Five Tips to Market Good Causes in a Negative World

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Negativity is an attention magnet.

These days, you could be forgiven for thinking that the world is falling apart. The worst of humanity seems to fill our newsfeeds on a daily basis, to the point where all that bad news appears to be seriously affecting people’s mental health.

The Challenge of Marketing a Good Cause - Is the World on Fire?

Actual photograph of the world today?

But in reality, the world is safer than ever beforecrime in the U.S. is approaching historic lows, and the U.S.’s renewable energy production recently surpassed coal-based output for the first timeElon Musk, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet all think that now is the best time to be alive.

So why is it so hard for positive messages to cut through the clutter?

The answer is negativity bias, and it makes marketing a positive product or positive message more difficult than ever. Fortunately for those of us trying to fight the “good” fight, the recipe for successfully marketing good causes does exist.

Let’s start by examining the main challenge a marketer faces when trying to promote a positive message.

What is Negativity Bias?

Numerous studies have confirmed that people gravitate more toward negative content, which is likely caused by our brains being wired to respond more sharply to perceived threats. The majority of media and websites, driven by the goal of raising advertising revenue, have leaned into this negativity bias in order to grow viewership, which leaves little room for organizations looking to promote a positive message.

Or does it?

The reality is that people crave good news and positive stories. Promoting them simply takes a lot more work and a defined strategy in order to cut through the negativity. Let’s look at five ways to market good causes below.

Five Ways to Market Good Causes

1. Speak Directly to the Tangible Benefit Your Audience Will Receive

The most important realization for any organization trying to recruit consumers for a positive cause is that the altruists in any market represent a small percentage of the total universe. Let’s look at green purchasing as an example:

What this data means is that at the end of the day, no matter how noble your cause, people will still make their purchase decisions based on perceived individual benefits (value, convenience, price, etc.).

Your marketing should lean into this realization, and focus on the tangible benefits your audience will experience as individuals if they choose your offering. Data can help immensely here, as we’ll see below.

2. Put Data on Your Side

For the purposes of marketing “good”, there are two types of data:

  • Statistics which show the extent of the problem you’d like your audience to solve
  • Data that shows how your audience will benefit from your solution

As we’ve already learned, the first dataset will get people’s attention, but the second will drive them to action.

Let’s take renewable energy as an example, specifically combating global warming through solar power.

Let’s read that statement as an individual human. What can one person possibly do about such a huge issue? For most of us, very little, which is why it’s important to focus more heavily on individual benefits.

  • How your audience will benefit: switching to solar power will save you $1,000 a year in electricity costs

How to Market a Good Cause - The Tangible Benefits of Switching to Solar Power

This second data point, drawn from this CleanTechnica data, links the action you want your audience to take, switching from fossil fuels, to the individual benefit that will help push them to make a decision.

Communicating with this kind of individual benefit data will help you grow traction in any marketplace.

 

3. Identify and Resolve Your Market’s Adoption Barriers

Customers will always follow the path of least resistance. So remove the resistance.

Customer purchase decisions generally follow the path of least resistance. While there are always exceptions, most people will choose the cheapest, easiest solution for most products. So what does this mean when you’re marketing a good cause?

Unfortunately, if your solution asks your audience to go out of their way, invest a lot of time for an uncertain return, or pay more, it will often fall on deaf ears. And the key to solving this challenge is to do the legwork in order to make adoption as easy as possible for your audience.

Five Ways to Market a Good Cause - a Paper Cup

Please recycle me

Here, I’ll use an example from a printing company trying to sell an improved paper cup to a major food and beverage retailer that would have made the recycling of that retailer’s cups much easier. The cost of using this new cup would have increased the price of each cup by a fraction of a cent. This doesn’t sound like much, but for a publicly owned company purchasing millions of cups a day, the profit impact plus the effort of switching vendors proved to be too much.

What could this printing company have done? Perhaps they could have offered discounts in other areas to put their price at parity. Perhaps they could have waived other charges. Or perhaps they were just facing a bridge too far. But the point is that “doing good” is not enough. The barriers that this particular customer faced needed to be removed.

How do we do it? Make the path you want your audience to take dead simple.

If you’re collecting donations, why not go to people’s houses instead of requiring them to come to you? If you’re trying to promote green energy, it might be time to hire a lobbyist to get preferential legislation passed that tilts the scales in your favor. If you’re marketing a more expensive green product, consider what you can do to come close to price parity with less eco-friendly competitors.

These efforts are difficult, but they matter when you’re dealing with decisions based on fractions of a cent.

