Testimonials 2017-08-08T16:53:39+00:00

Testimonials

1710, 2017

Instagram Hashtag Strategy Part One: How to Hack the Search Algorithm

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This is part of an Instagram hashtag strategy series. This post focuses on ways to be found in the Top Posts algorithm. If this topic feels overwhelming, start with the conclusion and work your way back up. Still need help? We’re here for you.

Hashtags have been evolving since their creation in 2009 on Twitter. Now, hashtags are part of spoken slang and are used in campaigns for brand engagement and to categorize types of content.

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2706, 2017

Are You Being Found Online? The Importance of Location SEO

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It’s no secret that everything exists online now. Your business, big or small, needs to have a strong online presence to thrive in today’s economy. Not being listed online is the equivalent to being invisible.

With that said, it’s important to optimize your local SEO listing. You’ve been told you need it, but what IS local SEO and why do you need it?  

What is Local SEO?

Local SEO is focused on providing results that are relevant to a unique search based on the current location of the user. At any given time, people in your area are searching for goods or services online. For example, if someone searches “hair salon for kids” or “outdoor furniture store”, they will get a list of relevant results based on locations in their area.

My Target Audience Isn’t Online

This is something that I used to hear a lot. Searching for a business was quite different before the digital revolution. Newspapers, word-of-mouth, paper listings, and other outbound marketing efforts were the main (and only) methods of advertising and listing your business. As demand increased, advertising costs became unattainable for smaller businesses, and ROI was becoming harder to prove.

Google processes an average of 40,000 search queries every second, which translates to over 3.5 billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide.  

In short, if you have a target audience, they are online.

Okay, Where Do I Start?

My advice is to start by Googling your business.  Many of my clients have been surprised by the results. Most of them say things like “That hasn’t been our phone number for years”, “That’s a terrible photo of our business, how did it get there?”, and “Yikes, how long has that bad review been there?”

Your prospects can tell if you have neglected your listing. An incorrect or outdated listing seems lazy to your potential clients, and they are given the impression that you are either out of business or that you don’t care about their needs – both are detrimental to your online (and offline) reputation.

Claim Your Google My Business Page

Claim your Google My Business page if you haven’t already. When you claim your listing, you are taking sole ownership and control over the information that exists online pertaining to your business. You will then be able to edit your listing information, photos, and be able to respond to reviews.

Ask For Reviews & Maintain Them

If you haven’t been able to tell already, the more positive Google reviews you have, the higher you will rank. If you do a Google search for a good or service, you will notice that companies with a sizeable amount of Google reviews are ranked higher.

Train your team to find prime opportunities to gather a testimonial from a client. Not only will your client feel empowered, but potential clients will appreciate the endorsement to help them make a decision.

The last thing you want is for an old, glaring review to be the first thing your prospect sees in a Google search – especially a review you haven’t taken the time to address it.

Unless you can prove that a review is spam or it contains inappropriate/violent content, Google will not remove the review for you. However, you can combat it by building a bigger bank of good reviews and responding to the complaint appropriately.

One Small Piece of the Pie

Local SEO is a small (but significant) piece of a much bigger process. Once your potential clients find you, they will want more information before making a decision. Your website and social channels are your islands of information, so they should also be SEO optimized. Bringing all three elements together will help you become a powerhouse of information and services.

3005, 2017

Easy Hashtag Strategy For Your Brand

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You’ve finally stopped asking what a hashtag is (hooray!) and started hashtagging ALL of your social posts (noooo!).

I know, you thought you had it all down by hashtagging every word, every post, and on every platform. Don’t worry – many businesses are still doing all of the above.

Even I was guilty of doing this on my personal posts when Facebook and Instagram integrated hashtags.

 

Social Media Today comments about the hashtag evolution on Facebook: “Some people think tagging every word will help, because it’ll mean your content will show up in more conversations, but that’s a flawed theory.” When hashtags are overused in a post, it makes it difficult to read and floods the algorithms, causing lower engagement when it’s done consistently. Jimmy Kimmel and Justin Timberlake explain this concept perfectly in this video.

Now what? Create a hashtag strategy for your company by learning two best practices – which platforms to use a hashtag on and how many hashtags to use on each platform.

To Hashtag Or Not To Hashtag… That Is The Question

Knowing which platform to hashtag on is half the battle. If you can implement one thing from this blog, implement this one. If you’re still a bit fuzzy on why you need to hashtag your company’s social media posts, check out this blog to learn hashtag basics.

Here’s a handy dandy guide on which platforms to hashtag on, frequency, and what to hashtag to create your pro hashtag strategy.

 

Yes! According to Buffer, engagement on Twitter drops by an average of 17 percent when more than two hashtags are used. Twitter was the first social platform to integrate hashtags and they are generally used for conversations. When it comes to marketing for your business, hashtagging on Twitter is great for campaigns, promotions, and events. Not sure which hashtags to use? Try a hashtag tool search like this to research and gain ideas. Check out other industry leaders for hashtag ideas instead of seeing them as a competitor.  

 

Go all out! You can use up to 30, but Buffer reports 9 is the magic number of hashtags. Hashtagging on Instagram allows your posts to show up in Recent Posts, Top Posts, and Related Hashtags search section. “When used properly, hashtags are a great way for individuals and brands to make their social posts more visible and increase engagement,” says Hubspot. Match your hashtags to your content. Include one branded hashtag each time. This could be your name (like #Posse) or an abbreviation (like #PSM) you would like others to use.

 

Yes. Use 1-2 hashtags very strategically. LinkedIn didn’t support hashtags until last year when they rolled out a mobile search feature with hashtag functionality. Now available on desktop, the hashtag search functionality opens some posts publicly. This would be another great time to do your research and see what other influencers are using as hashtags.

 

No. Posts without hashtags perform better on Facebook, according to EdgeRank Checker research. There are two exceptions to this rule – when you are responding to an existing campaign, and when you are directing fans to hashtag on other platforms (like Instagram or Twitter) for a campaign. Posting a video? Use the tag feature in advanced video options with keywords instead of hashtags.

 

Just because posts with hashtags don’t perform as well on Facebook doesn’t mean you can’t incorporate them in a graphic.

You don’t need to hashtag on Google+ because it automatically hashtags your posts for you. You can edit hashtags or add them into the comments to give them extra oomph. Running a campaign across multiple platforms?  Use the campaign hashtag on every platform for consistency and to allow people to hashtag on their preferred platform.

Not sure how to choose hashtags for your brand? We break it down for you here with 4 simple tips. Hashtags aren’t a requirement for social posts but they do help you reach your audience.

 If you’re going to use hashtags, use them where it counts!

2905, 2017

2 Easy Ways to Generate More Content More Often

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A good content strategy relies on the regular creation and distribution of social media posts, blogs, whitepapers, graphics, ebooks, landing pages, etc. This sounds like a lot of work – and it can be without a dedicated team – but it’s an important aspect for any business with a digital marketing strategy, especially now that traditional marketing techniques are waning and even becoming obsolete.

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2305, 2017

The Inbetweeners: Marketing to Gen X

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Social media marketing tends to focus on the Millennial generation quite a lot. Like, a lot, a lot. It’s hard to make it through the day without hearing the “M” word, because they’re a different type of generation– digital natives. However, it’s their parents, Gen Xers, that have the lion’s share of the buying economy. Gen X is those born (roughly) between 1965 and the early 1980s.

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1905, 2017

I’m Stuck: What to Do When You Need Blog Inspiration

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I’m in a sticky situation; recently I wrote a blog post called “I’m Stuck: What to do when you’re stuck writing content” about all the ways you ca get inspiration when you’re out of ideas. Well, I’m out of ideas for this blog post. Blog posts are especially hard to get inspiration for because it’s long-form content. They’re also essential for digital marketing professionals. Let’s explore 5 ways you can develop an engaging and informative blog topic for your audience–even when the creativity isn’t flowing.

Update an existing blog

Basically, what I’m doing right now. Things change, apps update and thoughts evolve so something that happened a few months ago or even a few days ago might not apply anymore. Take this opportunity to update your blogs so that information is always current on your site. Even if it’s just a few paragraphs. One of the main benefits of blogging is SEO. As your blogs begin to rank on Google, you’ll want to make sure the information visitors are seeing is current and relevant.

Ask your audience

Your audience is the people who will be reading your blogs so why not write content they intrigues them? Set up a Twitter poll to find out what topics they’re interested in. Ask questions like: What are you interested in? What problems are you facing? What unique challenges are you trying to overcome? Using a poll on social media will gain traction to your blog and engage current readers. You could even add a poll to a finished blog to get reader feedback.

Hot topics

World events can have a huge effect the digital marketing world. Use what’s going on in the news and relate it to your work. Google even prefers content that is fresh and new. Trending topics are favored in Google’s algorithm. There is a plethora of resources you can use to find trending topics that relate to your career.

Make it personal

Let your readers know of your daily struggles or revelations you’ve had at work. Your readers will relate to these problems, and this will eventually build trust with them. When it comes to posts about work, your audience wants to relate to your experiences and apply them to their everyday life. If you are consistently creating content that’s helpful to your audience, it will establish you as an authority.

Blogging can be a frustrating task, especially during times when you don’t have inspiration. But it’s necessary in most digital marketing plans for most industries. There is no better way to add relevant content to your website than to utilize a blog.

If you need a place to start, Hubspot has some great resources for blog topics. They have multiple blogs with a lists of inspiration and also a blog generator. All you have to do is plug in keywords that you’re interested in, and Hubspot will generate a topic for you. Remember, people come to the internet to solve a problem, so any blog that you create must speak with authority and have accurate and resourceful information.

205, 2017

Make Friends with Your Social Media Manager

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“Any content you have time to share would be helpful!” This is a statement you’ve likely heard from your social media manager – whether that person is in-house or part of an agency. Every time you hear it, your eyes roll and your social manager pauses all breathing while waiting for a different response, hoping against all odds that this time you’ll be ready to dive in. Meanwhile, you’re silently cursing the person; after all, isn’t content creation the reason you hired the position out in the first place? You don’t have time!

Except…you probably do. Before you throw the phone you’re using to read this, consider the real reason you might dread this conversation. Is it perhaps because the content is too broad of a term? What does it mean in this context? Because you are busy, you need an action plan. A bulleted list. Most importantly, you need a value assignment. If you carve time out of your schedule to step outside of what you see as your role, what return will you reap from that investment of the most precious resource- time?

I’m sharing three ways to make this conversation easier, less tense, and more infrequent (yay!).

It’s all about details.

First, know what relationship you should expect with your social media manager. If all is going to plan, you’re probably hearing this request for content during a monthly report review meeting or a planned brainstorming session.

Next, respond to the question with one of your own. Your content marketer is probably uneasy about asking you for anything because he or she does understand that you have a lot on your plate. That person also knows their role is to execute marketing tasks. However, in order to be as successful as possible, there must be a helpful partnership working toward achieving common goals.

Try extending an olive branch rather than an eye roll. “Thanks for the reminder. I should be able to dedicate about 30 minutes to content next week. What would you like me to focus my energy on?” This type of response lets your marketer know you are invested in the success of your company’s marketing and provides parameters for your time. Additionally, you will walk away knowing that the task at hand will be the most valuable use of your time.

Maximize the mileage.

One of the most daunting, yet most thrilling, aspects of social media marketing is the vast possibilities for content. Both in creation and curation, content can take on many forms. The mistake many people make is to publish a well-formed post and then move on to creating more content.

As we’re already aware, marketing takes time. If you are going to allocate efforts, you will certainly want to make sure you will be able to maximize effectiveness. Make sure your social media manager has a strategy on how to best repurpose content. If you work to make a video, find ways to spin the media into a blog post, an ad, or a series of teaser posts. When promoting a blog post, look for slideshare opportunities, group posts, video, or ways to share information visually through graphics.

Delegate with tools and people.

Make sure you and your social media manager are communicating in the most effective and efficient ways. Consider messaging tools such as Slack (a Posse favorite) or real-time collaboration options such as Google Drive (another favorite). Email chains, especially when requesting a quick response for clarification, feedback on posts, or photo uploads can clutter inboxes and delay forward progress.

Don’t forget about the benefit of delegation. Just because you might need to be the person involved in report review and marketing planning doesn’t mean you have to be (or even should be) the primary contact for content questions or transfer. Find someone reliable and efficient to work with your social media team to help keep your interactions focused and clean.

Often, it’s the fear of the unknown or the paralysis of perfection that holds us back from accomplishing the achievable. Yes, we are all busy.

Prioritizing time to help ensure your marketing team has the resources to be as successful as possible will ultimately benefit your company.

 

2604, 2017

Leaving Cold Leads Behind: Why I Left Journalism

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I have always been a thrill of the chase kind of writer. Taking difficult topics and mastering them as a wordsmith was always a dream of mine. I truly envy those who know exactly what they want to do before they even begin applying for colleges. When my aspirations of becoming a veterinarian were voluntarily cast aside, I decided to put pen to paper (literally at that time) and start a career in writing – more specifically, journalism.

Chasing the Story – Why I Chose Journalism

The fast-paced, brow-furrowing, clock-ticking, white-knuckled environment of journalism fascinated me. I loved the constant challenge of gathering facts and information and formulating a story in the nick of time. I thrived on pushing myself to be a great writer, even in unfavorable conditions and under somewhat stressful deadlines. Glutton for punishment? Perhaps.

There wasn’t a topic that I found too boring, but I wasn’t really into “gotcha” journalism, either. I was assigned to the most random beats in college because my advisor knew I was up for the challenges. I eventually took over our college newspaper as layout editor, because I excelled in finding a visual flow for all of the content.

Here Comes the “Dear John” Letter to My Career

The main reason I left journalism? Believe it or not, it wasn’t because of money, pressure, or lack of advancement opportunities – though those are all common reasons why journalists ditch the profession. I am also often asked if it was because print journalism is dying. If I am unable to grow with the changing digital world, then I should just retire my degree and start over. Needless to say, that’s not the reason why, either.

I Was Tired of Merely Reciting Information

Don’t get me wrong, I had a great journalism professor that gave me more opportunities than I thought possible. She gave me so much versatility in the journalism world so I was able to really experience all of it and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

It’s not that I felt that the articles were irrelevant or unimportant. I just wanted to tell a story – something that people would remember. News is fickle and fleeting. I wanted to represent a passion and not a story.  I wanted to build relationships. I longed to have conversations that didn’t involve my one-sided questions. I wanted a challenge that wasn’t solely based on my ability to get information from other people. Sure, that’s also a big part of content marketing, but I am able to insert my creativity in tandem with the information I am given. I am able to enhance a piece of content with my knowledge and writing style. In news writing, I am simply to report the facts in the most reader-friendly way possible.

