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While many small business owners may understand the benefits of influencer marketing, the challenge is finding the right influencers with which to partner.

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It’s easy to look at a social media profile and be impressed by the number of followers the person has, or the beautiful aesthetic they created on their feed.

 

However, just because a profile looks like it’s a great fit for your brand, you don’t know for certain without checking thoroughly. This is why carrying out your own research and taking the time to build a relationship with influencers before making an investment is so important.

 

Taking the time to vet influencers will help you:

 

  • Increase the likelihood of positive ROI
  • Limit reputation damage
  • Reduce overall costs

 

I’ve outlined a few tactics that will help you to select the best influencers for your business and program.

 

Partner with content creators

 

Not all influencers are created equal. One group of influencers tends to focus on driving the numbers: building a large community with an extensive reach. Others focus on the creation of content. With the latter, community growth has come through followers’ appreciation for their dedication to becoming an expert at their craft.

 

Both types of influencers have value, but in different ways. An influencer will take your product/service and show their affiliation, hoping their audience will then go on to buy based on their endorsements.

 

Content creators tend to be more selective in who they choose to work with because of their dedication to maintaining the authenticity of their brand. Content creators bring additional value in the quality of content, as well as the loyal audience they have built in their follower base.

 

Creators tend to be much more involved in creating a collaborative partnership and using their skills to showcase the value of your product through their own content creation.

 

By focusing on collaborating with content creators who have built a highly engaged audience, your investment brings in influence and the creative skill to highlight your products and/or services in the best possible way.

 

Carry out extensive research

 

As great as the rise and benefits of influencer marketing has become, there is a downside. There are a number of accounts who have purchased fake likes, followers and engagement to appear influential when, in fact, they are not. Naturally, they don’t have any real influence over their community, therefore, investing in them can be very costly with no return to be made.

 

This means you need to carry out extensive research as part of the vetting process. It starts with studying their audience.

 

Here are a few key things to look out for:

 

Audience Authenticity

 

Look at their followers and following. Are the individuals real? Click through and pay close attention to the content and engagement of the influencer's followers. It should be very easy to tell who is real and who is not. Look for potential bot activity and fake followers. If a significant number of followers appear to be fake, this lets you know this influencer is not a good fit for your business.

 

Audience Demographics

 

Influence is the ability to alter behavior or change opinion. This is only valuable to you as a small business owner if it’s influencing the right people, i.e. your ideal target audience. Without the right audience fit it’s unlikely that, even with a strong influencer behind you, that you will be able to convert to sales.

 

An influencer will know their audience and they will easily be able to share this information with you. However, it’s important you take the time to research and verify this yourself. Take the time to manually go through the influencer’s account, paying particular attention to who is engaging most.

 

Don’t compromise on ‘good enough.’ It has to be natural for your brand, for the influencer, and for their audience. This is key in driving up your return on investment.

 

Level of Engagement and Sentiment

 

When looking at the engagement of an influencer, you don’t just want to focus on quantity. Pay close attention to quality. Are followers initiating conversations with the influencer? How excited are followers when they reply? Are they interested in taking advice and following the influencer’s behavior? Are the same people commenting on every post?

 

More importantly, is the influencer replying to comments and using them as a means to keep the conversation going? This will let you know how much the influencer is invested in their community and building strong relationships with them. 

 

If you are going to invest in someone to represent your brand, you want to know they care.

 

Organic vs. Sponsored Engagement

 

Paying close attention to the engagement an influencer receives provides a good general indication of how influential an account is. The real indicator is when you take a look at their individual posts. Specifically, focus on the engagement of their organic posts vs. sponsored posts.

 

It’s very easy to tell. If an influencer is following the correct guidelines, their post will say sponsored and typically include #ad. Plus, Facebook has the special “Branded Content” tag used in both organic posts and in ads. Instagram is rolling this feature out to more accounts. If you come across content that is clearly sponsored but isn’t clearly labelled, this is a big indication that this influencer is not a good fit.

 

You want to know that people are very engaged in the person behind the account and that content will generally perform as well whether it is organic or sponsored. If you see a significant drop in engagement on sponsored posts, this may be an indication that the influencer’s audience is not receptive towards their offers.

 

There are a number of tools that can help you with this process. For example, Social Bakers, Buzzsumo and BrandWatch are all popular options. These should be used to support your manual research.

 

Build a relationship with the Influencer first

 

Influencer marketing is collaborative. It requires both parties to be aligned and working towards a shared common goal. You want the collaboration to be fun. The influencer should feel like a natural extension of your team.

 

Take the time to get on a call or video chat a few times before committing to working together. Look for brand voice alignment. Determine if their beliefs and core values match yours.

 

Ideally, you want to be in a situation where you would each promote one another regardless of a paid agreement being in place.

 

Understand the Influencer’s past experience

 

Once you’ve established an influencer to be a good fit for your business, reach out and ask about the influencer’s experience. Having proof of past results is more valuable than looking at vanity metrics. It will show you the real ROI of working with them. Having achieved measured results for other clients eliminates the risk of your campaign not working.

 

The influencer’s past brand collaborations will help you cross check the quality of the influencer’s audience, skill level and their ability to execute your campaign.

 

Set clear expectations up front

 

One of the most challenging steps with influencer marketing is managing the relationship and managing expectations. This applies to both parties. It’s likely you have different ways of working. You need to ensure you both understand one another and collaborate to define the process you’ll both commit to executing.

 

Part of building a relationship early on will help with this. Do they turn up on time for meetings? Are they sticking to the same key messages? Do they speak with clarity and confidence? Do they bring creative ideas to the table that are win:win? Do you have clear expectations they have shared up front with you?

 

The level of professionalism that the influencer brings to the table will provide the confidence they will be able to execute on their promise.

 

Disclosure Regulations

 

As mentioned above, it’s critical the influencer you choose to partner with is aware of, and adheres to, the disclosure regulations of their jurisdiction. You have to protect your business. Find more information on the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) guidelines here.

 

Taking these steps before proceeding with an agreement with an influencer can help protect your brand and ensure you are building long-term collaborative partnerships with mutual gains. Take your time. Be selective. Follow a clear process and start building your business today with the right influencers in your corner.

 

    Related:

 

About Mari Smith

 

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Often referred to as “the Queen of Facebook,” Mari Smith is considered one of the world’s foremost experts on Facebook marketing and social media. She is a Forbes’ Top Social Media Power Influencer, author of The New Relationship Marketing and coauthor of Facebook Marketing: An Hour A Day. Forbes recently described Mari as, “… the preeminent Facebook expert. Even Facebook asks for her help.” She is a recognized Facebook Partner; Facebook headhunted and hired Mari to lead the Boost Your Business series of live events across the US. Mari is an in-demand speaker, and travels the world to keynote and train at major events.

 

Her digital marketing agency provides professional speaking, training and consulting services on Facebook and Instagram marketing best practices for Fortune 500 companies, brands, SMBs and direct sales organizations. Mari is also an expert webinar and live video broadcast host, and she serves as Brand Ambassador for numerous leading global companies.

 

Web: Mari Smith  or Twitter: @MariSmith

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Mari Smith to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Mari Smith is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Mari Smith. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

This year CBS set their prices at more than $5 million for a 30-second slot during the Super Bowl. That works out at about $175,000 per second—and that’s only the broadcast price. The production cost of those short creative movies can run from $1 million to another $5 million. It’s no wonder only giant brands get to put their products in front of the giant sports-loving audience.

 

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But you don’t need a budget the size of Budweiser’s to generate returns from video marketing. One of the reasons broadcasters charge so much is that the Super Bowl is a throwback. It’s the one time of the year when everyone sits in front of the television to watch the same show at the same time. The rest of the year, audiences are scattered across different channels. We watch different shows at different hours while struggling to avoid spoilers on social media.

 

That change has been good for small businesses.

 

They can find exactly the audience they want without having to pay vast sums to television networks. And advances in film-making technology means business owners don’t have to spend enormous amounts on production.

 

Although anything is possible now with video marketing, three formats stand out.

 

Commercials

 

The first is traditional. Script a commercial, rustle up people—actors if you can afford them, friends or colleagues if you can’t—and spend a bit of time shooting then editing. Upload the video to YouTube, Facebook or Instagram, and ask people to share it. The audiences you’ve already built on the Internet will see it. They’ll get the message and feel a deeper connection. If you’ve included a call to action, some of them may even act.

 

And if the commercial is funny, witty or extraordinary, it could even go viral, bringing you massive new audiences.

 

7 Tricks to Make Your Content Go Viral

 

Infomercials

 

You could also create infomercials, explaining the products you sell, or showing your customers how they’re made. Cosmetics firms have led the way, paying influencers to demonstrate their products.

 

Those approaches all look like traditional television. But online video has features television can’t match.

 

Live Video

 

Both Facebook and LinkedIn now offer live video. That means  you can talk to your audiences in real time – and they can talk back. As you’re broadcasting, they can write comments and ask questions. Instead of looking like the Shopping Channel, you can give the audience an experience closer to an in-store demonstration.

 

Videos for small businesses don’t have to be complex. Live video can also be spontaneous. Feel like talking to your customers? Pull out your phone, fire up your camera and shoot a selfie. Come across a great use of your product? Show it off. Meet someone who loves what you do? Pull out your phone and record them explaining what they like. Remember that live videos stay on websites and become recorded videos that continue to win engagement.

