Tag Archives: Social Media

Become a social media rockstar in 5 Easy Steps

Social media management is far from an easy job.

Being a great social media manager often means lots of effort and longer hours than you had expected. For entrepreneurs with already limited time, this can be a major problem. Thankfully, there are some great tools and strategies out there – many of them free – which can help you out.

Here’s a few tips that can make social media management a little easier.

1. What’s Your Social Media Strategy?

As with everything related to sales and marketing, you should always have a strategy. What you hope to accomplish and how you plan to achieve it will help you set the parameters for the work that lies ahead. When it comes to managing social media for a business, you need to create a detailed map and navigate your initiatives accordingly.

2. Content Calendar

This is your map of all your ideas and you should be following it closely. It will help you stay organized and keep you on top of all the different channels you may be looking after. Use a traditional calendar or an Excel spreadsheet to map out all the types of posts you want to make, on what channel, and when. Ideally, this will keep you posting regularly on all your social media platforms for all the targets in your strategy.

3. HootSuite

If you’re already on it, great! If not, HootSuite is a social media management system that allows users to preschedule posts, shorten links, and utilize basic analytics to see how well they’re doing. It will save you having to manually update your accounts at various times throughout the day, and can help you prepare for weekends and holidays when you still want to be active. There is a free and paid version depending on the amount you’re willing to allocate to the tool. We made the leap from Tweetdeck to HootSuite a year ago and haven’t looked back.

4. Twitter Lists

Twitter is one of the most commonly used social media platforms, whether you’re a B2B or B2C business. You’re likely following many great accounts that relate to your industry (at least you should be) that can provide you with great content. If you haven’t already, organize these accounts into groups and create lists for them. The next time you’re searching for new content on something in your industry, it will already be there and easy to find.

5. A Clipping Service

Finding great content to share can become a time consuming challenge. What are known as clipping services can help. They can provide you with all the relevant information that fits a defined category of keywords. Three services come to mind: Google Alerts, TrendSpottr and Mention. These clipping services will automatically email you content that fits your criteria so you’re always in the loop. They can also act as a great tool for media monitoring!

If you’d like to learn more easy ways you can solve your social media management challenges, feel free to reach out to me.

How to make social selling easier for your sales team

According to HubSpot, 56% of B2B marketers are planning to increase their social media spend in 2013. But what does the customer-facing sales team think? Do they see the value of social media for sales?

Despite the fact that ‘social selling’ is a pretty popular concept right now, there still seems to be a good chunk of salespeople out there that remain reluctant to embrace business to business social media as a sales tool. Why is this?

In a business world where the average buyer is now 70% of the way through the decision-making process before they even engage with a sales rep, it’s just crazy to ignore the potential of social media on the buying process.

At its core, marketing is about education and influence, and marketers should view the task of onboarding their sales teams no differently than any other campaign they run. As marketers, we need to do a better job of selling B2B social media to sales. And since we all know salespeople love quantifiable benefits, here’s a few statistics that should help your case.

Here are 4 ways that marketers can make social media easier for sales teams:

  • Social Media Training & Onboarding Getting started with social media can seem daunting at first, especially for salespeople in traditional industries. This step is all about change management. Marketers need to provide both initial training sessions and ongoing support to salespeople as required.  As a best practice, every onboarding session should provide the sales team with a 360-degree view of social selling, starting with why social matters and culminating with account set-up and industry best practices. Who should salespeople follow? What keywords should they target? What tools should they use to monitor chatter? How should they engage? What should they avoid doing?
  • Set Objectives Setting objectives for the sales team is a great way to make social stick. However, trying to boil the ocean is the quickest way to fail. When setting objectives for social media, start small. Set weekly, monthly, or quarterly activity goals for sales reps that escalate over time.  Measuring shares, posts, likes, RTs, and followers is a great place to start for a new user. Over time, you can shift these activity-based objectives into goal-based objectives, such as inbound leads and booked meetings.
  • Develop Easy to Follow Processes Marketers must develop easy-to-follow business to business social media processes that can be easily integrated into a salespersons average day. For example, a daily LinkedIn company page update or tweets from the corporate account followed with an email reminder can help keep social selling top of mind for busy salespeople.
  • Work With Sales to Identify Content Opportunities Here lies the true opportunity for marketers. By creating a strong feedback loop with front-line salespeople, marketers can gain insight into what prospects really care about, what works and what doesn’t. Involving sales in this process can not only increase the accuracy of the information, but also help to establish a sustainable content program in the long-run.

