Must-Do’s for Effective Social Media Marketing

Must-Do's for Effective
Social Media Marketing

Marketing experts give their best advice on how to grow an audience,
regardless of your budget.

 

A lot of businesses do social media marketing wrong.

They hear everyone screaming, “You must have a social media presence,” but what that entails isn’t always spelled out correctly. Social media marketing should be effective and affordable, and when done correctly, it can help scale businesses of all sizes. Just like with traditional channels such as television commercials, radio spots, and print ads, your results are going to be minimal at best if you broadcast your message to the wrong audience. To help you execute a successful social media marketing campaign, I spoke with six entrepreneurs to put together a list of must-dos.

Dedicate time to learn how social media works.

There are a lot of social media marketing tips available online, from free content on websites like this one to paid courses you can complete at your convenience. It’s not very complicated if you take the time to educate yourself. Charles Gumbley, Director of Flower Telecom, explains, “It’s important that you take the time to learn how social media marketing works for your specific business. While the fundamentals are similar across the board, different businesses will have to alter their strategies slightly in order to capture the attention of their target audience. In the beginning, consume as much content and free resources as you can. From there, you can then focus on your specific goals and objectives.”

Listen to your customers.

“The only way you are going to know what your customers want is by listening to what they have to say. It’s important that you use your social media platforms as an extension of your customer service. More customers are going to voice their opinion on social media than via email or over the phone,” says Ryan Koechel, VP of Marketing for ABODO. When you listen to your audience, you open the door to other opportunities as well. For instance, when my influencer marketing agency plans campaign strategies for a brand, we often audit their social media followers to identify key influencers. Learn to listen to your audience — it can provide you with valuable information.

Use automation for consistency.

There is smart automation and then there is spammy, ineffective automation when it comes to social media marketing. You don’t want to blast out promotional offers all day long — that’s a quick way to lose all of your followers. Use social media as a way to communicate with your audience and provide them valuable information. When you do that, you create happy brand supporters you can eventually convert into sales.

“If you have a full-time social media employee, make sure they are consistent and push out content across all of your social media profiles. There are several pieces of automation software, like Hootsuite, that offer a free plan that can greatly increase your efficiency. If you schedule your posts in advance it gives you more time to dedicate to replying and engaging with your social media followers,” advises Daniel Moravec of StreetSaw.

Engage with and delight your audience.

“It’s one thing to fill up your social media feed with posts, but it’s another thing to actively engage with your audience and turn them into satisfied customers. I see a lot of small business owners posting a couple times a day, thinking that they are doing the right thing when it comes to social media marketing. You can’t just post and walk away. If you do that, you are missing prime opportunities to engage with your audience and convert them,” explains Roy Surdej of Peaches Boutique.

Engaging your followers allows you to uncover problems or issues other customers might be experiencing as well. Then, you can be proactive and address those issues quickly before they turn into fires that are difficult to put out. When your communication lines are always open, you will often discover problematic situations before they spiral out of control.

Don’t spread yourself too thin.

It’s nearly impossible — and almost always ineffective — to be active on every single social media platform. I always suggest new brands should start with two or three social media platforms they are certain their target audience is active on. Master those, and then expand your social reach as the business grows and more effort can be allocated to additional social platforms.

Jasper Hillaud, Managing Partner of elf925 stresses the importance of focusing on the social media platforms that complement your brand, explaining, “While Pinterest marketing might not be effective for some businesses, it is one that we put a lot of energy into because we see that it works first-hand. Just because it wouldn’t be a preferred social media channel for a law firm, that doesn’t mean it should be ignored. It’s important to pick where to focus your social media efforts based on what works for your specific customer base.”

Track and measure everything.

“You will never run a successful social media marketing campaign if you don’t measure your results. It’s important that you lay out clear goals with benchmarks that allow you to determine whether or not your social effort is paying off. The data you collect and analyze can then be used to make changes to your campaign. You must be willing to constantly optimize and test your efforts if you want to develop a truly successful campaign,” explains Eric Ritter, Founder & CEO of Digital Neighbor.

