Messenger bots have been taking the online marketing world by storm for years now. But what are they? And does your local business really need them?
Messenger bots are robots that can carry on a conversation with a customer. They interact with them just as an actual human being would. They can handle small customer service tasks, process payments, book reservations, and more. Online users are already becoming familiar with these types of bots every day. They appear on so many websites in the form of chatbots that pop up when a user lands on the site.
Messenger bots are different than these chatbots though. This is because they don’t appear on websites but instead, inside messaging apps such as Facebook Messenger. Facebook is the largest of the messenger bot market. They are also in Twitter, WhatsApp, and more.
Whenever a customer wants to message your business through these apps, the messenger bot will appear. The customer will then subscribe to speak to the bot. If your local business doesn’t currently have one, you could be missing out.
The biggest reason for this is just that – so many local businesses are using them! And that includes your competitors that may be just down the street, or just around the corner. If you’re not, and the competition is, customers may decide to leave your company when they can’t get a hold of you right away, but there is always someone (or something) to talk to them at the competitor.
Local businesses that don’t begin using messenger bots now are simply going to be left behind. It’s said that by the year 2020, and that’s not too far off, 85 percent of business to customer interactions will be done with no human interaction at all. At that time, there’s no telling just what messenger bots will look like, interact like, and what other advancements will be made.
Local business will do much better getting in on this trend now instead of finding out too far down the road that they waited too long.
Social media marketing sounds easy to plenty of new entrepreneurs, yet they must perceive the contrast between individual online networking use and expert utilization.
Consider it like this: on the off chance that you bake a batch of cookies to serve your family, at that point that is something you can oversee without anyone else. Yet, in the event that you anticipate serving 1,000 cookies to peers over the course of a three-day business conference, at that point that is an altogether more complex issue!
Everything gets more complicated when you move from personal to professional, and the outcomes matter more, as well.
All of a sudden, you aren’t simply posting on your Facebook when you feel like it. Nor would you be able to enjoy occasional the reply and like. Instead, you’re actively trying to drive business goals and represent your brand in a likable way.
The emotional contrast between the two approaches finds numerous entrepreneurs off-guard. To help them out, here are eight secrets the masters utilize with regards to online networking marketing — and that numerous small businesses miss.
Write Down a Policy and Style Guide
Ask them to tell you what the business’s social media policy is, and you’re just as likely to get dozens of different answers. In fact, most employees may look you back blankly in the face.
A social media policy guides the brand voice as well as the decisions a business makes when posting. So, if you were trying to pick between two image types, the social media marketing policy could help you decide on the one that aligns better with your social goals.
Creating a social media style guide can similarly help make posting easier, especially if more than one employee handles the duties. Align everything in your policy and style guide so that your social media accounts can support both your brand and your marketing goals.
Target Your Content and Conversations Towards Personas
Some small businesses get HUGE social media followings …of people who would rarely buy anything from them.
There is a big gap between mass engagement and targeted engagement.
You want your posts to speak to a highly targeted audience based on the traits of your best customers. For instance, if you pitch your services to existing IT departments, don’t be shy about using jargon. Stay current on any discussion, too, so that your ideas don’t seem dated.
But if you want to offer managed IT services to regular businesses, they may not know a CAT cable from a cat collar. Feel free to post basic how-tos, and try to keep terminology approachable.
Decide upon the segments you want to speak to in order to raise your chances of success. Imagine traits of a single person in this segment, including their typical job role, the things they value most, and broad aspects of their personality. This is your “persona” for an idealized version of a target audience group.
You can even name them! That way, before you decide on a post to share or an image to use, you can ask something like: “Would Sarah the retired optometrist care about this post?”
Strategize, Set Goals, And Ditch Vanity Metrics
Always set goals for your social media usage. It should serve a concrete purpose that ultimately benefits your business.
Common social media marketing goals include:
Raising website visits
Generating leads through job quotes
Helping introduce new products to people
Getting more participants for events, contests, and things like webinars
Upselling existing customers
Reminding prior customers to return again
Promoting a specific brand value, especially through philanthropy
No matter what your goals are, ensure they actually help your business get more money or improve its brand.