 

Reporting and Content Marketing Are Like Long-Lost Best Friends

The shift to content marketing was fairly easily, given that both industries require very similar skill sets – captivating writing, the ability to meet deadlines, the talent to write catchy headlines, a keen eye for a good photo/graphic, and immense attention to detail.

We are used to writing for real people and understanding the importance of knowing your audience. Since content marketers (especially those working in an agency) are often asked to produce content for industries they may not be familiar with, the ability to find the right people, ask the right questions and source the right information is crucial.

Oh Look, Something Shiny – A Marketer’s Challenge

Marketing in the digital age means that people have more to be distracted by, as well as shorter attention spans. Providing prospects with a positive UX is the only way to get them to take in all of your content. With so many forms of media available, we are easily swayed from whatever is currently in front of us – especially with social media and the never-ending barrage of “read this article” or “watch this video clip” real-time requests from friends and family. For example, if you don’t catch a viewer’s attention on your website in under three seconds, you’ve lost them. THREE SECONDS. The need to stand out is more important than ever. Remember when I said I enjoyed challenges? Yep, still applies

The Same, Yet Completely Different

Instead of chasing ratings, I am now chasing leads. Leads are no longer the beginning of the story, but they are real living subjects for whom content is built around. Instead of writing headlines and bylines, I write blogs, social content, and ads. Instead of writing to fit columns in a tabloid or broadsheet, I am creating content and graphics for a standard web page, or smaller if working with Facebook and Twitter ads.

I appreciate my roots and where journalism has taken me. So, journalism students, when someone tries to tell you that you will never make a living as a writer, don’t sweat it. Whether journalism tkes you into a newsroom or into an agency, you will leave journalism school with an immeasurable creative skill set that can be applied in many industries.

 

1304, 2017

Stories Over Snapchat – If You Can’t Buy Em…

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Remember when we all knew Tom? For several years, Myspace was the place to be online. Then, 2008 happened, and Facebook took over. Over the last nine years, Facebook has only gained users, popularity, utility, and power. Though there have been other hopefuls that pop up from time to time (shoutout to those who remember the short-lived hype of Peach), those networks either fail to gain traction or see success and are purchased by Facebook.

Warning: opinions ahead.

Update: It appears we aren’t alone in our thoughts on Stories vs Snapchat. Interesting data here.

The social platform’s “if you can’t beat ‘em, buy ‘em” motto has served it well to date. In 2012, critics scoffed at the idea of shelling out $1 billion for the photo-sharing app known as Instagram. Since then, Instagram has risen to the #3 spot (behind Google-owned YouTube and top-spot parent company, Facebook) in popularity. Even the Instagram Stories feature, which launched not so long ago in August 2016, now has 150 million daily users.

Another platform in the Facebook crosshairs was WhatsApp. So, in 2014, Mark Zuckerberg closed the largest purchase to date by buying the app for $19 billion.

Why would Facebook buy platforms that have features similar to what it already offers? You could already share photos, so why Instagram? Facebook was vocal about the desire to push Messenger as a required component to users, so WhatsApp might seem redundant. Except, from the beginning, Zuckerberg has been about the people connection. Engage with the audience in the way they want to communicate & then build the business. So, if people love using WhatsApp, let them use it, but make sure it ultimately benefits Facebook.

When you look at the platform’s growth from this perspective, it’s easy to conclude that Snapchat’s refusal to sell to Facebook fueled the fires of competition and the drive to bring the social network into Facebook–one way or the other.

The new motto after 2014 became “if you can’t buy ‘em, build ‘em.” Since Snapchat refused to join the ranks, Facebook went about finding another way to accomplish the goal. In 2016, Instagram rather unexpectedly introduced Stories–an update that felt like Snapchat lite but became available to a huge daily user base.

Recently, Facebook rolled out its own version of Stories. And, if Instagram Stories is Snapchat lite, Facebook Stories is Snapchat. The features and abilities are eerily similar, yet somehow maybe even a bit better.

Why is it better? Snapchat initially fought a stigma of being an app that was only used by the super young or those who needed messages to delete after sending (implying sketchiness). As more people grew past that idea and started using Snapchat, it still lagged (rather severly) in popularity and use against Instagram and Facebook. Stories (on both platforms) have the instant advantage of large followings for individual users. For those who don’t want everything available to everyone, they’ve built in functionality to restrict content. So, all the features of Snapchat…with a larger audience for users and a more readily understood platform like Facebook or Instagram. 

Recently, this post from Buffer put all of these ideas succinctly by sharing two thoughts: 

  1. The News Feed was designed for the desktop user experience.
  2. Stories in Facebook & Instagram are not apps-they content options.

These shifts to mobile and new posting options encourage “imperfect moments” as well as an influx of user-generated content and new advertising options for brands.

Time will tell how Facebook users adopt the new functionality and how popular it will be, but, at the very least, the company has finally unveiled its full retaliation for the 2014 refusal to sell. (Side note, I’m guessing this article is a sore spot.)

Regardless of how you may feel about the artistry of Facebook, they know their audience, and they work very hard to know/own/copy the competition.

The takeaway here isn’t that all business owners should try to buy their competition – rather, know your audience and make your business around them. It seems to be paying off for Mark.

604, 2017

Mobile Matters Most

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If it isn’t seen on mobile, is it even really seen? Today, 34% of active users access their social media accounts via their mobile device. That’s why optimizing your social content is crucial. If you want to start a conversation with your mobile audience, you need to make the effort to reach them there. (more…)

2703, 2017

Inbound Marketing Generates More Leads. Here’s What You Need to Know.

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Your very first inbound campaign has hit the ground running, and you are excited to see leads start flowing through the funnel. We admire your optimism! However, with any new process, snags are to be expected. Here are a few things you need to know/do to get you through any growing pains while you transition to inbound.

Explaining the Value of Inbound to Others

 

value of inboundThink of why you trade in your car. Your family is growing, and you currently own an aging two-door sedan. No one can fit in the vehicle comfortably, and the repairs are costing you more than the value of the car. So, it only makes sense to upgrade to a newer vehicle that serves your needs.

What does this have to do with inbound marketing? It’s simple – when what you know it’s no longer working, it’s time to find a better alternative. In this case, when your traditional marketing efforts are no longer paying the bills, it’s time to assess alternatives.

You saw the value in inbound, but that does not mean everyone in your company will be on the same page. Change can be scary and oftentimes is met with hesitation. Skepticism can create tension and misunderstanding within an organization, so be prepared to sell them on the whole concept of inbound marketing. Here are a few key points to mention:

  • Outbound marketing (also known as interruptive marketing) tactics are indirect and expensive. Outbound marketing costs 61% more per lead than inbound marketing.
  • 93% of buyers start the process with an online search.
  • ROI is much more difficult to calculate when there is no way to directly target your audience. Inbound allows you to capture valuable information about your prospects in order to nurture them into leads , and allows you to calculate cost per qualified lead with easily documented data.

How to Hire an Inbound Marketing Agency

Maintain & Nurture Relationships

The foundation for a successful inbound campaign hinges on two things: messaging and relationships.  A solid strategy is

contingent
upon knowing who your customer is, who is looking for what you offer, and what messaging will resonate with them enough to get them to act.

You spent all of that time developing your buyer personas – researching their buying habits and knowing who they are outside of their buying habits. This is where having content for each stage of the buyer’s journey will be important for driving prospects to act.

Strategy Before Tactics Wins Every Time

 

You need to answer the “why” before you start working on “how.” One of the most common and costly first-time inbound mistakes is to dive into tactics before solidifying a strategy first.

Becoming the #1 dentist in Charlotte is not a strategy – it’s an objective. To provide unprecedented, quality dental care is not a strategy – it’s a mission statement. Want to increase your patient base by 20%? Great, but that’s not a strategy, either – that’s a goal.

So what the heck is the difference between strategy and tactics? Simply put,

strategy
is what you say and how you say it.

Strategy
is the plan as a result of market research, company analysis, and competitor analysis.

Tactics are the execution of the strategic plan when it comes to how to generate leads with blogging, media placement, offers, landing pages, etc..

This is where understanding the importance of SMART goals will be imperative. If you aren’t already implementing SMART goals, you need to be. This is a big part of strategy before tactics. Let’s recap how they work:

Specific – Your goal should be conclusive and be able to communicate what is expected, why it is important, who needs to be involved, and which processes need to be in place

Measurable – Your goal should have concrete criteria for measuring progress and reaching the goal

Attainable – Be sure your goal is realistic for your team to reach under the terms you’ve defined

Relevant – Your goal should be reflective of our business objectives

Timely – Preferred date of goal achievement

Results Will Not Happen Overnight

 

You know how when you want to be a healthier weight you often hear “It’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle change?” Well, that also applies to your inbound campaigns. Inbound is not just a campaign – it’s a commitment. As wonderful as it would be, your business will not appear on the first page of Google search results after one campaign and a few blogs.

So, when can you expect results? I wish I had a magic number, but I can tell you this – the time it takes to generate results solely relies on your team’s ability to stay focused on the goals.

2103, 2017

DIY Social Media: Facebook Live

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If you haven’t noticed recently, Facebook is all about videos: cat videos, Buzzfeed videos, live videos, you name it. Facebook wants to grow into a video-oriented platform, so they’re adjusting the algorithm to favor video content, especially Facebook Live posts. You might have noticed that Facebook sends you a notification when businesses and friends go live.

While produced videos con time and resources, the Facebook Live feature is free and requires little or no work before and after recording. Plus live videos receive fantastic organic reach.

If you’re ready to jump in but don’t know where to start, don’t fear. I’ve done this before, and I’m going to share with you the different features of the live video and some tips I’ve learned from first-hand experience. Grab your phone. Get ready to learn some tips. Go live.

Before You Record

Choose a Topic

Unless you’re covering a live event, you need to have structure to your video. If you’re doing an FAQ or Q&A, you should have a script or an outline, and if you’re not comfortable in front of the camera, do several walk-throughs.

Promote Your Video Beforehand

It’s always a good idea to let your audience know beforehand that you’re going to broadcast a live video. This will allow them to know when you’ll be publishing, and it gives them time to ask any questions they want you to answer. It’s even better if you go live during  a set time and day each week or each month so that you can grow a following.

Setting Up

A good goal for the length of your videos should be 5-10 minutes, which is long enough to provide enough information but not too long to lose your viewers’ interest. Make sure you’re in an area that has a strong wifi connection, good lighting, and minimal background noise. It’s also best if you place your phone on something stable instead of you or someone else holding it, which would make it shaky.

Getting Started

Make sure you have the Facebook Business Pages app downloaded on your phone.

Once you’ve downloaded it, go to your page. To go live, click the “Live” button underneath your cover photo.

 

A screen will appear, prompting you to write a description of the video. In the description, you need to be informative of what you’re going to be live-streaming. Will it be a Q&A with one of your employees? Live coverage of a certain event? Tell your audience so that they’ll want to stop scrolling and watch your video.


Features

There are several options for features that are located at the bottom of the screen, including filters, a drawing pen, and face lenses.

 

The black and white filter is great if you set a tone for a live video series, especially if you’re in an environment with a lot in the background. You can use the pen to circle certain things, and you can always undo the writing while you’re recording. Be mindful if you’re drawing something, it is going to shake the camera. As far as the face lenses go, that’s probably best left for your personal live videos.

Going Live

This is the easy part! You’ve put in the work, and now it’s time to hit record. Let your personality show, don’t speak too quickly, and don’t be nervous! If people are watching, it means they’re interested in what you have to say; if they weren’t interested, they would keep on scrolling.


While you’re recording, people’s reactions (likes, loves, hahas, etc.) will pop up across the screen. You’ll also be able to see who’s watching, and comments appear in real time. When the video is posted later on, the comments will appear at the same time during the video that they did live. If you have an interactive video, encourage your viewers to post comments for you to answer during the video.

See how we use Facebook Live videos.

Finishing

To finish recording, let your viewers know that you’re logging off and if you have another live video scheduled. After that, press the “finish” button found on the bottom right corner. Afterwards, it will give you an option to download the video to your phone. Just in case, I suggest saving the video then, but if you skip this step, you can download it later to your desktop.

 

If you discussed any information during the video or would like to send your audience to your website, feel free to add links in the comment section. You also have the option of boosting the post to reach more viewers.

There’s no need to be intimidated by Facebook Live. It’s user-friendly, and every business should be utilizing this feature in some way. To start brainstorming ideas for how you can go live, check out my previous blog about Facebook Live.

Note: Soon, all business pages will be able to go live using a desktop computer, but for right now, only select pages have that feature.

2003, 2017

Professional Social Media Branding for College Students

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Have you started branding yourself on social media? If you haven’t, then you should jump online and start now (after reading this post of course). You are your own unique brand, so you need to express that in your online presence. Future employers are constantly looking.

Clean Up Your Feed

 

According to a CareerBuilder study, 60 percent of employers look to social media to research potential new hires. Employers who are looking to hire you will view your social media accounts. All of them. You could just put your accounts on private, but that will probably raise some suspicion; you’re a millennial after all. This first step is crucial. Take a quick scroll to the very beginning of your social media existence and press that edit delete button.

First, you need to delete anything that would be considered inappropriate, controversial, or inauthentic. By inappropriate, I mean those pictures of you at a frat party your freshman year with a red Solo cup in your hand should go. It doesn’t matter if you did the most keg stands that night, recruiters don’t want to see it.

Second, any posts or photos that are deemed offensive should also be deleted. Make sure that you also don’t have any rants on your page that would make a recruiter question your level of professionalism. They don’t want to see your feed filled with complaints.  

Third, your social media feed is a reflection of you and if you don’t show your individual personality, how will a future employer know what an asset you could be to their company? Don’t think that your social media feed will not be as entertaining as before with all of these changes. There’s no harm in good, clean fun, especially if it gets you hired.   

Update Your Information

 

Make sure all of your information, such as your previous employment, is up to date. If you have a Linkedin account (which you should), this is crucial. Prospective employers should be able to quickly view all of your recent endeavors. You’ve heard that cautionary tale from professors who say employers usually spend 30 seconds or less skimming your resume. Don’t make excuses for why you don’t have time to update it. It will only take a few minutes. Prospective employers want to see your attention to detail and organizational skills, and this is one way to display that. So, make sure your info is correct, current and focused on the job you want.