It doesn’t matter if you are working with a $10 daily social media budget or six figures. The objective is the same — put your message in front of the correct audience and trigger engagement. In order to do that, you need to track and measure everything.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

Inbound Marketing for Startups: The All-Star Playbook

Inbound Marketing for Startups:
The All-Star Playbook

 

Helping Build an Audience

It’s often hard for startups to get their name out there and build an audience, especially when they are starting from scratch, sometimes with a lean team and an even leaner budget. However, inbound marketing for startups can help bring customers to you through relevant and valuable content.

What is Inbound Marketing for Startups?

The inbound marketing approach focuses on attracting customers through relevant and valuable content and interactions, rather than interruptive methods. HubSpot describes inbound marketing methodology in four stages: Attract, Convert, Close, and Delight. This is how you take strangers and turn them into brand advocates.Inbound marketing focuses on reaching prospective customers during each stage of the buyer’s journey through targeted content. By developing compelling and useful content tailored to top, middle, and bottom of the funnel prospects, you can give consumers the information they need when they need it to guide them through the purchasing process.

This approach to marketing works for startups because the expense is typically low with a potential for high ROI, allowing companies to maximize marketing spend. Inbound marketing is also all about connecting with consumers and educating them, which is important for startups that typically work in niche markets.

How Can Startups Use Inbound Marketing to Begin Generating Leads?

The ultimate goal of inbound marketing for startups is to bring in more interested and qualified leads. There are a variety of inbound marketing tactics that startups can start using to get the lead-generation process started:

Content Marketing

Content marketing is an essential part of the inbound marketing method. This is how you attract, convert, close, and delight your ideal buyers. With content marketing you are creating and sharing interesting, relevant, and consistent content that adds value for your leads and customers. This content should not be purely promotional, but rather informative and compelling.

  

Here are some examples of content you can start creating today to help you bring in more leads:

  • Blogs
  • Images and Infographics
  • Videos
  • Podcasts
  • Presentations
  • E-books
  • Whitepapers
  • Case Studies

… and the list goes on! Consistency also important when it comes to content marketing. You need to maintain a consistent voice across content and publish often to hold your audience’s interest. Once you have content assets, you also need to have a plan for promoting them, whether that is through your website, social media, paid ads, or through some other promotional channel. If you want to continue to improve your content to maximize impact, you will also need to have a plan in place for monitoring content marketing success.

Search Engine Optimization

Search engine optimization is another important part of inbound marketing. If you want to bring more leads and consumers straight to you then you’re going to have to go through the search engines. In fact, 93% of all online experiences begin with a search engine. You cannot afford to miss out on that many opportunities to bring in new leads, so you need to optimize your content and website for search engines like Google.

The single most effective SEO technique is content creation. Though there are many intricacies involved with search engine optimization, one thing remains true – the more consistent and quality content you produce and promote, the better you will rank in the search engines. Though it is worthwhile for startups to work with an SEO expert to ensure that their site and content is optimized for search engines, you don’t have to have a complex SEO strategy in place to start creating the type of content that will help you generate more leads. Focus on creating quality content that emphasizes keywords and phrases in your industry. By creating content that addresses your consumers’ biggest challenges, you are already working toward content that adds value.

Email

Email marketing is another popular inbound marketing strategy that works well for startups. Here are just a few reasons why email marketing works:

  • It’s an easy way to stay connected and keep leads and customers informed.
  • You can drive sales with coupons and special promotions.
  • It’s an effective way to reach mobile users who are on-the-go.
  • Email integrates well with many other inbound marketing tactics.
  • Email marketing is inexpensive, which is great for startups with lean budgets.
  • It’s easy to deliver personalized and highly-targeted content through email.

Not only does email help you improve lead generation, but it is also a great tool for nurturing leads and current customers. Again, it’s important to provide your leads and customers with valuable and relevant content if you want to hold their interest.

