4 Reasons Not to Lose Sleep Over A Negative Online Review

If you’re a business owner, you’re bound to receive a negative review at some point; it’s a risk that comes with the territory of business ownership. Unfortunately, businesses, and small businesses in particular, can sometimes have a fear of negative reviews and may even avoid putting their business on social media to avoid them, hence limiting their reach to potential new customers. This is understandable as, once received, it’s hard not to take them to heart, but here’s the thing; negative reviews aren’t something to lose sleep over and here’s why:

 

They May Not Be Written by Real People

First and foremost, they may not be written by real people. Can you believe people are paid to leave negative reviews? It could just be some fake person, a person who’s never tried your service, or it could be a person hired by a competitor. Yes, people do stoop to this level. If you see a review that you don’t recognize as an actual occurrence you remember, or seems too general in their complaint, or maybe only gives you a poor star rating…it could be utterly and entirely fake.

Consider this finding by Eric Anderson and Duncan Simester—professors of marketing at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and MIT’s Sloan School of Management:

The writers of the most negative reviews had not bought the product they were deploring. In other words, the indignant “This shirt is so flimsy it might as well be tissue paper!” customer hadn’t bought the shirt, let alone tried it on.” – abcnews.go.com

This shocks a lot of my small business clients because they are working so hard to launch their company and trying 200% to ensure client satisfaction, that it literally never occurs to them that it could be fake. This is the number one reason I coach small businesses to get angry later, take a look at the facts first, and if it turns out to be legit, then move on in a calm and professional way. Taking a negative review to heart right away can leave you discouraged, frustrated, and angry; and all that can waste time you don’t have, even more so if the review isn’t real.

 

They Can Actually Help Your Business

You read that right; they can actually help your business. Have you ever encountered a company with a straight 5 star rating? Isn’t it hard to believe they make absolutely everyone happy? It’s not impossible, but it’s rare. Your credibility can actually be improved with a negative review here or there because potential clients won’t assume that you just delete the ones you don’t like (even though that’s rarely an available option on most platforms). Leaving them up can show that you have nothing to hide. While having a straight 5 star rating is nice, it could also make people wonder if you’ve paid people to write them.

 

You Can Respond to Negative Reviews

They had the right to write it, you have the right to respond. How you handle a negative review speaks volumes to your business and work ethic. Handling a negative review in a calm, professional, and customer-focused manner shows that you make every effort (within reason) to make the situation right in the event a customer is unsatisfied. Say a potential customer narrows their choice down to two companies, but from the reviews it’s shown that Company A clearly doesn’t follow up when there’s a problem after payment is received, but Company B does; that customer is going to choose Company B because they’ve demonstrated satisfactory issue reconciliation.

Of course, if the reviewer goes too far in their claims, is untruthful, attacking, and/or reports untrue claims resulting in devastation to your business, you can take legal action. In some cases, you may want to delete the review; however that option is usually only available to the person who wrote it. Depending on the site, you may have the ability to ‘report’ a review if it contains offensive or obscene content and/or block the person from your page. Most reviews can be responded to, so it’s best to reserve the deletion option for when you have an extreme situation.

Consider this quote from Time concerning Dietz Development, LLC vs. Jane Perez in their Case Study – Online Reviewers Beware: You Can Get Sued:

“Under federal law — 47 U.S.C. § 230, to be specific — websites like Yelp and Angie’s List are shielded from being sued for defamation, but the writers — people like Perez — are legally responsible for what they write and lawsuits can be filed against them. That may not be what a lot of people are thinking when they go on Angie’s List or Amazon to air grievances. In fact, Perez told the Washington Post that when she posted her reviews it never occurred to her that she might end up in court or on the hook for thousands of dollars in legal fees — not to mention the monetary damages. Dietz is suing for $750,000, and awards can go far higher than that. In 2006, a jury awarded a Florida woman $11.3 million in damages against a woman who made defamatory comments on an Internet message board.” – idea.time.com

Both the company and the individual were later found to have defamed each other, resulting in wasted time, money, and damage to reputations on both sides, so legal action should always be considered carefully.

 

The Writer Could Be Trying to Get an Employee Fired

Relationships are tricky and sometimes they take an ugly turn and spill into the workplace. The review may have nothing to do with you and everything to do with this person’s agenda. Getting angry about a bad review first, could make it hard to recognize that you have an employee in distress or a possible dangerous situation.

 

In Summary

Times have changed, and while a few years back poor online reviews might have been detrimental to a business, the online world has become so embedded in our day-to-day that the buying habits of potential customers have evolved. Your average customer now spends more time on online research before they ever make contact with you because the data is available, and available from their phone.

Consider these quotes from a 2015 Google Report titled “Building for the Moment:”

“Automotive: Car buyers spend up to 15 hours online researching, comparing and learning.

Hotel AdsThere are millions of searches for hotels everyday — that’s millions of potential hotel bookings. When people search for hotels, they’re looking for information like rates, availability, locations, user reviews, editorial descriptions, Google Street View, and high resolution photos.”

As Google’s data demonstrates, that ease of access and readily available data has not only increased the customer time spent on research, but in reading through online reviews. That exposure makes the average person more adept at recognizing reviews that provide value versus ones that have a vendetta and, while we’ve focused on the more general features of negative online reviews, it’s also important to mention specific discrediting characteristics. The average customer will be more likely to dismiss reviews containing one or more of the following characteristics, and in a way, you should to…

  • They give a 1 star rating – no explanation
  • They are given by someone without a profile picture
  • It only states the negative, no positives mentioned whatsoever
  • The review includes too many exclamation points or ALL CAPS
  • They are poorly written with grammatical errors and spelling mistakes
  • They are given by someone without a ‘verified purchase’ indicator
  • They are too vague, indicating they may have never used your services
  • They are bordering on defamation when the majority of your reviews are positive
  • They are obscene, harassing, violent, have racial undertones, or are otherwise objectionable
  • They are out of date and you have since populated a variety of positive and mostly positive reviews
  • They are recent, but your clients have responded in your defense because they recognize the motives of the writer
  • They are recent, but you’ve responded with an offer to make the situation right and the reviewer did not respond back

While all reviews matter, don’t let yourself sweat the ones containing characteristics listed above. You’ll still need to respond to them, but at the end of the day, the entire customer experience is what matters most. As long as you’re making every effort to provide an exceptional product, service, and experience, the odd negative review here or there should not be allowed to distract you from continuing to provide that experience. Have confidence in the service you provide and in your business, remember why you do what you do and the passion that led you to business ownership. Don’t let the potential for negative reviews limit your online presence and business, and surely don’t lose any sleep over them.

 

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Crystal Davies is Brand Consultant and Owner of Davies Designs. Her passion is using her knowledge of branding, design, and web & social media to help her clients dreams of business success become reality. 

