Written by June Dennis, Dean of Staffordshire Business School, Chartered Marketer and Trustee of the Chartered Institute of Marketing.
If you only have a small marketing budget, social media can seem like an ideal way to promote your product or service. Twenty years ago marketers could only dream of having access to such a huge audience so quickly. However, where does one start?
Here are just four suggestions that could help you get more out of that limited budget:
Know your audience – it’s so obvious, but it’s really easy to make the simple mistake of taking your eye off the ball when it comes to ensuring your communication channels and messages are targeted at the appropriate audience(s). We can get carried away by all the opportunities open to us that we forget what the purpose of engaging with social media actually was! For example, why use Facebook if you’re primarily targeting a business-to-business audience? (Sometimes, there’s good reason to do so, but you need to know why). Spend time to make sure you know who your intended target audience is and what the key message is that you want to communicate with them. Only then can you identify and choose the communication methods which best fit your message and audience.
Know your limitations – basically, don’t try to do too much! Social media may seem very low cost compared to other forms of advertising or sales promotion, but there is still the cost of your time to factor in, at the very least. It’s also very content hungry and if you commit, say, to writing a daily blog or tweeting several times a day, you may find you crash very soon. Take note of what other businesses your size manage to do and try, where possible, to plan out your messages in advance.
Know how to create synergy – try to use the same or similar content more than once if you can. So, if you write a blog or post something on LinkedIn, can you direct people to it via Twitter? Could you use the copy for some promotional material or a newsletter? When you put something on YouTube, how can you maximise its use? It’s pretty obvious, but not everyone does it. Encourage customers and staff to send in stories which you can promote. I’ve found that people get a buzz from seeing something they’ve submitted being used or published and it creates a virtuous circle and they submit more material….
And, finally, think of ways you can work with others to create mutual benefit. A while back, I did an interview for a friend who was looking to increase traffic to her website via YouTube. As a result, I also sent links to my contact to her webpage and used the content of the interview to develop this blog. We both benefited and had some fun doing it.
Instagram Stories in particular will be relevant from a marketing perspective because, compared to other transitory video platforms, Instagram metrics are eminently trackable.
A final note on Instagram Stories: Their foundation is social media engagement gold. Video drastically outperforms all other forms of content on every test.
2. Influencer Marketing Makes Major Contributions to Social Media Engagement
Influencer marketing is big business — a billion dollar industry by some counts. There is an exhaustive list of micro-celebrities who earn six figure incomes. And this isn’t a fluke. Influencer marketing is uniquely keyed to exploit certain facts about a growing number of buyers.
As Millennials advance their careers, and Generation Z starts theirs, an enormous population’s purchasing power is increasing swiftly. These two groups — who, combined, literally comprise most of the world’s population — are uniquely influenced by this marketing method.
3. Generation Z to Decide Social Media Trends
We’ve mentioned Generation Z in both of the previous topics for good reason.
RetailDive had this to say about Generation Z and their associated social media trends:
“Gen Z is two- to three times more likely to be influenced by social media than by sales or discounts — the only generation to value social media over price when it comes to making purchase decisions…”
Furthermore, 81% report watching at least one hour of online video per day, or more, according to a study by Fluent, covered by AdWeek. Combine these facts and realize that droves of Generation Z will graduate college and/or start careers next year, and you start to see the powder keg.
4. Messaging Platforms Make Companies Accessible
What do you know about WeChat? They’re a wee little Chinese messaging company . . . errr, one that’s looking to cross 1 billion users this quarter. WeChat and WhatsApp are absolutely ubiquitous across either ocean, reaching across many different functions to dominate social media, direct messaging, and even purchasing and commerce.
Every year more and more buyers are Millennials and Gen Z, and fewer and fewer are older. In case you’re not aware of these people’s overwhelming preferences when it comes to talking to a company, we’ll illustrate in their native language:
5. Live Streaming Explodes
Live streaming isn’t about live streaming. At least not in the way we’re going to be talking about it. You’re going to see a lot more of it in 2018, and the people who do it well will be fully with the times and accelerating. Its prevalence will increase because it works.
But there’s something more at work here.
It’s actually about technology. We get better phones every year. Does that mean that we’re running the same apps better? Sometimes. But once the technological baseline of the average user has clearly moved up a notch, it becomes about making more robust apps that do more and fully take advantage of that new technology.
