What comes to mind when you think about Pinterest? Brides pinning wedding dresses. Parents- to- be pinning organic baby food recipes. Moms pinning how to have the most organized dream home while maintaining a full-time job. And then feeling like a failure because that is unattainable.
Pinterest has come a long way, baby.
Did you know that Pinterest for business is on the rise, and can bring more referral traffic than Twitter, and more leads than Google+ and LinkedIn combined?
Pinterest is a creative way to promote your business and reach a market that is already interested in what your business offers.
Pinterest Promoted Posts
Pinterest recently announced that they would be experimenting with “Pinterest promoted pins”. These pins are tastefully placed in areas that users explore, and have special “promoted” labels that indicate which business is being spotlighted, and how the users can find out more.
Pinterest has committed to making these promoted pins transparent, relevant, and tasteful, with no flashy banners or pop-up ads. Pinterest has always been open to feedback from its users, and these promoted pins are no exception; they are constantly changing to meet the needs of their users.
So, now what?
See what Pinterest can do for your business, and as they say, things could get Pinteresting!
AWRF Social Media Presentation 2013
When social media first arrived on the scene companies were scrambling trying to figure out how to take advantage of this new medium. While others were asking the question, “why should I bother? Especially when all people do is share pictures of what they had for dinner or their kids back to school pictures.”
What we forget is that social media is really nothing new. It’s something we’ve done since the days of AOL, America Online. Don’t you remember the 500 hour free cds and usernames like Kitty 902010? It’s really just a fancy way of describing how we communicate on the internet.
We know that Social Media isn’t going away. It’s the #1 activity on the web and when we pull out our cell phones, 91% of us are using them for social media related activities.
Here is a great example of the larger role mobile plays in our day to day lives. This is a picture of St. Peters Square in 2005. Nothing really to write home about. Fast forward to 2013 and you’ll notice nearly every person has a mobile device to capture the moment. But they aren’t just capturing the moment for their personal collection. They are sharing the moment in real-time on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. It’s what we call the real-time web.
So as business owners how do we take advantage of social media? With all that we have going on where do we start?
It begins with your website. Think of your website as your hub. Everything that you do should revolve around getting traffic back to your website. Facebook is not your website. Your activities on social media are the spokes that drive traffic back to your site.
Now if it’s been a little while since you’ve updated your website it may be time for a makeover. Sure we get busy, but we need to think of our website as our business card on the web. It’s the first impression we give when someone is researching our company. And with keeping mobile in mind it’s even more important that we take a mobile first stance to our design. What we like to call responsive. Responsive design allows your website to resize to fit whatever device someone may be using whether it be an iPhone, tablet, or desktop computer.
An example of recent redesign is the AWRF.org website. We wanted to put the social icons at the top for a couple of reasons. Number one was to share with people where they can find and two to let the search engines know what social media sites are connected to us. This way when someone searches out your company Google can return the social media sites as relevant results.
We also added an image that would quickly give a visitor an idea of what the website was about. You have roughly five seconds when someone visits your website to before they give up and leave.
Finally we made sure to have a clear call to action telling the visitor what we wanted them to do. All of these items were above the fold. Meaning when you visit from a desktop you can see all three items.
Now that we have our website in order we need a way to measure our efforts. It doesn’t make sense to put in all the work without understanding the return. One of my favorite tools is Google Analytics. Mostly because it’s free but also because it gives you great insights to how people are visiting your website and if the content you are sharing is working.
You can see how many people have visited your website. What country, state or city they came from. The amount of time they’ve spent on your site. All of this data will help you to understand how people are using your website. Don’t trust my word on going mobile, let the data guide you.
So we have our website in order and a way to measure our efforts. How do we choose a social network? It starts with connecting the dots with our traditional marketing goals. Who are the people we are trying to reach? Where do they spend their time? With over 200 social networks it can be overwhelming. Don’t forget forums they are great for niche communities and discovering conversations that can’t be found on more traditional networks.
Let’s talk a bit about blogging. Blogs are great way to easily update your static websites. For those who are a bit leary about the pressure to update often because of the name blog can name it something like news.
