohibiting promotions from social media influencers. Then, in epic Big Tobacco fashion, the biggest names in the nicotine business straight-up ignored the order.
Do: Partner with Social Media Influencers
Don’t: Rely Solely on Influencers
So, why in the world do our digital marketing strategists include “partner with social media influencers” as a “do” on this list rather than a “don’t”? Because of our tenacity! We would never advocate trying to game the system. Our clients are small businesses that don’t possess the kind of legal teams that can defend Big-Tobacco-caliber violations.
When it comes to partnering with social media influencers, you have to think waaaaay outside the box, like we do, and like one of our clients has been since they started working with us. We’re referring to CBD Source, the leading cannabidiol retail chain across Pennsylvania and New York State. In April of 2019, CBD Source launched the CBD Podcast, which expanded their customer reach so much that they had to create an eCommerce store just to keep up with the demand. Naturally, their podcast developed into a YouTube channel, and that’s where the real social media influencer strategies took off like a heat seeking missile!
Ready to get started with social media influencers? Take these next steps:
● Contact influencers to plug and review your products
● Launch a podcast, vlog, or YouTube channel
● Test out a professional SSM strategist and analyze the ROI
Email marketing is a powerful tool for businesses of all kinds. When implemented strategically, email marketing campaigns incentivize customers to visit a retail location or eCommerce site, which directly impacts revenue increases. Why is email marketing a definite “do” on this list? Because you can say and promote whatever you want within this private method of communication. That’s right, you can directly advertise your tobacco, nicotine, CBD, and vape products to your recipient list!
Do: Include Email Marketing
Don’t: Spam Using Generic Offers
No two of your customers are exactly alike, however. Don’t spam generic emails to every email address on your list. Effective email marketing campaigns are all about “personalization”. The trick is to only recommend the most relevant products to each of your email recipients. Succeeding at personalizing your email campaigns will depend on the CRM software you’re using. You can’t achieve personalization without having collected data about your customers personal browsing and buying histories.
Whether you collect customer data at the POS system within your retail location or have integrated CRM solutions on the backend of your eCommerce site, you can build a quality sales pipeline as a result of personalized email marketing campaigns. First, analyze your customer data and group your customers into segments according to their likes and interests. Then, tailor personalized email campaigns to each customer segment, informing them of sales, deals, and discounts on items they have a history of loving and buying.
Ready to get started launching an email marketing campaign? Take these next steps:
● Provide shoppers with opt-in subscription methods to join your email list
● Develop concise written content that takes recipient personalization into account
● Use email marketing software solutions with CRM capabilities
FTx 360 can help. Our digital marketing strategists have extensive experience working within the tobacco, vape, and CBD industries. If you have concerns about FDA restrictions, we know the law. We know how to stay in compliance. And we know how to grow businesses using marketing automation, SEO solutions, SSM strategies, and email marketing solutions to build awareness for your brand and expand your loyal customer base.
Ready to get started with our tobacco industry marketing strategies? Contact us today!
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At long last, your business website is completely set up. The home page is beautifully branded. Your products and services are clearly indexed. And you’ve even included a few CTAs so that visitors can subscribe to your company’s email newsletter, join your customer loyalty rewards program, and follow your social media accounts.
But how are you actually going to drive traffic to your website?
If you’re unsure how to answer that question, don’t worry. You’re not alone. In this article, we’ll go over proven tactics that will increase web traffic.
The term “website traffic” refers to the volume of users that visit a website. Unlike rush hour traffic, however, that causes bottlenecks, gridlock, and traffic jams, when it comes to web traffic, the more users on a website, the better. The actual number of users that visit your website will depend on the purpose of the site, each visitor’s reason for checking out the site, and how your visitors discovered the site in the first place.
For businesses, organizations, and especially ECommerce retailers, increasing web traffic is crucial to the success of both the website itself and the company at large. If web traffic doesn’t increase, the company probably won’t grow. And if there is hardly any web traffic to begin with, the company will struggle to get off the ground in the first place.
