• 08 Sep

    Stop guessing! Develop a winning social media strategy with this step-by-step guide

    With the growing popularity of social media, businesses have a unique opportunity to engage with their fans and expand their brand’s visibility. Sadly, the common misconception is that you can just jump into social media without any preparations or a strategic thinking. Sadly this approach doesn’t work as months down the line businesses and their teams discover that a lack of strategy is holding them back.

    To help your social media grow I’ve put together this easy to follow-up guide – read the post or skip to the bottom of the page to discover an infographic explaining 9 steps to creating a winning social media strategy.

    Step #1: Understand why having a social media strategy is important

    why-social-media-strategy-is-important

    As of May 2015, Google started showing tweets in search results bringing greater incentive to brands using social media. While this exciting news means new opportunities, it also leaves no room for ad-hoc social media management. In order to succeed, social media must be treated like any other marketing channel. It must be supported with a strategy which could help your business plan improve and expand.

    Having a social media strategy will help you:

    • Meet your business objectives and reach your targets
    • Understand what your competition is doing and how to get ahead of them
    • Meet your audience expectations by looking at their lifestyle, habits and interests
    • Overcome your business obstacle, whether you struggle with resources, time, budget or tools

    Step #2: Where does your social presence stand against your competitors?

    social-media-audit

    To get a true understanding of how your social media presence compares to your competitors, you need to begin with a comprehensive social media audit. By reviewing your own strengths and weaknesses you will be able to benchmark your own channels and spot further or even undiscovered opportunities.

    By digging deeper into industry trends and getting to know the latest changes you will be able to learn where you’ve been failing so far. Equipped with these findings you will gain a strong foundation for your social media strategy.

    Step #3: What are your social media goals?

    social-media-strategy-goalsThe success of any social media strategy is setting up realistic goals of what you want to gain from your investment in having a social presence. Your goals should match your digital marketing strategy but more importantly, they should be tied directly to your business goals.

    • Start by selecting at least three social media goals for your business
    • The goals you choose will depend of business type and character of your industry
    • Depending what are your key goals are, the strategy will differ and will also require applying different tactics
    • Some of your social networks may require a channel specific setup of objectives
    • Keep in mind all your goals should be achievable, measurable and you should be defined using S.M.A.R.T. goals criteria

    With your social growth and accounts expansion, you may discover the need to change your goals year after year, depending of how successful you are at achieving them.

    Once you know what your goals are, you can can start working on establishing next steps for your strategy.

    Step #4: What are your unique selling points?

    social-media-strategy-unique-selling-pointsTo prevent your messaging from getting lost within the noisy feeds, a clarification of unique selling points is crucial. This important, yet often overlooked element, will help your team members understand what your company’s unique proposition is and how your brand stands out from the crowd.

    Empowered with this knowledge your team will be able to help you create a the social presence your customers would love and engage with.

    Step #5: How do you segment your social media audience?

    To discover previously unknown revenue and ways of interacting with your consumers, audience segmentation is a must have. Defining who your audience is, what their needs are and their expectations will help you deliver the right message to the users who are best suited for your product, and most likely to buy.

    Different social media platforms allow you to segment your audience in different ways. Facebook offers the most options – instead of sending one message to your entire follower base, you can choose exactly who sees your post using criteria such as age, gender, interests, or life stage.

    Twitter does not allow this kind of customisation, meaning that your message goes out to everyone, so you have to make sure your messages don’t alienate any single group. As soon as you start paying for advertising however, your targeting options become more refined, on Twitter as well as Facebook.

    Step #6: What channels are you planning to use?

    social-media-strategy-channelsThe choice is endless when it comes to choosing social networks. Instead of spreading yourself across multiple networks which you have never used or don’t understand, focus on a couple of channels.

    This will rescue you from managing way too many accounts and not delivering on the promise of creating quality engagement and content. Go for the trending or upcoming channels only when your core channels are developed and hold a strong position, as any addition to this mixture would require extra time and investment.

    Step #7: How you are going to use content?

    social-media-strategy-contentContent is the foundation of any social media presence. Depending of your objectives and target audience, you can develop a plan which will allow you deliver valuable content on a consistent basis.

