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social media marketing Tag

A Big Social Shift to Video is Underway – How Is Your Business Adjusting?

Social media is changing so fast today. Having worked in the marketing and technology arena for over 25 years, I realize it’s the nature of the beast. However, I feel like in just the last six months there of been an incredible amount of breakthroughs on the big social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

It got me thinking, if you are a business that isn’t engrained in social on a daily basis as part of your marketing strategy – figuring out where to start would be mind boggling. So much so, I think it’s no wonder that this uncertainty often creates paralysis when it comes to social media marketing.

If you’re a business you may be wondering…

  • How am I supposed to keep up?
  • What am I missing out on?

Most importantly, you’re probably trying to figure out what actually makes sense for you and what type of budget it requires.

To me, this very topic hits right at the core of any great client-agency relationship. You see, our job at Focal Point is to help you navigate the latest updates updates and put together a social media marketing strategy that actually makes sense for your business.

With that said, I am going to give you the quick, 30,000 ft. view with what’s going on with some of the big players in social media right now. There’s a major trend/common thread I see continuing throughout 2017 and beyond. And that trend is video on social.

Video Is Everywhere on Social Media

I read a prediction recently that suggested in the next couple of years, 80% of all social media will be video posts. That’s right, 80%. I can’t say I disagree with that. In fact, I recently wrote a blog post about how you can get the most out of video by using it to propel your marketing strategy.

There’s no doubt toward the end of 2016 and into 2017, we’ve seen an explosion of video across all social networks. More specifically, live video. Social networks are betting big on live video. But should you? I’ll get to that in a moment.

Facebook

Mark Zuckerberg has put plenty of resources behind the roll out of live video at Facebook and has clearly given preference to such videos in the newsfeed. We’ve seen many new features rolled out with Facebook live that indicate it’s here to stay. Further, more and more news channels/media outlets are using Facebook live to increase their reach greatly.

Facebook has also added more features for brand pages in the way video is delivered. This includes built-in calls to action (CTA’s) and automatic closed captioning features. This is big as many people view videos on social with the sound off at first.

Even more is on the way, too. 360 degree photos area already here and video is next.

Twitter

On the Twitter side of the equation, we’ve also seen the rise of live video. Periscope (live video broadcasting tool that used to be a standalone app) is now baked into Twitter and you can go live right from your Twitter account. Additionally, Twitter increased the video length to over 2 minute videos and media (photos and video) no longer counts toward your 140 character total.

While there has been some buzz about the future of Twitter…it’s clear to see they’re investing big on video as well.

Instagram

Instagram quadrupled its bet on video by taking the previous 15 second video upload limit and increasing it to 4X that amount to a full minute. This Facebook-owned social network also rolled out live video and a host of other features such as Boomerang and Stories (a page out of the Snapchat playbook) which allow for more creative video posts.

Snapchat

Speaking of Snapchat, the new(er) kid on the block is certainly making some waves out there. With over 200 million users and updates to its advertising capabilities, Snapchat is sparking some interest from businesses. And guess what – they’re rolling out more video features. You can now add videos to your Stories, send a video Note and have a video Chat.

Organic Social & Paid Social Advertising

It’s worth noting that this trend toward video is happening majorly on both the organic and paid side of social media advertising. Soon ads will be a part of most video experiences on social media, including live video. As more and more videos are viewed via social media and on the web, I think advertisers that have traditionally used television will begin to make a shift in their ways as well. It’s this simple: more eyeballs will be on mobile devices than TV screens consuming video.

So, What Next?

Now you’ve got a better understanding of this social shift that is taking place across networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. But what are you supposed to do next? If you’ve never even published a video from your business on a social media network, you may be overwhelmed with all of the things to consider.

Then there’s live video. Just because it is available and on the rise doesn’t necessarily mean it makes sense for your business. In fact, I’d say there are some things you should definitely consider before you jump into live video. All things that I’d be happy to discuss.

