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We may be a bit biased when it comes to talking up the benefits of social media, but fortunately, you don’t just have to take our word for it.

Food for thought: 59% of marketers are actively using social to support their lead generation and business goals. Meanwhile, it’s hard to find a brand that isn’t active on social media in some way, shape or form.

However, there are still plenty of critics who don’t see the benefits of social media from a business perspective.

To the general public, social media often gets a bad rap for being a time-sink. More importantly, measuring your ROI from social media can be difficult versus more straightforward marketing channels (think: PPC, email marketing, etc).

So you may be asking yourself “What are the benefits of social media?”

Well, we have an answer. Actually, we have nine of ’em.

The 9 most overlooked benefits of social media

Social media deserves your attention now more than ever.

Although it may not immediately result in a flood of cash or that “viral” moment you are hoping for, there’s so much that social can do for your brand both short and long term.

Here’s our breakdown of the social media benefits that often fly under the radar for modern businesses.

1. The ability to uncover industry trends in real-time

Simply put, social media is a potential goldmine of business intelligence.

How so? For starters, think about the transparent nature of social media. We’re able to see unfiltered, real-time conversations between consumers and brands alike.

If you want to know what a brand is doing well or likewise what customers are complaining about, it’s all out there in the open.

And of course, your target audience’s social activity and shared content can clue you in on industry trends. For example, Instagram hashtags such as #summerootd or #festivalfashion can highlight everything from relevant influencers to fashion trends that are currently all-the-rage.

And if you want to tap into those trends via social conversations, look no further than social listening to do the trick. For example, features such as trend reporting in Sprout Social help hone in on what customers discuss when they talk about your brand. This includes key terms and hashtags associated with your business.

However, these mentions represent more than just chatter.

For example, social conversions can clue you in on everything from which products your customers love to areas where your company might be falling short. A flurry of praise or customer complaints can spur you to take action based on follower feedback. In turn, brands can come up with real-time solutions and products that their customers will buzz about.

Perhaps one of the biggest social media marketing benefits is the ability to spy on your competition.

What are they currently promoting? What sort of ads are they running? How is your content strategy different from theirs?

These answers don’t have to be question marks. By conducting social competitive analysis, you can uncover opportunities to step into a new lane in terms of content or advertising.

For example, maybe you realize that your competitors are crushing it with Facebook ads but their Instagram presence is totally lacking. In turn, you might explore influencer marketing or user-generated content campaigns for the sake of standing out from the crowd.

Looking at your competitors’ social performance is a cinch with tools like Sprout. Our competitor and sentiment analysis reports allow you to look head-to-head to monitor growth and engagement to ensure that you aren’t falling behind.

Through this analysis, you can also discover which pieces of your own content are scoring the most engagement. Understanding your top-performing content is likewise key to understanding how to break through the noise in your industry.

3. Provide better customer service

According to the 2018 Sprout Social Index, nearly half of all consumers have already taken to social media to ask questions and raise concerns.

Unlike awkward phone calls or lengthy emails, social customer service is quick and to-the-point. Providing social customer service means having meaningful, back-and-forth conversations with your customers that are oftentimes forward-facing.

In other words, prospects, customers and competitors alike can see how you interact with your buyers. Putting positive interactions front-and-center is a huge plus for any business.

Whether it’s listening to feedback or addressing specific concerns, an ongoing advantage of social media is that it’s the perfect place to provide speedy service and let customers know that you’re there to lend a helping hand.

And of course, social media also represents a prime channel to gather customer feedback. Responding to questions and concerns signals that you’re invested in serving your audience.

Want to know if you’re providing stellar customer service? Sprout can help with that. Sprout’s suite of social listening tools includes sentiment which tracks your brand health, ensuring that your social mentions remain on the positive side. An influx of complaints or questions could signal big-picture problems with your customer success strategy.

4. Curate customer content and stories in a snap

Customer photos and success stories go hand in hand with higher engagement and conversion rates.

And there’s no better place to gather both than social media.

For example, monitoring your mentions and tags can help you uncover positive customer interactions that you can share with the rest of your followers. Many major brands and retailers regularly curate customer photos to use throughout their marketing campaigns.

This is exactly why having a branded hashtag is so important. By encouraging your customers to tag their content, you can uncover shareable posts that your followers will love while also making a connection with your customers.

So many brands have their social presence centered around customer experiences and it’s no surprise why. Social proof in the form of customer content not only shows that you have satisfied customers but also provides your brand with a much-needed sense of authenticity.

