Selling Social Media As An Essential Marketing Strategy

It’s hard to imagine life before social media. Dramatic? Yes, but it’s true. And the same can be said for business. In the past few years, social media has become an integral platform for brand awareness, developing partnerships, managing customer service, generating leads and increasing revenue. So much so that social media is no longer a “nice-to-have” but a “must-have” in an effective marketing plan.

However, confusion with ROI, reporting, tracking and staffing are keeping many companies from reaching maximum social media marketing potential. If your boss hasn’t jumped on the social media marketing ship, here’s some ammunition to get him/her on board:

  1. Social Media = Marketplace Insight: Social media platforms give your brand the means to relate to, exist in and encourage a highly engaged and influential community. If you aren’t interacting with your customers/audience, you’re missing a huge opportunity to observe, question, explore and experiment. Market research and customer interaction have never been easier (or cheaper!).
  2. Customer Service Got A Makeover: You better believe social media has changed the entire look and feel of customer service. Customers expect brands to be social, so if you aren’t, what does that say about your authority in your market? Your relevancy in your industry? Your concern for customer satisfaction? Nothing good, that’s for sure.
  3. Who Doesn’t Love Low Risk and Low Cost? Not loving how your latest campaign is performing on Facebook? Stop it. None of those 70 new Twitter accounts are following you back? Try again or cut ‘em loose. Instagram isn’t bringing you qualified leads? Do some audience research and try a platform more suited to your target and marketing objectives. There’s something beautiful about a collection of online spaces that warrant an experimental approach.
  4. Say Hello to SEO: Our friends at Google have the responsibility of making sure users are seeing the most valuable, relevant content when they search online. What does this mean for you? The more your brand/products are being shared and linked to on your social media pages, the higher your content will rank on Google because it will be considered greater value to Google users. Optimize your social media profiles for search, use relevant keywords in your social media posts, share your content across relevant channels, and build a community of quality fans that interact with your content.

While incorporating social media into your marketing plan seems like a no brainer to you, there may be hesitation in upper management. Show the numbers. Research case studies. Experiment on the side. Whatever you do, get armed and ready with facts to make your argument clear. Social media has changed the marketing landscape, and we hope your company joins the party.

Need help getting started? Click here to see what Ideopia can do for you.

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Consumers Turn to Social Media for Blazing Fast Support

Customer service has leapt from phone and email to responding to the disgruntled or confused on social media.

Customers in the traditional support model expect a response within 24 hours. On social media, however, they expect answers at light speed. According to The Social Habit Study, however, 32 percent of people who contacted a brand, product or company through social media for support expected a response within 30 minutes; and 42 percent expected a response within one hour. Keep in mind, you’re also playing to others on a social media feed who evaluate how you treat customers, and use this information in a buying decision.

Large companies like KLM, Walmart, CNN and Xbox lead the industry with exemplary customer service response times.

These companies also lead the social media customer service craze because they’re proactive. Their customer service support teams search for opportunities to answer questions or solve potential customers’ pain points using keyword monitoring tools, like Mention.com and Hootsuite.

Your social media marketing strategy should put standard status updates and uniform ad blasts to shame. Don’t worry, we can help. Call Susan Abramovitz at 513-947-1444 ext. 10.

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Holiday Social Media: Don’t Blow It.

Brands often fall flat with their holiday social media execution. It takes sensitivity and common sense to balance content, appropriate frequency and sales plugs.

For a winning social strategy over the next few months, follow these do’s and don’ts. And tweet us your own social media holiday wins @Ideopia.

Don’t clutter your feeds with pushy sales messages.

Unless you’re a retailer with major discounts on Black Friday, cut the pushy sales copy from your queue. It’s not the time or place to interrupt your audience’s online experience.

Instead, share content that pairs well with the holiday. Post a branded card or try helpful and entertaining content, like cold-weather family activities or recipes. Your audience will appreciate the effort, and you’ll appreciate the increased loyalty and engagement.

Don’t over do it.

Consider your brand’s social media goals and business objectives. Do these align with a specific holiday message? Desperate social media tie-ins have #fail written all over them. Like the Golf Channel’s shameless plug on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Piggybacking off a historic day and making it about golf was obnoxious. Tactics like these may get your brand viral, but not in the way you want!

Instead, consider your brand voice in typical social media content. Create copy that encompasses that personality and remains appropriate for your audience. If your post doesn’t naturally connect with the holiday, don’t stretch to make it fit.

Social media habits change during the holidays.

Your audience likely engages with social media differently over the holidays compared to work mode. Instead of sourcing Twitter for industry news and +1’ing content for increased reach, your audience is online for entertainment and recreation.

Don’t share the same “work mode” content for your B2B audience. Get creative and lower the frequency. Humanize your brand with fun, relatable and visual content like Lowe’s hardware fireworks display on Vine.

