Author Archives: Your Groove Media

Engagement IS your Social Media Strategy

One of the keys to successful marketing through social media is creating conversations about your products and services; to get people to engage you through the content you post as well as engaging them about theirs.  Your end goal is to make a sale and it’s through this dialogue that the process begins.

Social Media Engagement is loosely defined and varies depending on the source.  Some will argue that if a user takes a moment to read your post, you have engaged them; even if they take no action that indicates that they did.  Others will say that the user must take action (share, like, retweet, +1 or other) your content before it’s considered engagement.  I think they’re both right but with one major difference; you can’t measure the engagement of a user who doesn’t take some sort of action.  Therefore I typically consider the latter as a better definition.

There are two kinds of basic measurements that are easy to track that will give you an idea of how well your content is creating engagement; overall engagement and engagement as a percentage of total friends/followers.

Anna & Wendy:

Let’s say Anna and Wendy hold the same sales position within their company and both use Facebook as a way of engaging with friends, following trends and promoting their personal brands. On Facebook, Anna has 500 friends while Wendy has 1,000.  Who is doing a better job of engaging?  Using total friends as our only measurement there is no way to tell. Wendy has more friends but the quantity of friends is not necessarily the goal.

Now let’s suppose that on average, when Anna posts something, she is engaged by 131 people while each time Wendy posts something she is engaged by 174 people.  Now who’s doing better?  They both have an advantage. Wendy has forty-three more people engaging her overall (174-131) but Anna creates engagement with a higher percentage of her friends.  Anna’s statistic is a little more telling.

Wendy:  174/1,000 = 17.4%

Anna:  131/500 = 26.2%

All other things being equal, Anna is posting information that is more valuable to her followers than is Wendy. This doesn’t mean her posts are necessarily better than Wendy’s either.  It could be that Anna posts at more strategic times than Wendy, she has figured out her users respond better to video than pictures, the quality of the information she shares is better or it could be the consistency of her posts.  It’s not an exact science.

Having a large number of friends who engage you or having a higher percentage of your overall friends engaging you are both good things but it’s important to figure out what content your users want from you, when they want it from you and how they want it delivered.  This will allow you to pack more punch with each post and get them to engage.

Here’s to Your Success!

Colby Keeler

7 Facebook Posting Tips for Small Businesses

Facebook is still the most popular social media website in the world which continues to make it a great marketing tool for small businesses.  However, as more restrictions are put in place on what small businesses can and cannot do (without paying), it becomes more important to occasionally re-visit some basics of Facebook posting.

1.  Don’t post too much. 

Posting too much is like trying to have a conversation with someone who talks too much, loudly and with little to no respect for one’s personal space.  You can take it for a few moments but it quickly becomes an overwhelming dialogue. On Facebook, if you overwhelm someone with your posts, their course of action will most likely be to unlike your page; something that will be nearly impossible for you to reverse.  Depending on your business, 2-4 posts per day should be sufficient.

2.  Don’t post too little: 

One of the ideas of using Facebook to market your business in the first place is to get your name in the minds of consumers; hopefully at the forefront.  If you post too little, you run the risk of being seen as an irrelevant source of valuable information. Posting too little also most likely means that you’re not engaging others enough either. Consistently posting 1-2 times per day at a minimum should help you avoid this problem.

3.  Don’t post all of your content at once: 

First, it’s annoying and virtually clogs up other people’s home feed.  It forces them to sort through your stuff to see content from others.  Second, even if your posts are content rich, the ROI you get from each one quickly diminishes.  People may have the opportunity to read one or two at a time but anything more will simply get lost in the always updating home feed.  Lastly, you want to remain relevant.  Make sure your business is represented on Facebook by spreading out the time between each post and as always, engage.

4.  Study your best times to post:

Pay attention to the times of day and the types of posts that result in the most engagement.  You may find that certain types of posts get more engagement at certain times of the day than others and you want to make sure that you are exploiting this with strategic posts in these time-slots.

5.  Tag only relevant people in posts/pictures:

Do:  A local celebrity visits your establishment and takes a photo with you.  Definitely post the photo to promote your business and tag the local celebrity so they can see it too; and hopefully share it with their large number of friends.

Don’t:  Tag a local celebrity in a picture about your business just because you’re trying to get their attention.