For instance, having a certain number of “likes” or shares from a post promoting your content should not be a goal. These are vanity metrics. Instead, you should monitor the number of actual visits to the content on your website. Ideally, you will also have targets for the percentage of people converted from social to content to signup for your related offer.
Carry on Actual Conversations and Engage
Don’t just post into the void or post things you, personally, want to read.
Everything you post should be targeted towards the personas you have created and tied towards business goals.
You want your audiences to feel like your brand is carrying on a conversation rather than just talking at them.
Respond to certain positive comments or interesting ideas. Try to see if you can get the full perspective from people who have something negative to say. Make each response feel personal, not canned.
Give your audience opportunities to take center stage. Post a question for them, like “what are your favorite ways to save money?” Ask them if they would like to see more of certain content types, or less of certain post types.
Also, make your social media use broader than just posting on your own page. Use social listening tools to monitor brand mentions and jump in on messages when you think it’s worthy of a conversation. Find other business pages, and engage with them like you would want others to engage with you.
As Andrew Kucheriavy of web development company Intechnic writes, “make [sure] your interactions are meaningful! Networking is about adding value to a relationship.”
This is great! Having a schedule makes the social experience more consistent and professional for your audience.
But you shouldn’t be shackled to this schedule.
New articles and ideas will pop up on your radar all the time. Maybe something interesting happened in your industry this week. Maybe you just snapped a great photo of your team at the office.
Give yourself the chance to actually share content during opportunities like these rather than hoarding it all until next month. If you set aside, say, an hour each week to make time for unscheduled postings, then you can flesh out your existing content and make your page feel more organic.
Just remember to stick to your policy, goals, and buyer persona (avatar) guides. Also, proofread twice! Want a really awesome way to create, schedule and automate your social media marketing? Try our free tool, MySoPro today!
Promote Content Posts to Put Them in Front of Targeted Audiences
Start experimenting with promoting certain posts and using custom audience building features. Platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook even offer the ability to target specific companies or hyper-local areas.
If you put just a small budget behind a few key posts a month, then you can quickly multiply the number of people who see your messages. You also generate valuable data based on who does and doesn’t interact when they see certain posts.
Don’t Assume Social Media Marketing Is Easy to Do Yourself
There’s a reason “social media manager” is a full-time job at most big companies. Even for small businesses, managing it all and doing it right can be tough.
On top of that, you may not have the time to dig into your data or revisit your strategies and guiding documents.
So seek out help. Share the burden with others who are qualified and whose judgement you trust.
As Social Media Week observes: “Long gone are the days when you could rely on an intern to manage your business’s social media accounts. Either hire an in-house expert or outsource to a social media management firm.”
Crawl Before You Walk, Walk Before You Run
Similarly, as with anything in business, don’t take on more than you could possibly deal with. Stick to one or two social networks at first. Otherwise, your pages could feel like soulless cookie-cutter copies or, worse, ghost towns with nary an update in months.
Be that as it may, if you stay focused on your goals and your principles, at that point you can begin little to discover progressive achievement. Just once you get the hang of it should you begin to scale out and accomplish more.
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Instagram is often overlooked as a social media platform due to its nature being entirely ‘images’ based. However, this fact alone is what makes Instagram very powerful – it allows you to convey much more emotion and to really make a product or a lifestyle look desirable.
Not only that, but Instagram is the second largest social network behind Facebook. That’s a pretty impressive stat, so you really shouldn’t leave it out of your plans!
In 2018, expect more small businesses than ever to jump aboard the Instagram marketing train. The eye-catching format is easy to use, and provides businesses with tools to keep their audiences engaged and informed.
New features and toolsets, like Instagram Stories, have also expanded what the platform can do for small business owners. Thanks to Instagram’s powerful advertising tools, evolving features, and highly active audiences, small businesses can use the platform to make big gains.
To help your business prepare its digital marketing strategy for the year ahead, take note of the following Instagram and influencer marketing trends that have nearly every small business owner saying, “Oh, that’s Insta-worthy!”
More Small Businesses Using Instagram Marketing
Small businesses have driven huge growth on Instagram. This includes growth of both unpaid organic account posts and paid advertising use.