 

Those simple, short interviews are so simple. Whenever you find yourself having a chat with another expert in your industry, record them giving their top tip for whatever it is they do. The video won’t take more than a couple of minutes. It gives your audience useful content. It helps your colleague, who will now want to help you back. And it builds a deeper relationship with your customer who sees that you’re genuinely interested in your industry and in them.

 

And that’s really all you need to create effective video marketing for small businesses: a camera, a message and authenticity.

 

Read next:

 

 

About Joel Comm

 

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As an Internet pioneer, Joel has been creating profitable websites, software, products and helping entrepreneurs succeed since 1995. He has been at the frontlines of live video online since 2008 and has a deep expertise in using tools such as Facebook Live, Periscope, Instagram or Snapchat to broadcast a clearly defined message to a receptive audience or leveraging the power of webinar and meeting technologies.

 

Joel is a New York Times best-selling author of 15 books, including “The AdSense Code,” “Click Here to Order: Stories from the World’s Most Successful Entrepreneurs,” “KaChing: How to Run an Online Business that Pays and Pays and Twitter Power 3.0.” He is Co-Host of The Bad Crypto Podcast one of the top crypto-related shows in the world and has spoken before thousands of people around the world and seeks to inspire, equip and entertain.

 

Web: https://joelcomm.com/ or Twitter: @JoelComm

Read more from Joel Comm

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Joel Comm to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Joel Comm is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Joel Comm. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

Just when you’ve got a handle on marketing to millennials, it’s time to target a new demographic: Generation Z. Variously defined as born after 1996 or after 2000, by 2020, Generation Z will account for one-third of the U.S. population and almost 40% of U.S. consumers.

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While many millennials have early childhood memories of the analog age, Gen Z is the first generation to grow up in a totally digital world. What must you know to market to them?

 

Living life online: 45% of teens are online “almost constantly” and 44% are online multiple times a day, says Pew Research Institute. The most popular platform is YouTube (85% use it), followed by Instagram (72%) and Snapchat (69%). Tap into Gen Z’s passion for video with how-to, behind-the-scenes, or product videos.

 

Social selves: Gen Z consumers use social media to crowdsource information about products and get opinions from friends. However, they use the various social channels in different ways, according to Response Media: Instagram is for showing off their “aspirational selves,” Snapchat is for sharing “real-life moments,” and Twitter is where they get news.

 

Attention, please: 30%of Gen Z users abandon content after 5 seconds if it doesn’t deliver something of interest or value. This generation is constantly filtering a barrage of information. Get their attention with“snackable” information using visuals (memes, emojis, GIFs and videos) as the main focus and text as supporting information.

 

Under the influence: You don’t need to pay thousands of dollars for a celebrity influencer. Generation Z prefers “nano-influencers” (small-scale influencers with just a few thousand deeply engaged followers). Get new products into influencers’ hands and involve them in your marketing and events. Use tools like Audiense and SocialBook to find nano-influencers, or turn a passionate Gen Z customer into a nano-influencer for your brand.

 

Relationship goals: Engage with Generation Z on their level. Don’t talk down to them or at them. Use social media to ask questions, listen, learn more about them and become part of their world. So Gen Z can see what their peers think about your products, make user-generated content part of your social media presence. Get customers to post photos of themselves wearing or using your products. Ask for input about new products, brands to sell, or promotional ideas.

Honesty is the best policy: While millennials post carefully curated Instagram shots of their perfect avocado toast, Gen Zers are more likely to portray themselves realistically, flaws and all, on social media. They want you to be honest, too. Tell the story of your business and share yourself and your employees as the face of your business to create a personal relationship.

 

All are welcome here: The most ethnically diverse generation ever (according to Pew, nearly half are racial or ethnic minorities), Gen Z is also more fluid and accepting regarding gender and sexuality (35% know someone who uses gender-neutral pronouns). Show a wide range of people in your marketing messages, make sure your marketing is inclusive, and make all customers feel welcome in your space.

 

Traditional values: Growing up in the Great Recession, Gen Zers have a conservative attitude toward money that’s reflected in their passion for deals. The number-one reason they sign up for marketing messages is to get discounts and offers (and yes, they actually open their emails.) Provide value so they can feel their hard-earned money is being well spent.

 

Make it simple: Your digital marketing and sales strategy must be mobile first since that’s where Generation Z is most likely to engage. Make sure your marketing messages, offers, and customer experience are consistent across all your digital channels. Gen Z should be able to do anything, from browsing your products to placing an order, on a smartphone with one hand.

 

Read next:

6 Ways to Turn Millennials into Repeat Customers

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

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Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.

 

Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

In my last post focused on e-commerce, I talked about how local businesses are feeling the squeeze from giant online sellers. I explained that by offering personalized, in-store, local services, small businesses can make themselves a neighborhood institution in the same way Apple Stores do through informational events and services.

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It’s a huge advantage. Online businesses “know” their customers through the data they leave behind. Local businesses actually knowtheir customers.

 

The challenge that remains is marketing. Online businesses dominate search engine results, know exactly how to find people interested in their products on the Web, and have tactics in place to bring them to an effective landing page.

 

Offline, things are a bit more complicated. Local newspapers aren’t what they used to be. Local cable advertising lacks impact (and viewers) in the days of YouTube and Netflix. And as for direct marketing… well, spam folders weren’t the first places to store unsolicited pitches. There were trash cans long before email filters.

 

But there are some good solutions… and ironically, they’re online. Craigslistmight have killed off the classified pages in newspapers but it’s delivered an effective replacement. Amazon’s web traffic reporting platform ranks the site the 19th most popular in the U.S., with tens of millions of people each month browsing for used furniture, apartments and jobs, but also for wedding photographers, cars and computer repairs.

 

The site is highly competitive. Users expect prices to be low, and in busy areas in particular, ads are quickly pushed down the site. That means local businesses should use Craigslist to promote select items, tell people that they can find more in the store, and keep pushing new product or service listings onto the site on a regular basis to stay visible.

 

It takes effort but there’s a reason that classified advertising stayed so popular for so long. It works.

 

Next up: Facebook

 

The other effective online solution for local businesses is Facebook.

 

The social media platform might be better known for promoting online businesses, but it can also be highly effective for local offline businesses too. It happens in two ways.

The first is simply to advertise. Because Facebook lets businesses select the geographic location of potential customers, a local store can choose to only show its ads to people within a short drive of the shop. Wedding photographers, for example, have been known to advertise to engaged women in a radius of up to 50 miles. They reach exactly their target market.

 

That’s simple—and expensive—enough. Another route though is to join local Facebook groups. Local neighborhood committees often set up private members’ groups to keep people informed of events and news that affect everyone. People might talk about parking problems or lost pets, as well as garage sales and local services.

You do have to be careful here. These groups are set up for locals to talk to each other, not for businesses to pitch to customers but the organizers will often set aside one day a week on which businesses are allowed to advertise for free.

 

Obey the rules and make sure you’re only offering services that will benefit locals. If you’re a Realtor, for example, only promote properties in the neighborhood that serves that group. And be a good citizen of the group. Join in the discussions and give professional advice when you can.

 

The Internet has been difficult for local commerce. It’s pulled business away from bricks and mortar stores to sites like Amazon. But it can also be a route for local businesses to find local customers.

 

Learn more about connecting with local customers and watch stories of Atlanta and Nashville small businesses.

 

 

About Joel Comm

 

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As an Internet pioneer, Joel has been creating profitable websites, software, products and helping entrepreneurs succeed since 1995. He has been at the frontlines of live video online since 2008 and has a deep expertise in using tools such as Facebook Live, Periscope, Instagram or Snapchat to broadcast a clearly defined message to a receptive audience or leveraging the power of webinar and meeting technologies.

 

Joel is a New York Times best-selling author of 15 books, including “The AdSense Code,” “Click Here to Order: Stories from the World’s Most Successful Entrepreneurs,” “KaChing: How to Run an Online Business that Pays and Pays and Twitter Power 3.0.” He is Co-Host of The Bad Crypto Podcast one of the top crypto-related shows in the world and has spoken before thousands of people around the world and seeks to inspire, equip and entertain.

 

Web: https://joelcomm.com/ or Twitter: @JoelComm

Read more from Joel Comm

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Joel Comm to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Joel Comm is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Joel Comm. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

If I ask you if you’re using LinkedIn for your business, chances are you’ll make an awkward face. I can read your mind at this very moment: “Not really but I have a profile on there. Not sure why. Uh, market my small business?”

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I get it. You maybe haven’t heard much about whatto do on LinkedIn and I’m here to help. Here are some best practices for using LinkedIn for small business marketing.

 

Profile vs Group?

 

I’m asked whether companies should market on individual profile pages or create a special group instead. While some groups end up thriving, this requires a lot of maintenance. I don’t recommend groups unless whatever you sell really lends itself to a very active group-based interactive experience.

 

The challenge with marketing from only one profile is that it’s somewhat required that the profile you use be easily available to everyone who might want to contribute, and/or it changes the “feel” of the profile from being one person’s perspective to a corporate communications entity.

 

Instead, my recommendation is to have more than one LinkedIn profile of real people in the company post content and promote interactions in support of the company.

