Musings

Are You Marketing to Generation Z?

Posted by Michelle Lazarus on May 1, 2015 9:19:34 AM

What are you doing to reach the next wave of customers, the children of Generation X, known as Generation Z? This generation is used to accessing information themselves, without going to their parents. They've also nurtured a healthy cynicism and realism, growing up in the shadow of terrorism and a lack of privacy. Forbes offers these pointers on reaching this demanding audience:

genz

Is your brand taking a risk?
Gen Zs consider taking risks an important part of life and mistakes as badges of honor. So why not have your brand show examples of bravery or invite brand fans to share their personal triumphs? These resilient consumers will pay more attention to brands that are innovative and take risks with their marketing and product innovations.

How has your brand overcome previous obstacles?
Teens expect to have failures in life before they succeed. Yet, they feel equipped to persevere because, from a young age, they’ve learned how to handle disappointment and even use it to their advantage. For brands, sharing stories of past challenges or obstacles overcome will make the brand more relatable, will impress consumers with their efforts to reinvent and improve and ultimately help to build deeper, more personal connections with this audience.

Is your brand being real with consumers?
Zs are savvy consumers who prefer to see “real” people to celebrities in campaigns. This generation is also used to getting hands on with products and conducts extensive research before buying, so finding a way to demonstrate actual product usage scenarios will succeed over presenting scripted dialogue filmed on a soundstage.

Are you sharing your brand’s best story?
To Gen Zs, failure builds character and when it comes to content or messages, Zs prefer narratives that have realistic endings that they can relate to and admire. These young fans revere average people who accomplish extraordinary things and have little interest in characters, brands, ads or content that promise perfection. To engage this savvy group of consumers, brands will need to reset traditional approaches for successful marketing initiatives to celebrate reality over perfection and practicality over fantasy.

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Topics: Best Practices for Businesses

How Executives Are Using Social Media

Posted by Michelle Lazarus on Apr 17, 2015 12:11:15 PM

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Click To Read About How Executives Use Social Media

Topics: Best Practices for Businesses, Social Media Best Practices

Get the Most Out of Your Social Posts: Tips on What to Post and Where. Part 2

Posted by BSG Team on Apr 16, 2015 10:35:05 AM

In addition to the many big names in social media, various other platforms are seeing more and more traffic. These sites are growing fast, with tons of interested users signing up every day. Here are some tips about how to effectively use these social platforms.

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Snapchat: Snapchat is an application that allows users to share video, pictures and text. The catch is that all data sent to a user’s recipients can only be viewed for a very brief period of time (1-10 seconds) before the image/video vanishes forever from the Snapchat server. This unusually short frame of time requires any user looking to promote their brand or business to do so efficiently and intelligently.

  1. Find ways to embrace the time limit. The self-destructive nature of Snapchat is seen by many as a detriment, but it doesn’t have to be. Utilize the app to give viewers quick snippets, or previews, of your product. Also, much like with Instagram, you can create contests for your viewers to engage in. Videos and/or photos of consumers using your product could help to build your client base and garner more notoriety.

  2. Use video to engage your audience. Yes, the video disappears once it has been viewed, but that still gives you a few seconds to make a glaring impression on a possible customer. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, a video, no matter how short, allows you to actually verbalize your message or pitch to potential clients. Snapchat is all about being casual, so don’t fret the seeming lack of professionalism of the app itself.

  3. Consider these figures: Approximately 26 million people in the U.S. use Snapchat and on a daily basis, roughly 400 million snaps are sent out. This could be a huge opportunity for anyone looking to grow their business or brand. Yes, the photos and videos disappear almost immediately, but that still gives you precious seconds to make a lasting impression on your audience.

 

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Quora: Quora is a question and answer website where a community of users create questions to be answered, edited and organized. The site aims to connect people through shared interests and allows its users to write and share new content with like-minded individuals. 

  1. You can establish thought leadership by simply answering questions within your particular niche. Even though Quora is not designed with small-business owners in mind, building a presence on the site and establishing contacts and a reputation can lead to success. Like most social platforms, Quora allows users to converse and connect, therefore allowing room for small business owners to grow their name.

