11 signs your small business social media strategy isn’t working

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Today, small business owners are busier than ever trying to run their companies while handling marketing and sales, too. An important part of marketing today is social media. For many small business owners, the world of social media is still foreign territory, and finding the perfect strategy that actually works can often be difficult.

So how do you know if what you’re doing is really hitting the mark? Here are 11 signs that your small business strategy isn’t working. If you’re doing any of the things on this list, chances are your strategy is falling flat and you’re missing prime opportunities to use social media to engage, inform and promote.

1. You delete negative posts.

Negative posts about your brand can be shocking, scary and hurtful. One of the key mistakes small business owners make is taking negative comments personally. Most often when you see a negative post about your brand, the person posting isn’t talking about you. They’re talking about your product or service. Instead of hitting the delete button when you see something negative, think of it as an opportunity to engage. But make sure that you directly address the negativity head-on. Don’t try to sugarcoat your response.

For example, if you own a delivery service and a customer makes a negative comment about your company because their package was late, don’t panic. Instead, let the person know that you will direct message (DM) them with a response and take care of the issue. Once the issue is resolved, go back to the original post and let your followers know you’ve handled it.

In 2011, a Harris survey looked at customers who posted negative reviewed during the Christmas season. The survey found that 68 percent of customers that left negative reviews got a response from the business they were reviewing. As a result, 18 percent of them became regular customers and made additional purchases. Of the customers who received a response from their negative post, 33 percent of them actually posted something positive after and a whopping 34 percent deleted the original negative post.

So don’t ignore negative posts. Deal with them directly, and you might just turn a negative into a positive!

2. You don’t have a solid company social media policy in place.

Most small businesses don’t have a formal social media policy in place. If you’re in that boat, you really should take the time to develop one. Think of it as a road map to helping your promote your brand better on social media. If you define procedures and protocols upfront for how often you’ll post, who will maintain the accounts and how you will handle negative posts, it makes it a lot easier to run your accounts and spring into action quickly when something goes wrong.

3. You’re on autopilot.

Most social media platforms have an automated message feature, but it doesn’t mean you have to use it. When many social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook were first introduced to the public, the automated message feature seemed like a convenient way to thank people who followed you. Today, automated messages are widely considered annoying and impersonal. Instead of sending the same message to every new follower, take the time to send personalized thanks when you can.

Remember, you don’t have to thank every follower, but it’s a good idea to thank those that stand out. For example, if you own a restaurant and the food columnist for your local newspaper starts following you, you may want to reach out directly to establish an ongoing dialogue rather than letting an automated message do it for you.

4. You’re not tracking what others say about your brand.

Many small business owners make the mistake of thinking that consumers only post about them on their brand page. In reality, consumers post about brands everywhere — Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and review sites, to name a few. While it’s a great idea to monitor your own social media accounts to see what people are saying about you, it’s an even better idea move to using a social mention tracking tool to find out what people are posting about your brand around the Internet.

Social Mention is a great free tool for doing this. Visit http://SocialMention.com to check it out.

5. Your updates are sporadic.

If you’re not updating your social media pages on a regular basis, you’re missing out. You don’t have to post multiple times a day, but you should at least make a few posts a week to keep your followers, who are essentially your customers, engaged and excited about your brand.

6. You don’t know the difference between a reply and a mention on Twitter.

Did you know that if someone posts something on Twitter and you start your response with @, you’re limiting the number of people who are going to see the reply? For example, if @customerx posted something about @xyzbusiness and that company starts their reply with @customerx, it will only be seen by the customer and the business. That’s a reply. To make sure it’s seen by all of your followers, add a period in front of it like this — .@customerx — to make it a mention.

7. You overuse hashtags in your posts.

Not every word in your post needs to have a hashtag. In fact, hashtagging every word is going to make your post harder to read. Instead, use hashtags sparingly. Try not to use more than three per post.

8. You don’t proofread your posts.

Grammatical errors make your posts hard to read and reflect poorly on your brand. Proofread everything you write before you post it.