Interested in more social media marketing tips? Click here or give us a call at 513-947-1444 x10.

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Pappy’s Gone Missing! Film at 11.

Buffalo Trace Distillery recently discovered that several cases of the premium Pappy Van Winkle bourbon had been…err… winkled.

So to the fine folks at Buffalo Trace: One of your bourbon brands just made it into the news in a (relatively) neutral story. How do you capitalize on the moment and turn it into a positive PR opportunity? Let’s find out.

Pappy is already a hard-to-get, bragging-rights-acquired, top-shelf bourbon with lots of fans among the bourbon cognoscenti, now exposed to a much wider audience because of the theft of a few cases.

“Wow, this stuff is so good, someone heisted it from the warehouse!”

“How much is a bottle?!?”

“It must be wicked awesome!”

“I must have some!”

Instant buzz. But there’s no problem peddling Pappy. People line up around the block to get at this liquid gold when a few bottles become available. But Buffalo Trace distills other bourbons. And they’re special too.

Get some reporters down to the distillery. Look for reporters who enjoy a cocktail or two. This shouldn’t be hard.

When you make the pitch to visit, talk about the bourbon culture in Kentucky that’s now expanding worldwide. Talk about Kentucky’s bourbon mystique. Talk about how there are more barrels of bourbon in Kentucky than people. And send ‘em some pictures…scenes that’ll make good video. Think in terms of visual interest and what might capture a viewer/reader’s attention.

Once the reporters arrive, show them what makes Pappy special. And talk about your OTHER brands, too. About how the same care and quality that make Pappy so beloved goes into ALL your brands. Make sure you have lots of bottles set out. And glasses. Don’t be afraid to think big–This doesn’t have to be just a local/regional story.  This thing has national appeal.

Get those master distillers talking about the 20-year-long process that goes into a bottle of Pappy’s. And the artisanal process for your other brands. Say artisanal…a lot.  People on the coasts love artisanal. Reference mint juleps, the national media loves those. Mention how Celebrity Chef and Bon Vivant Anthony Bourdain considers Pappy’s the bee’s knees. A little name-dropping never hurts. And don’t forget to  deploy social media to take advantage of all this attention; it can be a great force multiplier, getting you attention in many different spheres.

So that’s how to turn a little light-fingered larceny into a big win for Buffalo Trace. But what if you’re another distillery and want to get some of that limelight? Reach out to the media and talk about your new security upgrades in light of the recent high-end bourbon thefts. How you’re protecting your own specialty bourbon that’s purloin-worthy. And what makes it so darn special. Find ways your brand fits into the story. No matter what your industry is, be aware that a little news nugget can be turned into a gold rush. And when you find yourself getting your 15 minutes, be prepared to take advantage. I’ll drink to that!

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Boost Twitter Engagement in 10 Curious Ways

Are you furiously tweeting but not seeing the same interaction that your competitors are? With a few not-so-obvious tweaks, you can increase your Twitter engagement rate and follower count. Here’s how:

  1. Ask for RTs (retweets). Less than one percent of brands do this, despite evidence that it works. Ask your followers to retweet your content for a spike in engagement. Just don’t overdo it, or risk alienating your followers.
  2. Don’t use semicolons. Could a punctuation mark cause someone to ignore your tweet? Research says yes. Tweets with semicolons produce the least interaction. Instead, use periods and colons for higher engagement. Introduce links and calls to action with colons, and write short and snappy fragments with periods.
  3. Make it personal. The most retweeted word? “You.” Speak directly to your followers and invite them into the discussion. As Don Draper of “Mad Men” says, “If you don’t like what’s being said, change the conversation.”
  4. Write less than 100 characters. You could write 140 characters, but you don’t have to. Opt for shorter tweets that have a 17 percent higher engagement rate than longwinded ones.
  5. Use hashtags. Tweets with one or two relevant hashtags can increase engagement by a whopping 100 percent. By tagging your tweets, anyone who searches on that topic will see your post. Conversely, don’t use too many. Excessive hashtags can trigger spam alerts, and dilute your message.
  6. Tweet more. Follower count is directly proportional to tweet frequency. Tweet about 3-4 times per day to gain followers. But remember: Tweet frequency and engagement have an inverse relationship. So schedule tweets throughout the day based on which times perform best in your industry. Just don’t go into a tweet frenzy and expect interaction for every post.
  7. Name drop. If you have an opportunity to mention a follower, or perhaps a business partner, go for it. Mentions increase the chance someone will follow you or interact with your brand.
  8. Don’t ignore weekends. Tweet on Saturday and Sunday for a 17 percent spike in engagement. Don’t feel like working on your days off? Schedule weekend tweets during the week, and let them work for you.
  9. Tweet during “open” hours. Post between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. for a 30 percent gain in engagement. Of course, these hours can vary by industry, but these are the safest times to tweet.
  10. Write juicy copy, or else. The secret to increasing tweet click-thru rates by 73 percent? Solid writing. Give readers an intriguing nugget, and a reason to share or engage with your content. This example from one of our clients sparked a lengthy discussion, resulting in huge exposure for the brand.