    B2C businesses tend to use social media to build a community around their products and influence others with social proof stories of how their products makes people’s lives better.

    B2B companies see social media as a way of positioning themselves as thought leader within the industry, promoting their company’s culture and employee’s knowledge, and a way of attracting new team members.

    Step #8: How are you going to use tactics to meet your goals

    social-media-strategy-and-tacticsWhen you know what your key goals are you can break down each of them into one or two tactics which are going to clarify how you are going to use each of these channels, what are you planning to do and how. You should also align each tactic with a measurable metric which will help you measure performance of your activities and keep you focussed in order to reach the final goal.

    Social Goal #1: Drive traffic to the website

    • Social Tactic #1: Establish posting consistency between Monday to Sunday
    • Social Tactic #2: Post social updates linking to your website at the timings when your audience is online
    • Social Tactic #3: Make your content a) sharable and b) visually engaging c) snackable by breaking the information down for easy consumption
    • Social Tactic #4: Recycle content in clever ways by reposting the same articles using different images, wording and calls-to-action

    Metric: Once you introduce regular posting, begin to track your performance to evaluate which of them are getting the most likes, favourites, shares, etc.

    Step #9: How are you going to measure your success?

    Finally, to determine whether your social activities are working and bring difference to your business, you need to measure their outcomes. By matching KPIs to your goals you will able to evaluate your progress but most importantly this data will help you demonstrate improvement and reveal true value of these activities.

    You must also remember to tie these metrics to specific time frames by defining when you want to see results by.

    Social Goal #1: Drive traffic to the website

    • SMART objectives: measure unique visitors from social media referrals, bounce rate, time on page, conversion rate and revenue
    • Timeframe: Increase number of visits to the website via Twitter by 35% by December.

    How to Develop a Winning Social Media Strategy

    social-media-strategy-infographic

    By Kasia Piekut Social Media
  • 10 Aug

    Instagram ads: How this new commercial opportunity can inspire marketing efforts

    After 5 years of its launch, Instagram, the photo and video sharing app owned by Facebook, has opened up its advertising opportunities to local and global businesses. By switching on its API, marketers and brands will for the first time be able to purchase ads without the need for contacting Instagram’s sales representatives. While previously Instagram’s advertising was limited to certain countries and required a serious budget of $50,000 minimum spend, this all is about to change.

    From now on ads will be easy to access as the release of the API will allow marketers to schedule campaigns through third-party tools as well as track their effectiveness from the data that is generated.

    Why has Instagram made a leap into ads?

    Instagram’s ads are nothing new, they have been put to the test since 2013 by a very limited number of major brands such as Disney, Cadbury, Waitrose and The Gap. This extra time allowed the network to perfect its execution to please both brands and Instagram’s users whilst turning itself into a shopping and marketing destination.

    As a repose to the growing demand to use Instagram more effectively, and to allow consumers asking ‘How do I buy this’ to take action, the app decided to take next step into the world of advertising.

    To keep the balance right, Instagram introduced a strict policy in order to manage the volume and frequency of its ads aimed at helping marketers create customised commercial content without disrupting the user experience too much.

    Why and how brands can use Instagram’s ads

    Instagram, which last year took overtook Twitter in number of monthly active users, has according to Forrester’s analysis the highest engagement rate of 4.21%, delivering ‘58 times more engagement per follower than Facebook, and 120 times more engagement per follower than Twitter’.

    user-interaction-instagram

    You can just imagine how brands, who are struggling to generate engagement on Facebook and Twitter, can make content promotion more successful by merging Instagram’s activities with its new paid advertising availability with:

    ● TARGETING: Amongst the first brands to sign up to Instagram’s new advertising API is online retailer Net-a-Porter. The brand is using this advertising feature to target ads in real time to a very specific audience across Europe within 24 hours of their events. Marketers will be able to target consumers based on age, gender, demographic and most importantly, their interests.
    ● ACTION FORMATS: Adverts will be supported with buttons like ‘Learn more’, ‘Sign-up’, ‘Install now’ or ‘Show now’ allowing users to discover relevant and beneficial content outside of the app.