 

My old boss and friend Debbie Millin works at Globalization Partners, where she’s the COO. Her posts are a blend of personal business perspective (which is great because she’s the smartest boss I ever had), as well as pieces directly about the company including “We’re Hiring” reposts from the HR team and articles about the industry where her company interacts. There are several other individual profile pages from key team members at Debbie’s company and they all post their own content as well as share important company material.

 

 

What on Earth Should We Post?

 

Smile! First, I have to say it (and you’re reading it everywhere and trying to ignore it): video is hot. People are watching videos and posting a video is a surefire way to earn more engagement, even if the video is only the quality level of you holding your smartphone at arm’s length and talking into the camera. Video.

 

Give them knowledge. Second, thoughtful articles written on LinkedIn tend to do well if the topic is universal enough. Unless you have raving fans, no one cares about “Wanda’s Top 7 favorite pencil sharpeners.” But if you write about “The Ultimate School Supply Checklist for Fall,” you’re on to something. The more “evergreen” the article, the better. (Meaning it’s okay to write topically about current events, but it’s delightful to write posts that can still be useful a year or two later.)

 

Links are In. Post a few links here and there to articles you find interesting. People like to know what else is on your mind.

 

Shine the light. Here’s an easy and well-appreciated marketing tip: post thoughtful recommendations for other businesses and people in your local community. Maybe you sell tile and bath supplies. Do your “plumber of the month” or “interior designer of the month” profile. Write enough to praise the other person and promote their business without talking much about your company. People love the heck out of this. 

 

Share Educational Webinars. Invite people to a live webinar and/or take advantage of LinkedIn’s ownership of Lynda.com and Slideshare to create interactive learning products. That sounds fancy, but give people something they can do, step by step, using your product and post it on your profile.

 

Invite People to Live Events. Post invites to events in your offices or local community appearances. Tastings. Whatever you can manage. There’s nothing like a face-to-face engagement to make the digital world look even better.

 

Okay, so how often should you post?

 

A Simple LinkedIn Posting Calendar

 

You can edit this to match the needs of your business, but here’s my recommendation:

 

    • Post links to other people’s articles daily
    • Post a video once a week minimum. Better if you can post 3 videos a week
    • Post an article monthly (or more if you can muster it)
    • Do a profile of someone else monthly (unless you can manage weekly)
    • Share event invites whenever it makes sense. You can post reminders to the event 2 to 3 times as well
    • Avoid Monday morning posts - worst time ever
    • Avoid Friday afternoon posts - tied for the worst time ever
    • If you sell to a very specific time zone, 11am and 2pm are my magical posting times for businesses. Earlier and later for self-owned and customer experiences

 

Content Guidelines to Follow

 

The videos you post should be brief – no more than 12 minutes, no fewer than 2.

 

The articles you post can be brief or longer (200 words up to 1500 words).

 

With links, write about 30 words explaining why you’re sharing it or what to look for.

 

And with profiles, make them between 200 to 500 words with ample links to the person you’re writing about and any relevant links to their materials.

 

Add a call to action where it makes sense. Realize that if someone sees this content in their stream and they like it, they will click your LinkedIn profile icon to take a next step.

 

That’s my advice. Tailor content to fit your business, but don’t skimp on the parts you feel weird about. They’re maybe new to you but it doesn’t mean they’re not what people want.

 

Give it a try. What do you have to lose?

 

 

About Chris Brogan

 

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Chris Brogan is an author, keynote speaker and business advisor who helps companies update organizational interfaces to better support modern humans. The age of factory-sized interactions is over. We all come one to a pack. And it’s time to accept that we are all a little bit dented. Chris advisesleadership teams to empower team members by sharing actionable insights on talent development. He also works with marketing and communications teams to more effectively reach people who want to be seen and understood before they buy what a company sells.

 

Web: https://chrisbrogan.com Twitter: @ChrisBrogan

Read more from Chris Brogan

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Chris Brogan to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. The third parties within articles are used under license from Chris Brogan. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2019 Bank of America Corporation

How can a brick-and-mortar retailer convince e-commerce shoppers to get off their couches and into the store?

 

Even if you sell online as well as in-store, there are compelling reasons for cultivating in-store shoppers. Some 71 percent of shoppers spend $50 or more when visiting a brick-and-mortar store; just 54 percent do so when shopping online.

 

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And shoppers in physical stores buy more than the original item they intended to buy 75 percent of the time. In other words, in-store shoppers are highly profitable.

 

Getting e-commerce shoppers in your door is easier than you may think. Even though they make some purchases online, nearly 80 percent of consumers still shop primarily in brick-and-mortar stores. All they need is a little nudge.

 

Here’s how to deliver these customers to your store.

 

Use email and text message marketing. Direct messaging can be very effective at driving customers to a physical store. According to a report by Sailthru, 22 percent of consumers aged 35 to 44 have redeemed an emailed discount in a physical store; almost 40 percent of 18- t024-years-olds have visited a store to buy something promoted via push notification. Use data from customers’ past purchases to craft targeted messages and offers to entice them to your door.

 

Boost your presence online. Optimize your website for local search by ensuring your store’s listings in local search directories are up-to-date and complete. They should include your name, address, hours, phone number, images of your store and a link to your website; the description of your store should include relevant keywords. Since Google has become the primary place consumers look for reviews, encourage your customers to review your store on Google so people see a positive rating when your site pops up on Google.

 

Stay active on social media. A strong social media presence will boost awareness of your physical store. Use paid social media advertising to target shoppers who fit your customer profile and live near your store. You can also work with local social media influencers to publicize your store by inviting them to events or involving them in promotions.

 

Use your website to promote your store. Even if you sell products online, use your website to drive traffic to your brick-and-mortar store. Include photos of your store interior and displays, along with your address and a map, so people realize there’s a physical location to visit. Highlight the benefits of visiting your store, such as being able to test products or attend live events. You could even spotlight your newest products on your website but offer them for sale only in-store for the first week.

 

Hold offline-only promotions. Create different discounts and offers for your online and offline shoppers. For example, you could give shoppers who order online a code for a discount that’s good only in-store. Hold a flash sale in-store only or offer free gifts with purchase only to shoppers at your store.

 

Connect the online and in-store purchasing process. For example, offer the option to order products online and pick them up in store, and allow shoppers to return online purchases at your store. In both situations, shoppers typically do more than just pick up or return a product—they’ll browse and spend some extra money, too.

 

Use Google Shopping Ads. Since 87 percent of shoppers start their search for products online, grabbing their attention online can get them in your door. If a shopper sees you have the shoes they want in the size they want, they’re likely to buy from you rather than wait for online delivery: 73 percent of people who visit a physical store do so to get a product right away.  You can use Google AdWords campaigns to target people searching for products you sell or, even better, set up Google Shopping Ads to display a product photo, price, your store name and more. You’ll need a Google Merchant Center account and a Google AdWords account to get started. Learn more about Google Shopping Ads.

 

Driving e-commerce customers to your brick-and-mortar store strengthens your retail brand and gives you the best of both worlds.

 

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

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Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.

 

Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

Influencer marketing has evolved rapidly over the last few years. In fact, influencer marketing has become such a key growth strategy for businesses that the industry is estimated to reach up to $10 billion by 2020.

 

For a long time, influencer marketing was mostly associated with big brands and celebrities. The landscape is changing and, as individuals invest in building niche communities on platforms like Instagram, Facebook and YouTube, businesses are beginning to recognize their value.

 

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We are now seeing a new wave of micro-influencers leading the way, not only for the big brands but for small businesses looking to capitalize on the trend. 2019 Statistics show that 81% of all influencers are micro-influencers.

 

This has created a level playing field for small businesses with an opportunity to drive sales even in a local market.

 

In this article, I’m going to show you how you and your business can get started with micro-influencer marketing.

 

What Is A Micro-Influencer?

 

Just as it sounds, a micro influencer is a person that may not have the largest following on social media but the following they do have is highly engaged. This person has a lot of influence among their community and, as a result, that community is highly likely to listen and act when a value proposition is presented to them.

 

Eighty one percent of micro-influencers have between 15k and 100k followers but don’t let this deter you from partnering with audience sizes as little as 5000 followers.  A report by Gartner L2 showed there is actually an inverse correlation between the number of followers and the engagement rate in Instagram influencers.

 

This highlights a critical factor in the success of micro-influencer marketing. It’s not just about the size of an influencer’s audience, the quality of the audience is just as important.

 

What are the benefits of working with a Micro-Influencer?

 

It’s A Cost-Effective Marketing Strategy

 

One of the biggest challenges that businesses face is finding their target audience and earning their attention. To do this exclusively in-house can be costly and extremely time-consuming. It can take months, if not years, to build an engaged audience who buys into your messaging and your product offering.

 

Micro-influencers have already done all the work. You have instant access to a highly-engaged, targeted audience. That’s hugely valuable especially in a local market.

 

While some micro-influencers still accept product in exchange for their endorsement, most now require compensation for their work.

 

The cost of influencer marketing varies greatly based on a number of factors including the influencer’s social reach, the type of sponsored content and the length/ frequency of your arrangement.

 

A report by Later (2018) stated 66% of businesses paid under $250 per influencer post, while 27% paid between $250 and $1000 per post.

 

Influencer Marketing Hub created an Instagram Money Calculator to help calculate how much an influencer’s post is worth. Whilst this shouldn’t be used to define an influencer’s compensation plan, it can provide a generalized overview. For the most part, micro-influencers will have their own media kits and pricing structures in place.

