Communication within social networks have increased significantly during the pandemic. Facebook saw a 50% increase in messaging within countries hit hardest by the virus, with voice and video calling doubling over Messenger and WhatsApp. So what does that mean for small businesses fighting to survive during this unprecedented event in our history? Simple: If you want to stay relevant, increase brand awareness, gain new customers, and stay profitable, you need to use social media marketing.
Social media marketing utilizes social media platforms to connect with consumers to build brands, drive website traffic, and garnish sales. To achieve this, you need to publish great content, listen to and engage with your followers, run social media ads, and analyze your results.
At the moment, the major social media platforms include Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube, and Snapchat.
Choosing which platform to use depends on various factors such as your target market, what you have to offer, and your marketing goals. Having a social media content strategy and sticking to your plan will help you pick which platform or platforms are worth the time and effort.
For many small businesses owners, managing their social media can be overwhelming with everything else that they need to get done. If this sounds like you, I would highly recommend enlisting the help of someone for just a few hours a week to drive your social media. This can either be an existing employee, a freelance writer, marketing agency, or even a student. In this day-and-age, it should be pretty easy to find someone adept at social media for business.
In addition to creating great content, you should consider using a social media management tool like Hootsuite, Buffer, and Zoho. These tools enable you to automate, analyze, better control, and dive deeper into your social media accounts. These apps can post the same updates on all your social accounts, schedule future updates, and help you find the most appropriate and effective content to post and times to post it.
Not all social media management apps are the same. However, all of them offer a free trial period and some performance analytics. Several go further and let you analyze your followers and other details from your social media accounts.
In addition to using a social media management app, you should create a social media plan for optimum success. This plan should include your messaging, goals, and when you plan to post. To save time, you can and should schedule future posts and updates to provide your followers with consistent content. If your content is far and few between, you will lose followers quickly.
Last but not least, when using social media you need to create content that is useful as well as visually appealing. While nearly 90% of all companies engage in content marketing on some level, few manage to produce “share-worthy” content. The reason is simple. Most people who post on social media do so without thinking or creating a plan.
To learn how to create killer social media content, please click here to read our previous blog. As always, we welcome your comments and questions regarding this blog post.
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“We are all in this together” is fast becoming the catchphrase of 2020. Whoever thought we would have a pandemic of this magnitude that is slowing bringing the world to its knees. While this coronavirus is clearly a health crisis, it is also a wake up call, in particular, to small business owners. Times may have been tough before, but nothing like this. That said, if you love what you do, it is not the time to throw in the towel.
As a marketing consultant, the number 1 question I am being asked these days is “How can I make money during the pandemic?” The answer isn’t easy, nor appropriate for all situations. Oh, that I wish it were. But for those who have inventory to sell, or a service that can be provided online, there is hope. Here’s some tips to help your business survive the coronavirus attack.
Step 1: Use Social Media. If you already have accounts, make sure you are posting content at least once a day. If you do not have an account, start with one platform based on your customer demographics. If you don’t know who you customers are, take the time now to figure it out.
Step 2: Update Your Website. Make sure your website content is up-to-date. Delete any old information or products that you no longer carry. Add incentives for people to buy from you, either now or down the road. For example: Save 30% when you buy before April 15 or get a $100 gift certificate for just $85 with no expiration date. The key is to get cash as quickly as possible.
Step 3: Be Proactive. Think about ways you can save money. Yes, that may mean letting employees go. But before you start handing out pink slips to well-trained and loyal employees, consider reducing their hours or pay. Remember, the situation is temporary. Hiring new employees is time consuming and can be costly.
Note: Congress just approved $350 billion in emergency loans for small businesses — and borrowers who maintain or restore their payrolls won’t have to pay back the loans. Click the link below for an easy, step-by-step Small Business Coronavirus Emergency Loan Guide here:
Step 4: Create Content. Writing a blog not only helps create loyal consumers, it also gives them a reason to come back to your website. Furthermore, blogging improves your website search engine ranking. If you are not adept at writing, there are countless ghost bloggers who may be out of work and would love to work with you.