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Are you Blogging? Don’t be afraid to dive into the blogging world!

Blogging

The thought of starting a blog can seem scary, but launching a blog presents your audience with a great resource – a free resource – that helps solve problems, answer questions, and create a sense of community. It can also tie in pieces of your existing social media accounts and website while still holding true to what it is your audience is actually looking for. For example, if a follower remembers seeing a recipe posted on your Facebook fan page and want to find it quickly a week or so later, they might try your blog link if they’re unable to locate it in their news feed right away.

Solving problems, answering questions, AND making it easy on your audience to navigate – it’s all a win-win with minimal time investment on your end.

Getting Started

Start by considering those lengthier [text heavy] elements (e.g., tips, advice, recipes, tutorials, etc.) that you’re already posting on social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.). Choose your blogging platform (we like WordPress) and formalize them – give those posts a quick read through and update them to answer any questions you feel a reader may have. You can copy and paste those posts directly into your chosen blogging platform, make edits, and save them as drafts until you are ready to publish them formally.

This new, dedicated, space for the important content your audience might otherwise have to scroll endlessly through a feed to find offers endless positives. And just like how you can tie in elements from your existing social media accounts to your blog, you can also tie your blog back to those platforms as well – this creates a loop that links everything together and presents a unified representation of your business (or initiatives) and an easy to navigate online presence for your audience.

For us, our blog is about free marketing tips and advice; especially for those just starting out on a new [business] venture. Our blog ties in our existing social media platforms along the right side of the page. Here is an example of what your new blog could look like:

Blog example

So, don’t be afraid to dive on in…and…

Happy Blogging!

 

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Crystal Davies is a strategic marketing consultant specializing in branding and brand identity, marketing strategy, and business solutions. Her passion is seeing how pieces of the marketing strategy puzzle come together to turn her clients dreams of business success into reality. 

www.daviesdesigns.net

Connect with us…

Of course, we’re here to help! If you need advice, have a general question, or if we can help in some other way, you can reach us via the links or contact form below.

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Is Your Online Business Presence Missing This One Key Ingredient?

When you’re working hard to ensure your online content is engaging, that you’re utilizing the appropriate social media platforms in your online presence, and even paying to reach the right audience; this added ingredient can make a world of difference in boosting the success of your posts. It’s also something most startups miss out on and desperately need to gain a following.

So What is That Secret Ingredient?

It’s hashtags and this article will outline ways they can benefit the online presence of your brand, business, and even upcoming events.

Yes – it feels like they’ve been around forever and they are, surprisingly, something companies still miss when promoting themselves online. It could be because they’ve donned a reputation for being used for “fun” or entertainment purposes, but entertainment isn’t their only use.

When promoting your company online, hashtag usage can help your brand in a professional way by:

  • Distinguishing you from your competitors or similarly named businesses – If I Google my business name, Davies Designs, I get information and images mostly about knitting patterns by a similarly named business in the U.K.  If I scroll long enough, I might see my own stuff – not so cool….BUT if I Google #DaviesDesigns, I get the entire online presence of my business immediately because I use it consistently within my social media posts, website, and additional online content. Creating a hashtag that includes your business name is a simple process and essential to establishing a robust social media presence. It’s use doesn’t need to be limited to online content, you can include it in printed materials as well to help promote brand awareness.
  • Allowing you to create an online history for recurring public company events, campaigns, and fundraisers – By creating additional custom hashtags for each recurring company event, campaign, or fundraiser that can be reused going forward (i.e., don’t include a year in the hashtag) helps to promote the success of your events. It will also generate and reinforce trust in your brand for those hearing about your company or company events for the first time. If they see the online history (via images, posts, and news articles) going back several years, they will be more willing to make a donation, attend the event, volunteer, etc. Remember, everyone researches everything nowadays, so this added layer of brand trust is essential in boosting any company campaign.
  • Helping you launch a new book for publication – Creating a custom hashtag for promotion of a new book is a great way to engage readers. Encouraging your audience to use your hashtag is also beneficial as this provides added awareness via social sharing (e.g., I just finished reading #TheTallTale, a must read!) and ultimately leads to an increase in sales.
  • Connecting you with like-minded individuals (e.g., #writersofinstagram, #writersofig) – Just like you are using hashtags for business promotion, individuals are searching those same hashtags for items that interest them. Adding additional hashtags onto your posts that relate back to a topic of interest, or an audience you want to engage with, increases your reach and thereby your following.

Googling “Davies Designs” vs. Googling “#DaviesDesigns” produces very different results in the screen shots below. Using a business hashtag makes it easier for your audience to find you, so why not make it easy?

Busting the Myth

Hashtags aren’t just for Twitter anymore. Hashtags can and should be used consistently across all social media platforms to reinforce your brand. On Instagram for example, as you begin typing a hashtag, a listing of popular hashtags comes up in a pop-up window. Each item in the list will have a number of times it has been used, insinuating that these are also the “hot” topics that people are searching under (e.g., #marketing, #fashiongram, #fashionpost from the screenshots below). Why would you want to miss out on this added opportunity for visibility? Adding appropriate hashtags to categorize your posts on Instagram, for example, can mean the difference between zero ‘likes’ and hundreds; not including those who may choose to follow you as well as a result.

Choose wisely when adding relevant hashtags to your posts. In Instagram, when the list begins to populate (as shown above), you will want to choose the hashtag showing the highest number of uses. Knowing that you want to limit the amount of hashtags so as not to appear as ‘spamming,’ it’s a no-brainer that you would want to choose the ones in the millions versus ones that may show uses of thousands, hundreds, or lower yet. The exception here is the hashtag you’ll use for your business, that will be new and may not appear and that’s okay. Remember every hashtag has the potential to reach a new audience and, as tempting as it may be, adding irrelevant ones to your post to gain followers can have a negative impact on your brand. This leads us to our next topic of etiquette

 

Hashtag Usage Etiquette

Following some simple rules for hashtag etiquette will help ensure the success of the posts you choose to add them to. There are many, but the most important ones include:

  1. Not using another company’s hashtag, especially if it is registered, unless the post directly pertains to them or you have been granted appropriate permission
  2. Not using more than 5 hashtags for social media, unless it is on Instagram or at the end of a blog where you can typically get away with more. Even then, Instagram has a limit of 30, but I wouldn’t use more than 8-10, ensuring that additional hashtags (outside of the chosen one for your business name) are related to your post. Note: If you are a startup just getting established on Instagram, you get a free pass to use more hashtags. Just know that once your audience is established, you’ll want to cut back so as not to annoy followers into unfollowing you.
  3. Don’t #hashtag #every #word in a #paragraph, it #gets #annoying for the #audience #reading it
  4. Do a spell check to ensure your hashtag is spelled correctly

 

Curious about what hashtag misuse looks like, click here for some entertaining examples.

