One of the most pressing questions whether you’re a social media newbie or a social media maven is: What’s the best way to post information or share content to optimize your reach?
A study was recently conducted with more than 200 companies to determine how social media professionals may optimise their engagement with both business-to-business and business-to-consumer conversations.
Researchers evaluated numerous factors such as the number of words in a post, the time of the posting, the day of the week as well as punctuation and the usage of hashtags.
As with many communications and marketing tactics, the answer depends entirely on the targeted audience.
The key finding: Mondays and Wednesdays are the best days to post on Twitter if you want to reach consumers. For LinkedIn, Monday is your best day.
But if you want to reach other businesses, Tweet on Wednesday and post to LinkedIn on Sunday.
And what about the use of hashtags? Hashtags are best saved for business-to-business-oriented posts but don’t work nearly as well if consumers are your target.
The biggest surprise for me was that the use of questions marks significantly minimizes your click-through rates between 25 and 52 percent as compared to posts without questionmarks.
Check out this infographic for details on how to maximize your social sharing efforts. It’s an Eye Opener!
Are you designing and scheduling your social media for real results or do you need a hand with all the busyness?
What do you find gets the best results?
Here are 10 very simple steps to make sure that your social media marketing programme starts smart, has a strong launch and allows you to get the most from your new B2B communications.
1. Determine Social Media Marketing Programme Goals
Though it’s a brand new era, the place to begin is with the age-old exercise of goal-setting: Will you be working to generate new leads and sales, increase awareness of your offerings, decrease marketing spend as compared to traditional media, ensure the relevance of your company, decrease purchasing cycles, extend the reach of your market footprint… or achieve other goals?
Remember, you’ll be investing time, budget, and resources into your social media marketing programmes, so the first step is to determine exactly what you’re seeking to achieve in return.
2. Conduct Three-Point Research
A well-planned initiative always involves research at the outset, and with social media there are three key types of research that you’ll need to conduct—customer, competitive, and community:
- To ensure that your programs deliver a high level of value, identify your customers’ business needs, challenges, and technology preferences.
- To differentiate yourself from your competitors, understand which programs, tools, and content they are (and are not) employing.
- Learn which online professional communities—and influencers—are relevant to your business sector so that you can start building relationships with them.
3. Set a Strategy
Now that you’ve determined your goals and done your research, you can move on to setting your strategy.
A (very) common misstep by marketers starting out in social media is that they identify a tool before setting a strategy: They just know “We need to get on Facebook, Now!”—but don’t know why they should, much less how they’ll use their presence to achieve business benefits.
Once you’ve set your strategy for reaching your goals, the set of tools you’ll need becomes very clear—whether your social media marketing strategy is to educate your audience on a business subject, produce an outlet for like-minded professionals to network, initiate a new communications channel or application that saves executives time and solves business problems, or create a new outlet for crowdsourcing product development.
4. Identify your Marketing 2.0 Toolset
Providing an unprecedented array of tools, technologies, and platforms, social media offers B2B marketers more choice than ever, at the most affordable costs. So choose wisely and make sure that the tools you choose support your strategy (step 3) and map to your audience’s comfort levels (step 2).
Some professional audiences are more comfortable participating in online forums than they are using Twitter or Facebook, whereas others might prefer content delivered in text, such as in the form of a blog, rather than via audio podcasts or online videos.
5. Define ROI Metrics
Now that you’ve designated your goals, strategy, and tools, it’s time to define a set of metrics to evaluate your program’s ROI.
Depending on your goals, metrics might measure the number of leads generated, increase in sales, the number of brand mentions and whether they’re positive or negative, improvement in search engine rankings, level of user engagement, and so on.
The point is that you’ll need to closely track progress, so you’ll want to define which metrics you’re assessing, how you’ll assess them, and how often. And you won’t only need them for your own department… Trust me, your boss will be asking for them, too.
6. Train Your People
Because these two-way tools give rise to powerful, customer-led communities, many marketing practices have drastically changed. The BIG action point here is to not only prepare your social media program but also prepare your people for social media.
Ensure that everyone involved with the program understands the fundamentals of marketing and communicating with these new media, practices that increase success rates, and what practices to avoid in order to decrease risk.
7. Create Content Processes
Social media marketing programs don’t have specific start and end dates—once they’re launched they keep going and need constant attention and care. Far too many marketers create the program, but not the processes needed to support the program.
Creating processes is key in ensuring that your programs remain “fresh” with new content and are managed by resources that can answer users’ questions in a timely fashion, interact with the community on a regular basis, and take care of issues when they arise.
