Social media advertising – top tips for small business ecommerce

social networks

If you’re a small online business or start-up, chances are you’ve already dipped your toe into social media. For example you’ve probably established a business presence across the social media platforms relevant to your target market. Social media has become an integral part of marketing and if you are looking to increase your reach across these networks, it may well be worth considering advertising your business on social media.

Social media advertising continues to be big business and has seen phenomenal growth over the last few years. Indeed, according to research;

What opportunities can social media advertising bring to small online businesses?

Most of the key social media platforms offer advertising options which, when executed well, can offer small business ecommerce a number of advantages. For example:

Targeted Audience. Social platforms enable you to drill down in terms of targeting. Allowing you to be specific about who you are looking to target, not only through basic demographics, but by purchase behaviour and interests. Facebook even enables you to target ‘Lookalike Audiences’ – opening the door to a wider, but still closely related audience.

Low cost of entry. Entry costs for social media advertising isn’t prohibitive to small businesses. You can set your budget on a daily or campaign basis – spending only what you can afford.

Immediacy. Social media advertising is immediate and offering you great flexibility. You can create, launch and tweak campaigns quickly and easily.

Brand awareness: Social media exposure amongst a wider, targeted audience will help increase your reach and build awareness of your brand.

Easily track performance: Most social networks offer insightful analytics to enable you to easily track your advertising campaigns’ performance and ROI.

social media advertising

Top tips for creating great social media ads

Before you embark on advertising on your chosen social media platform or platforms, here are a few tips to help ensure success.

Clear goals and objectives:  Be very clear about what you want your advertisement to achieve?  For example are you looking to drive traffic to your website, raise awareness of a new product, get more page likes, grow attendance at an event or is it a brand building exercise?   Establishing clear goals will help your focus advertising making it easier to create the right content .

When you create an ad within  Facebook you are given a list of advertising objectives – so match up your goal with the objective you select.

Create goals and objectives

Target your audience. Be very clear about who it is you are trying to target. For example, are you going to break it down by demographics, interests or purchasing behaviour. Different audiences will respond differently to particular content. An advertisement that may appeal to one segment may not be so successful with another. If you can focus on a specific audience you can adapt your ad to reflect the triggers of that particular group.

Set your budget. Have a clear idea about your budget before you start. Otherwise you run the risk of getting carried away and spending more than you can afford. Set a daily maximum spend or a maximum campaign limit. You can always adjust your budget at a later date once you’ve tested the water.

Use interesting visuals: Social media is becoming an increasingly visual medium. Use high-quality, creative images to make your advertisement stand out from the crowd.

Content with relevant images gets 94% more views than content without relevant images.

There are a number of excellent image libraries available online where you can source interesting and engaging images such as Shutterstock, istockphoto, freedigitalphotos and dreamstime. If you’re on a tight budget then check out Pixabay, they have a great library of images that are free to use even for commercial purposes. Facebook also allow you to select from hundreds of Shutterstock images at no cost when creating an ad.

Be mobile friendly:  Increasingly, people are more likely to access social networks via mobile. Keep this in mind when you are creating your ads; as chances are it will be viewed on a small screen.

mobile friendly

 

Call to action: Even when you have limited space to work with a clear call to action is essential. Ensure your audience is left in no doubt about what it is you are asking them to do. For example, when you are creating a Facebook advertisement you can select from some of the following call to action buttons:

  • Shop Now
  • Learn More
  • Sign Up
  • Use App
  • Book Now
  • Download

Landing page: Don’t undo a great ad by sending your audiences to a general page on your website. Create campaign specific landing pages that reflect the content  and reinforce the message of your advertisement. Campaign specific landing pages will provide a better conversion rate.

Track response: Keep on top of how you ads are performing – what ROI are they providing? Most social media networks enable you to closely monitor and measure the performance of your campaigns.  Analysing your campaign analytics will help you identify what is working well, or not so well, so you can amend your campaigns accordingly.

Advertising options for social media platforms.

Most social networks offer advertising options for businesses. For further information for individual platforms, check out the links below:

Facebook: Facebook Adverts

TwitterTwitter Ads

Pinterest: Promoted Pins

LinkedIn: LinkedIn Advertising

Instagram: Advertising on Instagram

Exploring the advertising options offered on the  social media platforms that you are already using as business, can help amplify your social media presence through creating specific, highly targeted adverts at a manageable cost. So if you haven’t already tried social media advertising then it’s worth testing the water with your business.

