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Sales & Marketing

14 Posts authored by: marismith

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

 

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

 

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

 

Web: Mari Smith  or Twitter: @MariSmith

 

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

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

 

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

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My three secrets to creating irresistible ads:

 

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

 

Let’s break them down.

 

1. Refine your audience targeting

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

2. Use compelling messages and creative

 

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

 

Use vibrant images

 

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

 

Embrace short-form video ads

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

3. Choose the right placement.

 

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

 

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

 

Learn more about automatic vs. manual placement here.

 

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

 

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

 

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

Place Stories ads on both Instagram & Facebook

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

You can read more articles from Mari Smith by clicking here

 

About Mari Smith

 

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.

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

 

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This applies to everything in your business.

 

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

 

 

Proxy metrics (or Vanity metrics) vs. sales metrics

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Following are some suggested metric categories:

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Tools for measuring your online activity

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

One stop data dashboard

 

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

 

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

 

Cash flow dashboard

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

About Mari Smith

 

mari_0362xFACE_preview.jpg

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

 

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

 

Web: Mari Smith or Twitter: @MariSmith

 

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

 

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

 

© 2019 Bank of America Corporation.

 

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

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.

 

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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 Shoppingunder 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 Productsfrom 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 Insightson 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.

 

Want to learn more about using Instagram for your small business? Check out these other posts.

 

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.

Have you embraced the growing trend of micro content yet? Are you publishing Instagram and Facebook Stories regularly for your business?

 

Savvy small business owners are easily reaching and engaging their audiences using fun, relevant and creative content in the Stories format.

 

As explained in my article, 5 Ideas to Use Instagram Stories to Drive Small Business Growth, a Story is a piece of micro-content that disappears after 24 hours. Stories are mobile optimized with full screen, short vertical videos, images, stickers and other fun, interactive features. The Stories format is available on both Instagram and Facebook.

 

Instagram Stories

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If you have a personal or business Instagram account, you have Stories!

 

Instagram ad spending is growing at a rapid rate thanks to the rise of Instagram Stories. Story ads increase ad recall, purchase intent, message association and click-through rate (CTR).

 

With over 400 million daily active users on Instagram Stories, this micro content feature is prime real estate to easily reach your target audience. According to Instagram, one in three of the most viewed Stories are from businesses. So, all the more reason to get going with Stories in 2019.

 

Instagram Stories and Stories ads are available to businesses worldwide. If you are currently using your Instagram personal profile for business, I would strongly recommend converting to an Instagram Business Profile as you’ll get access to helpful analytics, a CTA button for your profile, integration to third party tools for scheduling and other benefits.

 

Facebook Stories

 

The Facebook Stories format is a bit slower to catch on, with 300 million daily active users. But, Facebook is determined to ensure this format is just as popular (if not more, eventually) with new features for businesses rolling out regularly.

 

Placing ads in the Stories format provides small business owners a refreshing alternative to news feed ads.

 

“Stories are the future.” Mark Zuckerberg, CEO Facebook, Q3 2018  earnings call

 

Stories creation and consumption is growing at 15X the rate of feed content. The Stories format will eventually usurp the feed format as we know it. Or Facebook and Instagram may create a hybrid of both formats later this year. 

 

Why Stories ads?

 

Both Instagram and Facebook Stories ads appear at the top of people’s feed in between organic Stories. Videos display for up to 15 seconds and images for up to 6 seconds. Users tap or swipe to navigate back or forward. Stories are always full screen and vertical, which provides a fully immersive, distraction-free experience for users.

 

Advertisers can include calls to action and links. Links open up inside the native Facebook and Instagram mobile app, allowing the user to browse, take action and return to exactly where they were all without leaving the app. This last part is vital to the user experience. It allows the user to maintain control. To tap and swipe, engaging with your content, and then return to where they left off.

 

How to create Stories ads

 

Take a look at Facebook’s Creative Hub to optimize your creative process and save valuable time. Mock up, preview and test Facebook and Instagram ads here.

 

My favorite tool for creating video Stories ads is Wave.video. Choose from hundreds of millions of royalty free assets, or upload your own. Add text overlay, stickers, GIFs, logos, music and more. You can easily create a video in landscape or square formats, and at the click of a button convert to the 9:16 vertical video Story format. [Editor’s note: Mari Smith is an ambassador for Wave.video.]

 

You could also create still image Stories ads using a tool such as Canva. They have some gorgeous premade templates you can use. 

 

A great mobile app for creating Stories is Unfold.

 

Where to set up Stories ads

 

To place ads in Stories on either Facebook and/or Instagram, use Ads Manager.

 

If you are already placing ads, you might already be using the Stories ads format without even realizing it. Any qualifying ads that you create in Facebook Ads Manager already show up in the Instagram and/or Facebook Stories placement by default.

 

Instagram Stories ads are available as a standalone placement using Ads Manager.

 

Facebook Stories ads is included when you leave the default Automatic Placements. Currently, you can't select Facebook Stories as a standalone placement when you create an ad.

 

Stories ad formats

 

    • Instagram: Single image, single video, canvas, and carousel (where you can place up to 10 ‘cards’ in a single ad).
    • Facebook: Single image, single video.

 

Stories ad design specs

 

    • Image aspect ratios:  9:16 and 4:5 to 1.91:1
    • Video: 15 seconds
    • Full Instagram and Facebook Story ad specs.