8. Implement Monitoring Systems
In this new world order—where everyone has a voice and everyone is empowered with the tools to amplify their opinions, preferences, and ideas—monitoring online conversations is not a luxury, it’s a priority.
Whether a customer is expressing a compliment, voicing a complaint, or offering a suggestion, you need to know about it, no matter where on the Web it’s being mentioned.
There are plenty of free and paid services that will enable you to monitor online mentions; you’ll also need to identify which resource will be tracking brand mentions and responding to feedback when necessary.
9. Launch… and Promote!
Now that you’ve done the upfront work, built your program, created your processes, trained your people, and instituted brand monitoring systems, you’re ready to launch.
But just as we learned during the Web’s early days, the “build-it-and-they-will-come” mentality is a surefire way to fail.
It’s a good idea to stay in beta (or soft-launch mode) for a couple months to ensure all features and processes are working optimally, but when you’re ready you’ll most definitely want to promote your new social media marketing program and have a plan for doing so.
10. Facilitate Internal Communications
Once you’ve shared your program with the world, share the lessons learned and the progress of your social media programs with other departments and groups in your organization that would also benefit from those insights—such as Management, Customer Service, PR, Sales, and R&D.
You might distribute monthly reports, or make a quarterly event of holding brown-bag lunch briefings where you invite representatives from relevant departments to discuss findings and next steps—and let social media be a way to open up conversations within your own company, too.
What tools do you use to market through Social Media and how do you measure? We’d love to hear in the comments below!
This article first appeared in MarketingProfs
To most business owners who have spent years and thousands of euros building their brand and developing a client base, chucking it all away to reinvent your business probably seems like the height of insanity. And if you do it on the fly or haphazardly, it probably is. But there are many reasons to tweak your business model, or to try out a whole new one, that make perfect sense. If you do it thoughtfully, it could be the best business decision you ever make.
Here’s our guide to reinventing your business, one smart step at a time.
Know When to Make a Change
The first step is deciding if it’s the right time for a change. Carol O’Kelly, a strategic marketing specialist and business development mentor says she sees a pattern with small-business owners. “Most people who come to me have been running their businesses for about seven to ten years,” she says. “They spend the first three years absorbed in getting things started. Then they’re in a growth phase for three or four years. Then they hit a hole, can’t sustain the business or don’t find the work challenging anymore and want to try something different.”
Many factors can push a small-business owner toward reinvention – it may be a market driven push, the need to spend more time with family or lack of financial sustainability. You may just be bored. All are legitimate reasons for change. But you need to be practical, too. Any change involves risk. You need to set out very clearly why you feel you want to change and be specific about it.
Decide What You Want
After the decision is made to change, you need to decide what type of change is necessary to meet your goals. “Once you decide there’s something you can do better, you need to decide whether to make a little tweak or a major overhaul,” O’Kelly says. “You have to decide what’s best for your brand. It’s a matter of looking at your core competencies and concentrating on what you’re best at.”
“Entrepreneurs have more ideas than they have time for. The absolute first stage is deciding to cut off all those other ideas and focus on one. Making a decision to make a decision is the hardest thing for entrepreneurs to do.”
The easiest way to figure out what to change – and at what magnitude – is to work backwards. Are you chiefly interested in reducing the hours you spend in the office? Are you sick of selling office supplies and think running a dog bakery is your destiny? “Once you have clarity on your goals and values,” O’Kelly says, “you have a compass to guide you and help you decide which ideas are good and which are simply the desire to do something different.”
Follow the Plan
The next step is something every business owner should be experienced at – developing and following a business plan. You need to approach each change as if you’re starting from scratch. You need to think it through thoroughly, figure out who the competition is, how you are going to beat them and what the costs are.
Entrepreneurs and owner/managers tend to rely on intuition a lot, but you need to make sure other people think your plan is a good idea. Sit down with a mentor for an hour and justify your proposed changes.
Make the Switch
During the transition, you’ll likely be running two businesses at once as you phase out the old business model and ramp up the new one. “Sometimes reinvention means running two businesses simultaneously for almost a year,” O’Kelly warns. “It’s overwhelming, and business owners are often so excited about the new model, they want to let go of the old model. It’s not fun.”
The solution is to create a detailed exit strategy. Allow time to negotiate new leases, bring on new employees or train current employees. Be transparent through the whole process with vendors, customers, employees and, most important, your family. Give everyone notice that changes are coming, when they will happen, what it means for them and why it is important for you.