    ● INTERACTIVE FORMATS: Brands will be able to drive direct sales, app installs and engagement not just with photo ads but also with adverts including a carousel of several images or interactive video ad formats.

    ● DATA MANAGEMENT: The spend and ad management tools will help marketers to monitor and evaluate their advertising efficiency.

    The commercial benefits of using Instagram ads can be very powerful especially for companies aiming to drive further brand awareness and engagement.

    Those who create branded content and are not short of visual collateral can use paid promotion to help their messages stand out while making them more playful resources. Anyone who is looking to reach a young demographic or Millennials could certainly give these ads serious thought too.

    Before you start investing in Instagram’s ads

    As ads will appear in user’s streams, it’s important to make them feel as if they are part of a regular posting activity. More than ever before, keeping the balance right between organic and promoted updates will play a crucial role in helping brands avoid over spamming the audience with offer-based advertising.

    To take the full advantage of this new marketing opportunity you need to consider a few elements and focus on making your adverts:
    A) Relevant: Take full advantage of the targeting options available to deliver the right message to the correct audience.
    B) Aesthetically pleasing: Instagram is all about beautiful imagery combined with storytelling. This is why Instagram aims to turn its advertising offering into a premium magazine-like solution. Keep this in mind when selecting content and imagery for your future ads.
    C) Engagement enhancing: Respect Instagram’s user ecosystem where your brand is part of a broader conversation.

    While the advertising news has been welcomed by us marketers, Instagram’s creative community has been left slightly worried about the future of their feed. It’s our responsibility to apply advertising solutions in the best possible way to ‘fit’ the vibe of Instagram’s creative essence and reassure the audience that branded advertising is just a way of helping consumers and brands connect together through paid content which makes the discovery process a much faster and easier experience.

    What are your thoughts about Instagram ads? Is your business planning to use this advertising format?  Let me know in the comments below how are you planing to use it and what are you hoping to achieve.

     

    By Kasia Piekut Social Media
  • 28 Jul

    10 visual ways to double traffic and engagement from your social media updates

    Producing regular content on social media is crucial for any brand aiming to remain memorable and engaging. But with so much content published across various social channels every second of every day, the pressure is high to remain visible in a visual and different way.

    If you want to make your social media posts a bit more punchy and never allow them to be scrolled right past, you are in the right place. In this post I’m going to share some tips and tricks on how to make your content jump out.

    Mastery of visual content

    guide-to-sharable-visual-contentGone are the days when visual content was achieved using stock imagery. In comparison to a year ago there are now much smarter solutions thanks to expansion of mobile apps, design and editing tools which allow users to create something they will love to share and talk about. With the growing importance of becoming a publisher and investment in content creation, understating how content should be promoted on social media has never been more important.

    Paying attention to visual content and looking for ways to stand out is something any brand should think about when looking for ways of increasing longevity and making distribution process more worthwhile.

    Let’s have a look at 10 different ways of how to start thinking visually when crafting and promoting your content on social media:

    1. Make your branded hashtags memorable

    branded-hashtagOften branded hashtags are getting ignored as they look similar to every other tag out there. Visual content gives ability to customise your message while turning this hashtag into a more prominent part of the campaign.

    Post Office makes their #HolidayFeeling hashtag stand out by adding it not just within the copy of each tweet, but also by making it part of each graphic. Use of vibrant colours helps the tag to be more visible while the consistency of adding it to all the graphics making it far more memorable.

    The use of branded visuals is also a great way of being able to go beyond Twitter’s character limits in order to tell unique story and offer type of storytelling that otherwise would be impossible.

    2. Turn feedback into animated GIFs

    Brands often use open questions to boost conversations on social media. But asking questions is simply not enough, it is what you do afterwards with any sort of user-generated content that truly counts. Dove recognised the full potential of generating customers feedback and made it a prominent aspect of its latest #SpeakBeautiful campaign. Similarly to Dove, you can reward your most engaged followers who are contributing to your conversations, by turning their answers into sweet little animated GIFs.