 

Stories ad calls-to-action

 

Just as you can add any of the available CTA buttons to regular ads, you can include one of these on your Story ads: Apply Now, Book Now, Contact Us, Download, Learn More, Get Showtimes, Request Time, See Menu, Shop Now, Sign Up, Watch More, Listen Now, Subscribe

 

Stories ad objectives

 

Only certain ad objectives can be used with Stories ads. These are: Reach, Traffic, App installs, Video views, Brand Awareness, Lead Generation or Conversions.

 

Get inspiration for your Stories Ads

 

    • Check out Instagram’s own library of Stories Ads case studies.
    • Facebook also has a vast array of Stories in Ads examples on its Success Stories site.
    • See this fabulous infographic by 99firms - How Businesses Use Instagram Stories: 30 Case Studies.
    • Facebook Stories ad case study of Bux app by MakeMeReach.com.

 

 

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.

Organic marketing on Facebook means it’s free to reach your target audience. In other words, no advertising costs.

 

Back in the ‘good old days’ of 2008 to 2013, we could reach as much as 300 percent of our audience. How was that even possible?

 

With the viral nature of the Facebook news feed, you could publish a piece of content on your business page and your audience would immediately start engaging with it and sharing. This would often result in your content taking flight and reaching a much wider audience than just those who liked your page.

 

Once Facebook became a public company in 2012, the organic reach started to plummet. In fact, this chart by Social@Ogilivy shows a 50 percent decline in organic reach in the five months between October 2013 to February 2014.

 

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Even though that sharp decline happened five years ago, many small business owners are stuck marketing like it’s 2012. They see their business posts not getting as much reach and engagement, so they try publishing more content. Instead of posting once a day, they’ll post four times a day.

 

This strategy is terribly counterproductive.

 

Over-publishing content on Facebook can hurt your reach and even your reputation. Why? Because the algorithms are trained to seek out popular content and give it more reach. I’m sure you’ll agree, this is rather unfair.

 

How can you get more reach if you can’t get engagement?

 

The good news is there are proven methodologies. It is absolutely still possible to create very successful organic marketing on Facebook!

 

3 simple steps to successful organic marketing on Facebook

 

1. Focus on the ROI of each post.

 

Rather than increasing the volume of your Facebook posts, publish fewer pieces and focus on the ROI of each. Everything starts with exceptional content. Without compelling content, there is nothing with which your audience can engage. Without regular content on your Facebook page, it’s like you’re sending the message that you’re not really open for business and don’t care about your audience. And, of course you do. So, it is best to publish quality content 3 to 5 times per week. If you can manage it, go for once per day.

 

    • TIP: Review your Facebook Page Insights and look back over the past year or so of posts. Which posts got the best reach? What format – video, pictures, links –  resonates most with your audience? Is there a day and time to which your audience responds best?

 

2. Create and publish more video content.

 

The Facebook algorithms favor video content more than other posts. And, Facebook Live video broadcasts get six times the engagement of recorded video. You should publish a mix of both recorded and live videos. My recommended content ratio for 2019 is 70 percent video posts, 20 percent image posts and 10 percent link posts. Video and image posts can still include links and CTAs (calls-to-action). BuzzSumo recently analyzed over 777 million Facebook page posts and concluded that video is indeed the most engaging content type.

 

    • TIP: Create a variety of videos in these categories:
      • 15-second square videos for use on Facebook and Instagram. These are ideal to publish as a ‘teaser’ with a link to your blog posts and articles. They are also ideal for boosting and using as paid placement when you do allocate a budget. See examples on my Facebook page here and here.
      • 15-second vertical videos for Facebook and Instagram Stories. Make sure you’re including Stories in your marketing mix for 2019. This is a rapidly growing area that small businesses need to understand.
      • 3-minute videos in landscape or square for all social channels. Facebook considers videos over 3 minutes as ‘long form,’ which the platform needs in order to eventually place 15-second ad breaks.
      • 18- to 25-minute episodic videos. These can be recorded or broadcast live and ideally published on the same day each week as part of a show format. Your show-style videos could be featured in the Facebook Watch platform as a result.

 

 

3. Encourage meaningful engagement.

 

This can include adding polls to your video content, asking your audience questions and incentivizing user-generated content. Invite your audience to submit suggestions, examples, case studies, etc. You could also periodically host a contest on your Facebook business page to generate an increase in engagement. The Facebook algorithms give significant priority to posts that generate engagement - reactions, comments and shares. The sweet spot is being able to spark conversation among your audience members. In other words, having your followers chat with one another.

 

    • TIP: Link your Facebook business page to a group. Some of the most successful Facebook pages also offer a free group where members can connect more deeply. I offer several groups on my Facebook Page, two of which are public and free and another two are for paying course members. Another great example is the wildly popular Facebook Watch show, Red Table Talk with over 4.5 million followers of the show and a linked group with over 458k members. Granted this is a celebrity show and companion group. However, there’s a great deal here from which small businesses can learn.

 

One more exciting component to add to the mix for your 2019 Facebook organic marketing plans: Watch Parties!

 

I am most excited about this feature. It first came out in July 2018 just to groups, but it is now available on personal profiles and business pages. The idea is you can host any public video, or a playlist of multiple videos, for your audience. It’s very different than sharing a video, because everyone watches the video at the same time, essentially as if it were live.

 

You can use the Watch Party feature to showcase your own content, or related content. Find out more with an actual demo on my Facebook page along with this Facebook help section.