We’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences on social media advertising, so please do leave a comment.

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5 top Instagram tips for small online businesses and start-ups

instagram-1007070_1920

How can Instagram benefit your ecommerce business?  Launched in 2010 and bought by Facebook in 2012, Instagram is a free photo sharing app. Like Pinterest, Instagram is primarily a visual platform. If you consider that images are the most popular type of content for social networks, it follows that you should at the very least investigate the benefits Instagram could bring to your small online business.

Instagram – did you know…

The growing success of visual platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest is rooted in our natural inclination towards all things visual. For example:

  • 65% of us are visual learners
  • 90% of information coming to the brain is visual
  • Content with relevant images gets 94% more views than content without relevant images
  • Visual content is more than 40 times more likely to get shared on social media than other types of content.

5 top tips to get the most out of Instagram for your business

1. Get off to a good start.

Take a look at Instagram for business. It has plenty of resources such as a business blog, inspirational case studies and helpful tips.

Creating an account:

  • Download and install the Instagram app (IOS App store), Android (Google Play Store) or Windows Phone (Windows Phone Store).
  • To sign up you can either use your Facebook account or tap sign up and enter your email address. You’ll need to create a username when you sign up. Bear in mind that this is what everyone will see so, if you can, try to include your businesses name. If it’s already taken you might have to get a bit more creative to incorporate it.
  • Complete your profile by tapping Edit Your Profile.  You only have 150 characters to play with so spend some time crafting your biography – remember anyone can see your Bio. You want it to be interesting and engaging. Don’t forget to include your URL and a profile picture. Your logo is probably the best image to choose.
  • From settings, link your account to your other active business social networks so you can share photos and videos across all your platforms.

Start following, sharing, liking and commenting on other people’s posts. Don’t forget to add your Instagram profile link to your website and email communications.

2. Have a plan in place

Before posting images here, there and everywhere. It is a good idea to have a clear plan of how you intend to approach your presence on Instagram. As a small business owner time and resources are likely to be limited. A clear strategy will ensure your efforts aren’t wasted and you are making the most effective use of your time. Think about what you are hoping to achieve and decide the most effective way of taking that forward. As a starting point:

Set objectives: Having in place some clear SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, timely) objectives will help ensure you have focus and direction.

What are you competitors doing? Check out what your competitors are doing on Instagram. Who are their followers and who are they following. What are they doing well that you can learn from and what are they doing that’s not so great that you could do better?

Think about Brand: What kind of image do you want to convey to reflect your brand? The photos and images you post should support your brand personality. Instagram for business has some great examples of some creative brands that are well worth checking out for some inspiration.

How often? As part of your planning, think about putting together a schedule. You may have some fantastic ideas, but you need to be practical and think about how much time you realistically have available. Do you have any resources or will posting all be down to you? Like most social media posting regularly is advisable but equally quality will outweigh quantity.

using your camera on smarphone3. Be creative

You don’t need a state of the art, all singing, all dancing camera. Most of us have a pretty decent camera on our phones. With your smartphone you also have the added benefit of having a camera to hand at opportune moments. Saying that, do still take a sensible approach to taking pictures – you still want them to look professional. Checkout this link for some tips on taking better pictures with your smartphone.

Tip: On Instagram photos showing faces get 38% more likes than photos not showing faces

Instagram over 20 filters for you to play with to create the feel you want for your different photos. So let your creativity shine – even if you have rather uninspiring products there is no reason not to get creative. Take pictures of your colleagues, your office, your teams favourite lunch place, awards, celebrations and so on. It’s about projecting a lifestyle that reflects your brand and the personality behind it. It can be a good idea to involve other members of your team and get then snapping and posting.Just make sure you have clear brand guidelines on what is and isn’t appropriate to post.

4. Mix it up

Try to strike a balance between promoting your business and posting interesting and entertaining shots that engage your audience. As we mentioned earlier you can create fun and interesting images of your office, run competitions, post views from your desk, take pictures of colleagues, highlight your production process, charity events you support and attend, team birthdays, favourite products – anything that is relevant, interesting to your audience and supports your brand.

