Using Facebook Ads in Your Campaign

If you're considering integrating Facebook advertising in your small business' marketing plan, there are some important considerations to keep in mind. And while advertising through Facebook can be a bit intimidating, it could be an important part of your overall strategy. Here are some of things you'll have to think about.

What is the overall goal of the strategy? You shouldn't be trying to use Facebook ads to actually sell, that's not going to happen. Studies have found that Facebook generally isn't good at converting direct sales. However, it does two things very well: it creates awareness and recognition for your brand that did not exist before, and it creates contacts.

The brand recognition and awareness is particularly useful if you've planned the campaign with a well-designed landing tab on your Facebook page (you can only send people from your ad to a Facebook page you administer, not to a website). In other words, when they click the ad they land on a tab that informs them about your product or service.

You can also convert page likes to contacts. Though you shouldn't spam them, once they've liked the page you can create and send messages (through status updates), that continue to give them reasons to buy your service or product. You're easing them into converting, not hitting them with the hammer of hard selling.

What message are you going to give them once they get to your page? After they click the ad, where are they going to go from there? Generally you will need to create a special tab just for the campaign. If the campaign is for a certain product, they should land on a tab that demonstrates or generally teaches them about the product. If the campaign is to provide coupons, they should land on a tab with the coupon.

Generally you should view this as the opportunity to make them not only interested, but educated as well. When they leave your Facebook page, they can now make a decision about purchasing from you at a future date.

Using Facebook ads can be very effective in your marketing strategy, but you have to think differently about it than other types of traditional marketing campaigns.

If you have questions or want to discuss using Facebook advertising for your small Las Cruces or El Paso business, give us a call and we'll be happy to set up a free consulting session.

Small Business Owners: Launch a Twitter Campaign Before you Launch Anything Else

I’m working on a new business project that won’t release until the beginning of November (2011). However, three weeks ago I launched our Twitter account and have been steadily building a community of followers, with over 200 followers at the moment of writing (I won’t take the opportunity to shamelessly self-promote here, but will tell you that we’ll be producing online video content).

What’s more, our followers are excited and looking forward to our release. We’ve had multiple direct messages telling us how “original” our concept is and how much people are looking forward to it. Influencers in the niche we’ve entered have mentioned us a number of times, and many of our daily tweets have been retweeted—all indicators of a successful Twitter strategy.

Thinking of this experience I realized how perfect Twitter is for launching projects at the concept and not the content phase. This is what’s going on in our case. After all, we have no product—no pictures, no blog posts, no videos, no content—only the promise of it. What we do have, though, is a concept (and one that has apparently struck a chord with some people).

And it turns out I’m not alone in this conclusion. Past examples demonstrate that Twitter can increase the success of most brands launched, especially when used well before the launch itself.

As far as the Facebook versus Twitter debate, when it comes to launching a product, brand or business, others agree that Twitter is much better than Facebook for initially generating excitement. After all, Facebook demands content. Integrated utilities put image galleries, videos, and other information at the top of pages. In Facebook, it’s about rewarding people who like you with your original content.

But on Twitter it’s about community, and a concept can grow a community. So, looking at what other brands have done and mixing it with the project we’re currently working on, here are five strategies to implement in Twitter while your product, brand or business is still just a concept.

1. Provide a profile image that symbolizes if not demonstrates your concept, and a full description in your bio. Obviously the worst thing you can do it leave the ugly egg profile image. But another mistake would be to use an image that has nothing to do with your concept. Likewise, you need a bio that accurately describes what you’re launching, when, where and why you should be followed.

2. Appeal first and foremost to your niche. Chris Anderson proved in The Long Tail that not only is there a niche for most anything, but there are die-hards within the niches that will become evangelists for your concept if you connect with them. Each niche has a community, and in every community there are influencers. So reach these people first of all.

3. Tweet regularly about your progress. You should tweet regularly anyway, but let your followers know what you’re doing to make progress. Tell them about setbacks you are having, victories you’ve achieved, and obstacles you’ve overcome. Remind them of the launch or release date, and include them in decisions when possible by asking them their opinion.

4. Provide content as it becomes available. Don’t hold content back and then spring it all on them on the release date. Get them excited about it by giving them pictures, articles, anything you can as you get it. In fact, give them this content the moment you get it—reward them for following you .

5. Be genuine. Lastly, be as genuine as possible in the way you represent yourself. Don’t try to be something you’re not. Let’s face it, at the moment you really don’t have much of anything anyway: just an idea at most. But, you are giving your followers a rare glimpse of the wonder of entrepreneurship by letting them see the magic, sweat, toil and tears that happens when the concept—the idea—of a brand, business or product becomes reality.

Article first published as Launch a Twitter Campaign Before Anything Else on Technorati.

Curate to Control Negative User-Content

One of the best resources a business or brand has at its disposal is an evangelist: a customer who spreads the news of the benefits of a product or service can be worth a mint over time. Even more valuable is the evangelist who creates positive online content for the brand in the form of blogs, videos and posts.