5. Positioning power over your competition

This might seem like a no-brainer but it’s worth mentioning.

Simply having an active presence on a social channel represents positioning power for your business.

Think about it. Let’s say your closest competitor has an Instagram account that’s booming with customer photos, Stories and sleek snapshots showing off their product.

On the flip side, you have an Instagram profile that’s gathering cobwebs.

Not a good look, right? Consistently publishing on channels relevant to your business signals that you’re active and open to new customers.

Oh, and don’t forget the literal positioning power of social media in search engines when someone looks up your brand. Your Facebook or Instagram could very well be your business’ first impression on a customer versus your website. This again speaks to the importance of maintaining an active presence.

6. Build backlinks and a better search engine presence

The SEO impact of social media has been hotly debated for years.

That said, the relatively recent concept of linkless backlinks signals that there is a correlation between social media and search performance.

In short, shares and click-throughs via social represent positive search signals to Google. If nothing else, social can represent a sizable traffic source (granted you’re tracking your social traffic via Google Analytics).

Don’t neglect social media as a content distribution channel. A popular piece of content that scores hundreds of likes and shares can drive serious referral traffic to your site, especially when you optimize your social scheduling with something like Sprout’s patented ViralPost technology that ensures you’re utilizing optimal send times.

7. Appeal to younger, social-savvy customers

To say that social media has transformed the traditional advertising landscape would be the ultimate understatement.

Thinking of social media as a sort of hip, “young” advertising channel might seem a bit cliche, especially since it’s capable of reaching customers of all ages.

That said, research reinforces that Gen Z is shaking up marketing by responding less and less to traditional advertising. Given that younger customers are growing up alongside social media, brands will need to adapt beyond in-your-face commercials and ads.

And right now Instagram is the place to be to reach those younger customers. According to recent social media demographics, the vast majority of users on Instagram are under the age of 30.

As younger consumers hop from platform to platform, brands should likewise expect to experiment with new ad channels. The popularity of user-generated content, Stories and influencers highlights the sort of authentic, experience-focused advertising that continues to appeal to the younger crowd.

8. Humanize your brand

Businesses today rightfully want to show off their human side.

And so many brands have benefited from dropping the “suit and tie” vibe in lieu of getting personal with customers on social media.

MoonPie is one of the most popular examples, adopting a snarky, meme-heavy social presence that feels like it’s run by a teenager. Although this sort of approach to social isn’t for every brand, it’s definitely not what most customers would expect and therefore drives engagement.

Some brands manage to humanize themselves through philanthropy and activism. In a day and age where half of consumers want to see brands take a stand on social and political issues, brands like Ben & Jerry’s do a brilliant job of highlighting their human side.

Simply showing off your colleagues and coworkers is an easy way to put a face to your brand, much like Sprout does with our #TeamSprout series.

Lastly, one of the key benefits from social media marketing is more leads, plain and simple.

Given that there are billions of people already active on social media, there’s a non-zero chance that your audience is already there. Whether through paid ads or content promotion, you can reel in more top-of-the-funnel leads by raising awareness for your brand.

In fact, 77% of Pinterest users discover new brands and make purchases based on what they see on the platform. Having a social presence which introduces people to what you’re selling represents yet another way to score more sales. Even if these leads don’t make purchases directly through social, raising awareness could lead them on the path to becoming full-fledged buyers down the line.

And with that, we wrap up our list!

What are the biggest benefits of social media for your business?

A social media presence has become an expectation for brands rather than an exception to the rule.

And we totally agree that businesses shouldn’t latch onto social media “just because.”

Instead, businesses should assess the potential benefits of social media themselves based on specific, actionable goals. Although the impact of the benefits above varies from brand to brand, there’s no denying the business implications of having a social presence.

Of course, we still want to hear from you! What do you see as the benefits of social media for business? Let us know in the comments below!

This post The 9 most overlooked benefits of social media originally appeared on Sprout Social.

This content was originally published here.

Instagram is becoming a major social media marketing player, and major brands are noticing and starting to engage using the Instagram platform.  Now is the time for you to start exposing, engaging and acquiring new leads and customers using the social media power of Instagram.

If you’re posting regularly to an Instagram account with beautiful images and you still aren’t seeing growth, then you may indeed be very frustrated. Thought will start to creep in that perhaps Instagram just isn’t right for you or your online business strategies…

Or, maybe you are thinking that perhaps you’re doing something wrong with trying to grow your business through Instagram.

