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24 Posts authored by: marismith

by Mari Smith

 

How powerful has video become to engage an audience? According to the Livestream blog, 80% of people would rather watch a live video from a brand than read a blog post. pexels-gustavo-fring-3983667.jpgPlus, 82% prefer live video over a brand’s social posts.

 

If live video is not already part of your business’s social media strategy, it’s time to get on board. And while you can simply use your smartphone, going for better quality will make you stand out. The 90% of Facebook viewers who believe video quality is the most important aspect should be reason enough for small businesses to direct some resources toward production gear.

 

Even a nominal investment in lighting, camera and sound will make a big difference to the quality of your videos, enabling you to stand out in the news feed.

 

I’ve been live streaming from my home studio for over 15 years. Since Facebook Live launched five years ago, I upped the quality of my broadcasts with even better equipment. I’ve received tremendous feedback over the years from my audience. I’ve been recruited by leading brands such as AT&T, Adobe, Verizon, Bank of America, HubSpot, and Cision to lead on-camera webinars. And, I’ve appeared on TV interviews with the likes of BBC Newsnight where the producers were amazed by my video quality and that I was streaming from my own studio.

 

The best part? It did not cost me a lot of money. Here are live video streaming tips for creating your own home studio.

 

3-Point Lighting

 

Bright, well-lit videos are eye-catching and jump off the screen. That’s why lighting is so important. Some simple additions to your home studio or office set-up will make your lighting much more robust.

 

You want to create light in front of you and along either side. And, ideally some back-lighting, too.

 

Ring Lights: Often referred to as the “Diva Light,” you’ll find a variety of options for this type of light, which is placed in front of you when recording. The ring light casts a lovely soft light on your entire face and shows a circle reflection in your eyes. This is key. You want your viewers to be able to see the light reflected in your eyes.

 

I like the Video Lighting Kit by Neewer. This 18” (48cm) Dimmable LED Ring Light comes with a light stand, as well as white and orange filters. I highly recommend using the filters; I split them so I have two white and two orange filters.

 

Side Lights: In addition to the ring light, add fill lights on either side of you. You’ll get that lovely, professional look and feel. Simply place one light on either side of your camera/webcam/computer. There is a wide variety of choices here, depending on the space you have. Perhaps experiment with a tabletop fluorescent light or a tabletop and standing lamps. A great option is these Neewer Video Lights and Stand Kit; they have a nifty dimmer switch so you can easily adjust brightness as needed and cost about $200.

 

Studio Lights: If you have the space for an in-home studio with a bigger footprint, definitely look into a pair of soft box lights with diffusers. You would purchase these instead of the tabletop lights. For example…

 

A Quality Camera

 

A camera is what makes all the difference to the stunning, professional look you can create for your live streaming. However, without the right 3-point lighting, your good camera won’t create the same impact.

 

Most people stick with their laptop or desktop computer’s built-in camera. But I strongly recommend going for a better-quality external camera, either an affordable webcam or, better, a DSLR camera if you can. (You may even have one!) By investing in a good DSLR camera and 50mm lens—along with the 3-point lighting setup—you will literally look more life-like! You’ll look 3D, jumping off the screen. And, guess what? With the lights reflected in your eyes and the depth of field, you look more human and people feel more deeply connected to you. This is a very good thing in today’s world.

 

Webcam: If you wanted to level up your video quality just a bit from your built-in camera, you could get an inexpensive external USB webcam such as the Logitech BRIO – Ultra HD Webcam (around $200), which includes a built-in microphone.

 

DSLR: But, to really stand out on Facebook, YouTube, all other social channels, and in your Zoom meetings, you can create television-quality video with a DSLR camera. A professional camera with a good lens will give you that lovely depth of field and beautiful video quality. Any brand or model of DSLR camera should work.

 

My favorite is the Sony a6500 4K Mirrorless Camera with a 50mm lens (my team and I call it ‘the nifty fifty;’ this lens will give you a nice, soft focus and terrific depth of field). Place the camera on a tripod about six feet in front of you. And, ideally have something in the background about six feet behind you that will look blurry. Not just a blank wall as the depth of field won’t quite look the same.

 

The Canon EOS Rebel T6 Digital SLR Camera is also a great choice. Or, check out Nikon cameras, if you prefer.

 

Capture Device: You will need a convertor in order to connect a DSLR camera to your computer. The Elgato Cam Link 4K is super popular and works really well. (Check if your camera is compatible here before ordering.) Plus, a HDMI cable; your DSLR camera needs to output video via a mini or micro HDMI output jack. The cable goes into your camera and into the standard HDMI port of the Cam Link, and the USB on the other end goes into your computer.

 

AC Power Adaptor Kit: If you are live streaming, be aware that most cameras will auto shut off after 30 minutes when running on battery. You definitely want to avoid this happening so be sure to get the right AC power adaptor for your DSLR camera; it fits in the battery slot.