    3. Provide value and humour with quotes

    lipton-social-media-quotesYou can’t go wrong with a good pearl of wisdom! From metaphors, to facts and helpful takeaways combined with a striking image – these assets can draw attention in someone who ignored your message in the past. You can easily create them using image creation tools such us Buffer’s Pablo or Recite. Creating your own quotes is well worth trying tactic especially if your are looking for ways to educate or inspire your community. Making them yourself will expand your content library with unique and branded content that nobody else has.

    4. Turn your tweets into photo collages

    waitrose-photo-collage

    One of the latest features on Twitter allows you to add not just one but up to 4 images into one tweet. In the past to achieve an effect of a photo collage, I had to use external apps or a tool to create such a format. Now you can easily and much faster do it yourself on both mobile and desktop versions of Twitter.

    To my surprise not many brands are using this method which is another great way of attracting customers attention which also can make your messaging far more interesting.

    5. Use eye-catching imagery

    cotswold-outdoor-social-media_Stories told through eye-catching photography evoke passion for certain hobbies, activities and in some cases they even give the sense of certain adrenaline. Especially for eCommerce retailers it’s crucial to remember that consumers use not only information but emotions to evaluate brands out there.

    The tactic of ‘in-your-face’ promotion with the use of imagery taken straight from the website, which doesn’t fit social channels sizing requirements, should be put aside in favour of showing and sharing stories the audience actually cares about and can relate to.

    6. Inject humor with appropriate image dimensions

    chester_zoo-twitter

    You should never be afraid to experiment with your content and adjust it to your brand’s personality. Sometimes playfulness might be the best way of attracting someone who is mindlessly scrolling and skimming through social media feed.

    Here’s a great example from Chester Zoo showing how one image can be turned into a meme with a bit of planning and creative execution. This approach works extremely well on various devices, whether browsed on desktop or mobile. Without splitting this photo into 3 parts, the image posted as portrait won’t display correctly and won’t be able to reveal the greatness of this capture.

    Try to keep in mind image sizing when sharing photos on Twitter, as the in stream photo displays as 440×220, what means that some of its aspects will be hidden and won’t show until being clicked on. It’s also worth pointing out that Twitter favours landscape, not portrait photos, as they display more effectively. If that is a problem for you try to use portrait photos as photo collages, which I mentioned in the paragraph above.

    7. Use branded visuals with a powerful copy oxfam-social-media-and-branded-visuals

    If you want your data or content get much higher recognition, try breaking down the numbers or copy with the use of visual content. Treat an image as your additional brand awareness tool and a way of presenting to your consumers these important facts which matter to your brand.

    My favourite example and huge inspiration is Oxfam who so excellently mastered the way of extracting information while turning it into a strong visual signal. Their graphics are always easy to consume and are able to empower the reader to stop to think and contemplate the message. With a support of vibrant designs, easy to read typography and branded logo, the charity is able to increase its recognisiton while evoking familiarity with the discussed subject. Shares, comments and likes are in this instance a well deserved result of a well thought through but not easy to pursue strategy.

    8. Add calls-to-action

    whole-foods-social-mediaIf you are planning an event make sure to strengthen your messaging with easy to read visuals which contains all the needed information. This graphic used by Whole Foods Market promoting their cheese nights highlights all the crucial elements one needs to know:

    – Name of the event
    – Clarification if the event is paid or free
    – Date
    – Timing
    – Location

    9. Brighten up your updates with emoticons

    emoticons-used-on-social-media_Feelings are playing a significant role in communication on social media. The interaction behind the screen and character count may not always allow you to fully express those emotions, but emoticons may be just the right solution you are looking for.
    While they are pretty to look at, emoticons are also useful as they help increase interactions by making the copy feel more personal. :)

    10. Create video photo collages

    Don’t let lack of video content hold you back from tapping into an autoplay feature on Instagram, Facebook, Vine and Twitter. You can create beautiful video collages like Chester Zoo made entirely out of photos which stitched together come to life in a form of short video.