Unfortunately, the fact of the matter is that organic growth on Instagram takes time. With that said though, here are five tips that can make a big difference and ensure you grow that bit more quickly.

To help you get started the right way – here are 5 tips to organically grow your Instagram account towards helping market your business, services, and products:

  • Optimize Your Account

    All of the largest and most compelling Instagram Accounts all have the following optimizations in place: a biography that is super compelling; a profile picture that captivates the viewers, and they have a relevant website linked to the account.  This is one of the first things your audience sees and remembers about your Instagram account.

  • Use Portrait Orientation

    Taking photos with a portrait orientation is generally considered the best practice in Instagram marketing. If not, then you should at least choose square images. This way, your image will stay on the page longer while the users are vertically scrolling, meaning more engagement and hopefully more likes.

  • Post At The Right Time

    Posting at the right time of day has been shown to be hugely important when it comes to your Instagram success. This way, you maximize the number of people who are awake and who are using the app. Research suggests that posting some time between 10am and 3pm on a weekday will net you the best results. BUT this doesn’t account for global time differences. If you’re aiming for a global audience, then posting at 6pm GMT might just be the smarter strategy.

  • Post Frequently

    How frequently? in the best case scenario, you should be posting 2-3 times per day. This will ensure that there is a steady flow of content on your site and that it doesn’t seem as though the page has been abandoned. What’s more though, is that posting this regularly will mean almost all of your viewers will see at least one image from you per day.

  • Use Hashtags

    Hashtags make a big difference on Instagram, so make sure you use them often and use them well. One of the most important tips is to use as many as possible (30) in order to maximize your chances of a big hit. Find the sweet spot in terms of popularity too – 30,000 is a good number of posts to see.  Find the most popular hashtags in your respective industry from industry influencers.

  • Personalize Your Account's Look and Feel

    Many accounts are all over the place, with every image they post looking completely different and the end result being a page that has no consistency. Making sure the majority of your images have a consistent look – even picking the same filter for every photo – can prevent this issue and help people to better understand what you’re about and whether they should follow.

  • Get Shoutouts From Relevant Industry Leaders

    Research and contact industry leaders and see if they will post a relevant shoutout for you – and what, if any cost it will be.  Make sure you track all of your contacts and results to be consistent and not viewed as a pest for the contacts that decline.

Therefore, just following the above tips will help you get started on the right path to your success using Instagram for your marketing needs. Take the time now to review again the above quick start tips we outlined and start engaging your base using the amazing and viral power of Instagram.

To celebrate International Small Business Day, Google today launched a new website that will suggest its products that seem like the best fit for a specific business.

The Google for Small Business portal was announced today at the Grow with Google Learning Center in New York City, where the company offers a variety of workshops and classes. During a break in the event, Kim Spalding, Google’s global product director for small business ads, told me that the website “gives everyone a place to start with Google products.”

After all, she said, “small business owners struggle with time” and particularly don’t have time to become experts on digital marketing.

So on the new site, they can enter their company name and website (assuming they have one), then answer a few questions about their business and their goals. Google will then create a customized, prioritized list of actions, which may involve launching ad campaigns, or building up their online presence, or installing Google Analytics.

Spalding suggested that this could be particularly useful for small businesses that are “just getting started,” as well as more established business that are starting to develop a digital strategy.

While Google for Small Business can recommend a wide range of products, Spalding pointed to two “hero tools” that are part of the lineup — Google my Business, which allows business owners to create their own profiles and websites, and is “a complete free product from start to finish,” as well as Smart Campaigns, which Google launched last year to automate the ad-buying process for small businesses.

This content was originally published here.

Pay-per-click (PPC) is a model of internet marketing that is used to drive traffic to websites. Advertisers set their own preferences and can choose their target audience according to their needs.

Parameters for PPC advertising may include selecting a particular location to focus your marketing on, the type of device used to access search engines, and the cohort with the largest number of customers likely to convert to a sale. Remarketing or ‘retargeting’ with Google Ads is a strategic form of advertising that allows you to target previous visitors to your site. With this type of marketing, the cost per click is significantly reduced, and returning visitors to your site are twice as likely to convert.

Previous visitors to your site are already familiar with your brand and have a prior interest in the services or products you offer, as such they are the perfect ‘target’. High-quality traffic, such as previous website visitors, is much more likely to generate a better ROI than a non-targeted audience. Remarketing with AdWords is a powerful marketing technique that allows you to target and reconnect with your previous visitors long after they have left your website.