Tip: Scroll through the images Stella & Dot post on Instagram – there is a great mix of product shots (all nicely framed in real-life settings), inspirational text only images, team pictures and videos – all with a feel reflective of the Stella & Dot brand.

instagram stella and dot

 

Add text to images: Try livening up images with some captions or text. There are plenty of image editing tools available such as Canva or PicMonkey that allow you to easily add text to images and photos.

Video: Online video’s popularity continues to soar and now accounts for more than 50% of all mobile traffic. You can post videos of between 3-15 seconds on Instagram. Adding video is an excellent, and engaging way to mix up your Instagram content.

5. Engage to build an audience

Follow, share, like….Just like any other social media network engaging with your audience is key to a successful presence. Focus on building your community through actively following, sharing, liking and commenting on posts. If someone comments on your post then try to reply to their comment. It is a great way of engaging with your audience.

#Hashtags: To make it easier for people to discover your business make good use of hashtags. It will help put your content in the path of people searching for those particular keywords or phrases. Use hashtags that are relevant to the content you are posting. Try not to go overboard. Instagram allows you up to 30 hashtags, however if you look at the most successful brands you’ll notice they are usually using between 3 and 5.

To add a # to your photos and videos, just type in your hashtags in the Caption field. For example #silver #bracelet.

It is the very visual nature of Instagram that makes it such a useful addition to your social media toolkit. If you haven’t yet set up an Instagram account for your business, then at the very least it’s worth taking a moment to check out all its potential benefits.

 

We’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences of Instagram so please do leave a comment.

 

 

How to offer excellent customer service on social media – 7 best practice tips

social media customer serviceIn the US social networking now accounts for the most time spent on a particular online activity, with the average person spending 37 minutes a day on it. As more and more people interact with social media on a daily basis, it is little wonder that it is becoming a favourite channel for customer services communication.  The beauty of social media is its two-way immediacy. The minute someone posts a comment on your page you are alerted so you can respond equally swiftly.

Many small businesses have embraced social media and it’s become an integral part of a businesses online presence. Indeed, out of the 4.8 million small businesses in the UK nearly 23% earn over £1000 per annum through connecting with customers through social media platforms. Providing a top class customer experience as part of your social media presence is essential as businesses are increasingly recognising that customer services should no longer be just focused around telephone and email.

  • 92% of customers in the UK have left one business for another in the last year due to poor customer service.
  • 71% of customers who have a positive customer service experience via social media are likely to recommend that company
  • If consumers receive good customer service via social media they are likely to spend 21% more
  • Social networks account for the most online activity in the US with an average of 37 minutes a day.
  • 33% of users prefer to contact brands using social media than the telephone.
  • Failure to respond via social media channels can lead to a 15% increase in churn rate for existing customers
  • 71% of customers say that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide good service

So as a small business are you confident you are following best practice when it comes to dealing with customer intereacions via your social media platforms?

7 Best practice tips for managing customer service online

1.Swift response

Customers need to feel that you take their concerns seriously.  Of course a prompt response to any customer service issue whether via email, telephone or letter is essential, but with social media speed becomes even more important. The very ‘immediate’ nature of social media is reflected in the time customers will expect you to respond. The speedier the better, particularly where complaints are concerned.

For example econsultancy note that53% of customers who ask a brand a question on Twitter expect a response within one hour. However, if a customer is making complaint to using Twitter, it goes up  72%.

Acknowledging comments as quickly as you can will score your business brownie points in your customers eyes. Whereas a slow response may reflect poorly on your business.

2.Dealing with negative comments.