4. Build External Pressure

As we touched on earlier, nothing motivates a business or market more than bad news. Poor press, public backlash, or shifting market preferences can all push an organization to take action.

How to Market a Good Cause - Jon Stewart and Mitch McConnell

Jon Stewart in the Senate hallway before the final vote on the 9/11 First Responders’ Compensation Fund.

Let’s take Jon Stewart as an example. His recent push to get the federal government to re-authorize the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund saw him going to great lengths to call out senators who were viewed as obstructing the bill’s passage, ultimately leading to the bill’s reauthorization for the foreseeable future.

How can you ramp up the pressure on your audience? There are many tactics to do so, from letter-writing to Greenpeace’s more controversial direct action efforts. These days, a coordinated social media campaign can often be effective. The key is to use this approach over time, and provide a pathway for those involved to take action in the meantime (per our third point above).

5. Dominate the News Cycle – with Positivity

Finally, it’s important to remember that more and more individuals are providing news and other content via social media. And deep down, people crave positive content.

A study from the New York Times and the Marketing Science Institute found that while content that evoked anger or anxiety was more frequently shared, positive content was actually more viral overall.

Over the long term, positive content is more viral.

As well, social media scientist Dan Zarrella has shown that the more negative your account, the more you’ll see your followers leave.

Five Ways to Market a Good Cause - the Impact of Negative Posts on Follower Count

 

So what’s our lesson here? If you post positive messages and content about all the good results your cause is generating (as opposed to the challenges it faces), you’ll be doing a great job of counteracting the negativity generated out in the media.

And you want to tout those wins as often as you can – one study found that a ratio of 5 positive interactions were required to counteract one negative attitude or behavior. So turn up the volume and let your positive vibes fly!

I hope that you’ve found our five tips to market good causes in a negative world valuable. If you’d like to talk more about how to get your positive message out to your audience, please get in touch!

 

The Best Times to Post on Social Media

As noted in our previous post, “3 Ways to Effectively Advertise on Facebook Without Spending a Dime“, posting on social media at certain times can maximize visibility and extend your reach with every post. While we can generalize the best posting times for all audiences, industry-specific information is most useful as not all audiences interact with social media the same way. It all comes down to what content your brand is sharing and who your target audience is.

The First Step in Social Media Posting: Understand Your Audience’s Geography:

Before we dive into what the best posting times are for different industries, it’s key to understand where your audience is located geographically. There are six time zones in the United States alone, although the Central and Eastern time zones represent roughly 80% of the U.S. population. For standalone brick-and-mortar businesses, it’s easy to know what time zone you should use. But for online stores and businesses with multiple storefronts, the best time to post may depend on your audience’s daily schedules.

If you are unsure where your audience is located, Google Analytics provides detailed geographical data on your site visitors that will help. Simply click on the “Geo” tab of your Google Analytics account and you will see a map similar to the one below. You can adjust the dimension to see what the most popular cities/regions are as well.

Note: If your audience is evenly dispersed across the United States, you may want to stick to Eastern times, as they represent 50% of the U.S. population.

 

Social Media Marketing: Why When You Post Matters
Google Analytics provides geographical data to help you better understand where your audience is

The best times to post on social media by industry:

The following posting times were collected by TrackMaven from January 1, 2016 through July 31, 2016. The results are based on engagement rates from over 17.5 million social media posts by 17,737 brands. Although TrackMaven analyzed 75 industries, we will list data for only a few of these industries. The data is listed in Eastern Standard Time (EST). After you have an understanding of where your audience is located, you can adjust the following data to a different time zone, if necessary.

 

Consumer Goods

Facebook: Sunday at 11:00 am

Twitter: Wednesday at 11:00 am

LinkedIn: Friday at 8:00 am

Instagram: Tuesday at 6:00 pm

Pinterest: Tuesday at 12:00 pm

 

Consumer Services

Facebook: Friday at 4:00 pm

Twitter: Monday at 1:00 pm

LinkedIn: Sunday at 6:00 am

Instagram: Saturday at 10:00 am

Pinterest: Tuesday at 9:00 am

 

Financial Services

Facebook: Saturday at 5:00 pm

Twitter: Thursday at 12:00 pm

LinkedIn: Wednesday at 9:00 pm

Instagram: Friday at 9:00 am

Pinterest: Monday at 9:00 pm

 

Information Technology & Services

Facebook: Tuesday at 9:00 am

Twitter: Wednesday at 1:00 pm

LinkedIn: Wednesday at 1:00 pm

Instagram: Thursday at 2:00 pm

Pinterest: Friday at 8:00 pm

 