  2. Integrate Quora with your website and other social media platforms. People can follow your conversations simply by selecting the “create a follow button” on the Quora website. The site also enables you to share your conversations with your Facebook and Twitter followers with relative ease. You can also share your questions via these other websites to enhance search engine indexing.

  3. Build your network with users who share similar interests. Like any other social media platform, Quora enables you to find and converse with like-minded individuals who share the same goals, interests and tastes as you do. Just by simply following other users, you can initiate countless dialogues and build relationships with other business owners.

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Tumblr: Tumblr is a social networking platform with a specific focus on microblogging. The site allows users to post multimedia and other content in the structure of short-form blogs. Tumblr users generate upwards of 900 posts per second and there are around 120,000 signups every day.

  1. Because Tumblr content is commonly appealing in a visual sense, and images and video are included in almost every update, this platform can be best utilized as a showcase for your products. You can include videos that illustrate your product/brand and ways to use it. Animated graphics, infographics and behind the scenes footage from your company can also help to showcase to users what your product/brand has to offer.

  2. Connect Instagram to your Tumblr account to maximize the amount of viewers seeing your posts. Your Instagram photos can be shared to your Tumblr followers with simplicity.

  3. 50% of Tumblr users are under 25 years of age, so the site can be used to effectively increase exposure of your product/brand to a younger audience.

  4. Tumblr users, much like those of the other major social platforms, tend to bask in any and all attention that gets thrown their way. Find a clever way to engage your audience directly with popular and trendy memes or design campaigns, thus promoting active engagement among your followers, as well as the whole of Tumblr users.

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Vine: Vine is a video-sharing app that is similar to Snapchat in that it allows users to share short videos that don’t last very long. What differentiates it from Snapchat is that Vine videos continue to replay (like gifs) over and over on a continuous loop. They can be easily embedded onto any webpage and even more importantly, they are viewable directly on a user’s Twitter timeline.

  1. Vine, since being introduced in 2013, has emerged as one of the web’s most useful marketing tools for business. Amongst myriads of Twitter timelines filled with text, a feed loaded with Vine videos tends to stand out.

  2. Similarly to Instagram, Vine allows users to “like” and comment on any Vine they watch, thus promoting a sharing forum that can enable community building, as well as opportunities to search out similar, like-minded professionals who fall within your product’s niche.

  3. Ask your audience to get creative and become involved in your products. Vine, like many of the other social platforms, lets people be creative, despite the short six second lifespan of a Vine video. Vine is a great tool for collaboration and interaction. Post your Vine videos as widely as possible, as the app is gaining traction in the social arena and its numbers of followers are on a rapid incline.

 

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Digg: Digg is a social networking site that features news stories submitted entirely by its users. Using links from all spectrums of the internet, Digg gathers news stories from everywhere and builds its own list of stories that are in the process of going “viral.” Every story that is posted comes with a “Digg button” which allows other users to either upvote or downvote the story. Those with the most upvotes are relegated to the “Top News” section of the site. Despite many complaints about Digg since its reconfiguration in 2012, it remains the internet’s most popular social news site (it still receives 2.5 million visitors per month).

  1. If your blog post(s) make it to the “Main Page,” lots of traffic can be driven to your personal blog or that of your product/brand. Digg can also help you to find other like-minded individuals who post similarly interesting blogs. You can share submissions and comment on comparable stories that relate to your brand and this allows for networking amongst similar bloggers to take place.  

  2. It is best to engage with users and brands that share your niche’s focus. By exchanging comments and opening up active lines of communication, Digg can help you to reach out to more and more people who are interested in your product.

  3. The new Digg allows publishers to enhance their targeted following (like Twitter), without having to promote content to Digg’s front page. When you submit, or “Digg,” your content, it will be shown to your following on their “My News” page. Even if you are not a “power user,” the new Digg’s features and functionality seem to cater to the average user and thus, levels the playing field for first-time users who are simply trying to get exposure for their brand.