Nobody likes handling negative comments but they are part-and-parcel of customer interaction. Dealing successfully with adverse communications is an essential part of successful customer service. Unlike telephone and email, when you are responding to negative comments on social media they are out there for everyone to see.  Don’t be tempted to ignore them as then the situation can mushroom out of control. When responding to a negative comment on social media:

  • Apologise upfront. Start with an apology as it shows you take your customers concerns seriously.
  • Be transparent. Don’t try to hide anything. Be upfront and honest about the situation, even if it is your mistake.
  • Don’t pass the person from pillar to post. Commit to dealing with the customer by supplying your name and a clear offer of help
  • Remain calm, polite and professional. No matter how disgruntled your customer, remain polite at all times without getting defensive.
  • Take it offline. When it’s appropriate, take an issue offline to deal with. For example, have a look at IKEA’s Facebook page. As you can imagine the very nature of IKEA’s business and its size means it gets a lot of adverse comments posted on its social media platforms. So when its appropriate they take it offline as in the example below.

social media dealing with negative comments

 

3. Clear and helpful information

In the same way customers visiting your website would expect to find information about your business, so to should your social media presence. Remember your website isn’t necessarily someone’s first experience of your business. Think about what information customers might be looking for. For example:

  • Completed profile pages: Make sure your businesses about us and profile pages are fully completed across all your platforms
  • Clear links. Have clear links to useful customer information such as to your website, FAQ page and contact us page.
  • Post helpful information. Post regular helpful customer services information such as delivery dates, opening times and service updates. This is particularly helpful during holiday periods such as Christmas when there may be a change to normal service. See the helpful example below from online retailer notonthehighstreet.com .

 

 

social media customer service

4.Learn to prioritise

It’s human nature to put off the things we find least enjoyable, and dealing with customer complaints probably falls into that category. However, as we mentioned earlier, the very immediate nature of social media means you have to respond as quickly as possible customers – that means no putting off dealing with the more difficult customer communications. Learning to manage your social media presence, particularly in regard to customer service is an essential skill.  Learn to prioritise how you respond to particular customer interactions.

Prioritise comments that require immediate attention for example, customer complaints, account queries, product issues, sales queries. Other more ‘proactive’ responses such as thanking someone for their feedback, commenting on a post and general queries regarding your business can wait a little longer.

Setting a response target for particular issues can be helpful. Of course it will depend on your business and how much manpower you have but for example, you could aim to respond to high priority queries within 30 minutes and more general queries within an hour. But don’t wait too long to answer any query as you don’t want to turn what started out as a general query into a complaint due to your slow response.

5.Train staff

If you aren’t the only one dealing with with your business on social media,  then you need to ensure you have trained your staff to how to respond appropriately the varied customer interactions.

Good communications skills are essential. How your staff deal with complaints and interact with customers is direct reflection on your business. Make sure you spend time ensuring staff have the key skills required to deal effectively with customers. For example excellent written skills are essential. Poor spelling and grammar won’t give customers much confidence in your business.

Make sure your staff understand the tone you want to set for your business on social media. Obviously it depends on your business and your customers, but even if you take a more informal approach in social media interactions, you and your staff must always remain professional. Making sure your staff understand the balance is important.

6.Personality – humanise your business

Social media is a great way to build your brand personality and bring a human touch to your business.  When someone posts a comment, likes your page or shares something,  thank them and where appropriate open up a discussion. Here are a couple of good examples from IKEA and Boden:

social media customer servie

 

Both Ikea and Boden set the right tone – friendly and not overly formal – keeping with the spirit of the posts.

Screen Shot 2015-12-30 at 10.19.15

 

It’s good to show customers that they are dealing with real people so always add your name in, particularly if you are responding to a customer query or complaint.

7.Embrace customer feedback

Don’t underestimate the great opportunity social media offers your business. It’s a great way to get a feel about a particular product or service and so therefore postively encourage feedback from customers even if it is negative. Showing customers that you value their opinions shows them just how important they are to you. Here is another great example from Boden. Actively thanking customers for their feedback on a new collection even though the feedback is not hugely positive.

social media customer feedback

 

As more and more people use social media a channel for customer services, taking an integrated, multi-channel approach to customer care will ensure that you have covered all your bases and are offering your customers the best possible service. 

We’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences of social media customer service so please do leave a comment. 

How social media is defining customer service in a digital generation

Customer service is a custom that costs nothing, but in value is priceless. It’s often a defining process of a transaction, for better or worse. It can also be argued that Social Media is also a defining component of this digital generation. So surely businesses must be aware that utilising good customer service properly on Social Media is imperative to achieving optimum business success? Well, it actually turns out that there is a huge percentage of businesses that aren’t prepared to view Social Media customer service as a priority, and a lot of them are ignoring customer inquiries and complaints on this medium entirely; much to their detriment.

