How To Run Social Media Ads Successfully [Ad Campaign Structure]

In our current digital age, there are among 3 billion active social media users worldwide, making up about half of the entire population. (Source: Statista) If you run social media ads always keep this in mind, building the right social media ads for your brand on the wide spectrum of media platforms and for numerous users may seem like a strenuous task. Yet, with an effective strategic plan, social media advertising can present many opportunities to reach the right audiences, enhance awareness of your brand, and increase conversions for your business.

This blog will serve as a guide to creating the most valuable social media ads that will contribute to your brand’s overall mission.

 

Know Your Target Audience: Customer Avatars

One of the most essential aspects of designing your social media ad campaigns is to define your audience. In this, you can create the ideal customer avatars that will represent segments of your brand’s potential customer base. When defining your target avatars it’s important to do your research thoroughly. Here are some important aspects to identify: 

 

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The more you know your audience and are able to define their primary pain points, the more valuable your campaign will be; ultimately translating into more customer conversions. It will also answer one of the most frequently asked questions we receive, “What platforms should my business be on, and where should I run ads?”. If you know who you are intending to reach, you will know where to find them. For instance, do you sell products to an older demographic? Facebook may be the best ROI for direct conversions. Are you a B2B service needing to build brand awareness and organic connections? LinkedIn should be one of your main focuses. By understanding the who, you will be maximizing advertising costs with the greatest return.

A different approach to gaining knowledge of your target audience is to analyze competitors and industry leaders. Who are their primary target segments? What social media campaign strategies are they utilizing and what is the response and engagement they get from their followers? This information can serve to not only help define your brand’s ideal customer but also find gaps in your competitor’s strategy to spark ideas in differentiating your approach, content, and social media ad strategy by bringing more value to your audiences.

 

I love the saying ‘success leaves bread crumbs’. There are plenty of models out there to help guide decision-making in your industry. Not only looking at competitors (like, kind, quality) to find gaps that you can take advantage of and gain market share but businesses that have established themselves at a high level that have gone through the heavy lifting of target audience identification and testing content and ad implementation.

– Kate Donadio | CMO

 

Create A Strong Brand Presence Foundation

In order for your social media ads to convert your audience into potential leads, you must first create a brand identity. This begins with establishing a firm foundation for your brand’s social media platforms and website. In terms of social network users, 86% of Americans say a brand’s transparency on social media is one of the most determining factors for deciding whether to take their business to a competitor. (Source: SproutSocial) This emphasizes that brand authenticity will demonstrate credibility and boost the success of your social media advertising efforts. Ensure you have consistent brand colors, voice, and frequency of posting on the identified platform(s), and that you have a systematic approach to driving engaged prospects to a well-designed and optimized website.

 

Create a Sales Funnel

Building a sales funnel is similar to creating a blueprint of the desired outcome to your advertising plan. List what you want to occur and organize it into a chain of events. With this method, you are minimizing steps a potential customer needs to go through and maximizing organization for creating your ads. How many clicks does it take for them to perform the desired action like filling out a form or putting their contact information in to receive a download of valuable information from your website? Are there ways to optimize this process (I.E. have the ad go to a fillable form on the desired platform such as LinkedIn instead of multiple steps of your website)? 

For guidance on structuring a sales funnel that matches your company’s advertising goals, be sure to read our informational blog that discusses the fundamentals of utilizing the AIDA model. Please keep in mind that the funnel you create should be customized to your company, personnel, and capabilities. Do you have someone that can service the leads as soon as they come in? What processes do you have in place to direct leads into a CRM (client relationship manager)? Be realistic with yourself and your team, and literally draw out the intended plan visually. 

 

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Build Ad Strategy Focused on Budget

It’s important to establish a plan of action for your paid social media advertising based on how aggressive you can be with your budget. Create an overall monthly budget that matches your current advertising goals and adjust as needed. 

 A helpful tip in designing your brand’s ad strategy is with a top-down structure:

  • Campaigns (goals and desired outcomes)
  • Ad sets (well-defined target audiences and segments)
  • Ads (variations of messaging, aesthetics, and call to action to specific audiences based on goal)

 

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Organizing your ad strategy comes down to precisely defining your goals. For example, let’s say you would like to increase overall brand awareness and conversions. First, be sure to understand your brand’s bearings. Maybe your company is new, been recently repositioned, had a shift in management, etc. Now, dive into specifics. Think strategically; do you want to increase your number of leads, website traffic, or direct sales? If your brand desires to accomplish multiple goals, create different ads for each category. You may be thinking, “everyone wants to increase their sales”. While this is true, without the proper brand foundation, sales funnel, brand awareness and outreach strategy, and social proof, direct response ads are less likely to be successful. Be realistic with where you are in the process, especially based on your overall marketing budget.

Once you have properly determined your primary campaign outcomes, defined target audiences, and structured your social platform ads, you can begin to focus on what audience is most likely to convert. This allows you to pivot your marketing efforts to that specific target’s needs and grow potential leads.