Be Passionate

If you want to get a job in any field, like finance, sports, or even social media, then your profiles should reflect that. Recruiters want to see that you have an interest in their industry. Make sure you research and follow the companies you’ve applied to as well. They want to see that you’re interested and brushed up on the latest with their business and the happenings in the field. Also, show any outside interests you have. If you love football or photography, express that. Employers want to see your personality shine through.  

Be Yourself

We were all told growing up that we are special, but to potential employers, all resumes begin to look the same, the name just changes. Potential employers could be looking at your social media feed to just bring you in for an interview. Social media is now a step in the hiring process. That’s why it is so important to have authentic social media profiles so you can make your best impression on your potential employer. They want to see your real personality and how you could fit into their company environment.

Now you are all ready to go and update your social media accounts. If you get that awesome job you wanted, no need to thank me, it’s my job.

1703, 2017

The Carolina Panthers Have The Best Social Media Game In The NFL

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I want to begin saying I’m biased. I’ve always been biased towards the Carolina Panthers. They began playing in 1995, and while growing up in North Carolina during the 1990s, this football team was a staple in my home. Bias aside, there are some valid reasons why I believe the Carolina Panthers have one of the most impressive and effective social media accounts in the NFL. (more…)

1303, 2017

Reporting Matters: Inbound Manager

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So you just launched your new inbound marketing campaign, congrats! Now, what? How do you know if it’s working? Ongoing observations of analytics and reports are the best way to measure campaign performance. To some, they seem intimidating. With a little research (and by knowing what to look for) you can simplify it.


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1203, 2017

The Gift of Effective Imagery

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Graphics tell stories, convey feelings, create awareness and capture moments. Some, though, do just the opposite. Photography, graphic design and imagery is an enormous part of the social media manager’s life. Whether it’s telling your story, communicating emotion or creating brand awareness, everyone can appreciate effective design.

 

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803, 2017

DIY Social Media: Instagram Stories

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In August of last year, Instagram launched their response to Snapchat, called “Stories.” Images or videos taken in the Instagram app can be added to your Story, which lasts 24 hours and can be viewed by those who follow or view your profile. (more…)

612, 2016

Reporting Matters: Inbound Marketing Manager

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There are many valuable metrics to provide insight that will allow you to dig deep into the performance of your marketing efforts. Let’s look at the 3 main metrics every inbound marketing manager will need to track.

Pro Tip: Using a tool such as Hubspot to create and monitor your marketing efforts is a time efficient and cost effective decision. Hubspot ties all of the campaign analytics together and presents them on an easy-to-use dashboard. There are other tools available such as Google Analytics to help monitor performance.

Traffic: Website, Blog & Landing Pages

The best indicator of successful marketing is in the organic traffic on your social media and website pages. ‘Organic’ means that the user found your content or website without the use of paid advertising or paid promotions. Monitor the organic traffic to the website. An increase in these metrics indicates that you are not only reaching, but providing information that resonates and adds value to your target audience.

Are you driving traffic to your blogs and landing pages? Distribution effectiveness in regards to email, social posts, and ads will show up as increased traffic to blogs and landing pages. Review blogs and landing pages with the highest and lowest visits. Blogs and landing pages with lower visits may need some love.

Conversion Rates

A ‘conversion’ in the world of marketing does not necessarily mean that a website visitor is converted into a paying customer. Conversion means that your landing pages or calls-to-action have resulted in a visitor taking the next step in the buyer’s journey.

Is your landing page converting? Conversion rates are one of the most important analytics to measure in an inbound marketing campaign. If you’re driving traffic to landing pages and not getting new leads, your landing page isn’t converting. Conversions are key! The conversion rates show how many people are taking the desired action on your page. If you are providing a webinar, the conversion would be how many people filled out the form to gain access to it. There are a few things to test when landing page’s conversion rates are low.

  • The Landing Page: Is your offer transparent? Can your customer clearly understand within 3 seconds what you are offering?
  • The CTA: Is it compelling? Is it placed where it is quickly noticed?
  • Advertising Strategy: Are you distributing your content through the right channels such as social media and email? Are you targeting a relevant audience? Are you spending your ad budget wisely?
  • The Offer: Is it relevant to this stage of the buyer’s journey?

Tweak only one thing at a time so you can be sure which change has made an impact. Record your results and use them for future campaigns.

Engagement

Engagement such as likes, comments, and shares on social platforms are indicators of interest from your audience. Engagement levels show you that your posts are relevant to your audience and that they resonate. Don’t forget to assess the post with the highest engagement and the post with the lowest engagement. To understand the results of these posts look at each one and ask a few questions about the post:

  • What does the text say?
  • What type of image did you use?
  • What landing page or blog does it link to?

Most likely you will notice some trends. Are posts with similar images getting more engagement? Are you seeing that posts with certain tones or language are receiving less engagement? Take note of each and make adjustments as needed.

Check and monitor these metrics weekly. If your campaign is longer than a month, perform a report for your team and analyze it together. Break down what is working and what adjustments should be made. Make a few tweaks and continue to monitor these three main metrics.

You can gain an in-depth look at your inbound marketing campaign’s performance through the Hubspot dashboard. Using a software tool such as Hubspot will allow you to view, in one place, the effects of the changes made to your campaign, along with detailed analytics. In addition, you’ll receive support from your marketing agency and HubSpot to ensure a successful campaign.

2411, 2016

A Digital Marketing Day of Gratitude

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The digital world is heavily integrated into every aspect of our lives. It is difficult to imagine that there was ever a day that we were without it. Integrating the internet into society was not an automatic process. It has taken years for some people to learn how to use the world wide web and even longer for them to trust it.

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The internet and social media have dramatically changed the way that we market, research, interact and do business. If you did not have the privilege of growing up in the 80’s and 90’s, here are some examples of how archaic life was before the internet:

  • Research was performed using the encyclopedias. It didn’t matter if the books were 10-15 years old.
  • At the library, to look up a book  you used a card catalog and the Dewey Decimal System.
  • When the internet did come along we had dial-up internet that would often disconnect.
  • All of the bills were paid by mail, or in person.  
  • Shopping outside of a store was done with a catalog and a phone order.
  • No one trusted the car salesman.
  • Marketing was synonymous with advertising.

So why give you a list of examples of what life was like before the internet? Because to truly appreciate what we have today, you have to understand where we came from.

Fast forward MANY years and the business world has completely changed, especially for marketers. Those of us who have the ‘marketing gene’ or a natural talent for customer service have the perfect opportunity to share our talents.

So we asked the Posse Team what they were thankful for when it comes to digital marketing.  Here’s what they shared with us:

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 Digital Marketing provides a PERSONALIZED experience.

“I’m thankful that digital marketing gives me access to everything online and gives me the option to filter through options quickly and easily. It is a PERSONALIZED experience tailored just for me. Digital marketing is a vast world that is forever expanding and only getting bigger and better. It’s providing jobs and a whole new perspective for the consumer and the business.”

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Digital takes marketing to a whole new level.

“I love marketing. It is both a science and an art. Today’s marketing allows us to convey a brand, service or product by understanding the wants, needs, and motivations of our consumers. It requires business owners to dig deep and truly define their unique offering. Marketing shapes a company and its brand. It says, “ Hey, here’s how we can help you and this is what we’re all about.” Digital marketing evokes feelings, motivates or encourages someone to take action of their wants.

Digital takes marketing to a whole new level and the science of marketing really kicks in. It allows us to directly target and reach a business’s ideal customer. Digital provides consumers with personalized solutions at their fingertips in seconds. It also allows marketers to know what is working or what needs to change in our message to help the customer. We can track, analyze and show how our efforts produce results and help a company’s bottom line. Digital marketing is cost efficient and highly effective for businesses while creating a personalized experience for the consumer.”

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Digital and social ads are catered to me and save me time.

“I’m more appreciative of how digital marketing works for me. I love that everything on social sites is tailored for my interests so that I can discover new things that are similar to other things I like. Ads online are targeted to me and aren’t just random background noise that isn’t relevant. Plus, when I’m searching for services or products online, the most relevant content is shown, which makes my life and decisions easier.”

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Digital marketing helps me find answers quickly.

“I’m so glad that we can recycle the Yellow Pages. No longer do we, as consumers, have to rely on black text in a book to help us solve problems, find solutions, and hire companies. We can see specific answers, get to know a brand, hear from customers, and interact without crossing our fingers and making a call. As a marketer, I am happy to be able to tailor messaging to fit for prospective customers and create a community around the brand, rather than just an ad.”

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Digital marketing helps our clients build their business.

“One thing I’m thankful for is that inbound marketing lets our clients find quality customers that will be loyal to their brand and actively promote it over a longer period of time – which keeps us in business.”

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Digital marketing allows me to connect with people.

“I have a deep passion for building customer relationships. I enjoy sharing information that makes the lives of my clients and their customers easier. The various communication methods and platforms used allow me to communicate quickly and effectively with others so that I can address their needs almost immediately. The rise of digital marketing has made collaboration with other marketers and professionals a relatively easy process. We are now able to assist each other in meeting the needs of our buyer’s. It truly has allowed 2+2=5.”  

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Digital marketing utilizes all of my talents.

“Digital marketing has allowed me to combine my love of design, my passion for writing, and my obsession with social media into what I can truly call my “dream career.”

I am thankful that I can come to work every day and expect to be challenged creatively to discover new ways to help businesses grow. I am also thankful that I have found a company that lets me be myself and doesn’t box me into a nine-to-five desk job. Every day is different from the one before it, and I am certainly never bored.”

What benefits have you received from digital marketing?

1611, 2016

Content Marketing Calendars:  Organizing Your Strategy

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We’ve all been in meetings where the dreaming happens.  It’s all sunshine, butterflies, and unicorns.  The higher-ups share their vision as you nod your head in agreement and add a comment or two.  You can really see the proposed plan working and the benefits.  Ideas are coming at you left and right inside your head.  Then reality slaps you in the face because it’s time for you dig in your heels, write the goals, make the plan, develop the content, implement the campaign and analyze the results. 

Just envisioning the process for that last sentence can be more than overwhelming for some people.  It can even be paralyzing. But, it doesn’t need to be.  

Could your strategy benefit from using a content calendar?

I would venture to say that the answer to that question is yes.  Everyone knows that in order to stay consistent and see results organization is required.  However, many marketers still find it challenging to know exactly how to set up a content calendar that will help them achieve their goals.  

Build a Strong Foundation

Just like a house requires a solid foundation to remain strong, your content calendar will rely on a strong foundation.  This foundation comes from 4 key areas.  (See links for more in-depth explanations)

  • Your company SMART goals
  • Your Buyer’s Persona
  • Your Buyer’s Journey
  • Your overall marketing strategy

Begin with an Annual Overview

You’ll begin with a bird’s-eye view as you look at the year’s content in broad chunks.  It isn’t time to worry about the details.  Identify overarching themes such as holidays, events, promotions, new products, etc.   

Use an annual calendar for this portion of your strategy.  

  • First, mark which holidays are important to your business and specific dates or events that you don’t want to miss.  
  • Second, identify which content themes need to be covered, but can be moved around during the year.  Keep in mind topics that match the needs of your buyer persona at various stages of their buyer’s journey.    
  • Finally, determine the length of time a content theme will run during the campaign as well as what format type you’ll be using.  This will allow for plenty of prep time to get your content ready for publication and distribution.’

Let the Brainstorming Sessions Begin

Now that you have the themes needed to cover throughout the year it’s time to get your team together, fill them in on the annual calendar and seek their input for changes or new ideas.  Don’t limit this brainstorming session to one meeting.  Schedule regular team meetings throughout the year to gather input on ideas and possible modifications.  During this phase, double check that your ideas have addressed the needs of the Buyer Persona and that they are aligned with the Buyer’s Journey.

Keep your calendar in an area that is accessible by your entire team.  This will allow them to see the themes, how they work into the year and will encourage content ideas to fill in the smaller pieces.  Implement a system that allows them to record their ideas.  It could be a simple as a spreadsheet.

Begin Planning Out Monthly Calendars

Your monthly calendar will be the calendar that you refer to the most.  It is going to tell you what topics are being covered, who is writing or producing content, due dates and publishing dates.

  1. Start creating your monthly calendar by filling it in with the themes and ideas from your annual calendar and brainstorming sessions.  
  2. Next, fill in the weeks with more specific topics and themes.
  3. Identify due dates for editing and publishing dates.
  4. Make assignments.  Who will be editing? Who will be writing? Allow people the opportunity to remain creative by encouraging them to cover topics they are familiar with but to also encourage them to cover topics that will stretch their learning and encourage growth.

Remain Flexible

A content calendar is a tool used as part of a broader marketing strategy.  Every business’s marketing strategy is subject to change based upon various internal and external factors.  Changes that occur in a marketing strategy may require changes in the content calendar. Remain adaptable and flexible when these changes occur, but allow your team ample amount of time to make changes.

Takeaways

Content marketing is unique in that it is used to help unite consumers and brands as they find common ground for communication and build relationships.  It is a marketing strategy that is being implemented in businesses around the globe.  

Using a content calendar provides a strategic approach to meeting the needs of your customer. It allows you to keep a clear focus on your business goals and a doable process to implement your strategy.  It prepares a plan for the absolute best content to be delivered at just the right time.  More importantly, it opens the doorway  for relationships of trust with your ideal customer and prepares the path for lifelong loyal ambassadors of your brand.

1611, 2016

Content Marketing Calendars: Organizing Your Strategy

Blog|

We’ve all been in meetings where the dreaming happens. It’s all sunshine, butterflies, and unicorns. The higher-ups share their vision as you nod your head in agreement and add a comment or two. You can really see the proposed plan working and the benefits. Ideas are coming at you left and right inside your head. Then reality slaps you in the face because it’s time for you dig in your heels, write the goals, make the plan, develop the content, implement the campaign and analyze the results.  Content Calendar Blog.png

Just envisioning the process for that last sentence can be more than overwhelming for some people. It can even be paralyzing. But, it doesn’t need to be.  

Could your strategy benefit from using a content calendar?

I would venture to say that the answer to that question is yes. Everyone knows that in order to stay consistent and see results organization is required. However, many marketers still find it challenging to know exactly how to set up a content calendar that will help them achieve their goals.  

Build a Strong Foundation

 

Just like a house requires a solid foundation to remain strong, your content calendar will rely on a strong foundation. This foundation comes from 4 key areas.  (See links for more in-depth explanations)

Your overall marketing strategy

Begin with an Annual Overview

You’ll begin with a bird’s-eye view as you look at the year’s content in broad chunks. It isn’t time to worry about the details. Identify overarching themes such as holidays, events, promotions, new products, etc.   