 

Quality Microphone

 

Once your lighting setup looks great, you’ll want to ensure you have the perfect audio. People will forgive grainy, lower resolution video and a shaky camera. But they’ll quickly switch off if the audio quality is poor!

 

When you do Facebook Live broadcasts, webinars and Zoom meetings from your desktop, you’ll need to decide whether or not you want your microphone in the frame. Using a boom mic clipped to my desk, I’m usually able to place my mic just below the camera frame. Or, there are overhead booms that work just as well.

 

While some folks are fine using a headset mic, I am not a fan of this look. When was the last time you saw a news anchor or talk show host wearing a headset microphone? Right, me neither!

 

For my professional microphone, I have the Heil PR-40 Broadcast Quality Microphone Bundle – at about $330. It’s the HeiL PR-40 mic, shock mount, and boom. Plus, to make the mic work on your computer, you’ll also need an adaptor to convert from XLR to USB. I use this one by Shure.

 

The Audio-Technica AT2005USB dynamic mic is an excellent, more affordable choice at $160. You’ll need to do some sound tests to see how close you need to be. I have this mic, as well as the shotgun Sennheiser MK 600 - $325 – that gets placed above your camera out of the frame.

 

I’ve gone through many mics over the years; each has its pluses and minuses. Sometimes you have to test to see what works best for your needs.

 

Look and Sound Like A Pro!

 

Trust me, your level of production value will place your livestreams head and shoulders above the competition. Now, more than ever, with the whole world using tech to stream events, meetings and social media live broadcasts, it’s time to increase your production value.

 

Try not to be overwhelmed by all the choices.

 

Keep your setup as simple as possible. Get the 3-point lighting set up. Then, improve your audio quality. Then, upgrade your camera. Or, maybe you already have a good camera and just didn't realize you could connect it to your computer!  Start small!

 

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Mari Smith to provide materials for informational purposes only, and is not responsible for, and does not guarantee or endorse any of the third-party products or services mentioned.  All third-party logos and company names mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners and 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. ©2020 Bank of America Corporation

Dos and Donts of a Crisis.jpgRegardless of your industry, what you do, and where you live, when a crisis hits, it’s bound to impact you and your business. Here are my 7 tips for your social media channels during a crisis.

 

Do

 

Pause and breathe

 

I know it’s not specifically for social media, but the first thing we all need to do in a crisis is to take a moment to evaluate everything from an emotionally calm state, if possible.

 

Review all scheduled posts

 

Whether or not the crisis directly impacts you, you may want to stop your scheduled posts. Inspirational posts after the initial impact may be appropriate, but overly upbeat or overly positive posts may not be appropriate for your entire audience.

 

For instance, if you are dealing with a natural or unnatural disaster that affects a section of the country or a certain industry - and your business is not impacted at all - stay out of the conversation. In the case of devastating tragedy, that means halting all posts. Give the crisis and the casualties the respect they deserve, and cautiously return to your regular schedule when it makes sense.

 

Right now with the coronavirus pandemic, thoroughly review your social media content and see if it makes sense to pivot or edit your tone.

 

Communicate

 

Use your social media platforms to stay in touch with your employees, as well as prospects, clients, and your community at large. Post news, announcements, and changes to how your business is functioning during the crisis.

 

Along with using your primary social media channels to communicate with your community, you may want to add new ones. For instance, start a new Facebook Group, Slack channel, or create virtual events for conversations specific to the crisis. A town-hall type interactive video may be just what your community needs, to share their feelings and know they are not alone.

 

Become a resource

 

Beyond being a conduit for information, your business can create new content for your audience that educates, informs, provides a source of relief and more. Explore new platforms and features, such as Instagram Stories, video, and live streams.

 

Not sure when and what to post? Take a cue from others in your industry or location. Watch how similar companies react to crises, and adopt strategies that make sense for your business.

 

Don't

 

Panic

 

Your business may be going through a rough time and you are not alone.  Hold off on posting on social media until you know what to say and how to say it. There’s an opportunity in a crisis to step up to the plate and be a powerful leader in your community, industry and beyond.

 

Ignore what’s happening

 

When a crisis strikes, your company will want to address it head-on, although it may make sense to stay offline until the dust settles. Still, you don’t want to ignore or downplay a crisis, even if it doesn’t directly impact you. Approach your response via social media messaging with compassion. Keep a light yet respectful and informative tone, while being true to your brand.

 

If the crisis directly impacts your business, make sure you are accessible to your prospects and clients. Set “office hours” on Twitter, or live chats in your Facebook group, so people can ask you questions, knowing they will also get a response. You can set up a private group for similar conversations with your employees, resources, and partners.

 

Make things worse

 

Remember people’s emotions are running very high and you’ll need to be ultrasensitive and compassionate. Social media allows you to directly communicate with your community, especially when you can’t be together in person. But you want to remain professional and compassionate at all times.

 

When posting about or responding to a crisis, never:

  • Make fun of it
  • Profit from it
  • Cause more problems

 

The best fail-safe is to set guidelines for what you will post on social media during times of crisis. Have someone on your team double-check every post before publishing on your channels. Also, be aware that the people who engage with your posts may not be in the best mood.