 

As a general guide, you can expect to pay anywhere between $75 and $2000 per post depending on the value that micro-influencer brings.

 

With that in mind, micro-influencers can be far more cost-effective than if a business were to grow organically by themselves.

 

Social Proof leads to Sales

 

Sixty one percent of consumers aged 18 to 34 have, at some point, been swayed in their decision-making by digital influencers.

 

Micro-influencers have already earned trust among their community. That social proof carries a lot of value when it comes to the follower making a positive buying decision.

 

Fullscreen, a global leader in social-first entertainment and branded content, partnered with leading social analytics firm Shareablee, to analyze 31,000 influencers. In their report, they discovered 22% of 18-34 year-olds have made a large purchase after seeing an online influencer endorsing the item. With the right micro-influencer(s) working with you, this strategy has the potential to generate large returns on your investment.

 

Influencer Marketing is Scalable

 

Micro-influencers act like your own marketing and sales team combined. They have their own audiences and they know what works in terms of engaging and converting that audience into sales. Brand campaigns driven by micro-influencers are estimated to create 60% higher engagement rates.

 

Micro-influencers don’t require the management of an inhouse team and they already have a community of warm leads. Deploying effective marketing campaigns and consistently generating leads are two of the biggest challenges small business owners face, which makes micro-influencers a huge asset to small businesses especially on a local level.

 

Influencer marketing is scalable. While it requires a financial investment, the right micro-influencers will quickly generate a return and dramatically build your brand’s awareness and reputation.

 

How to Get Started Working with Micro-Influencers

 

Getting started with micro-influencers is simple but not always easy. Here is a basic checklist for you to follow:

 

      1. Create a strategic plan with clear objectives you want to achieve.
      2. Make a list of potential micro-influencers to start exploring.
      3. Reach out to start building a relationship. Make sure your approach is very win/win as the micro-influencer may receive numerous invitations to partner with brands on a regular basis.
      4. Invite the micro-influencer to consider collaborating with your business.
      5. Draw out a written plan with clear terms and conditions to protect both parties.
      6. Set a time period initially to establish success markers.

 

This sounds straightforward, but it does require a lot of work and there are a few best practices to follow.

 

 

Best Practices for Micro-Influencer Marketing

 

1. Find Relevant Influencers

 

It’s really important to keep your end goal in mind when it comes to finding influencers with whom you can partner. You’re not looking for just anyone, even if they have an engaged audience. It has to be the right demographics that fit your target audience.

 

Positioning is key. You are looking for local influencers who have a loyal following that matches your target market.

 

This way, when the influencer presents your business and call to action, you are going to see some traction and a profitable return on your investment.

 

The easiest way to find relevant influencers is to spend time researching the platform on which you and your audience is most active. Search locations, hashtags and mentions to find out where the conversations are happening. Once you find potential micro-influencers, monitor their profile and their interactions closely. Look for the quantity but more importantly the quality of engagement on each post.

 

By investing time up front, you will ensure that you find micro-influencers that are a good fit for your business. Not only will it save you time long-term, it can save you a lot of money working with people who aren’t a fit and perhaps don’t carry the influence you initially thought.

 

2. Ensure the Authenticity of Micro-Influencers

 

As influencer marketing has grown, so have the number of companies looking to capitalize on the trend. In 2018, the extent of influencer fraud was exposed as thousands of accounts were found to be buying likes, follows and engagement to appear as though they had gained influencer status.

 

Captive8 reported that of the $2.1bn spent on influencer-sponsored Instagram posts in 2017, more than 11% of engagement on those posts was generated from fraudulent accounts.

 

This is a big problem. While technology companies are working to combat this by launching AI-focused tools, influencer marketing fraud still remains a huge issue.

 

Ninety percent of Marketers believe proving authenticity is critical to the future of Influencer Marketer.

 

For you, as a reputable business, it’s imperative that you do your research and establish the validity of an influencer before jumping into a relationship with them.

 

Monitor their account, check the quality of their audience and their engagement. Look for sponsored posts and how the traction gained in quality likes and comments.

 

When reaching out, ask for case studies and past results that you can cross-check. Also ensure that the micro-influencer is following FTC Guidelines.

 

It’s important to keep in mind that micro-influencers want to ensure the authenticity of your brand and products. Influencers promote what they trust. Take time to share with them and provide samples when appropriate. Micro-influencers have earned a loyal audience and protecting that audience is their responsibility.

 

3. Measuring the ROI of Micro-Influencers

 

One of the biggest challenges for businesses investing in micro-influencers is measuring the return on investment. As a business owner, you want to know that your marketing strategy is working and delivering results.

 

Eighty five percent of marketers say engagement data is the biggest metric of success for influencer marketing. Forty six percent of marketers are using product sales to measure the success of influencer marketing.

 

Both are valid measures. These are three key areas you want to track:

 

        1. Engagement:cThis is typically measured in new followers, likes, comments, shares, mentions, and all other forms of engagement with your business as a result of working with a micro-influencer. The return here is in brand awareness and growth. You should see a spike in engagement each time the micro-influencer shares your brand. This is a simple way to visually see the impact your micro-influencer has.
        2. Content: This metric is made up of comments, shares and sentiment of the paid posts. It helps establish whether the content fits with the audience and the objective. This may be an indication to try a different type or style of content that may resonate better.
        3. Sales: You can track this by providing affiliate urls, influencer exclusive discount codes and monitoring google analytics so that you can measure the sales each micro-influencer has brought to your business.

 

If you’re a small business owner, micro-influencer marketing can offer a lot of value and certainly has the potential to drive big sales in your local market. It just takes the right research, the right influencer, and the right partnership.

 

About Mari Smith

 

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Often referred to as “the Queen of Facebook,” Mari Smith is considered one of the world’s foremost experts on Facebook marketing and social media. She is a Forbes’ Top Social Media Power Influencer, author of The New Relationship Marketing and coauthor of Facebook Marketing: An Hour A Day. Forbes recently described Mari as, “… the preeminent Facebook expert. Even Facebook asks for her help.” She is a recognized Facebook Partner; Facebook headhunted and hired Mari to lead the Boost Your Business series of live events across the US. Mari is an in-demand speaker, and travels the world to keynote and train at major events.

 

Her digital marketing agency provides professional speaking, training and consulting services on Facebook and Instagram marketing best practices for Fortune 500 companies, brands, SMBs and direct sales organizations. Mari is also an expert webinar and live video broadcast host, and she serves as Brand Ambassador for numerous leading global companies.

 

Web: Mari Smith  or Twitter: @MariSmith

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Mari Smith to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Mari Smith is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Mari Smith. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

Online shopping just keeps growing. Last year, U.S. consumers spent over $513 billion on the Internet, an increase of more than 14 percent compared to 2017, according to figures released in March from the U.S. Department of Commerce. Almost one retail sale in ten now takes place online.

 

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Those changing consumer habits are a challenge for small businesses and not just because every seller has to build an ecommerce store. Do-it-yourself website building kits now make designing a retail site the work of no more than a few hours.

 

The challenge for small businesses is that, while more than half a trillion dollars may be changing hands online every year, some 40 percent of those sales take place on just one site.

 

Amazon dominates online retail. The $867 billion company is more than a store. It’s a complete retail center serving over 150 million unique visitors each month. Its own sales make up much of that retail space but through its Amazon Marketplace feature, Amazon also hosts the online outlets of around six million other sellers. They’re said to make up more than double the value of Amazon’s own sales.

 

Essentially, Amazon is the world’s biggest shopping mall.

 

The good news is that any retailer can take space in that mall. For professional sellers, there’s a monthly subscription fee of $39.99, as well as referral fees that are typically between 8 and 15 percent of the sales price (although they can reach as high as 45 percent.) Retailers can fulfill orders themselves or they can ship stock to one of Amazon’s warehouses and let the company do the fulfillment work for them. (I use Amazon to fulfil orders of my Kaching buttons.)

 

The challenge of online retail isn’t building the website. It’s finding customers and building enough trust to make them comfortable entering their credit card details.

That’s what Amazon’s fees buy. When someone searches for your goods at Amazon.com, your products will appear in their search results. They’ll appear at a place where customers are used to shopping. It’s likely that the customer won’t even notice that they’re buying from a third-party retailer instead of from Amazon itself.

 

For online sellers, Amazon doesn’t have to be a competitor. It can also be a partner, helping you to sell your products to the massive audience that it’s already created.

But it’s not quite that simple. Amazon’s benefits come at a cost, and those costs are more than financial.

 

First, the competition is tight. You won’t be the only seller in your space pitching your goods through Amazon Marketplace. To stand out, you’ll need to keep adjusting your prices to keep them competitive. You’ll also need to pick up positive reviews, and, while you can pay for a higher spot in the search results, that expenditure comes on top of your referral fees.

 

Second, you’ll be at the whim of Amazon’s bureaucracy, including a judicial system that has been described as “Kafkaesque.” Amazon is quick to suspend sellers while its appeal process can be difficult and unresponsive. That’s made the marketplace a battleground for dirty dealers whose tricks have included buying fake reviews for competitors, setting competitors’ products alight then telling Amazon they exploded, and reclassifying rivals’ products in the wrong categories. There’s an entire industry of experts and consultants helping businesses with their appeals. Amazon Marketplace can feel more like a Wild West town ruled by a despotic sheriff than the Mall of America.