Use an annual calendar for this portion of your strategy.  

  • First, mark which holidays are important to your business and specific dates or events that you don’t want to miss.  
  • Second, identify which content themes need to be covered, but can be moved around during the year. Keep in mind topics that match the needs of your buyer persona at various stages of their buyer’s journey.    
  • Finally, determine the length of time a content theme will run during the campaign as well as what format type you’ll be using. This will allow for plenty of prep time to get your content ready for publication and distribution.

 

Let the Brainstorming Sessions Begin

Now that you have the themes needed to cover throughout the year it’s time to get your team together, fill them in on the annual calendar and seek their input for changes or new ideas. Don’t limit this brainstorming session to one meeting. Schedule regular team meetings throughout the year to gather input on ideas and possible modifications. During this phase, double check that your ideas have addressed the needs of the Buyer Persona and that they are aligned with the Buyer’s Journey.

 

Keep your calendar in an area that is accessible by your entire team. This will allow them to see the themes, how they work into the year and will encourage content ideas to fill in the smaller pieces. Implement a system that allows them to record their ideas. It could be a simple as a spreadsheet.

Begin Planning Out Monthly Calendars

Your monthly calendar will be the calendar that you refer to the most. It is going to tell you what topics are being covered, who is writing or producing content, due dates and publishing dates.

  1. Start creating your monthly calendar by filling it in with the themes and ideas from your annual calendar and brainstorming sessions.  
  2. Next, fill in the weeks with more specific topics and themes.
  3. Identify due dates for editing and publishing dates.
  4. Make assignments. Who will be editing? Who will be writing? Allow people the opportunity to remain creative by encouraging them to cover topics they are familiar with but to also encourage them to cover topics that will stretch their learning and encourage growth.

Remain Flexible

A content calendar is a tool used as part of a broader marketing strategy. Every business’s marketing strategy is subject to change based upon various internal and external factors. Changes that occur in a marketing strategy may require changes in the content calendar. Remain adaptable and flexible when these changes occur, but allow your team ample amount of time to make changes.

Takeaways

Content marketing is unique in that it is used to help unite consumers and brands as they find common ground for communication and build relationships. It is a marketing strategy that is being implemented in businesses around the globe.  

Using a content calendar provides a strategic approach to meeting the needs of your customer. It allows you to keep a clear focus on your business goals and a doable process to implement your strategy. It prepares a plan for the absolute best content to be delivered at just the right time. More importantly, it opens the doorway  for relationships of trust with your ideal customer and prepares the path for lifelong loyal ambassadors of your brand.

1611, 2016

12 Days of Digital Marketing: A Giveaway

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Here at Posse, we are getting geared up for the holidays! Which means, you and your business should too. Don’t worry, we’re here to help. We will be doing 12 days of giveaways through the season. We will be giving away inbound assistance as well as social media assistance for FREE! All of our offers are listed below and you’re not going to want to miss out!

Website Grader

With a website grader, we will run your website through a set of tests that will let you know how your website is performing. The website grader will explain how your SEO is doing, if you need security, how fast your website is, and if it’s mobile friendly (side note: Google is officially prioritizing mobile content for search ranking).

Grading your site can make a big difference in knowing where improvements can be made!

Social Audit

With a social audit, our entire team will analyze and report back with how your social media platforms are doing. We will make suggestions, give you statistics, and take the time to dig deep into what social media can do for your business.

A social audit will allow you to see numbers, performance, and engagement from your social media platforms from an agency’s perspective.

1 Hour Consultation

We are offering up an hour consultation for us to go over your website, social media, and other marketing efforts. We will be able to give suggestions, offer help, and answer any questions that you might have regarding social media, inbound marketing, or what it’s like to work with an agency.

This is your opportunity to get as many answers as possible!

Email Marketing Review

An email marketing review will help break down your email efforts. We will check your click- through rate, your bounced emails, and the overall format of your newsletter or offers.

If you’re not already practicing email marketing, we will give you tips, how-to’s, and advice on getting started.

Social Media Cover Photo for 3 Platforms

All of your social media accounts have a cover photo, whether it’s on Twitter, LinkedIn, Google +,  or Facebook. We will have our best graphic designer create a new cover photo for 3 platforms of your choice.

This will definitely grab your audience’s attention!

Website Content Audit

With a website content audit, we will break down what kind of information is on your website and give you pointers on how to make it better. Sometimes websites can get bogged down with too much information. Less is more! We will help you get a better understanding of what keywords will do better on a Google search and what will help boost your SEO.

Your business should be coming up at the top in Google searches!

Social Audience & Tone

Are you communicating to your audience and your potential customers in the correct tone? We will take a look at your target audience and then take a look at your content to make sure that your brand is conveying the right message. We want to make sure that what you’re saying is resonating with people!

Week of Posts on 2 Platforms

If you’ve never hired an agency to take care of your social media for you, now’s your chance to try it out for free. We are giving away a week of posts on 2 social media platforms of your choice. This will be strictly for your business’ page. We will go over the correct tone and format with you before posting anything.

This would be a great start to your business’ social media for the new year!

30 Minute Buyer Persona

Your buyer persona can be your most important asset in the marketing realm. We will take 30 minutes to identify who your target buyer is and break it down for you in a way that you can use the information for future prospects. The buyer persona is the story of your customer or potential client.

Imagine what you can do if you know all of your buyer’s habits, characteristics, and more!

Digital Marketing Strategy Starter

Strategy is the basis for all successful digital marketing efforts. That’s why our new client onboarding starts with researching and drafting a digital strategy. Let us help you start the process for yourself! You’ll get an abbreviated version of a social strategy that helps set you up to fill in the remaining details. We’ll format your strategy document and start guiding you on a competitive analysis, goal planning, content planning, and more. We’ll spend half of our time working up the document and half of our time walking you through it and the next steps.

30 Minute Social Media Staff Training

We are offering a social media training session to help you learn best practices, tips, and more. You will have 30 minutes to get training of your choice in social media by our team. You will have time to ask questions and get advice on how to make the most of your social media marketing efforts!

Month of Mentions

Last but not least, we are offering up a month worth of mentions on social media. We will give your business shoutouts on our social media pages for a full month. This will help boost your business’ social media by getting it out in front of a new group of people. We will be able to do this on Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook, and Instagram.

Good luck & happy marketing!

Terms & Conditions

  • All holiday offers will be awarded at random from the totality of submissions (employees and current customers excluded from eligibility) on December 5, 2016.
  • Once contacted via email and announced on social, winners will have 48 hours to respond to Posse Social Media to claim their prize and schedule the delivery. For winners announced on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday, two business days are allowed for response.
  • Prize winners will be awarded and contacted beginning December 7, 2016.
  • At the end of the contest, all winning and non-winning submissions will be contacted via email with a summary of the awards given.
  • This contest is in no way sponsored by Facebook, Instagram, Google, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat, or any other corporation.
  • Should a winner be unavailable for prize award, another winner will be selected at random.
1411, 2016

A Year With The Posse

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It’s been almost a year since I first started working at Posse Social Media. I’ve learned, made mistakes, and evolved as a writer. I’ve also made big improvements in my career and as a young professional. This time last year I was anxious and excited at the same time. In school I always wanted to have a focus in social media. I realized that digital marketing was how people in the future will promote their businesses and also how consumers will learn about new products and services. I would now like to share a few things I’ve learned during my first year on the job. 
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711, 2016

Delighting your Families into Retention

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In my last blog, I talked about how to grow your conversion rates and turn your school’s families into your biggest promoters. Today, I will tell you how to keep those students throughout their academic careers by delighting them.

Retention is the number one problem facing private schools today. The National Center of Education Statistics says the percentage of all elementary and secondary students enrolled in private schools decreased from 12 percent in 1995–96 to 10 percent in 2013–14, and is projected to continue to decrease to 9 percent from 2025–26. Keeping the students you have now is important to help your school thrive.

The retention process shouldn’t start during re-enrollment time. This is a constant process that should occur throughout the course of the school year with your families and your staff. Word of mouth drives most students to your school, your challenge is to make those conversations more powerful and enticing to new families.

Delight your faculty and staff

Hubspot says, “Customers will never love a company until the employees love it first.” Your teachers and staff are on the front lines of your school’s retention strategy. They are the number one promoters of your school.

Your teachers are the faces that your students and families are seeing on a daily basis. You have the opportunity to get your staff properly trained to delight and engage with those families before they step into the classroom on the first day. Hubspot suggests hiring for character then training for skill. Training is a big plus for teachers: they love to grow and learn so they’re able to bring more innovative strategies and techniques to the classroom.

Utilize your staff in content on your website, emails, newsletters and social media throughout the year. Highlight projects their classes have been working on, awards teachers have won, and even fun times that they have during the year, like spirit week.

Make sure your staff is given opportunities to go above and beyond for students and families. Teachers appreciate the investment you’re giving their career and your families will notice the level of involvement in lesson plans. 

Communicate often with your families

One of the most powerful tools in retention is connecting and building relationships with your families. You need to update them often about changes that your school is going through; but it’s more important to know the best way to reach your parents. Is it through newsletters, texts, social media, or emails? Most schools will say emails, but SchoolInboundMarketing.com says email can be overwhelming, inconvenient, and no longer their main mode of communication.  

Use your content to grow your family’s knowledge of what is going on in the school, the community, and updates on staff and students who are excelling in their studies and in the community. You want to build a connection with the content; it’s not what you say, but how you make them feel that creates a lasting relationship. Always ask yourself, what is your audience getting out of this content? Open communication between teachers, students, and staff will foster a positive environment where families are excited and willing to come back every year.

Your school needs to diversify your communication channels, you can use a text messaging app that helps students, teachers, and parents communicate quickly and effectively, social media channels for last minute updates, or your own app that allows open communication between teachers, students, and parents.

Also, use these channels throughout the year to explain the value of your school, and you should never assume they already know it.

Remember that once students are enrolled in your school the process has only just begun. Once your families feel secure about your school, they will trust you with their child’s education  throughout their secondary education career,  and will become active promoters of your school.

711, 2016

3 Steps to Email Marketing For Financial Advisors

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According to the DMA National Client Email Report 2015, the average ROI from email marketing is $38 for every $1 spent. Also reported that 9 out of 10 clients perceive email marketing as a channel of importance. Email is the perfect place for your message to be taken seriously while achieving a substantial return. In just a few simple steps you can start planning your launch of an email campaign today!

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2810, 2016

3 Inbound Marketing Principles Your Small Business Needs to Adopt

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Small business owners are well aware that they and their employees wear many hats. Being part of a small business provides a lot of learning opportunities and growth not found in the corporate world. Part of forging the path for your small business involves learning how to market your business in the most cost efficient and most effective way possible with limited capital and human resources.

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2110, 2016

Slow and Steady Wins the Race:  Using Inbound Marketing Methodology to Grow Enrollment and Admissions for Schools

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Part 3:  Inbound marketing builds relationships of trust.

In my previous blog, I discussed the need for schools to use the inbound marketing methodology to be proactive in their marketing to grow enrollment and admissions. “Slow and steady wins the race” is a mantra of many marketers. It is the consistency and steadfastness that you use that will enable your marketing to become an unstoppable force. What do schools need to do in order to become this unstoppable force? Begin building relationships of trust that extend beyond your school community.

Unfortunately, many schools are hesitant in sharing their expertise with their existing and potential community of families. What they fail to capitalize on is their ability to form relationships with current and potential parents. Now I’m not talking about sharing the top ten reasons on how to be a good parent. I’m referring to education. Why is it that parents go to their friends first and seek opinions in regards to education? They do this because this is the first time they have done this parenting thing and need help from those who have experience. As a parent myself, I know this to be true. 

Schools have credible experience.

When schools are actively sharing their knowledge and expertise of educating children by presenting it in a way that is helpful, they begin to establish trust with their audience. With a properly implemented inbound marketing strategy, schools can reach out beyond their walls and extend their influence, all while meeting enrollment and admissions goals.

Quit hiding. Get your story out. Go where your parents are. Start the conversation. Engage with your community.

 

Why have a website if you are not going to draw people to it? Why offer information if you are not going to let people know it is available for consumption? Why have a social media page if it is only about you and does not engage with your audience? Why expect people to come to you if you are not willing to go to them?

Schools should view the digital world as their virtual school. It needs to be treated with the same strategy and given the same attention as their physical school. Long gone are the days when a business can rely on immaculate landscaping, property choice, and well-designed signs as methods for getting a consumer to walk through the door. Before a parent ever walks through the door of a school, they have already asked their friends for information, searched your website thoroughly, and read multiple online reviews.

As much as we like to think that we don’t judge a book by its cover, we do. And so does almost everyone else. Your school’s website speaks volumes about the school. Do not give your competitors the chance to educate potential parents because your school has not communicated clearly. Inbound marketing is a customer-centric approach that helps guide the website strategy process so that the needs of your families and potential families are proactively addressed.  

Sewickley Academy, a private school in Pennsylvania, has one of the best private school websites that follows an inbound strategy. You don’t need to be a parent at this school in order to have concerns addressed that you might have. They use their expertise and knowledge to help every parent, myself included, and I live hundreds of miles away.

When a school takes an active role in the curation of content and getting it in front of the right audience, they will lead the conversation amongst community members and parents. Blogs, videos, podcasts, webinars, etc., are all important formats to use when reaching your families, both current and potential. Take control of the flow of information by using unique URLs in  your social media posts as a way to lead visitors back to your school website. This will give users the opportunity to learn more about your school.

 

Strategically-developed content that leads to landing pages and offers more valuable information in exchange for the user’s contact information will allow the school to offer content that will further nurture and move potential families through the sales funnel and through the doors to your school.

Use Inbound to Influence Positive W.O.M. Marketing

One of the downsides of a school relying solely on word-of-mouth marketing is that they do not know if the information being shared is accurate or positive. School administrators don’t always have control over what influencers are going to say. By forming a content strategy with the goal of  helping their audience, they are able to promote accurate information and positive conversation. A strategy to promote positive conversation is important, but also high on the list should be a strategy to address negative conversation.

 

In today’s marketing landscape, it is important that administrators and teachers embrace storytelling to educate the current school families, as well as any potential families. They can help tell their stories accurately through video, parent testimonials, updates, and any other method that easily communicates the culture of the school and connects emotionally with the user. People love to share content and information that they connect to emotionally and inbound methodology provides that perfect strategy allowing you to reach the right people at the right time. In turn, this helps to promote and spread positive conversation about your school.