 

  • If tempers flare, be ready to act quickly, take the conversation offline, and find necessary solutions.

 

When a crisis strikes, you may be able to make things better. And you definitely don’t want to make things worse. Take your time with your messaging, and be available to share news and information. Strive to be a voice of calm, integrity, courage and hope.

 

Ultimately, when things hopefully calm down and get back to some semblance of normalcy (even if it’s the ‘new normal’), your prospects, partners, and clients will remember how gracefully you got through the crisis.

 

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Mari Smith to provide materials for informational purposes only, and is not responsible for, and does not guarantee or endorse any of the third-party products or services mentioned.  All third-party logos and company names mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners and 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. ©2020 Bank of America Corporation

The short-form video-content platform Vine left the social-media space just over three years ago. Vine’s desire to stay true to the original concept – users record 6-second videos mar image.jpgwith cool tools and effects – meant  they did not evolve nor find a way to monetize the business, ultimately its downfall.

 

Fortunately, some social media platforms embraced similar features (Facebook and Instagram Stories), while others (Snapchat and TikTok) focused specifically on micro video content. They picked up the torch from Vine and ran with it.

 

Today, this type of content and these platforms have been embraced primarily by Generation Z – those born after the mid-90s. If your business targets a younger demographic, and you are not creating micro-video content, you are missing out on opportunities to connect with your ideal consumer.

 

Here are 5 things small business owners can learn from the short-form video  trend, as well as tips for how to incorporate it into your social media marketing strategy.

 

1. Mobile Is Micro-Video Content’s Best Friend

 

As a business, you put a high premium on appearing – and being – professional. Whether it’s a video or podcast, when it comes to multimedia production, you want a high-quality product to match your company’s persona. In many cases that means you need expensive equipment, a skilled editor, and lots of money.

 

At 6 to 15 seconds, micro-video content is short and sweet. It doesn’t need high production value. In fact, that might make your content stand out in a bad way. A quality cell phone camera is perfect for micro-content campaigns.

 

Most of the teens and young adults create and consume micro-video content on their smartphones, rather than a desktop computer. They always have a camera in their pocket, so why not?

 

To better blend in, businesses should use mobile devices and related tools for creating micro content. You just need to amp up your creativity and use the tools you have at hand.

 

2. Community Leads to Content

 

More and more young people have a desire to capture, publish and share their every move throughout the day. They create and show off special (and not so special!) moments with nonstop photos and videos.

 

Whereas a platform such as TikTok doesn’t have specific communities like Facebook Groups, users tend to create them anyway. They find and follow friends with similar interests and share things with common themes.

 

Young people, in particular, build entire communities of online friends. Become part of that. Whatever your business, create relatable content for your users. From simple, day-to-day life wins to micro-mini adventures, give your ideal prospect experiences they can bond over as a community.

 

3. Micro Content Caters to Short Attention Spans

 

We live in the most distracted time of our history. Social media platforms are designed intentionally to hook us in and get us addicted.

 

The short time frame of micro content is a double-blessing. Shorter posts take less time to create and they are more likely to be consumed in their entirety. The key is to keep things interesting.

 

Just because a post is short doesn’t mean the story or objective gets ignored. It just means you must up your level of creativity every time you put together a piece of content. Challenge yourself to tell the story shorter and better each time.

 

4. User-Generated Material Makes for Great Trend Content

 

Catering to trends and related hashtags means businesses can meet the audience where they are at. Trends are seasonal, topical and sometimes just plain fun.

 

See what’s trending, especially as it relates to your business, and get clever about how you can get involved. After you’ve done this a while, you may want to engage with a good influencer to get on the trendsetter side of that action.

 

Trends also make for opportunities for user generated content. Get your social friends – aka prospect and clients – excited about a trend that relates to your business. Then, encourage them to get involved, share their own stories as they relate to the trend.

 

 

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 materials for informational purposes only, and is not responsible for, and does not guarantee or endorse any of the third-party products or services mentioned.  All third-party logos and company names mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners and 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. ©2020 Bank of America Corporation

Instagram has been testing what would appear to be a radical departure for the social network: removing likes. Facebook, which owns Instagram, is considering as well. Plus, kelly-sikkema-56w-xo2ZZM4-unsplash.jpgthere's buzz that Twitter may join the party and hide like counts.

 

While this may seem like a reason for marketer panic, it isn’t ... or shouldn’t be.

 

Although likes are a nice ego-boost metric, it’s well known that liking a post is the most low-maintenance way to engage. Rather, a comment, a share, or substantial video watch-time is a much better indicator of how much your content resonates with your audience. Therefore, it’s important to remember that removal of public-facing like counts is not the end of the world. In fact, it’s simply a reminder that you need to find other ways to analyze audience affinity and engagement.

 

Could Instagram actually be doing marketers a favor?