9. You only share things related to your brand.

This is a cardinal sin of social media. Remember that your purpose is to engage and get to know your customers. Your brand isn’t the only one they follow, and it’s certainly not the only thing that is of interest to them. Be sure to spend some time browsing your customers’ page, find out what things they like and leave positive comments. This is an excellent way to foster lasting relationships with your customers online. It also shows your customers that you are interested in them, too.

10. You make it hard to retweet your content.

It’s a fact that Twitter gives you 140 characters to post, but it doesn’t mean you have to use all of them. In fact, you should leave about 20 or so characters that can be used by others who retweet your content for the “RT @customerx” that will automatically be part of the retweet. This makes it easier for people to share your content quickly with no hassles.

11. You don’t retweet your followers’ content.

While you definitely want to make it easy for others to retweet your content, you also have to spend some time doing a little retweeting yourself. Find content from your followers that you find interesting and take a minute or two to retweet it. Remember social media is a two-way street and engagement is the key to success.

18 Ways to Improve Your Facebook News Feed Performance

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Are you frustrated with Facebook’s frequent changes to the news feed algorithm?Do you feel like you’re being forced to buy ads to reach your audience?

While Facebook change is the rule rather than the exception, this article gives you 18 ways you can improve your Facebook news feed performance—and gain the upper hand.

How Reach Is Created on Facebook

Facebook defines reach as the number of unique Facebook users who see your updates.

To see your page’s reach, go to Facebook Insights and look at your page’s Reach report. You’ll be able to see how your reach is improving over time (as shown below).

facebook reach

How much reach does your Facebook page have?

 

Reach is generally influenced by one or more of the following actions:

  • You post content to your Facebook page. Yes, most of your fans don’t see it, but it still generates reach. Facebook calls this organic reach.
  • Facebook users take action on that update (like, comment, share), which creates a story in their friends’ news feeds. Facebook calls this viral reach.
  • You send visitors to that update using your own marketing channels. An example would be linking to a specific Facebook update in your email marketing newsletter. This also falls within organic reach.
  • You buy reach with Facebook ads. Facebook offers a variety of ad options, including boosts and targeting custom audiences. Facebook calls this paid reach.

All four actions are interrelated.

For example, if you publish content (organic reach) that your fans react to, friends of those fans will see that content (viral reach). If you decide an update is worthy of a Facebook ad, then the ad creates paid reach.

The more kinds of reach you generate with an update, the more people see that update. And that’s where these 18 ways you can beat Facebook’s news feed algorithm come in.

#1: Create a Content Strategy

You’ve heard this before, but what really matters in the end is the content.

Your fans don’t share a post just because they see it the news feed. They share it because it’s useful and interesting to them.

In the nonprofit world, fewer than 25% of pages have a content strategy, and I’ll bet that’s true for most small businesses as well.

If you need guidance on creating a content strategy, read these Social Media Examiner articles:

#2: Know When Your Fans Are Online

When is the best time to post on Facebook? When most of your fans are actually using Facebook.

In general, Facebook shows the most recent content at the top of the news feed. If you post an update at 2am, but your fans are using Facebook at 8am, you can be sure they aren’t seeing your updates.

You can find out when your fans are online by going to your Facebook Insights and clicking Posts.

when facebook fans are online

Post when your fans are on Facebook to ensure maximum reach.

#3: Pay Attention to Post Frequency

After looking at your Post Insights, you probably noticed there’s never a period whennone of your fans are using Facebook.

This means you should post at least once per day. Socialbakers recommends no more than twice a day, based on their research.

#4: Let People Post Content on Your Facebook Page

When Facebook users post updates on your page or mention your page, their friends see that activity in the news feed. That’s important viral reach.

In the update below, Max has posted an update on the Libraries Are Essential Facebook page. Many of Max’s friends will be exposed to this page through viral reach because his post shows up in his friends’ news feeds.