Mentor and Manage
Even those committed to sticking to their business plans can start to deviate. O’Kelly suggests bringing in outside help. “Business owners sometimes need people to bounce things off of to keep them from going off in crazy directions,” she says. “Some people go through a grieving process. They’re letting go of a piece of something they’ve built and need to process that. There’s a lot of stuff to deal with, but if you don’t, it will come back and bite you hard.”
Although the process can be rough, reinventing your business can be a rush. “It’s an exciting place to be.” O’Kelly says.
More publicity… Less competition… Talent waiting to be scooped up… Here’s why starting up in a recessed economy may give your business a better shot. Do you have one good reason to start your business right now?Regardless of what people around you (including the media) may say, right now is the best time to get into business. Here are our Top 10 reasons you should start your business now-despite the current downturn:
1. Everything is Cheaper
Let’s face it – There is great value now in economic markets. This is the right time for fantastic deals in virtually every category, from land and equipment to commercial office space, personnel and fit outs. Some people have waited years to find value in these markets – and now that time has come.
2. Qualified People Are Hungry For Jobs
Having highly qualified people is the lynch pin of success in any business but it is an area where start-ups can fall. Start-ups are often unwilling and always unable to spend enough to get the highest level team to ensure the success of the business. This all changes in a recession. There are people now available willing to accept lower remuneration and keen to get a slice of the pie in a start up. Mindsets change in a recession too – those individuals who would normally never consider working in a small start-up are changing their focus on work directions. This all means that you will be able to source a really strong team at the outset for a fraction of what it would cost you in a growth environment.
3. Great PR By Going Against The Trend
The media loves a good story, and if you are optimistic by expanding,re-branding or getting into business now, you will find yourself and your new business in that category. Great PR like this will go a long way towards launching or branding your new business without it being seen as “Selling”.
4. Suppliers Are Giving Better Credit
Because the credit markets have virtually shut down, the B2B credit flows are keeping money circulating out of sheer necessity. That means a bullish outlook for companies looking for good terms on stock and inventories. When everyone is looking to survive, great deals can be had.
5. Believe it or Not There is Still Finance Out There
Individuals, family and friends who traditionally invested in stocks and shares will be less enthusiastic to do so at the moment but they’ll still want to put money into ventures likely to show revenue streams and eventually profits. That means they may be willing to finance a portion of your new venture, or the expansion of an enterprise that has proven itself over time. If you have a solid business plan that delivers real numbers, your chances of raising the capital you need increase exponentially.
6. Businesses Are Changing Suppliers
Everything is now on the table. As a smart Start-up if you can come in with greater value and an understanding of where your prospect is hurting you have a good chance of winning new business. You also have the advantage of being the “new kid on the block” when it comes to pitching your products and services. Many companies are desperate to find new partnerships with new businesses that have a different, better or more innovative way of delivering those products and services.
7. You Can Buy Everything You Need at Auction
In addition to everything being less expensive, you can find great deals at auctions, especially in terms of any large equipment and office furnishings. Auctions are also a great place to find hardly used or “gently” used restaurant and bar supplies at great prices. It’s an opportunity for you to get set up for a fraction of the price it would cost you in a growth market.
8. Ownership Equals Tax Incentives
Business ownership offers a variety of tax benefits that aren’t available to employees. While taxes should never be the sole reason to go into business for yourself, it should be one reason to add to you “benefits of business ownership” list.
9. You Can Find Great “Low Money” or “No Money” Deals
Many current business owners want out at any cost, meaning you can negotiate great win-win deals that allow the current owners to exit while giving you an opportunity to turn around what could be, if run right, a very viable business.And finally . . .
10. You’ve Lost Your Job, and You Have To Do Something
Sometimes, the best business decision is the one you are forced into, and the incentive (as well as need) for income is often enough to push you to go out on your own. It is also a great opportunity for you to strike out in area in which you have always been interested but had not considered part of your planned career.
There you have it:
Redstorm’s top 10 reasons to start your business in a recession. There’s no better time to start than now. Give us a call on +353 1 2360909 if you’d like to chat through any opportunities you are considering.