 

When Instagram first announced its decision to test removing like counts, I, like many others, questioned the reasoning. “We want your friends to focus on the photos and videos you share, not how many likes they get,” Instagram said in July 2019. “You can still see your own likes by tapping on the list of people who've liked it, but your friends will not be able to see how many likes your post has received.

 

The theory was that like counts foster competition, and the goal of Instagram was to encourage connection and community. A healthy environment was top priority. "We want [Instagram] to be a place where people spend more of their energy connecting with the people that they love and the things that they care about," explained Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri.

 

While the whole move was positioned as a mental health play - removing likes will help alleviate cyberbullying and downplay competition - I still had doubts. It just didn’t ring true that this was the genuine reason that Facebook/Instagram deeply cared so much. Of course, I believe the company cares about their users’ well-being. However, they also care about making money and ensuring the longevity of their platforms.

 

So how would hiding likes improve Instagram’s - and Facebook’s - bottom line? I got my answer when more information surfaced last month. Suddenly it started to make sense. 

 

Three former employees told CNBC that there is a hypothesis inside Facebook’s growth and data science teams: Removing “likes” may be an effective tactic for getting users to post more original content on Instagram.

 

“The theory goes that by hiding like counts, users may feel less self-conscious when they post photos or videos that don’t receive many likes,” the article states. “This in turn may serve as a catalyst for getting users to post more often.”

 

Translation: If users weren’t so hung up on public-facing engagement numbers, maybe they’d feel more compelled to publish more content. And, publishing more content means they would spend more time on Instagram. And more time on Instagram means there would be more users for advertisers to target.

 

Anyone who still has concerns about like-counts being removed only needs to look at Instagram Stories for proof that all will be okay. Social engagement metrics on Stories have never been public-facing. Users and marketers are not consuming other people's Story content, wondering how many people engaged with it, how many people responded to the poll, or answered the questions. They just engage. That’s what’s most important to businesses… and marketers: engagement.

 

Bottom line: Marketers need not worry too much about hidden likes.

 

Note that Facebook is also in the midst of testing hiding video view counts. Personally, I really like video view counts as invariably that gives me a strong indication - and sometimes legitimacy - of the content. I find it a tad frustrating when I cannot (easily) find the number of video views on other people’s Facebook videos! Whether that’s a long-term problem remains to be seen.

 

Moving forward, marketers need to concentrate on creating quality, relevant content for their followers. Focus on engaging with your audience in new ways, such as further integrating the Stories format, as well as video, including Live video and building community in Facebook Groups.

 

The removal of public-facing like counts should not make any difference to marketers on Instagram, Facebook, or any other social platform. While it seems to be affecting influencers to some degree, that may be a good thing. It will shake out any unethical behaviors, such as artificially inflating numbers, buying followers, etc. In its place will be highly engaged users on the friendly, community-building platform that Instagram wants to be.

 

About Mari Smith

 

Often referred to as “the Queen of Facebook,” Mari Smith is considered one of the world’s foremost experts on Facebook marketing and socialmari_0362xFACE_preview.jpg 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 materials for informational purposes only, and is not responsible for, and does not guarantee or endorse any of the third-party products or services mentioned.  All third-party logos and company names mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners and 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. ©2020 Bank of America Corporation

When it comes to social media, there is never a shortage of new platforms, trends and tools to measure your efforts. It’s easy to jump on the bandwagon only to later realize you spent a lot of effort and got very low ROI.

 

So, I’d like to suggest three social media trends you can leave behind in 2019 to focus on activities that matter in 2020.

 

1. Jumping on the Hottest Social Media Platformssara-kurfess-6lcT2kRPvnI-unsplash.jpg

 

Every year, dozens of new social media sites try to make their way onto your radar. Whether they are based on video, graphics, gaming, community, or communication; a theme like music or sports; or a combination, they all want to be the next big thing.

 

Sure, you want to test new platforms to see if that’s where you’ll find new customers. However, give a new site time to find its footing before going all-in. There’s something to be said for being an early adopter … and you could discover the next big thing. But not every website becomes a Facebook, a WhatsApp, or a LinkedIn.

 

And even when an awesome new social media site bursts onto the scene, it may not be right for you, your customers or your business. For instance, TikTok (founded in 2016, launched in 2017, and one to watch in 2019) ended up being the No. 1 most downloaded app globally this year, but it was not necessarily a big platform for marketers.

 

Primarily adopted by users under 30, TikTok is like a mix of Vine (short-form videos on a loop) and Musical.ly or Snapchat (where you can add fun special effects).

 

Personally, I deleted my TikTok account and removed the app from my phone once I saw the growing buzz about U.S. investigations into data, privacy etc. Also, user growth finally plateaued.

 

Takeaway: Beware of flashy, trendy sites. Test them but spend your time sparingly until it’s been fully vetted, you find it has a proven track record with your demographic, and/or it serves a business purpose.