Let’s Talk

My hope is that I’ve started a conversation with this post. It’s a conversation that needs to take place if you’re at all in the game of social media advertising. And it’s a conversation I’d love to have with you.  Here’s how to reach me…

Brien Richmond Business Card

 

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How Video Can Add a Snowball Effect to Your Online Marketing Strategy

Many businesses are oftentimes wondering where they should start when it comes to online marketing. Might I suggest considering a video production to get the ball rolling.

Why? Well, because the snowball effect of a great video can lead to months worth of solid online marketing strategy.

The power of video is undeniable. Video is proven to help with conversions on your website. Video is quickly overtaking social media. So if you have to pick one place to start with investing your marketing dollars; video just makes sense.

Taking the time to plan a quality video production is well worth the investment. If done correctly, a solid video can easily be repurposed for:

  • New web pages
  • A series of blog posts
  • Social media strategies
  • Email marketing newsletters
  • Podcasts

Sure, you could always start with the blog or website and work toward the video. But from my experience I’d say once you have the video done the other stuff can come very naturally. Just take a minute to think about it…

Web Pages

Once you have completed the video, it’s easy to have the content transcribed. With the written word, you can put together a new web page or series of web pages. This will naturally help with your search engine optimization as making the written content available on your site will give someone additional for Google to crawl and discover.

Blog Posts

Most of the time, you could get several blog posts out of every video you produce. Each new post could be examining the video from a different point of view. Or, if you’re really stumped, you could always do these series on every single video…

  • Why you wanted to make the video
  • What was the purpose of the video
  • Behind the scenes – how you did it

Much like adding the new page (s) to your website, creating a blog series is a great way to maximize the visibility of your video online throughout search engine results.

Social Media Strategies

The common theme among all of the booming social media sites is the focus on video. In fact, Facebook recently added a special video tab to it’s main navigation to make video easier than ever to find. Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram continue to advance their video capabilities and more and more the future of social media is pointing to video.

The beautiful thing about a well produced video is that you can chop it up into several small segments. With just a little thought given to sound bites, you can come up with videos to fit all desired formats and lengths. Now,all at once you’ve got a head start on some social posts that can be extremely effective in driving views and conversions.

Email Marketing

Ask any experienced marketer where they see the most immediate responses and I’ll bet they answer email. Email has always worked and it continues to work. Combining the mediums of email and video with a powerful message can produce some great results.

One approach to take here is creating a drip campaign that would highlight different parts of the same video over time. Maybe one week is looking at the portion of the video that talks about your company as a whole and its approach. Maybe the next week, it’s taking a closer look at who your employees are. You get the idea. In other words, a series of message spread over a few days or weeks that methodically educates your audience.

Vidcasts, Podcasts & More

A well produced video production, will also have some great audio segments that can be taken from it as well. Why not repurpose those in a podcast format?

The key here is thinking about all the distribution channels you have available and asking yourself what makes sense. Maybe you recently launched a podcast and your video includes the perfect soundbite from a customer talking about the work you did for them. Why not drop that in your podcast to help you get the most out of it?

Key Points

The key point out of all of this is getting the most out of each piece of content you produce…and doing so in a way that’s easy and cost effective. That’s where a partnership with Focal Point comes into play.

Not only can we help you plan and shoot a video production that will put you in a position to generate several weeks worth of effective content. We can help you execute on those marketing strategies and measure the results.

All it takes is a call or email to get started. So, what do you say? Let’s get the snowball effect going with your marketing strategy.

* Photo from Pixabay.com

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See the Fork First

More than a few famous poets, authors and songwriters have waxed poetic about the point along the road where one has to decide which direction to take.

At FocalPoint, we think the key to making the best decision about the road less travelled, the road not taken, or the fork in the road is NOT the crucial part of your journey. We think that first you have to SEE the fork, and recognize it for what it is.

That’s a huge thing in marketing and communications strategy. Many, many organizations misstep by failing to see that there is a critical decision to be made at a particular juncture — and do not understand the importance of the fork in the road.

How does one develop the insight to take the right path? At FocalPoint we set out these reminders for ourselves:

  • Stay focused on shifting currents
  • Be open to change and stay nimble
  • Be accessible and approachable
  • Consult with others and listen
  • Understand the way it always was is not the way it is

Recognizing the significant, life-altering twists in your company’s path is difficult. It helps having a company by your side to help you anticipate change.

