Mobile Marketing Trends In The Spotlight

April 15, 2015 Kathy Watts permalink

Doing business the modern wayIt seems like these days, everyone is out and about all the time and we are accessing more and more of our information while we’re on the go. Here are a few mobile trends that are important for your business.

Responsive Websites that are optimized for mobile are king

Mobile search is expected to surpass desktop search this year. What does that mean? It means that more people are doing everything online via their phone or tablet rather than their desktop. Mobile interactions could very well be the only interactions you have with your customers (& potential customers). This is becoming so important that Google introduced a new label in its search results, indicating if a site is mobile friendly, meaning it looks good & works well on a mobile device. So you want to make sure your website is responsive and optimized for mobile. An optimized, responsive website could mean the difference between a potential customer finding you on their cell phone, or not.

Location Based Marketing (Geo-targeting) is growing

With so many consumers using their mobiles phones while they’re on the go, Local search is going to continue to grow. Local search allows consumers to search for specific businesses or promotions based on their current location. So, if you and your mobile device are near Central Park in New York City, it will show you businesses and promotions in that area close to you. What does this mean for your business? It means that it is now more important than ever to claim your listings on places such as Google and to make sure that places such as Yelp and Google Maps have your correct address listing and are showing the correct business location on their maps.

Localized Payments are the future

With the rise of mobile comes the rise of localized payments, such as Google Wallet and Apple Pay. The market has already shown that people prefer to make the bulk of their purchases online, quite frequently using their mobile devices. Apple Pay could very well succeed where Google Pay wavered, with the bulk of Apple users already storing their credit card information in their iTunes account, and accustomed to quickly and seamlessly purchasing things without having to reenter that information every time. This year will see a rise in consumers who want to use localized payments to pay for things in store as well, such as using their Apple Pay account to pay for services at your business location. It’s definitely a trend to keep an eye on.

With the rise in mobile usage, and the importance of being able to reach your customers while they are on the go, it’s more important than ever to stay on the cutting edge of technology. These are just a few of the important mobile trends that will continue to grow and impact your business moving forward.

What the Net Neutrality Ruling Means for You

February 27, 2015 Kathy Watts permalink

binary dataOn Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission voted to implement a new net neutrality policy designed to ensure that internet service providers treat all legal content equally.

The policy, called the Open Internet Order, requires internet service providers to act as neutral gateways rather than a gatekeeper who handle access to different types of internet content in different ways or, more importantly, at different costs.

What does this mean for the small business owner?

It means you will be ensured equal access. The new regulations will ensure that all information you want to access on the internet (from webpages to audio, video, and other formats) will be treated equally by internet service providers. Internet service providers (ISPs) will not be able to discriminate against content by blocking it or slowing down its delivery through slower transmission feeds while charging for faster lanes of their internet network.

That means that your small business has as much access to the internet as a huge corporation. It means that your customers (& potential customers) will be able to locate and visit your website and that the site will load for them as quickly and easily as it does today.

The new policy bans three key things that help protect both consumers and you as a small business owner.

  • No blocking – Broadband providers cannot block access to legal content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices.
  • No throttling – Broadband providers may not impair or degrade lawful Internet traffic on the basis of content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices.
  • No Paid Prioritization – Broadband providers may not favor some lawful Internet traffic over other lawful traffic in exchange for consideration — in other words, no ‘fast lanes.’ This rule also bans ISPs from prioritizing the content and services of their affiliates.

So what happens next?

The new policy will go into effect in 60 days. Several ISPs have threatened litigation over the new policy, and there is also a movement in Congress to make net neutrality part of an updated version of the Telecommunications Act. That legislation would ban paid prioritization but would stop short of treating broadband like a utility.

Once again, as small business owners, all of us need to speak up and become part of the conversation.