Ultimately, integrating social media into the business to business sales process should be a key objective of forward-thinking startups and growing B2B organizations. If you’re a marketer looking for help getting your sales team onboard with business to business social media, I’d love to talk about your challenges. Feel free to reach out to me at any time.

Combining Content Marketing, SEO and Social Media to Generate More Inbound Leads

Historically, marketing has always been thought of as a cost-centre. But thanks to the phenomenal rise of inbound marketing and marketing analytics tools, marketers are now able to take credit for the lead generation they are responsible for.

As of 2013, 60% of companies have integrated some form of inbound marketing into their marketing strategy. While there are many moving parts to an inbound marketing program, here are three tactics all startups should emphasize to create an online lead generation machine.

  • Content Marketing A comprehensive content strategy should lie at the heart of your lead generation efforts. As social media examiner points out, the average marketer now uses an average of 12 content marketing tactics. Hosting a range of content on your digital properties can help convert them from static pages to conversation hubs. When considering content conversion, providing an opportunity for prospects to give you more information is important, but don’t turn your readers off by requiring them to convert for everything. Your content should lie along a ‘cost-conversion scale’, with lower effort content like blogs and infographics on the free side, and higher effort content like white papers and ebooks  requiring an act of conversion.
  • SEO The good news about a well-developed content marketing strategy is that it will help make finding your business online easier for customers and prospects.  For example, according to HubSpot, companies that blog tend to generate 97% more inbound links. And as noted by LeapLab, SEO now delivers 14% of marketers’ total leads. Here’s a great search engine optimization kit from HubSpot to “help you understand the search landscape, optimize your website, get found by qualified prospects, and convert higher percentages of them to leads and paying customers.”
  • Social Media You can create great content and optimize it for search engines, but your lead generation machine won’t be complete without social media. As HubSpot noted in their 2012 State of Inbound Marketing report, social media has a 100% higher lead-to-close rate than outbound marketing. And at Venture Accelerator Partners for example, Twitter and LinkedIn alone now account for well over 40% of our referral traffic.

As with any marketing program, your lead generation machine won’t be successful if you aren’t constantly monitoring, analyzing and adapting your efforts. The key to generating inbound leads is great content. Without it, your SEO and social media efforts won’t be as useful. If you’re interested in finding out more about how to generate inbound leads or inbound marketing, feel free to connect with me at any time.

Why you should be using a social media content calendar

In a world of content marketing, the one with a plan is king.

Now that the production and curation of quality marketing content is widely viewed as the best way to engage customers and drive meaningful leads, it’s crucial to have a plan that lets you take advantage. And in a world where social media has become a primary means of communication, insightful timing and dogged consistency are the keys to success.

A social media content calendar, a detailed management schedule of how you plan to leverage social media to support your sales and marketing activities, will help keep you focused, save you time, and enhance your social media ROI.