Management Consulting

Facebook: Wednesday at 2:00 pm

Twitter: Friday at 4:00 pm

LinkedIn: Sunday at 5:00 pm

Instagram: Tuesday at 6:00 pm

Pinterest: Thursday at 12:00 pm

 

Marketing & Advertising

Facebook: Saturday at 9:00 am

Twitter: Thursday at 4:00 pm

LinkedIn: Tuesday at 4:00 am

Instagram: Wednesday at 1:00 pm

Pinterest: Tuesday at 9:00 am

 

Online Media

Facebook: Wednesday at 4:00 pm

Twitter: Friday at 3:00 pm

LinkedIn: Friday at 4:00 am

Instagram: Monday at 12:00 pm

Pinterest: N/A

 

Retail

Facebook: Monday at 1:00 am

Twitter: Friday at 11:00 am

LinkedIn: Thursday at 1:00 pm

Instagram: Tuesday at 1:00 pm

Pinterest: Tuesday at 9:00 pm

 

If your business needs help with its social media marketing strategy, feel free to contact Young Marketing Consulting.

Free Social Media Marketing Part 2: Promote Your Business on Twitter Without Spending a Dime

Last week we discussed social media marketing strategies to help your business promote itself on Facebook without spending money on things like boosting your posts. In this week’s post, we’ll identify similar tips for free social media marketing on Twitter. These simple “hacks” can help your business drive site traffic, reach its target audience, and increase brand awareness – all for free!

First, What are Twitter Ads?

Free Social Media Marketing Part 2: Promote Your Business on Twitter Without Spending a Dime

A promoted Tweet

Twitter ads are very similar to the Facebook ads that you’re probably familiar with in your newsfeed. Businesses will typically adopt a social media marketing strategy that focuses on driving awareness, engagement, or direct action from their audience, and they’ll choose an ad campaign tactic to match (such as the one at right, pulled from the Young Marketing Consulting Twitter feed.

While these ads will certainly get your message to the top of the tweetheap, they’re not the only way to succeed on Twitter.

 

Social Media Marketing Tip 1: Know when to tweet

Timing is everything in social media marketing. According to data provided by Kissmetrics, 6% of all retweets occur around 5:00 PM. Furthermore, while click-through rates are fairly steady throughout the week, Wednesday has the highest CTR. Now, it’s important to note that not every business is the same. You might run a business focused on weekend activities, and see your engagement spike on a Thursday night. For more business-focused content, you may see impressions at their highest early in the morning. The important thing is to experiment with different days and times throughout the week to find the optimal time for your business to Tweet. Consider where your business is located and who your target audience is (and when they use social media). You may find it helpful to use an analytics tool for your Twitter account. Hootsuite has an autoschedule tool which chooses a time for you based on when your tweets have performed best.

How to effectively advertise on twitter without spending a dime

Source: Kissmetrics

Social Media Marketing Tip 2: Create relationships

Whether it’s in person or online, a good marketing strategy builds relationships in order to reach more consumers and increase brand awareness. To start creating meaningful relationships on Twitter, begin by finding your like-minded people. Search Twitter with relevant keywords and hashtags to identify influencers in your industry. These are people who have already established themselves and have a larger following. Additionally, check out who is following these influencers and add them to your list as well.

After you identify the right crowd, your next step is to engage. Twitter lists keep your followers organized so you can engage with different groups of people at different times. For example, your business could have lists of current customers, prospects, employees, etc. Reach out to people who aren’t familiar with your business by retweeting or starting a conversation with them. Monitor what your target audience is posting and post content that seems relevant to them. Ultimately, when it comes to Twitter, being social and creating conversations is your number one goal.

Social Media Marketing Tip 3: Create engaging tweets

This is arguably the easiest technique to increase your audiences’ engagement with your business. In 2014, Twitter analyzed over 2 million tweets to determine what type of content was retweeted the most. They found that photos averaged a 35% boost in retweets, while videos averaged 28%. The data also revealed that tweets which used quotes, used a number, and/or included hashtags had higher engagement levels. More recently, you can now tweet live broadcasts via Periscope. Viewers can further engage with your live session by typing comments. Whether it’s using graphics or tweeting a statistic, creating engaging tweets is a simple way to reach your social media marketing goals.

3 ways to effectively advertise on twitter without spending a dime

For higher engagement rates, tweet quotes as images

So there you have it, a few quick and easy ways to improve your social media marketing on Twitter, for free. If you’d like to talk more about how social media can help your business, why not contact Young Marketing Consulting today?