    Use tools like Flipagram or PhotoGrid to create interactive content which is not only easy to consume thanks to autoplay which activates itself within people’s timelines and newsfeed. But which also is more engaging and effective for brands aiming to increase its content reach as they are 2.5x more likely to be preferred by people than other viewing methods.

    I hope this post will inspire your activities on social media while making the process of updating your accounts a far more interesting task. To avoid routine and master visual storytelling, mix up various styles and formats and experiment with new solutions.

    Have you used any of the mention in the post tactics of visual content? I would like to know which of them are the most effective for your brand! 

    By Kasia Piekut Social Media
  • 09 Jul

    Reaching new heights: How outdoor clothing & camping retailers are achieving success online

    camping-and-outdoor-market-reportWe have seen a growing number of enthusiasts spending more time climbing the hills of the UK in pursuit of keeping fit and escaping the pressures of everyday life. While it’s easy to get lost in the beauty of British landscape, the unpredictable weather conditions ranging from heatwaves to hail create a demand for people to be equipped and ready for muddy slopes at any time.

    With such a wide range of brands offering clever engineering and manufacturing clothing technologies the modern adventurer is spoiled with unlimited choices and shopping destinations. As part of our mission to produce insightful whitepapers and market reports into niche and trending sectors, we conducted research and analysis into the outdoor apparel and camping market with the aim of discovering how outdoor brands attract, retain and engage consumers. We took a good hard look at what is working and where there is room to improve in order to inspire other retailers and marketers out there with SEO, content and social media ideas which may lead to further business success.

    outdoor-market-report-6We have analysed various brands including Sports Direct, Wiggle, and Go Outdoors, with the desire to discover how these brands are reinventing shopping experiences with actionable digital marketing strategies.

    As our report details, traditional outdoor retailers with a weak online visibility are competing against sometimes surprising and new ‘go to’ retail destinations that are benefiting from strong organic strategies.

    In this report we also uncover distribution channels tactics and content strategies which help these brands reach new opportunities while recruiting new consumers with the use of blog, visual and animated content as well as social media.

    7 insights you will find in the Camping & Outdoor Market Report:

    • How Ellis Brigham is capturing consumers through question and comparison search queries
    • Organic Share of Search: Blacks Outdoor Retail, which owns both Blacks and Millets, occupies just 4.6% of the online market, despite being one of the largest retail chains in the UK. Find out who has beaten them and who is lagging behind
    • Engagement tactics: brands are fostering passion for sport, adrenaline and the great outdoors with interactive competitions which challenge the audience to stay fit, be creative & spend time in nature with family and friends
    • How Wiggle’s product pages are speaking to consumers
    • How one relative newcomer to the market is aiming for tent sales with a designer look and a focussed search strategy
    • Footwear trends: what products are popular and what’s on the rise?
    • Branded content: capturing attention with branded content that is emotion, people and story oriented
    • Instagram: why this is the favoured channel for outdoor brands and how retailers are utilising it to foster brand discovery

    We’ve also looked at some of the brands’ weaknesses, enabling us to assess the challenges across their websites and social media.

    You can find these topics and more in our FREE to download Market Report:

    market-report-free-download_001

    By Kasia Piekut Marketing
  • 25 Jun

    Community tips: How to turn customers into brand advocates

    Today’s digital opportunities provide brands with many occasions to connect with their core consumers in meaningful ways. But in order for this to work, brands themselves have to foster advocacy and make it a prominent part of their marketing strategies. In the age of consumer control and peer-to-peer influence, it’s not a secret that brand ambassadors are amongst the most powerful partners you could wish to have on your side. Yet as many reports suggest, brands are largely failing at driving advocacy through social media.

    To help you grow a healthy environment on social media we are starting with letter A for ‘ADVOCACY’, which is part of our ‘A to Z of social media: a guide to success’. If your aim is to become a great brand and produce a unique experience for your audience, keep reading as in this post we’re going to share with you some advice, tactics, and suggestions on how to build an advocacy program.

    Why are advocates valuable to your business?

    brand-advocacy-2

    Advocates, often mistaken for loyal customers, don’t just consistently keep buying from you, they take a much more personal approach to your brand with authentic enthusiasm and endorsement. They champion your brand, making others pay more attention and trust.