The smartphones of today are better than what we used to have by orders of magnitude. Furthermore, our data speeds are better, and are poised to make yet another insane leap in the next few years when 5G becomes the standard.
Live streaming is a medium or implementation of social technology that’s uniquely positioned to take advantage of hardware improvements for the next several years. The resolution of an image the size of a phone screen can only get so good before you have to zoom in to see a difference.
But better video processing across the board means all devices involved can handle more streaming at a better quality across more channels at the same time. This is such a huge change that it’s possibly unclear that anyone is even capable of fully understanding the ramifications.
6. Twitter is Going to Change
And they themselves might not even know how just yet.
Online hangouts go hand-in-hand with the live streaming trend, and with Generation Z. Consider Houseparty — an app for multiple friends to essentially FaceTime with each other in a group setting.
Houseparty made quite a wave in 2017 with rapid growth, and hit its stride well enough to inspire copycats, including perhaps an effort on the way coming from (no surprise here) Facebook.
The online hangouts trend is also going to intersect with VR. Sure, everyone promised everything this year with VR and AR, and all that ultimately came of it was two weeks of Pokemon GO.
But this year actually has the potential to be different. Many promising programs have another year of beta testing still left under their belts, but the technologies are improving in exciting ways. Once again, Facebook is at the epicentre, with Facebook Spaces.
We’re likely going to see companies revisit this in a more significant or longer-lasting way, and definitely more proactive than reactive.
As leveraging social media outlets for marketing first took flight, some were dubious of their staying power. The years since have changed sceptic’s into believers, and what’s on the forefront will clearly and easily amplify the channels’ relevance even further.
2018 is here… but were you prepared?
2018 social media trends predict that time on social media platforms will increase. This means you will need to improve your online presence in the year to come.
In order for the consumer to have an overall positive experience, it is strongly recommended that your project is designed to be inclusive. If the right accessibility isn’t in place, it could exclude consumers who may struggle or even be unable to interact with the project. The information that will be covered in this blog series can be applied to digital projects ranging from websites to computer games.
Visual: Colours and shapes
Visual aspects are crucial in any digital project, the appearance of your content is the first thing most consumers see, and influences how they will interact with it.
Using colour schemes/overlays
This can be a tricky one, the use of colours can aid the experience for some consumers, it can however also hinder others if substitutional elements aren’t implemented.
Let’s start with how colour can aid experience, consumers with conditions such as Dyslexia and/or Irlen Syndrome can struggle to read against certain contrast and colours, due to struggles including the processing of spectral light, which influences how they process visual information; the use of coloured overlays to tint colours in front/behind the text can ease readability for them.
There is software that can help them with this online such as ColorVeil and nOverlay, although other platforms would benefit from access to alternative text colour schemes.
Alternate text colour schemes refer to the colour of the text, and the background behind it, especially in sections containing large bodies of text, or requiring quick reference during interaction. Providing options for the consumer to alter them provides an opportunity to not only tailor the experience to their needs, but also make it their own.
Colour schemes to take into consideration are shown in the image below
Text-Comparison on different colour backgrounds
Taking font style and size into consideration can also aid this experience, Sans-Serif style fonts tend to be more comfortable to read, an extensive list of similar/other fonts to consider can be found at Dyslexic.com.
Communicating through shapes
If you rely on only colours to communicate functionality or change to consumers, it will be inaccessible to anyone who has a form of colour-blindness. Colour-blindness is a colour vision deficiency that affects how many colours a person can see in general; average colour vision is formed by three colour receptors in our retinas that process red, green, and blue, whereas a colourblind person will lack one or even all of them. The image below makes an accurate comparison of how people with various conditions perceive colours through their vision.
This is why using various shapes can also help communicate your design, for example: how iOS Mail uses circles and Flag symbols to identify content you may wish to check, or how Twitter “fills” the Like/Love symbol to indicate you have Liked/Loved a post (see example below).
Following these steps in your project design will take it one step further to becoming an inclusive experience for consumers. Next time, we will be looking at how to communicate information that can’t always be seen or heard.
When it comes to email marketing software, marketers are spoilt for choice. But how do they feel about the emails they send?