According to the CMO Survey, sponsored by the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University, Deloitte LLP, and the American Marketing Association, marketing budgets now comprise 11 percent of total company budgets on average. Meanwhile, companies on average spend 7.5 percent of total revenue on marketing. The U.S. Small Business Administration recommends, “As a general rule, small businesses with revenues less than $5 million should allocate 7-8 percent of their revenues to marketing.” This percentage is based on companies that have margins in the 10-12 percent range (after expenses).

 

Craft Multiple Ad Copies and Audiences

The main focus of your social media ads should be centered on your desired audience. We have the tendency to want to believe and act upon our own experiences and biases. By putting ourselves in their shoes, we will be more likely to identify trends in our audience’s behavior, their main pain points, and how to bring them the most value in your ads through strategic tone and language.

Don’t create just one copy of an ad for a specific audience. Design multiple that stay consistent with your campaign’s desired message for a greater selection of options. In addition, allow several pairs of eyes to review the social media ads. By collaborating, your team can provide diverse feedback and ultimately design ads that best complement your advertising strategy, and avoid silly mistakes that can easily turn away potential leads (like spelling, grammar, or tone-deaf content based on current political or economic landscapes).  

For further inspiration and ideas, be sure to research designs and models to help elevate your ad potential. Some examples of utilizing Facebook’s advertising opportunities can be found here. 

 

Execute, Evaluate and Update

The process of running social media ads is not a linear line. It can be unpredictable and may require many changes and updates after it’s been established. Think of your social media ad as a test run, once you have allowed the ad to learn and have gained analytical data, evaluate and update your strategy. Be sure to also elevate your strategy to comply with your budget and frequency of actions. For example, if it’s found many customers have left items in their cart, it may be appropriate to launch a campaign such as We Know Life is Fanatic, Take 20% Off Your Purchase On Us. Now, not only have the ads learned customer behavior, you have learned how to properly cater them to your audience’s needs. 

If an ad campaign is not performing as well as expected or desired, it does not mean that it is a failure. With each campaign, ad audience set, and ad variation, you are gaining valuable data about your audience. To truly be effective in ad campaign execution, you must be able to read and understand what the data (and your audience) is telling you.

It is important to develop several ads, and be patient with ad delivery because it takes about seven interactions with your brand before a user takes an action. (Source: B2Bmarketing) 

Paid social media ads can serve as a catalyst to successfully connecting with your audience on the largest media networks. At Dolomites Consulting Group, we specialize in developing strategies that align with your brand’s value proposition. Contact us today to see how we can assist with your brand’s vision. 

 

Key Takeaways

  • Gaining knowledge of competitor and industry leader ad strategies can help define your brand’s ideal customer and spark ideas to differentiate your social media ad strategy to bring more value to your audience.
  • Think of your social media ad as a test run, once you have allowed the ad to learn and have gained analytical data, update and evaluate your strategy.
  • By putting yourself in the shoes of your customers, you will be more likely to identify trends in their behavior, identify main pain points, and how to bring them the most value through strategic tone and language in your ads.
  • The process of running social media ads is not a linear line, it requires time to operate, evaluate, and implement updates.

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Kathryn Donadio April 1, 2021 0 Comments

The Ultimate Guide to Instagram Shopping

Every month, a staggering 130 million people explore Instagram’s shoppable posts to discover and purchase products that brands are selling on the platform (Source: Later.com). Many businesses have implemented the shoppable feature on their accounts, and they’re reaping the benefits as we speak. In November of 2020, Instagram introduced a momentous update to the app, making the shopping feature a central aspect of the platform’s layout and overall experience. It is now more crucial than ever for businesses to embrace the new app landscape and make their accounts shoppable. 

For business owners who are not familiar with the Instagram shopping feature, it’s simply a tool that uses product tagging to give users the ability to tap a photo of your product(s) and view the price(s). If a user clicks on the price tag, they will be given the option to either view the product on your website or to add the product to their bag directly through Instagram. 

An additional update expands this access to Instagram purchases, with product tagging not limited solely to posts, but including Stories, Reels, and promoted ads as well. This fosters a smooth buying experience, increasing Instagram’s “shopability” from the moment someone discovers your product, to when they decide to purchase it. And if that wasn’t news enough, the new Google-like search experience for the Explore Feed now includes the ability to search for keywords (in addition to the hashtags, usernames, and location options that were available before), giving users and businesses even more ways to find each other. This plays incredibly well with product tagging, making shopping on the app as accessible as possible. Adopting these new features has essentially made Instagram a second landing page for your business. 

 

If your brand would like to start encouraging customers to shop directly from your business’s Instagram account, there are a few prerequisites that your account must meet before you can start selling on the platform:

  • Keep in mind that your account doesn’t need to have 10k followers in order to create shoppable posts.
  • Instagram requires that your business is located in one of these 46 countries in order for you to apply the feature.
  • Your account should be dedicated to a business that predominantly sells physical goods, and your account needs to be set up specifically as a business profile. Check out Instagram’s merchant agreement and commerce policy to make sure you understand and are in compliance with all requirements.
  • The Facebook Business Page that is connected to your Instagram account can’t have country or age restrictions.
  • You will need to upload your products to a catalog that can then be connected to your Instagram account. You have 2 options for cataloging in which you can either create one yourself using Facebook’s Catalog Manager or you can use a Facebook partner like Shopify or BigCommerce to link an existing catalog of your products.
  • Once you’ve met all requirements, your request to make your account shoppable will be reviewed by Instagram!