Social Media

Startups can use social media to reach out to consumers who may be interested in their product or service. Social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are great places to promote your content and reach new audiences that you may not have been able to access through search engines alone. The key to effective social media marketing is to be social – respond to visitor questions, comments, and feedback. Don’t be afraid to spend some time in the comments section talking to your leads and customers. Not only will this help you establish better relationships with your followers, but it may also help you gain important insight into their needs, wants, and motivations.

When it comes to social media, do not try to be everywhere at once. Most startups have minimal time and resources to dedicate to tasks outside of their core business, so it’s not worthwhile to spend time on channels where very few of your ideal buyers spend time. Instead, focus on the social media platforms where you can have the biggest impact. Research which channels your target market frequents and which types of content are most popular and effective on these channels. Targeting your social media efforts will help you save time and money while maximizing lead generation success.

Landing Page And CTAs

Landing pages play an important role in guiding your leads toward conversion. Landing pages are web pages that help you capture a lead’s contact information through a lead-capture or conversion form. You can send leads to a landing page to redeem an offer or download unique content. Since landing pages allow you to target your audience and offer them something that they will find valuable, they often convert a higher percentage of your leads while allowing you to get important lead contact and demographic information.

Calls-to-Action also play an important role in lead generation and conversion. A CTA is just what it sounds like – it calls on your audience to take a specific action. CTAs can be used on your website and across content offerings to help drive visitors to the next step in the conversion process. The key to developing effective CTAs is ensuring that they are clear and specific so that there is no question about where you want your visitor to go next.

Combining Inbound Marketing with Paid Ads for Immediate Impact

There is no question that inbound marketing for startups can help you effectively generate more leads over time. However, some startups need to start seeing results sooner rather than later. Paid advertising campaigns can help amplify your inbound marketing efforts. By combining inbound campaigns with paid ads, startups can maximize their marketing spend and start seeing results much sooner.

Inbound Marketing + Social Media Ads = Winning Combination

Social media ads are one type of ad platform that can help you amplify your inbound marketing efforts. For example, let’s say that you have spent time and resources creating an interesting and valuable e-book that your target audience will really love. You’ve put the e-book up on your website and shared it across social, but you aren’t seeing the kind of traffic that you’ve hoped for with the e-book. It is most likely because you’ve just gotten started and your SEO and social media efforts haven’t had time to work their magic just yet.

Here comes paid advertising to the rescue! You know that many of your target buyers are on Facebook, so you can use Facebook advertising to target your ideal customers with an ad for your e-book. The ad takes them to a landing page where you gather their contact information in exchange for the e-book. Next thing you know, the leads are rolling in. Though these buyers were always interested in the type of content that you were providing, it just wasn’t visible to them until you invested in the paid advertising.

When Paid Search and Inbound Marketing Efforts Work Together Best

You have many paid ad platforms at your disposal, but one of the most effective digital marketing ad channels is paid search or pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. Here are just a few ways that paid search ads can support your inbound marketing strategy:

  • Boost traffic to inbound marketing materials. You can create a paid search campaign with keywords that center around your content offerings to increase traffic to these lead-generating inbound materials.
  • Fill in the gaps in your SEO. Search is highly competitive, and it sometimes benefits you to bid on keywords that your competitors are bidding on in order to let their audience know that you are providing an alternative.
  • Test new landing pages and keywords. When you develop new landing pages or consider new keywords that you’d like to rank for organically, you can use paid search ads for testing. Create paid search campaigns targeting your new keywords and direct them to the landing pages that you’re trying to test. Then, review the data to see where you stand.

The key to maximizing impact and spending your marketing budget wisely is being strategic in your approach to paid ads. Though you can work on developing PPC ad campaigns on your own, many startups will outsource PPC management to an agency. That is because there are many intricacies involved with paid search ads, and if you don’t know how to navigate the world of PPC, you may end up wasting a lot of time and money. It is often more cost-effective and efficient for startups to entrust a PPC agency with their paid campaigns.

