What We’ve Learned from Social Media in 2013

Social media has revolutionized our world, from the way friends interact with one another to the way businesses market their products and maintain their public image.

While social media has the power to reinforce a company’s core assertions and offer valuable social proof, it also has the power to wreak havoc on an organization’s brand image and cost countless hours in damage control. Here is a quick look at some of the things we have learned from social media in 2013, from the ways social media can help with marketing efforts to the pitfalls you should avoid.

Benefits of Social Media

When it comes to gaining exposure for your brand and engaging your target audience, social media presents a great opportunity for large businesses and blossoming entrepreneurs alike. Here are a few ways you can use social media to your advantage and watch your company’s reputation flourish:

 

  • Catchy communication: Twitter allows users to send short messages in order to engage with large audiences. Twitter gives companies a chance to write witty, catchy messages in 140 characters or fewer while simultaneously demonstrating their opinions and agendas by “following” other individuals and organizations. Twitter also allows companies to engage with individuals on their own turf by tweeting about current events, entertainment news, and other things that audiences care about.  Furthermore, Twitter allows companies to see what the public is saying about them and to respond when pertinent. Research some examples ofhow brands are using Twitter to their advantage and take notes on how you can do the same.
  • Power in numbers:  Simply having a lot of followers on Twitter or “likes” on Facebook can help reinforce your brand and convince others that your company is worthy of trust.  Some companies use contests or discounts as a way to gain more followers, often with instructions along the lines of: “Like this page on Facebook and get a free small pizza with your next visit.”

Social Media Mishaps to Avoid

Of course, while social media can be a powerful tool for helping improve your brand image, it can also be a powerful force in harming it. Here are a few common pitfalls to avoid when it comes to operating your organization’s social media accounts.

 

  • Oversharing: Oversharing on social media accounts can present a security threat, but it can also present the threat of alienating followers and potential customers. Some companies make the mistake of posting on social media too frequently, simply to gain brand exposure. While social media can be an excellent source of free advertising when used appropriately, oversharing is a surefire way to annoy customers and lose followers.  Make sure your company’s posts are either helpful or entertaining to social media users.This will make them more likely to engage with your posts or even share your posts with friends.
  • Insensitive newsjacking:  Newsjacking occurs when someone sends a message that piggybacks off a popular news story or trending event. This can be done tastefully and isn’t always a bad thing. For instance, when the power went out during Super Bowl XLVII, Oreo tweeted, “Power out?  No problem” with a picture of an Oreo in a dark area and the tagline “You can still dunk in the dark.” However, newsjacking can become negative when it is done insensitively and piggybacks off of a tragic event (for instance, many people were outraged when organizations newsjacked Hurricane Sandy for promotional purposes). It is important to think carefully before employing a newsjacking strategy and to pick a news story that is not too upsetting or controversial.
  • Refusing to reply to negative comments: Responding to negative comments and customer concerns can be a great way to defend your brand. Of course, not all comments deserve a response (for example, if they are inappropriate or unfounded), which is why it is important to create privacy settings on Facebook that allow you to approve comments before they are posted publicly on your wall. Still, a legitimate concern from a customer deserves a response and can serve as a great way to state your case and defend your company.

 

Stacey Waxman is a freelance writer with a focus on social media and marketing.  She can be found typing away on her laptop in cold Cleveland, OH. Stacey welcomes your feedback via email.

How Inbound Marketing Generates Qualified Leads

 

Inbound marketing is ideal for generating qualified leads, and we’ll tell you why.

First, targeted content ensures that you’re attracting the right type of people. Inbound marketing is all about knowing your ideal customer and developing content aimed specifically at that consumer group. This will keep unqualified leads from entering your sales funnel and ultimately wasting valuable time.

Secondly, you’ll save further resources by effectively measuring your company’s marketing efforts.  Inbound marketing tactics are unique in terms of their measurability. Want to know who’s visiting your website, how long they spend on each web page, and which CTAs they’ve clicked? No problem! Having all of this data at hand will only help you to strengthen your sales funnel and hone in on additional opportunities.

With this being said, here are 5 steps to filling your new sales funnel:

 

  1.      Develop a Marketing Plan

The first step is to establish objectives for your sales funnel. Understand which type of clients you’re trying to attract and what your ultimate sales goals are. Once you know this, you’ll be able to see which marketing avenues will best accomplish those objectives.

  1.      Create a Powerful Website

Before you begin going after clients, it’s a good idea to have a well established website in place. There’s a high chance that future prospects will visit your site prior to doing business with you. They’ll want to get a feel for your company and verify your credibility. With proper SEO, your website itself will also work to draw in leads.

  1.      Stay Social

Blogs and social media can help to attract potential customers. Write compelling content that provides value to your ideal consumer group and keeps them coming back for more.

A blog will aid in establishing you as an authority in your industry. (Writing blog posts around relevant keywords will help to make your content search engine friendly.) If you do this right, visitors will keep coming back for more information, pulling them further down the sales funnel. It may also help to comment on blog posts published by other relevant sources. People visiting those blogs will, then, see your comments and be drawn back to your site.

Many people don’t realize that social media presence is actually a large component of SEO. Not only that, but social media can allow visitors to get a grip on your brand’s personality and develop a relationship with the company. This presence will naturally channel more traffic to your website, too!