School administrators should not assume that just because the school offers a good education with small class sizes that parents and students are going to enthusiastically go and tell their friends. If schools want to be talked about, it is important to provide the influencers with the methods and information to do so.

Don’t Forget: Slow and Steady Wins the Race

Relationships are built over time, and parents don’t leave their most prized possessions in the hands of someone they do not trust. Consistently promoting your school and encouraging conversation shows people that you have confidence in your abilities as an educator. They understand why you are different and how their lives will be different if they invest in your school.

The resources available today allow your school to have a greater presence in conversations with accurate information and with a much broader audience than ever before. This reach, when utilized accurately, will set your school apart from the competition and will position your school as the expert in the education community.  

 

People look for consistency. They don’t want to invest in a school that only applies effort, or sprints, through the enrollment season. They want to see consistent effort year round. Providing this consistency instills a sense of safety for those at your school and for those looking at your school. It also shows them that you have invested in your school and that you know that what you have to offer is worth the sacrifice.  

It takes time.  It takes patience.  It takes consistency.  But it works. “Slow and steady wins the race.”

1910, 2016

Financial Advisors: Launching an Inbound Marketing Campaign

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As a financial advisor, you may have started to notice that traditional marketing efforts aren’t as effective for your business. Why? Because people are browsing for solutions online instead of being hard-sold on products and services they don’t even want. In fact, 80% of the online population has bought a product online. Eighty percent.

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1710, 2016

Social Media Engagement Explained

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Social media terms can be extremely confusing. Your social media manager might say “your social media accounts have gotten a lot of engagement this month.”  You maybe asking yourself, “What does that mean? Am I getting anything out of this?” Don’t fear! Although engagement on social media can be puzzling, we’ve broken down what you need to know about engagement, reach, and impressions. Also, how engagement is important, valuable, and increases your ROI (return on investment).  (more…)

510, 2016

Tailoring your School’s Website for the Inbound Methodology

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As a school administrator, you have thought through every aspect of your institution. You know the education level you want to provide to the student body; you know the types of families who will best fit your environment; you know the connection your staff has to their focus areas. Every detail about how your school operates has been carefully considered and planned. There’s just one thing you know needs improvement: student attraction and retention rates.

Private and charter schools live and die by the earned loyalty they garner from families and communities. While a strong physical presence is important, your digital reputation is impacting how many people are contacting you for a tour and how many students you will enroll in the upcoming year–whether you realize it or not.

It’s not a new concept that engaged families are a key indicator of enrollment and retention rates. PTO/PTA groups, room parents, family-led events, donation drives, fundraisers, etc have all been proven ways to give enrolled families ownership in the educational process. The more successfully your school can create stakeholders out of parents, the more likely your retention rates will thrive.

But, aside from traditional methodologies for engagement, what is your school doing online to bring parents into the inner circle? Your target demographic is online. It’s time to start bringing them to your school and keeping them there…before they ever actually come for a tour. It’s time to implement inbound marketing for your school.

Attract

Find out where your target families are online (start by completing a buyer persona). Once you’ve figured out who you are trying to bring to your school, you can figure out where they are. Then, put together content and conversation starters that resonate with their concerns, goals, fears, and hopes. Content marketing is going to be a leading driver of traffic to your site, so make sure your efforts in this area are thorough.

The layout of your website affects everything, the content, navigation loading time etc., so if your website isn’t up to your visitors’ standards, or if it fails to make an impression in the first few seconds, you’ve lost a potential family. Mobile traffic is the primary source for modern parents, so make sure you have a site that is responsive and easy to navigate from a smartphone. Parents want to know if their children will fit in, what extracurriculars your school offers, and of course, the cost. Answer these questions with pictures and videos of staff and students. Firsthand accounts will give your school more credibility.

Parents want to see real faces of the school, and they want to know who will be teaching their children. Use your website to create an open environment that communicates transparency, culture, and your brand story. Highlight staff and students; don’t use stock photos because real moments matter to parents. Make sure that you are adding value to every piece of content you put out. Ask yourself why is this important? Will they remember this after they finish reading it? Establish your school and staff as thought leaders and resources for parents. It is essential that your website and digital presence begins building trust with families from the first moment they connect.

Convert

Once you’ve drawn people to your website in the Attract portion of the buyer’s journey, you will want to convert those visitors into calls, tours, and prospects for enrollment. Make it easy for parents to contact you in a variety of ways. Click to call buttons, email, social media links, blog comments, and perhaps even a live chat option are all options to consider sharing with families. You want to remove any barriers to open communication with the school.

This is also when you want to put the spotlight back on the families, curriculum, and staff. Offer ways for prospects to feel a part of your community through storytelling and transparency. Use your social media platforms to pull back the curtain and show what life is like at your school. Your website can be a source for parents, lured by the conveyed culture, to research more about the type of education offered and the results they can expect.

Close

You’re almost there, your parents are close to signing on the dotted line. So how do you push them over the finish line? During this stage it’s important to be as transparent as possible about your curriculum and cost. When you are displaying the prices of your school it needs to equalize with value. This is where content comes back into the picture. Showcase testimonials and reviews from other parents on this page. Alumni success stories will validate your tuition fees and gives parents a perspective of what’s to come after their students graduate. This is also a great place to showcase your curriculum. Break down the curriculum by age, and what makes your curriculum different than others. Describe what languages do you offer, extra curriculars, art and music.

Delight

Delight your parents by continuing open communication with them throughout the time their child is attending  your school. Engage with parents over social media, emails and newsletters throughout the year. Every school should have a blog; highlight success stories of students, interview teachers and staff, and update parents on new curriculum changes throughout the school year. All of these items will help with your school’s retention- one of the biggest problems for private and charter schools. Once this phase of the buyer’s journey is completed, you’ll start over again and the cycle continues. After using all of these stages, word of mouth will spread and you will continue to expand your school as well as retaining the students you already have.

2809, 2016

4 Areas to Test When Landing Page Conversion Rates Are Low

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Several months ago I started a series on common problems you could be experiencing with your social media efforts and today I’m wrapping it up.  A lot of businesses want to know about increasing social engagement or getting the most out of social advertising, but what about inbound marketing? After all, social media is just one part of an online business strategy, so it makes sense to cover the topic that’s on every business owner’s mind: Leads.
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2609, 2016

3 Inbound Marketing Steps For Financial Advisors

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Financial advisors, wealth managers, investment brokers: are traditional marketing efforts not producing the results you want? Are you seeing the majority of your clients come through referrals, but they’re not exactly the ideal client you want to work with? If so, it may be time to rethink your marketing plan.

Inbound marketing is providing the right content to the right person at the right (more…)

2209, 2016

Marketing to THAT Generation: Millennials

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As a social media agency, Posse is mostly comprised of millennials. Does that scare you? No, wait! Marketing to millennials isn’t as scary as you think. It’s actually easier to utilize inbound marketing with millennials than other generations. With our first-hand experience, we can tell you exactly how to get your message across, and why inbound marketing is the perfect solution.

Who they are

Millennials get the illustrative futuristic title of the century. So what exactly are they and why can’t anyone stop talking about them?

The millennial generation refers to anyone born from 1984 to 2004, meaning ages 12-34, and there are an estimated 83 million of them, which outnumbers Baby Boomers by over 8 million.

Millennials came of age during the greatest recession since the Great Depression, and that’s changed their perspective on what life goals are important to them.

  • Self-oriented: While many label millennials as narcissistic, a better term would be self-reliant. They are delaying getting married, having children, and settling down because they’re focusing on themselves and not jumping into familyhood after college. The median age for women getting married is now 27, up from 20 in 1964.
  • Tech-dependent. This generation has grown up with technology in hand, making them digital natives, and that has morphed into their source for news, entertainment, communication, and a boredom fix. Nowadays, 98% of millennials own a cell phone. With 1.57 billion daily mobile Facebook users, 967 million are mobile-only, which means you don’t have to look hard for an audience; they’re already there. Implementing mobile ads into your inbound strategy will reach a large portion of this illustrious group of consumers.
  • Immune to traditional advertisements. Most of their lives, they’ve been bombarded with advertisements, so they’ve learned to tune them out. 84% don’t trust traditional advertising. Reread that. Traditional advertising doesn’t work with millennials.
  • Different type of communicators. Due to their expertise in technology, millennials are able to communicate through text, social media messaging, sharing articles on social media sites, and sending images like through Snapchat. Most are even able to carry conversations or imply the tone of a message by using emojis. Millennials are far more likely to share content with their peers via social media and are far more likely to give their information to a brand.

Who They Want You To Be

Inbound marketing is the perfect foundation for marketing to millennials. They’re already online, and they’re already consuming blogs, content, and websites. So here are the top three traits that millennials want from your brand.

Transparent

Millennials love transparency. It makes businesses take responsibility for every action made within a company, and it builds trust. Whatever happens behind closed doors, whether good or bad, makes this generation skeptical, and skepticism is bad.

Inbound marketing gives brands the opportunity to be transparent by being available to customers online. People want their opinion to be heard. They want to be able to reach you with their problems, questions, and even good experiences. Providing an outlet that they’re comfortable with using, like Facebook or Twitter, allows them to have access to your brand, and that helps with authenticity and trust.

Remember: People don’t buy from businesses. People buy from people.

Educational

Educating buyers is key to your credibility, and credibility is everything to millennials. Blogs are important content with 76% of millennials wanting to be informed on specific topics. Provide your knowledge with your customers, and they’ll be more likely to buy from you.

Engaging

Millennials are all about experiences. In fact, 62% of millennials say that if a brand engages with them on social networks, they are more likely to become a loyal customer. Engage millennials with your informative and entertaining content, and be sure to tailor it to specific interests. Millennials love for messages to appeal to their specific needs and problems.

Entrepreneur sums it up perfectly: “Authenticity comes from thoughtfulness and treating millennials the way they want to be perceived: unique, decisive, and authentic. Remember to be sure you’re cultivating an authentic relationship, rather than one based on the constant state of selling.”

Have your brand’s voice be heard

Millennials are a huge subset of buyers, and they’re already active participants in inbound marketing. Make sure you’re getting involved with them by providing them with the information and experiences that they want.

Cultivate these relationships by building the human side of your brand and make sure you’re actively participating with them online.

2009, 2016

The 5 Mistakes You’re Making with Your Digital Content

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As part of our Learning Series, we’ve written five blogs and hosted a Lunch & Learn event to answer inbound marketing questions. We’ve been stressing five main content errors that businesses tend to make on their social media profiles and provided solutions to those problems. Ready to make your digital strategy as polished as possible? Here are the five common digital marketing mistakes and tips on how to fix them.

1. Making Your Business Your Message

 

You know every aspect of your business. Everything from last quarter’s profit margins to how each customer interacts with your company. Knowing everything about your business is what makes you and your business so successful. However, that knowledge is what makes you terrible at creating content, and you should be the last person that should implement a marketing strategy.

Your clients want content that matters to them. First, you need to understand the problems your customers have so that you can provide them with information about your products and services in a way that educates and engages them. This will allow you to create content that helps your customer’s business and its success, not yours.

This long process of identifying your customers and what problems they’re facing is called inbound marketing. “What solutions do you provide that will help the person you’re speaking to? This one simple question can set you up for digital marketing success.”

2. Not Knowing Your Buyer Persona

 

A huge content mistake that businesses make is not understanding or getting to their buyer persona. The first step in understanding your buyer persona is completely understanding your ideal client so that you can create informative and entertaining content that matters to them.

To truly gain trust from your customers is to answer their questions and solve their problems. You can do this by blogging, providing content offers, or providing case studies. By sharing your expertise, you’re utilizing inbound marketing and building your company into an industry expert.

3. Seeing Your Competition as an Obstacle

Your competition isn’t an obstacle to overcome but an opportunity to create new ways for growth and differentiation. You should use your competition to analyze what they’re already doing and how you can create a better digital strategy. Start with scouting their website by evaluating the ease of use, colors and fonts, and whether they’re offering solutions to their clients’ problems.

While you’re evaluating their website, take note of the type of content they’re offering. Do they have FAQs, eBooks, blog posts, whitepapers, or case studies? How often are they publishing content and what topics are they discussing? Finally, investigate their social media platforms, and look through their posts, followers, and engagement.

With all of this information, you can look at what’s working and what’s not. Use this to incorporate into best practices for your marketing and content strategy. Keep in mind that you have something great to offer your customers. Use every obstacle as an opportunity to grow your business.

4. Not Knowing Where Your Customers Are in the Buyer’s Journey

 

A crucial part of inbound marketing is knowing where your prospective customer is in the buyer’s journey and aligning your content to each stage. Unlike in the past with traditional marketing, the buyer now holds all the power. The buyer’s journey is the process of a person or business making a purchase; from the time they have a problem or need all the way to after the purchase when they choose to review a product or buy from that company again.

In the awareness stage, the buyer has identified a problem they have. Instead of promoting a product-based solution, educate them with answers and data to help solve their problem.

Next is the consideration stage. At this point, your potential customer has determined their problem and have decided to pursue a solution. Don’t make the mistake of selling your company. Instead, provide information to prepare buyers for the final stage, the decision stage.

In the decision stage, make your potential buyer happy. They’ve already decided they want to purchase a particular item, so provide them with product comparisons, case studies, and customer testimonials.

5. Not Knowing Best Practices for Your Online Presence

When you first create your overall digital media plan, you need to know what, where, and when to post your content. The ‘what’ to post is the type of content you’ll be posting. This should be tailored to your buyer persona. Each post needs to matter to your audience. If it doesn’t, don’t post it.

When deciding where to post, consider where your competitors and buyer persona are. If you’re business is material handling, there’s no need to be on Pinterest, your audience wouldn’t be on that platform, but they’re definitely on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+.

When to post depends on your audience and each platforms’ algorithms, which requires some analyzing. This will take some time and research. To get you started, check out this quick-start guide.

 

There you have it. Those are the 5 common digital content mistakes, and how you can fix them so that you can start seeing digital marketing success. If you’re still feeling overwhelmed, that’s what we’re here for. Feel free to contact us for more information’

1609, 2016

Making the Most of Your Google+ Account

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In the past, Google+ has kind of been the redheaded stepchild of social media platforms. Despite the search engine giant’s reach and influence, they’ve yet to make it big with a successful social network. Although it boasts more than 2.5 billion profiles, according to Statistic Brain, only 375 million users are active (October 2013 data), 55% of them being here in the states.  A huge percentage of profiles have never been used, because right from the start, Google automatically created these profiles for anyone who had an account. Not the best way to promote your platform, but moving on.