Learning to communicate is one of life’s most basic lessons… but how many of us do it effectively?One of the earliest lessons to learn in business is “Stick to your knitting” – Do what you are really good at and you will do well. But that’s only the start. You may know what you do well, you may understand all the nuances of your offering, the benefits you bring, the functionality, the service levels and the target audience – But does the market know? How can you succeed in business now when budgets are slashed and people really just don’t want to meet another supplier?The key is to communicate; effectively, cleverly and consistently. This doesn’t need to cost you anything, just a bit of time, attention and imagination. Remember your business doesn’t have to be different – you just need to do things in a different way. This article looks at the four Cs of effective communication that Redstorm uses in all our communications strategies. Use these four Cs to sharpen and target your communications whether you’re a sole trader or an international bluechip.Do your communications pass the 4Cs test?1. Crisp and ClearHow do you describe who you are and what your business does? Let’s go back to that dot com favourite the “Elevator Pitch”. Can you describe what you do (and your benefits) to someone not in your industry in 30 seconds or less? When you go to a networking event and you meet a promising prospect, does your description of your business hold that person’s attention? Do they actually understand what you do, well enough to explain it to someone else? Or do their eyes glaze over or wander across the room? “Crisp and Clear” is key to getting your message across and getting it understood and valued. Being crisp is about telling people what you do in as few words as possible and being clear means they take away the same message as the one you think you are giving… you’d be astonished how often this is NOT the case!2. Customer-CentricThe most important aspect of all communications is knowing your target audience, being “Customer Centric”. Know what they want, what they are trying to achieve in their own businesses and the types of products/services they may need. But even more important, try to get to know what they fear, what keeps them awake at night – to identify the benefits they would most value from you. This will enable you to tightly target your communications to smaller groups, leading to a better uptake of your message because it’s highly relevant , easier measurement of your campaigns and therefore decreased spend due to increased efficacy of your communications overall.3. Colourful ContentThere is so much noise and bustle in the communications space now that in order to grab some attention for your company your communications must have Colourful Content – tell them a story they will associate with. What makes your message worthy of attention? Is there an angle you can put on it to make people come on board? Can you inject a bit of excitement/colour into your communications to blast through all the other communications people come across every day?4. ConsistentOnce you get your message “Crisp and Clear”, ensure it’s “Customer Centric” and “Colourful”; that message needs to flow through all your communications – verbal, visual, written and web – it must be consistent! Everyone working with you needs to know what the message is and how it’s being communicated – Watch out especially if you’re a small company… NEVER assume your team knows what’s going on just because there are only 5 of you! In a larger company it’s critical to get strong internal communications running to ensure every team going into the market is singing the same song.The more consistent your communications, the stronger your brand becomes because people instantly see the brand and understand who you are, what you do and the benefits they will get from working with you. Re-establish this with EVERY customer interaction throughout the company. Reinforce your story as often as possible.Make Your Next Campaign CountEvery business is feeling the pinch so money is tight BUT marketing is key to the survival of your business so each and every bit you do counts. Have a look at the last campaign you did – even as simple as a round of emails to lapsed clients. Did it follow the 4 Cs? Was it Crisp and Clear, Customer-Centric, Colourful and Consistent?
Here are a few steps for how to maintain your sanity while using social media tools effectively:
1. Learn the differences, know what each tool is good for
Each social media tool has its own personality, its own community of enthusiasts, its own speed and frequency. Take the time to learn them. Log on, create a personal profile and “listen” for a while. Join groups that are of personal interest to you and watch how people share information. Learn first-hand how the tool is used by others before using it for your business.
2. Stay focused on your goals and know your audience
While social media tools can reach and influence millions of people as they did for the Obama campaign, for most small businesses, this is not the point. Don’t get sucked into the hype and forget your main communications goals. Perhaps you need to find and build a few key relationships, or reach a few tens of thousands depending on the scale of your business. Figure out who & what you’re looking for and stay focused – remember only get involved with the areas that will succeed for your business otherwise you are bringing non-profitable work on yourself – Social Media is time consuming so ensure that it’s working. Know your measurement criteria clearly.
3. Don’t reinvent your wheel
What marketing and communications strategies are already working for you? Don’t ditch these in favour of Social Media just because it’s the Hot Topic of the moment. If you know what works with your audience now, start by figuring out how to achieve similar results with the addition to your arsenal of these new tech tools.
4. Don’t spread yourself too thin
You don’t necessarily need to be active in all places at once. Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are the hot spots of the moment, but make sure you know who your audience is and how they take up information. Spend some time figuring out which Social Media vehicles will give you the greatest access to this audience and start there.
5. Don’t sweat it and don’t rush it
Honestly, everyone is still figuring out the best way to use social media tools. The sudden explosion of these tools themselves shows that people are still figuring out how best to use the Internet! Don’t panic, don’t fear you’ve missed the boat and go rushing into something that you’ll have to back pedal on later. Take the time to learn what these new social media tools could do for your business – start small and slow.