3 Ways to Effectively Advertise on Facebook Without Spending a Dime

According to Forbes, 50 million Facebook business pages exist as of December 2015. And each one of those companies are competing to figure out the best way to reach Facebook’s 1.7 billion monthly users. Facebook Ads, boosted posts, and other paid options are certainly an effective way to reach your target audience, and these options have garnered the lion’s share of marketers’ recent attention. However, with Facebook’s recent shift to return its newsfeeds to more user-shared content, the ROI pendulum for smaller marketers will likely swing back toward the classic “free” content sharing approach. This post will outline various ways a business can promote itself on Facebook without spending a dime on advertising.

1. Know when to Post on Facebook for Maximum Visibility

Facebook engagement is 18% higher on Thursdays and Fridays.

Although the best time to post on Facebook varies by industry, generally, your business should post and share content on Facebook in the early to mid-afternoon. According to the graphic below from Kissmetrics, Facebook usage also increases just after 7:00 PM (note that other data sources prefer posting anywhere from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM). Furthermore, Thursdays and Fridays are typically the best weekdays to post, because engagement is 18% higher at the end of the week. Posting during these hours and days can give your business the potential to reach more customers and increase site traffic more than it would at other times. Consider including specific times when creating a social media content calendar for your business.

How To Advertise on Facebook Without Spending a Dime

Source: Kissmetrics

2. Interact with Your Facebook Fans and Followers

According to a recent study, 64% of marketing executives stated that they believe word of mouth is the most effective form of marketing, which is what draws so many marketers to Facebook in the first place. However, many social media marketing plans become overly focused on gathering a large number of followers or likes. A growth in Facebook likes might look good in a report, but your goal is to find the individuals who will become loyal purchasers, and to do that you’ll need to encourage word of mouth by connecting with your fans on an individual level. Always respond to followers who interact with your page, no matter how they interacted with you (posts, comments, etc.). And once you do, treat them just like they were a friend sitting next to you at a party. In other words, keep the conversation going. Once your followers feel like they’ve connected with your business on a personal level, they are more likely to become a brand evangelist and share your content with their network.

3. Engage with Influencers Who Have a Larger Fan Base

Social media influencers are people who have already built an army of fans and followers to a point where they’ve now become a trusted information source in a particular industry. These influencers can provide access to an entirely new market, but in order to reach them you’ll have to earn their trust. The easiest way to think of how to approach an influencer is to treat them just like you would someone at a networking event. Start with a sell so soft it isn’t even a sell: commenting on their posts, liking their pages, sharing a link or two that might be of interest. Then, build the relationship until you’re able to join your influencer in regular conversation so that they’re willing and able to help promote your brand as well.

Above all, keep in mind that social media marketing is about connecting and having a conversation. So go ahead and jump in!

How to Monitor Social Media Analytics

Social media was made to be monitored.

Social media is, at its heart, an ongoing conversation with your customers. And to help them better understand their audience’s behavior, savvy marketers have turned to social media analytics. Ultimately, social media analytics are your guide to creating a successful social media strategy. Without monitoring analytics, you’re essentially playing a guessing game when it comes to what content is working and what is not. But before discussing what tools you should be using for social data, let’s discuss the most important social metrics you should be monitoring on a weekly basis. 

Three social media metrics that matter:

  • Impressions: Impressions represent a social media platform’s best guess at the number of unique individuals who saw your content. Impressions are easy to calculate and monitor, but come with varying degrees of accuracy. For example, impressions on YouTube represent the number of times someone has clicked play on that video in YouTube, and are relatively accurate. Twitter will show the number of impressions one of your tweets received simply by clicking “View tweet activity” on the tweet, while Facebook and LinkedIn provide impression statistics in similar fashion next to each post. However, if you think of how quickly you scroll through your own feed, you’ll understand that these impressions do not necessarily indicate that someone has actually seen your content. Which brings us to….
  • Engagement: Engagement measures how your audience interacts with your content, and tracks interactions like shares, comments, likes, and retweets. Different interactions may have varying degrees of importance to your business. For example, a share on Facebook may be more important than a like on LinkedIn, depending on your marketing goals. And thousands of retweets by people outside of your target audience won’t necessarily help you sell anything. Which brings us to the most important metric of all.
  • Conversions: Social media conversions occur when someone takes action to qualify themselves, either through a sale or by indicating interest in a potential purchase. The action that specifically constitutes a conversion will differ across social media marketing campaigns, but a few examples are sharing content, filling out a form, clicking through to your website, signing up for a coupon, or making a purchase. Ultimately, conversions are your most important metric, but many marketers are surprised to learn that social conversions can be difficult to come by. This is one of the reasons why social media analytics have become so important. 