The Common Challenges Start-Ups Face

When it comes to inbound marketing for startups, there are some common challenges that many entrepreneurs and startup marketers will face in getting their inbound campaigns up and going successfully:

Building a Conversation-Focused Website
It’s important for startups to create a website that encourages conversation while also clearly explaining your offering. Not to mention, you will need to optimize your website for SEO so that more consumers can find you in the search engines. There are a lot of moving parts to your website, and it takes time, expertise, and complete focus to ensure that all these pieces come together to create an effective website. Creating Good Content

Developing strong content is one of the most important parts of inbound marketing for startups. Creating a data-driven content strategy and consistently crafting informative, interesting, and useful content takes time. This is something that most startups just don’t have. Not only do many startups not have the time to research and write effective content, some also may not have a person on their team who is a talented and dedicated writer or content creator.

Building Effective Nurturing Campaigns

Once people are interested in your brand, you need to keep them interested. This is where nurturing campaigns come in. However, nurturing your prospects and encouraging repeat business from customers requires knowledge of things like email frequency, subject line optimization, and other marketing expertise that some startups may not have. Not to mention, nurturing campaigns require you to already have an established body of work to offer, which many startups don’t have either.

The Waiting Game

The truth is that inbound marketing for startups takes time. A lot of inbound tactics like SEO and social media need to be established early and given time to take root before a company can really start to see results. Most startups need to focus on their core business, and they may not be able to dedicate time to establishing and nurturing these inbound marketing strategies.

Conclusion

To overcome these challenges, entrepreneurs and startup owners can look to partner with an established inbound marketing company that has the time and resources to dedicate to their marketing efforts. Even those startups that have a lean marketing budget can work with an inbound marketing agency in the initial stages to ensure that they are on the right track for inbound success. In the end, inbound marketing will help bring more consumers to your brand through targeted content, which saves you the hassle and cost of finding new leads. Whether you hire an inbound marketing agency to handle all your marketing efforts or just get help with a few aspects, your startup with ultimately benefit from a team of dedicated professionals focused on your inbound marketing efforts.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

What Does A Biz Dev Person Actually Do?

What Does A Biz Dev
Person Actually Do?

Theory of Business Development
According to the Grand Unified Theory of Business Development, Biz Dev is simply about pursuing opportunities for long-term growth from customers, markets, and relationships.  Sounds simple enough, but has anyone ever set out to describe what a “Biz Dev Person” actually does?  How do they spend their day?  What should you look for when hiring someone for a Biz Dev role?While Business Development may still mean many different things to many different people, at its core I believe a Biz Dev job is focused on 3 activities:
  • Customers: Find new ones and extract more value from current ones.
  • Markets: Figure out where new customers “live” (both geographically and in terms of "buying mindset") and find a way to reach them.
  • Relationships: Build and leverage relationships founded on trust and integrity to facilitate opportunities.

“Well,” you might say.  ”That sounds pretty straightforward.” Yes, it does sound that way.  In the simplest of terms, business development may be about figuring out how to sell more to customers or finding new customers to whom to sell.  But to suggest that “that’s all there is to it” is to suggest that running a marathon just requires putting one foot in front of the other for 26.2 miles.  Of course, training for and running a marathon requires a unique approach to making sure you don’t peter out before the finish line.  Similarly, business development requires a unique combination of skills to ensure that the value you derive from an opportunity persists for the long haul:

The Biz Dev Skillsets: Strategy, Sales, and Relationship Management

  • Strategy: How should you go about pursuing an opportunity?  How do you know which path is best?  Just because an opportunity is in front of you, doesn’t mean it’s a good one.  Understanding the fundamental drivers of your business, and the business of your customers, partners, and competitors is critical to being able to make wise decisions in the pursuit of long-term value.  Being able to assess an opportunity for its potential to create long-term value, determine the paths available to you to pursue it, and understand the trade-offs and risks of one path vs. another, are core Biz Dev functions.
  • Sales: Whether you're selling a product or the idea of a partnership, almost every business development role has some element of sales.  The process of navigating through an organization, identifying decision-makers and uncovering their unmet needs, and concisely demonstrating the value of what you can offer are core sales skills needed whether you're selling a product, service, or partnership.
  • Relationship Management: From How to Win Friends and Influence People to Never Eat Alone, much ink has been spilled on the importance and value of strong, respect-based relationships.  Business development requires not only having an expansive network to help you facilitate a deal, but also a deep understanding of how to build and maintain new relationships to leverage them when needed.  Relationships with partners, customers, colleagues, and even the media, can all be crucial factors in not only getting in the door to a biz dev opportunity but keeping it open.