 

FAQs for Hashtag Usage

  1. How do I get started using a hashtag for my business name? The first step is simple, just do a search for it. If you then find that it’s already heavily in use, then try another similar hashtag name. Once you find one that doesn’t appear to be in use, you can choose to register it. I chose TWUBS for my hashtag registration.
  2. How many hashtags should I use in my posts? For businesses, I would choose one or two to use at all times (e.g., – #DaviesDesigns & #Marketing for my business with ‘Davies Designs’ being the business name and the added hashtag of ‘marketing’ indicating the services we provide). You can typically get away with more hashtags on Instagram, but I would limit hashtag use to five or less on Twitter or Facebook.
  3. Do I really need to use hashtags? I would Google your business or past events to find out how your results come back, especially if you’re not using paid advertising. If you come up on page two of a search, then you may want to start using hashtags to see how it can improve those results. Don’t forget to see how you appear when looking at an image search as well, especially for events, campaigns, and fundraisers where photos, flyers, and logos would appear. Note: It may be beneficial to go back and edit past posts to include the new hashtag you plan to use going forward to help with creating an online history.
  4. How will people know to search for our business hashtag? You’ll have to promote it! Let them know you’re using a new hashtag via social media, encourage them to use it as well when mentioning your business or event, and remember that using it consistently across posts also reminds your audience you’re using a hashtag. Note: It will take time once you begin using hashtags for search results to appear, so be patient and don’t give up on them before they have a chance to work. Typically results should show in 30-60 days.
  5. Where can I find resources to help me with hashtag usage on social media? There’s a ton of information out there, but some great articles can be found in these links for Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to get you started, complete with visuals and online tools to help you track hashtag usage. Of course, we’re always available to help as well.

 

In Summary….

If you’re posting online, there are only benefits for your brand by using a hashtag or two, as long as they’re used wisely and consistently. Remember…

  • Aim to use your business name hashtag in every piece of online content and possibly offline content as well
  • Create additional hashtags for every event, campaign, fundraiser, soon to be/newly published book; to encourage social sharing, stimulate conversations, increase participation, and boost sales
  • Topic related hashtags can help you reach a specific audience or connect with like-minded individuals
  • Hashtags should be used consistently across social media platforms – they aren’t just for Twitter anymore
  • Obey hashtag etiquette to maximize success

In little to no time at all (and at little to no expense), you can be casting your net farther than before and getting a deeper reach into those key audiences. So give them a shot!

 

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Share your thoughts and recommendations; we want to hear from you!

Connect with us…

Of course, we’re here to help! If you need an opinion on what hashtags to use, have a general question, or if we can help in some other way, you can reach us via the links below or by email.

Facebook | LinkedIn | LinkedIn – Company Page | Pinterest | Twitter | Instagram | Blogger | WordPress

 

 Crystal Davies is a strategic marketing consultant specializing in branding and brand identity, marketing strategy, and business solutions. Her passion is seeing how pieces of the marketing strategy puzzle come together to turn her clients dreams of business success into reality. 

www.daviesdesigns.net

crystal@daviesdesigns.net

5 Reasons to Refresh Your Company Branding

It happens to every growing company and, in truth, it’s not a bad problem to have. At some point your company will need to refresh its branding and, knowing that rebranding is an investment; how can you know when the time is right?

“Branding: The marketing practice of creating a name, symbol, or design that identifies and differentiates a product or business from other products or businesses.”  – entrepreneur.com

 

5 Reasons to Consider a Branding Refresh

1) You’ve Been Receiving Feedback That Your Company Branding Is Stale Or Out-Of-Date

You’ve been in business for a while now and although things are going great, you’ve started to receive feedback from clients or customers that, although they love your services, an element of your branding is lacking…something. First off, take this as a compliment. Even if it comes in the form of a snarky comment from a competitor, take this as a compliment. You’ve accomplished a stellar reputation and people know your services are to be trusted even if your brand appearance is in need of an update. If you find yourself in this position, don’t panic; every growing company will encounter this at some point, even several times. All it identifies is that your business is growing and you’re probably in need of a branding refresh to continue that growth. In a time when businesses are facing as many challenges as they are, you’re doing things right!

Note: The key here is to identify consistent and constructive feedback as other kinds are best taken with a grain of salt. Likewise, you can pick up cues from facial expressions and reactions during meetings, conferences, when giving your business card out, etc. (e.g., Your audience didn’t seem as impressed with a PowerPoint slide until after you’d spent time speaking to the content. In other words, your PowerPoint branding didn’t grab their attention, but luckily your carefully constructed content made up for it.)

“It’s not just about being ‘pretty;’ it’s about appeal, professionalism, and appearing organized. If your company branding appears disheveled, that’s the impression you’re communicating to potential clients…”

2) Your Competitor’s Branding Is Impressive

Competition keeps branding fresh because it forces companies to get an edge. One of the most powerful ways to get an edge is to refine, fine tune, or refresh company branding. Impressive branding will win new customers and increase sales. One the flip side, existing customers expect you to keep up with the times, but how long they wait for you to catch up is anyone’s guess. Always remember that a brand that appears impressive can also be misconstrued as being impressive, so if you’re seeing your competition win more customers as of late with mediocre service offerings, it might just be time to refresh your branding. You’ll need to be prepared when their consumers catch on it was all just smoke and mirrors.

Note: To put it simply, for new customers: Pretty Branding = Brand Trust. It’s up to you to follow through with stellar services once you’ve grabbed their attention with the “pretty” branding. The illustration below provides a little more insight. You can also learn more here.

“Increased Branding Effort + Consistency + Attractiveness = Increased Consumer Trust, Followers, & New Business Opportunities”

3) Your Visual Brand Identity Doesn’t Appear To Match Your Brand Reputation

Your company reputation is part of your overall brand – what you live and breathe as a company – and if you already have an amazing brand reputation, it’s not hard to sync up your visual brand identity, but it does take time and careful planning. But why should you worry about it – you’re business is doing fine, right? The answer is simple – it’s what your customers expect. With all of the information sharing and competition, your existing customers are used to seeing companies in a state of constant competition (whether they realize it or not). The companies that “keep up” with the trends, with their brand image, and who work to spread their message in new and innovative ways, are the ones that will continue to win the business.

If you find yourself in a situation where your company reputation has overtaken your visual brand identity (i.e., your reputation is amazing but your branding is stale), the trick is to not let these components of your brand stay out of sync for too long. When you have the benefit of a stellar reputation, it can mean that you may not immediately feel the effects of what happens when your visual brand is lacking. Staying in tune with your competition and revisiting your branding periodically should allow you to create an action plan before your business feels any impact.

“Your customer’s expect you to keep up with the times. In a way, it confirms that your business is still relevant and up to the challenge of new demands.”