Try these tips and get your Twitter feed hopping. Looking for more resources to ignite your brand’s social media? See an example of a terrible tweet, and how to create content marketing that attracts customers.

Learn more about Ideopia’s social media marketing. And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter for the latest marketing buzz.

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Jumpstart Your Content Marketing with Ideopia.

It’s easy to understand why 86% of B2C and 91% of all B2B brands claim some involvement in content marketing: It’s a lot more fun than hammering prospects with 100s of (unreturned) voicemails. With content marketing you’ll just reel them in with tantalizing blog posts, videos, white papers and webinars.

Starting this month, Ideopia will allow you to do just that with our content marketing services. It’s an invaluable tool for lead generation and nurturing, and driving qualified traffic back to your website.

You may already use some aspects of content marketing, like a blog, social media, or a landing page. Ideopia will put some of these same elements together to drive qualified customers to your site.

The key ingredients are:

  • Strategy. Define goals, map out a content strategy, and a promotion plan.
  • Engaging content. Develop content that’s relevant to your brand and your customer. The possibilities are limited only by the imagination: white papers, videos, infographics, videos, promotions, and downloadable apps.
  • Promote. Use social media, email and web banners to push visitors to your valuable content.
  • Lead capture. Design landing pages and website forms to capture critical lead information, like name and email. If your white paper or video is good enough, they’ll be happy to give up the information. Sometimes this data will be exclusive to visitors who want access to specific content, e.g. a white paper.
  • Lead nurturing. Maintain contact with your prospects via email, educate them about your products, and give them attractive opportunities to become a customer!

Find out how Ideopia can orchestrate your content marketing program. Call Mike Bober at 513-947-1444, ext. 15.

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The New Copywriting: Be Honest, or Else.

Don’t let up on your disgust with ads just because the election is over. Smoke and mirrors, misdirection and just plain lies abound in our day-to-day marketing.

The inability of advertisers to make coherent arguments to sell their product have made social media and authenticity buzzwords. At least on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn there’s a dab of accountability. Refer the wrong plumber to your pals, and you might get kicked out of the Thursday night poker.

Like political ads, most consumer advertising either says nothing, contorts the truth, or smacks of hyperbole. In a recent commercial, a luxury car deemed itself “The World Standard.” The world standard for what? Does this include the 47 countries in the world that have no knowledge of the brand? And we’re not singling out cars, you can find the same level of pap in ads for everything from hotdogs and laundry detergents to investment bankers and hospitals. Hot air like this is exactly what gets brands in trouble on social media. Like reading on Facebook that your pal’s “World Standard” is leaking transmission fluid like a flop house toilet.

Keeping it Clean and Honest in Print and Social Media

It’s not surprising then that some brands, steeped in conventional ad pap for decades, have problems embracing the newfangled authenticity. In reality, you can easily skip over this minefield if you remember two things: 1) Tell the truth. 2) Remember what you were taught about writing in the fifth grade. If you need a refresher course, pick up a copy of Strunk & White’s Elements of Style.

The truth and not telling it, or partially telling it will dog your brand forever on the Internet. When you believe something, you have a reason for believing even if it’s just pure faith. Make sure that your company’s marketing claims are backed by reasons and facts. Maybe you can’t squeeze it all in a Tweet, but you can expand on it on the web and in other media.

In web writing, avoid empty hyperbole like the plague. Don’t claim that you’re the world’s best, finest, or only unless you can prove it. If you’re touting “Drive = Love,” like Chrysler, you better have a Viagra dispenser under the dash.

Weasel words are the second cousins of hyperbole. They give the brand wiggle room, usually for legal reasons, and dilute the claim, e.g. arguably the safest car in America. Anytime you see an adjective or an adverb with an “ly” construction, you’ve got a stinker. Words like about, sometimes, most are also good signs a brand is hedging its bets.

So instead of sounding like an ad from a political action committee, stay true to your brand. Stick to declamatory sentences. Start with a topic sentence. Make it believable. And back your claims up with tangible reasons to buy, or to prefer your product or service to a competitor.

Would you like to hear more about marketing from Ideopia? Signup for our monthly enewsletter, K9.

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How to Create Engaging Content That Attracts Customers

Your customers are starving for fresh content. So feed them.

Content marketing has been around for decades. But with the rapid growth of social media, which keeps customers constantly engaged with your brand, it’s now crucial.

According to a study, 91 percent of business-to-business (B2B) marketers are already doing content marketing, and 33 percent spend a third of their budgets on it. Yet only 36 percent of those surveyed believe their content marketing is effective.