Conversions are the only social media metric that matters. Everything else is window-dressing.

Now that you know what social media metrics matter, let’s talk about what tools you should be using to monitor these metrics. Below, we’ve narrowed down what we believe to be the top social media measurement tools of 2016.

2016’s Top Social Media Analytics Tools:

1. Google Analytics

Google Analytics is one of the best tools to measure the effectiveness of your social activity. And even better, it’s free! The acquisition overview report on Google Analytics shows how many people clicking through to your website have come from social traffic. Digging more deeply into the Behavior tab lets you see what content on your site is most popular, while looking at referral traffic will show you where your content is being shared. To help keep your social momentum up, it’s a good idea to have social plugin buttons on your pages (such as the Facebook “Share” button) to help your visitors share your content.

how-to-monitor-social-media-analytics-google-analytics

Google Analytic’s overview report provides conversion value based on social traffic

2. Hootsuite

Hootsuite is another widely successful social media management platform, and for good reason. Hootsuite tracks engagement and conversions from social networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+, but takes things a step further by adding demographic detail and “sentiment” to the conversation. If you need to know who’s talking about your company on social media in the moment and whether or not their satisfied or upset, Hootsuite is a great tool

How to Monitor Social Media Analytics - Hootsuite

A quick look at what your Hootsuite dashboard may look like

3. Klout

How to Monitor Social Media Analytics - KloutKlout approaches social media from a slightly different perspective, having developed its own social media metric (Klout, of course) that attempts to quantify your brand’s influence on the social media platforms you use. This influence score is graded out of 100 based on other users’ engagement with your content, and serves as a good proxy to measure how effective of a thought leader your business is becoming.

6 Video Marketing Tips: The Future is…Yesterday?

From Periscope to Facebook Live to Youtube, video marketing has taken the digital marketing world by storm. By 2019, Cisco predicts that 80% of all consumer internet traffic will be video, and US adults already spend 5.5 hours with online video content every day.

Live Video Marketing US Adult Online Video Consumption

With traditional television viewing in steep decline among most demographics, many marketers are tempted to say that we’ve entered completely uncharted media consumption waters. But when it comes to video marketing, I’d argue that we’re watching a rerun.

[bctt tweet=”Good video #marketing puts the right message in front of the right audience.” username=”YoungMktg”]

Live Video Marketing Bob Hope Timex

Timex was one of The Bob Hope Show’s sponsors

In the 1930s and 40s, television was just beginning to supplant radio as the media of choice, and many radio companies were the first to broadcast television signals in their local markets. By the 1950s as more Americans purchased television sets, advertisers had fled radio for television and the “commercial” was born.

I was speaking with a friend in the broadcast TV advertising business last week, and was struck by how Periscope and Facebook Live are just the latest in a long line of content that marketers can use to promote their brands. These platforms are the modern version of a television, but they offer the savvy video marketer a way to find a much more targeted audience than any 1950s commercial ever could.

Without further ado, let’s look at six tips for video marketing:

Six Tips for Video Marketing

1. Start Small: If you’re creating your own video channel from scratch, understand that it’s a big content world out there. Your first video won’t be a viral smash, so plan something that’s simple and achievable for you. The point is to get started, not become the next Spielberg. And just putting out video is a big start.

2. Invest the Time to Grow Your Audience: One of video marketing’s great benefits for marketers is the opportunity to have a continual discussion with your audience. From reaction videos to responding to comments, there are a number of ways to maintain rich interactions with your customers. But unless you take the time to foster that conversation, no one will be listening. When you start, you’ll need to do a lot of the initial outreach by commenting on other users’ videos and linking to them. You’ll also need to make sure that your video keywords and descriptions are drawing search traffic. And as your build your audience, you’ll need to respond to them just as you would in any conversation.

3. Become Hyper Targeted: From Will it Blend to white noise, there are millions of video channels and producers on the internet. The best approach to video marketing is to find your niche and target content to that audience. Doing so will help you build a following and keep your content calendar focused.

4. Understand What “Live” Viewers Want, and When They Want It: As much as video marketers would like to believe that our content is 100% fascinating at all times, it’s sadly not the case. If you’re going to go live with a tool like Periscope or Facebook Live, think through the type of content that will perform best in this fashion. Discussions with famous personalities, events, or product reveals are all good categories that may draw a live audience; in this way, live streaming video is very much the same as broadcast television.

You should spend some time thinking about when to do your live video marketing as well. Remember that your audience will have a life outside your content, so you’ll need to spend time promoting your broadcast and schedule it for a time when you’re most likely to draw viewers. Consider using a tool like Buffer to identify the optimal times during which you’ll be most likely to drive video marketing engagement.