Tagging people is a great way to encourage engagement if it’s sincere.  Tagging inappropriately is viewed as weak and desperate.   It’s Facebook spam and people don’t like it.

6.  Make it About Others:

If you want people to engage you and share your information, you’re going to have to make it about them.  For example, posting (and tagging) a picture of you with a special/new/loyal client, boasting about the achievement of a regular customer, local business, local athlete or scholar, or participating in a local fundraising activity or charity event helps your page in a number of ways. One of the most beneficial is that this type of content usually gets shared around; increasing your reach.  It’s your business and that should remain your primary focus but there’s no harm in involving others and letting them help spread the word about you in return.

7.  Be careful what you post:

With NorCalPulse.com, we don’t post about political, religious or other sensitive topics.  It is an entertainment website.  I have my own views about a lot of things as do others who have associations with the website but the website is not about pushing any political views.  It’s not worth the risk of offending our users (and we love entertainment and are, ‘eh’ on politics anyway).  The point is, your opinions do reflect those of your business so it’s probably best if you keep that kind of stuff to your personal page, between you and friends or to yourself.  For more on this, read my post on the memory of the internet.

Here’s to Your Success!

Colby Keeler

Social Media Patience is Not Just a Virtue

PatienceWhen working with a new client, giving a presentation, consulting with a small business or simply helping a friend or family member build a social media profile, tweak their SEO strategy or some other online marketing task,  I get one question consistently; how fast will I see results?  Patience is always part of the answer.

‘How fast will I see results’ is a tricky question to answer because there are a few possibilities depending on the person asking the question.  Before we get into that though, let’s take a moment to remind ourselves that successful long-term internet and social media marketing efforts, like real life, are heavily dependent on relationships which do take time to develop.  This means that one person might see results rather quickly while someone else may never see the results they expected.

Let’s start with the latter.  Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and even Google+ are littered with business profiles that were built with the intention of attracting the masses that are now virtual online ghost towns.  Profiles built under the assumption that people care enough about your business that all you have to do is create the page and they will visit.  This is only true for very few companies and if you’re reading this blog you’re probably not running one of those companies.  The bottom line is this; the internet and social media have offered small businesses the opportunity to compete with their bigger competitors in the online marketing and sales world. It’s going to take some planning, effort and patience to get people to come to your site.  It’s going to take even more to get them engaged.

Patience is especially necessary when you have attempted to engage people and they don’t respond.  It happens.  It’s going to continue to happen.  It’s a game of value and it takes time to prove that value is what you’re contributing when you participate via sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and others.  It takes time to prove to people that you have something to offer.  It’s this realization that inspires people to give up their efforts and which in turn creates an advantage for you if you don’t.  It’s an endeavor that can never end.  This is life.  Relationships take work.  Relationships take time.  Relationships take patience.

Here’s to Your Success!

Colby Keeler

Listening is a Strategic Marketing Tool

I will be launching some new projects over the course of the next couple of months and have begun the process of assembling the right people to work with.  I like new projects because I like the challenge of trying to not only put together all of the right pieces, but to make sure they all come together at the right time.  Sort of like a good soup, I guess.  The timing, ingredients, temperature and other things need to be right and the process can be sort of chaotic but the intrinsic value of knowing what the end result will be can be both very motivating and satisfying.

I recently met with a couple who run a small graphic design/web development company I was considering hiring.  I wanted to talk to them about the vision I had for my projects, a little about its branding direction and about a few other things that were important to me in the way that these projects would be represented.  The gentleman (“Tom”) and the lady (“Tina”) met with me at 10 minutes after our original meet time.  I was offered a quick, obligatory apology.  Although I don’t typically make a decision to hire someone solely on account of their being late, it has traditionally been a bad sign.

After they sit down Tina asks what my projects are about. I get about two sentences into it and Tim interrupts to tell me how they already work with a client like me and so they have the experience I’m looking for.* I suppose they were thinking this was the end of our meeting as Tina backed up Tim’s convincing presentation with, “see, it’s like it’s meant to be.”

For the next 35 or so minutes I was able to listen to them talk about their business, how it got started, some funny stories about one of their especially unique clients and a little bit about some drama at Tim’s youngest child’s baseball (or was it basketball) league. I am convinced that because they work with a client, “like me,” they thought they had already signed me.  Occasionally, when the opportunity presented itself, I would interrupt them and try to talk about my business and its needs.   Tim kept promising that they’ll get me, “where I need to be” but never asked me where I was or where it is I wanted to go.