It turns out that relevance is a huge concern for them. DMA reports that 42% of marketers say only some of the emails they send are relevant, and a whopping 10% say their emails aren’t relevant at all. That’s an issue, with consumers trashing irrelevant email.
Another issue people wonder about is the ROI of email marketing. In other words, is it really worth it? Various comparison’s of email marketing vs social media shows that email outperforms social by miles. And Chief Marketer says the ROI of email marketing is 28.5% better than for direct mail.
So what does Messenger do better?
Well, the big problem with email marketing is that you’re talkingat your users and potential customers, not with them.
It’s kind of like being on the receiving end of a sales pitch, one where you have no say until the salesman is finished leaving you with only one response, yes or no.
Email is a mature channel, one which has been extensively developed and includes various advanced features to help you better market to your customers.
Messenger on the other hand is the new kid on the block.
It’s showing great promise and is getting far higher engagement in the areas where they’re going head to head, but it’s not yet at the level of sophistication email has developed.
Messenger is quickly gaining ground on email in terms of features and is already outpacing the platform in the areas where there’s overlap.
So what should a smart store owner like you do?
Well, what you shouldn’t do is abandon email marketing in favour of Messenger. Right now Messenger simply doesn’t have the advanced functionality and tracking of email.
However, if you already haven’t you should be looking at implementing Messenger on your site ASAP.
Right now, Messenger is the perfect complement to your email marketing. And if the last year is any indication, in the near future Messenger will continue to outperform email in other key marketing and communication areas for ecommerce as the platform progresses.
Right now, if I had to advise some specific campaigns your store needs to be running I’d recommend focusing on:
Messenger isn’t just a nice thing to have on your store or a new fad that will die out. The success rate of stores across the globe and the growing user base points to a new channel that might one day overtake email as the chief ROI channel.
Email marketing and social media are like parallel universes that communicate with each other.
We suggest using email marketing when you’re looking more for reach, traffic and direct conversions. Social media, on the other hand, is a great tool that can help you engage your audience and assist you with making more sales.
There is no reason why you shouldn’t use both. Just be sure to allocate your resources the right way. Thank you for reading this blog and please leave your comments below.
There were over 600 million Instagrammers in 2017, and 400 million of those users were active every day according to Softpedia.
Those numbers alone should be reason enough to get your business on the social media platform – but if you’re marketing to Millennials, otherwise referred to as Generation Y, or in simple terms anyone born between the early 1980s and late 1990s – then you should already be on there.
In March of 2017, over 120 million Instagram users visited a website, found directions or contacted an Instagram account or business based on an Instagram ad says Wordstream.
Not only this, but according to the Instagram Blog over 50% of users on the app follow a business and 60% say they learn about a product or service through the app.
Why not make one of those businesses yours? We’ve produced the definitive guide to getting your business set up on Instagram below.
The first thing you’ve got to do is establish your presence on the platform with three main tasks, adding a profile picture, writing a bio and connecting your website. For an example of doing this the correct way, take a look at fashion retailer JD’s Instagram Feed.
Your profile picture should be something memorable and representative of your business – usually your logo.
Over time, people remember your profile picture when scanning through their Instagram news feed – especially if your logo is eye catching.
Your bio gives you under 200 characters to tell the world why you’re worth following and what your service or product is. Enhancing your bio by encouraging users to share content relevant to your business or brand using a hashtag can always be worthwhile.
It’s also important that your followers follow the path to purchase or learn as much as possible – and your website is generally the avenue where this takes place.
Ensuring your website URL on Instagram directs to a mobile friendly site is incredibly important.
How can I Market Effectively?
Once your profile has been created, you’ve got to identify what kind of content your target audience will be interested in.
Brand storytelling, or Brand Centered Content whether through photos of products or photos of the results of products effectively showcases what the business or brand has to offer.
When consumers thought the internet was shiny and new, email was the top dog in connecting with friends. Nowadays, email is used for much more – it’s used to share content from companies, and allow the consumers to connect with brands, be it through purchasing products or simply feeling part of the brand’s story.
There are issues with email of course, and for years it has been used to scam unwise users for their hard earned money and fill inboxes with unsolicited spam.
In this day and age, people beg the question of is it still worthwhile for business owners and marketers to connect with consumers via email?