 

Video Marketing: Most Commonly Uploaded Video Subjects

Source: The Pew Research Center

5. Have Fun and Be Spontaneous: As the data below show, people most commonly upload real-life situations that have some fun or humor to them. Staged or scripted videos are the last often uploaded, and while this is most likely due to the production time and cost, it’s ok if your videos are rough around the edges. Some of the best video marketing is human and approachable. The days of the slick TV commercial may be numbered.

 

6. Want a Shortcut? Advertise with More Popular Channels/Content Producers: And finally, a good video marketing strategy may not involve producing any videos at all! If you can find channels or content producers who already have high awareness among your target audience, your best approach may be to sponsor them or advertise on their channel. This will keep your production costs low and provide you with a very measurable ROI to see if your video marketing spend is bringing a return.

How to Use LinkedIn in Your Content Marketing Strategy

3 Ways to Incorporate LinkedIn into Your Content Marketing Strategy

B2B marketing strategies can no longer afford to leave out LinkedIn. In 2015, LinkedIn reported that 13% of their users did not have a Facebook account and 59% of their users were not active on Twitter, making LinkedIn an oft-overlooked opportunity for marketers to reach audiences they may be missing on other platforms. Additionally, 50% percent of LinkedIn users spent more than two hours a week on the site. If you already have a B2B-focused content marketing strategy created for 2016, consider adding LinkedIn to the mix with the following tactics.

Revamp Your Company Page

Brush off the dust and look at your company page with a new set of eyes. In addition to posting company news, determine what types of content would be relevant to your users and add that content to the mix. Initially, it may be a bit hard to gauge which content will be of the greatest interest to your audience, but a little informal competitive analysis can solve this problem. Take a look at a competitor who is getting good engagement on their page and ask the following questions:

  • What are they posting? How much engagement do they get on each post?
  • What ratio of content are they using (i.e. 50% blog posts from their website, 30% company news, 20% links from reputable industry sources?)
  • How often are they posting?

After analyzing one or two competitors, figure out what mix of content works best for you. Most importantly, make sure you have a strategy before diving in to any content creation. As with any marketing activity, progress can only be measured after consistently efforts have been made. So, make sure to get your team on a regular posting schedule and keep the cobwebs off that page!

Repurpose Content

LinkedIn content doesn’t need to be boring. Instead of just linking to the latest company whitepaper, shake things up a bit by including an infographic. Visual components should not be underrated when using LinkedIn. In fact, image posts result in a 98% higher comment rate than posts that do not contain an image. Additionally, SlideShare posts have become an increasingly popular and engaging way to disseminating otherwise mundane information.  And the data explains way: people are five times more likely to engage with these posts than traditional presentations and documents.

When in Doubt, Measure

If you’re looking to benchmark you efforts, conduct monthly audits. Start by taking a look at the following metrics:

  • Engagement rate: An engagement rate is simply the collective number of likes, comments and shares on your posts divided by the number of followers you have. According to Forrester’s study of the top 50 global brands, this number will be .05% on average.
  • Most Engaged Posts: For this, we typically like to look at the posts that had the highest engagement and drove the most traffic to the website. Once you figure out which post this was, determine why those posts performed well. Was it the call-to-action? Or an different image? After forming an hypothesis, make sure to test it out and integrate it into your content for the next month.

We hope these tips are helpful. In our next blog post, we’ll discuss how to use LinkedIn to generate leads for your B2B company.

Six (More) Social Media Best Practices for 2016

Last week, we covered our first round of social media best practices for 2016. In that piece, we looked at the three most popular social media sites: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, to discuss how brands can best reach their audience through these platform. This week, we’re diving a bit more deeply into what were once the “newer” social media networks: Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube. These social media platforms are much more visual than their bigger and more widely-used brethren, but they still pack a marketing punch that savvy marketers can exploit. Welcome to our overview of six (more) social media best practices for 2016.

Instagram Best Practices

First, a caveat: Facebook owns Instagram, and many of our Facebook feeds are already regularly interspersed with Instagram posts. Over time, the two channels will no doubt converge more and more. But for now, Instagram remains different enough that we believe it warrants its own inclusion in a discussion of social media best practices. And that reason is that Instagram stands alone as the epitome of the “lifestyle” feed – pictures with short descriptions that give a brief window into the lives and aspirations of its account holders. But not every brand is suited for this space, and for that reason we offer our two best practices for Instagram marketing.