Topics: Best Practices for Businesses, Social Media Best Practices

Get the Most Out of Your Social Posts: Tips on What to Post and Where. Part 1

Posted by BSG Team on Apr 10, 2015 11:13:00 AM

Social media platforms are not created equal and social posts are not one size fits all.  As such, it takes a high level of panache to master the dos and don’ts of posting and sharing content. Here are some tips that outline which types of content work best on some of the major social media websites.

 

Unknown-1Facebook:

  1. Post videos directly to Facebook via your news feed. Studies have shown that Facebook is stealing traffic away from sites like YouTube, due in large part to Facebook’s autoplay feature, which essentially grabs your attention before you even realize what you are watching. Video posts have a larger organic reach than text-only statuses, link photos and photo posts. You can post videos natively (directly to FB, without links to other sites, as described above), choose and post a featured video or create a video playlist.

  2. Increase your posting frequency. This no-nonsense tactic can dramatically affect any lowered Facebook reach that you may notice. Interestingly enough, negative feedback isn’t necessarily associated with an increased posting frequency.

  3. Use your creativity to integrate Facebook’s Trending Topics. Once you click on one of these trending topics, you will automatically notice posts from other people that you are connected to. Taking advantage of Trending Topics can make your posts feel personal and natural, which is a great alternative to them resembling spam.

Unknown-2LinkedIn:

  1. When it comes to sending direct traffic to your website, LinkedIn does so at a rate that is four times higher than Twitter and Facebook, making it the number one social referral source. Because an assortment of leads can come from social media sites, understanding the data that shows where leads are headed is very important. LinkedIn traffic is far more likely to go directly to your homepage, as opposed to some satellite page like a blog post or a resource page. So it behooves you to optimize your profile with consistent messaging, thus ensuring that users are carried from your LinkedIn profile to your corporate homepage with just one click.

  2. Industry insights are the most demanded content. According to statistics garnered directly from LinkedIn, 6 out of every 10 users are interested in industry insights. Aside from insights, users reported high interest in company news, as well as new products and services. This means that sharing your expertise will help you to appeal to a large audience. It’s important to be helpful and transparent and to make insights the majority of your posted content, all the while ensuring that your general content plan feels relevant to your followers.

  3. Avoid posting during off-peak hours, like late afternoons, evenings and weekends. Besides, doesn’t it make more sense to publish when people are actually around? LinkedIn has found that their busiest traffic times are Monday through Friday, during the morning and midday hours. In general, the highest traffic is seen during usual business hours. Matching your posting times with the rhythm of the LinkedIn audience can help bolster your level of exposure.

Unknown-6Instagram:

  1. Track and follow the top trends. The best social media marketers are constantly aware of which hot trends are active on Instagram and by participating in those particular conversations, they increase their exposure. Growing your brand’s awareness may be as simple as monitoring popular trends and hashtags. This will also enable you to stay on top of trends that are specific to your community, thus allowing you to increase interaction with those particular fans.

  2. Be smart about which hashtags you use. Being aware of what trends your community is following, as well as the hashtags they are using, should influence the type of hashtags that you use. They are an effective and necessary tactic to bolster your Instagram marketing plan. If your brand is holding a contest, for instance, creating the most suitable and pertinent hashtag can lead to a successful campaign. Also, taking the time to learn which hashtags are the most common throughout your particular demographic is another way to ensure that traffic heads in the direction of your brand.

  3. Post content that has authenticity. Your content needs to be representative of your brand’s lifestyle. Instagram should be used to showcase your way of life and should inspire your community, rather than existing solely as just another place to put your ads.

Unknown-4Pinterest:

  1. In order to get more engagement, try using tall, infographic-style pieces. Because it’s easier to scroll vertically than horizontally, taller images are easier to read than wide images. On Pinterest, taller images contain more content and statistically, they tend to get more repins than images that are shorter in size.

  2. Limit your descriptions to between 100 and 200 characters. Just like Instagram, Pinterest allows users to provide captions and other textual content alongside their visual content. By including text, you are giving context to your images, which in the end will help search engines and humans to find your product/brand.