“Wait a second,” you’re asking.  ”You forgot about partnerships?  Isn’t business development all about partnerships?”  In short, no, it's not. Partnerships are a common course to pursue a given business development opportunity, but they are but one option amongst many when evaluating the path to creating long-term value.  And though scouting, signing, and developing partnerships is an everyday task in many business development roles, the skills required for partnerships are really an amalgam of all other Biz Dev skills – a mix of sales, relationship management, and strategy.  As frequently as they arise in the day job of business development, partnerships are only one potential outcome of Biz Dev done right.

How Biz Dev Roles Change by Company Size

Do the role of business development change as a company matures from a startup to enterprise?  Yes and no.  In the early stages of any company, the role of business development is often left to the founder, CEO, or an early hire.  The role of forging partnership deals does take on an increased priority, as the decision of which potential path to pursue an opportunity often favors the sharing of resources that's incumbent in partnerships.  But the day-to-day activities of business development remains the same: at a startup or a large company alike, whoever plays the role of "biz dev guy/gal" must be constantly evaluating the best path to create long-term value, whether it an option built in-house or pursued in partnership with others.

At larger companies, the role of business development may be divided across a broader array of individuals.  Sure, teams of people with "Business Development" on their business cards may focus on the full spectrum of activities, from sourcing business development opportunities to evaluating the opportunity's potential to create long-term value and following through on the execution.  But just as often, the individual functions of the business development role may be split across an organization: a member of the sales team may source feedback from customers, who passes along an opportunity to create a new product to the Product Management team, who works with Finance to size and evaluate an opportunity and Operations to assess the resources needed to pursue it.  Perhaps none of those individuals consider themselves to be serving a "Business Development" function, but in total they are a collective BD team that seeks to create long-term value for their organization in very much the same way as an individual who plays every part.

Pure Biz Dev

In my view, a “pure” Biz Dev job will have some combination of all of the above skillsets – identifying and strategically assessing an opportunity to create long-term value and then executing on a path to pursue that value.  But whether you're playing Biz Dev as a team sport or an individual contributor, the interplay between Strategy, Sales, and Relationship Management informs the potential for a company's growth path.   Business Development is a function that is varied, complex, and exciting – although the nature of Biz Dev may be ambiguous to some,  the importance of the role should be clear to all.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

Bitcoin vs Gold: Which is a Better for Long Term Investment

bitcoin v gold which is the better investment

Bitcoin vs Gold: Which is a Better for Long Term Investment

 

Imagine that you have $100,000 at your disposal. You must spend all of it on either bitcoin or gold – no mixing and matching – and the assets will then be stored in a trust that cannot be accessed again for 50 years.

Which option would you choose?

With the two commodities now in roughly the same price range, it's worth putting aside some of bitcoin's short-term volatility and liquidity concerns to compare them as long-term stores of value side by side.

Sure, you might argue bitcoin is newer and flashier, and that it has arguably more utility in the digital era than gold. But, gold has the indisputable track record, having been a cherished store of value for thousands of years across human civilizations.

However, bitcoin's traits have led to those backing the cryptocurrency to believe it could potentially unseat gold over the long haul.

Spencer Bogart, an analyst with Blockchain Capital and formerly of Needham & Company, told CoinDesk:

"If we think about the qualities that make gold a respected 'money' or store of value, bitcoin is actually superior in many regards."

Inflation vs deflation

Another key advantage bitcoin has over gold is that its supply level is fixed and transparent – eliminating fears of the typical inflationary pressures associated with overproduction that could diminish the value of the asset.

"A well-known characteristic about bitcoin is that it’s on a disinflationary supply schedule. While many people think of gold as being the same, gold is actually a sneakily inflationary asset," said Chris Burniske, blockchain products lead with ARK Investment Management.