How can you get to know the needs of your customer if you’re not listening to what they’re saying?  I don’t like working with people like Tom and Tina because they’re not thinking about the second or third or tenth payment I make to them.  They have their eyes on that first payment and it’s the basis for what they’re all about; the success of their business, not mine.  What they have failed to realize is that their success is based solely on the success of their clients.  My success is solely based on the success of my clients.  Your success is solely based…well, you get the idea.

How can you make yourself more successful by making your clients more successful?  Listening to them is a good start.

Here’s to Your Success!

Colby Keeler

*Their client that was, “just like me” did financial consulting for non-profit organizations.  One of my websites gives free ad space to local non-profits.  That’s where the similarities end.

 

Quit Trying so Hard to be Creative

Like most business owners, I have a lot of responsibilities which require different approaches when it comes to the; who, what, why, where, when and how of  accomplishing each of these tasks. And like most business owners, I go through the occasional bouts of feeling like I’m at a creative low; stuck there and accomplishing nothing.  I stare at the computer screen for what seems like a few minutes before realizing that it’s been a couple of hours.   I do have a few ‘go to’ things that I try that often help start the flow of creative juices though.  If writing, I’ll grab a pen and paper and head down to a local park.  Sometimes the fresh air, sunshine and openness of my environment are just what it takes.  Sometimes taking my dog for a walk and talking it out with him helps too; regardless of the strange stares I often get.  Sometimes, none of them work.

Whether it’s writing a new blog post, trying to come up with some new features for my website; http://www.norcalpulse.com/or working on some social media ideas for a client, there are times when it seems like nothing helps.  Occasionally, I have to remind myself to quit trying so hard to be creative.

Last week I found myself at a creative standstill.  The harder I tried to build a mental database of ideas, the  less the frequency of such ideas appeared.  I finally decided that I needed a break.    I grabbed my video camera, my digital camera and headed up to visit my Grandma for a few days.  She lives up in the Redwoods near where I grew up and I wanted to use this opportunity to both visit some family and capture some video and pictures of this beautiful area to bring back home with me.  Over the course of these days a funny thing happened; I couldn’t stop the ideas from coming.

Sometimes to get your mental motor working at full speed you’ve got to turn it off for a while.  I often feel guilty for taking time off.  I think (falsely) that I have to be working every free minute to succeed and that’s just the price you pay for doing it for yourself.  There never seems to be any downtime.  However; it’s during this often forced downtime that I get the most long-term work done for my business.  It’s an opportunity to freely think about the vision I have for my company and whether or not my current activities are in-line with that vision.  I only run with a thought if it comes to me in the course of doing or thinking about something else.  I thought of a new video segment for my website while watching two birds chase each other around an old railroad bridge in Avenue of the Giants.  Sometimes you’ve got to quit working  harder for a while so you can come back working smarter.  It’s weird how it works, I can’t explain how it works but ultimately, it works.

I took a mini-vacation because I was temporarily creatively stunted.  I came back with a year’s worth of ideas.

Here’s to Your Success!

Colby Keeler

The Internet Never Forgets

Don't Post It

They say, “an elephant never forgets” but when it comes to memory, the internet has more than that one ex-significant other you had that couldn’t ever seem to forget that one time you left the cap off of the toothpaste.  Whew!  Glad that one’s over.

The point is that the internet if the land of forever.  Once you upload it, tweet it, post it, etc. it’s out there forever.  You can’t take it back; even if you’re really really REALLY super sorry.

It’s important to remember how things you post, whether pictures, opinions, jokes or other reflect you and your business.  Each industry has its own set of professional standards that help guide professional conduct.  For example, if you’re a host at a hot Vegas nightclub and are posting half naked, alcohol fueled party pictures, they are most likely not going to affect your career in that industry.  In fact, in this case it may help.  However, if you’re trying to get your babysitting business off the ground, pics like these are most likely going to thwart your attempts.

Think about who may see and/or read what you put out there.  Even with your privacy settings on lock-down, a simple share, retweet, platform security breach or other opens your account to many people who you never intended; possibly someone who had planned on being your next customer.

There are a number of ‘tests’ you can use to gauge whether or not you should post it;

Would you want it posted on the cover of the NY Times?