Why Blogging Is Good For Your Business

February 17, 2015 Kathy Watts permalink

Blog Media Showing Weblog WebsiteWe’re all so busy running our businesses. There is only so much time in the day and so many different important tasks to handle.  It can be difficult to decide what is worth our time and effort and what is not. Blogging is one of those things that is well worth the time and effort. Here are four benefits of blogging on your website.

Blogging can establish you as an expert

Posting blog articles about things you know, whether it is the benefits of massage or how to do a proper blowout at home, is a great way to set you up as an expert in your field. Making your website a resource that your clients and others go to for advice or expert information is a great way to drive more traffic to your site.

Blogging can help improve your SEO

Want to show up earlier and higher in search engine results? One of the best ways to do that is to consistently add new content to your site. The best way to do that is by blogging. Even posting twice a month can help improve your search results. And, by driving more traffic to your site, you are not only improving your SEO, but you’ll also start to see your customer base grow.

Blogging can help you build relationships with your clients

Blogging can be a great way to establish a relationship with your clients, and then to continue to foster and grow that relationship. If your clients feel like they can go to your site for information, tips, or advice that contributes to strengthening the relationship they have with your business. A strong relationship is a huge deciding factor when clients are choosing a place to bring their business.

Blogging gives your clients and followers something to share on social media

If you are posting good information on your website in a shareable format, your clients and followers will share that information on Facebook and Twitter, for all their friends, family, & followers to see. This is a great way to expand your client base.

Blogging is an activity that does not take a lot of time each week but can have a huge payoff in so many ways. Make an effort to incorporate blogging into your annual marketing schedule. Even just two posts a month can make all the difference, and with your SpaBoom Marketing Suite, blogging is built right in. Now get out there and blog.

3 Ways to Sell More Instant Gift Certificates this Holiday Season

November 20, 2014 Stephany Toman permalink

IGCThe holiday marketing clock is ticking, and what you do now will help ensure you sell the most instant gift certificates possible.

Start advertising now

Now is the time to get the word out about offering instant gift certificates for your services. Create incentives for purchasing, and emphasize availability and ease of purchase in time to grab the Black Friday/Cyber Monday shoppers. Let them know they can enjoy themselves in front of a crackling fire while everyone else is out fighting crowds, cold and general hostility in their pursuit of gift deals.

Make sure specials, packages and links to buy are available where shoppers are

This is when you update your website, add links and options to purchase on your social media platforms as well as any email correspondence you generate. And you need to generate email correspondence to let people know about how easy it is to buy instant gift certificates from any number of online locations – tell them, give them links, then let them do their buying thing.

Create in-store displays and gift sets to promote and support your online message

Gift sets are all great ways to incorporate gift certificates, and can help increase overall value and sales. Creating several for the holidays will bump the perceived value of the gifts you’re promoting and provide a nice tangible giveaway to boot.

This is not rocket science, but time is of the essence. So get focused, update your website, your social media, and put together some fun displays that promote your holiday packages.

Happy holiday prep!

How to Share Photos or Videos without Stealing Them

November 6, 2014 Kathy Watts permalink

lookingWe’ve all done it. We need a photo for a Facebook post or an image for our latest promo, so we go to Google Images and find something we like and then use that. The problem is, we probably have no idea what the copyright info is for those images. Some of the images you see may be available for free use, while others are not. We may have just unknowingly stolen content.

Or you see a photo that you just love and want to use it. So you take a screen shot of it, or download it to your laptop, and put it in your post with a credit underneath it. You feel pretty good about getting to use the photo and you’ve credited the place or person it belongs to. Problem solved, right? Well, not exactly. Unless you directly contacted the person who owns the copyright and got their permission to use the image, you are still in violation of copyright laws, even if you do add a credit to the photo. The owner of the image gets to decide where their work is used, not you. Offering them a credit or a link-back doesn’t erase the fact that you’ve just infringed on their copyright.