Step 5: Be Intentional. Now is the time to really think about what it is you have to offer consumers. Make sure all your content reflects your company brand and benefits. If you are using social media, don’t just focus on selling. By the mere name of it, social media is intended to create relationships. Think of what personal information you are willing to share so that your audience can better connect with you.
Finally, while you may be frustrated and have every right to be, I encourage you to try to focus on the light at the end of the tunnel. I’m pretty confident there is one. So why not use this time as an opportunity to tackle some overdo projects. I personally have spent several hours reorganizing my files. It felt good.
Hang in there. Stay healthy and contact me if I can help you.
Recently I was hired by an established law firm to evaluate their marketing efforts and advise them on how the could achieve better results. I sat down to interview each of the key attorneys to see if everyone had the same vision for the firm and as I suspected, each attorney had varying opinions about what practice areas were in the best interest of the firm and how they needed to market themselves to achieve success.
This is not unusual for any business, regardless of age or size. Often times organizations spend time and money on advertising and marketing without a communications strategy or marketing plan. To the credit of the law firm, their former in-house marketing director had a marketing budget and spreadsheet tracking their expenses.
As a seasoned (older) marketer, I still believe in “Marketing 101.” More specifically, creating a balanced marketing plan based on a SWOT Analysis.
The SWOT Analysis is a great way to identify your organization’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Thus, providing a blueprint for creating a strategic and balanced marketing plan.
SWOT Analysis Format
The SWOT format can be approached in different ways. However, for the sake of this exercise, start with 4 squares on a piece of paper with enough room to write 5-6 points under each. These don’t have to be detailed, but they should be well thought-out to get the most value. Note the diagram above for reference.
The first row should be internal strengths and weaknesses. Think about your company and things you can control. The second row (opportunities and threats) should include external factors, such as market trends, other companies, competition, and other factors that you may not fully control.
Now that you have created your square, let’s delve into more detail.
Strengths - SWOT Analysis
Defining your strengths is an important part of this exercise. For some, writing down strengths can be uncomfortable, but for others they may end up with a long list. If you fall into the latter category, try to pair your list down to the 4-6 strengths that define your brand. This helps to prioritize your strengths. Remember, strengths should be based on your company and should be internally focused.
Each strength should focus on a single area of your brand. See below for some examples.
Writing down your weaknesses can be difficult, but believe me, you will find this part of the process very revealing. It is essential to understand what your business lacks to help you make sound marketing and business decisions about things such as: your marketing message, target audience, workflow, staff and other resource needs.
Here are a few examples of weaknesses:
When considering opportunities, I find it helpful to review the organization’s strengths. Often times, the strengths help me to brainstorm opportunities. Sometimes the list of opportunities can be lengthy and daunting. Your goal is only to identify opportunities, it is not a to-do-list, so don’t be afraid to think big! Later when you are creating your marketing plan, you can prioritize your opportunities.
Here are examples of opportunities:
It is important when evaluating threats that you look beyond the obvious, such as competitors or economy. This does not mean that you exclude these from your threat list. However, you should expand thinking to include other threats, such as changes in political policies and new traffic patterns that may affect your businesses location.
Here are a few more examples:
· Internet. Provides potential clients with free access to marketing advice and
low cost graphic design and print resources.
· Profit Margins. Lower rates to remain competitively priced due to increase competition from local marketing businesses and online services.
· Facebook. Small businesses and start-ups are using Facebook to promote their services as opposed to hiring an agency to build their website.
Having a clear understanding of both internal and external factors is essential for any business to survive in today’s fast-paced, high-tech world. Whether you use the above
4-square format, or simply type your list of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, or threats, on a single paper, you are on your way toward a more efficient marketing plan.