If you’re part of the 36 percent, we hope our guide to finding engaging content will erase your doubts about ineffective content marketing. But first, let’s review the basics.

Content Marketing Definition

Content marketing ranges from social media updates to Pinterest boards, e-newsletter stories, print articles, infographics and YouTube videos. Its purpose is to build brand credibility, legitimacy, and, most importantly, trust.

Quality content demonstrates expertise, improves search engine optimization (SEO), drives traffic to your website, paints a mental picture of your brand to customers, and has the capability to dramatically extend reach into target markets

Now that you know the fundamentals, try these tactics to find stories to lure new prospects, and to feed the hungry ones.

Leverage Case Studies and News from Major Customers

“Show, don’t tell.” You’ve heard it a thousand times. But it’s a lesson many brands and agencies don’t take to heart.

For example, industrial casters might seem boring to some, but not when they help build the Mars rover.

That was the approach we used for our client Hamilton Caster, a manufacturer of high-end, heavy industry equipment. NASA used Hamilton’s heavy-duty casters to build the Curiosity rover, the one exploring Mars right now.

One tiny nugget from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory turned into a priceless amount of publicity for our client. The story, “On Earth, the Mars Rover Rolls on Hamilton,” became an e-newsletter article, a press release and social-media fodder for everyone from distributors to competitors and consumers.

Put a Personal Spin on Your Brand

Let employees tell your brand’s story, like this example from our client Haag-Streit, a manufacturer of ophthalmic equipment.

For a trade show in Chicago, we interviewed a manager who lives there, and wrote a story on his favorite Windy City restaurants for the company’s monthly e-newsletter. Using his culinary wisdom, the blog post went viral on Twitter and Facebook, and put a name and friendly face on the organization.

Try these tactics to create your own personal brand stories:

  • Involve your whole company. From IT professionals, to product managers and engineers, everyone has different insight and unique views that cater to a specific audience.
  • Use trade shows, events and office happenings. Whether your company is attending a trade show, or you’re throwing a barbeque for a VP’s 20-year anniversary, use these opportunities for content. Don’t forget to take pictures to post on Facebook!
  • Interview employees for profiles. Show a softer side of your company. Profile your sales team and share their favorite sports teams, hobbies and personal stories to build trust and loyalty with customers.

With these tips in mind, don’t forget what determines the success of any piece of content marketing: quality of writing, and social sharing.

Don’t Skimp on Quality Writing

Engaging content starts with a solid writer. Don’t leave it in the hands of a summer intern, or outsource to a hut in Djibouti. Poorly written content will shut down your customers. But insightful, well-written content has the opposite effect, and will entertain your prospects and establish a bond with them.

Consider a writer within your marketing department, or hire a talented freelancer or an agency to rev up the content engine.

 Share Your Content on Social Media to Extend Reach

Distributing content on social media is as crucial as the content itself. Social sharing can dramatically increase your reach, and bring in new prospects. The more people reading your content, the more effective it is.

Once you have content to work with, encourage employees to share it on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Just make sure you define which platform to use:

  • Facebook is perfect for office happenings and pictures. Remember: lighthearted. Nothing too serious.
  • Twitter is best suited for consistent updates, like tweets about blog posts, news stories, press releases and more. Don’t forget to interact with your followers and share their content, too.
  • LinkedIn is where you target prospects with niche blog posts and white papers, and direct them to a website or landing page to capture the lead.
  • Pinterest is a photo-based social media platform. Use pictures to educate customers about your company – from product images to quirky shots from around the office.

For more information on social sharing, check out our infographic and see how the cycle can work for your brand.

Now that you have the basics down, and you can see that finding great content isn’t so hard, we think you’ll be able to feed your hungry customers a hefty dose of engaging content. But if this all seems like too much, you could always call Ideopia.

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Social Media Typos: Should You Fix Them?

Typos. Every writer’s bane. Except on social media, where minor bloopers can sometimes help you.

Here’s when it’s OK to misfire.

  • Brush aside a minor typo. A missing space or errant apostrophe won’t kill your credibility, but it will show that drones don’t manage your account.
  • Deleting a tweet hurts more. Trigger-happy folks may have already commented on your post or re-tweeted it. Removing it because of a tiny mistake could cost you vital interaction – the reason you use social media.
  • Leverage a mistake. Someone will almost always call you out. Make it positive, like “whoops, too much caffeine for us. Have a great weekend!”

But some errors can’t be ignored.

  • Major FUBARs. Client names and company names. Don’t mess them up. And if you do, fix them before it’s too late.
  • Omitting crucial words or letters. It only takes one keystroke to change the meaning of your sentence. See the difference between “public” and “pubic.”
  • Consistent errors. Everyone makes typos. But don’t make them a habit. One mishap won’t murder your social cred, but a pile of them will tarnish your rep.
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