  3. Promote your pins elsewhere. Like with any other social content platform, you have to promote your boards and pins to make the most out of them. There are several options available, including sharing links to individual pins on other social networks. You can also embed your lead generation boards on your website or blog. The more people who see your pins, the more leads you can generate to further your business/brand.

Unknown-7Google+:

  1. Provide opportunities for people to learn. This can be accomplished by providing posts that provide new knowledge to your followers. Whether it is information on social media tips, a new product update or new tools for learning, Google+ users have made it clear that they desire to acquire knowledge.

  2. Google+ allows users to share gifs with your followers. This can be a huge advantage if utilized correctly. A gif is its own device which requires nothing of its viewer and they have performed well on Google+; better in fact, than most ordinary image posts.

  3. Provide content about Google+. Because it is a relatively new social media venture, it may be a good idea to speak about Google+. This is an effective way to secure a receptive audience. The Google+ audience desires new information about the platform they are using, so integrating Google+ content can be a smart strategy for creating successful and more importantly, shareable content on this network.  

 

Topics: Best Practices for Businesses, Social Media Best Practices

Hashtag Best Practices for a Wider Social Media Reach

Posted by BSG Team on Mar 31, 2015 9:30:00 AM

images-6It began as a writing style popular in the Twitterverse but now the use of hashtags is seen across social networks. In fact, the hashtag’s popularity has grown so much that the term was added to the Oxford English Dictionary last year.

Hashtags are handy tool to broaden your social reach. Words or phrases affixed with a hashtag allow for the grouping of similarly tagged messages to be found in electronic searches, which means anyone interested in the topic can find you. Your messages are not just limited to your followers.

It’s no surprise that hashtags are especially useful on Twitter.  A study by Buddy Media found that tweets with hashtags get 2X more engagement (clicks, retweets, favorites and replies) than tweets without them.  Research from Twitter itself found that brands may see up to 50% more engagement by using hashtags (100% for individuals). 

Google+ automatically gives posts hashtags depending on their content, but users can edit or add more.  Hashtags can be especially important here since hashtags are now included in Google searches.

images-5The jury is still out on whether or not hashtags provide any benefit on Facebook.  Research from EdgeRank Checker found that using hashtags has no effect on reach and posts without hashtags outperform those with hastags.  However, many social media experts believe that hashtags should still be used on Facebook as long as they’re used correctly (see this helpful article from our friends at PostPlanner).  We’re inclined to agree.

Tips for Using Hashtags:

1.  Don’t Go Overboard  

Buddy Media’s research found that 2 hashtags are the maximum number that should be used. Posts that use more see an average of 17% less engagement.  Another study from Social Baker had similar findings when it comes to hashtags on Facebook:

  • Posts with 1 or 2 hashtags averaged 593 interactions
  • Posts with 3 to 5 hashtags averaged 416 interactions
  • Posts with 6 to 10 hashtags averaged 307 interactions
  • Posts with more than 10 hashtags averaged 188 interactions

Instagram is the lone exception to this rule. Posts will 11+ hashtags get the most engagement.

2.  Double Check the Meaning of Your Hashtag

Before adding a hashtag to any post, do a quick search and see how it is currently being used. There is no benefit to choosing one that is being used elsewhere for an entirely different topic or has an entirely different meaning.

3.  Do a Little Homework to Find the Best Terms

Use tools like Hashtagify.me to find other trending terms related to your post.  You can piggyback on other hashtags to increase your visibility and reach.  However, make sure the hashtag is relevant. 

images-74.  Be Careful with Placement

Don’t put a hashtag in the middle of a post.  It’s disruptive. Place your hashtags at the end of your post as to not interrupt the flow of your message.

5.  Be Consistent Across Channels

If you are using a specific hashtag on one network, then use it on all your networks. You can “brand” your hashtag this way, encouraging fans and followers to use it on whichever social network they are engaging on.

