Sign & Digital Graphics

November '19

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52 • November 2019 • S I G N & D I G I T A L G R A P H I C S RUNNING THE BUSINESS lowing a regimented schedule. By doing so, you remove most of the chances to make irrevocable mistakes. Social Media at Your Service Since 'word of mouth' marketing and referrals have been long-time mainstays of businesses in this industry's market- ing/branding strategy, how could add- ing social media channels enhance or augment that strategy? If you've been in business for longer than eight years— which happens to be the average lifes- pan of an American company—that must mean that at least some people like what you do or what you sell. And, it's always been human nature to share our positive experiences. Social scientists have iden- tified a concept of 'social currency' that exists within offline social networks. For example, if someone were to ever inquire about the available services of a plumber, you'd probably guess they were in a pickle. If you—with a timely Facebook message, easy-to-access link on your website, or helpful tweet—were able to give them contact info of a trust- worthy, competent, 24-hour plumbing service, they'd probably view you as a life saver. This raises your social capital in their eyes. And, you may be able to cash in that currency for a favor sometime in the future. If I keep offering valuable information, you'll like me even more. Conversely, if I only pitch my product offerings or ask you for things without having any social currency to spend, your impression of me would be that of a peddler or leech... and you may not like me at all. Whether in a B2B environment or retail selling to consumers, one needs to be aware of one's social-currency bank balance. If you've done something nice for a customer—such as, provide helpful information or spotlight them on your social media sites—get credit for doing so and leverage it. Invite them to be a follower of your company's Facebook page and ask them to say something about their experience working with you. What networks like Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter and even blogs do, to some extent, is to help people more easily share good and bad news about products or services they've purchased. Content and Cadence are the Keys In the spirit of Steven Covey's clas- sic "7 Habits" book, there are Seven Habits of Highly Effective Social Media Marketers: • They listen first • They always give more than they expect in return • They promote others and events more often than themselves • They "mix it up" when developing and delivering content • They are interactive and provoke helpful dialogue • They are "Goldilocks" posters and tweeters—not too much, not too little, just right, and • They never use social media to cast shade upon others or air out their griev- ances So, let's say you're willing to give this SMM thing a try. To keep your audience engaged, make sure that your creating a variety of content that will help you achieve your SMM goals. The content you employ can take on many forms, and your mix may look different depending on which platforms you choose to utilize, the product line(s) you are highlighting, and in which of the six customer life- cycle stages—awareness, engagement, purchase, retention/loyalty, growth and advocacy—you are trying to impact. You may want to consider having the following mixed into your content strat- egy: big rock content pieces (like free downloadable e-books, case studies and white papers); tip sheets/checklists; blog posts and infographics; photos and vid- eos; fun visual content (such as memes, add-a-captions and cartoons); and slide shows and podcasts. Social audiences—both prospects and customers—love visual content, so make sure you are using images and videos in your marketing mix often. Visual content appeals to raw emotions, creates intimacy and engages your audience on several sensory levels. Studies have shown that 77 percent of consumers say they been convinced to buy a product or service by watching a video, so you might seriously consider creating a YouTube channel and publishing "how to" and "did you know?" informational pieces. Newbies to the SMM arena tend to have one of two problems with social media content; either they can't think of anything to post, or they've got so much material that they overwhelm their audi- ence. Regardless of where you fall on the spectrum, the question of what and how often to post is a very important one. It's a matter of establishing a cadence. Each social media site requires a con- tent mix and frequency that matches the expectations of your audience. If Twitter is a good option for you, you may decide to tweet anywhere from three to six times a day without overwhelming your audi- ence. And, the same applies to Instagram, Snapchat, and Pinterest. The general rule of thumb for Facebook and LinkedIn is to post no more than twice a day. Finally, since YouTube content takes longer to develop, publishing anywhere from weekly to quarterly is acceptable. But Is It Worth It? Is social media as a marketing tool cost-effective? What are the typical, anticipated costs associated with devel- oping a social media marketing plan? The fact is social media is challenging traditional ad agencies because there's almost no direct cost. It doesn't cost you a dime to host a Facebook page, start an exclusive Facebook closed group for select clientele, or run dozens of tweets a day through a free or reasonably afford- able social media management program, Only undertake a social-media marketing campaign if you are ready to be honest, responsive and consistent.

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