 

But above all, selling on Amazon Marketplace gives your customers fewer reasons to come to your own website where you have complete control. There are no competitors on your own site. The customer loyalty you win is entirely your own, and you don’t have to deal with Amazon’s strange appeals process.

 

Amazon Marketplace is too big to ignore. But its size and power make it unlikely to be a reliable environment for small sellers. Use it if you believe it will bring you extra sales but make sure that it’s not the only way you reach customers.

 

Read next: The Secret to Competing with Amazon by Steve Strauss

 

 

About Joel Comm

 

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As an Internet pioneer, Joel has been creating profitable websites, software, products and helping entrepreneurs succeed since 1995. He has been at the frontlines of live video online since 2008 and has a deep expertise in using tools such as Facebook Live, Periscope, Instagram or Snapchat to broadcast a clearly defined message to a receptive audience or leveraging the power of webinar and meeting technologies.

 

Joel is a New York Times best-selling author of 15 books, including “The AdSense Code,” “Click Here to Order: Stories from the World’s Most Successful Entrepreneurs,” “KaChing: How to Run an Online Business that Pays and Pays and Twitter Power 3.0.” He is Co-Host of The Bad Crypto Podcast one of the top crypto-related shows in the world and has spoken before thousands of people around the world and seeks to inspire, equip and entertain.

 

Web: https://joelcomm.com/ or Twitter: @JoelComm

Read more from Joel Comm

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Joel Comm to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Joel Comm is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Joel Comm. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

In a previous article, I discussed how product-based businesses can sell on Instagram. For service-based businesses, the rules and opportunities to sell on Instagram are a little different. 

 

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Regardless of what you are trying to sell on Instragram, here’s what you need to know and some key steps you can take.

 

Add your contact details on your Business Profile

 

When you switch to a business profile, you not only access profile analytics, you are also able to add your contact information. When you add contact information, a Contact button appears near the top of your profile. When people click that button, they'll see options like Get Directions, Call and Email, depending on the contact information you provide. If you add your location, you’ll have a clickable business address, which is ideal if you have a physical office or store.

 

Your interactive contact information provides the community with a way to reach you and take the next step, whether that is to ask a question, find out more information or book an appointment. You can also promote a call to action at the end of your Instagram post captions.

 

Make strategic use of the link in your bio

 

You get one clickable link in your Instagram bio, so it’s important to make the most of it. You can either use it to lead visitors to a specific call to action, such as a lead magnet or sales page.  Alternatively, you can use a third-party app to include multiple calls to action.

 

Examples include:

 

Later provides one link you add to your Instagram bio that opens a new page with your posts. Your audience can then click on each post to go directly to a specific landing page. This feature is only offered on paid business plans for Later.com.

 

Linktree is a free alternative that allows you to add multiple CTA links from one link shared in your Instagram bio. The paid plan has additional features, too. I personally use this one and really like it.

 

An alternative idea for small businesses looking to market services is to set up a dedicated page on your website just for Instagram visitors, e.g. domain.com/Instagram. Here you could share your main offers or exclusive bonuses for those visiting via Instagram. This is a great way to let your Instagram community know how much you value them. Platform-exclusive content and bonuses also incentivize your community to stay engaged.

 

It’s a good idea to reiterate your call to action in your bio description too. This will prompt new visitors, in particular, to take action especially if it’s in exchange for value, e.g. a lead magnet.

 

Showcase your services in action

 

The best way to let your community know why they should buy your services isn’t to tell them. It’s to show them. Create a content strategy that inspires and educates your audience on the services you provide.

 

Use your post captions to tell stories and connect with your audience. Relate to how they feel and use your services as the bridge that guides them from where they are now to where they want to be.

 

Ask for reviews from your past clients. Showcase these in your Instagram posts and Stories. Share before/after photos, results, testimonials and case studies throughout your profile and in your Instagram stories.

 

This generates social proof and creates excitement around the solution you provide. When you see someone else just like you experiencing great benefits, you want those same benefits for yourself.

 

While service providers can’t create shoppable posts, they can add a small pricing overlay graphic using a tool like Picmonkey or Canva. Used in conjunction with a well-crafted call to action at the end of your caption and the link in your bio provides a very effective way to promote your services.

 

Publish Stories regularly

 

As Mark Zuckerberg has said, ‘Stories are the future!’

 

Think of Instagram Stories as an on-the-go vlogging (video blogging) platform. Stories are your opportunity to connect with your audience via video and images to help them really get to know you. This is important because we all know that people do business with other people they know, like and trust.

 

There are so many ways you can use the Stories format to sell your services:

 

    • Share insight into what goes on behind the scenes, so people can see all the work that goes into creating and providing your services.
    • Host a Q&A through the Stories questions sticker feature and answer any objections that might be standing between your audience buying and not buying your services.
    • Conduct market research through the Polls sticker feature to understand how to best serve your audience.
    • Share tips and how to’s that leverage your credibility as an expert in your field.
    • Provide exclusive offers and discounts that create buzz and a sense of urgency to buy now so your audience doesn’t lose out.
    • Go Live on Instagram and start a conversation. You can even invite members of your community to join you live on camera via their smartphone, too. Going live and including your audience helps create a deep, meaningful and transparent relationship with your audience members. Live broadcasts build loyalty that will not only create customers, but it will create brand advocates. When you invest in others, they will invest in you and they’ll tell their friends to do the same.

 

          Related: 5 Ideas to Use Instagram Stories to Drive Small Business Growth

 

If you have over 10,000 followers on Instagram, you’ll have the option to add links to your Stories via the ‘swipe up’ feature, as indicated by the little link icon on your Stories. Being able to include links with a call to action helps to lead your viewers outside Instagram to an offer/sales page.

 

If you have less than 10,000 followers, you can still include the swipe up feature that goes to a video on IGTV. IGTV is Instagram’s dedicated vertical video app where you can publish longer video content.

 

Unlike the main Instagram app, any links in your caption or comments on IGTV are active. So, using your Stories, you can drive people from there to consume slightly longer video content and from there to an offer page on your website.

 

Use hashtags and locations

 

Make sure you incorporate hashtags, locations, and the tagging feature into your posts to make it easier for people to find you when searching for your area of expertise. Instagram posts with at least one hashtag have 12.6 percent more engagement than those without, while posts with a location get 79 percent more engagement.

 

You can include as many as 30 hashtags in each post. Instead of just describing your post with hashtags, think of the specific hashtags your customer might type into the search bar.

 

For example, if you are a carpenter, you wouldn’t just add #carpentry to your post. You’re more likely to benefit from adding hashtags such as #interiordesign, #decoratingtips, #movinghouse, and #newhome with a particular location tag. Why? Because women looking for inspiration on how to decorate their new home are more likely to find your post with these types of hashtags.

 

Along with searching in the Instagram mobile app, also try a tool such as Hashtagify.me to discover more relevant hashtags for your posts. Remember to also include a few hashtags in your Stories!

 

Place Instagram ads

 

Instagram allows you to create 4 main ad types:

 

    • Photo ads
    • Video ads
    • Carousel ads
    • Story ads

 

Once you’ve chosen the type of ad that will give you the result you’re looking for there are a variety of calls to action from which to choose. With the right content and the right targeting, Instagram ads are a fantastic way to drive traffic to your website, a lead page or a sales page at a relatively low cost. 

 

Access Instagram ads via Facebook Ads Manager, or just tap the ‘Promote’ button on an existing post on your Instagram profile.

 

To promote a Story directly from the Instagram app, tap the 3 dots in the lower right of the Story, then tap Promote.

 

Related:

The Best Performing Facebook Ad Formats for Small Business

Instagram and Facebook Story Ads: How to Make Stories Work for your Small Business

 

While Instagram primarily started out as a photo sharing app focused on community, it’s safe to say that social commerce is now at the forefront of Instagram’s product development. We will continue to see the platform grow and change to support event better methods of helping businesses find and sell to their customers, and small businesses should prepare for that future now.”

 

About Mari Smith

 

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Often referred to as “the Queen of Facebook,” Mari Smith is considered one of the world’s foremost experts on Facebook marketing and social media. She is a Forbes’ Top Social Media Power Influencer, author of The New Relationship Marketing and coauthor of Facebook Marketing: An Hour A Day. Forbes recently described Mari as, “… the preeminent Facebook expert. Even Facebook asks for her help.” She is a recognized Facebook Partner; Facebook headhunted and hired Mari to lead the Boost Your Business series of live events across the US. Mari is an in-demand speaker, and travels the world to keynote and train at major events.

 

Her digital marketing agency provides professional speaking, training and consulting services on Facebook and Instagram marketing best practices for Fortune 500 companies, brands, SMBs and direct sales organizations. Mari is also an expert webinar and live video broadcast host, and she serves as Brand Ambassador for numerous leading global companies.

 

Web: Mari Smith  or Twitter: @MariSmith

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Mari Smith to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Mari Smith is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Mari Smith. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

When small businesses add content to their social media campaigns, they’re looking to do two things:

 

1. They want to talk to the audiences they already have. They want to remind customers that they’re still there, that they still speak their language, and that those customers should buy from them again soon

 

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2. They also want to reach new audiences. They want that content to spread from their core audience to new potential customers.