4) You’re Expanding Your Horizons

Congratulations! You’re a growing and expanding business! Whether you’re expanding by opening a new location, offering new services, or adding employees; you’re likely in need of a brand refresh. Why? Because any time a business expands, it means that new information is generated that needs to be shared with customers, clients, business partners, etc. The fastest way to share new information is through your branding. Your website, printed materials, promotional emails, capabilities presentations, business cards, logo, etc. are all likely in need of an update with any business expansion. If you’re already making updates, it’s worth spending the time to decide whether your overall branding is still working for you or against you. If sales have dropped or you’re noticing unusual trends emerging with no obvious direct contributors, then it may be due to outdated branding. Take this opportunity to make the maximum impact with a branding refresh that boosts your business in the biggest way possible.

 

5) You’re Beginning To Lose Business

Last, but not least, you’re beginning to lose business. This is the hardest to come back from as it starts a process that can become expensive to circle back from; but it is possible. If you find yourself here, it may take more time to recover than it would have in the above mentioned indicators. A branding refresh may be needed, or you may want to rebrand entirely. At this point, it may be best to consult with a professional on whether branding is a factor and, if so, for a strategic marketing plan for moving forward. Be sure to share all of your pain points with your consultant, even if the downturn was due to internal issues, there is always a way to minimize the damage. It just takes open and honest communication with a consultant you can trust.

 

In summary….

We want to hear from you…

Share your thoughts and recommendations; we want to hear from you!

Connect with us…

Of course, we’re here to help! If you need an opinion on whether your company should refresh its branding, have a general question, or if we can help in some other way, you can reach us via the links below or by email.

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 Crystal Davies is a strategic marketing consultant specializing in branding and brand identity, marketing strategy, and business solutions. Her passion is seeing how pieces of the marketing strategy puzzle come together to turn her clients dreams of business success into reality. 

www.daviesdesigns.net

crystal@daviesdesigns.net

How Plagiarizing in Conference Presentations Impacts Your Brand

Conference season is in full swing and, with extremely busy schedules; it can be hard to carve out the time necessary to create conference presentations. With less time, comes the temptation to skip citing sources, but doing so may present more risks than you realize.

When delivering a presentation, you’re representing not only your company’s brand, but your personal brand as well. When you are invited to deliver a presentation, it’s because you have a reputation for being an expert; a resource that others respect and rely upon.

When you cite your sources, you present yourself as knowledgeable – you obviously do your research and keep up with trends – that’s the impression people walk away with. People want to follow you because of your trusted expertise. You get invited back to speak again.

Here’s what happens when you plagiarize – even accidentally:

Your audience is a networked audience. Thanks to social media, content is shared fast and travels far. People also connect fast. So even if you accidentally plagiarize, it’s going to be noticed. Your blunder then has the potential to be shared – fast. Your trusted reputation gets tarnished and so does the reputation of your company. An opportunity that you hoped would spark new conversations and bring new business, backfires – and has the potential to do so in a big way. It can damage your company brand image, you may lose your job because it damages the trust your employer has in your abilities to represent the company brand, you damage your own personal brand which can make it hard to find a new job – and that’s not even factoring in the legal ramifications.

This may sound like an over exaggeration, however, any time you put yourself in front of a group of people, you are opening yourself up to social media wildfire. Whether the wildfire spreads in a positive way or a negative way, is entirely up to you. As our illustration below demonstrates, you go into a conference with a powerful brand – it’s why you were invited. The impression you leave on your audience puts the fate of both your company and personal brand in those individuals once the conference concludes. Presenting in an authentic way ensures a positive brand impact and business growth while being inauthentic, even accidentally, can prove negative to your brand and business.

So, in a nutshell:

  • Make the time to take your time,
  • Cite your sources – give credit where credit is due,
  • Add links to where you found those infographics and illustrations, and

Ensure you walk away the respected expert that you were when you walked into the conference to deliver your presentation.

And, if you’re a company that is seeing your content misused in this way (as can happen among competitors); there are ways to help prevent it. Commonly, illustrations and infographics are the heavy hitters for being reused without credit back to the author or organization. In this instance, you can deter misuse by adding your logo, copyright details, date, website, and email address within the infographic or illustration (usually towards the bottom so your main point still comes across without much distraction).

For content you are especially concerned about, a watermark behind the illustration may be helpful. Because content spreads fast, this helps those in your business circle identify your work which, in turn, helps audiences to more easily identify when it is misused. Just remember, a company misusing your content, is damaging their own integrity. When you do what you do well enough that someone wants to claim it as their own, it’ll eventually come to light, so continue being authentic! You’re on the path to success!

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Crystal Davies is a strategic marketing consultant specializing in branding and brand identity, marketing strategy, and business solutions. Her passion is seeing how pieces of the marketing strategy puzzle come together to turn her clients dreams of business success into reality. 

www.daviesdesigns.net

crystal@daviesdesigns.net

3 Simple Mistakes Every Startup Should Avoid Early On

With competition becoming fiercer than ever, launching a successful startup is getting trickier. Competition is part of the reason that 90% of startups fail. Despite this bleak statistic, there are still simple ways to get ahead of the competition; but it means taking advantage of EVERY opportunity early on as they are the most crucial.

Three simple mistakes to avoid:

1) Ignoring Your Weaknesses

You know you have an awesome service to sell – you’re an expert at it. People have told you and maybe they’ve even suggested that you start your own business. So here you are – you’ve decided you’re going to do it – you’re going to start your own business…now what? If you don’t have a clue where to start with your business model, don’t pretend you do. Get help, do your research, and invest, to get the plan you need to succeed. If you’re not confident with your business model or business processes, your potential new customers will sense it. Why should they have confidence in your services if your business model appears to be shaky? The hard truth is, they won’t and they’ll go elsewhere. Making sure you have a sound business model puts you ahead of other startups offering the same services because you communicate your company message with confidence.

2) Buying Cheap Business Cards

There, I said it. It’s often the elephant in the room when it comes to making a first impression. You talked a great game and now it’s time to hand over that tiny piece of marketing collateral that makes a bigger impression than most people realize. You had that potential client sold until they saw your business card. Its cheap paper from one of those “we print a billion cards a day for next to nothing” vendors and the client knows it. Don’t get me wrong, those cards have a time and a place, but when your business depends on every impression, this is a simple one you definitely need to make the most of.

3) Being Cheap When Setting Up Essential Contact Information

This goes hand-in-hand with point number two. Maybe your business card is of decent stock, but the details (or lack of details) have your prospects cringing. Again, you had them sold on your services, but then they saw the @xmail freebie email address. So they look for your website and maybe they see the same thing or maybe it’s not there at all. This is an opportunity lost because there’s another business right around the corner, just like yours that has a professional business email, professional business website, and awesome services just like yours.

Launching a startup is difficult. It requires time, energy, motivation, investment, and juggling many hats to be successful. Ensuring you have a sound business model and accompanying marketing plan early on, and before promoting your business, will save you the added effort of having to reach twice as many people to make up for shaky first impressions.