What about that video from YouTube that perfectly shows a specific technique? You saw it on someone else’s Facebook page and just want to share it on your business page. So you click the Share button and add it to your timeline. But did you stop to check that the video was playing in the YouTube player window, even when embedded on Facebook? If not, then you may have infringed on copyright yet again.

It is a slippery slope these days when sharing images or videos online. It can be so easy to infringe on an artist’s copyright without even thinking about it, especially with so many beautiful and interesting images online and people sharing them constantly on social media. It creates quite the dilemma. We are in an image-driven society and you need images and videos in order to connect with your clients. But you don’t want to violate anyone’s copyright.

So here are a few tips to help navigate the world of sharing images & videos.

Create your own images
Well, first off, you could create your own images or videos. That way, you own the copyright and can use them however you wish. You can either go out and take your own photos, film your own videos, or create graphics and images on your computer. Keep in mind that taking a copyrighted image and making changes to it does not suddenly make it yours. You would still be liable for violating copyright law. So if you are creating your own images, make sure you are doing so from scratch, not starting with someone else’s image.

Use Stock Images
A stock image is a photograph already licensed for use. You will usually pay a small fee in order to use the photo, but once you’ve purchased the right to use it, you can do so without violating copyright. You can purchase the right to use stock photos and images from a variety of companies online. The price depends on the photo and what you’ll be licensing it to use it for, and you may have to pay an additional fee if you want to use the image again for a different project.

Look for Royalty-Free Images
Royalty-free images come with a license that allows you to use the image without paying a fee each time you do so. They are typically non-exclusive, which means other people & businesses can use them too.

Use Images in the Public Domain
Images in the Public Domain are those that no longer have a copyright, so anyone is free to use them. You can find images in the public domain by searching for “public domain images” on Google or other search engines.

Search for Images with a Creative Commons License
If you are looking for free images that are part of the public domain or whose authors have waived copyright in various ways, Creative Commons is the best place to look. You can search for images on Creative Commons here: http://search.creativecommons.org/  Be sure to pay attention to what sort of license each photo comes with. Some only allow their images to be used for non-commercial work, while others offer more flexibility.

Make sure you share videos the right way
If you are sharing videos from YouTube, make sure you are sharing them via the embeddable YouTube player. Do not just download or save the video and then upload it to your website or social media page. Instead, share or embed the video directly from YouTube into your page or website. You can find the embeddable link under the share button on the video’s YouTube page. By sharing videos using the embeddable link or share button, you are maintaining the link back to that video’s page on YouTube and are ensuring that the creator of the video still gets the credit and the benefit of any ad revenue generated when anyone watches the video.

You can also ask the author for their permission to use an image
If you find the perfect video or image and you just have to use it, make sure you contact the author or owner first. Ask their permission and then abide by their requests. It could be that they’ll agree to let you use their image, either for free (with proper credit, of course) or for a small fee. Making sure you have the permission of the author is a win-win for both of you.

By making an effort to be sure you are not infringing on copyright with the images you choose to use, you are ensuring the protection of both your business and the rights of the artists and creators. That is not only proper business practice, that’s something that makes everyone feel good.

Looking for Images? Here are some useful websites:
http://search.creativecommons.org/
http://www.corbisimages.com/
http://www.gettyimages.com/
http://www.shutterstock.com/
http://www.istockphoto.com/

What Can Twitter Analytics Do for You?

November 3, 2014 Kathy Watts permalink

twitterWe are always looking for better ways to connect with our clients online. Twitter is still one of the top social media platforms for doing just that, especially when your followers are on the go. And they recently made it even easier for you to analyze how effective your tweets are and what else your followers are doing online. Earlier this summer, Twitter released their Analytics Dashboard to all of their users (previously, it was only available to their paid advertisers). It is a powerful tool and we’re really excited to have it available for everyone to use.