According to Forbes, Instagram now has over 8 million business profiles. The platform saw 500% growth in the number of business accounts in just a few months last year.
Instagram execs credit the majority of this growth to small business users. Setting up an account is easy, and it’s also just as simple to begin using paid advertising tools to promote posts.
Now, with the advent of features like Instagram Stories, that number has likely soared even higher.
Businesses can therefore use Instagram to get huge reach for their campaigns or fulfill brand awareness goals with just a little bit of effort.
Influencer Marketing Benefits for Small Businesses Stack Up
Big brands aren’t the only ones who use influencers to achieve marketing goals anymore. The ability for social media personalities to drive engagement and direct attention can benefit small businesses, too.
Micro-Influencers Take on Huge Importance with Small Audiences
Some influencers with a million plus followers like Michelle Phan have taken on celebrity status. They get invited to red carpet events and appear on mass broadcast TV ads.
As these average people become megastars, a clear distinction emerges between them and other influencers. Marketing experts have begun to split influencer types into multiple categories as a result.
“Macro-influencers” like Phan, Kim Kardashian and King Bach have millions of followers and a huge range of topics they cover. “Micro-influencers” have a small following of a few hundred to a few thousand people but often follow a much more niche focus.
Small businesses have realized that micro-influencers are not only cheaper to work with, but they also drive campaign goals more effectively. Micro-influencers have this power because their audience feels stronger connections and finds the content posted more directly relevant to their interests.
You can see this connection in micro-influencer engagement rates. Influencers with less than 1,000 followers can engage 8% of their audience on average, while influencers 10 million+ followers only get “likes” from 1.6% of their audience, and an even lower frequency of comments and shares.
Put simply: small business owners can work with micro-influencers to connect more authentically to audiences and drive more consistent action.
Instagram Stories and Live Video Make Engagement a Daily Affair
Instagram stories provide a fun and unique way to engage followers and drive traffic to your web- site. Many businesses have yet to adopt Instagram Story as part of their marketing strategy. However, you can be an early adopter and reap the benefits right now.
Instagram might have started as a fun mobile app, but it has turned into an extremely valuable and powerful marketing tool for companies that know how to use it.
If you create a compelling profile, use hashtags appropriately. Take advantage of new options like Instagram Stories. You can use Instagram to build brand awareness and attract new customers.
“Over 200 million people use Instagram Stories each month,” says Entrepreneur, “which is over 50 million more than those who use Snapchat — and Instagram Stories is just one year old! At this rate, nearly half of all Instagram users will be using Stories by the end of 2018.”
Businesses interested in driving attention towards certain campaigns or maintaining more active engagement with audiences can turn to Stories and Live video to accomplish these goals.
Increasing Demand for Brand Safety and Proof of ROI
The double-edged sword to influencer marketing is that some brands worry about influencers staining their reputation.
Video game streamer PewDiePie, who has the largest YouTube subscriber base of any channel, caused waves after repeatedly using extremely offensive language in his content. Brands that collaborated with PewDiePie had to cut their ties and make statements condemning his actions.
Since influencers are not brand employees, business owners invite a bit of risk when they collaborate with them.
The best way to avoid controversy is to look to influencers’ past behaviors. Ask questions before collaborating in any capacity. Make it clear that your relationship is dependent on a positive image for your business.
Similarly, tie any relationships you have with influencers to concrete KPIs, including ROI. It’s always better to start small with a relationship. After that, establish proof of ROI before committing marketing dollars to a true collaboration.
For instance, try sending an influencer a free gift or just a kind request to highlight your latest campaign. If you like what they do with the information, you can work toward more collaborative content or even an endorsement-type relationship.
Trends in Instagram and Influencer Marketing for Small Businesses Can Help Your Brand Take Off Next Year!
Remember, Instagram is not about instant conversions or links. This is about the long-term benefit, so rate your success in terms of likes, follows and comments – not profit.
Likewise, remember that this is a ‘young’ and ‘hip’ crowd. You need to get to know your actual audience, but you should also get to know the Instagram audience more generally. What you’ll find is that Instagram is a place where ‘in your face marketing messages’ don’t go down well. So, don’t do that!