From taking too long to reply, to not replying at all, the infographic below shows many ways in which businesses are losing customer interest and gaining a negative reputation simultaneously. According to the studies carried out, 6 out of 10 people are willing to name and shame a company to taint the brand via social media. With 1.15 billion registered Facebook users and 215 million monthly Twitter users, that’s a tremendous amount of people that can potentially affect a business negatively, whereas if you have an employee dedicated to customer service on your social media page, a lot of people can be appeased and kept as customers; not to mention also showing your audience that you are active and relevant in the online business world and that you’re willing to help your customers.

Over 15% of businesses lost customers and over 11% of businesses lost revenue due to poor customer service via Social Media. Yet despite this, 1 out of 4 companies have no protocol for dealing with customer complaints on social media and 1 in 4 have no plans to develop a protocol in the future! Don’t let this be your business!

Want to find out more? Read the infographic below to find out the sector that garners the most customer complaints, and all the other current and vital statistics on customers and businesses outlook on customer correspondence on Social Media!

The infographic below shows just how social media is affecting customer service.

How Social Media Is Affecting Customer Service Infographic

Guest Author: Stephen Avila

Stephen Avila is a lawyer of 13 years who specialises in law and media work. Currently the director of Legalo and based in the Suffolk area, Stephen is interested in all aspects of law, digital marketing and content writing. Enthusiastic and entrepreneurial, Stephen is always looking to help others however he can with legal and marketing advice.

We’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences on this post. Please do leave a comment.

How LinkedIn can benefit small B2B and B2C businesses

linked-in social networkMost of us probably think of LinkedIn as the go-to social network for B2B businesses, professional networking and recruitment. Certainly at first glance it’s not the obvious platform for small businesses and B2C focused companies. However, with steady year-on-year growth and 380,000,000+ registered users LinkedIn can offer  your business some real benefits.

“51% of B2C companies use LinkedIn as a marketing platform (far more than the 35% who use Pinterest).” LinkedIn Pulse 

More and more businesses are using  social media as an integral part of their marketing strategy. So too are consumers with 52% using two or more social networking sites. LinkedIn is a key social networking platform and so we take a look at how small businesses can profit from a LinkedIn presence.

linked-in statisticsDon’t dismiss the numbers: LinkedIn statistics

380 million registered users in 200 countries

2 new members every second

3 million company pages

1 in 3 professionals are on LinkedIn

35% users access LinkedIn daily

LinkedIn has over 1.5 million groups

93 million monthly unique visits 

How can small businesses benefit from LinkedIn  ?

LinkedIn offers you the opportunity to strengthen your brand, extend your reach, support your content marketing efforts and better understand your market. You may already have your own personal profile (as we mentioned earlier one in three professionals does!) but LinkedIn also encourages smaller businesses to build a company presence. They offer helpful tips and advice about how to set up your company page and make the most of your businesses profile. Check out LinkedIn Small Business .

extend reach and drive trafficExtend your reach

When we think of LinkedIn we tend to think ‘business people’ but remember professionals are consumers too.  Of course you may need to adjust your tone and content to reflect a more business orientated environment but LinkedIn offers you an additional platform to reinforce your brand, drive traffic to your website and generate new leads. It provides the opportunity to reach potential new customers who may not be preset on other more ‘consumer’ orientated networks. Research shows that:

13% of LinkedIn users are not on Facebook

59% of LinkedIn users are not on Twitter

83% of LinkedIn users are not on Pinterest.

brandingBuild your brand

LinkedIn provides an additional channel for you to raise awareness, reinforce your brand and increase your business’ visibility. To do this, creating a strong Company Page is essential.

When you out together your Company Page think about how to best optimise your presence.  Use high-quality images for your logo and banner and think carefully about the keywords you choose for your description. You can also create separate Showcase Pages that link off your main page. You can have a number of different standalone showcase pages (up to 10 initially) that allow you to highlight particular products or services. To create a Showcase Page click on the ‘Edit’ drop down to the right of your company page and click on ‘Create a Showcase Page’.

You and your employees should also have up-to-date Personal Profiles pages  connected to your company page. It will help further promote your business and your brand personality.