 

Want to read more of my tips about marketing your small business on Facebook?  Check out my other content on this site.

 

 

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.

Do you use Facebook and/or Instagram to market your real estate services? In this article, I’ll walk you through my top seven ideas for how you can promote your real estate business more effectively on social media.

 

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Whether local homeowners are looking to sell, or prospective buyers are searching for their ideal home, or other Realtors in your neighborhood want to check out your listings, your ideal audience should be able to easily find you via Facebook and/or Instagram. In fact, by amplifying your strategic use of the two largest social networks, you could find your business growing exponentially.

 

Following are my seven best tips to increase your visibility, reach, engagement and conversions.

 

1. Do Facebook live broadcasts

 

Facebook live videos get six times as many interactions as regular videos, on average. Facebook is really favoring live content, especially when you are also broadcasting via your Stories on your Facebook personal profile or your business Page.

 

     RELATED CONTENT: How to Identify Facebook Live Opportunities for Your Small Business

 

Of course, nothing can beat being physically in person with a potential buyer and taking them on a property tour. Or, of course, hosting an open house with prospects coming to visit the home.

 

However, streaming live really lends itself well to Realtors to at least spark interest. Think about doing virtual open houses in a ‘show’ format, on the same day and time each week, if feasible. Or, come up with a show name and provide interesting tours of your properties.

 

Live broadcasts help your audience get to know, like and trust you. When you do live virtual open houses on a regular basis, you’ll stand out in the news feed. Plus, make sure to encourage comments so you can follow up. See also tip No. 5 below for connecting a chatbot.

 

2. Go live on Instagram

 

Instagram boasts 1 billion monthly active users, and continues to grow at a rapid rate. The demographic also tends to be somewhat younger and more affluent than Facebook. Instagram is owned by Facebook, as you may know.

 

You access the live feature on Instagram through the camera app, where you’ll broadcast in the Stories section. You can go live for up to one hour. Stories has 400 million daily active users. This is a terrific captive audience as they are all proactively tapping in to the active Stories.

 

As Instagram is really favoring Stories and especially live broadcasts, your live video will get prominent positioning at the top of your followers’ feed.

 

Just like your Facebook Live broadcasts, use Instagram live to engage with your followers and to do virtual open houses. Again, encourage comments but especially direct messages so you can follow up.

 

     RELATED CONTENT:

 

3. Create short video content

 

Along with live video broadcasts, Facebook is really favoring all video content. More and more users are discovering video content through the Watch platform. If you publish video content on your Facebook Page – whether live broadcasts or uploaded native video – your video content can be surfaced on Facebook Watch. The Watch platform is accessible on desktop, mobile and the television set-top app.

 

Speaking of Watch, Facebook is launching a new property series called Most Incredible Homes. The five-part series consists of 12-minute weekly episodes that reveals stunning dream homes from around the world.

 

Consider how you could create short videos with a blend of stock assets and your own photos and video clips using an app such as Wave.video. Add some inspirational text overlay and a music track. This type of video tends to be highly shareable.

 

     RELATED CONTENT:

 

4. Publish stunning visuals

 

Real estate is ideal for creating eye-catching and thumb-stopping visuals in a variety of trendy formats such as 360 photos and videos, 3D photos, and drone video footage. From the simple panorama feature on your phone, you can capture images that Facebook will convert to 360 or 3D. Or, consider investing in a 360 camera and/or drone. I use the Ricoh Theta V 4k 360 Spherical Camera which you can find here. It’s super light and small, and takes terrific 360 photos and videos.

 

5. Use the right hashtags on Instagram

 

Hashtags may or may not make much difference to your posts on Facebook. But on Instagram, hashtags are an absolute must for reaching the right audience, growing your followers and even attracting leads. Each post can include up to 30 hashtags. Be sure to do your homework and research a variety of popular hashtags, but also use some that are less popular so you might have more chance of being discovered.

 

Refer to this helpful article by my friends at Adespresso.

 

6. Integrate a Messenger chatbot

 

This could be one of your easiest methods of lead generation. By encouraging prospects to message you via Facebook Messenger, you can begin an automated dialog and self-sorting process. You can gather your prospects’ phone number and/or email address and then follow up personally.

 

In addition to encouraging people to direct message you, you can also set up the chatbot so anyone that comments on your Facebook Page posts receives a message from you. This is why it’s important to encourage your audience to leave a comment on all your videos and live broadcasts and other types of posts.

 

Take a look at MobileMonkey for a free chatbot system for your Facebook Page.

 

     RELATED CONTENT: Facebook Messenger Chatbots Give Small Business Owners an Edge

 

7. Encourage reviews on Facebook

 

Facebook gives prominent positioning in the search results on desktop and mobile to businesses that have reviews. Especially when you have a good number of reviews. Be sure to follow up with all your past and current clients and direct them to your Facebook Page to give you a review. In fact, Facebook recently made a change that makes it even easier for people to simply one-click recommend your business. And then they can also leave a written review.

 

     RELATED CONTENT: How to Increase Authentic Business Reviews on Facebook

 

8. Participate in local Facebook groups

 

Search and join relevant, local groups to network with fellow professionals that are open to exchanging referrals. Also check out peer support groups. For example, my friend Dave Savage runs a thriving Mortgage Coach Productivity Mastermind Group that provides tremendous peer support to industry professionals.