Would you want your mother/grandmother/sister to see it?

Although maybe ‘safe’ now, could it come back to bite you later?

You know your business, community and customers better than anyone else.  Unless you’re in an industry where offensive and outrageous behavior is encouraged (think shock jock, comedian), if you have think twice about posting something, you probably shouldn’t.  Once it’s out there it’s out there and the internet never forgets.

Here’s to Your Success!

Colby Keeler

Customer Service is Still Your Best Marketing Weapon

Does it often feel like good customer service is a thing of the past?  If you said yes, you’re not alone.  In fact, when customers quit going to a particular business, more than half of the time it’s due to poor customer service.

Take a close look at your employees; especially the ones that deal directly with your customers.  Are they giving your customers the best service possible?  It would be a shame if your hard work & efforts to get people into (or back into) your store were thwarted by a rude customer service representative having a bad day.  After all, these kinds of things cost you a lot of money.

In fact, it costs 6x more to sell something to a prospect than a current customer and repeat customers spend 33% more than new customers (Source).  Knowing that you’ve already spent six times more to sell to a new customer and great customer service can turn that new customer into a repeat customer, every single opportunity to impress a customer is important.  Unfortunately, there are other reasons people stop frequenting a business that are a little out of your control so you already have some forces  working against you.  Something within your control, such as the customer service experience, should not exacerbate the problem.  So why do people leave?

  • 1% die
  • 3% move away
  • 5% follow a friend’s advice
  • 9% leave because of a better product/service or price
  • 14% leave because of dissatisfaction with the current product/service
  • 68% leave because of what they perceive as indifference from the merchant or someone within the merchant’s organization. They feel unappreciated, unimportant and taken for granted. (Source)

For the most part they’re not leaving because your business is in a bad location, your price too high, your selection too poor, your hours are bad, your parking is limited or for any other functional reason.  Their reasons for leaving are emotional; the very type of negative experiences that find their way to the social media forums…quickly.

Word of mouth is still your best marketing weapon.  Your employees decide what kinds of words come out of those mouths.

Here’s to Your Success!

Colby Keeler

Focus on Priorities in Social Media Marketing

I have been asked to give a presentation about how people within the cosmetics industry can use Social Media to increase sales.  The presentation is in a few weeks and I’m excited to do it as the research into how social media applies to that industry has been very interesting.  It wasn’t until about the halfway point in my research though that I realized that my social media platform “order of importance” was not going to be the same for this group.  It got me to thinking about how we must prioritize our social media ventures when necessary.  For some, it’s just not possible to take on the entire spectrum of choices at once.   Spreading your marketing efforts too thin may actually work against you.   It comes down to deciding which platforms work for your business in order of greatest value.

There is a lot out there; Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram, Myspace and more!  The sheer volume can be intimidating; especially if you’re inexperienced in using them.   For many, using the internet to market their business and learning how to use the internet to market their business happen simultaneously.  All of the platforms offer some benefit but the ability to use them all is a skill developed over time.    So how does one decide which of the platforms are best for them?  It’s not easy.   They all have something to offer and can all add value to your marketing plan.  Your efforts should be based around the end goal you hope to accomplish.  

Who are you trying to reach (identify your market)?

Where are these people (which platforms are they using)?

What kind of business are you in (is there a platform best suited for your industry)?

If you’re not sure, you’re not alone.  A little research however can provide some direction.  www.pewresearch.org is a great place to start and is full of social media usage statistics, charts and trends.  Google, Bing and Yahoo can also be very valuable as they allow you to narrow your search terms and use specific search keywords.  It’s also important to see what platforms your competitors are using.  Within a short time, you’ll discover the one(s) that seems most appropriate for you business.  Facebook is often a great starting point because many already have a personal account which at least provides some familiarity.   

Fortunately, many of the platforms and a slew of third party companies allow you to integrate content from one site to another.  This is a real time saver and ensures your content reaches all of its intended places.   As you conquer each platform, you’ll find the ease in which you can master the next increases.  It can be intimidating at first but it’s really more of a case of the bark being worse than the bite.  Relax, you got this.

Here’s to Your Success!