Here are 3 reasons to create a social media content calendar:

  • Integrated Sales & Marketing Support Social media is a tool to support your sales and marketing strategy – not a sales and marketing strategy unto itself. Aimlessly tweeting or posting links to Facebook without an overarching strategy doesn’t add a whole lot of value. To be successful, social media can’t exist in a silo. It must be closely integrated with all other marketing and sales elements to be worthwhile, and a content calendar can help align your social media efforts with your greater strategy. For example, if you’re planning to launch a new product in February, use your content calendar to plan your social media efforts now. Plan to write a series of blogs that help define the problem and demonstrate the need for a solution; schedule a series of escalating tweets and Facebook posts that shift the conversation towards awareness and desire as the launch date nears; plan a Facebook contest that will spur continued engagement post-launch.
  • Better Efficiency & Organization As the number of social media tools used in B2B marketing continues to grow, it’s certainly a challenge to keep track of everything. At VA Partners, our social media content calendar lives in an Excel spreadsheet that gets updated and assessed on a week-to-week basis. Though seemingly simple, our content calendar saves us a huge amount of time and effort with regards to researching and scheduling social media activity. It’s a wonder for 3rd party content curation too, providing us with a guideline/template from which to source great material from top industry sources. Other key benefits are that it keeps us focused and on message, prevents overloading on a single topic, and keeps everyone on the team on the same page.
  • Take Advantage of Timing Different social media tools work best at different times. For example, research has shown that content posted to Facebook garners the most shares around 6:00pm, the most likes around 8:00pm, and Facebook also seems to be more effective at driving engagement on weekends. For its part, Twitter seems to be most effective at driving engagement between 3:00pm-6:00pm (in terms of RTs). Of course, the best time of day will vary for every company, but using a content calendar can help ensure you’re using the right tool at the right time to reach the right audience.

Given that it’s the holiday season, it also seems worthwhile to mention that looking ahead is never a bad idea. Identifying key dates throughout the year (whether they’re holidays, birthdays, customer milestones, etc.) will help ensure you don’t miss out on an opportunity to leverage a special day to engage with customers, employees, or partners.

Does your company use a social media content calendar?

If you’re looking for help streamlining your social media efforts, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

 

Choosing the Right Social Media Tools for Your Startup

By now we’re all aware of the importance of social media for marketing and sales. There’s no marketing tool that can rival Facebook’s usability and visual nature. Except for Pinterest. And Twitter’s interconnectivity and speed is unrivalled in the history of mass communications. LinkedIn is the only avenue for B2B marketing and sales that matters. The list goes on and on.

As a free (or nearly free) tool, social media has become a pillar of startup marketing and sales strategies. But with so many social media tools at your disposal, it can often be hard to know exactly where to start and which tools are worth your time and effort.

While I’m a firm believer that creative marketers can successfully leverage any platform, it’s a reality that some social media tools will be better than others for building relationships with the customers you need to reach. Here are 3 questions to ask yourself when considering what social media tools you should be utilizing:

1. Who is your target audience? Understanding who your target market is, where they are, and what they are looking for must be at the centre of your marketing, sales, and social media strategies. The medium is the message, and unique target markets will respond differently to different social media tools. If you’re a startup focusing on reaching young, fashion-savvy teenage girls, Pinterest is probably a good place to invest your time since 68.2% of Pinterest users are women, it’s a visual platform, and its social atmosphere should resonate.  If you sell standardized industrial widgets? Take a pass. It’s unlikely the foremen you sell your products to spend their workday browsing for the latest hip fashions. There are better uses for your time and marketing budget.

2. What are you trying to accomplish? The key question here is “What sort of behaviour am I looking to drive in my target market?” It’s immensely important to define your goals. If your focus is raising awareness, you should be using a different set of tools than if your focus is seeking out prospective customers to add to your sales funnel. It may sound odd, but some social media tools are inherently more ‘social’ than others. To create a marketing buzz, focus your efforts on social media tools that allow for easy sharing and are organized based on user interests like Twitter, Pinterest, or a blog.

3. What are the limitations of the available tools? Take the time to thoroughly understand what each social media tool can offer your business. Will your target market respond better to a link to a relevant website on Twitter or an interactive video on YouTube? Are the unique benefits of your products and services best communicated through text or photos? Answering questions like these will quickly narrow your focus. Many websites also provide businesses with a host of helpful tips and programs that can be of great value to a startup. Place an emphasis on tools that provide quality analytics programs so you can analyze your efforts and make adjustments as needed.