  1. Tell an Emotional Story Without Words: Words are few and far between on Instagram (except in the post comments), and so you’ll only have imagery to tell your brand’s story. For that reason, an Instagram best practice is to become crystal clear on the need state your product or service solves among your target audience, then build your visual story around moments where that need state is met. It’s one thing to post a coupon for a can of pet food, it’s another to show a contented pet snoozing in its owner’s lap. People will connect with images that speak to their shared experience, and in order to do that you’ll need to tap in to what they actually want, rather than a traditional marketing or sales offer.
  2. Do the Hard Work to Create a Following: Social media marketing is always a conversation, and the best social media marketers are adept at sharing and promoting others so that those individuals return the favor. Be sure to use relevant and trending hashtags related to your posts, engage with your audience by following them and commenting on their posts. Promote your Instagram handle on Facebook and other social media. Link your posts to your Facebook and Twitter to reach a wider audience. But more importantly, talk to people. Have fun with contests and sharing. Your goal is to let others share and participate in your brand experience, and the best social media marketing practices draw other users to your conversation by rewarding them.

YouTube Best Practices

Almost one-third of all internet users in the world spend time on YouTube. With hundreds of hours of video uploaded each day, backing by Google’s aggressive content marketing/Google Play efforts, and auto-play features whisking users from video to video, it’s conceivable that YouTube will replace broadcast television in the next few years. The platform has been a resounding success, but that success makes it even harder for marketers to be heard. The following best practices for YouTube may help you get a leg up against the competition:

  1. Stick With Content Formats That Work: While anyone who’s ever uploaded a video has no doubt dreamed of seeing millions of views, the reality is much different. With estimates for the typical number of YouTube views beginning with a few dozen, our first YouTube best practice is to stick to video formats that are proven to be strong search and share draws. These formats include how-to videos, reviews, vlogs, and, of course, comedy. Social media marketing can be difficult on YouTube if your brand does not easily lend itself to these formats, and so we encourage you to consider the return on your videos versus the effort you’ll be making. Posting regular content on Youtube can be time consuming, and if you’re not able to grow your audience it may be more time-effective to post responses or Q&A videos rather than original content.
  2. Adjust Your Uploads to be More Easily Recognized in Search: Our second YouTube marketing best practice is to always keep in mind that the primary reason you’re posting content is to help your target audience find you. So a video with little description and the title “hilarious” won’t get you very far. But adding video transcripts and adjusting the titles of videos to include keywords should boost your views and engagements. YouTube is currently the second-largest search engine in the world after Google, and a best practice is to follow the same SEO practices you use on your business’s website when posting content.

Pinterest Best Practices

Pinterest is the social network of the craft and hobby enthusiast. You’ll find more recipes, handicrafts, and jaw-dropping wardrobe ensembles here than in any catalog, and this cornucopia of craftiness is one of Pinterest’s primary draws. More than any other social network, Pinterest represents 21st century window shopping, and can be an ideal social media marketing vehicle of used properly. Let’s take a look at two Pinterest best practices for marketers.

  1. Post Original Visuals: While this can be considered a standard best practice for all social media, nearly 80% of Pinterest’s users do not post any original content. Those brands that do will be ideally positioned to spread their content with so little market competition. Of course, Pinterest isn’t for every business out there. If you struggle to find original content to post that doesn’t have strong shareability, Pinterest probably isn’t the place for you.
  2. Capitalize on Pinterest’s Homemade/Catalog Nature: What happens when someone stumbles across your original Pin? If they’re interested, they’re going to want to know how to create what they’ve seen or where to buy it. The best social media marketing on Pinterest begins with the Pin, understanding that a Pin is the initial invitation to bring your followers into your brand’s world. Your Pins should link to how-to tips, blogs and vlogs describing other ideas, and a whole world of tips and tricks for those enthusiasts who are constantly in search of new ideas. A social media marketing best practice is to keep your followers engaged, and the more content you link to from your pin, the more you’ll keep them coming back.

So that’s our list of six (more) social media best practices for 2016. Remember, the most effective social media marketing strategy entails choosing the right platforms that will help best reach your target audience. If you follow these tips and still don’t see the results you’d like, it may be time to try a different strategy or platform. Or you could contact Young Marketing Consulting, and we’ll be happy to sit down with you and discuss all your social media marketing needs.

Six Social Media Best Practices for 2016 – Part 1

If you want to market to an audience in 2016, you’ll find them on social media. Facebook’s user base is now larger than the population of China, Instagram grew 50% in 9 months, LinkedIn has nearly 400 million members, and it seems that a new site or app pops up every day that demands our audience’s attention. With so many options and networks to choose from, the sheer scale of social media marketing can overwhelm marketers. But a coherent social media marketing strategy is essential to an effective digital marketing campaign, and social networks are growing ever more savvy about helping marketers reach their audiences. So, with hope on the horizon, let’s start by looking at what some of the most popular social media sites are, and what they aren’t.