Increasing traffic to your website boils down to correctly using SEO keywords and longtail keyword phrases. SEO is so integral to the vitality of a website that we’ve dedicated an entire article to the subject, What Is SEO? which covers the whys, hows, and wheres of plugging SEO keywords into your web content. Be sure to take a moment to check it out when you have a chance. For the time being, we’ll assume you’re familiar with SEO in general.
The following SEO tips will help you drive traffic to your website organically, and the latter half of this article will walk you through the steps of adding SEO to the images you use on your website, which can have a massively positive impact on the volume of your daily visitors, as well as your website’s ranking on Google and other search engines.
Let’s dive in.
By far the most organic method to drive web traffic to your site involves adding new content to your website on a daily–or even weekly–basis. Generating daily content naturally produces SEO keywords, which Google and other search engines will pick up and use to recommend your website to users who search for businesses, products, and services that are relevant to yours. The easiest way to publish new content frequently and regularly is with a blog. Blog posts don’t have to be lengthy, either. You can publish short articles and reap measurable benefits. For detailed tips to launch a successful blog, read Creating A Remarkable Business Blog. The trick when it comes to ensuring your blog will promote web traffic to other pages on your website is to use internal links. For example, if you’re managing a jewelry ECommerce site, your blog posts can offer inspirational accessory advice on the latest jewelry trends that link to specific products for sale on your website.
Typically, an SEO keyword is strictly that–a single word. Is that how people use Google? Not at all, and Google recognized this fact back in 2013. As a result, Google created a new algorithm called Google Hummingbird that recognizes natural language and questions when Google users type them into the search bar. In practical terms, because Google users will type “where can I buy a cat tree?” or “puppy flea control shampoo near me”, Hummingbird will identify the “topic” or “category” that the search implies and generate appropriate search results that are relevant to local pet supply stores. Hummingbird has rendered old school, single keywords nearly obsolete. If your website content only uses single keywords, Google might not pick up on it. This is where longtail keywords come into play. Longtail keyword phrases are precisely what a Google user might type into the search bar to find businesses like yours. There’s a trick to getting the most out of this type of SEO, however. You’ll need to use high volume, low competition phrases. An excellent tool that will help you identify longtail keyword phrases that fit that description is SEMRush.
But what if you’ve been using longtail keyword phrases in your daily website or blog content and search engines like Google still aren’t picking up your web pages? Search engines might not know your website exists yet. While it takes time for Google’s algorithm to come across your website, identify which category the site falls under, and start recommending web pages to users searching for businesses like yours, there’s something you can do right away if you start to get impatient. Submit your website to the top search engines including Google through your sitemap. If you can’t find your sitemap, you may need to create one under your URL. Once you obtain your sitemap, simply log in to each search engine’s console, hit “sitemaps”, paste in your sitemap URL, and hit “submit”. For other search engines like Yahoo and DuckDuckGo, there’s no need to submit your website, because those search engines don’t have A.I. in place to suppress less popular content.
Social media marketing is critical to the success of any business, but did you know that you can use social media specifically to drive traffic to your website? It’s easy. Whenever you publish new content on your website–and we mean any new content whether it’s a blog article, new product line, revamped landing page content, or new service descriptions–get in the habit of “sharing” the link on social media. For platforms like Facebook and Twitter, you need only copy the URL and the platform will automatically pull up the web page with its headline and primary image. For platforms like Instagram, if you type in the URL within the post’s caption, it won’t hyperlink, but do it anyway, because followers who are interested in the content teaser will still visit the web page. LinkedIn is also a terrific platform, especially for B2B businesses, where you can republish blog articles and press releases.
Similar to promoting your newly published content on social media, you can also use online communities to promote your content. Internet community platforms such as Reddit and Quora, and even niche sites like Dogster.com and Goodreads.com–for bibliophile content!–are great for getting the word out about your business. Every time you share content in an online community, following the community rules of course, you will boost awareness about your brand, drive traffic to your website, improve engagement rates on your site, increase your search engine ranking, and in the long run boost sales and grow your business.