 

     RELATED CONTENT: How to Use Facebook Groups to Build a Loyal Community

 

 

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

You can read more articles from Mari Smith by clicking here

 

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.

Facebook can be incredibly powerful for local businesses to attract a very specific demographic. In some ways, local businesses may find Facebook marketing easier to yield solid measurable results vs. global businesses, given they are only looking to attract a specific local market.

However, oftentimes, local business owners are so busy running their businesses they may feel they don’t have time to use Facebook regularly. The good news is there aremany simple and effective ways you can optimize your presence on Facebook that don’t take a ton of time or budget.

 

Let’s look at a variety of Facebook marketing best practices for local businesses, exemplified by several fabulous examples.

 

Dundee’s Restaurant On The Waterfront – Cairns, Australia

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Dundee’s is a local restaurant in Cairns, Queensland, Australia and is a client of my longtime Inner Circle member, Lisa

Monks of Chipmonk Media.

 

Dundee’s embodies many excellent Facebook marketing best practices.

 

Publish a variety of visually compelling posts

 

With a glorious location on the waterfront and a scrumptious seafood menu, Dundee’s has amazing features to showcase on Facebook in visual format.

 

Dundee’s shares regular videos of the restaurant inside and out, and the spectacular waterfront view. You really get a feel for the venue from the video posts.

 

In addition, you can find an abundance of photos and slideshows of Dundee’s yummy dishes.

 

Our friends at Buzzsumo analyzed 100 million Facebook videos last year and the most popular video topic by a large margin is food.

 

Garner plenty of reviews

 

It’s very important for local businesses, especially restaurants, to showcase reviews. Everyone wants to know what peers thought of the food, experience, service, ambience, location, etc.

 

Dundee’s has a 4.5 of 5-star rating out of 422 reviews. In addition, Dundee’s added a tab to their Facebook page with TripAdvisor Reviews where we can see well over 2,000 reviews with very high ratings.

 

Refer to this post and Facebook Live training for ideas on how to increase authentic business reviews on Facebook.

 

Run fun and relevant contests for lead generation

Dundee’s encourages fans to enter a contest to win a $100 dinner voucher by simply sharing their favorite Dundee’s dish, or choosing a dish from the menu that they would like to try. The strategy here is to get the audience talking about their favorite meals so others can get a sense of the amazing menu.

 

In addition, the contest is hooked up to a Messenger chatbot which helps Dundee’s to grow their Messenger subscription list.

 

Whereas email open rates are around 20 percent on average, Messenger open rates are as high as 90 percent. Ideally, businesses include both email marketing and Messenger chatbot marketing in their mix.

 

Additional best practices to point out on Dundee’s Facebook page include a gorgeous cover image, profile photo and Our Story photo. These are three prime pieces of visual real estate on your Facebook Page and a picture says a thousand words. You can also put a cover video instead of a photo. In this case, Dundee’s chose a striking image that embodies the ambience and view.

 

Becca Rose Mystic – Mystic, Conn

 

Becky Mashuta owns the Becca Rose cosmetic store in Mystic, Conn. She is a client of my longtime Inner Circle member, Molly Mahoney, The Prepared Performer, who helps refine and implement her marketing strategies.

 

What can we learn from the Becca Rose Mystic page?

 

Publish regular video content and Facebook Live broadcasts

 

Becky shares fun Facebook Live broadcasts from her phone in vertical (portrait) format for personable updates, with fun masks and filters. Plus, she does desktop Facebook Live broadcasts using the BeLive.tv app to share behind the scenes, live gemstone sales, free Tarot card readings and more.

 

Integrate a Messenger chatbot app

 

The Becca Rose Mystic page hooked up an interactive chatbot that helps customers and prospects engage and discover more about the store. Additionally, on Becky’s Facebook Live broadcasts, she uses a keyword comment trigger to do free giveaways via the Messenger chatbot. This is a superb method for lead generation. Fans simply comment on the Live video with the appropriate keyword, and the chatbot automatically delivers the giveaway.

 

In this post, I talk about my favorite Messenger chatbot platform, Mobile Monkey.

 

Place Facebook ads

 

Becca Rose Mystic is also a savvy marketer that integrates paid promotions on Facebook. For instance, this simple comment trigger photo post ad invites the target audience to receive a free tarot message.

 

Placing Facebook ads with either a Messenger call to action or a comment trigger is an excellent way to begin 1:1 conversations with your audience.

 

Play City – Chula Vista, Calif

 

Play City is a fun indoor inflatable playground for kids ages 1-12, based in Chula Vista, Calif. My longtime Inner Circle member, Alita Mighela, is the marketing manager at Play City and is extremely passionate about her work.

 

Showcase your venue with a Facebook cover video

 

First impressions count and you want your page visitors to immediately get an impression of what your business is all about. Play City has a vibrant video depicting the epic fun kids can have at this venue.

 

Play City also makes regular use of video content, including Live broadcasts. Videos feature the daily buzzing atmosphere at Play City, kids doing their favorite dance moves, and Alita sharing fun behind-the-scenes peeks.

 

Use the Facebook Events feature

 

Play City makes regular use of the Events feature. A little-known secret about using the Facebook Events feature is that your event also shows up in Facebook’s newly revamped mobile app, Local. Local is one of my favorite Facebook apps; it’s super easy to use and has a comprehensive range of search features making it very easy to find all manner of activities to do in your local area.