Your ads will be displayed on other websites and act as a ‘constant’ reminder’ of the services and/or products you offer to your previous visitors. After leaving your website, a cookie is stored on the user’s computer and acts as a ‘flag’. The ‘flag’ alerts Google that this person has accessed your website in the past. Your ads will be displayed when the viewer visits another website that has Google ads enabled, but this only occurs if you have also enabled remarketing in your AdWords campaign. If your competitors have Google ads enabled, then your ads will appear on their site.

What is actually needed to start AdWords Remarketing?

You can enable remarketing in AdWords in a few simple steps. Google walks you through the process of setting up a remarketing campaign and AdWords will create your remarketing tag and visitors list to get you started. Creating a remarketing campaign for the Google search network is a slightly different process, but Google offers advice and an easy to follow guide for businesses who want to focus on search ads.

Google Ads offers remarketing options, such as:

  • Standard remarketing.
  • Dynamic remarketing.
  • Remarketing lists for search ads.
  • Video remarketing.
  • Email list remarketing.

You can also select your target audience and optimize your remarketing campaign for maximum ROI.

What are the Expected Adwords Remarketing Expenses?

Remarketing with AdWords is one of the most cost-effective ways to conduct an advertising campaign. Costs will vary according to your marketing strategy. However, remarketing is much less expensive than standard PPC advertising campaigns. PPC is a great marketing method, but every industry has its competition and ‘click fraud’ is a type of fraud that occurs with PPC advertising. Click fraud occurs when advertisers deliberately and repeatedly click on an advertisement with the intention to drain revenue from their competitors. Click fraud is a method also used to increase the revenue of the host website with ad publishers clicking on their own sites to generate revenue. It pays to protect your PPC investment from shady players by checking out Googles anti-click fraud program designed to catch and analyze fraudulent clicks.

Remarketing with AdWords is a powerful marketing strategy. By tailoring your ad, targeting your audience, choosing the location and device, and by protecting your PPC budget, you can pretty much guarantee a high ROI.

Get started with a small budget campaign and as you start to see the results from optimizing the campaign settings, you can increase the budget and reap the rewards. Alternatively, you can seek the assistance of a reputable Online Marketing Agency to set up and manage your campaign.


This content was originally published here.

The small business world can be a grind working in and on the business to reach goals and milestones and grow.

Owners and employees wear a lot of hats and often excel at filling a lot of roles.

The day-to-day requirements of sales, operations, payroll, invoicing, service, and fulfillment take a ton of time and energy.

Something that gets squeezed out is marketing.

The marketing mix for a small business often covers the essentials and things that are closest to the bottom line.

These are often identified as the website and campaigns that impact lead or sales generation closest to the last click or to the conversion. Those include things like email marketing, SEO, and paid search.

Often, social media is left out of that mix or only done in a way that meets a bare minimum to show the business is real.

Social media doesn’t have to be a massive commitment or time investment. It also doesn’t have to be a big mystery as to how it could impact the business and fit into the marketing mix.

By working smarter and not harder, you can use eight tips to put together a social media strategy that makes sense for the resources you have and ultimately can engage your audience and positively impact your business.

1. Identify Personas

There are a lot of resources that speak to the process of persona development and how it can help in the content marketing and overall marketing strategy for your business.

If you haven’t defined who the target audience is for your products, services, or offering, then you should start here.

You don’t have to go through a massive branding or research project to get to the info you need.

If you don’t know where to start, I suggest jumping into your current Google Analytics account and activating the interests section and seeing which affinity groups are noted.

If you don’t have the luxury of current data, you can dig into the Google Ads display planner and Facebook ad planning tools to explore the options for interests, demographics, and behavior and see how the categories and targeting fit with your understanding of your clients or customers.

Using any working or refined models of specific personas, you can save time and fine tune your messaging and targeting in the social media networks to cast the right-sized net and get specific enough with your content.

2. Know the Customer Journey

We all typically know the most about what step or two is the best at driving engagement, sales, or leads. That may be a specific marketing channel, a campaign, or even a category of content.

The problem is that most companies don’t have a 1-touch customer journey that results in a sale on their first visit.

The customer journey can be a little difficult to get a complete picture of, but there are ways to look at what content is resonating with your audience before they convert and you can talk with them to see what they find valuable in making their decision.

There are reporting platforms that can tie it all together, but at the very least, you should get some visibility into the steps in the funnel that customers go through ultimately as they research before buying.