In order to get the most mileage out of the content you share on online community platforms, only use appropriate, relevant platforms. If you’re not sure which platforms are the most relevant to your business, follow these steps:
● Define your target audience
● Research where your target audience hangs out online
● Dig around Facebook Groups and join those that fit your business’ category
● Join LinkedIn Groups that would appreciate your content, products, and services
● Answer questions on Quora and link to the most relevant pages on your website
● When you join an online conversation, be sure that you aren’t providing the same information that another poster already brought to the table
So far, we’ve gone over how to use keywords to improve your SEO ranking, which addressed the written content side of your digital marketing efforts. The flip-side of using SEO to market your website has to do with your images. Every website, ECommerce site, blog article, and products & services web page includes images.
These images have the power to drive traffic to your website, but they’re used in a very different way than content SEO. Let’s take a look…
When we say “images”, we mean photos, graphics, animations, memes, videos… you name it! Any visual element such as these can be used to attract valuable consumer traffic to your website. But how?
Unlike utilizing keywords which Google users type into the search bar in order to find your business, using SEO for images works a little differently. The goal here is to get other websites to link to your images. Yes, it would be far more convenient if Google users could search for your image directly, but in order to do that they would need your image to begin with…which very quickly turns into a catch-22. Instead, if you want your image to rank high within Google and the other search engines, you need that particular image to be so popular that other websites link to it.
Sounds complicated, right? It doesn’t have to be. This is where Pinterest comes in, and Instagram can also help…
The platform Pinterest is a great digital marketing tool. Marketers can “pin” images, collect them into categories, use hashtags and other identifiers, and ultimately help raise the search engine ranking of the images they pin. All of this is to say that you want Pinterest users to “pin” your website, e-commerce, and blog images on their Pinterest pages so that other Pinterest users find them and pin them. This is entirely within your control. Create a Pinterest account and pin your images to your page with SEO keywords as you publish online content.
As an added bonus, search engines like Google also have a “search images” tab on their sites. The search results within the specific images tab work somewhat independently from the general website search results, which means that one of your blog articles could have a below-average ranking while an image used within that same blog article could rank on the first page of Google’s image search.
In order to get this kind of popular traction, you’ll need to make sure your images are something special. Follow these tips and you’ll be well on your way to driving website traffic and raising your SEO ranking.
Any visual image that’s eye-catching or informative will hold a visitor’s attention, but images with a clear call-to-action tend to rank even better. Use CTAs with all of your images if possible. And remember, the most engaging images according to data analytics use facts, tips, and quotes.
This tip comes in two parts. First, you’ll need to find images, photos, and graphics that are relevant to your website content. Next, you’ll need to use a design program to overlay your own information onto the image. Let’s break this down. Do you currently have a subscription to Shutterstock, Pixabay, or Adobestock? If not, signing up for one would be a worthwhile investment. These sites allow users to license high-quality photos and graphics, which can be downloaded onto their computers for editing. Once you’ve transformed a raw image into a polished final graphic, you can use it on your website and in your social media posts. There are several free online editing sites you can try such as Canva. But we recommend FTx AdPro, which comes with industry-themed templates and pre-made designs.
Integrate your finished graphics with your written content in such a way that both breaks-up the text and supports the content’s information. Doing so will make the overall visitor experience much better when customers read your web pages. Visuals that complement the content itself greatly improve the web page’s “readability”. Visitors are more likely to retain the page’s information, and they’ll also be more likely to act on any calls-to-action they encounter on your website.
Back in the early 2000s, social media platforms began to emerge. The impetus of their creation was to enhance personal communication within social circles. Sites like Friendster, MySpace, and heck, even 1997’s premier social platform Six Degrees were all launched with the personal user in mind. No one was thinking “business” when these social media sites came to market. No one was even thinking “advertisement revenue”.