Colby Keeler

 

5 Reasons to Get Involved in Your Community

I’ve always believed that it was a good idea for businesses to participate in community events (fundraisers, city strolls, 5/10K races, etc.) whether it was through donations, time, advertising or some other means.  It’s a situation where everyone involved comes out in a better place than before; the community, the business and more importantly, those for which the event was intended to help in the first place.

From a business standpoint, the ROI over the long-run can be phenomenal.  Here are 5 reasons why you should include participating in community based events as a part of your marketing plan:

 1.  Take Care of  Those That Take Care of You.

Most likely, your customers are member of your community.  Their support of your business keeps you open.  A healthy community is very important to the success of local business.  Participating in community events is a huge part in the pursuit of this goal.

 2.  It’s Good Advertising. 

Having your business’ name and/or logo included on the promotional materials of a community based event gets your name out there in a positive way.  The people who would see your name the most often are the people involved in the event either as participants, volunteers, friends, family and other supporters.  These people tend to be more aware of the types of businesses they support; usually rewarding those who contribute to a cause they care about.

 3.  Adds Long-Term Value to Your Brand. 

After the event you may see a sales increase due to your participation.  After this initial buzz wears off, what is left is the goodwill you’ve begun to establish in your community.  Over time, the increase in value to your brand from such efforts will trump any costs attributed to attaining this value.

 4.  Plenty of Networking Opportunities.

You simply can’t beat the environment in which to meet others and be social.  The conclusiveness of participating in a positive event makes conversations relaxed and informal.  Plus, putting yourself around other positive people just makes you feel good.

 5.  Opportunities to Cross-Promote.

Networking with other business owners and managers at community events is beneficial for a number of reasons but one of the most useful ones in that it puts you in a position to cross-promote in the future.  You can run creative marketing campaigns with companies in a complimentary industry, around a mutual cause or for any other reason that is in line with your goals.  Cross-promotions are typically cheaper for each party involved, tend to reach more people overall and can be more successful than advertising solo.

 

If you’re in the Northern California area, you can check www.NorCalPulse.com for many upcoming community based events in the area in which you may be able to participate.   Whether you are in the area or not, a quick Google search for local/regional charities is often fruitful.

Here’s to Your Success!

Colby Keeler

Social Media Meltdowns – Bad Marketing Strategy!

It’s no secret in the internet world that once you put something ‘out there,’ it’s ‘out there’ forever.  In general, it pays to be careful when posting info, pictures, opinions, etc online.  One place in particular for small businesses where tact is a survival skill is the realm of the social media.  You’re a business and not everyone is going to like you.  Even those who do may be vocal about what you can do better.  Responding critically, name calling and other bad behavior is not appropriate and it could cost your business dearly.  In fact, being professional pays off.  “A 2011 Harvard study found; Yelp’s 40 million reviews disproportionately affect small businesses. The research found a one-star increase in Yelp’s five-star rating system resulted in a revenue jump of up to 9 percent for some restaurants, while chains with sizable advertising budgets were unaffected.” (source)  9%!  This is huge.

I debated on whether or not to give those two insane business owners in Arizona any more attention for their recent social media meltdown via Facebook but I can’t help myself.  The owners were featured on an episode of “Kitchen Nightmares” where their attitudes and general obnoxious behavior prompted some people to leave some snide feedback on their Facebook page which in turn prompted some extremely unprofessional replies from the owners.

There are examples of small business bad behavior all over social media websites but this one is the best of the best or the worst of the worst depending on how you look at it.  With that being said, I introduce you to Amy & Samy Bouzaglo; owners of Amy’s Baking Company, Scottsdale, AZ

At first, Amy’s responses are simply defensive but quickly move to aggressive.  She’s speaks of being “oppressed” by the comments.  Oppressed…seriously?

1

Within a couple of hours, the name calling and insults begin.  I am only showing sporadic posts.  There were some entertaining posts in between these.

2

Followed by an implied threat of violence and more name calling by Samy who has now taken over the task of fighting this injustice.

3

And then a threat of legal action against all of the people who have said negative things about them.  Look out, they’re taking names!

4

In the end, they claimed that someone hacked their Facebook page.  The other immature and petty comments they’ve left other people refute this.  Internet user can sniff out a lie with ease.  What’s done is done.

What do you think about this?  Will their restaurant survive in the long-run?   Will you make this same mistake when criticized?  I didn’t think you would either.

Here’s to Your Success!

Colby Keeler