Don’t try and boil the ocean. As labours of love, startups are already time consuming enough. While social media can be helpful in prospecting for customers and nurturing relationships, not all businesses are well suited to every social media tool. The best social media tools for your startup are the ones that will help you connect and collaborate with customers, build the right relationships, and optimize your content for maximum ROI. To find out more about how Venture Accelerator Partners can help you with your marketing, sales, and social media, check out our website.

 

Copywriting for Your Audience – How to Create Great Content

Having clear copywriting practices is a very important aspect of your marketing strategy. Copywriting is the part of the marketing strategy that is used to by companies to communicate the right messages to the right audience. It is important to be able to keep track of all things you are communicating in print across all mediums, whether on your website, in your newsletter or with your social media platforms. In order to formulate good material for all of your marketing outlets there is one important thing to keep in mind – your audience.

  • Who is your target audience? Before beginning to develop the content for your marketing platforms, do research on who your target audience is. Who would be the ideal person to buy your solution? This will help formulate content that will appeal to the right prospects.
  • What are your platforms? Now that you know your target audience, figure out where they get information from. Different types of marketing tactics get the attention of different types of people. Are they more or less likely to be engaged in social media? Will they benefit from a monthly newsletter?
  • What kind of language are you using? The types of words and the way in which you phrase your sentences can make big difference in reaching your target audience. For example, you may use professional discourse on Linkedin and more casual words on Twitter. Formulate your content so that your target audience will be more interested in reading what you have to say.
  • What will your audience take away? Perhaps the most important thing when it comes to creating content is to encourage your reader to take action; this can include visiting your website or contacting a team member. Make sure that you leave then with a clear statement about what to do next.

As you can see, there are a number of things to consider when it comes to creating content that is engaging to your ideal audience. Once these questions are answered you are well on your way to creating a great copywriting strategy.

To learn more about copywriting for your business download the VA Partners whitepaper Copywriting 101 or visit our website.

 

Pinterest for B2B: What to know and how to start

Many small businesses ask themselves the same question when deciding whether or not they should embark in the newest social media platform: Is it worth my time? I recently read an ebook by Hubspot on Pinterest for B2B. For those who are unfamiliar with Pinterest, it is a social platform that relies on the sharing of visuals images. On the surface, it is easy to see how Pinterest benefits B2C companies, but how may it helped B2B organizations?

Below are is a list of various questions you may be asking yourself about Pinterest. I have provided a few points that may help you make a decision about fitting Pinterest into your marketing strategy:

What is Pinterest?

  • Visual social media platform where users share, like, comment and follow people and boards to pass along information in the form of images and videos.
  • How popular is it? Pinterest saw 155% growth in one month, beating out Linkedin and Google+

How does Pinterest fit into the marketing strategy of B2B organizations?

  • What kind of businesses should be considering it? Businesses that highly utilize videos and images in their core messaging. Keep in mind that you want to be where your customers are. Do some research beforehand to see if your current customers and prospects are using the platform.
  • Pinterest provides connectivity to Facebook and Twitter. Users can sign up using their Facebook or Twitter account, therefore, posting their Pinterest activity to these separate social networks as well

I set up a profile, what now?

  • Optimize your profile: Include your company name, logo, brief description, links, keep the setting ‘hide your Pinterest profile from search engines’ checked OFF
  • Want to be successful? Avoid blatant self-promotion. Even a sales person will tell you that no one likes to be ‘sold to.’ Keep your content educational and informative.
  • Start by creating pinboards in order to build a reach and network. A pinboard is like a Twitter list; it is a tool used to consolidate information pertaining to one particular topic of interest. Remember to utilize your company’s keywords in the title of pinboards for SEO purposes and to clearly communicate what your board is for.

I’ve set up a profile. Is there anything else I should know?