 

Use Facebook’s Shop feature

 

Play City also makes use of the Shop feature on their Facebook page with simple admission tickets, membership and gift cards. Fans can easily purchase online on desktop or mobile. The images for each item are colorful and eye-catching.

 

Willowglen Garden Centre - Stornoway, Isle of Lewis, Scotland

 

The owner of this lovely garden center is a client of my Inner Circle member, Diane Murray of Orbit Agency Ltd.

 

Willowglen Garden Centre owner, Richard Robinson, is a third-generation gardener and Diane tells me he would openly admit that before he set up his Facebook business page, he was terrified of social media and putting his business 'out there.'

 

Now, Richard has become quite the whiz at getting on camera and chatting with his fans in such a personable way, showcasing all the lovely offerings of his garden center.

 

Over a short period of time (around 15 months), Willowglen has managed to gain quite a following, reach a wide audience and has seen a significant increase in footfall and sales.

 

Just like Dundee’s Restaurant with their compelling food photos, a garden center lends itself perfectly to visual content. Willowglen’s Facebook wall beautifully showcases their range of flowers, plants, garden tools, pet products and more. Plus, Willowglen runs regular contests with fun prizes that helps spark engagement. This dog talent show contest is a great example with hundreds of shares and comments.

 

Facebook offers small, local businesses such a variety of great ways to not only showcase your products and services but, more importantly, to connect with your audience. Make your business more personal and inviting through engaging video and photo content, contests, and Messenger chat conversations. Amplify your efforts with boosted posts. And you’ll be well on your way to achieving greater success with Facebook, too.

 

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

socialmedia. She is a Forbes’ Top Social Media Power Influencer, author of The New Relationship Marketing and coauthor of Facebook Marketing: An Hour A Day.

Forbesrecently 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

You can read more articles from Mari Smith by clicking here

 

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.

Facebook-owned Instagram launched Stories in August 2016 as a direct copy of an already popular Snapchat feature. Today, Instagram Stories has 300 million daily active users. As a result, Snapchat growth slowed 82 percent.)

 

But what, exactly, is a "Story?" And are there benefits for business use?

 

Stories Demystified

 

A Story is a piece of micro-content that disappears after 24 hours.

 

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Stories can be photos/images, recorded videos, text with a colorful background, live video or 'boomerangs' (short, looping video content like an animated GIF).

 

Photos or videos can be uploaded from your camera roll, or you can record within the app. You can add effects, filters, stickers, text, interactive polls, animated GIFs and all manner of fun stuff to your Stories.

 

You can also add a clickable hashtag, @ mentions and locations to your Stories. This all helps with gaining extra visibility. Both hashtags and locations have Story feeds users can follow.

 

In 2017, Facebook also introduced the Story feature to both Messenger and the main Facebook app after Stories had already gained quite a foothold on Instagram.

 

“The way people share and connect is changing; it’s quickly becoming more real-time and visual.” ~Facebook [Source: TechCrunch]

 

Should you include Stories in your marketing mix?

 

The short answer is a resounding yes! For several reasons, to name a few:

 

  1. Micro-content is extremely easy to create.
  2. Both Instagram and Facebook position the Stories feature at the very top of their respective mobile apps. This provides tremendous visibility for your followers. Stories on Facebook are also very easy to create on desktop and are visible on desktop.
  3. People have very short attention spans these days and Stories are incredibly easy and fun to consume.
  4. For Instagram business accounts with over 10,000 followers and/or verified accounts, you can also add a URL to your Stories where your followers swipe up to go to your designated web page. (Now, with the launch of Instagram’s IGTV, you can choose to direct your followers to one of your IGTV videos or an external URL).
  5. Stories are growing 15X faster than feed sharing.
  6. Instagram boasts over 300 million daily active users and Facebook has over 150 million DAU’s.

 

“The Stories format is on a path to surpass feeds as the primary way people share things with their friends sometime next year.” ~Chris Cox, Facebook Chief Product Officer

 

Regularly publishing Stories for your business is a great way of producing micro-content for top of mind and top of feed awareness.

 

5 Story ideas for your business

 

  1. Do live broadcasts. Live Stories get the most prominent positioning at the top with a red “LIVE” icon. You can also do a “Live with” where you invite a guest on and Instagram splits the screen in half. Both your followers and your guest’s followers will see the telltale Live icon at the top. Your Live Story could be a product sneak peek, behind-the-scenes, meet the staff, customer spotlight, Q&A session, special offer, exclusive discounts and more.
  2. Conduct polls. I’ve found interactive polls to be an excellent method for sparking increased engagement. Instagram makes it super easy to add a simple and fun voting button as a slider, or a simple two word or emoji choice. You can even share the poll results later as another Story.
  3. Highlight user generated content. If you gather user generated content across your social channels, you could share screenshots with the relevant user @tag and an appropriate hashtag. These could be simple shout outs, or testimonials and reviews. Instagram auto-suggests hashtags when you start to type. Be sure to first search and settle on the best hashtag for your Story, as this can really help others discover you.
  4. Announce new content. If you publish blog posts/articles, podcast episodes, vlogs (video blogs), and/or live streaming videos, be sure to use Stories to let your Instagram followers know. Always include the related URL in the Swipe Up feature, if you have it.
  5. Share exclusive deals. Entice your followers to keep coming back to consume your Stories by regularly sharing special offers, codes, or unexpected bonuses.