Fast-forward twenty years, and social media platforms have gone far beyond merely providing a means of online social connection. These sites have become one of the primary marketing strategies among businesses both large and small. All the while, platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn have managed to retain their original purpose of providing the average user the best way to personally communicate and stay intimately connected to their online social circles.
Social media marketing for businesses isn’t merely a passing trend, either. This form of marketing is so advantageous that it’s undoubtedly here to stay. Why? The potential for collecting user data that can be successfully leveraged in future advertising campaigns is exponential.
Thanks to machine-learning A.I. and other technologies that have been built into the back-end of these platforms for the purposes of collecting such user data, there are many benefits to launching social media marketing campaigns as part of your overall advertising strategy if you’re looking to connect with prospective customers.
In this blog, we’re going to take a look at how you can use social media to build your brand’s online presence and ultimately grow your business. But first, we strongly recommend that you pick one social media platform to focus your marketing efforts on. Yes, just one! Too often, business owners who are new to social media marketing spread themselves thin by attempting to manage many different sites at once. Instead, pick only one of the following platforms to pour your marketing strategies into!
Social media content planning involves deciding where, when, and how often you will deliver a branded message to a targeted audience. You want to reach the highest number of ideal customers with the right message. The trick is exposing your content to your audience on social media only as often as necessary to get the desired effect of brand awareness, leads, website traffic, sales, or another business goal.
Elaborating on the previous tip, your social media content will be memorable if you share your posts at the “right” frequency. But regularly posting once a day or once every six hours will be up to your targeted audience and their threshold of what they want and what kinds of posts they’re interested in interacting with. The trick is to post consistently, so if you find that posting once a day, for example, provokes the most interaction, then be sure to consistently keep up that posting frequency. This is the first step to becoming memorable.
The second step to becoming memorable in the minds of your audience is to present a consistent brand image with all of your social media posts. This could be as simple as including your branded logo in the corner of each post. If your brand has a signature font and precise color scheme, be sure to use that in all of your content, too. Your company’s core identity and the “story” behind your brand should stay consistent.
Assuming you’re focusing your social media marketing efforts on the platform that best suits your business’s needs, it’s only a matter of time before you’ll build up a loyal following. Social media, no matter which platform you’re active on, is a great way to share other digital content, such as your website, e-commerce site, and blog. You can post links to all of your new content so that your followers, as well as other social media users, can easily find information about your company’s latest offerings.
Nowadays, the number of “likes” a post gets isn’t the only benchmark for its success. Sure, “likes”, “shares”, and “reposts” of your social media content will tell other users on the platform how popular, or viral, a post has become, but if you want to truly develop your social media presence, then you’ll need to study and measure the analytics of each post by tracking your data. A great social media marketing tool to help you analyze your data is Google Analytics. Each social media platform has its own analytics, too, which provides detailed demographic information that you can use to leverage for any future paid advertising you choose to do, i.e. PPC marketing.
The internet lends itself to the fastest available communication, but at times, that isn’t always a good thing. When interaction gets heated, or out of hand, arguments can quickly evolve into a very bad P.R. situation… Or worse, things can explode into a full-on social media crisis. It’s imperative to have a plan in place for such a disaster. To pull through, we recommend you prepare a list of key responsibilities for the personnel that will be involved in damage control, and delineate a clear chain of command. You can avoid the majority of crises by putting copyright guidelines, privacy guidelines, confidentiality guidelines, and other guidelines in place right now, and be sure all of your employees understand them. One of the built-in benefits of social media is that even if a P.R. crisis arises, you can use the platform itself, posting about the measures you’re taking and your company’s position on the matter, to inform your followers and other users about how you’re handling the snafu.
The larger and more engaged your audience is on your social media platforms, the easier it will be for you to spread awareness about your brand and boost sales. Social media marketing can also help you:
Have you hesitated to look for a marketing agency to handle all of your social media, because you assumed you wouldn’t be able to afford it? What if we told you that FTx 360 can work within any budget? For more information about the social media marketing services at FTx 360 and how our team can benefit your bottom line without breaking the bank, contact us today.