Content marketingSupport your content marketing

LinkedIn offers a further channel to support your content marketing efforts and drive traffic to your website. You can post content through Status Updates on your company page. To make the most of your presence post interesting content regularly and where appropriate include a URL link back to your site. For example try sharing industry updates, blog posts, company news, new product launches, Videos and infographics

Research shows that 60% of LinkedIn users are interested in industry updates, therefore when you are sharing updates do bear in mind that what you might post on Facebook may not work as well on LinkedIn. Choose content relevant to the LinkedIn environment.

Don’t forget to try to include eye-catching images with your updates. High-quality visual content will help increase engagement.

LinkedIn Pulse is another way to raise your profile and help establish you as an expert in a particular industry or field. Pulse is LinkedIn’s publishing platform. Although you can’t currently publish articles off you Company Page you can publish them from your (or your employees) Personal Profiles page. If you are interested in posting a blog article checkout this helpful video on ‘How to publish blog posts and articles on LinkedIn Pulse’.

networking on linkedinNetworking

Networking is central to success with LinkedIn. It will help you connect with potential customers, industry influencers, third-party suppliers and potential employees.  Keep active on LinkedIn through regularly sharing interesting content, following relevant companies and professionals, always responding to comments, reviews and queries and joining LinkedIn Groups.

Networking can help build leads for your business. Indeed, research from HubSpot found that traffic from LinkedIn generated their best visitor-to-lead conversion rates – three times higher than Twitter or Facebook. There are over 1.5 million LinkedIn Groups so chances are you’ll be able to find one relevant to your business sector and of course if you want you can even set up your own group.

balloons-874838_640Market research

LinkedIn is an excellent way to gather market intelligence. Joining groups can help you collect useful insights into your target audience and stay abreast of industry trends.

LinkedIn is also a great way to keep on top of competitor activity. Check out their company pages. What are they posting? Who are they following? How can you differentiate yourself?

Learn from other business outside your industry as well. Take a look at out the top sites with LinkedIn Best Company Pages 2014 and check out this link from the Content Marketing Institute for some great examples of how B2C brands are doing it.

Hopefully this article has shown that LinkedIn isn’t just for recruitment and B2B companies. Small businesses, including B2C, can also benefit from a presence. We’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences using LinkedIn for your business, so please do leave a comment.

How to build a successful Twitter presence for your small online business

twitter for small businessWith 302 million monthly active users, Twitter still has plenty to offer small businesses. It’s a great tool for promoting awareness, driving traffic to your site, generating sales, engaging with customers and building your brand personality. Of course, as with any social media platform, in order to be successful you need to be following best practice and have set yourself clear goals. Otherwise you could be investing valuable time and effort with little to show in return.

What do you want to achieve?

Twitter can successfully work as part of a wider integrated marketing strategy. According to small business research, 60% of respondents have purchased from small and medium businesses because of Twitter.

But to be successful it is important that you define and prioritise your goals.  If you’re busily tweeting away with no clear sense of purpose the benefits are unlikely to match the time and effort you may be putting in.

So think about what your key business objectives are. For example are you looking to:

  • Build followers.
  • Increase engagement amongst target audience.
  • Grow awareness of your brand.
  • Generate sales leads.
  • Drive traffic to your site.

The clearer your are about what it is you want to achieve the more focused you can be in your approach to your Twitter activities.

We’ve put together some easy to implement best practice tips to help you make the most of your Twitter presence.

Getting off to a good start

If you’re not already using Twitter then getting off to a good start is important. Once you’ve signed up you’ll need to create your username (also known as your Twitter handle). For example ours is @shopintegrator. Then you’ll create a profile bio, add a profile pic – these should succinctly reflect your business. Next its time to start looking for the right people to follow – which of course will be dependent upon the industry and business you are in.

Check out Twitter’s own business resource Twitter For Business. You’ll find plenty of useful advice to get you off to a confident start.