 

One of the most effective ways to achieve both goals simultaneously has sprung up recently in the form of memes. Memes are easily recognizable visual gags that are customized and shared online. If you remember the Distracted Boyfriend or Grumpy Cat or the Success Kid baby pumping his fist, you’ll know exactly what I mean. The images are funny and anyone can crack their own joke by adding to the text.

 

The meme becomes the center of an international conversation, like people sitting on a giant, global sofa, getting laughs by riffing off each other’s jokes.

 

How can memes be used in marketing?

 

The power of those memes to reach millions, to stick in people’s minds, and to engage them actively is a huge opportunity for brands. A business that can put its brand at the center of the conversation around a trending meme can generate millions of dollars’ worth of free reach.

 

It’s no surprise that big brands have hired savvy social media experts to generate applicable memes. Netflix, for example, has it easy. The company has access to massive amounts of visual content that it can use to create shareable memes of its own, and it does so. But those memes are often less effective than the images created by the company’s customers which it then shares.

 

In principle, anyone who creates those memes breaches Netflix’s copyright. But Netflix certainly doesn’t care. It’s getting free publicity and an army of smart, witty people creating marketing content for nothing.

 

Few companies have a library of visual content as rich as Netflix’s but it’s also possible to create your own focus for memes. When the Philadelphia Flyers rolled out Grittyas their new mascot, they might not have intended to create a meme theme but that was the result. The orange, dumpy monster quickly appeared in a host of memes created and shared by fans, and even by people who couldn’t tell one end of a hockey stick from the other. Each time Gritty appeared in a meme, the brand image spread further across the Internet.

 

It’s not an easy model to copy. But it’s not impossible. There’s no reason that other businesses can’t have mascots, cute logos, or any other image that people might want to share.

 

The problem, of course, is that memes are never entirely in the control of the brand. Once you hand over an image to audiences, there’s no knowing how it will end up or how people will use it. Taco Bell has worked hard at using memes as part of its advertising campaign, even putting meme-style ads on billboards. But those fake memes always came across as a bit cheesy while the audience-generated memes about the “explosive” power of a Taco Bell meal were much wittier. They might have put the brand’s name in front of far more people, but sometimes it’s just not true that all publicity is good publicity.

 

How can I leverage memes for my own small business?

 

If you’re looking to create your own meme, pick a visual gag that your audience can relate to. Tie that gag to some element of your brand: its sassy attitude, for example, or its laid-back coolness. Seed your social media platforms with your content and hope that it takes off.

 

And bear in mind that if it does, whatever happens next is out of your hands.

 

 

About Joel Comm

 

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As an Internet pioneer, Joel has been creating profitable websites, software, products and helping entrepreneurs succeed since 1995. He has been at the frontlines of live video online since 2008 and has a deep expertise in using tools such as Facebook Live, Periscope, Instagram or Snapchat to broadcast a clearly defined message to a receptive audience or leveraging the power of webinar and meeting technologies.

 

Joel is a New York Times best-selling author of 15 books, including “The AdSense Code,” “Click Here to Order: Stories from the World’s Most Successful Entrepreneurs,” “KaChing: How to Run an Online Business that Pays and Pays and Twitter Power 3.0.” He is Co-Host of The Bad Crypto Podcast one of the top crypto-related shows in the world and has spoken before thousands of people around the world and seeks to inspire, equip and entertain.

 

Web: https://joelcomm.com/ or Twitter: @JoelComm

Read more from Joel Comm

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Joel Comm to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Joel Comm is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Joel Comm. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

As a small business owner, you want to make sure your business is as profitable as possible. But higher profit margins don’t just happen. Instead of hoping for good fortune to bring you more profit, make these smart moves to keep more of the money your business makes.

 

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1. Know your profit margins. “What gets measured, gets managed” is a business truism. Knowing what your margins are is essential to improving them and will allow you to accurately calculate how taking actions such as raising prices will affect your margins.

 

2. Look for places to cut costs. Focus on costs that don’t add value for your customers. Start by looking for wasted money, such as memberships to groups you no longer attend or excessive spending on office supplies. Cutting even small unnecessary costs over time can make a big difference.

 

3. Raise prices. It’s the easiest and fastest way to boost profits. You’d be surprised at the difference a price increase of 10 percent, 5 percent or even 3 percent can make to your margins—and most customers won’t even notice.

 

4. Streamline your payment processing and invoicing. Invoicing customers as soon as possible avoids payment delays so you get your money faster and it can work harder for you.

 

5. Negotiate with your vendors. Can you get lower prices from your vendors—perhaps by paying early or paying in cash? Finding a win-win arrangement with vendors can mean more dollars in your pocket.

 

6. Reassess insurance costs. Shop around for health insurance, business insurance and vehicle insurance. See if increasing your deductible or adjusting your coverage will reduce your premiums.

 

7. Consider relocating your business. Can you move to a more affordable location? Could you run your business from home and have your employees work remotely?

 

8. Reduce excess inventory. The cost of carrying inventory that’s past its prime can eat up your profits. Consider selling it to liquidators or posting it on sites like eBay.

 

9. Track the cost of customer acquisition and work to reduce it. Monitor the results of your marketing and advertising activities so you can focus on those that deliver the most bang for your buck.

 

10. Identify high-value customers and focus on them. Use customer relationship management (CRM) or customer loyalty software to pinpoint which customers spend the most with your business. Give them the VIP treatment and see if you can get them to spend even more.

 

11. Get existing customers to buy more and more often. Acquiring new customers is more costly and time-consuming than convincing existing customers to buy from you again. Develop a marketing campaign to turn first-time buyers into loyal customers.

 

12. Narrow your target customer focus. If you try to be everything to everyone, your business will lack an identity. Instead, laser-focus on your ideal target customer and how to deliver value to them. You may have fewer customers, but you’ll sell more to those you have.

 

13. Upsell and cross-sell. Don’t stop with closing the sale. Offer related products or services, warranties, service contracts and other value-adds that increase your profits.

 

14. Set up automatic re-ordering or subscription options for customers. If you can make buying more convenient for consumers, they are more likely to become loyal customers.

 

15. Spend your time where it matters. As a small business owner, your time is valuable. Focus your efforts on profit-generating activities, not on managing minutiae.

 

16. Look for places to automate your business. For example, using marketing automation software to respond to leads or a virtual assistant to schedule meetings can free up time for you and your team have more time to focus on profit-generating work.

 

17. When an employee quits, don’t fill the position right away. See if you can automate the work or distribute it among remaining staff members.

 

Increasing your profitability is a never-ending battle. Stay on top of your business’s cash flowand watch your profit margins closely. Then you’ll be able to spot new opportunities to bring home even more profit.

 

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

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Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.

 

Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

Did you know that food is the No. 1 most engaging topic when it comes to video content on Facebook? There are quite a few things we can all learn from these drool-worthy posts about how to drive engagement, whether you run a restaurant, sell food, or, frankly, other goods.

 

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Our friends at BuzzSumo conducted a study of over 100 million Facebook video posts and discovered that videos related to food generated 250 percent more engagement than other content types.

 

In another study of over 777 million Facebook posts, BuzzSumo found video posts get at least 59 percent more engagement than all other post types. Although photos are widely accepted by marketers to be one of the most successful post types, video outperformed photos by 73 percent.

 

Create short, compelling videos

 

I cannot stress this enough: Facebook is determined to become a destination ‘digital streaming television platform,’ competing with YouTube, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and the likes. This means Facebook is placing extreme emphasis on video content throughout the platform.

 

The good news for marketers: we can really take advantage of this growing trend.

 

Facebook users, in particular, have short attention spans. The ideal length Facebook recommends for a teaser video is 15 seconds if it’s being used for ads or organic content that you intend to boost. Otherwise, longer videos of between 3 and 5 minutes work well, per research by BuzzSumo.

 

Here’s a great example by the Eiffel Tower Restaurant in Las Vegas -- showcasing their signature Chocolate Praline Cake with a call-to-action to make a reservation. A video like this can be shot with a dSLR camera and inexpensive lighting. Or, you can just use your smartphone and make sure you place the dish under good lighting. Tips from food videos, like optimizing video length and taking clear, beautiful footage, can be applied to other types of content to improve engagement.

 

Related:

 

Promote your message to the right audience at the right time

 

With Facebook organic reach at an average of 1 to 6 percent,  you’ll definitely want to allocate an advertising budget to ensure your message reaches your target demographic. Ideally, you should utilize Facebook Ads Manager (or Business Manager). Otherwise, the Boost button is the simplest way to get started.

 

I’ve often said that local businesses can reach their audiences much easier using Facebook because you’re not trying to reach the whole world. You’re drilling deep into very specific geo-targeted locations using zip codes and other parameters. Facebook makes it really easy to do so.

 

In addition, I suggest trying a feature in Ads Manager called ‘Dayparting’ where your ads will show up across the Facebook family of apps and services (which includes Messenger and Instagram), during specific times of the day and days of the week. This is super handy for when your business offers a timely discount such as a restaurant’s special on brunch, lunch, or dinner.

 

Related:

 

Market to the third visit

 

I had the great pleasure of keynoting a special event for my client, Lettuce Entertain You Restaurants. In researching my talk, I listened to this fascinating interview on the Entreleadership Podcast of Jon Taffer, host of Bar Rescue.