The answer is yes, and there are an abundance of reasons why:
Reaching Mobile Customers
Email marketing shows it’s value for business owners in it’s ease-of-access in connecting with and reaching mobile customers without the investment in new technology. A study by Forrester Research in 2014 showed that 42% of email opens from retailers happen on smartphones – a number which is likely to have improved since then.
It’s also a better way to connect with mobile users than something like SMS for example, as it works on mobile devices other than phones, and there is far more space for content. According to Litmus, around 51% of email opens now happen on mobile, so it’s always important to ensure your content is mobile friendly so you can connect with mobile-users better.
It’s Better Than Social Media for Customer Acquisition
Whilst social media is an important part of any business’s marketing, and it is a great way of interacting with your audience, it’s not a sound way of converting these people into customers or members.
Social Media is important as a first step towards customer acquisition, but email marketing is the way forward in terms of conversion. A study by Custora in 2013 showed that customer acquisition via email had quadrupled over the four years from 2009, and reinforced that it was a growing trend in e-commerce.
Email marketing is great for allowing business owners to reach a large amount of consumers, or potential customers for next to nothing in costs. This makes it a high choice for smaller businesses instead of channels like TV or Radio.
As well as this, with the correct maintenance of an email list, the return on investment increased through the close relationship that is established with the recipients. Emails generally get a high response, be that opens, clicks or more – so your company or brand is receiving better responses at a lower cost and at a quicker rate.
Easy A/B Testing
A/B testing is the idea of sending one variation of your campaign to one set of your subscribers, or email list, and a different variation to another set.
The ultimate goal of this is to work out which variation of the campaign generates the best results.
This can vary in complexity and can include different subject lines to see which has more opens, whilst more complex testing could include completely different results. This is available through email clients such as Campaign Monitor and MailChimp.
Application & Examples
To start in the world of email marketing, you’re going to need to do some research. Firstly, you’re going to want to pick the email client that’s going to let you apply your ideas in the manner you want. Then you’re going to need to find contacts to send the email to – by lead generation through your website. Finally – you’ll need to produce content and send this out to the contacts, sometimes segmenting specific content to specific recipients.
An example of email marketing at work comes from InternetRetailing, who reported that leading online chemist ChemistDirect had a 30% increase in revenue in 2013 from email campaigns after changing to an email client.
So, there you have it. There are many, many more reasons for businesses to get involved in email marketing that haven’t been mentioned, such as the ability to personalise.
According to Pure360, it’s time you should be taking email seriously.
Despite what people say, you don’t need to be on all social media platforms to promote your business. However, a lot of businesses fail to harness the power of social media, or waste time using the ‘wrong’ platform for their needs.
By picking the platforms that work for your company and utilising all of the features they have to offer you could be making a bigger difference with just one that you could be with six. Plus there are only 24 hours in a day and for a small business, it can be quite challenging managing all the platforms as well as business activities. But, how do you choose the right social media platform? Let’s get started!
When deciding which platform is worth investing your time in, there are a few things to consider – your target demographic, the style and ability of the platform and ultimately, what you want to achieve.
Below I’ve put together a list of the key purposes/demographics for the 5 most popular social media platforms – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Instagram. Take a look and see which is most suitable for your business:
Facebook is one of the most popular and powerful social networks out there. It has over 1.28 billion monthly active users. Due to its large number of users, the likelihood of your target audience being online is quite high. The platform has great targeting for both paid and organic content and you can almost completely control the way you want it to look – from the cover photo and profile picture to the about options, app integrations and featured images.
Almost any business can benefit from having a Facebook page. But Facebook isn’t primarily about selling. Facebook is ideal for giving your business a personality. Content works best when you portray your business in a friendly, sociable way. It’s the perfect place to show off what your team members have been up too as well as showcasing your products. “The best ‘bang for the buck’ in Internet marketing today is Facebook advertising. The targeting options are limitless and surprisingly inexpensive for businesses of all sizes.Facebook advertising can help marketers of all kindsget insights into how different demographic groups respond—and for a fraction of the cost of other alternatives,” (Chris Treadaway, co-author of Facebook Marketing: An Hour a Day).
Twitter has become widely popular over the last decade and is known amongst businesses for being the place of conversation. Unlike other social media platforms, Twitter is very ‘in the moment’.
Twitter is the platform for you if you want to reach out to people regarding news, updates, questions for your followers or just want to see what your customers are interested in, choose Twitter.