Twitter Analytics offers a lot of useful information that allows you to evaluate what is happening in your Twitter feed, from what tweets are the most successful, to what your followers are doing and where they are located. Let’s take a look at what it has to offer. You can access Twitter Analytics at: https://analytics.twitter.com/ Once you are logged into your Analytics account, you will see that it is broken down into three sections: Tweets, Followers, & Twitter Cards. Here are a few helpful tips about each of those areas as you begin analyzing your Twitter data.

Tweets
This area provides you with information on your tweets. You can see how many link clicks, retweets, favorites, & replies were received for each tweet. Tweets is broken down into a couple of sections:

  • Impressions – The number of times a user saw the tweet on Twitter.
  • Engagements – The total number of times a user has interacted with a tweet. This includes all clicks anywhere on the tweet (hashtags, links, avatar, username, tweet expansion), retweets, replies, follows, & favorites.
  • Engagement Rate – The engagement rate is determined by dividing the number of engagements by the number of impressions.

You can also click on any tweet on this page and view a Tweet Details page of the data for just that tweet. Tweets is a good section to look at to get an idea of what tweets are getting the most interaction from your followers. You can then use that information to tailor your posts to create greater engagement.

Followers
Followers provide information on your followers. At the top of the page, you will see a graph that tracks the number of followers you have, so that you can see trends of rising or lowering followers over time. The Followers page breaks down your followers by location and gender and shows what your followers’ top interests are, and what their most unique interests are, based on what they are following and what tweets they are liking on Twitter. You also get to see examples of some of the other Twitter accounts they are following. This is all really useful information that can help you determine whether you are effectively reaching your target demographic. It can also be used to tailor tweets to match the overlap of your clients’ interests and your offerings.

Twitter Cards
Twitter Cards
are an exciting new addition to the Twitter family. Once set up and integrated Twitter Cards allow you to take your Twitter posts beyond just text and incorporate photos and videos. The main difference is that those images will show up in your Twitter feed as photos or videos, rather than as just a link to the image. So it makes the user experience that much better. There is a lot to learn about Twitter Cards. Here is a great article over at Forbes.com that will teach you all you need to know about Twitter Cards.

As you can see, the new Twitter Analytics offers you a lot of powerful tools to analyze what is happening with your Twitter feed. It can help you determine what is working well and where you need to make some changes to make your Twitter feed even more successful. Take some time today and sign into your Twitter Analytics account and check out your data. By using the data that Twitter is now providing you free of charge, you can start to strengthen your online presence and make more informed decisions about your social media strategy.

Keep Your Eye on the Turkey

October 31, 2014 Stephany Toman permalink

A  photo of Autumn forest and sunEven though the frost is barely on the pumpkin, things are starting to get serious in terms of end-of-year marketing. We’re about to hit the big time in terms of opportunity to generate significant revenue, all while we’re helping our clients choose most excellent gifts for their intended recipients, recipients who may not yet be loyal to your business.

Gift certificates represent a very solid way to boost your revenue stream and bond with those who are new, or at least new to you, in terms of enjoying relaxing, nurturing, stress-reducing services. There is a lovely symmetry to the gift certificate sale that begins with you promoting your services via your website, in house signage, voice mail recordings, and social media interactions and ending with the lucky giftee scheduling time in your establishment.

You reach out via the media that you’ve chosen to the people you’ve nurtured and to whom you’ve provided spa, massage, esthetic and salon services to in the past to do the right thing – gift a wonderful service to a friend or family member on their list – and in return you gain access to new and more potential long-term clients, clients that you will then be able to reach out to with great promotions and service offerings that they can then gift to other lucky people and so on.