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When you go online, chances are that a lot of the content you see is in video format – and for good reason. Every day, approximately 100 million people watch at least one video online. So videos are an incredibly effective way of marketing your product and/or service.
If you have been avoiding making videos because you think they will be too expensive or difficult to make, it is time to rethink your marketing strategy.
Video Content Marketing Becomes a Must-Have for Small Businesses
For one, people complete video content more frequently than the average non-visual, text-based blog article. According to Vidyard, over a third of all video viewers (37%) make it to the end of the video’s run time.
Nearly all mobile users who watch video (92%) have a tendency to share video content with others. Simply Measured also says that video gets shared around 12x more frequently than content links or text.
Other studies show that audiences retain video in messaging better than text.
With these advantages, businesses putting video content out there will see higher levels of engagement. They will also see higher levels of shares and conversions into their marketing funnel. Having a video component to your digital marketing strategy will become a competitive differentiator in months ahead.
Business owners looking to get into video can start by transforming existing content assets into a short (around 2.5 minutes or less) summary. Look to the assets with the most views and shares for inspiration.
Video Becomes an Integral Part of the Sales Pipeline
Offering video content helps turn what could be a pushy and person-intensive sales process into a self-service nurturing pipeline. Interested prospects can view video content hosted on websites or shared via social to learn more about products and features. As they educate themselves, they move towards the end of the sales funnel with minimal person-to-person contact.
Self-guided lead nurturing not only reduces employee overhead, it also results in a more pleasant experience for leads. 19% of prospects claim they only want to hear from a company rep when they are actively considering a purchase. 40% of prospects want to be able to buy without talking to anyone at all.
Meeting this need involves considering how video assets can provide value at every stage of the sales/marketing funnel.
For instance, business owners can cultivate awareness by creating emotional or intriguing video advertising assets.
Video content marketing assets provided on their website next to text content can help buyers at the nurturing stage. In-depth explainer videos can help lay out different buying options. It can also lay out the final steps in the procurement process for those ready to close the deal.
“When you incorporate video into your sales processes, customers get what they want: a friction less, self-serve experience on their time, and on their terms,” says WireBuzz.
Think about buyer needs that were once traditionally met with person-to-person interactions. Imagine how video can replace these needs with a self-service, video-heavy customer journey.
Live Video, 360° Video, Slideshows and Other Video Formats Gain Traction
Like everything else online, the world of video marketing is evolving. While you can still upload videos to your YouTube channel and share them online, there’s also a new kid in town – live video.
One of the most accessible options, which allows companies to fully integrate video marketing into their Facebook marketing, is Facebook Live.
Preparing live video into your content marketing and social engagement strategy can quickly round out your assets without a massive up-front investment.
There are a lot of reasons that doing live is a good way to gain more followers. This is something that you should be investing in.
We could go into a lot of detail now about why Live might well be the ‘future’ of social media in many ways. For now, though, suffice to say that for you, it offers a unique way to communicate with your audience. This takes away the limitations of having to wait for a post or a message to be delivered.
Your audience will feel as though they’re getting real insight into your lifestyle, your business and your personality. You will be able to answer their question directly.
This is a fantastic format for a whole range of types of media. From AMAs (Ask Me Anything), to interviews and to product reviews.
On the other end of the spectrum is 360° video. These assets use a special camera setup to capture a full spherical range of images. Audiences can then use a smartphone headset like the Google Daydream to tilt and move their head as the video plays, changing their viewpoint as one might in real life.
360° video results in a truly immersive and memorable experience. However, the high cost of equipment and production means businesses require an airtight strategy for converting 360° videos into measurable returns.
Formats like these lower production costs for video — especially video ads. They still provide higher levels of engagement. Best of all, they can communicate well even without sound.
Billions of users reside on Facebook. The targeting is so specific, you can even turn off ads to people who have clicked on them before. It can also be inexpensive if you know what you’re doing. No wonder it’s one of the top advertising platform for marketers.
In the next year to come, we can all expect Facebook to evolve in deeper ways. These evolutions include both new features and shifts in the way business will be able to use Facebook ads to reach prospects.