Together, we can decide which new direction to take to forge ahead.

 

 

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Budget-stretching creative marketing techniques for small businesses

How can I expand my business in a slow-growing economy, you ask?

We get that question a lot here at FocalPoint. Because despite news that employment numbers are up and the economy is percolating, we’re not feeling any kind of surge here in the Midwest.

So, what can you do to increase your marketing share?

The short answer is: get creative! But of course, any marketing solution we recommend begins with us doing a lot of listening to what you do, how you do it differently, and what you are trying to achieve.

That said, here are some interesting ideas we may consider for small and medium sized businesses on a budget:

  • Believe it or not, on-line advertising may be your best bet. Depending on your business niche, Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin may be good places to invest for little money.  We can help you figure out which type of on-line advertising creates the best pop for you by doing test ads. Test ads are run for a short time (for very little money) to see how well an ad will play out before we make a bigger buy. (Yes, we really can do that!)
  • You most assuredly cannot match larger competitors dollar-for-dollar but, you absolutely can use unusual or unexpected media approaches to woo business your way.
  • If your budget is tight, chances are you need to be more targeted with your advertising. Rather than a broad brush approach, we hunker down and do some real due diligence and discover how your potential customers actually make buying decisions. Only then do we select a medium that targets your customers in a way they want to be approached.

Here’s a glass half full way to think about marketing on a budget: Because your business is smaller, you have the ability to react quickly to current conditions and (together with us) create ads and promotions that use trends, changing circumstances, opportunities, and headlines to your advantage.

Let the creative sparks fly!

Sometimes “I don’t know” is the right marketing answer

Art-of-Listening Some years ago, I met with a potential marketing client over lunch. It was the president of the company. I had heard from him that he was not pleased with his existing marketing program, so this meeting was an opportunity to listen and learn about his business and talk to him about FocalPoint’s work. I was thrilled to get the appointment and wasn’t sure what to expect.

After talking about his present marketing strategy and how it didn’t seem to result in the sales volume he had hoped for, he asked me a pointed question he knew would put me on the spot.

“What can your company do that will get us where we want to be?”

At first it appeared to be a golden opportunity to plunge in and talk up our firm. But frankly, I didn’t want to give a sales pitch based on platitudes, in fact, I never give sales pitches.

“I honestly don’t know,” I said. There was a stunned moment of silence. I was pretty sure I’d lost the opportunity, but I also knew I didn’t have the background on his business that I needed to provide a qualified answer.

“I don’t want to be presumptive and offer you something that sounds good, but is based on nothing. You know much better than I do about what is going on in your industry and your business. I need to know much more before I could even begin to come up with marketing strategies that might make sense for you.”

I was being brutally honest. I wasn’t ready to talk about specific strategies to market his business. But I wasn’t sure how my answer would be received.

Listen-&-LearnInterestingly, everything about that meeting changed in that moment. Instead of having a typical business meeting, we began to have a real conversation. We both dropped our pretenses and did a lot more listening than posturing or selling.

Although that happened a while ago, it fascinates me how life lessons present themselves in unexpected ways. This one has stayed with me at FocalPoint, and it’s one I share with those I work with. Being frank and open and asking a ton of questions is a big part of the way we handle new business.

So, what can you tell us about your business so that we can begin to work together as a part of your trusted marketing team?

Here’s my card. What can I do to help you? Or feel free to send me an email brien@focalpoint.co

FP_BusinessCard_Brien

Chances are, you’re thinking about social media all wrong

Hitting-your-sweet-spot
Just about everyone is on the social media bandwagon. But chances are good that most folks using social media are misusing it and overlooking its real purpose.

At FocalPoint, we know that social media is about connecting with the people in your sweet spot. In other words, your customers, potential customers, those who are interested in what you do, or people with similar interests. Social media is about building relationships, establishing rapport and networking.

We also know that what social media is not about, is sales. In fact, using social media to sell is a real turnoff to those tuning in to your posts. Social media used correctly, is a gradual, organic development toward building trust in what you have to say. If your blogs and tweets are about sales and laden with calls to action, your followers will soon lose interest.