 

Embrace micro-engagement, too

 

Whether you choose to include Stories in your marketing mix or not, I highly recommend starting to at least view and engage with Stories. This is a great way to create what I call micro-engagement.

 

When you view Stories on Instagram, the person/business will see that you've seen their content in their Insights. Granted, not everyone necessarily views their Insights for each Story, but many do, including myself.

 

When possible, try sending a quick reply or even an emoji response to a Story. This goes to the account holder’s private inbox. (Depending on user settings, the ability to reply may not be available on all Stories).


In closing, it is worth noting here that at YouTube’s 2018 VidCon video conference, the company announced that it, too, will be launching a Stories feature.

 

Clearly, Stories are here to stay and businesses would do well to map out a powerful micro-content strategy.

 

Related Content:

The Small Business Owner’s Guide to Social Media

Facebook Privacy: What Small Business Owners Need to Know

Facebook Messenger Chatbots Give Small Business Owners an Edge

 

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

You can read more articles from Mari Smith by clicking here

 

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.

The popularity of Facebook groups has exploded in the past year. The good news is Facebook really wants users to embrace the ‘groups’ feature more, including small businesses.

 

Groups can now be created and administrated by business pages, and posts by groups are getting more priority in the news feed. All the more reason for you to create a companion group linked from your Facebook business page.

 

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There are a variety of reasons why Facebook is pushing groups more. One of the main reasons is to enhance user well-being.  In a status update on Facebook in January 2018, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg stated:

 

We feel a responsibility to make sure our services aren’t just fun to use, but also good for people's well-being. So we've studied this trend carefully by looking at the academic research and doing our own research with leading experts at universities.

 

And, in Zuckerberg’s epic manifesto published in February 2017, the word “group” is mentioned 30 times!

 

Facebook has also hosted invitation-only live event called Facebook Communities Summit. Facebook’s intention with these live events is to help recognize and empower community leaders, and to equip them with better tools to be able to manage their groups.

 

Facebook has released a slew of new features for groups, including:

 

  • Group insights
  • Member request filtering
  • Scheduled posts
  • Linking other groups
  • Welcome posts
  • Badges
  • Member profiles
  • Watch Parties

 

Watch Parties is one of my favorites. This allows any group admin or moderator to create a playlist of any public video on Facebook for group members to watch together. Facebook is giving significant priority to these Watch Parties on the new Watch Platform.

 

Facebook page vs. group?

 

This is a common question among the small business community. It takes effort to manage your page, including creating original content that resonates with your audience, responding and engaging with your community, and ensuring your message gets to the right audience with paid campaigns.

 

Adding a Facebook group into your marketing mix can make a big difference in building a very loyal, engaged following. It may not initially be about growing huge numbers. You might look to have a group of ‘super fans.’ This is what author Kevin Kelly refers to as 1,000 True Fans.

 

Setting up your group

 

Facebook offers three types of groups: Public, Closed or Secret. Refer to this guide to determine which privacy setting will meet your needs.

 

To first create a group as your personal profile, navigate to https://www.facebook.com/groups and click on the green Create group button. You’ll need to add at least one person to be able to proceed further. I usually add my partner or a team member. You can easily add your business page as an admin of this group once set up.

 

Alternatively, to create a group with your business page as the owner/admin, navigate to the Groups tab on the left and follow the directions.

 

Growing group members

 

Link your group to your page and reorder your tabs so the Groups tab is towards the top.

 

Publish a post about your new group, what it’s about, who it’s for and what content you’ll be sharing. Pin this post to the top of your page.

 

Send an email broadcast out to your subscribers encouraging them to join your new group and why they should. Share on all other social channels about your new group with a link to join.

 

Don’t be shy about regularly promoting your group. Be sure to reiterate the benefits of being a member.

 

Building your loyal community

 

Finally, you’ll want to ensure your group has plenty of ‘stickiness.’ What will you do to encourage participation? How can you mobilize group members to contribute even during times when you’re not personally active in the group?

 

I recommend assigning additional moderators to help engage with members.

 

Also, consider doing regular live video broadcasts with exclusive content for your group members. My friend Joey Vitale, attorney at Indie Law, does a terrific job with this strategy. His group Friends of Indie Law has over 7,400 members who are highly engaged with Joey’s weekly live video broadcasts to the group.

 

I love to use Facebook groups as a powerful support community for my various programs and masterminds. One of my longest running groups is my Inner Circle, where I lead bi-monthly live trainings using third-party Facebook Live video conferencing apps. This allows for so much more connection and loyalty when group members also come on camera and share and contribute.

 

Related Content:

     New European Law Impacts U.S. Small Business Owners – Are you Prepared?

     Facebook Privacy: What Small Business Owners Need to Know

     Facebook Messenger Chatbots Give Small Business Owners an Edge

 

 

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

You can read more articles from Mari Smith by clicking here

 

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.

Video is one of the best types of content marketing across the social web. In a recent eye-tracking study, Facebook discovered that people gaze five times longer at video than static content on both Facebook and Instagram. And, in a mobile-first world, shorter video ads drive results.

 

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Facebook gives priority visibility to video content in the news feed. Here’s a hot tip for you: instead of posting links to your blog posts on Facebook, take a few moments to create a short, compelling video to catch attention and increase reach. Be sure to include the URL to your blog post in the description of the video. And, by boosting the video post, you can also add a call-to-action  button to drive traffic to your blog post. See this example on my own Facebook Page.