If you’re worried about spam or negative content being posted on your page, don’t worry. You can easily configure your page to block content that contains specific keywords or profanity.

viral reach

Any time someone posts on your page, it shows up in their friends’ news feeds, which results in viral reach.

#5: Host a “Caption This” Contest

One thing I’ve done that’s consistently worked well is to host caption contests as a way to generate an instant flood of comments, which in turn creates a flood of viral reach!

caption contest

Fun and easy contests or giveaways result in higher organic and viral reach.

I give away copies of great books, but you can give away anything you want. Justmake sure it’s useful and relevant to your community.

#6: Reply to Comments

To build community, you have to listen to and respond to community. People use Facebook because they want to be heard!

Responding to comments is important.

comment reply

Reply to your commenters so they know they’re heard.

Your Facebook page has an optional threaded comments feature. This means that when a fan leaves a comment on an update, you can reply specifically to that comment.

When you respond, that fan receives a notification, which is incentive to revisit your page to read your response. Increasing the frequency of visits to your page is a key part of developing a core Facebook page community.

You can turn on threaded comments in a few easy steps:

  • Go to your page and click Edit.
  • Choose Edit Settings.
  • Find the Replies heading in the list and click Edit.
  • Click Allow Replies to Comments on My Page.
  • Click Save Changes.

#7: Tag Commenters

Normally, pages can’t tag people on Facebook, but there is one exception: If a Facebook user leaves a comment on an update, you can tag the user when you comment on that same update.

tag commentersTag commenters in your reply to bring them back to the conversation.

Depending on the users’ privacy settings, they’ll receive notification that they’ve been tagged, prompting them to revisit the thread.

#8: Tag and Give Props to Other Pages

Human beings are hardwired for reciprocity. Generally speaking, when you promote another business’s agenda on Facebook, they receive a notification so they know the good deed you did for them. If they’re a good partner, they’ll return the favor.

tagging other pages

This update tagged RazorSocial.

#9: Repost Previous Top-Performing Updates

Your content strategy doesn’t have to only include new content; you can also recycle your most successful posts to reengage fans.

To find and reframe your top-performing posts, you need to know post engagement rates—the percentage of people who saw an update and liked, commented on or shared it.

To find post engagement ratesgo to your Insights and click PostsScroll down to the All Posts Published table, and click the Engagement column to quicklysort your posts by engagement rate.

To really get a feel for which updates your fans loved, export at least six months of post-level data and study it.

To bring fans back to your most brilliant and engaging content, you can:

  • Click Share on the original post and share it directly on your page.
  • Copy and paste the original post into a new status update.
  • Modify the original post, then post as a new status update.

An important note here: Don’t recycle recent content. You don’t want fans to feel like they’re seeing reposted content too frequently.

#10: Boost Previous Top-Performing Updates

There’s no way to escape it. If you’re serious about Facebook marketing, use ads. 

What I will say is this: Only promote awesome.

Investing in posts that already have a high engagement rate is more likely to give you the biggest bang for your buck—more likes, comments and shares—which translates into more engagement and reach in the long run.

Whether you have experience with Facebook ads or not, make time to read Jon Loomer’s articles on using Facebook Ads and the Power Editor to promote your top-performing posts.

boost a post

Promote your best Facebook content easily right from Insights.

#11: Feature Your Posts in a Like Box

Most people don’t know that the Facebook Like box in their website’s sidebar has a setting that lets you display your most recent page updates.

When people see your Facebook updates in your sidebar, it not only encourages them to like your page right there, but to click over to your page and take part in the conversation.

To update your Like box, visit the plugin page and configure the settings to Show Posts (as shown below).

display latest posts in like box

Sharing your Facebook updates in your sidebar Like box lures people to your page.

#12: Embed Top-Performing Updates in Blog Posts

One constant challenge for most bloggers is finding topics to write about.

Take a look at your most recent high-engagement Facebook updates and write blog posts that expand on those topics. Within the post, embed one or more of your best Facebook page updates (as shown below).

embed facebook posts

Write blog posts around your popular Facebook topics and provide a way for readers to revisit the conversation on Facebook.