Let’s explore the most important Facebook advertising trends for 2018. With them, you can improve your marketing funnel and hopefully find more leads than ever in the coming year.
The Importance of Facebook Video Ads
Video marketing is a powerful way to connect with customers. A well-made video can be entertaining, informative and very engaging. It can allow you to provide valuable information to your customers.
Video is one of the most shareable forms of online content, too, which makes it ideal for many businesses who know they can count on their customers to be brand ambassadors and share the video on social media.
In addition to video ads, Facebook has been quietly diversifying their ad inventory. Marketers and small business owners can use these ad formats to accomplish specific business goals.
Carousel ads can use multiple images, multiple offers, or multiple USPs in one go, providing a richer experience and a more compelling CTA.
Slideshow ads use lightweight video to load faster and intrude less on the browsing experience. They can be a great transition for small businesses looking to create more video.
Collection ads allow users to browse through multiple products or informational pages in-app. This grows awareness while generating less friction compared to an outbound link.
Canvas mobile Facebook ad formats transform your ad from a single video or image into a full screen, scrolling experience. Use them to showcase high-quality assets or nurture prospects further along in the buy cycle.
Dynamic ads can use a single ad template to promote several products or create customized pitches for different segments. These ads maximize relevance and returns while helping you A/B test more quickly.
Link ads include a prominent, customizable CTA button to direct prospects to a landing page or offer. They encourage action, increasing conversions.
Lead ads incorporate a lead capture form directly in the app! We’ll explain the significance of this ad type and similar formats below.
Understanding and taking advantage of these Ad Types will be a large key to success.
Facebook Likes to Keep People On The Facebook Platform
Ad formats like lead ads and collection ads keep audiences in-app as they interact with your brand.
For instance, Lead ads pull up a lead capture form in-app and auto populates it with information from the users Facebook user profile. This feature dramatically reduces friction in your marketing funnel, encouraging more prospects to convert thanks to the simpler process. You also reduce the number of needed assets by getting rid of certain landing pages.
Because of these abilities, Hubspot asserts that Lead ads can “skyrocket conversion rates and make mobile ads more effective for B2B marketers.”
Understanding Facebook’s goals for their user experience will enable you to get the most out of your Facebook advertising budget.
Facebook is the largest social media site, and its users have a very high level of engagement, with many of them visiting the site multiple times each day.
You probably already have a Facebook page, but if you’re not also using some of Facebook’s paid advertising options for local businesses, you’re missing out on some concrete and affordable ways to attract new customers to your website.
While social media offers an easy way to reach out to users wherever they live, local businesses need to be able to focus their advertising on the people who are most likely to turn into customers.
Facebook Local Awareness Ads are a great way to do that. To run one, all you need is a Facebook page for your business that includes your street address. Facebook will take care of the targeting based on your zip code.
Of course, you’ll need to write a good ad and include a compelling image. But after you do that, Facebook offers an array of ways to engage with customers using their call to action buttons:
Message Now is a button that lets customers send a private message right to your inbox, which can be great if you want to encourage questions.
Call Now is a button that allows mobile users to call your business with the click of a button. It’s a very important feature to consider if you feel that the majority of your customers are accessing social media on their mobile devices.
Get Directions lets customers get interactive directions to your business using their mobile devices.
Learn More will redirect customers to the page of your choice on your website, allowing you to share valuable information with them or encourage them to sign up for your list.
All the above options can help increase traffic to your site. Because Facebook ads are pay-per-click, you get the benefit of exposure because many customers who see your ad might not click it.
It might be tempting to think that a customer who doesn’t click is one who found the ad to be ineffective. Just remember – many customers need more than one engagement with a brand before they make a purchase.
A customer who sees your ad several times over the course of a month may walk into your store one day without ever having clicked your ad.
Take Advantage of Facebook Advertising Trends in 2018 and Beyond
By looking to the above Facebook Advertising trends your business can find greater successes in reaching your ideal prospects to grow in 2018.
Make sure you combine your Facebook Advertising strategy with other digital marketing practices for maximum gains.
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Enter any business name and zip code and see how optimized it is for local search.