  • There are 2 kinds of follows:
    • 1) Follow a board: Users will receive all information posted on a particular pinboard. It’s similar to following a list on Twitter.
    • 2) Follow a user: Users will receive updates every time your company posts an update. It’s similar to following someone’s Twitter handle.
    • When developing your pinboards, remember some of these great tips:
      • Feature visual content; Pinterest is a visual social network
      • Create pinboards about your company so users can see the people behind the brand. Example: Executive Managament board with headshots of your team.
      • Utilize strong visuals from blog articles to promote your blogs
      • Create a user generated pinboard; allow other Pinterest users to add to your boards
      • Utilize hashtags; Pinterest supports the use of hashtags.
      • Measure, Measure, Measure! Remember to measure your efforts by using a tool such as Google Analytics. Identify how many users are coming to your website from Pinterest and set goals for inbound traffic. For example, increase your Pinterest inbound traffic by 20% per month. Also use analytics to understand what works and what doesn’t; are people visiting your blogs from Pinterest and not your newsletter page?

Hubspot has a lot of great resources if you’re looking to brush up on your marketing knowledge, or if you’re interested in learning something new. Give us a shout if you need assistance putting your thoughts into action and want to start executing a strong marketing strategy. To get weekly tips, sign up for our RSS feed and take a look at our blogs on sales, marketing and social media.

For more information on our part-time sales and marketing services, visit our website.

 

 

 

The medium may be the message, but the message still applies

Last September, I wrote a blog titled “The Medium is the Message” and how it applies to our social media efforts. As mentioned in my previous blog, McLuhan’s theory was not made for the internet and social media, however, his theory applies none-the-less. When stating “The medium is the message”, McLuhan believed that it was not what we said, but the way we said it that mattered most. Although McLuhan was right in saying that the way we send our message is important, we cannot neglect the message itself; this is where the importance of copywriting comes in.

Copywriting is essentially the value of your company, its services and products in writing. In order to ensure you accurately portray your brand to your customers, prospects and even competitors, here are a few tips to get you on your way:

  1. Assign someone to do the task. Startups and growing organizations suffer from inadequate resources to get things completed. Find the person in your company that handles the majority (or all) of your Marketing efforts. This person will have some prior insight into how your company should be communicating with your audience.
  2. Prep yourself before writing. We won’t all be superstar copywriters at first, but a bit of help can lead to success. Attend webinars, read whitepapers and even take a copywriter in your neighbourhood out for a coffee to pick their brain for an hour.
  3. Make a copywriting plan for each medium. Put a copywriting plan in place for your Social Media outlets, Whitepapers, Email Newsletters and Website. Having copywrite for each medium put into a plan and templated will make it easier to pass it on throughout your company. It will also serve as a back-up source of information in case any of your employees need a refresher.
  4. Keep a content calendar. A content calendar can be done on something as simple as Microsoft Excel, or it can be done on Google Docs. Either way you choose to track this information, make sure your entire team is on the same page. This way, the timeline and expectations for each source will be known by all your employees. Mark Evans speaks also speaks on the importance of content marketing and how it applies to our Marketing efforts; check out his website for more information.

If you’re looking for help on your copywriting efforts, or simply looking for resources on Copywriting techniques, reach out to myself or sign up for our monthly newsletter filled with great information, suggested readings and events on Sales and Marketing.

 

Facebook Timeline: What it can do for your growing business

As all marketers and many in small businesses know, Facebook has made some changes recently to their page layout. As a marketer, it is our job to stay on top of emerging trends and changes with social media platforms. I have made it a habit of my own to participate and attend any webinar or event that discusses the new Timeline introduced by Facebook for business pages. I wrote a blog recently detailing the various features of the new page – information came from my monthly Social Media Breakfast Waterloo session. This time, I attended a webinar from Hubspot with guest speaker Chris Luo of Facebook. Chris went over the pros of what a Timeline will do for your business, both large and small. In an effort to pass on what I’ve learned, I’ve highlighted points from Chris’ presentation:

  • Timeline is an empty canvas. It is meant to provide companies with more room to be creative and to allow their pages to be more interactive. The cover photo for instance allows consumers to learn more about a brand beyond just a logo

Side note: Your Profile Picture should be your logo, your Cover Photo should be an image that captures the essence and/or showcases your product service.