This approach not only creates more reach for your best Facebook updates, it gives you blog post content that’s already been vetted by your community!

#13: Message Your Friend Networks

Have you hit a wall on your way to getting engagement? Depending on the strength of your collective friend network, try asking for shares or comments from within your personal networks.

Now, obviously you can’t force people to do this. But you can have willing parties message their friends at a time when you know your fans are mostly likely to be online.

These network shares cause a trending effect among friends connected to your business. When people see several of their friends talking about a topic, they’re more likely to be interested in that topic and click over to read more.

#14: Guest Post on Sites That Send You Traffic

If you’re a regular reader of Social Media Examiner, you know how powerful having aguest blogging strategy can be for growing your business.

But did you know you can find potential leads for guest-post opportunities right in Facebook Insights?

Within the Visits report, scroll all the way down to the External Referrers section. This graph shows you which websites are referring the most traffic to your Facebook page (shown below).

referrals from guest posts

Keep track of who’s sending traffic your way and make the most of those partnerships.

Contact the sites sending people your way and see if you can write a guest post for them.

Don’t limit yourself to guest blogging. Feel free to explore other co-marketing opportunities that may work as well.

#15: Pin Top-Performing Pictures on Pinterest

When you post images to Pinterest, you have an option to include a URL. When a user clicks the image, they go to that URL.

Try reposting a few high-performing photos from your Facebook page onto Pinterest and linking back to your Facebook update.

Make sure you use the correct permalink for the post! You can find that by clicking on the post’s publish date on Facebook (as shown below). You’ll be taken to a new page that shows just that post. Copy the URL for this page to use as your Pinterest link.

finding a post permalink

Use eye-catching images on Pinterest that link back to your Facebook page.

Keep track of how much traffic Pinterest is sending to your Facebook page via your Insights’ External Referrer graph. Then you’ll be able to determine how effective this approach is in boosting reach for your Facebook page updates.

#16: Tweet Your Top-Performing Updates

Some of my clients have had success scheduling tweets with links to their high-performing Facebook updates. Two or three tweets in 48 hours is plenty. Tweet recent Facebook updates rather than older ones.

tweeting a facebook update

Tweeting a Facebook post drives external traffic.

Make sure you’re able to measure clicks from Twitter to the post.

#17: Use Email Marketing to Promote Top-Performing Posts

This is one of my favorite strategies to use for my Facebook page. It’s so simple and effective, I’m surprised I don’t see it done more often.

Every time I write my weekly newsletter, I include a link to a Facebook page update.

For example, I recently asked my subscribers if they’d like me to write more about blogging, then I provided a link to a Facebook post where they could answer.

facebook poll

People who open and read your emails are highly likely to engage with you on Facebook as well.

#18: Identify Best Tactics With Facebook Insights

In the end, you have to find the tactics that work for your Facebook page.

Export the last six months of your Facebook Insights and study them to see what works for your page, then replicate that success with the tips above.

Pay attention to which updates resulted in new fans. Look at which posts produced specific kinds of reach and engagement (shares are more important than likes, for example).

 

From our good friends at Social Media Examiner –  Keep up with all the news http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/improve-facebook-news-feed-performance/

9 Ways Social Media Marketing Will Change in 2014

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This in from Mashable. Mashable asked nine successful entrepreneurs how they are planning on altering their social media marketing strategies in the next six months, based on their predictions for the new year. Here’s what they had to say.

You tell me what you think about what they think…That’s a lot of thinking I know…

From the decline of Facebook use among teens (ok this one right off the bat is a rather misleading statement) to Twitter’s IPO, if there is one thing we know for sure about social media, it’s that few trends hold on for long — so marketers need to stay on their toes.