 

With Facebook and Instagram’s video autoplay feature, the movement catches the eye. Be sure to design your videos for sound-off by adding text overlay.

 

To create stunning, professional video posts and ads on Facebook and Instagram, check out three of my favorite tools:

 

1. Wave.video

 

Wave.video is an easy-to-use online video maker for creating marketing and social videos in minutes.

 

Two excellent features that make this tool stand out are:

1. Access to 200 million high-quality, royalty-free stock video clips and images (500,000 of which are included in the plans, and the rest available for purchase)

2. Simultaneously create multiple formats optimized for Facebook and Instagram, such as square, landscape, story, Facebook cover and more

 

When you want to showcase a blog post on Facebook with a short, simple video, Wave.video makes it easy to search their vast library and quickly find the perfect eye-catching assets. Add text overlay, a call to action, music track and you are good to go. Plus, Wave.video allows you to add watermarks, upload your own logo, choose fonts and colors, and select from a large library of great royalty-free music.

 

Try producing both landscape and square formats for the same 5-15 second video and split test in two different Facebook ads. Or, with the click of a button, reformat the same video into an Instagram Story ad.

 

Wave.video is currently only available as a web-based tool.

 

2. Animoto

 

If you have your own library of photos and videos, Animoto is a great choice. This tool allows you to create videos in three easy steps. First, pick a style for your video. Second, upload your own photos and/or video clips, add text elements and choose a music track. Finally, produce the video and share it on your website or social channels.

 

One of the features that makes Animoto stand out is their wonderful array of pre-built storyboards or templates for marketing videos. Simply replace the placeholder photos and videos with your own assets. And, Animoto’s “Memories” slideshow themes are stunning for showcasing your own photos and video clips into stylized videos.

 

Plus, Animoto has a format called Quote Blocks for quickly creating short, inspirational videos or showcasing customer testimonials.

 

Animoto is a web-based tool, and has apps for Android and iOS devices.

 

3: Adobe Spark

 

Spark is a fabulous three-in-one tool by Adobe that easily creates graphics, videos and web pages.

 

To create videos, simply follow the online prompts, pick a story template or build your own. Upload your assets or choose from royalty-free sources. Because Spark is part of the Adobe suite of products, you can access your Adobe Stock account, Creative Cloud and Lightroom.

 

Adobe Spark is a free tool, both web-based and as a mobile app. To remove the Adobe Spark branding on your videos, you will need to upgrade to a paid account.

 

Including more videos in your Facebook and Instagram content marketing and ad campaigns can help to dramatically improve your visibility, reach and conversions.

 

Related Content:

How Video and Data Can Help Small Business Owners Better Target Customers

Reaching Customers With Live Streaming Video

Facebook Privacy: What Small Business Owners Need to Know

 

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

You can read more articles from Mari Smith by clicking here

 

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.

Conversations have always been a core part of commerce. What is emerging now at a rapid rate is the automated part of a customer’s journey from pre- to post-sales. This automation is birthing a new paradigm often referred to as “Conversational Commerce” and it’s forecast to be a multi-billion-dollar industry in less than ten years, according to an April report from MobileMonkey.

 

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“A sale isn’t made until a conversation is started. Marketers need to focus on creating conversations, not leads. Conversations create revenue.” —David Cancel, CEO Drift

 

More and more people are using online chatbots to start conversations with businesses. That includes people who work at companies of every size, sector and industry.

 

To help shed light on how chatbots are reshaping online experiences today, the teams at Drift, SurveyMonkey Audience, Salesforce, and myclever came together to create The 2018 State of Chatbots Report. The report is based on a survey of 1,000+ U.S. adults.

 

Key findings include:

 

  • The top perceived benefit of chatbots is the ability to get 24-hour service, according to 64 percent of respondents
  • The second most popular benefit is getting an instant response to inquiries, said 55 percent of participants
  • Key decision-makers are using online chatbots: 41 percent of people starting online chat conversations with businesses are executives

 

A Messenger chatbot is a third-party software system that integrates with your Facebook business page and helps to automate responses when people send a private message to your Facebook page, via Messenger. Plus, within the Messenger terms, you can send broadcasts to those people who have begun a conversation with you. In an era when email open rates are declining, Messenger open rates can be as high as 90 percent, according to Chatbots Life.

 

There are numerous Messenger chatbot platforms on the market today. The one that I’m favoring and recommending is MobileMonkey. The Boston-based company is free to get started and they provide excellent customer care – including a toll-free phone number.

 

Installing a Messenger chatbot on your Facebook business page is quick and easy and can instantly give you a significant advantage over your competitors.

 

Various messages that you might want to automate include:

 

  • Answers to frequently asked questions
  • Common customer support or technical help questions
  • Directions to your store/business
  • Support navigating various product choices
  • Order confirmation and shipment tracking
  • Follow up once a parcel has arrived and ask for a product review
  • Make product recommendations

 

     Related Content: How to Increase Authentic Business Reviews on Facebook

 

“Businesses are turning to Messenger to help their customers find the perfect gift, book appointments, get personalized deals, receive shipping updates and so much more.” —Andrew Kritzer, Product Manager, Messenger Platform.

 

Chatbots can help you to guarantee a great user experience by providing instant replies with pertinent information.