 

We want to hear from you…

Are you launching a startup?  If so, congratulations – this is an exciting time! How are things going? Have you run into any issues? Do you have questions? Share your thoughts and recommendations; we want to hear from you!

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Crystal Davies is a strategic marketing consultant specializing in branding and brand identity, marketing strategy, and business solutions. Her passion is seeing how pieces of the marketing strategy puzzle come together to turn her clients dreams of business success into reality.

http://www.daviesdesigns.net

crystal@daviesdesigns.net

2016 Is Upon Us…Is Your Marketing Strategy Ready?

It’s no secret that businesses are having to invest more time on evolving their marketing tactics each year to maintain, if not grow, their customer base. It is even harder for small businesses and individuals to experience successful growth without a well thought out marketing strategy. This article will guide you through the process of developing a marketing strategy, key items to consider, and helpful examples; all designed to get you started.

Why Have a Marketing Strategy?

It would be amazing if we could just sit back and have business come to us, but in an overwhelming world of too many choices, a business needs creative tactics to draw customers in. This is where a marketing strategy comes in to play. Your marketing strategy not only helps define your business goals, but more importantly, it defines methods you will use to achieve them. So, if you have yet to sit down and seriously think about your strategy, let’s start now!

Where Do I Begin?

With the calendar year wrapping up, you should already have a draft marketing plan that you based your 2016 marketing budget off of. Now, it’s time to sit down and think about your detailed marketing strategy. Your first step should be to reflect on the past year and ask yourself some key questions:

Was my business as successful as I had hoped in 2015? Why or why not?

If your business runs on a calendar year, you should have a feel for what worked and what didn’t as a whole this month. Looking at the big picture, to define your successes and areas for improvement, should be a first step. This creates the stepping stone for developing a marketing strategy.

Did my 2015 marketing strategy work as I had planned? If not, what could be done differently?

If you had a marketing strategy in place for 2015, that’s great! Now is the time to delve into what worked and what didn’t to improve your existing strategy. Remember, in a highly competitive world, you’re fighting for what may only be a few seconds of attention from your customers – you have to make those moments count.

TIP: Be sure to make your marketing strategy flexible. If something is clearly not working, you wouldn’t want to put your business at risk by following it through the rest of the year. Building in periodic reviews is beneficial (and recommended) as consumer trends can change in a matter of months. What may have worked great for Q1, may not work so well for Q2. Be prepared!

What are my business goals for 2016?

We know that the ultimate goal of any company is to not only maintain, but to also expand their customer base; it’s how you generate profits in order to grow your business. Now that you have a clearer image of your business and marketing strategy success for 2015, it’s time to analyze that information and define how you can expand your customer base for 2016. Here are some considerations:

In 2015,

  1. Was I able to provide everything my customers asked for?
  2. Were my customers satisfied with my products and/or services?
  3. Did I have repeat customers?
  4. Were there any trends that appeared / developed?
  5. Were any leads referral based?

 

TIP: If you find the answers to the five questions above leaning mostly towards “no’s,” then it’s time to add a focus on customer experience to your 2016 goals. Trends are showing that the most successful businesses are thriving because of an authentic focus on customer experience. 

These considerations should start you on the path to defining your business goals for 2016, but should not be looked at as an all-inclusive list. As you work through each of the three main questions/sub-sections above, you should find that you revisit each several times before you are satisfied. This is intentional as these questions are meant to help you analyze performance in order to define goals for 2016.

 

Looking Into the Future – Planning for What’s to Come in 2016

Now that you’ve reflected on the past year and identified your business needs and goals for 2016, it’s time to consider the future. What exactly do you have going on in 2016? Are you speaking at any conferences? Are you anticipating a product launch? Do you have plans to begin a new book? Any upcoming event, whether new or recurring, should be factored into your marketing strategy (if it hasn’t already from your review of 2015).

TIP: If you haven’t already begun to focus on the authentic customer experience, this should shoot to the top of your goals list for 2016. Creating an authentic customer experience is a blog topic of its’ own, but to get you thinking along those lines, reflect on the following questions as they pertain to your business:

 

What is My Next Step?

At this point, you should have an all-inclusive, but rough outline of your marketing strategy for 2016. Mixed with your business goals, it may seem overwhelming, but take some time and separate out your 2016 business goals from the actual marketing components listed to achieve them. If you can do this, you’ll find the list is far less intimidating. An example may look like this:

TIP: Using a table to organize your data or thoughts can be helpful, but is not meant to reflect the final format of a marketing strategy.

Have Your Plan? Revise it Again!

Your marketing strategy should undergo several revisions before being finalized, so expect this and know that it’s normal. A well thought out strategy will beat a rushed one a million times over saving the time and expense of costly rework later. Investing the time to revise areas that still seem muddy is never a wasted effort.

If you need to, break your strategy down into smaller components. This may happen organically if you have teams specializing in particular areas of responsibility. A sample breakdown may look like:

From there, you can further break down your strategy into project plans and start the process of getting buy-in, which is all the easier when you have an organized marketing strategy to rely on. Planning your year, aligning your planning to measurable metrics, and reaching those goals you’ve been striving for will be easier than ever.

 

You’re On Your Way!

You are now well on your way to creating a thorough marketing strategy for 2016. It won’t magically happen overnight, but it will be well worth the effort once complete. If you haven’t started yet, don’t worry, if you can beat the January blues (when everyone is bummed from coming back from holiday vacation), you can still have a great plan implemented just as everyone gets back into the swing of things come February!

Happy planning!!

 

We want to hear from you…

Are you already working on your 2016 marketing strategy? If you are, that’s great! If you’re not, what has stopped you from starting on your strategy? Share your thoughts and recommendations; we want to hear from you!

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Crystal Davies is a strategic marketing consultant specializing in branding and brand identity, marketing strategy, and business solutions. Her passion is seeing how pieces of the marketing strategy puzzle come together to turn her clients dreams of business success into reality. 

www.daviesdesigns.net

crystal@daviesdesigns.net

Poll: Do You Pay for Advertising on Social Media?

What will the #futureofmarketing look like?

It’s the question on the mind of every marketing professional as we launch into 2016 and as social media platforms in particular continue to make changes encouraging users to pay to extend their reach, we want to know…

Please note: Polls have been closed and results added to the illustration below.

Do you pay for advertising on social media? Click here to take our Twitter poll. Not a member of Twitter? That’s okay, click here to take our poll on SurveyMonkey and view instant results! We want to hear from you!

Poll Results:

2016 Poll Results

Have additional thoughts, we want to hear from you…

What are your thoughts on paid advertising on social media? Have you had a particularly positive and/or negative experience? Is there something you wish you had known before going the paid route? Share your thoughts and experiences; we want to hear from you!