 

2. Obsessing Over “Likes”

 

It’s no secret in the social media marketing space: likes on posts are the least-relevant way to gauge audience engagement. Double-tapping or clicking to heart/like a post is the laziest way to interact with a post. When someone is willing to take the extra effort to write a comment or share a post, it indicates your content connected with them. That’s much more relevant.

 

To test this theory, Instagram is expanding its test of hiding like counts. Facebook is jumping on the bandwagon by testing hiding like and reaction counts (and video views too). Note: Publishers/account admins can still see this data, but the information will no longer be public-facing.

 

These tests are designed to shake out fake followers, encourage meaningful engagement, and, as a bonus, promote mental health and well-being. A quantifiable metric, such as like counts, leads to competition, which is stressful. Social media should be “social,” interactive and fun, not something that invites stress.

 

Takeaway: Embrace the change. You shouldn’t be focusing on like counts regardless. Instead, get to know your audience. Create content that speaks to your clients, prospects, and followers in a way that encourages them to meaningfully engage with your posts.

 

3. Doing Influencer Marketing … Without Proper Research

 

Influencer marketing happens when people who have an expert level of knowledge, lead a community and/or possess social influence in a certain area endorse a business, service or product. Although influencer marketing has been around for a while, in many ways, it’s still in its early stages.

 

Legitimacy is key when it comes to influence, and there’s a big industry-wide shakeout going on. Too many businesses and brands jumped in too quick and got blindsided with dismal results.

 

Now, businesses are tired of investing in posers - so-called influencers with fake followers and no real platform. Influencers who overcharge for little or no results will soon be a thing of the past, paving the way for influencers who have actual influence.

 

For influencer marketing to truly work, brands and businesses need to find better ways of identifying and collaborating with influencers. Remember, even a big-named expert will not get results when paired with an incompatible product or service.

 

When identifying influencers, search databases, but also get referrals and introductions from peers. Then, check their social media platforms, watch videos, and review posts to ensure their values and personal agenda align with your company.

 

Most importantly, make sure your influencer’s audience is a match for your audience. Don’t be shy to ask for case studies, examples, metrics, etc. The right influencer will be happy to accommodate you, since they are looking for amiable partnerships too.

 

Takeaway: The right influencer can make a huge difference for any company. It’s up to the businesses to get referrals and do the legwork to find the right match, and ultimately create a mutually beneficial situation.

 

Recommended reading: How to Vet Influencers for Your Small Business

 

Final Thoughts

 

Enter 2020 thinking forward. Leave flashy platforms, likes, and amateur, fake or over-priced influencers behind. Spend your time on the best social media sites for your business, creating content that encourages real interaction and is bolstered by the right influencers for your company or brand.

 

Happy New Year!

 

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.

Ever since Facebook introduced advertising, it has been met with a mixture of enthusiasm and a hint of annoyance from those bothered by interruptions in their feed. pexels-photo-744464.jpgRegardless, the advertising potential of Facebook and its entire family of apps – including Instagram – remains huge for business. The opportunities and options for ads continue to grow, as do the millions of advertisers.

 

In fact, on the Facebook Q3 2019 Earnings Call, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said 140 million businesses use its social platforms every month. And, of Facebook’s 7 million advertisers, 3 million already advertise across Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger Stories.

 

This transition to expand advertising across its platforms has been developing for a while.  And as it evolved, Instagram and then Facebook, copied the horizontal-scroll tap-and-swipe format of Stories from Snapchat. This short-form, ephemeral micro-content is what advertisers would do well to focus on in 2020.

 

Stories

 

There are two fantastic aspects of using Stories. First, creators can publish an abundance of content and not worry about ‘jamming up’ the feeds of their followers. Second, followers can consume as much or as little Story content as they wish. In essence, both parties are in control.

 

Plus, with Facebook and Instagram adding more and more fun, interactive, highly engaging features to Stories, such as polling stickers, advertisers can also capitalize on this super popular feature that has a prominent top-of-feed placement.

 

To create an interactive Stories ad, choose Instagram Stories as your only ad placement in Ads Manager. Then, check the “Add an interactive poll” box. It’s in the same place where you upload your creative and edit the text. Spark a conversation, run a contest, get insights from your community, and more.

 

If you haven’t already done so, start testing what gets the most clicks and engagement now.

 

The other fastest-growing areas on Facebook and Instagram for users and advertisers are Messaging, Videos, Facebook Marketplace, and Augmented Reality.

 

Messaging

 

In August, Facebook started rolling out Lead Generation in Facebook Messenger. This new template within Ads Manager enables businesses to create automated experiences to help them qualify leads. With this feature, your business can ask custom questions - and remind people to answer them a way to nurture leads - and close the loop on the unqualified leads and integrate the information with your CRM. Businesses, such as the UK-based professional services firm RIFT Tax, have already seen meaningful results. In their case, RIFT increased qualified leads by 42%.

 

Videos

 

Facebook’s continued investment in video and the Watch platform is a major indicator of what will also be important in 2020 and beyond. Not only is it valuable to create more 15-second in-stream video ads, but marketers should also be publishing more long-form video, which is over three minutes.