Everything that you do to promote your business, and to provide the absolute best experience possible for everyone who walks in your door matters. Every time a future customer becomes a current customer your hard work has made a difference, for those people decide to seek your services for any number of reasons, all of which you have a modicum of control influencing in positive ways – a friend refers your business by straight recommendation or via gift certificate, an article you have written on your blog has impressed to the point where curiosity is piqued and a decision to try out your services is made, or a social media post gets liked by someone whose like is seen on a friend’s wall. The possibilities are limitless; the choice to reach out with compelling and thought provoking marketing, regardless the medium, is one that pays dividends in countless ways. The process builds on itself – that’s the beauty and frustration of marketing, actually. Even if you ask someone how they found your business, sometimes their answer is only part of the equation. After all, in our day and age of being constantly overwhelmed by a daily barrage of messaging and information – much of it designed to make us buy something or try something, or, right now, to vote in midterm elections for someone, actually – the real reason for finally seeking your services may have begun months before when a friend shared a helpful blog article. The fact that your new client has now bookmarked your blog, or is notified when a new article goes up simply reinforces the entire process.

Back to the turkey.

By now we’re all painfully aware of the Black Friday idiocy ridiculousness chaos tradition.  Most of us have participated at one point in the rush to get the best deal on a down comforter or TV or home appliances or….to be met with extremely long lines full of people suffering from serious turkey hangovers. It’s not fun, and often the object of your original desire is gone by the time you actually get into the place that’s offering up the deal. It’s fundamentally unfair, blows a perfectly good morning to sleep in and relax, and is so not how you need to do things.

You offer the perfect, elegant solution with your instant gift certificates for your services. Use the convenience factor, the elegance piece, the ‘they are absolutely right for so many people on your list’ aspect, and promote them like crazy.

Starting now. Because it’s about to get ugly out there, and you are in the perfect position to make the lives of gift givers a whole lot easier, once again.

Go forth and promote. And go easy on the stuffing – it’ll make you sleepy.

Are You Looking at Facebook Insights?

October 30, 2014 Kathy Watts permalink

Facebook We all have a Facebook business page these days (& if you don’t, you should). And we try to post things we think are interesting to our clients, along with the requisite posts about promotions or sales we are having. But do you ever stop to think about whether your posts are really connecting with your clients? Or whether those same posts are helping to drive further engagement, not only with your clients but also with their extended circles? Facebook Insights can help you do all that and more.

Facebook Insights is a set of analytics that Facebook provides to business pages. It offers you a lot of powerful information that can help you analyze what is happening on your Facebook business page. It can help you understand what is working effectively on your page, as well as learn more about who is visiting your page, what they are doing, and when.

Let’s take a look at the 6 main sections of Facebook Insights. You can find the Insights information by going to your business page and clicking on “Insights” at the very top of the page (above your cover photo). Within Insights, you will see 6 different tabs: Overview, Likes, Reach, Visits, Posts, & People. Here is what you will find on each of these tabs.

Overview
The Overview tab provides you with a snapshot of data for your page from the last 7 days. It also compares the data from this week with the data from last week. You will see it broken down into several sections:

  • Page Likes – this shows you the overall number of likes as well as any new likes this week.
  • Post Reach – This shows you the number of people shown your page and posts.
  • Engagement – Engagement is the number of people who saw a post and then liked, shared, clicked or commented on it.
  • 5 Most Recent Posts – Your 5 most recent posts are displayed at the bottom of the Overview page.

This page is a good one to visit on a regular basis as it gives you a snapshot of the most valuable information from each of the other tabs.

Likes
The Likes tab shows you information about the likes on your business page. This information is broken down in several different ways.

  • Total Page Likes – This is the current total of likes on your page, as of today.
  • Net Likes – This shows you the total number of likes minus unlikes on your page.
  • Where Your Page Likes Came From – where any likes on your page in this period came from, whether they were referred from an external source like your website.

Knowing where your likes come from can be useful when trying to allocate resources.

Reach
The Reach tab shows you information on the reach of your posts, including who saw them and what sort of engagement each post had.