That said, effective social media will gradually generate more interest in your products and may build business as a result. But there is no direct link. It’s a gradual thing.

Social MediaRemaining active on social media sites is another big plus which is often overlooked. Multiple quality postings will not only increase awareness of your brand (name recognition as well us increasing understanding of who you are and what you do), it will also boost your company’s rank on search engines. But only if you produce regular quality posts. The more you post, the faster your brand will inch up Google’s search engine ladder. (We know because we track this information for our clients.)

Effective social media use will also show that you and your company are viable, contemporary entities that know what’s going on, know your business, and know how to communicate the knowledge to its best advantage.

Got a question about something with social media we didn’t answer? Ask us! Heck, we might even write a post about your question.

 

Using Social Media for Customer Service is Now Mandatory

customer service_Focal_PointDo You Use Social Media for Customer Service?

Utilizing social media for customer service is no longer optional, it’s mandatory.  While many digital marketers have heard stories about large companies who are using social media effectively as a customer support channel, there are a lot of small to medium size businesses who are missing the boat.  Many businesses still see handling customer requests and complaints via social media as a burden rather than the incredible opportunity it really is.  These businesses see it as an area that requires time and resources, instead of an area that can create die-hard brand advocates.  But as I look at the social media marketing landscape as a whole, I see not having an online customer service plan as an Achilles heel.

The reason why I say this confidently is that the two social media giants – Facebook and Twitter have continued to take big steps toward making customer service a priority.  First it was back in April when Twitter allowed direct messages to be sent to users that are not following you.  Then, most recently, Facebook added a feature allowing business pages to manage saved replies making it easier than ever to answer FAQ’s.  Both of these moves indicate to me that there’s more to come and plenty of opportunity for businesses to start taking advantage of these features right now.  Let’s take a closer look…

Direct Messages on Twitter

twitter-direct-message

If you remember, it used to be that in order to direct message someone on Twitter, they first had to be following you.  This created another layer of friction when dealing with customer service online.  Let’s say I had a complaint about a cold cup of coffee I received at a Starbucks.  I would be forced to post that complaint publicly on Twitter as a regular @ reply unless Starbucks was already following me on Twitter (highly unlikely).  Then, in order for them to respond to me via a direct message, I would have to be following their account.  Kind of messy, right?  Not only did it mean more complaints posted publicly, it meant additional steps just to get something resolved.  This often added frustration to these type of communications online.

Now Twitter has done away with these added steps.  On the downside, it means anyone can direct message you which could be a little strange, but on the plus side it means customer service on Twitter is easier and faster than ever.  And when you really stop to think about it, that’s the way it should be.  Customers expect to get response and get them fast using social media.  In fact, often times they’ll use social media when unable to get through to someone using other traditional types of communication such as a phone call or email.  Twitter has made it easier and faster than ever by rolling out this update to make it the preferred social network for customer service.  Why?  Because you are limited to just 140 characters, so you know it’s going to be fast!

Need help using Twitter for customer service?  Please contact us today to talk.

Replies on Facebook

facebook-saved-replies

Facebook is driving more attention than ever to its messages.  Each time a message is received by a brand page, there are additional notifications (beyond the standard number icon) showing how long the average response time is and how many messages have not been responded to.  Facebook is urging brands to respond to all messages as fast as possible.  In fact, if you average less than 5 minutes responding to 90% of your messages, a special green icon and notice can be adding to your Facebook page letting fans know you have extremely fast response times.

Further, Facebook recently made it possible to save replies; even creating pre-populated messages that can be used to answer FAQ’s.  There’s personalization that can be added to the messages such as a greeting which automatically pulls in the Facebook user’s first name and email signature style closings which can even use saved photos and emoticons.  This makes it easy to build up a library of answers which can be reused over and over again further speeding up response time.  I think there’s plenty more to come from Facebook yet in 2015 on the customer service front, but this was a great start.

Need help using Facebook for customer service?  Please contact us today to talk.