Tweeting essentials

  • Include the Twitter ‘Follow Us’ button on your website.
  • Tweet regularly but ensure it is something worth sharing.
  • Keep your brand’s personality and voice consistent in your Tweets.
  • Don’t make it all about you. Share links and retweet anything that will be of interest to your followers.
  • Don’t use up all your 140 characters. You’ll want to leave enough room for people retweet.
  • Use hashtags but don’t go mad. One or two per tweet is probably about right.
  • Recycle your best tweets with some re-wording. Research shows that a repeated tweet can get as much as 86% performance as the original tweet.
  • Promote your Twitter username online and offline

visual contant on TwitterIncrease your visual content

As visual content becomes increasingly important within social media, try to include more images and photos in your Tweets. According to HubSpotTweets with images receive 18% more clicks, 89% more favorites and 150% more retweets – so it’s definitely one to think about. Remember though, when you are posting images they count as a link and so will automatically use up 22 characters.  Keep your tweets extra concise to allow for re-tweeting.

Videos are also a great way to capture and engage an audience. Since January this year iPhone and Android Twitter users can actually capture, edit and share videos of up to 30 seconds duration on Twitter.

Share interesting and varied content

Twitter isn’t just about relentlessly pushing your own agenda. You need to mix up your content so it is varied and interesting. If you’re stuck here are a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing:

  • Eye-catching images and videos.
  • Links to your blog articles.
  • Latest industry news and titbits.
  • Behind the scenes peeks at your business photos.
  • Funny and inspiring quotes.
  • Start conversations by posing questions.
  • Product launches.
  • Industry statistics.
  • Latest trends.
  • Ask advice.
  • Share tips and recommendations.

Social on TwitterBe social

“80% of your Tweets should focus on driving interactions with your followers, such as retweets, replies, and favourites.” Twitter for Business

Central to your Twitter success is building a genuine rapport with your followers. Try using Twitter’s 80/20 ratio. Don’t just bombard your followers with tweets that push your businesses products and services. 80% of your tweets should be sharing links, retweeting and joining conversations.

You are trying to show the person behind  your business so always take a friendly and positive approach to your interactions.

Measure your performance

Don’t just tweet merrily away without taking a step back to analyse your performance. Twitter Analytics is worth spending some time getting familiar with. The Twitter dashboard can give you all sorts of interesting information about how you are doing. For example:

  • At a glance 28 day summary: Tweets sent, profile visit, mentions, new followers, top tweet, top mention and top followers.
  • Tweets: Impressions, engagement, retweets, replies and link clicks.
  • Follower insights. Interests, location, gender and who your followers are following.

Digging a bit deeper into how you are performing and getting to know who is following you will enable you to better focus your Twitter efforts.

Following best practice and implementing even just some of the tips we’ve talked about will help your business get more out of Twitter. We’d love to hear your own thoughts and experiences on Twitter so please do leave a comment.

How to get more from Pinterest with 5 great tips for small businesses.

PinterestThe last few years have seen our fascination with all things visual significantly grow. We can see this reflected in the rise of visual platforms like Pinterest and Instagram who steadily continue to gain social media market share.  With this in mind we take a closer look at Pinterest and how small businesses can make more of their presence.

Pinterest can be described as a visual online scrapbook. Users create and share images they find interesting (called pins); organising them into collections called boards. With over 70 million registered users and 3472 images pinned every minute, Pinterest can be an excellent social media platform for small businesses.  Pins usually link back to the website they originated so it can be a great way for you to share your content and drive traffic.

 5 tops tips to get Pinterest to work for your business

getting started on pinterest1. Make a good start

Before you launch headlong into Pinterest take a step back and think about your objectives, your audience and the kind of presence you’d like to have. Familiarise yourself with Pinterest by exploring what other businesses, both in and out of your industry, are doing to maximise their presence. For inspiration checkout some of the examples Pinterest showcases.

Once you’ve created your business account and verified your website you can set up your profile. Use a recognisable image such as your logo and a clear and interesting description of your brand and what it aspires to. You can then start planning your boards. Categorise your boards into subject areas – be creative and think of relevant, inspiring subjects that will be off interest to your target audience. If you’re a bit stuck for ideas then an easy board for businesses to start with is a blog board. If you have a blog then you have ready-made, shareable content that links back to your site.

Then it’s all about making the most of your Pins. 

“As a rule of thumb,  try to make sure all of your Pins are beautiful, actionable and interesting. Pinterest

  • Add the Pin-it button to your website to make it easy for people to pin content from your website.
  • Every time you create a pin include a useful description of what you are pinning and a link back to where it originates.
  • Where appropriate think about using Rich Pins such as Product Pins. These allows you to add in more useful information such as where to purchase (for example your website), real-time pricing and availability. These details will stay on the pin even when it is repined.  2 million Pinterest users save product pins to their boards daily so it’s worth doing.

