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.