Burniske added that the global supply of gold has clandestinely increased by 1–2% annually over the last century.

He continued:

"If you were to ask people what gold's supply schedule looks like over time, they probably wouldn't draw you something that looks like an exponential curve. With gold being sneakily inflationary, it’s not set up to preserve value in the way that bitcoin is."

Such characteristics, in theory, serve to increase bitcoin’s future utility as a means of account, exchange and storing value.

They also suggest that bitcoin's value, usefulness and importance to society will only continue to grow as commerce becomes more digitized.

"As more infrastructure is built around [bitcoin], we think that demand will rise relative to its mathematically metered supply, increasing its price support," Burniske wrote in a recent white paper.

Slow and steady

The clear advantages that gold has over bitcoin are trust and reliability, according to those surveyed for this article. However, a change in consumer preferences, new technological disruption or a crackdown by a government could easily kick bitcoin to the end of the bench.

"Gold has something very important that bitcoin lacks: a more than 1,000-year history of being a decent store of value. This is very important for trust and people's willingness to store value in that particular asset," said Bogart.

Gold has also proven itself to be of value even when governments attempt to restrict its usage or outlaw it completely.

This happened in 1933, when President Franklin D Roosevelt implemented measures to prohibit and criminalize its possession in the US.

"For more than 5,000 years gold and silver have been tried-and-true money. They've lasted basically the duration of organized civilization," said Dave Kranzler of Investment Research Dynamics.

In this light, Kranzler was keen to highlight bitcoin's 'counterparty risk'.

Gold's advantage over bitcoin is that it's not dependent on the operation of the internet, thus affording it a degree of protection from heavy-handed regimes, he said.

"There’s nothing to stop any government from shutting down the internet in their country under the guise of national security purposes or what not,” he said, adding:

"We’ve seen democracies come and go, but totalitarianism always seems to creep back in. And when that happens, the government controls everything."

Elemental value

Gold has also proven itself immune to technological disruption.

According to Burniske, while bitcoin has generated significant cultural cachet, it remains at the bleeding edge and could still be dethroned relatively easily.

"That position is not necessarily going to remain the case if bitcoin is not able to attract new users and provide a happy medium in terms of user experience," he said.

Yet, as asset classes like Dutch tulips, Japanese real estate, dot-com companies and the US housing market have boomed and busted, gold has consistently plodded ahead, withstanding the test of time.

"I don’t think anyone can say with any certainty that any man-made system is going to be valuable 50 years from now," said Josh Crumb, co-founder of GoldMoney and a former commodities strategist at Goldman Sachs.

He continued:

 

"People forget that gold is not a pet rock or a speculative asset, it's an element. Gold is a very low-risk store of value. Fifty years from now it’s going to still be valuable."

While investors like Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss have suggested that technological developments as far fetched as asteroid mining could eventually put upward pressure on the total supply of gold (and reduce its scarcity), Crumb reckons that technological creative destruction poses a much greater threat to bitcoin.

"People have been trying to crack gold for 600 years. I think it's much more likely that we're going to have quantum computing that can change cryptography than asteroid mining that's going to bring back loads of gold," he said.

Complementary or substitutionary?

Perhaps asking whether bitcoin will ever unseat gold as the universal store of value isn't quite appropriate, as it's plausible that the two can, and will, co-exist as complementary assets.

"I like bitcoin, particularly in the short-term, so it's kind of like saying 'Do you like gold or do you like investing in Facebook in 2011?'" said Crumb. "To me, it’s two totally different things."

As is standard practice across other realms of investing, the correct answer to the bitcoin versus gold question will ultimately be determined by the risk profile of each particular investor.

"In terms of proper portfolio construction, you want to diversify. You want to have different types of assets that don’t necessarily move together," said Burniske, concluding:

"There's always room for collaboration. It’s sensational to pit [bitcoin versus gold] as a fight to the death."
 

David Ogden
Entrepreneur
 

Author: Aaron Stanley

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

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