 

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Crystal Davies is a strategic marketing consultant specializing in branding and brand identity, marketing strategy, and business solutions. Her passion is seeing how pieces of the marketing strategy puzzle come together to turn her clients dreams of business success into reality. 

www.daviesdesigns.net

crystal@daviesdesigns.net

The Anatomy of “Likes” and “Shares” – Why it Matters to Your 2016 Social Media Content Marketing Strategy

This article expands upon my last post “2016 is Upon Us…is Your Marketing Strategy Ready?,” and will further delve into focusing on an authentic customer experience as it pertains to your social media content marketing strategy for 2016. So, how do “likes” and “shares” factor in to an authentic customer experience? In a nutshell, it’s about your current followers and making sure you’re “tuned in” to their needs. Create an authentic experience for existing followers and they’ll gladly spread the word.

This article will outline how this can be accomplished with the changing trends being faced in 2016, but first, let’s back up for just a moment…

What Are “Likes” and “Shares?”

“Likes” and “shares” are terms used when referencing social media. In this article, we’re primarily looking at platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, etc. In order to delve into how “likes” and “shares” factor in to an authentic customer experience, we should first define them. To be thorough, let’s also include “follows:”

If you’ve already gone viral, congratulations! You’re the percentage that we all dream of becoming. For the rest of us, however, we’ve likely started to experience less “likes” and “shares” in our content marketing campaigns which, in part, can be explained by their anatomy.

The Anatomy of “Likes,” “Shares,” and “Follows”

Content shared on social media is delivered to your followers and, with followers being inundated with social media posts every minute of every day, they may never see your content. So, right off the bat, your content is fighting an up-hill battle.

When that small percentage of followers does see your content, they then have three choices; they can:

  • Like it (or, in some cases, save it) to read later
  • Read it immediately
  • Keep scrolling

If the title, blurb, image, or video snippet representing your content is engaging enough that they click for further information, they again have three choices; they can:

  • Like it (if they hadn’t already)
  • Share it
  • Close it and keep scrolling

For those who like or share, your content then passes to their followers’ newsfeeds and the cycle continues with this new level of followers and so on, as illustrated in the diagram below.

What you may not realize is that the cycle’s continuation depends on several factors, including:

  1. The power of your brand and its reach
  2. The trust your followers have in your brand
  3. The trust followers have with one another

Take a look at the diagram below. Where does your company fall?

Identifying where your company stands with regards to the power and reach of your brand, can help you further refine your social media content marketing strategy for 2016.

Why the Decrease in “Likes” and “Shares?”

There are several reasons for the decrease, including social media platforms catching on to how profitable they can become by getting you to pay for more likes, views, etc., but let’s focus on an area that is entirely within our control – creating an authentic customer experience for existing followers.

In our Anatomy of “Likes” and “Shares” graphic, we illustrate how each level of potential “follower” (or potential client) acts based on how much trust they hold in either you and your brand or the follower/individual sharing the content. In times past, you could release content that would do fairly well without much thought, but times are changing and your potential clients not only have a keener eye for seeing through self-serving content, but are also submerged in a world of competing brands.

The result?

Their newsfeeds are rapidly flooded with content every minute of every day. So, it’s a natural course that your potential clients are now targeting you…and if they’re not, your social media content marketing strategy should be focused on ways to ensure they are.

Sound crazy? Let’s see…

Even in my day to day, I’ve noticed that I pay less attention to what’s in my newsfeed(s) and routinely search out my preferred sites or pages to grab my own updates. I know who I want to see and I find them on my own because my newsfeeds are flooded; despite my efforts in trying to manage them. Trying to clean up a feed only seems to result in more ads being pushed by the social media outlets themselves, so what’s a marketing geek/consumer to do?

I find my own updates.

Who do I search out?

I search out those that add value and adding value is key to grasping authentic customer experience. Maybe this sounds familiar, or maybe it still sounds crazy…let’s look at an example!

Source: https://www.facebook.com/StoryofThisAndersonLife

An Example of Authentic Customer Experience

If you haven’t seen The Story of This Life yet, take a peek when you can, especially if you have young children. I came across a holiday post that converted me from a casual follower to a follower that makes it a point to check their site out every other day or so. The content they share is so relevant and relatable to where I am in my life, that I just couldn’t help but be THAT interested.

I have to admit, the first time I watched their video, I was so moved that I didn’t even catch what they were advertising, but you know what did happen? I liked it, I shared it, and I watched it again to catch the company they were advertising – lo and behold, the exact results you want from your social media content marketing strategy!

When my husband got home, I made him watch it. We both got choked up (although he won’t admit to it). He then went on to talk about it to people he works with who could also relate (insert added “bonus” here because now it’s been shared by word of mouth – I feel a new blog topic coming on). It is one of the sweetest holiday advertisements out there and it made me forget about marketing entirely.

When I shook it off and realized what had just happened, I was pleasantly shocked. This is what everyone needs to strive for as far as content goes. We get told via numerous channels that we need to evoke emotion in our content, we need to solve problems, we need to provide value, and here it was – all wrapped up in a less than two minute package. The video doesn’t even have words – just music – proof that it’s possible to seize it and create it. The trick?

You absolutely need to know your audience.

In a week, their video has been viewed over 8 thousand times on YouTube – one week! Now, days later – over 370K views on Facebook! And, well, you can see the “likes” and “shares” in the image above. Considering they have 57K followers on YouTube and 970K followers on Facebook, you can get an idea of their reach – their followers are engaged.

As for why it “got me,” well, I’m the target audience. I have a toddler around the same age, my day to day is filled with the same awe struck mommy moments, and again, it was just overwhelmingly relatable. If companies, and in this case influencers, can put so much effort into making content awe-inspiring for December, why can’t we do that all year round? Check out these recent examples from Google (over 2 million views), Sainsbury’s (over 25 million views),Publix (over 4  million views), and Toys “R” Us (over 5 million views).

These examples embody companies who are up to date on changing trends and have adjusted their content accordingly to ensure success in 2016. Companies who can consistently replicate this type of content will skyrocket to success in 2016.

The Formula for Successful Social Media Content Marketing Strategies in 2016

Creating Your Own Authentic Customer Experience via Social Media Content

So how do you translate this into a message that makes sense for your business? The answer is simple – you have to put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Get started by asking yourself these questions:

  • What would you want?
  • What would add value for you?
  • What are your customers already asking for?
  • What other relevant feedback have you received (no matter how small or insignificant it might have seemed at the time)?