  • Post Reach – This shows the number of people who saw your posts. It is broken down by both organic and paid.
  • Likes, Comments, & Shares – This section shows you information on all the positive engagement your posts had. Increased numbers in this section shows an increase in your overall reach.
  • Hide, Report as Spam, Unlike – This section shows you information on all the negative engagement your posts had. Increased numbers in this section shows a decrease in your overall reach.
  • Total Reach – This shows you the total number of people who were shown any activity from your page.

The information on reach can be helpful in determining what sorts of posts have the most reach and positive engagement, as those are the sort of posts that can help grow your page.

Visits
The Visits tab shows you information about what people did when they visited your page.

  • Page and Tab Visits – This shows the number of times people clicked on each of the tabs on your page, such as About, Hours, Info, or Likes.
  • Other Page Activity – This shows the number of actions that people took that involved your page. This could be the mention of your page in a post or a post by one of your followers on your page.
  • External Referrers – This shows the number of times people came to your Facebook page from an external website or link, such as the link to Facebook on your website.

This information can help you determine whether certain sections of your page need more attention. You can also see whether your reach is increasing based on people who already like your page sharing your posts and pages with people who haven’t liked your page yet.

Posts
The Posts tab shows information about both your followers and your posts. It provides you with information about your followers habits as well as how they have engaged with your posts. It shows two main sections of information:

  • When Your Fans are Online – This shows when the people who like your page are on Facebook. You can track it based on the time of day by mousing over the graph to see how many of your followers are online at any given time of the day or week.
  • Post Types – You can click the tab next to When Your Fans are Online to view this data. It shows the average performance (reach and engagement) of each post type (status, photo, link) on your page.
  • Posts You’ve Published – This section shows all the posts you’ve published in chronological order. It provides a lot of powerful information about each post including:
      1. Type of Post – This shows what sort of post it is: status, photo, link to an external article
      2. Targeting Information – Who this post was shared with. Typically, your posts will tend to be shared globally with all your followers. But you may have subgroups that you share specific posts with
      3. Reach – How many people were reached by this post, usually broken down by organic and paid
      4. Engagement – Number of people who engaged with this post (liked it, clicked on it, shared it, or commented on it)
      5. Boost Post – this is a link that allows you to pay to boost this post and put it back at the top of people’s feeds
      6. You can also click on any individual post to view a detail page for each post

This can be useful information when you are trying to determine what sort of posts get the most reach and engagement. Or what day of the week or time of day is the best time to post on your Facebook page to get the greatest number of views.

People
The People tab shows you information about the people engaging with your page. There are three tabs on this page.

  • Your Fans – shows you information about the people who like your page, broken down by age, gender, and geography. You can also mouse over each demographic to see how your engagement with that section compares to Facebook as a whole.
  • People Reached – shows your demographic information about the people reached with your posts.
  • People Engaged – shows you demographic information about the people who engaged with your posts.

This can be useful information if you are trying to target a certain demographic, such as women ages 35-50.

As you can see, Facebook Insights offers a lot of powerful metrics to help you better understand what is resonating with your followers and where you can make improvements or shift focus in your posts in order to engage an even larger audience.

Take some time today to check out your insights. By using all the valuable data that Facebook has already compiled for you, you can make better decisions about both your Facebook strategy and the content you post on your business page.

What Will You Do In 2015?

October 22, 2014 Kathy Watts permalink

People working cogsWe’ve all been there. It’s Friday afternoon and suddenly you realize that the end of next week is the start of the Valentine’s or Mother’s Day season and you’ve been too busy to plan anything yet. So you spend the next several hours rushing to prepare some sort of promotion or special, creating stress for you and your team and ending up with what is probably not the greatest campaign. Plus, by then, it’s probably too late. Your competitors have been advertising their promos for days or weeks by now and probably have an effective plan in place that encompasses email marketing, in-store signage, and social media interaction. By waiting until the last minute, you’ll have to rely on your loyal clients to hopefully remember your business and choose it as their gift option. Or settle for a less than stellar campaign and poor market penetration.