What are some of the things you can talk about? Stories of employees volunteering or doing good in the community. An employee spotlight. Share your company milestones. Customer stories and testimonials are great options. What about your frequently asked questions. Certainly you have customers that reach out with same questions over and over. Make them short blog posts. Blogs are a gift that keep on giving. Long after you’ve written a post you’ll reap the rewards of that content.
I’ve listed a few blogging platforms although my favorite is WordPress. It’s simple to update. If you can use Microsoft Word, you can use WordPress. Talk with the guys in your IT department about implementation.
As business owners you certainly wear lots of hats. Finding time to manage social media and digital marketing may be one hat too many. Where do you find the time? It’s a team effort. Look for subject matter experts within your organization that can contribute on a regular basis. Find employees that are active on social media. But make sure you put a social media policy in place to guide them on what is acceptable. What works for their personal Facebook account isn’t always what’s best for a corporate account. And be sure to make it a habit. Check your accounts first thing in the morning. Get in a routine.
Now that you have some pieces in place it is extremely important to listen. If you’re going to be involved you need to participate. This means knowing when a question has been posted about your company. Don’t let it sit for 2 or 3 days. Answer the question. You’ll know it’s out there if you take the time to listen and monitor your accounts.
I’ve listed a few tools to help manage your social media efforts. All of them are cloud based tools to allow you to manage from multiple devices from any location with internet access. Be sure to check out Bit.ly. It allows you to take a really long URL and make it tiny. You also have the ability to track where clicks are coming from and where your links are being shared.
Be sure to reach out if you have any questions. There are a couple more slides with additional tools and an example of how search engines return social media channels in search results.
You have a fabulous idea for an online business. You’ve done your due diligence by researching the need, target market, and even had the “talk”. You know, the “if only 10 people buy per day, that’s like and extra $2 grand a month” talk.
If only it were that easy.
Build It and They Will Come
Unless blessed already large, built in customer base, launching a website will generally get you crickets (nada). Simply putting up a website these days is not enough. If you want to increase your exposure, you’ve got some work to do.
Search Engine Marketing
Different than Search Engine Optimization (SEO), search engine marketing is the process of buying digital advertising for the sole purpose of driving traffic. Works wonders when you’re just starting out. You can serve relevant targeted ads based on location. For example I could target someone searching for “SEO Services” within 20 miles of Grand Rapids, Michigan. This would show my ad to anyone typing that search into Google, Yahoo, or Bing (if that’s where I advertise). Just be sure to set a budget. SEM can get extremely expensive if you dont’ watch it carefully.
Search Engine Optimization
If you’re going to do Search Engine Marketing, it’s important to know that SEO (search engine optimization) plays a role in the cost of advertising. The more optimized your landing page (the place people land when they click you ad) the lower your overall
cost per click will be. An example: A page on your site sells manly man soap. You decide to serve up ads for anyone searching your competitor. Nothing illegal about it, although this will cost your more on average than if you targeted individuals searching “manly man soap”.
Also make sure that the pages of your website are optimized. Does every page have a title? Keywords? Description? You can check by right clicking the mouse and selecting “view source” (See image below. It’s missing keywords and description)
Social Media Marketing
Social media has come a long way since the early days. Companies now understand that less is more. You already know your target market, now figure out where they spend their time online. This could be forums, Twitter, Facebook, a blog, all of the above or or a combination of a few.
It’s really easy to get lazy here. Don’t just follow random people. Be intentional. Follow people in your area. In your target market. While it takes time in the beginning. You WILL reap the benefit in the long haul.
Did we miss anything?
I’m pretty sure the fact that I use forums may date me. But they are a useful tool when it comes to business.
I like to think as forums as on of the original social networks. You could come together with like-minded individuals for some pretty in-depth conversations.
forums plural of fo∙rum (none) 1. A meeting or medium where ideas and view on a particular issue can be exchanged. 2. An internet message board
1. Forums are Niche
Sure there are forums that are wide reaching, but the majority of forums are specific to an industry, topic (photography, motherhood, business), group. Which leads us to:
2. Get backlinks from relevant websites
Getting back links is good for Search Engine Optimization. One advantage to being a forum member is the ability to create a signature that links back to your website. There may also be a minimum requirement of posts before you can add a signature. Each forum is different. Some have a no-follow rule (tells Google not to follow the link), you’ll need to check the forums terms of service to see how they handle back-links.