3. Track Everything

If you’re finding challenges with the first two tips, it is likely because you don’t have as much data or information as you’d like. I’m glad you’re still reading and made it this far.

Tracking and measuring are critical for digital marketing.

Without capturing data, you’re left with using industry trends or just giving it your best guess based on what you know about your industry and the things that work in the offline world.

Make sure that all pages on your site are tracked in Google Analytics.

Ensure that all content you are deploying in email, social, and other sources uses UTM tracking parameters so it can be properly categorized in Google Analytics.

Find ways to utilize promo codes and other source codes to merge offline and online data.

The more you can track and measure, the more informed you can be as you evaluate the worth of your time and dollars in your content investment and specifically when you deploy it through social.

4. Use Agile Methods

Ebooks, whitepapers, webinars, and long-form content may be the perfect thing to use to engage and resonate with your audience.

However, these are all big investments to make in the content creation stage before even deploying.

A great way to test out social and figure out the right types of content, frequency of posting, targeting options (for sponsored and ad content), timing, etc., is to perform more frequent, smaller tests.

Agile marketing has become a valuable strategy in recent years. It features an agile mindset similar to what you’d expect in software development and other disciplines.

As a small business, you probably don’t have the time or budget for a statistically significant sample size anyway, so go all in with a wide range of content and options and see what works before you invest a ton into a single piece of content or single strategy by which you plan on judging the viability of social as a channel.

5. Repurpose Content

Where possible, you could and should look for opportunities to leverage existing content and sources.

If you created a great blog post as part of your SEO strategy, test it on social?

If you’re creating content for your email audience, repurpose some of it on social.

By using content in more than one place, you can get a better return on investment for individual pieces of content, plus get more data and see how it performs across various channels.

Also, just because something is evergreen or a tip is not new, that doesn’t mean it isn’t to your audience.

As long as the information is still accurate and relevant, there’s no harm in sharing something that has been on your site for a couple of years.

Your hidden gems of quality content might be a little too hidden or limited to just your search or other audiences. Using content you know works and resonates is a solid strategy for testing on social as well.

6. Learn From Your Competition

When asked how often a company should be posting on social media and what types of content, I can never right away answer the question directly for them.

The answer is always “it depends.” I don’t have a special best practice number of times to post per week or month. It is all relative to the industry and audience.

Competitors are a great place to look for cues and help. Don’t assume that any or all of your competitors are doing it right.

Do know that you can look externally at their social profiles and see:

Whether capturing all of this in a spreadsheet or other format, you can quickly see patterns that emerge in what is working and what isn’t.

I recommend doing this type of basic research or study before arbitrarily deciding what your social plan should be.

7. Plan for Times When You Don’t Have Time

Even if you’re 100% committed to staying on the social media plan, things will happen.

With the hats that you wear, you’ll get pulled into something that is a higher priority. Or, maybe you’ll get to take a vacation and unplug.

Regardless, there will be times when you don’t have time to focus on social media. That’s OK!

Plan for the times when you don’t have the time and attention now.

Build a content calendar and framework. Know who is posting what content and when.

If you can spread the roles around to others and make sure everyone is committed and following the plan and guidelines, you can ensure that the content strategy, implementation in social, and testing process won’t fall apart the second that other things take attention away from it.

Like other endeavors in business and in life, if you fall off, get back on soon. Stick with it as there’s value in the information gained and meaningful connections made by utilizing social media in your digital marketing mix.

8. Optimize Like You Would in Other Channels

Know that there are going to be some home runs as well as some strikeouts. Take an optimization and agile mindset into social like you would in search marketing.

Set a period of time that you want to test, set your strategy, and then optimize through testing.

Always be testing!

There are a lot of reasons why social media is not at the top of the priority list in the marketing mix of small businesses. That doesn’t mean that it can’t be effective.

There’s also no reason it should be the biggest investment you make.

Smart strategies that are designed to stay on track and properly leverage social through:

This content was originally published here.

About The Business Advertising Professionals

We are a team of professional marketing and online specialists based in the Houston, TX area. We help small business owners, entrepreneurs and individuals keep up with the name brand and deep-pocketed business in the competitive marketing space.

We work to combine design, consulting, social media, SEO and video marketing with professional and deep;y customized solutions to help you Engage, Expose and Acquire new customers and prospects. 

Richmond, TX 77406

email: info@bizadpros.com
Twitter @bizadpros

phone: 832-303-2898