 

IGTV (Instagram Television) could also be a big player in the coming year. As the platform is still under-utilized, explore how your business can use IGTV to engage and develop your audience of consumers.

 

Facebook Marketplace

 

While Facebook Marketplace is where customers can discover and purchase items, creating a paid ad to appear when people shop is much more effective than listing an item for sale. Create ads through the Ads Manager tool. Set your budget and select your ad placement. Choose Automatic Placements for your ad to appear on Marketplace, as well as other compatible placements on Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and Audience Network.

 

New Advertising Options

 

With the new year comes new ads and ad placement options.

  • Facebook Search. Reach people who are shopping - and therefore in the discovery mindset - with ads in Facebook Search Results. The ads, which look very similar to news feed ads and have the same control and transparency including a “Sponsored” label, appear in Marketplace or general search. If your ad is eligible, Search will appear in placement options.
  • Facebook Groups. Last fall, Facebook started trying out ad placements in the Groups tab in order to evaluate whether they would be beneficial for people and businesses. It is one more option Facebook found to increase ad inventory. Given how much Facebook has been prioritizing Groups, the test ads will most likely get results.

 

Also of note, in Mid-2020 Facebook is expected to limit the number ads pages can run simultaneously. However, this only impacts a small percentage of businesses. Stay up to date with what’s new in Facebook Ads Manager here.

Final Thoughts

As you create your Facebook and Instagram ad strategy for the new year, go with what has been working for your business and then slowly introduce new ad features into the mix. Experiment to see what features best impact your business in a positive way.

About Mari Smith

 

Often referred to as “the Queen of Facebook,” Mari Smith is considered one of the world’s foremost experts on Facebook marketing and social mari_0362xFACE_preview.jpgmedia. 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.

While your audience may not be active on all social media platforms, these days it’s become easier to cover more of your social media bases.

 

With a simple selection, you can share your Instagram Television (IGTV) videos to Facebook. And, since IGTV gives you the option to include a preview of the beginning of your video, you may also share these clips on your Instagram feed, in Instagram stories and in Facebook stories.black-smartphone-2733675.jpg

 

That’s one video with elements cross-posted in five places. What could be better?

 

IGTV videos, which run between 15 seconds and 10 minutes, are the perfect way to share the faces and history behind your company, as well as your products and services. It enables prospects and customers to get to know you better, making your company the most likely buying-option when they need what you have to offer.

 

Note: for larger Instagram accounts, you’ll have the ability to upload IGTV videos of up to one hour in length. However, for now, I recommend sticking with shorter videos for more viewer retention.

 

Whether you create videos that educate, inform, entertain, or all of the above, memorable, shareable, thumb-stopping content is key to developing a relationship with your audience that inspires loyalty and advocacy.

 

Suggested reading: Tips and Tricks for Fast, Easy Video Content

 

IGTV Supports Both Vertical and Landscape Video Formats

 

Although Instagram initially launched IGTV with full-screen vertical (9:16) videos, the company later released support for landscape video (16:9) since most platforms - such as YouTube - favor the landscape format.

 

As well as more ways to connect with your existing fans, IGTV gives you more opportunities to be discovered by new ones. When people open IGTV, they'll see multiple channels including “For You,” “Following,” and “Popular,” filled with videos from creators they already follow on Instagram and others they might like based on their interests.

 

Check out this handy infographic by Later.com: Instagram Image Size & Dimensions for 2019

 

How to Share Your IGTV Videos to Your Facebook Business Page

 

If you have an Instagram account, you have an IGTV account. Install the IGTV mobile app or go to your account on the website Instagram.com to upload your IGTV videos.

 

Note: you need to be a Facebook page admin to cross-post from IGTV.

 

To share your IGTV Video to your Facebook page, go to the IGTV app or Instagram.com on the web. Upload your video. Then, add a cover photo (thumbnail), title, and description. A preview will appear unless you decide to turn it off once you post.

 

If you are posting from one of the apps, select to Make Visible on Facebook. (You need to connect the app first by authorizing it to have access to your Facebook page.)

 

Posting from a web browser? Below ‘Where Your Video Will Appear,’ connect your Instagram account to a Facebook page, if you have not already done so. Then, you may select IGTV and Facebook Page as where you want your video to appear.

 

Click "Post" and your video will post to your IGTV channel and your page.

 

Why Cross Promote?

 

Cross-posting your content on social media is a must for a variety of reasons.

 

First, different segments of your audience favor Instagram over Facebook, and vice versa so they will not see duplicates.

 

Keep in mind, people around the country - and even in your hometown - are online at different times during the day. Therefore, it’s unlikely people who follow you on multiple platforms will see the same post on Instagram, IGTV, and Facebook. And, if they do, that’s okay too.

 

This tiny portion of your audience that may see duplicate content is likely made up of your super fans, who are more than happy to see, share, and engage with your posts anywhere - and everywhere - they find them.