Strategic Planning

Moving forward, it’s clear there will be even more of an emphasis on using social media for customer service than ever before.  This gives businesses who “get it” a distinct advantage over those who show up late for the party, or don’t show up at all.  It’s going to be expected more and more that companies of all sizes are staffed and prepared to respond to requests via social media in a timely manner.  That’s just the bottom line.  And those who fail to do so, will risk gaining a poor reputation by getting blasted in online reviews and comments.   It must be a part of any social media marketing strategic plan moving forward.

Need help understanding how to use social media for customer service?  Please contact us today to talk.

3 Quick Ways To Simplify Online Marketing Strategy

Simplify Your Online Marketing Strategy Now

So often as online marketers, we get caught up in the excitement of the “next big thing.”  We set our sights on hitting the online marketing home run or viral campaign.  It’s times like these when we need to simplify our overall online marketing strategy and get back to the basics of what works.  It’s the daily work that paves the way for the big successes.  And it’s getting back to the basics that will help when you’re struggling.

Below are some tips and reminders of basic online marketing and social media strategies that will always work no matter what the latest technology or next big idea might be.

Ask Why & Subtract
Let’s get right to it.  I know you may have read the intro and thought, “oh great, more things to do.”  Well, actually in this first point I am going to ask you to do less.  Stop for a moment to think about all of the different marketing activities you do on a daily basis.  Now, ask yourself why.  Go through each activity one by one and ask yourself why you’re doing it?  Does it tie back to a common purpose, help you accomplish a goal or help move business forward?  If you are unsure on the answer to these questions for any task, stop doing it.  You see, life is a lot like marketing – when things just aren’t adding up that often means it’s time to subtract.

Start Subtracting

Create A Content Plan
Content marketing is a big deal.  By now most digital marketers understand that they need to be producing content as part of an overall online marketing strategy to generate traffic from Google organic search, social media and more.  Yet, many still do not have a plan.

Several big name digital marketers will swear by a content calendar.  I am not going to tell you that you have to do that, because I don’t think it works for everyone.  What I am going to tell you is that you do need to have some sort of plan.  Something that eliminates the guesswork.  Something that makes it easy to answer the question – what are we going to write about today?

Here’s a blog post I wrote about how to create a simple content marketing plan.  It’s based upon the concept of creating themes for each day of the week and writing about those themes/topics on that designated day.  It’s that easy, yet it can be so effective.  Why?  Because it eliminates all of the guesswork and provides a direction in which to move.  And sometimes we just need that direction.

Recycle Your Best Stuff
You’ve created the perfect blog post.  The content is compelling.  The image is stunning.  The call to action is easy to follow.  It’s sure to be a smash hit!  Excited to tell the world all about it you go about your social media marketing by posting a link to it on Facebook, sending out a Tweet and posting the image on Pinterest with a link.  This post is even so good, you send out a new email to your loyal subscribers.  Then you wait…nothing.  A few hours go by and now you have 1 like on Facebook, 2 retweets on Twitter and 2 click thrus on Pinteres and Mailchimp shows a few people are opening the email.  But then the rest of the day goes on and the numbers are still the same.  And a week later, still the same.  While something is better than nothing, this is far from the results you wanted to see.  Frustrated you chalk up the loss and move on.

Unfortunately, this is a scenario I see play out in social media marketing and online marketing in general time after time. It truly is sad, because it’s selling yourself short.  You’ve spent time developing that content.  A designer was even hired to make sure just the right image was created.  This blog post was a big time investment.  Now you just need to understand that as much effort as you put into creating the content, you need to put even MORE effort into promoting it. 

Recycle Content

The simple fact is that people are busy.  A very small percentage of your audience saw that Facebook post and even fewer noticed the Tweet.  It’s also entirely possible that your next big client was out of the office when you sent the email and in an effort to cleanup her inbox just went through deleting emails as fast as possible.  Timing can be everything and sometimes it’s not the right time.  So change the time and try again.  Alter the subject lines or teaser text.  But whatever you do, RECYCLE the best content over again.

Ready to Talk Online Marketing Strategy?
Let’s set up a time to get together soon.  I’d love to help you simplify your online marketing plan, so contact me today!