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A lot of features have changed since it’s creation in 2011, and if you were never an adopter or just haven’t been on in a bit, I suggest you go in and take a look around. You might be pleasantly surprised! Last November, Google+ redesigned its look, keeping communities and collections front and center.

What Went Missing?

  • Google+ Photos: Removed in May 2015 and turned into it’s own application. You can find it here.
  • Google+ Hangouts: Removed from the platform Summer 2015. You can find it here. On a related note, Hangouts on air has been replaced with YouTube Live as of September 12th, but they’re only rolling it out to select channels right now.
  • Google+ Local: Business pages are still here, though, and you can toggle between them and your personal account in the upper righthand corner when you log in. However, gone are the days of star ratings, opening hours, and business categories. The new look only highlights a very brief amount of business info under the “about” icon.

It’s always recommend that a business be active on each platform they have a presence. If you have a Google account, you have a Google+ profile and most likely a business page floating around out there, too. With a lot of unnecessary and cluttered features moving off the platform, and the shift to communities and collections, the social network has become much more user-friendly, streamlined, and focused. With that focus in mind, I want to touch on several ways to get the most out of your Google+ account using these two prominent features.

1-13.pngGoogle+ Communities

 

Social media is a place for building relationships through engagement, and Google+ communities gives you another area to do just that. I know what you’re thinking, but it’s not “just another social network.” Although it’s monthly active user numbers are much lower than Facebook, it still offers valuable tools.

What are these communities? Simply put, they’re groups, and range from inbound marketing to urban gardening and everything inbetween. Think of them like your LinkedIn groups, only more relaxed. Use them with your personal Google+ account and business page.

Features Include:

  • Option for a photo (think eye-catching header image)
  • Ample room for a custom description
  • Area for links to websites and other socials
  • Custom categories inside the group to help break up information
  • Ability to add multiple moderators
  • Public, private, open or invite only (think Facebook and LinkedIn groups)

For Individuals: Grow Your Influence

Spend a few minutes a day joining relevant groups in your field of expertise. Don’t be afraid to jump in on a conversation, or start one yourself! Share your company’s blogs, infographics, videos, and other helpful content. If you can find a local community, share about upcoming events either hosted by your company or that would be of interest to other members.

For Business: Build Brand Authority

Go about joining communities as a business just like you would with your personal account. Share relevant content, participate in discussions, and work on establishing the company. If you can’t find any outstanding groups to join, create your own! What better way to build up your own brand than creating a custom group that interests others?  

If you need help getting the hang of communities, this is a great article by Mashable that lays it all out for beginners. Still need convincing? HootSuite highlights 10 benefits of this feature!

Google+ Collections

 

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Communities and collections have a lot of similarities, but collections is a lot more focused. If you love Pinterest, try this feature! These are the Pinterest boards of the social platform, but with more options to connect, have great discussions around topics you’re passionate about, and build relationships and brand awareness.

Features:

  • One owner: Whether it’s a collection on a business page or your own account, you own that board.
  • One contributor: Whoever owns the collection contributes to that collection.
  • Business branding: When people pull up your business account, they’ll be able to see any collections you have. This is a great way to distribute your own content, as well as connect with influencers.

As an individual or a business, some ideas for your collections could be:

  • Your blog posts
  • Your infographics
  • Your Podcasts or videos
  • Creativity collections
  • Inspiration collections with content from other industry leaders

As with any other platform, you’ll want to come up with a posting schedule for both collections and communities (especially if you have your own) to make sure content stays relevant, spam is removed, and engagement increases. You may still be wondering if this is really worth your time, and considering Google+’s history, that’s completely understandable. From research and personal experience with the platform, I see there being a lot of room for brand influence. Whether it’s a +1, informative comment, or a share in a relevant community, everything drives people back to your profile and website.

Google+ isn’t the same network that was developed in 2011. It’s changed, and hopefully for the better. It’s up to the business though, to evaluate whether or not they’re having an impact by using a particular platform. Test it out, see if you’re making an impact, and always measure the results.

1409, 2016

Give Your Digital Marketing Strategy A Facelift

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Plastic surgery is all about results. When a patient comes to you with the desire to look a certain way, they expect to see that when they look in the mirror. When you apply the most up-to-date practices for helping your patients alter their appearance in any way, you are doing your part to produce the best results possible.

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509, 2016

How to Grow Your Business with Digital Marketing

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Understanding that an online presence is important for your business is the first hurdle in achieving success. Actually accomplishing digital marketing goals, however, is another thing entirely. The available tools, the speed of information, the rate of change for best practices, and your competitors’ advantages may all seem too insurmountable to overcome. If so, this blog is for you.

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209, 2016

Slow and Steady: Using Inbound Methodology to Grow Enrollment and Admissions in Private Schools

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Part 1: School Marketing Observations

I have been distance running for well over 20 years. I truly believe in the saying “slow and steady wins the race.”  It takes time to physically build endurance for long distances. Having the plan and consistent practice of ‘slow and steady’ has allowed me to develop the patience and strength to go long distances and reach milestones I never thought possible. In turn, I apply this philosophy of building endurance to my inbound marketing mindset.

Consistency Isn’t a Sprint

We can apply the slow and steady wins the race concept to many areas of life. It is the passionate mantra of an inbound marketer.  Unfortunately, many businesses are so caught up in the cycle of sprinting that they are financially and mentally exhausting themselves. They are missing the enjoyment and growth that comes from the results of slow and steady, or in better terms, the consistent positive return-on-investment that results from a strategic inbound marketing plan.

 

Observations of School Marketing

The independent and private school markets are just beginning to grasp hold of the inbound marketing methodology.  I have had the opportunity to work with several schools who have struggled with their marketing and admissions/ enrollment and have found an underlying set of themes between these schools:

  • Private and independent teachers truly want to provide lifelong learning opportunities for their students and families.
  • Private and independent teachers have daily heartfelt engagements with students and parents that, when shared, evoke emotions from almost everyone.
  • They see the value of a website, social media, and emails that help them stay connected to their school community.
  • The teachers and administration truly understand and love their students and their jobs.
  • Many educators have been around children long enough that their observations and recommendations hold value for parents.
  • They recognize that word-of-mouth (WOM) marketing is their best marketing tool but have no idea how to consistently be the main influence of WOM.

 

 

Incorporating Inbound

Heads of schools are so busy being educators that they have little opportunity to learn how to integrate these themes together to form a strategy that will help them reach their enrollment and admissions goals. Many private and independent schools are in the vicious cycle of rushing through the admissions season then drifting through the other seasons, which leaves them in a reactionary environment. In this reactionary environment, they lack time to be proactive. By not being proactive, they miss out on opportunities to do what they do best; educate.

Inbound marketing methodology is an answer to many of the frustrations felt by administrators regarding the enrollment and admissions needs of their schools.  Why?

  • Inbound is customer-centric.  Every headmaster knows, parents don’t want to hear about the achievements of the school.  Parents want to know what the school will do for their child. Inbound helps schools turn a self-centered to one that helps parents with their educational needs. Inbound helps schools share stories so that parents can envision their child attending that school.
  • Inbound is consistent. Parents need consistency. No parent wants to see their school, or potential school, in a state of desperation during enrollment season. By correctly following the inbound methodology, the school will have a stream of students and families in their pipeline.
  • Inbound drives word of mouth marketing. Word of mouth marketing is the best form of marketing for schools. Inbound helps schools distribute accurate information so that when your parents are talking to their social circles about you, they are armed with information to share.
  • Inbound marketing allows you to be part of the conversation.  Parents talk. Unfortunately, there are a lot of conversations and opinions being shared in which the school is cut out of the conversation. The metrics used during inbound methodology identify when, where, and the nature of the conversation that is taking place about your school, allowing you to join in the conversation and become an active participant.
  • Inbound guides potential families through the funnel.  Administrators have a limited amount of time and often find themselves spread thin. Inbound marketing takes over nurturing potential families until they are ready to speak with the school. Inbound marketing prevents the administration from wasting time and money on traditional marketing methods. It takes the right information and puts it in front of potential parents at the right time and place. Most importantly, inbound marketing allows the administration to use their time to meet with those most interested and deemed a good fit for the school.
  • Inbound forms relationships of trust. Inbound allows school administration and teachers to nurture relationships long before they meet potential families. By the time a parent meets with the school administration they have already established an emotional connection with the school.
  • Inbound marketing provides information for return on investment.  Schools are businesses and like all businesses, they have to provide ROI numbers for investors and school boards.

 

Conclusion:

Private and independent school marketing does not have to be reactionary.  It can be consistent and proactive with the correct marketing methodology. In my next blog, I’ll discuss how the Inbound Marketing Methodology helps drive word-of-mouth marketing; a schools most effective form of marketing.

3008, 2016

The Importance of Good Photography to Market Your Business

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The sooner a business acknowledges photography’s significance within product or service marketing, the quicker a company will see success. Clearly there are many factors that go into a strong inbound marketing strategy, however, photography is not one to be overlooked. It can actually make or break all your marketing efforts. Learn about the importance of good photography and see if your business passes the test.21422546_l.jpg

Lets face it, some of us don’t speak, “photographer.” It’s much more complex than just pointing and shooting. The trained eye of a professional photographer can capture emotion, convey quality, and communicate value. They are capable of capturing a specific message you’d like to portray to your target audience.

Whether you’re photo savvy or not, it’s important for every business owner to educate themselves on what it means to use (and have) strong photography. The next step is to take a hard look at what you or your business may be communicating through your photography.

Take a look in the mirror.

An easy method to identifying good photography vs. bad photography can be accomplished by simply learning about yourself. Sometimes it’s as easy as being aware of your own tendencies when it comes to shopping, browsing, viewing posts, or searching online. Ask yourself a few questions:

  • What images grab my attention?
  • What images do I give a quick glance, but keep scrolling?
  • What images have me saying, “I’d never shop from here.”
  • Do these photos make me want to trust this company?  

Ouch. That would be a tough pill to swallow. What company would want to appear untrustworthy? Photography has that sort of power. Scary isn’t it?

 

 

There’s only one chance for a first impression.

Essentially, if your photography shouts out “poor effort,” it’s fairly logical to assume that your products or services must be saying the same thing. In order to understand why photography is important to marketing, we must understand why we are wired to think this way.

We are creatures that are victims to “first impressions.” We glance, we judge, and our mind is made up. Once our opinion has been formed, chances are it’s not changing without some heavy convincing (which equals more money out of your wallet).

Let’s say that you’re launching a social media campaign, and you use poor quality photos for visual content:

  • Bad lighting
  • Bad angle
  • Bad composition
  • Pixelation

You have officially decreased the value of your brand, and (unintentionally) missed your target audience. Images should reflect the quality of your product or service. Don’t waste your hard-earned money by creating amazing products, or offering valuable services, just to ruin it with a bad first impression. By spending the extra thought and effort to get it right the first time, your business stands to gain new clients, engage current customers, and boost brand awareness– all through an image.

4 Quick Fixes

Here are some quick solutions you can begin implementing into your business photography:

  1. LIGHTING – There may be brands in which dark photography is acceptable (perhaps you’re in the haunted house industry), but chances are your business would benefit most from well-lit photos. Good lighting can be achieved through white balance and ISO settings.  
  2. ANGLES – Try changing up the orientation of your camera to your subject. Shots at different angles can affect the style, by making the subject appear more interesting. Try shooting your subject from above, below, or the side versus straight on.
  3. BACKGROUND – Your choice of where photos are taken have a major influence on how your service or product is received. The background should appear like it was given thought and effort. Don’t just position someone or something and take the photo. There needs to be a sense of consistency that is creatively integrated within your brand’s style guide.
  4. RESOLUTION – Avoid cheap, grainy looking photos shot with your smartphone by investing in a higher resolution point-and-shoot camera. This will help your shots look great on the web!

Every photo tells a story.

Like they always say, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” What is your brand’s photography telling customers? Imagery should convey your quality. So go ahead and start inspiring your target audience with better images, to want to know more, and ultimately gain their trust!

2508, 2016

Why Email Marketing Isn’t Dead

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According to HubSpot, 76% of marketers today say they use email marketing more now than they did three years ago. The use of email marketing continues to increase every year as well as email users. According to a Radicati Group study from February 2015, there are about 2.5 billion email users worldwide and about  91% of them check their inbox at least once a day.

When it comes to email marketing, you want people to open your message! The 91% of people that do check their inbox on a daily basis is a huge marketing opportunity for business owners in the way of lead generation.Thankfully, inbound marketing allows you to integrate this tool into any campaign. With Hubspot, you’re able to:

  • Create lists for new leads
  • Organize and segment profiles
  • Streamline Communication between both prospects and clients.

By taking a strategic and smart approach with email, you can get in front of the right audience at the right time.So, what exactly is email marketing? Let’s look at some ideas and best practices you can start implementing today!

What is email marketing?

Email marketing allows you to put your content in front of the right people at the right time through a cost-effective solution that strengthens relationships and assists with customer retention. When sending an email, there are a few best practices that you need to take into account. Here are a few tips to get you going in the right direction.  

  • Start with a good subject line (make it eye-catching!)
  • Use personalization tokens (Hello “name of recipient”)
  • Make sure it’s mobile Optimized (It looks good on all smartphones)
  • Incorporate actionable Verbs/ CTA’s (CLICK HERE!)
  • Include eye-catching images!

With these 5 components, you’re on the right track for a better email!

One of the most important factors for anything you do online is making sure everything is mobile friendly and easy to read!

 

Want to know what great email marketing looks like? Here is an excellent example from Canva:

What should be in your email?

Each email should have a different purpose and should be sent to the correct people to ensure the best results.  Different types of emails are sent to different people depending on what part of the buying process they are in. Sometimes, sending an email that has a coupon or discount to someone who has no idea what you’re company is about can be sent to soon. So try to get in your customer’s head before sending that email! Your content in your email should be valuable! Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Email Content Ideas:

  • Newsletters
  • Follow-up emails
  • Coupons and discounts
  • Offers such as e-books, whitepapers, guides, event invitations, etc.
  • Relevant blog sharing

How can you see results?

With every email sent, there is a way to track it, making it one of the most measurable online tools you could utilize. You can see:

  • When the email was sent
  • Who the recipient is
  • When it was opened

With this information you’re then able to curate a segmented list broken down into types of emails and recipients. But that’s not all! Analytics will provide insight to what needs to change in order to gain a better Click Through Rate (CTR) for your next campaign.This allows you to have complete control with every email you send!