 

One more thing: When you cross-post from IGTV to Facebook, you can amplify the reach of that video with paid placements using Ads Manager. Depending on the length of your video, with automatic placements turned on, your ad will show up across a variety of platforms. This includes the Facebook feed, Instagram feed, Facebook and Instagram stories, and the Audience network.

 

Suggested reading: How to Create Irresistible, Thumb-Stopping Facebook Ads

 

Facebook to IGTV and Back Again

 

For your IGTV channel, you can either produce fresh content; download, edit, and upload your YouTube videos, or repurpose content from your Facebook lives.

 

Facebook recently released a Video Clipping option. Go to your Facebook Live, enter edit mode, and select video clipping. Then, use the scrubbers to select the segment you want to create as a standalone video, and click Add Clip.

 

Head over to your Creator Studio to edit and download your clips. Try using Wave.video to add effects, such as text overlay, animated GIFs, a watermark and more. Then, upload to IGTV, share to Facebook, and the cycle starts again.

 

When you take the same content, create multiple versions, and repurpose it on multiple platforms, it’s social media time-management at its best!

 

The latest updates to IGTV include sending notifications to fans and creating your own original IGTV series so our fans can binge watch!

 

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.

 

Marketing to Women.jpgby Mari Smith

 

Authenticity is key in marketing to women.

Look at how your brand or product can genuinely help and/or empower women while tapping into what they find valuable. And, what women value is pretty much everything from work and growth, to autonomy and family.

 

Gloria Moss, author of Gender, Design and Marketing: How Gender Drives our Perception of Design and Marketing, points out that not only do women make up 80% of consumers’ buying decisions, women shop differently from men. Whereas men look at a product’s usefulness, women want to know what that product will do. Men want an overview, but women will not make a buying decision until they have all the information and are completely satisfied.

 

The other element of the equation is emotion. Women are different from men, so marketing to them the same way will not work. Years of history in advertising is proof of that.

 

Keep in mind, it’s not always about the product. If your brand stands for positive, life-affirming, or empowering attributes- if your brand is inclusive and diverse - that emotional connection may also help in aligning a consumer with your business.

 

Marketing to Women

 

While businesses are getting better at listening to consumers, there is still work to be done. So, how can your business better market to women?

 

  1. Study your ideal client.

    Who is your buyer and how can your product or service help them? Create buyer personas to help with your targeting.
  2. Ask what they want.

    Post on social media, asking your customers about their needs and wants. These can be features for product development or values-based content. You can also ask family members to chime in.
  3. Stand for what your customers value.

    If there is a cause that is near and dear to your ideal customers - or to you - shine a light on it to amplify awareness. Showing that you care triggers an emotional connection.
  4. Elevate your customer service.

    Women consumers want to know everything they can about a product or service before they consent to buy. Make sure you have customer service available on multiple platforms (phone, email, social media), and let prospects know how to reach you in your marketing.
  5. Hire real women.

    To get the voice and needs of your women customers, especially if you have products directly related to that demographic, have women on your team. Inside information on your client or customer is always an asset.

 

Messaging to Women

 

There are several tenets to embrace when cultivating your business’ marketing message, as it relates to women.

 

  1. Don’t stereotype.

    You want to find that balance of truth in advertising without going overboard - too feminine or too masculine - in either direction. Stereotyping is a sure-fire way to alienate your customers.
  2. Follow the leaders.

    If there are brands you admire, keep an eye on what they are doing. For instance, Microsoft, HBO, and Nike regularly do women-focused campaigns. Then see how you can use their examples as a barometer for your own unique marketing.
  3. Use real people.

    Women like to see themselves using and embracing your products. Whatever the medium - social media, TV, video - use people your prospects and customers can relate to. User-generated content is another option for this strategy.
  4. Create great content.

    No matter what you put out in your messaging, it should be high quality. Use all the senses, education, and humor whenever possible.
  5. Jump on trends.

    #InternationalWomensDay, #STEM, #LeanIn. Look at the events and research the hashtags that empower women. Then see how your business can support and promote them, as appropriate.

 

No matter how you approach marketing to women, keep one thing in mind. Be true to your brand. Your company’s mission and values are what humanizes you. And it’s that human, authentic touch that is most important when presenting and marketing your brand.

 

 

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. ©2020 Bank of America Corporation

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

 

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.

Micro Influencers.jpgby Mari Smith

 

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.

 

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 in-house 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 upfront, 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: This 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.

 

 

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 advi

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.

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

 

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.

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

 

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.

Measure the Metrics that Matter.jpgby Mari Smith

 

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.

 

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.

 

The 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 the 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; the 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's Cash Flow Monitor offers an innovative new cash flow dashboard where you can see a 360° view of your business’ financial position or picture in a compelling, visual layout.

 

Cash Flow Monitor 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 a 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!