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3 Incredibly Effective Time-Saving Tips for Online Marketing

If you’re reading this article, odds are you wish there was more time in the day for online marketing.  Well, the good news is that if you’ve spent any time in the past developing any type of content, what you are about to read will be either an incredible reminder or complete game changer in that respect.  Either way, following these 3 simple but often overlooked tips will free up room in the schedule to work on other things…the things you just can’t seem to get to right now.  Furthermore, I also believe strongly that you’ll see increased results by following this advice.

1. Resend Your Best Emails

Email

Stop trying to think of your next email marketing campaign.  Instead, take the time to look back through past email sends.  The past few months, the past few years.  How many of the emails you sent were unopened?  I am willing to bet it’s a significant number. Now do this – export the list of your unopened emails for one of your best emails into a new group.  Now, rework that subject line a bit and resend the email.  Odds are you’re going to see results very similar to the first time you sent the message.

Remember, we’re all busy and someone who might very well be a great prospect could have been having one of those days where they just needed to hit “delete.” Now, you’ve got a second chance to reach that person with one of your most effective messages.  If the first time you sent the email it resulted in 15 sales or 10 leads, odds are it’s going to produce similar results the second time around.

Yes, this does somewhat depend upon the size and quality of your email list.  But even a list of a couple thousand emails deserves to be cultivated better than just one send of each message.  Large, valuable rocks should not be left unturned and giving your best emails a second chance is worth it.

Key Takeaway – Instead of spending hours creating a new design, coming up with the perfect copy and developing a new landing page – go back to your best email from the past (the one with that generated the most leads or had the highest click thru rates) and resend it to the people who missed it the first time.

2. Repurpose Your Best Content

Content marketers spend hours and hours creating great content.  Whether it’s a blog post, infographic, or even a podcast, serious effort goes into producing great stuff.  Yet all too often, I see even seasoned marketers make the mistake of letting this incredibly rich content die a week or two after it was originally published.  This is truly a shame and something that can be easily corrected. 

Start by looking through analytics for the past year.  I am willing to bet that some of the top pieces of content are several months old.  This means that a brand new visitor to your site could miss your best stuff.  It’s time to change that.  Turn that how to post with thousands of views into a quick video.  Create a whitepaper with that post from 7 months ago showcasing your top industry tips and tricks.  It’s never too late to breathe some life into these posts and you’ll be surprised at how they might just take off again.

Key Takeaway – See my post on evergreen content and shelf-life content.  Remember, seasons come and go.  A video or blog post that was a huge hit last winter can be equally as effective this year.  Even if some updates are needed, that can save hours compared to creating something from scratch.

3. Repost Your Social Updates

Social Media

I’ve got news for you.  Unless you are paying to play on social media, the majority of your fans and followers are probably not seeing your updates.  Does this mean you should give up?  Actually, quite the opposite.  What it does mean is that it’s time to rethink and repost your social updates.  Just because a certain update posted at 8:00 AM only reached 132 people doesn’t mean that same updated posted 1 week later at 7:30 PM can’t reach 2,000 people.

If time has been spent to build a good following and time has been spent to create great content, don’t let that time be wasted by only pushing out one tweet or one Facebook update then trying to determine its success.  Instead of trying to come up with the next update – try different times, different days of the week or a different image.  All of these things can make a huge difference and so often I see small companies get discouraged when it comes to social media marketing because a certain message didn’t take off they way the though it might after being posted only one time.

Key Takeaway – Social media is such a moving target.  Perfectly crafted tweets (hey, we all know it’s hard to fit everything in 140 characters or less) and Facebook posts with just the right image shouldn’t go to waste.  Check out this new app called Edgar.  It allows you to categorize your social media updates and put them on a schedule so it’s easy to find the best time and day to post.

What is Smart Marketing?

Smart marketing isn’t coming up with the next great idea.  Smart marketing is taking a good idea and making it better.  These tips are meant to be helpful reminders that serious time can be saved when we slow down, take a look at some of the good things we’ve already done and do them again, only better the next time around.

Ready to talk about your strategic marketing plan?  Get in touch with me here! 

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