 

Here’s the key, though: don’t think online chatbots should ever be “set and forget.” One of my favorite options to include in a chatbot sequence is, “Talk to a human.”

 

A couple more notable stats from the 2018 State of Chatbots Report include:

 

  • 43 percent of consumers said they prefer dealing with an actual person (this was the No. 1 potential barrier to using chatbots, which makes sense)
  • 34 percent of respondents say they would use a chatbot to find a human customer service assistant

 

     Related Content: How Good Is Your Customer Service? Here Are 6 Steps to Find Out

 

So, look for ways to use a Messenger chatbot that can partially automate the customer experience. Your chatbot should augment and supplement your community managers and online customer support teams, not replace them.

 

For a comprehensive resource, check out The Complete Guide to Conversational Commerce by Matt Schlicht, founder of Chatbots Magazine.

And, if you’re looking for some helpful ideas to get started, here are 20 Examples of Facebook Messenger Chatbots to Inspire You in 2018.

 

     Related Content: Facebook Privacy: What Small Business Owners Need to Know

 

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

You can read more articles from Mari Smith by clicking here

 

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

 

Online ratings and reviews are a powerful form of user-generated content to help grow your business. In fact, reviews are a form of word of mouth, which is the most trusted source consumers consult before buying.

 

According to a study by TurnTo Networks, 90 percent of shoppers’ purchasing decisions is influenced by user-generated content. The primary conclusion of TurnTo’s study is ratings, reviews and other user-generated content are more influential than advertising.

 

Plus, a survey by earned content platform Olapic showed that 76 percent of consumers believe the content everyday people share is more honest than advertising from brands.

 

This surely presents a tremendous opportunity to invest further in your customers’ experience.

 

Enabling Facebook Star Ratings and Reviews

 

The Reviews feature on Facebook is incredibly easy to set up if you already have a Facebook business page. Why not encourage your happy customers to leave a review to help attract more customers?

 

Facebook first established the star rating feature in November 2013 as a way to encourage more customers to review local businesses. Any visitor to your Facebook business page can rate your store on a scale from one to five stars. Your average Facebook page star rating is displayed on your page by default. The page rating is an average of all public star ratings.

 

Once a customer has chosen her star rating, she can also add a written review.

 

Facebook allows your customers to choose the level of privacy they prefer on their review. Ideally, you want to encourage your customers to select public. However, just like publishing content on our personal Facebook profiles, reviewers can choose a setting such as specific friends, all friends, friends and their friends, or public.

 

Related content:  Facebook Privacy: What Small Business Owners Need to Know

 

First, make sure you have the Reviews tab enabled on your Facebook business page. Go to Settings, Edit Page, Add a Tab. If you don’t see Reviews as a choice, you may need to switch templates.

 

Next, you can drag and drop the order of your tabs to feature the Reviews tab more prominently – perhaps at the very top of your page.

 

How to Get Customers to Leave Reviews

 

So, how do you encourage more customer reviews? Here are a few suggestions:

 

1. If you’re shipping a product, include a postcard inside the box with a clear and simple invitation to leave a review on your Facebook page. Tell your customer exactly what to do. For example, “We’d love to hear from you! Please share your experience on our Facebook page. Go to fb.com/pageusername > tap on the Reviews tab > select your star rating and write your rave review! We’d love it if you shared your review publicly.” startup-3373320_640.png

 

2. Send your customers follow-up emails asking about their experience with your company. Invite them to leave a star rating and write a review for you on Facebook so that their experience might benefit others. Be sure to include a direct link to your Facebook Reviews tab: https://www.facebook.com/pageusername/reviews

 

3. Include your Facebook Reviews URL with an eye-catching button on your website. Invite your customers to share their experience of your company, product or service on your Facebook Reviews tab.

 

4. Set up a Messenger chat bot to communicate with customers. Integrate the Messenger button on your purchase confirmation page, or other relevant web page(s), asking customers if they’d like to receive updates from you via Messenger. Follow up with an invitation to leave a star rating and write a review. Include a button that links directly to your Reviews tab.

 

5. Regularly monitor the comments and posts by visitors on your Facebook page. Look for potential customer reviews. Comment publically and/or private message these customers asking if they’d be willing to share the same feedback on your Reviews tab so that future customers can benefit from their experience.

 

 

How to Deal with Negative Reviews

 

Many businesses may fear enabling Reviews on Facebook in case they get some low stars or negative reviews. However, understanding Facebook’s guidelines can help you to increase positive reviews and report any negative reviews that don’t follow Facebook’s rules.

 

Reviews must follow the Facebook Community Standards. Reviews must also be based on personal experience and focus on the product or service offered by your page. If a review doesn’t follow Facebook’s rules, you can report it to Facebook and request its removal.

 

Keep in mind that most people simply want to be heard, understood and valued. When your company responds promptly and courteously to an upset customer along with proactive steps to rectify the situation, the negativity can often be quickly diffused and turned around.

 

It’s important to get into the habit of checking your Reviews on Facebook regularly and responding to every single one. Negative and less than optimal reviewers could be turned into your best advocates with the right approach. And, your positive reviewers are most likely your absolute best customers. You’ll want to really nurture the relationship you have with them.

 

Related Content: The Small Business Owner's Guide to Social Media [Ebook]

How to Boost Positive Online Reviews for Your Business – And Deal with Those Pesky Bad Ones

 

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

You can read more articles from Mari Smith by clicking here

 

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.

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