 

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Mari Smith to provide materials for informational purposes only, and is not responsible for, and does not guarantee or endorse any of the third-party products or services mentioned.  All third-party logos and company names mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners and 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. ©2020 Bank of America Corporation

Selling Product on Instagram.jpgby Mari Smith

 

As Instagram solidifies its place as a powerhouse social media platform more small businesses should take advantage of this growing new channel to drive awareness, but also for driving sales. Instagram is one of the easiest platforms to showcase your small business’ products for sale and attract new paying customers. The Instagram app is entirely visual and almost exclusively accessed via the mobile app, although there is a desktop version.

 

With shopping on Instagram, you can create eye-catching, visual storefront posts for your small business that allow people to explore your best products with a single phone tap.

 

In this article, I’ll cover product-based businesses. If your small business is service-based, there are plenty of ways you can sell on Instagram and we’ll go into that in a future article.

 

Discovery has always been a key aspect of Instagram. With 80 percent of people already following a business account, and a global community of over 1 billion users, Instagrammers want to explore and find new things from companies they love. Similarly, businesses are always looking for opportunities to connect with valuable prospects and customers.

 

When Instagram added the shopping feature in March 2017, the company wanted to create something that was less transactional and more of an immersive experience. A way to give shoppers time and space to browse and evaluate products.

 

How shopping works on Instagram

 

Your Instagram business profile must be associated with an e-commerce catalog on Facebook. Once your Instagram business profile is connected to your Facebook catalog, you can tag products from your catalog in your Instagram posts and stories. People can tap on product tags to see prices and descriptions, or shop straight from your feed. Once you have a Facebook product catalog connected to your Instagram business account, tagging a product is as simple as tagging a person in a post.

 

What to sell on Instagram

 

To sell on Instagram, your business must primarily sell physical goods. You also need to comply with Instagram’s commerce policies. Instagram shopping posts may not promote services. Note that this just means using the shop tag or sticker feature. You can certainly still offer services (and products) using links in your bio and the swipe up feature in Stories.

 

Instagrammers can find your products via your feed posts, your stories, the Explore tab and from hashtag searches.

 

The ability to add shopping tags is available for both your main Instagram feed posts and for your Stories. I’ll go into that more below.

 

When you create an Instagram post with tagged products, the post is not only shared with your followers but is also shared in the Explore section. Over 200 million users visit the Explore tab on Instagram every day.


Including relevant hashtags on your Instagram posts and stories is a must, too. This helps increase your chances of discovery both on the Explore tab and in hashtag searches.

 

How to set up your shopping posts on Instagram

 

Step 1

 

Make sure your Instagram account is a business profile, and not a personal profile. If you currently have a personal profile that you use for business purposes, you’ll need to convert your account. Or, create a new business profile.

 

Step 2

 

Connect your Instagram business profile to a Facebook catalog. You can connect to an existing Facebook catalog or set up a new catalog using Business Manager.

 

If you work with a Facebook partner such as Shopify or BigCommerce, you can also set up a catalog through your account with them.

 

Next, your account must be reviewed before you can start selling. You can imagine that Facebook-owned Instagram needs to ensure bona fide products are offered for sale on their platforms. The review process usually takes a few days.

 

Step 3

 

Once your account is approved for shopping, you then need to enable product tags. From your Instagram business profile on the mobile app, tap the button in the upper right-hand corner > tap Shopping under Business Settings > tap Continue> select the product catalog you want > tap Done.

 

Step 4

 

Now you can add product tags on your Instagram posts and product stickers on your stories.

 

You can tag up to 5 products per single image/video post or up to 20 products per carousel (multi-image post). Tap Tag Products from the Share screen. Select the product you want to tag from your catalog and place your product tag on or near the product in your image or video.

 

The good news is you can use the shopping tag feature on both new and existing posts.

 

For Instagram stories, you can create one product sticker per story and you can edit the sticker color and text. To access the product sticker, tap the sticker icon at the top right and then select the product sticker option. Unlike feed posts, once stories have been published, you cannot edit them.

 

Once you’ve tagged products in 9 posts, a shop tab will show up on your profile that lets shoppers browse your shoppable posts—all in one place.

 

Weave products into your visual story-telling in Instagram posts and stories.

 

Promoting your product posts

 

At the moment, the ability to tag products in feed posts and add product stickers to stories is only available in organic posts. Instagram does not allow paid ads with shopping tags. However, last year Instagram partnered with e-commerce platform Shopify to offer product tagging and these posts can be promoted using paid ads.

 

For organic promotion, remember to include hashtags in all your feed posts. You can add as many as 30 hashtags. Make good use of the stories feature - ideally posting 2-3 or more stories per day. And include a few hashtags on your stories.

 

Reviewing your shopping insights

 

Businesses can get insights like seeing how many people tapped to see more product details or clicked on “shop now.”To see key metrics on your shopping posts and stories, simply tap View Insights on a shopping post or swipe up on shopping stories. You can also sort top shopping posts on various metrics through Insights on your business profile.

 

Utilizing these tools within Instagram can help take your use of the platform from fun and building awareness to achieving real sales. Consider setting aside a few hours in the next month to experiment with selling on Instagram and see what it can do for your small business.

 

 

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