LINKED – LinkedIn is a B2B social media platform. Just imagine attending your busiest networking event from the comfort of your own office/home. LinkedIn is predominantly a platform that allows you make connections in the business world and utilise them as necessary.
It’s a fantastic platform for recruiters and any professional services. LinkedIn has good targeting options and allows you the make the most of people’s skills.
Service providers are more common on LinkedIn in comparison to manufacturers or retailers, because it’s easier to talk about what your business does, and it’s not a very visual medium.
If your business is B2C and very visual, Instagram is the platform you need to be on. Shops, travel agents, estate agents, designers and more are all on Instagram because they offer a ‘strong visual’ product that people will take an interest in.
Instagram has great integration with Facebook when it comes to advertising and due to its use of hashtags, posts are easier to find and target your customers.
You can drive traffic through to your websites/product pages and also show your company’s personality.
I remember the first time I accessed the Internet. It was circa 1996 and I worked as a Research Executive for a market research company. I poured myself a coffee as the computer whirred into life. “Today I’ll show you how to access the worldwide web” said my manager. I watched as she connected a strange looking plug to the phone socket, then opened a “window” on the computer, clicked the mouse and dialled up a connection. Suddenly a high-pitched sequence of beeping and screeching noises erupted from the speakers. It sounded like something was seriously wrong, but as silence returned she exclaimed “that’s it, we’re connected!”
We opened a search engine called Alta Vista (in those days Google wasn’t a verb), typed in the search term “viewing facility London” and proceeded to search for a suitable location to conduct some focus groups. There weren’t many results; a page or two at most. There were no sponsored results at the top of the page, nor advertisements down the side either. In fact there were very few companies with a web presence at all.
Shortly afterwards the postman arrived with a pile of post, held together with several thick elastic bands and dropped it onto my desk. Invoices, letters from suppliers, bank statements, bills, CVs from job hunters. It took me an hour or so to sift through the mail, filing documents appropriately in the rickety wire trays stacked on the corner of my desk – In, Out and Pending.
I loved my job. Loved this amazing new world it opened up for me. Talked enthusiastically about it to my friends and family on long, lazy, work-free weekends. Let’s face it, those were the days when nothing was done from the moment you left the office on a Friday until the moment you walked back through the door on a Monday morning.
In the past two decades technology has revolutionised the way we work. We are a wireless, paperless, fast-moving, connected, global workforce which, like the Big Apple, never sleeps. We are in touch with the whole of the world, twenty-four-seven. Business communications have never been easier or quicker. Isn’t it fantastic?
Well yes, it absolutely is, but it comes at a cost. The connected workforce is less tangible. It’s possible to go for whole days or more, without even seeing or speaking to business contacts. Instead we message them, email them, tweet, post, blog, Google, we Skype and run webinars, we send information and documents electronically. And we’re still messaging, emailing, tweeting and posting once the office doors are shut. From our trains, buses, sofas and sadly, sometimes even our beds. Work can invade our personal lives and the long, lazy weekends become brief gaps in time. We’ve not just changed the way we do business; we’ve changed the way we live.
You could argue that this is inevitable progression in society, much the same as Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone revolutionised both business and personal communications. Personally, I love being part of the connected university. The fact that we are becoming paperless has huge benefits to the environment. I love the fact that I can allow my students the luxury of attending a virtual lecture, a webinar, so that they don’t have to fight through traffic and pollute the atmosphere to get in to university for that day. But I couldn’t do it every day because I still need that face to face interaction with them. We are human beings after all. We can embrace technology and all that it represents, but I still want to do business with people, not machines.
I love to bump into my students in the corridor, say ‘hi’, catch up over a coffee. But like many, I like my personal time away from work too and the struggle to protect this is real.
Technology has indeed revolutionised the way we do business, but a word of warning; don’t forget the human touch. I remember being taught that “people buy people” and despite the digitally connected World that we live in, I still believe this to be true. I also believe that you work to live, not live to work. Technology has allowed work to invade our precious and much needed personal time and we are the only ones who can police that (I have to admit that I am guilty as charged in that respect).
So switch off your laptop, phone, iPad once in a while. Switch them off when work is done. Roll back twenty-plus years, talk to people… and enjoy!
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