If you’re an irrigation company, maybe your content includes tips on keeping your irrigation running optimally at various points in the season to save money on your water bill. If you’re a landscaper, maybe you post reminders about when to aerate, seed, or fertilize. Convert to a helpful video and you get the idea…

Almost any company can find ways to add value to their customer’s lives via social media if they step into their shoes. Getting to genuinely know the interests of your customer base on a more personal level can take you further than any last minute post you throw out. One popular method of engagement is offering free content when you can, whether it’s advice, instructions, webinars, trainings, or other forms of content. And when I say free – I mean no strings attached. No email in exchange for ‘xyz’ – nothing annoys people more. Those tactics are tired and consumers see through it immediately for what it is – a ploy for which the end result is getting hundreds of even more annoying emails, phone calls, etc. and not a problem solved in return. Make sure you’re easing pain points, offering solutions, and, if you’re asking for something in return, it should be essential.

Struggling with How to Make it “Authentic?”

When you’re not face-to-face with your customers, and instead counting on posts, ads, print collateral, etc., authentic can appear hard to accomplish and overwhelming. Here’s the secret, your followers – your customers, are tired of being “sold” to. They see it a hundred times a day, and in 2016 you’re going to be faced with an audience that is looking for added value. To help you think along the ‘authentic’ lines, reflect on whether you are (or can become) a brand that:

  1. Is not overly self-serving
  2. Is not focused on helping themselves, but in helping others
  3. Gets involved in the community
  4. Takes advantage of video as an essential element to deliver content

The graphic below summarizes the steps that occur when you’ve created an authentic brand presence:

It might seem risky, but when you change your focus, you increase customer satisfaction. By being genuinely interested in offering pain point resolving solutions, you are conveying an authentic brand. You show you care about your customer’s well-being and even if they don’t use your services, they share their experience with those who may need you. You will also be at the top of their list for when a time arises when they do need you. These are the building blocks to brand trust and this is why something as simple as “likes” and “shares” should matter in your 2016 social media content marketing strategy.

Tips for Delivering Your Content

There’s a reason video has been mentioned in this article, so if you’ve yet to jump on the video bandwagon, 2016 is the year to dive in. Video should, without a doubt, be included in your social media content marketing strategy. As explained in our example, it doesn’t even have to include words to be effective and almost all social media platforms have made it easier than ever to deliver this form of content. And, video puts you face-to-face with your customers. It adds the personal element back into the mix by creating a kind of virtual face-to-face hands-on experience.

Tips for effective video:

  1. Keep it short
  2. Make it powerful
  3. When appropriate, don’t be afraid to use humor
  4. Ensure it is memorable, in a positive way. Content is less likely to be acknowledged (especially on more professional social media platforms) if it is embarrassing, overly political, or overly religious.
  5. Make it easy for your followers to share by including links for sharing on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.
  6. Don’t forget your logo and essential contact information

Key Takeaways

Lastly, here are some key takeaways:

  1. Your brand should build trust. If it doesn’t, revisit your branding/brand identity.
  2. Your followers should gain an authentic customer experience with every piece of content you share, so plan and invest the time and effort required to accomplish this.
  3. The use of video will make or break your content in 2016. Video will be the key to grabbing your followers’ attention amidst a sea of ads across social media platforms.
  4. Deliver engaging and thoughtful content consistently. Determine what consistent means for your company. Twice a day? Twice a week? Monthly?
  5. Don’t be afraid to genuinely offer free advice, tools, or resources to alleviate pain points. Don’t ask for something (email addresses, phone numbers, sign up’s/registrations, etc.) in return unless it’s essential.
  6. Your social media reach will be determined by your followers and their followers.
  7. You may be wondering about measurement. Measuring outcomes will be directly tied into the new business you have coming in. It may take time, but be patient; ultimately your sales should reflect whether your content marketing plan is effective.

 

We wish you the best of luck with your social media content marketing strategies in 2016!

 

We want to hear from you…

Are you already working on your 2016 social media content marketing strategy? If you are, that’s great! If you’re not, what has stopped you from starting on your strategy? Share your thoughts and recommendations; we want to hear from you!

 

Connect with us…

Facebook

Twitter

LinkedIn

Pinterest

Twitter

Instagram

Crystal Davies is a strategic marketing consultant specializing in branding and brand identity, marketing strategy, and business solutions. Her passion is seeing how pieces of the marketing strategy puzzle come together to turn her clients dreams of business success into reality. 

www.daviesdesigns.net

crystal@daviesdesigns.net

Maximizing Social Media Content Using Content Mapping

There’s nothing more frustrating than seeing an interesting piece of information (or “teaser”) on social media, only to find that once you’ve clicked for more information, you’re led down a rabbit hole loaded with click-bait barriers. This is just one example of how poor planning, annoying marketing tactics, and/or a lack of consideration for user experience, can rapidly result in lost business opportunities. Why not make it easy for consumers to access content?

Why not make it easy for consumers to access content?

In this article, we outline the steps for creating an enjoyable social media user experience, positive brand experience, and even help generate more website traffic using content mapping to:

  • Maximize social media content,
  • Pair content effectively, and
  • Improve overall user experience by decreasing navigational clicks necessary to view information

What is Content Mapping?

In marketing, content mapping usually describes targeting content based on characteristics of consumers and/or how close consumers may be to making a purchase. Content mapping, as described in this article, is more of a mind-mapping process for your content. If you’ve ever created a mind map, you know that you typically throw all your cards on the table (really into one of those cute little digital mind-map/brainstorming diagrams) in order to begin a streamlining process that usually focuses on increasing efficiencies. When you apply this to your social media content, you’re looking at not only the entirety of your content, but additional factors that allow you to streamline audience experience. These factors include:

Table 1. Content Mapping Factors

Including all factors, effective content mapping includes 7 steps:

Don’t send your audience all over the internet to view your content, keep it simple and focused.

On the surface, it might appear that these steps can be cut in half. Review Platform Capabilities? Really? However, social media platforms are constantly changing. They compete with each other and they’re all competing for businesses to use them. If one can get an edge, they’ll find it. Plus, did you know Twitter is thinking about expanding their character limit? That can change the game for your content, especially if you’re not really into Twitter because of that limitation. Twitter might now just become your best friend.

We won’t go into in-depth capabilities of each social media platform in this article, but we will summarize the heavy hitters that you should be focused on at a minimum.

 

Step 1: Review Existing Social Media Platform Capabilities

As mentioned in previous articles, 2016 will present new challenges with regards to customer engagement. Efforts to keep up with trends will mean that video dominates the social media scene. Not only will it be important to ensure you’re familiar with which platforms accept video (and in what format), but you will want to re-familiarize yourself with additional capabilities of the top platforms outside of video as well so that you’re providing diverse content.

Features that can provide added visibility, such as consistent hashtag usage, can boost posts on platforms like Twitter and Instagram at incredible levels. Instagram will even tell you how many times a hashtag has been used as you begin typing it. This allows you to make an educated choice when assigning a hashtag, especially when you see that variations can show a difference of hundreds of thousands, sometimes even millions. Below is a quick summary of the top social media platform capabilities. We’ve given LinkedIn a column of its own for LinkedIn Publications, definitely an area to maximize in 2016 as long as you can pair content appropriately.