 

Topics: SEO and Content Strategy, Best Practices for Businesses, Content Marketing, Social Media Best Practices

The Truth About Social Selling

Posted by BSG Team on Mar 9, 2015 12:25:34 PM

 

UnknownThere’s a lot of hype surrounding social selling and with that hype comes a hefty amount of misunderstanding. The enthusiasm that is surrounding social selling is admirable, but these new selling tactics must be understood before sales representatives start tweeting their hearts out. Business leaders need to have a clear and concise grasp on what it is they are getting involved in. What follows is an attempt to push aside the hoopla and hype in order to explain what social selling is and what it is not.

Social selling is, essentially, a way to share content. Since content sharing is usually a job for someone in the marketing department, the assumption that some companies make is that it is just another job for that particular division. This is incorrect. Salespeople must do the work themselves. How else are they supposed to connect with, and build trust with, potential buyers?

Don’t attempt to automate social selling. If all salespeople have the same assortment of shared content, consumers will easily spot the ruse. This method is lazy and comes across as inauthentic and contrived. Social selling is also a continuous endeavor. It is not a game of one post/tweet and done. Salespeople need to learn to be vigilant with social media sharing and must make it part of their everyday routine. This is essential, especially if they expect revenue to be positively impacted by social activity. Furthermore, social selling is not a sprint to the finish line. It is more akin to a marathon, in that salespeople must not make the mistake of assuming that fruitful results will be seen after the first few days.  

A common oversight is the belief that social selling is all about selling. You are making a critical error if you are approaching social selling with the same tired and archaic hard-sell tactics on social media. Social selling is more about building and nurturing relationships and less about the repetitiveness of cold pitches. The idea is to connect with your buyers, not bore them to tears or scare them away. When implemented correctly, social selling is about the creation of palpable relationships with people. There should be no tricks up your sleeve; subversive and unethical techniques need to be thrown away and forgotten.

Social selling should not be used as a glittery new replacement for spam. If you are using Twitter or LinkedIn to mass-send your cold pitches, you are making a huge mistake. Spam is spam. It always has been and it always will be. Nobody has time for it. Also, while we’re on the topic of the unnecessary; social selling is not cold calling. It can be a lot more fun and useful than cold calling ever dreamed of being. 

images-1-1With social selling, knowing your audience and their tolerance for information is paramount. Nobody likes a blabbermouth and the same is true on social media. Being garrulous and long-winded on social media can mean your downfall. Social selling is about listening to your buyers, as well as taking the time to learn and understand their interests and goals. This type of thought leadership is what builds trust between a buyer and a salesperson.

To piggyback on that last point and to be perfectly clear: Social selling is not a replacement for face-to-face interactions. Meetings between people, in person, will never lose importance. Even with social media, salespeople need to strive to be everywhere their potential clients are. This extends from an online presence to being physically present at trade shows and other events. Furthermore, social selling should not replace email and phone outreach. It is simply a complimentary tactic.

It’s important to remember that social selling is not a miracle cure. It will not transform a bad product or service into a good one. It cannot be used to mask faulty or broken commodities. It would be ludicrous to expect such a thing.

It’s also imperative to show a sustained interest in potential buyers. That being said, one must steer clear of wandering into stalker territory, where every single tweet, post, video and blog is liked and commented on. Use good judgment, as social selling is not intended to be creepy.

Never forget that social selling is primarily about being “social.” Connecting and networking with people should be every salesperson’s modus operandi. One should not get involved with social media for the sole purpose of being seen online. This is absurd and counterproductive. It’s also not a sound strategy for success.

Lastly, social selling is not for everyone. Believe it or not, there are still buyers out there who are not on social media. Again, the goal is to be wherever your buyers are. That’s the key. Whether they are on social media, sitting in a boardroom or someplace else entirely, the salesperson who wishes to succeed must search them out. Social selling is just another way to be seen and heard. 

Topics: Best Practices for Businesses

8 Inspiring Habits of Truly Remarkable Bosses!

Posted by BSG Team on Dec 15, 2014 2:36:57 PM

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Read: 6 Rookie Mistakes You Might Be Making on LinkedIn

Topics: Best Practices for Businesses

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