 

In the interview, Taffer describes what he calls, “marketing to the third visit.” Check out these stats:

 

      • If somebody comes to a restaurant for the first time and has a great experience, the statistical likelihood of them returning for a second visit is less than 40 percent.
      • Say that person comes back a second time and has another flawless experience, the statistical likelihood of them returning for a third visit is about 42-43 percent.
      • But the third time a customer returns to your restaurant, the statistical likelihood of them returning for a fourth time increases to over 70 percent.

 

So, Taffer says the secret of smart restaurateurs is to market to three visits, not one. Three visits get the customer into a lifecycle. Make sure your restaurant staff is trained to greet and identify first-time customers differently. They get a special invitation to come back again. Listen to the podcast interview for Taffer’s full strategy. It’s brilliant!

(I’ve been a big fan of Dave Ramsey’s Entreleadership Podcast for many years and highly recommend small business owners subscribe! Listen to my own interview on Supercharging Your Facebook Marketing.)

 

And, if your target audience includes a younger demographic, then check out this great nugget from the print version of this Modern Trader magazine article about the restaurant industry and technology:

 

“The 100 million people who make up Generation Y, Millennials and Z need to eat and want something different than their parents… …the battlefield is constantly changing, and there is a lot at stake. The outlook for the restaurant industry is positive for those who are prepared to strategically fight with the right tools. Technology will be the driver of success.”

 

These 100 million young folks spend an inordinate amount of time on their phones. Now is the time to ensure your messaging gets in front of them with thumb-stopping content that inspires them to come in (and maybe even bring a friend!)

 

Related:

 

About Mari Smith

 

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Often referred to as “the Queen of Facebook,” Mari Smith is considered one of the world’s foremost experts on Facebook marketing and social media. She is a Forbes’ Top Social Media Power Influencer, author of The New Relationship Marketing and coauthor of Facebook Marketing: An Hour A Day. Forbes recently described Mari as, “… the preeminent Facebook expert. Even Facebook asks for her help.” She is a recognized Facebook Partner; Facebook headhunted and hired Mari to lead the Boost Your Business series of live events across the US. Mari is an in-demand speaker, and travels the world to keynote and train at major events.

 

Her digital marketing agency provides professional speaking, training and consulting services on Facebook and Instagram marketing best practices for Fortune 500 companies, brands, SMBs and direct sales organizations. Mari is also an expert webinar and live video broadcast host, and she serves as Brand Ambassador for numerous leading global companies.

 

Web: Mari Smith  or Twitter: @MariSmith

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Mari Smith to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Mari Smith is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Mari Smith. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

Every day, more than 2 billion people are active on at least one of the Facebook family of apps and services, which includes Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp.

 

These 2 billion people are scrolling through their feeds, inboxes and Stories. Your job as a small business owner is to get your content in front of the exact right audience and stop them in their tracks. You want your ads to be absolutely ‘thumb-stopping!’

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My three secrets to creating irresistible ads:

 

  1. Refine your audience targeting.
  2. Use compelling messages and creative.
  3. Choose the right placement.

 

Let’s break them down.

 

1. Refine your audience targeting

 

Let’s face it, you can have the most amazing ad with gorgeous creative and a super-compelling offer, but, if it’s placed in front of the wrong target audience, your ad will fall on deaf ears and you won’t get the results you want. In fact, you could even yield negative results with the wrong audience reporting your ad as spam.

 

I see this time and again as I study the ads across the Facebook app ecosystem. I see ads shown to me for something that is totally irrelevant.

 

Refining your target audience before launching your ads can make all the difference between a very successful ad campaign or a total dud.

 

Tap into the power of Facebook Audience Insights to define your target demographic. Here’s a helpful article by AdEspresso: How To Find The Best Audiences On Facebook.

 

RELATED CONTENT The Power of Facebook – with Mari Smith (Video)

 

2. Use compelling messages and creative

 

So, here’s where we get to the ‘irresistible’ part. With so much noise across all social networks, it’s important that you find a way to cut through the noise to capture potential clients’ attention. We must also recognize that the nature of social media content has shortened attention spans, so your imagery needs to be vibrant and your text brief.

 

Use vibrant images

 

It’s true that a picture says a thousand words. Instagram, in particular, is an entirely visual platform. Keep text overlay to a minimum and say what you need to say in the description/caption of your ad.

 

Embrace short-form video ads

 

Facebook recommends 5-15 seconds for the ideal video ad. Facebook’s studies have shown that retention rates start to taper off even with a 15-second video. But that’s the ideal max length for both ads and organic videos. I call these ‘teaser’ videos, which are ideal for driving traffic to your blog posts, for example.

 

I recommend creating 15-second videos in square format with a short description and publishing to your Facebook Business Page as an organic post. Then turn the post into an ad (using the Boost button or Ads Manager). Once you’re in the process of boosting the post you’ll have the option to add a call to action. Put the URL of your blog post or squeeze page in there and start driving traffic to your site.

 

I recently hosted an educational Facebook Live with my friends at Wave.video to teach this process and you can find that here. (Wave.video just released a free forever plan with no watermark for 15-second videos. Plus they have several very affordable plans with more features for small business owners). See this helpful article - Facebook Video Ads: 10 Examples to Help You Beat Your Competition

 

You’ll also want to have the Facebook Pixel installed on your website in order to retarget visitors with other ads.

 

It’s always worth giving Lead Ads a try for conversion-level results. This is a great tutorial: How to Create Jaw-Dropping Facebook Lead Ads That Convert

 

3. Choose the right placement.

 

Small businesses can create ads using Facebook’s Ads Manager (or Business Manager). When you leave the default setting for automatic placements, Facebook’s algorithms choose the most optimized platforms for your ads.

 

“Use automatic placements to maximize your budget and help show your ads to more people. Facebook's delivery system will allocate your ad set's budget across multiple placements based on where they're likely to perform best.”

 

Learn more about automatic vs. manual placement here.

 

Yes, we’re talking predominantly about Facebook ads in this article. However, most advertisers tend to leave the automatic placements enabled by default. You may think you’re just advertising on Facebook, but if the placement option is selected your ads may be showing up on/in the following places:

 

  • The Facebook feed
  • Facebook videos (as pre-roll ads)
  • Facebook Marketplace
  • The Instagram feed
  • Stories on Instagram, Facebook, and Messenger
  • Messenger home screen
  • Throughout Facebook’s Audience Network

 

To clarify on that last placement, Audience Network allows advertisers to extend Facebook and Instagram campaigns across the internet - onto thousands of high-quality websites and apps. People spend a lot of their time on Facebook and Instagram. But they are also spending time on other apps and sites. Audience Network helps advertisers reach more of the people they care about in the other places where they're spending their time.

Place Stories ads on both Instagram & Facebook

 

There are currently 500M daily active users on Instagram Stories and 300M on Facebook, and you can tap into this highly engaged audience.

 

RELATED CONTENT: Instagram and Facebook Story Ads: How to Make Stories Work for your Small Business

 

Many advertisers may not even realize they are already placing ads into the Stories feed on both Facebook and Instagram because of the automatic placement feature mentioned above.

 

Although Facebook’s delivery system does do the hard work for you, it’s worth it to spend a little extra time and create individual ads for placement in the Instagram Stories format, for example.

 

To really optimize your Stories ads, it’s best to create for the native environment. And that is 9:16 vertical video – it is full screen and immersive. Strive for big bold creative, thumb-stopping images and creative stickers and GIFs.

 

Utilizing all of the steps above can help make sure the dollars you’re putting toward promoting your small business on social media are working as hard for you as possible.

 

You can read more articles from Mari Smith by clicking here

 

About Mari Smith

 

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Often referred to as “the Queen of Facebook,” Mari Smith is considered one of the world’s foremost experts on Facebook marketing and social media. She is a Forbes’ Top Social Media Power Influencer, author of The New Relationship Marketing and coauthor of Facebook Marketing: An Hour A Day. Forbes recently described Mari as, “… the preeminent Facebook expert. Even Facebook asks for her help.” She is a recognized Facebook Partner; Facebook headhunted and hired Mari to lead the Boost Your Business series of live events across the US. Mari is an in-demand speaker, and travels the world to keynote and train at major events.

 

Her digital marketing agency provides professional speaking, training and consulting services on Facebook and Instagram marketing best practices for Fortune 500 companies, brands, SMBs and direct sales organizations. Mari is also an expert webinar and live video broadcast host, and she serves as Brand Ambassador for numerous leading global companies.

 

Web: Mari Smith  or Twitter: @MariSmith

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Mari Smith to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Mari Smith is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Mari Smith. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

Management expert Peter Drucker is often quoted as saying, “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.” In order to grow and improve your business, you have to be able to measure and monitor the right metrics.

 

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This applies to everything in your business.

 

Yet determining the right metrics to measure, and understand, is not so simple.

 

 

Proxy metrics (or Vanity metrics) vs. sales metrics

 

On Facebook’s Q4 2016 earnings call held on February 1, 2017, COO Sheryl Sandberg stated that all ads should drive business. She made the distinction between sales metrics and ‘proxy metrics,’ which includes fanbase size, reach, engagement and video views.

 

“We really believe that at the end of the day what matters the most is all the way through to sales. What matters the most is the A/B test that these people saw ads on Facebook and Instagram, these people didn’t, and here’s the sales lift. And all of the other metrics,” Sandberg said, “are proxy metrics.”