1. Graphic software will rise.

Laura Pepper

Posts on Facebook with photos get 53% more likes, 104% more comments and 84% more click-throughs than text-based posts, according to Kissmetrics. With the rise of Pinterest and Tumblr, it’s going to become increasingly important to produce content in visual form, whether it is infographics, images with text overlay or pretty quote graphics. We’ll be using more graphic software to turn our written content into visual content to make it more shareable on social media.

Laura Pepper Wu30 Day Books

2. Social won’t be use for sales.

Charles Gaudet

People love to buy, but they hate to be sold. Companies currently celebrating the most success in social media focus on engagement, nurturing relationships and sharing value through their social outreach. Customers and prospects will seek out companies offering value, entertainment, discounts, help and engagement.

Charles GaudetPredictable Profits

3. Automation will explode.

Brennan White copy

A lot currently rides on the shoulders of social media marketers. They have to be on top of brand voice, any current company promotions or marketing campaigns, the tools they measure social media with, the various communities on the platforms, etc. It’s a lot, and it’s more varied than most people are capable of doing well. In 2014, we’ll see a lot of automation of the tactics (think timing, platform, structure, etc.), so social media marketers can focus on the content and the genuine social interaction. Autonomics is being adopted now and will only explode as more technologies come online in 2014.

Brennan WhiteWatchtower

4. LinkedIn will become the most important publisher.

Trevor Summers

Imagine a publication with more than 100 million captive readers and writers, such as Bill Gates and Richard Branson, all natively hooked into and targeted to a social network. LinkedIn will become a premium destination for industry news, and you need to take part in that ecosystem early and often. Publish original content, network among peers in groups and raise your profile now.

Trevor SumnerLocalVox

5. Content will be bigger and better.

Andrew Howlett

Simple messages and simple questions aren’t enough anymore. To achieve a deeper connection with your customers, a company needs to engage on a deeper and more intelligent level. Short videos, infographics, quality imagery and polls are all ways to engage deeper. Companies need to look at the content they put out and ask themselves, “Is this shareable?” An example of a huge company that’s doing this really well right now is Wal-Mart. Its content is smart and engaging, and the fan engagement is very high by comparison to its competitors. Also, companies need to focus on the fans they have and not the fans they want. If your message is always trying to reach out, you’ll bore the fans that have chosen to connect with you.

Andrew HowlettRain

6. Social will need to stand out.

Wade Foster

Social media has really started to mature. Therefore, it will be a lot harder to stand out. To win big in social media, you’ll have to think outside the box and find ways to get your content to stand out in all the noise.

Wade FosterZapier

7. Social media campaigns will have to be paid.

Kristopher Jones

I assume that the most effective social media campaigns in 2014 will be paid. The key is learning how to use Facebook and Twitter’s paid tools now so that you’ll have an edge on the competition. For instance, are you using Facebook’s advanced audience tool? It allows you to upload your email database and send specific response messages directly to your focused audience. Imagine being able to segment both email marketing and Facebook ads to your target audience. Facebook already offers these types of advanced tools, and they will become more mainstream in 2014. Similarly, Twitter is now public and has been making an aggressive push into paid advertising. If you are a brand and want to succeed on Twitter in 2014, get ready to pay for it.

Kristopher JonesReferLocal.com

8. Interactive content will trump static content.

Chuck CohnCreating static content is too easy. In 2014, the bar will be raised on the type of content people choose to engage with. Expect to see content become more interactive (think software-like). The year 2013 was the year of “Top 10″ lists. To get users to engage to the same degree in 2014 and subsequent years, publishers will need to make it increasingly engaging, and one effective way to do that is to make your content interactive.

Chuck CohnVarsity Tutors

9. Google+ will merge into the social scene.

Nicolas Gremion

As Google continues to merge its products, it’s becoming more and more important in the social media landscape. There are so many benefits to using Google+. It creates a strong community that allows you to use your brand and identify consumers who share an interest in your products. It also allows your brand to become more social with like-minded consumers. They provide like-minded consumers a platform to connect with one another. This builds a strong community, which is a great way to get feedback on new and old products from real-time consumers.

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