If your company doesn’t already have an emailing system in place, the big returns are definitely worth the small, initial investment. By incorporating email into your monthly marketing strategy, you’re way to more clients and happier customers!

2308, 2016

Digital Marketing Mistakes: Not Knowing Best Practices for Your Online Presence

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Digital marketing is constantly changing.  Business owners have great opportunities to find (and be found by) target customers. However, taking full advantage of what an online presence has to offer requires spending time and effort to learn best practices of each digital outlet. Even after mastering a platform, however, entrepreneurs and marketers must still take the time to stay updated on changes occurring weekly (and sometimes daily). It takes patience, research, and a little creativity.
Before you start creating content, you must first create an overall digital media plan. This will include what, when, where, and how to post for each platform. Not knowing the best practices of digital media can make all your efforts useless. The best content will not help your business if it’s sent to the wrong platform or shared at the wrong time or fails to meet standard best practices. So let’s go through the basics of what you know when you’re framing your digital strategy.

 

Not knowing what to post online will have a negative effect on your whole online marketing plan. This is the foundation for everything you will do online. Every business should have a guide for how they want to be viewed online. The strategy that you plan will have a direct correlation to how many, and what kind, of leads you will land. Do you want to be fun, edgy, serious or strictly informative? Even more importantly than what you want, make sure you know what your customer wants. All of your content online should be tailored to your audience/buyer persona. Whether it’s a blog or posting on social media, you’ll conduct research, write and then analyze your results. Every post should matter to your audience; ask yourself, what will my audience be getting out of reading your content? If you can’t answer that question, there is no need to post.

 

Not every platform is for every business or organization. The ones you select should have different types of content focus, chosen based on the unique audience and engagement you will get from that platform. You need to find out which platforms your audience uses. Take a look at your competitors and see what channels they’re using. Are you willing to pay for certain social media sites? Places like Facebook and Instagram are places where brands are able to expand their reach and views by paid posts and advertisements. You should also consider the future of the sites; you should know which platforms are declining and which ones are emerging. If you catch a new platform on the rise that fits your target demographic, you might be able to implement a content strategy that helps your business emerge as a channel leader. Here’s a quick summary (accurate at the time of posting) of each social media platform that might fit your business:

 

 

Like stated above, your posting times should be centered around your audience. When are they online? Before you schedule or write your content, check insights on the various sites and understand that your optimal times may be drastically different (or not) than the standard best times. Once you find days and hours you should post content, be sure you revisit the strategy on a weekly basis. Thanks to the ever-changing algorithms on many of the platforms, you can’t just “set and forget” these posts. These are a lot of factors to consider, and you might not have the time to do the appropriate research, but here’s a quick-start guide.  


These are some of the best practices you should know when starting or revising your digital strategies. Remember your digital presence isn’t just about likes, shares, retweets, and pins, it’s about making sure that each of your posts supports your overall goal and speaks to your target demographic. Not knowing (or following) these practices might harm your digital presence online and, worse, may open a door for your competitors. With so many different platforms these tips will have you solidify your online strategy and maximize your business’s marketing efforts.

2208, 2016

Not Knowing Best Practices

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1808, 2016

Digital Marketing Mistakes: Client-Centered Content

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Buyer personas are really the heart of any digital marketing strategy. When you know who your ideal customer is, social media content is easy! Well, maybe not easy, but definitely more straight-forward and focused. Why? Well, if you know who you’re trying to reach you’re able to tailor a business message that matches their interests, provides solutions to their needs and answers their questions.

One of the biggest content mistakes you can make as a business is not getting to know your buyer persona(s). This can actually do a lot of damage to your online and offline reputation if you think about it.

Like many on the Posse team have talked about in previous blog posts, the purpose of inbound marketing, and social media as a piece of the pie, is to build companies (your company) as the experts in their industry. If you don’t have your buyer personas in mind when creating content, chances are you’re not going to be seen as a trusted resource.

The good news is that you can adjust your social strategy and keep moving forward! Here are three buyer persona areas you might be ignoring and what you can do about it:

Persona Mistake 1: You Don’t Know Your Client Demographic

Understanding your customer demographic is kind of like knowing everything about your best friend. Think about it. You know what they’re interested in, the kinds of movies and music they like; you can even finish each other’s sentences. Alright, maybe that’s taking the customer relationship a little far, but you get the idea. Quality over quantity is an excellent rule to go by. With the newest update in Facebook’s algorithm, informative and entertaining content matters more than ever.

When you don’t really get to know your ideal customer, there’s no way you’re going to be able to produce content they’re interested in or want to engage with on a regular basis! Let’s be honest. We need that engagement (particularly shares) in order to beat the algorithms on social platforms. Client demographics will frame the following when it comes to content:

  • Types of information you share
  • Branding / font choices
  • Types / placement of ads
  • Content tone
  • Posting times
  • Platform usage
  • Posting frequency
  • Types of offers (inbound marketing)

The list could go on, but you get the idea. If those listed items look like they’re part of a social media strategy, that’s because they are. All these pieces of information should be taken into account in order to maximize digital success, but it’s going to be hard if you don’t know your customer!  

Persona Mistake 2: You Don’t Understand Their Situation or Business

What problems do your customers face on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis? If you don’t understand your customers, how can you possibly address topics that matter to them? I’m a fan of Mark Schaefer’s quote, “Build trust, not traffic.”  People want to buy from companies they can trust, but in order for that to happen you need to understand what they need.

  • What are people looking for? This is a great time to dig into your CRM (Client Relationship Management) and take a look at both clients and prospects. Need another reason why this is a good idea? Check out HubSpot’s 4 reasons why you should be using their free CRM software!
  • Segment your clients! This is part of creating your buyer persona. As a business owner, you know that not every customer is the same. Needs can vary but there can be 3-4 strong ideal customers (or more depending on your business) that create a pattern. Start breaking down those consumers into categories and be able to answer their questions. Or better yet, answer questions before they’re asked.

Your clients shape the content. Get to know them and use your business as the client-reaching resource it is. Most importantly, whether the content is on a static web page, a blog, or a tweet, you want to be answering questions. This brings me to my last point:

What does your buyer persona want to know?

Persona Mistake 3: You’re Not Answering Their Questions

Take a look again at Persona Mistake 2. What kinds of questions are asked in communication with prospective clients? What questions do you receive from current clients? This is a good place to start. If you’re struggling with ways to communicate the answers to those questions, here’s a list of ideas:

  • Blog: Did you know that according to HubSpot, Marketers who have prioritized blogging are 13x more likely to enjoy positive ROI? Your website needs one anyway, so let your company voice be heard!
  • Video series: Content topics can be distributed different ways. Maybe your demographic responds better to a short clip, so keep your target audience top of mind.
  • Facebook Live: What better way to drive interaction, put a friendly face with your company, and answer questions all at the same time!
  • Podcast:  Quick, convenient, and no camera necessary.
  • Case Studies: Show how you’ve helped a client
  • Offers: These could be a brief consultation, whitepaper, short but informative SlideShare, an engaging infographic, or an educational event.  

With all these great options on ways to answer client questions, it’s important to note that different kinds of information are going to resonate with people based on 1) demographics and 2) where they are in the “Buyer’s Journey.” Be sure to check out Amie Detar’s blog post about that very topic, here! When it comes to your business, you’re the expert. We say this to our clients all the time! Showcase that expertise by answering questions and, ultimately, building trust.

When you don’t take the audience into account, you run the risk of poor social engagement at best, and coming across like you don’t care at worst. Yikes! Neither is a good option. Better, client-centered content simultaneously builds authority, engages your audience, and communicates care. By becoming a brand that people trust, you set your company up for success.

1608, 2016

Digital Marketing Mistakes: Your Buyer’s Journey Is The Key To Smart Content

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As you may have heard by now, we’re going through different types of content mistakes you could be making on social media and how you can fix them. So far, we’ve covered knowing too much about yourself, and not knowing your competition. What else could there be? 

A critical part of inbound marketing is knowing where your prospective customer is in the buyer’s journey and aligning your content to each stage. This way, you are better able to understand what type of information they are looking for, deliver it, and move them further along in the process.

With traditional marketing methods of the past, salespeople held all the information the buyer needed to make a purchasing decision. The Internet has forever changed the buyer/seller relationship because, now, the information buyers are looking for is right at their fingertips.

The buyer now holds all the power.  

Just like the buyer’s process has transformed, so has the sales and marketing process. Inbound marketing is the answer to today’s empowered buyer. By providing relevant information to the buyer in the right stage of the sales process, you’re able to increase the amount of visitors, leads, and customers you convert.

Definition

What exactly is the buyer’s journey? According to HubSpot, the buyer’s journey is “the process buyers go through to become aware of, evaluate, and purchase a new product or service.”

Here, they’ve broken down the journey into three different stages. We’ll go into each stage in a moment.

Defining your company’s buyer’s journey

Not all buyers’ journeys are created equal, because not all companies are solving the same problems. In order to gain a better understanding of your buyers, you’ll need to interview customers, prospects, and salespeople at your company. Ask questions like:

  • How do buyers describe their goals and challenges?
  • How do buyers educate themselves on these goals or challenges?
  • What categories of solutions do buyers investigate?
  • How do buyers perceive the pros and cons of each category?
  • When buyers investigate your company’s offering, what do they like about it compared to alternatives? What concerns do they have with your offering?
  • Do buyers have expectations around trying the offering before they purchase it?

Once you’ve gathered enough information about the process your customers go through to purchase your product or service, you can begin tailoring your social content to each of these stages of the process.

Need to start from the beginning with a new and improved digital marketing plan? Click here to get all the tips and tricks you need and more in our guide to market strategy success.  

The Stages

The awareness stage is where buyers identify that they have a problem or challenge that needs to be solved, whether or not they want to pursue a solution, and if solving this problem is a priority for them.

The research they will be conducting during this stage will be focused on vendor neutral information from third parties that identifies the problem or symptoms of the problem. They will be using search terms that include words like “troubleshoot,” “issue,” “resolve,” and “improve.”

Avoid This Mistake: Promoting a Solution

Buyers in the awareness stage are just discovering more about the nature of the problem they’re facing or the situation they are in. This phase is focused on investigation rather than long-term or proactive problem-solving. Avoid giving product-focused content, client testimonials, and case studies to buyers who are simply looking for information about their problem. Even though you want them to choose your company’s product, they are simply not ready to make that decision.

Do This Instead: Educate

Provide content that focuses on education. Show buyers that you understand the problems and challenges they face. People that are in this stage of the buyer’s journey will be visiting your blog and interacting with your social media content. They are looking for answers, data, insights, and education, so tailor your content to fit those needs.

Here are some types of content you can include:

  • Educational blogs
  • Analyst reports
  • Research reports
  • Expert content
  • White papers
  • Other educational content

In the consideration stage, buyers have already determined the problem or challenge they have and decided to pursue a solution. They will now be looking a different approaches or methods available for solving their problem.

Buyers will have likely narrowed down their choices to a few companies, and will begin researching more about each one to determine which offer the best solution.

Avoid This Mistake: Selling Your Company

Now that your buyer is committed to addressing their problem, they are going to evaluate the different methods available for solving it. They have not decided to go with your company yet, so avoid overwhelming them with sales pitches.

Do This Instead: Spotlight the Solutions

Help them research ways to solve their problems. Buyers will want to compare multiple companies, and you can provide information that helps them do that, which will not only begin to spotlight your company and prepare buyers for the decision stage, but will also further establish your company’s thought leadership in your industry and build trust.

Offer these types of content:

  • Comparison white papers
  • Expert guides
  • Podcasts
  • Videos

Remember, content during this stage should focus on the solutions, not sales.

The final stage of the buyer’s journey is the decision stage. This is where buyers have decided what solution best fits their needs and will start thinking about making a purchase.

In this stage they will research data, benchmarks, and endorsements in order to make their final purchasing decision. The content you’ll want to provide them with should help them make their final decision.

Avoid This Mistake: Failing to Demonstrate Fit

Finally! This is where you get to show (not tell) how working with your company will help them through their current situation, as well as help your customer succeed in the future. This is no time to hold back on demonstrating the full value of a partnership with your company, nor is it the time to talk more about their problems or the research on how to fix those issues (you did that in the first two stages).

Do This Instead: Make Them Happy

Think about this: Why does your customer NEED to work with you? Have you helped people in similar situations? Do you have a recognized team of experts? This is where you explain how the partnership will benefit your customer. Remember, to always stick with client-centric language (talk about making their business succeed instead of touting your own success).

Some types of content you can provide are:

  • Product comparisons
  • Case studies
  • Customer testimonials
  • Product literature

Even after they have made the decision to buy the product or service your company offers, they will still be looking for best practice and implementation guides to make sure they’re ready to get started using it. Providing these pieces of helpful content ensures effective and efficient use of your product or service, as well as buyer loyalty.

Get Started

Now that you know how to nurture a prospective customer through the buyer’s journey, get started by developing your company’s own buyer’s journey!

1508, 2016

Digital Marketing Mistakes: Your Competition is Not an Obstacle

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Obstacles do not block the path.  They are the path.

When you think about your competition, how do they make you feel?  Do you feel weighed down with anxiety and the burden of trying to find ways to keep up with them?  

Too often entrepreneurs and organizations look at their competitors as obstacles that must be walked around, climbed over, or in some cases, ignored. They fail to see that the obstacles presented by their competitors provide opportunities that create new paths for growth and differentiation.
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908, 2016

Facebook’s Future Is Streaming Live

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In the past year, you might have noticed a shift in the type of content you’re seeing on Facebook. Facebook made the decision to make video the future of their platform, especially live video, which reduces the amount of non-video content that users see. Each day, videos receive 8 billion views, and that’s double what it was in February 2015. Video is the future of Facebook, so it’s time to start thinking about how to add video to your Facebook content strategy.

Why Video?

The new Facebook algorithm favors content from your friends and family and minimizes posts from brands, but amateur video isn’t necessarily easy to watch or create. Facebook’s 2016 second quarter earnings topped $6.4 billion (that’s billion with a “B”), and Mark Zuckerberg’s statement said, “We’re particularly pleased with our progress in video as we move towards a world where video is at the heart of all our services.”

Critics are saying that Facebook is headed towards video to target the enormous budgets of television advertising. Social media entrepreneur Jason Stein tweeted: “It’s not Facebook vs Twitter vs Snapchat vs Google. The money is moving to all of them. It’s digital platforms vs TV. Digital won’t lose (sic).”