 

Of course, this is not what most businesses want to hear. We’ve all been trained to believe more is better. That we ought to strive for more fans, more reach and more engagement.

 

But, generally speaking, those numbers are all vanity metrics.

 

Marketers need to see the metrics all the way through to the final goal and focus on the right metrics – those that generate revenue.

 

It’s important to separate out your KPIs (key performance indicators) into the right categories and report the relevant data to the right person within your business.

 

For example, brand awareness, social media and engagement metrics should be reporting to the CMO/marketing manager/community manager. Whereas, lead generation and sales metrics are what the CEO and CFO mostly want to know. If you report the number of retweets or video views in a week to your CEO and CFO, they may wonder how that translates to actual bottom line dollars.

 

Following are some suggested metric categories:

 

    • Brand awareness metrics include social media reach, brand mentions, brand searches, media mentions and website traffic.

 

    • Social media metrics include number of likes/fans/followers, post reach and impressions.

 

    • Engagement metrics include people who have clicked, liked, commented on or shared your social media posts; people who have viewed your videos; number of retweets and more. This stat could also include the number of subscribers opening your emails and clicking on links.

 

    • Lead-generation metrics include landing page visits, click-through rate, completed registrations and conversion rates. In other words, any activity that moves the prospect from being an engaged member of your social media channels to becoming a contactable prospect. This can include the prospect submitting their phone number, email address, mailing address or contacting you via Facebook Messenger, Instagram Direct or WhatsApp.

 

    • Sales metrics include appointments scheduled, applications submitted, add-to-cart, initiate checkout, add payment details, and, of course, completed purchases.

 

“In God we trust, all others must bring data.” – W. Edwards Deming

 

Tools for measuring your online activity

 

You may already have a reliable set of tools you use to track an array of metrics in your business. Here are a few of my own favorites:

 

Facebook Insights: You’ll find these metrics on the “Insights” tab of your Facebook business page. For mobile, use the Facebook Pages Manager app (iOS) (Android) and also check out the Facebook Analytics app. Metrics include Likes, Followers, Page Views, Actions on Page, Video views, Audience retention, Engagement and more.

 

For video content, I recommend clicking in to each video to study the breakdown of metrics. Otherwise, you can keep an eye on the Overview > Page Summary insights for the past 7 or 28 days and export the data to a spreadsheet for further analysis.

 

Twitter Analytics: These are at the top right of your Twitter profile or at analytics.twiter.com. View your tweet impressions, engagement, and engagement rate. Pay particular attention to your top tweets and do more of what’s working.

 

AgoraPulse: This is a terrific all-in-one tool for scheduling and managing all your social media channels. The Reports section has colorful charts that are easy to read and may be a great addition to your analysis.

 

BuzzSumo: One of my favorite tools, this platform allows you to study how well your own social posts are doing along with any competitor’s posts. Plus, you can use the tool to discover what headlines and topics are doing well, identify key influencers, see what’s trending and more.

 

One stop data dashboard

 

If looking at an array of metrics from a wide variety of sources is challenging for you, you might enjoy a great solution called Klipfolio.

 

Klipfolio is a tool to create an all-in-one dashboard with visual analytics for all of your metrics at your fingertips. You’ll be able to instantly spot trends and see how your business is performing. Compare this month to last month or the same period last year with a single click. Use filters, segments, and automatic trend lines.

 

Cash flow dashboard

 

Just as you need to closely track and measure sales and marketing metrics, you definitely need to do the same with your business finances. Bank of America Business Advantage 360 offers an innovative new cash flow dashboard where you can easily see a 360° view of your business’ financial position or picture in a compelling, visual layout.

 

Business Advantage 360 is a one-stop ‘digital control center.’ Accessible online and on mobile, this new seamless and integrated digital platform is designed to help you get more time back in your day by helping you manage all financial aspects of your business.

 

BA360 empowers you as a busy business owner to optimize your time and resources and gain deeper perspective on your business so you can get back to doing what you truly love – focusing on the mission and success of your enterprise!

 

 

About Mari Smith

 

mari_0362xFACE_preview.jpg

Often referred to as “the Queen of Facebook,” Mari Smith is considered one of the world’s foremost experts on Facebook marketing and social media. She is a Forbes’ Top Social Media Power Influencer, author of The New Relationship Marketing and coauthor of Facebook Marketing: An Hour A Day. Forbes recently described Mari as, “… the preeminent Facebook expert. Even Facebook asks for her help.” She is a recognized Facebook Partner; Facebook headhunted and hired Mari to lead the Boost Your Business series of live events across the US. Mari is an in-demand speaker, and travels the world to keynote and train at major events.

 

Her digital marketing agency provides professional speaking, training and consulting services on Facebook and Instagram marketing best practices for Fortune 500 companies, brands, SMBs and direct sales organizations. Mari is also an expert webinar and live video broadcast host, and she serves as Brand Ambassador for numerous leading global companies.

 

Web: Mari Smith or Twitter: @MariSmith

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Mari Smith to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Mari Smith is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Mari Smith. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  Equal Housing Lender.

 

© 2019 Bank of America Corporation.

 

Bank of America, N.A. is providing these third-party websites and/or other sources only as a convenience, and does not monitor or maintain the information available on the external websites mentioned, nor represent or guarantee that such websites are accurate or complete, and they should not be relied upon as such.  Bank of America provides informational reading materials for your discussion or review purposes only.  Neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

In the early days of advertising as we know it, if a business wanted to reach the largest possible audience, there was a number it could call. That number connected the business to the advertising sales department of a television studio. At a time when families sat together every evening in front of a twelve-inch, black-and-white television screen, running a commercial during the peak time shows could give brands an audience in the tens of millions.

 

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The rise of the Internet has changed that—and not just because families no longer watch one screen together. Companies now have access to a wide variety of digital options like banner ads, social media posts and ad units, email newsletters, content marketing, and targeted search results to promote their messages directly to their key target audiences. They’ve noticed. In 2017, digital ad spending exceeded the value of television advertising for the first time.

 

As technology and behavior have changed, marketing has changed with it. What hasn’t changed is the type of marketing that’s still most likely to convert potential customers. Businesses that hoped they could fire their scriptwriters and box up their video cameras to focus on text ads and copywriting have been disappointed.

 

Video remains the most effective advertising format.

 

Companies that place video on online landing pages have found their conversion rates increasing by more than 80 percent. Seventy-six percent of marketers say that video has helped them increase sales. Eighty-one percentof people have bought a product or service after watching a brand’s video online.

 

Those conversions have been driven by a steep rise in online video watching. Marketers expect that by 2020, the average person will spend about 84 minutes every day watching videos online.

 

We’ll be watching those videos on YouTube, of course, but also on Facebook and Twitter, and even LinkedIn. Although relatively few marketers currently place video on the professional networking platform, about 75 percent of those that do said that showing ads to the platform’s business users achieves results. Video is popping up everywhere.

But online video is very different than the kind of ads shown on television.

 

Most of the video marketing seen online is short, cheaper than fully produced television spots, and is developed to resonate specifically on the platform where it’s being placed.

After the Superbowl, viewers might pull up YouTube to re-watch long, funny, big budget commercials. But on social media, they want to watch short, digestible videos, to comment, like or share, and keep scrolling. According to Hubspot, videos that generate the most comments on Instagram average just 26 seconds. Marketers on Twitter can stretch their time to 45 seconds, while Facebook’s users have an attention span that lasts as long as a minute.

 

Viewers also tend to watch their videos with the sound off so that they don’t disturb others during activities like a morning commute—or alert their teachers that they’re not paying attention in class. That means telling a story visually and using prominent subtitles to explain what the viewer is seeing.

 

None of that is simple. It takes more effort and expense to create an effective video ad than it does to make a website banner. But video marketing doesn’t have to involve a lot of effort and expense. Some of the most effective commercial video content consists of live broadcasts in which the owner of a business sits in front of a camera, talks directly to customers, and answers questions about the product. The audience might be small—a live video might reach only a few hundred people during the broadcast itself—but it can be hugely effective at building brand loyalty. And even when you’re making a YouTube video that’s less than a minute long, you should be able to do it without breaking the bank.

 

The world has changed since the days when soap companies sponsored daytime shows. Audiences have split and screens have shrunk, but video marketing remains just as effective. It can now be highly targeted and, at a time when we all have a video camera in our pockets, it’s readily available to every business.

 

Learn how to use compelling video for your small business. Check out these other articles:

 

 

About Joel Comm

 

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As an Internet pioneer, Joel has been creating profitable websites, software, products and helping entrepreneurs succeed since 1995. He has been at the frontlines of live video online since 2008 and has a deep expertise in using tools such as Facebook Live, Periscope, Instagram or Snapchat to broadcast a clearly defined message to a receptive audience or leveraging the power of webinar and meeting technologies.

 

Joel is a New York Times best-selling author of 15 books, including “The AdSense Code,” “Click Here to Order: Stories from the World’s Most Successful Entrepreneurs,” “KaChing: How to Run an Online Business that Pays and Pays and Twitter Power 3.0.” He is Co-Host of The Bad Crypto Podcast one of the top crypto-related shows in the world and has spoken before thousands of people around the world and seeks to inspire, equip and entertain.

 

Web: https://joelcomm.com/ or Twitter: @JoelComm

Read more from Joel Comm

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Joel Comm to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Joel Comm is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Joel Comm. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

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