  1.      Encourage Referrals

If your company is doing its job well, many of your leads may come from referrals. This isn’t exactly a bad thing. Word of mouth is a powerful tool in that consumers are more likely to trust other consumers than they are to trust you. With this being true, there’s a good chance that these leads will actually convert into sales.

  1.      Reach Out

If all else fails, don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty. Do research to find potential clients that could actually use your help. Go out of your way to communicate with these people. That could mean sending them a handwritten greeting card or a small gift that provides value without asking anything in return.  Making this extra effort can leave a significant impression on the consumer by showing that you truly care.

Good luck in creating and filling your own sales funnels! If you’ve missed the first two posts in this blog segment, you can check them out below.

The Top 5 Sales Funnel Mistakes

How to Create and Maintain an Effective Sales Funnel

How to Create and Maintain an Effective Sales Funnel

The diagram above shows how Innovations’ various branding tools work together for the betterment of your business.  Increased visibility, stronger brand recognition, and a higher ROI are just a few of the benefits received!

There are 5 consumer stages to a sales funnel: strangers, visitors, leads/prospects, clients, and advocates. Converting a stranger into an advocate requires a concentrated effort on your part as a company.

At each stage in the process, certain actions should be taken to help move consumers along the funnel.

  1. Strangers

Begin by establishing an identity for your business. This should be done with the use of cohesive branding tools. Build your identity further by creating valuable content that promotes you as an authority in the industry.

  1. Visitors

Now, it’s time to publish and promote your content. Take time to surf the Internet, finding related blogs and social media posts on which to comment. Potential clients are probably reading these posts, so it’s a great way to grab their attention and bring them back to your site.

Additionally, allow social sharing of your content. The easier you make it to share your information, the more likely people are to do so. Never underestimate the power of word of mouth.

  1. Leads/Prospects

Learn more about your prospects and consistently publish content that’s in line with their search topics.  You’re working to build interest, which will hopefully result in a sale. Be devoted to these leads by catering content to fit their needs.

  1. Clients

Now that you have the consumer as an actual client, your goal is to drive repeat sales. Do this by capitalizing on your marketing and developing further relevance in the client’s mind.

  1. Advocates

To create a brand advocate, go the extra mile with clients by providing outstanding care and attention to their needs. Focus on helping them achieve relevant goals in their lives. Over-communication and personal support are of key importance at this point. Your aim is to build a relationship that the client believes he/she can’t live without.

You’re almost finished with your Innovations education on the power of sales funnels!  Last week, we discussed “The Top 5 Sales Funnel Mistakes”.  Our next post may be the most important of all.  Stay tuned to find out how to actually fill that sales funnel and bring in valuable customers!

 

The Top 5 Sales Funnel Mistakes

 

You’re probably familiar with the concept of a sales funnel. What you may not know is that several business owners and salespeople use this funnel incorrectly. Are you one of them?

Here are the top 5 sales funnel mistakes:

  1. Too Much Lead Generation, Not Enough Lead Management

Leads are great, but it’s not enough to have them just for the sake of having them. You want to make sure you’re acquiring qualified leads. These are people that have both a need for your product/service and the means to buy it. Such prospects are attained through targeted lead generation.

Once you have these eligible leads, take time to effectively manage them by nursing them through the sales funnel. The longer you wait, the less likely you are to convert them into sales. Pushing these potential clients to the side to focus on further lead generation will only result in a lower conversion rate.

  1. Not Properly Monitoring and Measuring Your Sales Funnel

All too often, companies focus on only the very top and very bottom of the sales funnel. They give little thought to the in-between stages.  This concept is called a funnel for a reason. Somewhere between the initial visit and final sale, you’re going to lose people.

How you handle this situation is what really matters. Monitor your funnel to see where leads are being lost. Look for trends. Measure how many prospects tend to drop off between stages. Then, use this data to fix any issues you see. Continual improvements to your sales tactics will lead to higher sales.

  1. Not Providing Proper Sales Training

Sales training should be given to more than just new hires. Even the most experienced salespeople and small business owners can benefit from a refresher course. Consumers, industries, technology…everything changes. Therefore, it’s crucial that your entire sales force is up-to-date on the latest information.  Miscommunications between sales representatives and potential customers can be detrimental to your business.

  1. Relying Too Much on Technology

There is only so much that technology can do. While CRM software is an asset for most businesses, there’s no substitute for an intelligent and responsive strategy based on actual human experiences. As a businessperson, it’s important that you understand the inner workings of your sales process.

You should be able to interpret what is happening at each stage and make appropriate adjustments. Certain CRM tools can be of assistance, but they shouldn’t be relied upon entirely.

  1. Having No Patience with the Process

Humans are often impatient; we want results overnight. Unfortunately, that’s not how the sales funnel works. It’s highly dependent upon your prospects.  While some people are quick to make purchase decisions, others like to draw out the process and consider all the alternatives.

For this reason, it’s important that you understand your ideal consumers. What are their needs, concerns, and typical pain points? How do they respond to various sales strategies? Once you can answer these questions, begin adapting your sales funnel accordingly.

Feeling a little lost or unsure about the use of sales funnels? Don’t worry. In our upcoming blog posts, we’ll discuss the proper way to build a sales funnel and how to go about filling that funnel. You won’t want to miss it!