The first thing to keep in mind when marketing on social media is that each social medial platform began with unique functionality that evolved to drive different forms of discussion. Twitter, for example, is a way for customers to have direct, public conversations with a brand (or anyone). But if you want more involved professional discussions, you may need to head to Google+ or LinkedIn. According to the Pew Research Center, LinkedIn’s users are more likely to be aged 30-64 than 18-29. On the other hand, Facebook and Instagram are more popular among younger generations and are much more visual modes of communicating.

So, as we review the best practices for social media marketing below, keep in mind that the best social strategies adapt to their channel. If you have any questions or would like to a review of your social media strategy, please don’t hesitate to contact Young Marketing Consulting.

Facebook Best Practices

Facebook is taking more and more steps to keep users on the Facebook platform by autoplaying videos and housing news articles within its site, rather than having visitors click away to other sites. These efforts make things tricky for marketers looking to drive traffic from Facebook, but you do have some good options:

  1. Ramp up your organic Facebook activity: there’s still no substitute for a post that goes viral, so make sure that you’re regularly posting engaging content and responding to users who interact with your posts to build your community. Be friendly and personable, and remember that Facebook is primarily a visual medium. The platform currently has more video views than YouTube, so the more images and videos you’re posting the better. If you’re struggling for topics, try how-tos, “listicles,” comparisons/quizzes, or just plain humor. Many Facebook users also wear their hearts on their sleeves, so cause advocacy can work well in this space also.
  2. Use Facebook’s advertising and post-boosting tools: Facebook is doing more than ever to integrate advertising within its platform, and if you haven’t yet experimented with its targeting capabilities now would be a good time. Facebook allows strong targeting based on user interests, and its advertising cost-per-click rates are some of the more affordable of the various PPC advertising channels. While conversion rates from social media ads tend to be lower, you’ll at the very least know that you’re getting your advertising in front of the right audience.

Twitter Best Practices

Twitter is still an evolving social media platform. At its best, Twitter allows for lively conversations among diverse groups, while giving a unique form of direct access to brands and individuals that would not otherwise be possible. Here are two best practice tips for Twitter from the team:

  1. Engage with influencers on an individual level: One thing that’s easy to forget in the Twitterverse is that there’s a human being behind the computer screen who’s reading and reacting to what you’re saying. The best analogy for Twitter is that it’s like a cocktail party – you don’t want to stand in the corner shouting to yourself, you want to reach out to people, ask them questions, help them out when you can. And by doing so, you’ll begin to build your own influence. Directly tag people and respond to them in a timely manner – etiquette matters in the online world.
  2. Keep up with hashtags: Hashtags let everyone chime in to a single conversation, and are great tools to use when you don’t have large numbers of followers. They’ll also show you trending topics that you’d like to be involved in that you can take advantage of in the real world as well. Hashtags.org is a good resource to identify popular and trending hashtags. A few other words of wisdom on Twitter – try posting in afternoons and later in the week, and include pictures when you can. Keep your conversations natural, and don’t force a sales message into a discussion. It’s the quickest way to see yourself blocked.

LinkedIn Best Practices

LinkedIn is the most popular “professional” social network in the U.S., and the conversations you’ll find here are very much geared toward testing ideas and asking for advice on business topics. For this reason, it’s a much better B2B marketing tool than any other social network. Here are a few tips for maximizing your reach on LinkedIn:

  1. Engage in discussion groups: Discussion groups are some of the lesser-known features of LinkedIn but are a great way to demonstrate your expertise. Adding quality responses to industry-specific discussion groups will add to your credibility and build your audience among those who don’t know you. The topics will also show up in searches as well, which never hurts. One thing you don’t want to do is hit LinkedIn with heavy sales messages. LinkedIn users are savvy business people; the hard social media sell will turn them off. By the same token, company posts are not the best places to engage in discussions.
  2. Remember that your company is a collection of individuals: People follow other people, not companies. Your company officers should be posting on LinkedIn and tagging your company or promoting those posts. In addition, your CEO or spokesperson should be regularly commenting on news, engaging in discussions, etc. The more conversations you can get your teams involved in, the greater your reach will extend throughout the platform.

We hope that these social media best practices help set you up for success in 2016 and beyond. Next week, we’ll cover some of the “newer” social media platforms out there: YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, and more!