Table 2. Social Media Platform Primary Content Capabilities

Social Media Platform Capabilities

As an added benefit, most platforms now have analytics to help you analyze trends and make informed decisions in adjusting your social media strategy. Take the time to set these features up and they will help you make educated paid advertising choices.

 

Step 2: Decide Which Platforms to Use and/or Implement

Facebook and YouTube continue to dominate the social media scene with over a billion active users. Instagram and LinkedIn follow at 400 million users each. At the very least, these top four should be an active part of your overall social media marketing strategy. They also target a variety of content capabilities (see table 2) which provides your audience with a diverse delivery of content and more interesting overall experience with your brand.

Note: Although Google+ users exceed 4 million due to registration requirements on Android devices, etc., it is estimated that the ACTIVE users for Google+ are much lower (i.e., users register because they have to for their device to work properly, but that does not mean that they actively use Google+ as a social media platform).

 

Step 3: Tune-In to User Social Media Platform Expectations

Each social media platform has a “behind the scenes” personality. If you can fit your content into the user expectations of the platform, you are less likely to disrupt their experience and more likely to grab their attention. The diagram below outlines perceived user expectations. Note how LinkedIn is the only platform not utilized for fun. I’m sure we’ve all seen the meme in our LinkedIn feed stating LinkedIn ≠ Facebook. This is very true and using it as such could result in lost customers.

If you can fit your content into the user expectations of the platform, you are less likely to disrupt their experience and more likely to grab their attention.

Step 4: Review Your Content and Identify Smaller Components

Reviewing your content is important and I’ve purposely made this the fourth step in this process because if you don’t already have an idea of platform capabilities (step 1), which platforms are used most heavily (step 2), and the personality / user expectation of each platform (step 3), then it will be hard to know what to look for when reviewing your content.

With those first three steps in mind, you can further capitalize on each individual piece of content by searching for smaller sub-components within the larger whole. Sub-components have the potential to be shared separately and link back to the original piece. Every image, video, or embedded piece of sub-content is another opportunity to gain visibility.

Every image, video, or embedded piece of sub-content is another opportunity to gain visibility.

Let’s look at some examples:

Table 3. Example Content Review Scenarios

Can you guess which social media platforms would be appropriate for each example based on this simple review? Can you envision a map of how each example could be shared?

 

Step 5: Map Your Content and its Sub-components to the Best Suited Social Media Platforms

Drawing from your conclusions in the last step will enable you to map your content and sub-content to the social media platform best suited to house it. The illustration below outlines the opportunities presented in an example WordPress blog article after review and how mapping the sub-content brings additional social media post opportunities to light, taking this example from a 6-7 post opportunity, to a 24-25 post opportunity.

24-25 posts across social media from one piece of content might seem like overkill, but the reality is that you have too many factors working against you to not consider maximizing these opportunities. I wouldn’t recommend going ahead and posting all 25 at the same time (effectively spamming your followers), but over the course of a week, you can create a well thought-out schedule that allows you to maximize every opportunity and gain the visibility you hoped for without annoying your followers. Curious about what works against you? Here are the heavy hitters for consideration:

  • Flooded newsfeeds – your content gets buried and chances of it being seen are slim to start with
  • Your audience skims – if they do see your post, they skim it. You can read more about this trend here. Carefully timed repetition reminds individuals to come back and read it.

NOTE: I want to stress, as I have done in my previous articles, you’re content should be a quality piece focused on solving a problem for followers of your brand. As long as you are doing your due diligence in creating quality content to engage your audience and create an authentic experience, maximizing post possibilities in your content should not be seen as “spamming” by your followers. In addition, scheduling allows you to set up posts in a way that would work similarly to a paid ad on social media and, in this way, should appear even less invasive or disruptive by your audience than a paid ad.

Let’s take a look at our table from step 4 and incorporate content mapping:

Table 4. Example Content Review Scenarios Applying Content Mapping Principles

For pieces resulting in less opportunities, you can include cross post pushes (e.g., post an image to Pinterest and let Pinterest push it through to Facebook again, post an image to Instagram and let Instagram post it through to Facebook and Twitter again, etc.). Utilizing post pushes across social media never hurts as long as you time them well (i.e., not all back to back on the same day, etc.).

One last opportunity for sharing, not mentioned in the table, is to add your website link into the mix. So, those pieces of content that involve posts of images linked to a blog post and then an image linked to a video, can also include an image linked to your website which can increase website traffic if that is a goal in your marketing strategy.

 

Step 6: Implement & Schedule

Lastly, before everything begins to go live on social media ensure that, navigationally, your posts are getting customers to desired information in the least amount of clicks possible. Strive for a goal of one click to get the user where they need to be, possibly two. Three clicks starts to lose customers. Remember, time is valuable to your audience. Additionally, as the entire content mapping process focuses on ways to expand your single piece of content into multiple social media posts by identifying hidden sub-content, you should find that the click rate is reduced organically as content mapping helps your posts get straight to the point.

Strive for a goal of one click to get the user where they need to be, possibly two. Three clicks starts to lose customers.

The somewhat down side is that you will have a robust amount of social media content to share and implementing that will require support to maintain it consistently. As mentioned previously, a calendar or schedule may help, especially to prevent a “spamming” effect. If you already have a content calendar in your marketing strategy, this process will help to fill it pretty easily. From there, add in additional posts as needed (if needed) for reminders.

Although content mapping helps to identify ways to get more mileage out of a single piece of content, ensuring you spread the postings out is also important. As with our WordPress blog illustration in step 5, if we posted all 24-25 opportunities in a single day, that would be overkill – we could bore followers or lose them. However, you could plan to complete step 1 of sharing the blog link in a single day, then sharing the video a day or two later, and again sharing the infographics a day or two after that. Here is a great piece on social media etiquette that is helpful when thinking about content scheduling across social media platforms.

Although content mapping helps to identify ways to get more mileage out of a single piece of content, ensuring you spread the postings out is also important.

Step 7: Review & Modify

Taking the time to map the path of your content is essential in creating a positive brand impression and in keeping the momentum of your brand going. Periodically review how the process is working for you and don’t be afraid to fine tune or modify the process to suit your business needs.

Remember, if you need assistance with your social media strategy or an evaluation, we’re here to help! We wish you the best of luck with your social media content marketing strategies in 2016!

 

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Are you experiencing challenges with your social media content marketing strategy? Share your thoughts and recommendations; we want to hear from you!

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Crystal Davies is a strategic marketing consultant specializing in branding and brand identity, marketing strategy, and business solutions. Her passion is seeing how pieces of the marketing strategy puzzle come together to turn her clients dreams of business success into reality. 

www.daviesdesigns.net

crystal@daviesdesigns.net

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