Make the most of the advice Pinterest offers businesses. It has some excellent case studies, blog articles and How to guides. All of which are great resources to get you off to a flying start.

use colourful images on Pinterest2. Focus on the visual

Pinterest is all about the visual. So try to use colourful, interesting and inspiring images as much as possible. Avoid seen before, run-of the mill stock photos.

There are plenty of websites available for you to source interesting images without breaking the bank. For example, Shutterstock, iStockphoto, FreeDigitalPhotos.net and Dreamstime all offer excellent images at reasonable prices. Free images are also available but do check that they are in the public domain and cleared for commercial use as many free images will need an attribution. Pixabay is a great source of free images that are in the public domain and don’t require an attribution.

Try using original photography. This is a great way to showcase your products in interesting, real life situations. It will have a greater impact than bog-standard product shots.

Pinterest recommends the following tips for your images:

  • Use quality images with a high-resolution.
  • Images at least 600 pixels wide work best on Pinterest ( the minimum image size is 100 x 200 pixels)
  • Vertical images work better on mobile screens. Remember 75% of Pinterest usage takes place on mobile devices so it’s worth bearing in mind when you are composing your pins.
  • Keep to a maximum of 4 images in any one pin.

Don’t forget about video. With 8333 videos shared every minute across social media, video is a great way to encourage sharing. Pinning a video is simple. For example if you’ve uploaded your video on YouTube, go to Share and use the ‘Pin It’ button to share it on one of your Pinterest boards. Remember to include an eye-catching image and a relevant description.

Content Image3. Mix up your content

Try and make your content interesting with a number of varied subject boards. Approach your content from the point of view of the customer not your sales manager. Rather than just pushing your product and services think creatively about the different things that might be of  interest to or help your customers. What might encourage them to repin your pin? If you’re a bit stuck for ideas maybe test drive something from the list below that you can adapt for your industry:

  • Pin links to your blog posts
  • Have a product showcase board
  • Latest trends / seasonal trend boards
  • Competitions
  • Behind the scenes peek at your business
  • Meet the team
  • Charitable work / charitable partners boards
  • How to videos
  • Infographics
  • Coming soon sneak previews
  • Client / customer showcase boards
  • Interesting industry news

Of course these are just a few ideas – once you start pinning regularly you’ll find all sorts of ways to create engaging content.

pinterest4. Get involved – be an active Pinner

As with all social media, active participation is important. The more of you put in the more you are going to get out of it. With Pinterest you are trying to connect with your audience through their interests and lifestyle.

  • Be active by pinning regularly. Pinterest suggest trying to Pin once a day.
  • Follow other Pinner’s boards.
  • Repin, like and comment on interesting pins – especially those that are relevant to your industry and likely to be of interest to your audience.
  • Be friendly and welcoming it is your opportunity to bring personality to your brand.

pinterest analytics5. Measure your performance

To get the most from any social media platform you need to be an active participant, this of course takes up valuable time. Therefore it makes sense that the better idea you have of your Pinterest performance, the smarter you can be in channelling your time and effort into the right places.

Use Pinterest’s analytics tool to get a better picture of what content is working for you and what content is having little impact.

  • Pin performance: Identify your tops pins. Which have the most impressions, repins and click-throughs? Which of your boards are the most popular?
  • Your audience. Who is looking at your pins and who has actively liked, repined or click-through a pin. It will give you an overview of your audience’s demographics, who they follow and their interests.
  • Website content. If you’ve verified your website you can see how the content of your website is performing on Pinterest – these are all the pins that link back to your site.
  • For more information take a look at Pinterest Analytics guide.

These are just a few tips to help you optimise your presence on Pinterest. As we mentioned earlier in the article don’t forget to check out some of the resources Pinterest offers small businesses – there is plenty of help and advice to get you off to a great start.

Finally, don’t forget to support and promote your Pinterest activity on all your other social media platforms and in email communications. A coherent, integrated approach to all your marketing channels will produce the best results. 

 We’d love to hear your thoughts and experience of using Pinterest, so please do leave a comment.