But what about negative content? What if a blogger produces a bad review of a product, or shares an opinion not based in fact but which makes the brand look bad? Once that content is out there it can be found by potential consumers, and businesses have little recourse to remove the content.

According to a study published in the journal, Marketing Science, the best strategy for a business facing a bad product review is to reduce advertising across all media. It seems counterintuitive, I know, but the added expense of advertising doesn’t make up for the reduced revenue from the bad review.

However, content curation gives us a novel approach for countering negative online consumer-generated content.

 

Content curation is the act of content selection, aggregation and distribution by people and not software. In essence, curators choose the best content about a subject and then pass it along to followers.

The method of content curation for a brand is pretty self-explanatory: the business combs the internet, finds positive content, and then passes it along to its consumers. Or, the business creates a site dedicated to curation and aggregates the positive content into a single place. This is precisely what Adobe does on both Delicious and its community pages.

The reason behind curation’s success at countering negative consumer content is precisely because the positive content is created by consumers. Research has demonstrated that 3rd party, independent reviews of a product or service are seen as highly credible. In many circumstances, consumers trust independent reviews more than they trust information from the business or brand that made the product or delivered the service.

Online content is also just as credible if not more. According to a 2011 survey, 88% of active blog readers trust the information they get from familiar blogs, and over 50% of active blog readers made a purchase based on the blog’s recommendations.

The outcome is a higher probability that consumers will find the positive content instead of the negative. Sure, the content is still out there, but if nobody reads it, then it really can’t do much harm.

Curation, then, and not rebuttals, price adjustments or product changes could be the best way to improve a brand’s online reputation.

Article first published as Curate to Control Negative User-Content on Technorati.

Find a Social Media Mentor for your Small Business

Small businesses are in a strange place when it comes to using social media effectively. Rarely do they have the money to hire outside consultants to help shape their strategies, yet they often don’t know enough to do it themselves.

And when I say “do it themselves” I truly mean it. In the case of small businesses, small business owners are still trying to learn how to use these tools effectively. Oft-cited reasons for not realizing social media's full potential include small budgets and limited engagement (an obvious gripe considering all of the other duties small business owners are responsible for).

So the quandary is this: small business owners need to learn how to use social media themselves without wasting a lot of time doing it, but they don't have the time because they're too busy running the business. How do they figure out how to use social media?

The answer is to find a mentor: a similar small business in a similar situation using social media themselves to effectively drive their sales (or whatever measurement is important). Conduct both online and social media-based searches to find a business that you can model your own social media approach after. Specifically conduct research on a few key attributes:

  • Similar Size and Resources: It should go without saying that the first thing to look for is a business that reflects yours in size and the amount of resources they expend on their approach. Do some research on them to find out what composes the social media department: the owner sitting at his or her desk after hours, or a college intern unpaid and tweeting or blogging through the day. In any case it should reflect what resource you can similarly provide. 
  • Similar Context: What size is the city or town they’re in? I live in a small city in Southern, New Mexico in the United States. Obviously what works for a small business in Chicago might not work for a small business in my town (smaller population, fewer people using various social media channels). Likewise our city’s population is heavily Hispanic with many Spanish-speaking families, so a small business in Manhattan, Kansas, might not have the same results as a small business here.

    Read more ...

Where Does Social Media Belong in Higher Education?

This is an honest question: what does an education in social media look like? Put another way, if you were to get a degree in social media, what would the curriculum include? I’ve been thinking about this lately and have come up with the following list, please let me know what you think.

First, I think we could probably divide it into three very separate sections:

  • Core Skills: These are the basic things that someone in the social media management profession needs to know. Before they type a status update, a blog post or a tweet, what skills should they have ahead of time?
  • Technology: Professionals need to know the difference between the different social media channels—blog posts and comments, social networking sites and tools, video sharing and hosting, etc. They need to know when to use which, how it works and how it affects their message.
  • Applied Disciplines: Social media management can be applied to many different disciplines. Here, students will apply the skills they’ve learned to those different areas.

In each of these we’d see the specific areas to focus on:

Core Skills

  • Interpersonal communication
  • Audience awareness and analysis
  • Cultural awareness
  • Persuasion
  • Visual communication
  • Organizational & personal communication
  • Research
  • Customer relationship management

 Technology

  • Syndication
  • Aggregation
  • Curation
  • Blogging
  • Social networking
  • Webhosting
  • Content management systems
  • Media creation (video, audio, image, written)

Niche Application

  • Marketing
  • Customer service
  • Business communication
  • Technical communication

I think there’s a real possibility that we’ll begin seeing options in—or whole degrees in—social media management. Right now there are a few graduate degrees, most specifically in PR or marketing, that emphasize social media. However, I see this coming at the undergraduate level, especially as more and more professors—like me—begin integrating it into their existing classes.

Let me know what you think.

Word One Consulting
575-496-6807
clint @ wordoneconsulting.com
2263 S. Main
Las Cruces, NM 88005