Let’s make 2015 different. Why not schedule a bit of time in the next couple of weeks and get your 2015 marketing plan in order now? Not only will it set you up for success in the new year, but it will reduce stress, and help you plan out your promotions and stay within your marketing budget for the year. By planning it all out now, you’ll also be afforded the time to look at what has worked and what hasn’t this year and last year. And you can make more effective marketing decisions for the future.

Here are some things to think about when planning your marketing strategy for 2015:

First, some Analysis
The first thing to do is to analyze what has worked for you (& what hasn’t worked) in the past. Take a look at your promotions and numbers for this year and 2013. You should be able to look back and see what worked and what didn’t work. Your staff is a great resource to look to for feedback as well.

Here are some things to look at:

  • What promos were successful in the past year? in 2013?
  • What promos were unsuccessful in the past year? in 2013?
  • What did your revenue numbers look like by month?

From here, you want to really look at why certain promotions resonated with your clients, while others just didn’t seem to hit the mark. Were all the successful promotions during certain times of the year or for certain types of specials? What about the unsuccessful promotions?

This can also be a good time to do a SWOT Analysis to really take a look at your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats as you begin to plan out the next year. Even if you don’t have time to do a SWOT Analysis, you can still do a less in depth analysis of your current situation and your goals for the future. Here are some things to consider:

  • Who is your current demographic? Are you effectively reaching them? If so, where?
  • Do you have a different demographic that you would like to target in 2015? If so, who?
  • As a business, what are you doing well? What could you be doing better?
  • Have there been any major changes in the marketplace?
  • Are there any new opportunities that you would like to pursue?

Now that you’ve completed an analysis of what worked and didn’t work in the past and where you want the business to be headed in the future, it’s time to start thinking about what you want to do in 2015.

Time to Lay Out a Plan
Start off with just a short calendar list of the promotions for the year. I like to break mine down by quarters and then by months. Lay out on the calendar when you will start and end promotions, along with a general description of what the promotion will be. But don’t stop there. You want to make your marketing plan more in depth than that.

Take some time to think about your social media and what sort of posts you want to share on there during the course of the year. Be sure to consider when and how you will post to social media and your blog. Keep in mind that while social media plays an important role in informing your customers of specials and promotions, that should not be its primary role. Social media is a place where you can create a community and use it to inspire and engage. If you do that well, then sharing news such as upcoming specials and promotions becomes an organic part of the communications.

Be sure to consider where other forms of communications, such as email marketing and newsletters, fit into this plan. Give some thought to what sort of information you want to feature in your newsletters and blog posts. Taking the time now to plan out what the overall year of posts or newsletters will look like will make it much easier down the road.

Make sure all of this gets onto your marketing calendar. And be sure to leave some room for flexibility. You want your plan to have the flexibility to make changes or shuffle things around based on the changing needs of your business and the marketplace throughout the course of the year.

Schedule Time to Implement Your Plan
Now that you have a plan in place, marketing in 2015 will be so much simpler. But there is one more key element of your marketing plan that you need to put into place. Regular attendance. A plan is only as good as the people who implement it. So make sure you schedule time regularly (once a week or so) for someone on your team to take a look at the plan and take care of the tasks that need to happen next to keep things running smoothly. If you make this plan a priority, and everyone knows what they need to do (& when they need to do it), then nobody will be running around in a panic at the last minute trying to get things done.

So now you have a plan in place and your team is ready for 2015. Be sure to revisit your plan regularly. Ask for feedback from your staff and clients. And don’t be afraid to make changes throughout the course of the year to make your plan even more effective. By putting a plan together in advance, you’re making it much easier to analyze and improve your business practices throughout the course of the year. That will lead to far less stress and a healthier business.

*** This article concludes our “Time for a Tune Up” series. We hope the series has helped identify ways that you can tune up your business practices, and carve out time to think about your business and marketing strategies for 2015.