  • Add milestones into your timelines to define key moments at your company. These could include: Funding, publications, hires, office moves, etc. I would start by adding the time your company was founded and include a brief recap of how it all began
  • Pin important stories to the top of your timeline. Did a customer give you a rave review? The timeline feature allows you to pin these types of stories (or customer testimonials) to the top of your page
  • Analytics and Administration panels are there to help. Just like you use Google Analytics to extract information about your website traffic, the new Facebook analytics will provide you with similar functionalities. Remember, your analytics will be visible to everyone
  • You can now interact over personal messaging. Now, when you want to take a conversation that is occurring over your timeline a little more private, you can use the private messaging feature to do so.
  • Customize which messages you want to cover the most real estate on your page. As mentioned in my previous blog you can adjust the size of posts to the full width of your Facebook page

Great Question asked at the end: Is it okay to change your Cover Photo often?

Answer: Yes! Take advantage of this feature and use it to update your page. However, don’t go overboard by changing the picture multiple times or even every day. Use your own discretion but make sure it’s up long enough to catch enough attention.

If you have any questions as to how you can get your Facebook page started or how you can adapt your page to the new changes, feel free to reach out to me. Visit our website for more information about VA Partners.

 

 

Tips for Starting a Linkedin in Group

Recently VA Partners launched a group on Linkedin called “Sales and Marketing for Canadian Startups”. Linkedin groups have a number of benefits for member such as sharing content and making connections, as outlined in a previous blog post. However, from the perspective of a group owner there are different things to consider when it comes to Linkedin groups.

When I was doing research on how to start a Linkedin group I came across a number of resources with great guidelines. These include articles from Hubspot and Social Media Examiner.The recently published article “How to Run a Successful Linkedin Group” featuring Sourov De and Chris Hebert has some great tips as well.

Below are some tips I have gathered:

Marketing:

  • Develop a digital marketing strategy to gain momentum in attracting members. Use social media platforms such as twitter to spread the word. Other outlets can include the use of your newsletter. You can use these platforms to not only present the launch of the group, but to also provide continual updates on the group’s progress.
  • Use connections that individuals have on Linkedin to send out personal emails encouraging them to join the group to by outlining what benefits it could offer them. It’s important to only invite people who will actually consider joining.

Content:

  • Since the group is encompassing both sales and marketing it’s important to vary the topics of the content that is being posted as well as the sources that they are being drawn from but still maintain the overall topics of sales and marketing.
  • Formulate questions and post them as discussions to allow members to engage in conversations.
  • Comment and like discussions that are posted by other members in order to show that you are involved in the group’s discussion board.

Monitoring:

  • Decide whether an open group or a closed group is more appropriate for the goals of your group. Some factors that play a part in making your decision include:approving members, approving discussions or allowing updates without any approval. The decision to have an open or closed group will alter the amount of time you will regularly spend on the group.
  • Set up group rules for members to refer to. This also shows that this group is meant to facilitate only relevant discussions. It indicates to members that the group managers are involved in the group’s progress and are committed to making it one that will be beneficial to its members.
  • Develop a way of addressing spam and other promotional material. First, it’s important to create guidelines on what is considered spam and what isn’t.Utilize the personal message feature in Linkedin to connect with anyone who is posting things that aren’t relevant to the group

It’s important to realize that once the group has been launched many of your pre-planned ideas may need to be adjusted. For example there can be lot of activity on the group’s discussion board so you may reduce the amount of content you post.Continue to develop your plans to cater to your groups demographic.

Take a look at the group “Sales and Marketing for Canadian Startups” to see the results of the efforts that are put into creating a Linkedin group. For more information about how you can make the shift in Marketing for your team, or for help getting your Marketing efforts off the ground, take a look at how we can help.

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