Reread that last sentence. Digital won’t lose.  Considering 78 percent of Millenials have a subscription-based video-on-demand service like Netflix, I’ll say it again: digital won’t lose.

The Numbers

Brands have caught on to this change of content and many have reallocated finances to give more to video production. Why? Between July 2015 and April 2016, engagement of all kinds declined. Likes dropped 55 percent, “shares” by 57 percent, and comments by 64 percent.

Take, for instance, Huffington Post. In June 2015, they posted 68 native videos and by February 2016, they posted 302. Of the top 10 Facebook publishers, the top two, Huffington Post and Buzzfeed, are digital natives, and of the remaining eight, five are television networks.

What does video content look like?

Facebook Live

Facebook considers live videos a different type of content. The platform also elects to show live videos higher up in News Feeds. According to Facebook, people spend 3x more time watching a live video compared to a video that’s no longer live. They do this because “Facebook Live videos are more interesting in the moment than after the fact.”

Facebook is supporting the use of Live videos by paying celebrities and media companies to use this feature.

Pre-recorded videos

Pre-recorded videos are the gold mine that Buzzfeed tapped into a while ago and has been the status quo of video content on social media. A couple of simple features that Facebook has implemented to make pre-recorded videos more enticing.

  • Captions. Up to 85 percent of users watch video on silent for a number of reasons, like they’re at work or maybe they’re taking a private moment to peruse their socials. More than likely, videos will be scrolled past if no captions are available.

  • Facebook automatically plays videos while its users are scrolling, which intrigues people to stop and watch.

What This Means

Simply put, video is the future of Facebook. Don’t let that fact scare you away from the platform. While the intended algorithm gives you content from your friends and family, videos get pushed higher up and Live videos provide the opportunity to live streaming of events, which hasn’t been available on Facebook before. So the next time you scroll through Facebook and stop at a video, analyze what caught your attention and how you can use that information to make videos for your brand.

If you’re short for ideas on where to start,  Facebook compiled a list of Facebook Live best practices here, and on their Facebook Live website, they’ve suggested ways to use the feature:

  • Hot Topics: Share what’s on your mind or on the news

  • Q&A: Answer questions from fans

  • Breaking News: Comment on the day’s events

  • Interview: Bring a friend/colleague/expert into the conversation

  • Performance: Play a song, rehearse a scene, play a sport

  • Behind-The-Scenes: Turn the camera to the scenery and let the events unfold

  • Demo: Teach people how to cook, how to use a tool, or play music

Now that you know the future, it’s time to implement live video content into your social media strategy. Start by using these examples to create a Live video to attract new clients and build brand authenticity with your existing audience.

408, 2016

Digital Marketing Mistakes: Your Business Isn’t Your Message

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As an entrepreneur or senior-level manager, it’s your job to know all of the ins and outs of your business. You know last quarter’s profit margins as well as you do your birthday. You know the time frames, reasons, research, and results for your processes. You know which of your customers is most likely to auto-renew or repurchase, and you also know who you’ll need to call on next month. Heck, you might even know how much coffee is left in the break room. Your diligence in learning and retaining all of these data points is part of what makes you an excellent business owner. It’s also part of what could make you a terrible content marketer.

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2607, 2016

3 Ways to Make an Impact With Ads

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We’ve all seen them. Ads are commonplace now on social media. Based on your interests and online behavior, businesses on Facebook, Twitter, and the like are able to target users with products and services. Being able to attract your ideal customer boosts engagement, reach and business. Therefore, it is vital you use ads efficiently and effectively.

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1907, 2016

The Basics of Fundraising with Inbound

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Nonprofits, schools and foundations are always looking for the best ways to raise money for their cause or event. Fundraising is the lifeblood of success for helping to achieve nonprofit missions and objectives. Some of the old-fashioned ways to raise money have included soliciting, events, sales, endorsements, direct mail, radio, and word-of-mouth.
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1407, 2016

5 Hacks for Creating Quality Content

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Why is quality important? I’m not talking about the quality of the substance of the content, which is important in its own right. What I’m talking about is making sure the structure, syntax, grammar, and spelling of your content is error-free.

That might seem like a no-brainer if you are like me – an English language nerd with a penchant for proofreading. But it doesn’t always come easy to some, even great writers. That’s why editing is a crucial part of the content writing process.

Whether you are posting to your business’s social media or are working for a social media marketing company, published mistakes can damage your business’ reputation. They reflect carelessness and are just plain embarrassing.

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1207, 2016

I’m Stuck: What to do when you’re stuck writing content

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Somerset Maugham, a British playwright, said, “There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.”

It happens to all of us: you’re flowing through all of your content, and then – it just stops. You’re stuck; you’ve gotten out all your thoughts, but you still need 200 more words to finish your blog.

So what do you do now? Before I start spewing off tips, I think it would be helpful to describe different ways writer’s block comes about. Here are the three most common types of writers block:

  1. You ran out of ideas: This is literally when you have a blank page that you keep staring at but no thoughts come to mind. I believe this is the most common type of writer’s block.
  2. You have too many ideas: It’s always great when you’re excited about a new blog or piece of content that you write so much, but in the end, none of it makes sense.
  3. You’ve exhausted your creative energy: It happens to the best of us. According to Hubspot, our mind is just like a muscle, if you push it too much it can give out.

Now that we’ve described the different types of writers block here are some ways you can overcome it.

Take your time

When I know I have a blog or content due, I like to give myself plenty of time to write it. Start a few days before to give yourself plenty of time to look over your work and track your progress. If you’re spending too much time writing, there will come a time when your body and your mind need a break. This gives you plenty of time to evolve your topic over a few days. Sometimes focusing on an unrelated task will inspire a that perfect concluding paragraph.

Keep Writing

Sometimes the power of persistence can get around most writer’s block issues. Keep writing, even if it has nothing to do with your topic; it will at least get your brain to think more creatively. Sometimes you just have to get some words out on the page without worrying how it sounds. Once you’ve written a few sentences or a paragraph, go back to your main topic. Writer’s Digest suggests allowing yourself to write badly in the early drafts. They say if you stop to judge, edit, delete, and rewrite, you will be spending all of your time playing reader or critic, not being a writer.

Ask a friend

When you’re stuck writing your content, especially for the same subject, it’s easy to run out of ideas. Get some advice from a co-worker; let them read what you have and let them give you suggestions. Even if the person isn’t familiar with your topic, they might give you an outsider’s perspective on what you’re writing. If you have too many ideas, this is can be a great way to make sure that your writing makes sense to the average person.

Restrategize

It might be a good idea to look back over your strategy for that particular topic. Maybe you’re missing something that you planned on covering in your writing that will give your work new life. It might also give you another angle that you haven’t thought of before.

Writing is hard, even for the most experienced authors. We often want our writing to be perfect, but we must remember each piece of prose is unique to the author and should be celebrated as such. Remember that you’re writing to a community you created, so keep it conversational and converse with them like you would in person.

There is a significant difference between professional and amateur writers; both experience writer’s block, but one pushes through it and the other becomes paralyzed. If you take these tips into account, you’ll be sure to get over the hump.

807, 2016

Inbound Marketing Success For Your Small Business Part 1

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If you are a small business owner who is wondering how to get more attention for your company and how to make your products seem more exciting online, you are asking the wrong questions.

There is a seemingly infinite amount of competition out there that is just keystrokes away from gaining the loyalty of your potential customer. To win in today’s highly competitive environment, your organization needs to ask a different question: “How can we help?”

Initially, using this question to guide your marketing will cause a change in your organization’s operational and psychological habits because it goes against every piece of strategy ever taught, learned, and used. Entering into the unknown is always met with anxiety and hesitation.  What many businesses fail to see is that this simple question guides a clean and clear strategy that cuts through the clutter of traditional marketing.  

Inbound marketing has taken the golden question of “how can we help?” and answered it through strategic use of digital, content, and social media marketing.  It has then taken another step in providing ways to strategically move customers through the sales funnel in order to meet the needs of the business in both ROI and sales.

Making the following customer-centric shifts in your organization’s marketing plan is a huge undertaking, because it requires a change in the mindset of the entire company. It is often met with barriers, yet it is a necessary change in an organization’s culture if wanting to stay in business.

People buy from people.

Understanding that you are dealing with people and not businesses is the driving factor behind successful customer-centric marketing.  Many businesses are in agreement that they have to understand their customer, yet they are quick to leave the customer-centric strategy in order to preach their product and achieve quick sales.  

This type of thinking is reaction oriented.  If you are going to be proactive, you must revolve your strategy around your customers day in, day out.  Do not fall victim to the temptation of quick sales.  The results of loyal, lifelong customers will far surpass your expectations if you remain consistent in meeting their needs.

Build and Nurture Relationships

Each and every business has a story and expertise to share.  How they go about communicating this story is what defines their level of success.  The internet and social media have broken down all of the formal walls that were established through traditional marketing.  There are no longer any barriers in communication between the consumer and the company or organization.  

As a result of the broken-down barriers, consumers expect to converse with people, not brands. It is important to tell your stories and share your expertise with your customers in a way that is in an authentic conversation and resonates with them. Through informative, relative, and relatable content, you’ll remain top-of-mind with prospects and increase the likelihood of earning their loyalty.  

Don’t forget: you must engage with your audience.  It is through this authentic conversation that customers learn to believe in your expertise and build a trusting relationship with you.  

Share your knowledge to establish expertise.

Google’s Zero Moment of Truth research found that consumers need twice as many sources of information before making a decision today than they did just one year ago.  They crave information.

Ideas, experience, and knowledge are moneymakers.  People expect to have to pay for these. What happens when you take these ideas, experience and knowledge and give them away freely? You build trust with your audience. They begin to form a sense of gratitude and loyalty.  

Conclusion:

There is a lot of work that goes into implementing a successful customer-centric inbound marketing plan.  There are many pieces that move in-sync and are dependent upon one another for optimal performance.  

When organizations use the question ‘how can we help?’ as their standard, they will find that it guides them to the answers that result in a clear strategy, fitting the needs of their customer and their business.  It will greatly reduce the stress of being reactive as it makes way to decisions that are proactive.  Customer-centric marketing does more than increase the bottom line,  it provides employers and employees the opportunity to think beyond themselves and create a more purposeful community.

107, 2016

4 Steps to Better Social Media Engagement

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Back in May, I briefly covered several social media pain points along with some solutions when tackling this ever-changing aspect of digital marketing. In this blog post, we’re going to look a little more in-depth at strategies to increase the activity of your fan base across social media channels. A lot of science goes into creating and maintaining an engaging brand voice, but there’s no magic pill. The process takes time. (more…)

2306, 2016

The True ROI of Social Media Marketing

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Social media marketing has been a trending term for a while now, and many business owners want to be part of it and expand their audience. However, there has been a misunderstanding regarding its expectations and the so-called ROI (Return On Investment) that we want to clarify.

It’s easy to think that once you jump into social media marketing your sales will skyrocket, reaching a new audience and expanding your business, but this cannot happen overnight.

Many business owners can be disappointed after a while due to the initial unrealistic expectations of their social media marketing efforts.

However, we should not blame social media for it, but rather, create a better marketing plan that accounts for the customized goals for your business.

Every business owner has different goals and expectations from social media marketing, but here’s a general idea of the actual ROI that social media may bring.

Brand awareness

Social media can be very useful, especially when you are trying to spread the word about your business. Whether it’s a local increase of awareness or a boost of your national reputation, social media marketing may offer you the right platforms and tools to achieve so.

Although brand awareness is sometimes disregarded as an actual ROI, you cannot ignore it, as it’s the beginning of further engagement and interest towards your business.

For example, a lawyer joins social media to build the reputation of his/her business and the first step is to increase the awareness of their work in order to ensure that you can gain new clients afterward.

As customers become more cautious nowadays, social media marketing may help any business establish its presence in the demanding digital world through the right amount of content and information that would help people build trust and eventually pick your business over others.

Community engagement

Once you start increasing brand awareness with social media marketing, it’s time to start focusing on the engagement of the community, and this is a very crucial step if you want to convert the visitor into a loyal customer.

Social media marketing is not just about the constant promotion of your company, it’s also about creating a connection with your audience, learning more about their interests and their needs, and creating and delivering content that they find useful and interesting.

Thus, community engagement is very important, since it will make you stand out from the competition. After all, social media is all about being social and the best way to achieve it is to be genuine and take care of your audience.

Measuring performance

No matter what goals you set from your social media marketing efforts, it is vital that you measure their performance in order to examine what works and what can be omitted from your future marketing activities.

Social media measurement can become complex, but this doesn’t mean that you should ignore it, even at its simplest form.

How can you tell whether your content is successful? How do you measure the increase of your audience? Can you tell whether the engagement is enough for your efforts?

It’s not just about the number of followers or the likes, it’s about understanding the insights of each platform that will help you produce better content, while learning more about your audience.

Even if you hand your social media marketing to an expert, you can still keep an eye on the basic metrics that indicate the online performance of your business, as this will give you a better understanding of the ROI that social media may bring.

Aim high, but be realistic

Social media may lead to false expectations of instant success, but as you can see, the real ROI can be way more useful than a sudden increase in likes, especially when they are not converting afterward.

Don’t be afraid to invest in social media marketing services, but set realistic expectations at first for your ROI. You can aim higher over time, after you’ve measured your initial performance. Keep your goals and your efforts consistent so you can build a successful online presence for your business.

Do you want to learn more about social media marketing and it’s true ROI? Feel free to contact us, we’d be happy to find the right package that will benefit your business, as well as help you create a customized social media marketing strategy to take your business to the next level!

2106, 2016

Inbound Marketing: Converting Strangers to Customers in 4 Steps

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Does it ever seem like you waste time chasing too many unqualified leads that never turn into customers? That’s a common issue with many businesses these days. Wouldn’t it be great if you only had to contact the leads that have the highest chance of becoming a customer?

We love the idea of targeting our marketing efforts to people who are most likely to buy from us. So much so we’ve implemented the Inbound Method.

Do you want to attract the right buyers, target your efforts and increase your marketing Return on Investment (ROI)? Let us help you implement the inbound methodology and see the results for yourself.  

 

1. Let’s Talk People

Why is it important to know your audience? By getting into the nitty gritty of who would actually purchase your product or service, you can create content that will attract them.

The inbound methodology revolves around generating relevant content. In order to create interesting content, you need an in-depth understanding of who your buyer is. By knowing who your audience is you can focus your efforts and time in the best places.

Perhaps your company has multiple products and services geared towards more than one audience.

To address this, segment your buye