Tune Up Your Social Media

October 1, 2014 Kathy Watts permalink

People working cogsThese days, just having a Facebook page and Twitter account is not enough. They shouldn’t just be an afterthought, or something you signed up for because you thought your business should have them. They also shouldn’t just be a place to advertise your specials.

People spend more time on social media than they do watching television, so making sure your business is not only present but offering interesting and engaging posts is more important than ever. People are looking for engagement and benefits from liking your page. Social media should be a place where you create and foster a community. That community then becomes a captive audience and a strong contingent of your regular customers.

Now is a great time of the year to tune up your social media pages & rethink your social media strategy. Here are some things to consider:

First, Do a Bit of Housekeeping
Here are a few initial places to start off the housekeeping on your page:

  • Is your contact information (phone number, address, & website) correct? Have you entered your business hours and are they accurate? Is your About section filled out and up to date?
  • Make sure your Facebook page is a business page and not just a profile. Not only is it more professional, it also doesn’t violate Facebook’s policies. If someone can “Friend” your page, then you have a profile. A Business page can only be “Liked”.
  • Do you have a cover photo and profile picture? Studies show that users are drawn to pages with photos. Make sure your page has them and they are sized to fit properly.

 

What makes a good post? Trends in Posting
More and more people are spending more and more time on social media, and they aren’t just on there to watch videos of cats. They are there looking for inspiration, engagement, and to feel like part of a community. So make your page the sort of place that provides that sort of experience, rather than just a spot to check out your specials. Inspire them with tips and information about how to achieve a more beautiful and healthy lifestyle. Engage them with questions that encourage interaction. The trend in posting to social media is moving towards shorter, more frequent communications, with a focus on visual. This is the perfect place to test out your brand voice and personality (two topics we’ve covered recently here on the blog). The best posts create and foster a sense of community and initiate conversations.

Think Visual!
Consumers continue to become more and more visual, and they are drawn to posts with images. So think about incorporating more visuals into your posts. All of the social media platforms are set up to incorporate photos or videos into your posts, so posting with photos is now easier than ever.

Consider using Video
YouTube has more viewers than cable television. Used effectively, video is a great way to connect with even more of your clients or prospective customers. Plus, with the Facebook algorithm, users who watch videos will start to see more videos in their feeds, which means your posts will show up more frequently if they include photos and videos. Video can be a great tool for sharing tips with your followers or introducing them to your staff.

Create a Series
Series are a great way to generate interest and also a way to bring followers back again, to check out the next installment. It’s also a great way to set your business up as an expert, or to help foster your brand identity online by helping your followers get to know your business better.

A great idea for a series is to answer your five most asked questions in little videos. Then share them on your social media outlets in a weekly series & make a landing page on your website that features them as well. Or create an Ask the Expert series where followers can post questions and you post a video response/tutorial once a week.

Should you add another outlet?
Facebook and Twitter are still the kings of social media. But there are lots of other platforms out there that continue to grow in popularity. Now might be a good time to think about adding another to the mix. Consider Google+, the fastest growing of the social networks. Experts predict that it will only continue to grow and its users are very active. It could be a great third social media outlet to add to your marketing plan.

There are also quite a few social media platforms that are a bit more specialized, such as LinkedIn for business contacts, Pinterest for pinning fave photos and links to websites/articles, Instagram for posting snapshots, and Vine for posting short 6 second videos. It’s worth evaluating these to determine whether any of them will provide added benefit to your social media strategy.

Now more than ever, having a strong social media marketing strategy is one of the most powerful tools in your marketing plan. Make sure you keep it up to date and invest the time and effort to make it useful and interesting for your followers. You’ll see that commitment reflected in your bottom line.

*** This article is part of our “Time for a Tune Up” series, designed to help you tune up your business practices, get ready for the holidays, and think about your business and marketing strategies, both for the rest of this year and heading into 2015. It’s not too early to start thinking ahead, and now is the time to start preparing for even more success.