3. Pick a Good Username
Try to avoid names like PinkyStar8047. Especially if it’s a business forum. Consider using your business or your real name. And be sure to add an avatar. Other users are more likely to interact with you vs. a logo. That being said, a logo is still fine just make sure you take the time to re-size it and that it identifies with your brand.
4. Introduce Yourself
Most forums have a thread that allows you to introduce yourself to the other members. Take advantage of this as the more active members will generally take the time to welcome you. Let them know what that your goal is to contribute to the community. Don’t try to sell anything here. It will get you banned.
5. Observe the Natives
Don’t be “that guy”, the one who jumps in to a conversation simply to get several posts so you can add your signature. See how the other members interact with one another to better understand the community you joined. It will help you figure out who the influential members are and allow you to fit in faster.
6. Give to get
Don’t just be a lurker. The more involved you are the better the community is as a whole. You get to build relationships all while promoting your business. Win/Win.
When you’re ready to make the leap look for forums that are active or overrun with spam. Of note: Try to avoid one hosted by a competitor. Even if you decide not to do the whole forum marketing thing, forums are worth considering for market research. You can find a wealth of information ranging from customer satisfaction to areas in the marketplace that need to be filled.
The first step in utilizing social media for manufacturing is determining if social media makes sense for your business. I’m not entirely convinced that social media marketing makes sense for every business.
At it’s most basic form, social media is simply having a conversation online and can take shape in many different ways. Interestingly, most companies jump on Facebook and Twitter completely missing out on other opportunities. Having a presence on these to social networks doesn’t guarantee success.
Here are some basic steps for developing a social media strategy for manufacturing:
1. Start with the end in mind
What are you trying to accomplish? Are you trying to reach new customers? Existing? Will you be promoting a new product or service? Choose one. It can be difficult to be all thing to all people.
2. Where are you customers?
Where do your customers spend their time online? If it isn’t Facebook or Twitter, figure out where the conversations are taking place.
If all you do is promote and share links, you’re missing out on a great opportunity to “network”. After all there is a reason why it’s called “social networking”. Tools like search.twitter.com, Social Mention, and even Google search can give you real-time insights to what those in your industry are talking about.
Especially in forums. Forums are a great way for you to do market research, understand frustrations within your industry, and connect with those USING your product. There are some excellent forums for the manufacturing industry. Look for ways to engage. Think about joining a Twitter chat. #MFGchat is a bi-weekly chat for the manufacturing industry. A great opportunity to have one on one interaction.
A great way to connect with customers is by just jumping in. It’s like a big networking event, those who already know each other will be having a conversation and you have to find a pleasant way to jump in, but be careful, online communities don’t take kindly to spam.
Are you seeing results from your involvement in social media? Know what metrics you should be evaluating. You’ll be able to figure this out based on Number 1. Start with the end in mind. If it’s about making new connections, were you able to convert those online connections into real world meetings? If you’re trying to grow you newsletter, how many new subscribers came as a result?
If you’re a manufacturing company, how are you implementing social media into your business?
Social media for Insurance Agents. A regulated industry with do and don’ts to make your head spin. How does an insurance agent/agency even begin to take advantage of the social media options available? Should insurance agent take part in social media?
Social media/networking gives you the ability to connect with existing clients and prospective clients in a way that traditional media does not. It creates dialogue.
Social networking goes beyond Facebook and Twitter. While these are great networks for engagement and we’ll discuss, there are some other areas that offer a great return on your efforts.
1. Blogging – builds your website content and keeps your website fresh and up to date.
2. Twitter – A great way to connect with other agent and build back links to your website
3. Forums – Find a non-insurance related forum and become the part of the community. Actively participate in discussions. This takes time as regular forum users are highly protective and treat spam harshly and quickly.
4. Facebook – Facebook is the starting point on the web first thing in the morning for plenty of users.
5. YouTube – Video is a great way to connect visually
5. Google Places – The percentage of smart phones continues to rise. This means local search is becoming increasingly important.
These are just a few suggestions to get your started on Social Media with a touch of digital marketing. Both should be integrated into a traditional marketing strategy, not as a replacement.
How have you integrated social media and digital marketing into your insurance agency?