    7 surprising insights about brand advocates from Deloitte, Forrester, Zuberance:

    92% of consumers trust brand advocates
    – Customers referred by other customers have a 37% higher retention rate
    – Brand advocates are 5X more valuable than average customers
    – They spend at least 2X as much as average customers
    – Brand advocates spend 3X as much as average customers over the lifetime of their relationship with a company or brand
    – Every time they advocate for a product or service, they reach 150 people using social media

    As you can see from the this data, advocacy is a very powerful asset which is helping companies, big and small.

    Yet it’s also important to point out that great online engagement doesn’t just happen, brands have to work on it by supporting their efforts with an active plan to focus on identifying, engaging and retaining those visible and hidden advocates amongst their audience.

    how-to-turn-customers-into-brand-advocates

    As this diagram presents, an advocacy system is built upon trust, authenticity and the effort of creating a positive experience. A brand’s culture, it’s heritage, and personalisation, are amongst other ingredients which can lead to success.

    Let’s have a look at some tactics to spur brand advocacy and inspire your next steps in applying it:

    1. Share advocates’ content with a wider audience & acknowledge their efforts

    Advocates’ endorsements deserve recognition, how simple is that! Yet often these acts of kindness are being forgotten. Start with something simple:

    taco-bell-campaign

    ● Like/Favourite their updates
    ● Retweet/Share their comments
    ● Turn their photos into photo collages
    ● Use the Flipagram app to create short photo movies

    Take this example from Taco Bell, who rewarded its top Twitter advocates with personalised handwritten notes and a custom ring. This small gesture not only created lots of buzz on social media, but also provided the brand with engaging user-generated content.

    TIP: When collaborating with brand ambassadors keep in mind the high value of content co-creation. Offer them tools to enhance their creativity and allow them to create branded content on their own.

    2. Offer something special

    Paying attention to your advocates’ activities will provide you with some ideas of how to show your appreciation for their work. You can start by giving them special access to VIP promotions, information, or events.

    These tactics will allow your brand ambassadors to increase and share their excitement while expanding brand loyalty for your organisation.

    TIP: If you are creating hashtags for specific events or campaigns make sure to track and record them in order to evaluate performance and pursue in the future the formats which resonated the best with your audience.

    3. Inspire conversation and engagement with content

    mr-porter-blogBuilding a brand advocacy program can provide you with an opportunity to examine your messages and the content you’re producing. Put aside the concept of using your blog, YouTube videos or social media just for selling your products. Instead, concentrate on providing useful information, tips and solutions to build further advocacy.

    For retailer Mr Porter, the blog is a place where people can find inspiration about style, history and fashion curiosities. To add extra weight to each article, the brand is using the correct tone of voice and copywriting style, as well as exquisite photography and illustration which are crucial elements of any good piece of content.

    TIP: Produce content that other people can believe in by aligning it with causes, emotions and lifestyle.

    4. Focus on your fans’ emotions and their stories

    mercedes-benz-user-generated-camapignUse social media to explore your advocates’ passions and turn their visual storytelling into a much bigger campaign. People who build your brand create stories which are much more powerful, believable and portray your philosophy more effectively.

    TIP: Display your advocates’ uniqueness and artistic skills by inviting them into a brand-consumer collaboration while challenging them to try something new.

    When building an advocacy ecosystem you must remember that it can only work when it’s real and authentic. To make it work try to avoid the following tactics:

    ● Avoid paying or incentivizing advocates, instead acknowledge their efforts
    ● Don’t view advocate marketing as short-term promotion, to make it work apply a systematic approach
    ● Don’t just do it alone – invest in experts’ help who understand this relatively new marketing approach and who are able to select the best tactics to fit your business.

    I hope this post has inspired your thoughts as I would love to hear what tactics you are planning to apply to grow your brand’s advocacy. In my next blog post I will be reviewing the meaning behind the letter ‘B’ and explaining how social media should never be ‘owned’ just by one person but should reflect the character of the whole brand.

     

    By Kasia Piekut Social Media
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