Here are the guidelines to set up shopping on your IG account:

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When your account is eligible for the shopping feature, how do you actually set up your IG account to be “shoppable?”

  1. Go to your profile and select the three bars in the top right corner.

*insert screenshot of account w/bars circled or just the bars by themselves*

  1. Tap Settings.

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  1. Tap the fourth item down, it will say either Business or Creator depending on what type of profile you have.

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  1. Tap Set Up Instagram Shopping.

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  1. Tap Get Started.
  2. If your business’s Facebook is not currently connected to your IG account, you will be prompted to connect it at this step.
  3. Follow the steps to connect a catalog to your account. There are two ways in which you can do this: either by connecting to a new or existing catalog, or by using a Facebook partner such as Shopify or WooCommerce.
  4. Follow the remaining prompts to ensure that you have selected the appropriate catalog and submit your account for review.
  5. The review process usually takes a couple of days. Once you’ve been approved, you will receive notifications from Instagram to complete the setup in Settings so you can start tagging products in your posts and stories. 
  6. Start posting!

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  1. Tap Done.

Now your company can utilize posts and stories in a more “boutique” setting like this: 

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The process itself isn’t complicated, but there are quite a few details to pay attention to. Instagram has great resources to help you become shoppable, and once you’ve been approved there are some key aspects to keep in mind as users begin discovering your products:

  • For any shoppable posts on your feed, you can tag up to 5 products per image, and up to 20 products in a carousel post.
  • It’s important to have a good balance between shoppable posts and regular photos on your feed. You don’t want to inundate your audience with price tags, but you also want to make sure they know that the purchase potential is there.
  • Create a highlight that is dedicated to your products and shoppable posts. Give your followers an easy way to view everything that you have to offer!
  • The Instagram explore page has a shopping tab that displays accounts with shoppable posts, so your products could very well end up on the screens of millions of users at once. With that in mind, make sure your shoppable posts feature high-quality images with a strong caption and description of the product(s).
  • Use relevant hashtags to increase the likelihood of reaching greater numbers of shoppers.
  • Make sure your shoppable posts align with your brand and Instagram aesthetic.
  • Always make sure that your shopping tags are linked to the correct products.
  • Use the “view insights” feature on your account to track the performance of specific posts.
  • If you discontinue a product or change the price, don’t forget to update your catalog and feed accordingly.

 

If you are interested in learning more or aren’t sure if your business would benefit from the shopping feature, reach out to us and we can help you determine what’s best for your business!

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DCG Team March 4, 2021 0 Comments

2021 Marketing Trends

As if digital marketing trends don’t move fast enough, 2020 saw a significant and unanticipated increase in users’ time online (eCommerce, Video Conferences, Social Media Time, Email Communication, etc.). Companies were forced to adapt quickly to capitalize on this phenomenon, and the lack of in-person interaction saw the birth of major shifts in what behavior trends this increased time online. Though seemingly unpredictable, a lot of these trends were merely brewing under the surface, and the pandemic was the catalyst that brought them to the forefront. Let’s take a look at what’s here to stay, and which key trends will help your business shift with the digital tide in 2021 and beyond.

  1. Online Shopping/eCommerce

According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. eCommerce sales grew more than 30% between the first and second quarter of 2020. The reason for this dramatic increase is very clear: as citizens remained socially distant at home, they spent more time purchasing products online. However, the sheer volume of online sales astounded even the most prepared and efficient companies. In some cases, sales halted altogether when businesses just couldn’t keep up with the demand of their customers. 

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No store was safe from the purchasing pandemonium, whether they were brick-and-mortar businesses or strictly online, like Amazon. Toilet paper became a valuable commodity! And because these businesses’ supply chains weren’t prepared for the influx of demand, they weren’t able to replenish their shelves quickly enough. This is a prime example of an opportunity for entrepreneurs to fill a need. Any gap within the business landscape is an opportunity.

Certain companies have adapted to this major shift to online shopping, most notably Instagram, and the substantial updates that were made to the app within the last few months of 2020. Instagram put a heavy emphasis on Reels and their shopping feature, encouraging users to spend directly on the app and giving brands the ability to add a new video-making platform to their marketing strategy.

2. Social Authenticity

As we social distance, there’s an opportunity to close that distance with authenticity, transparency, and relatability. Recognize the problems that your audience could be facing, and connect with them through that recognition. There doesn’t even have to be a concrete solution to the problem – you don’t have to have the solution or the answer. Acknowledging difficult experiences in an honest way can make a monumental difference in the way that your brand is perceived.

3. Companies with Standards

Consumers are actively searching for companies that hold themselves to higher standards, be it ethically, environmentally, socially, etc. They want to give their business to brands that they feel are making a positive impact on the world, and by purchasing from those brands, they are inadvertently contributing to that impact. 

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4. SEO Changes on Instagram

Instagram is putting less impact on hashtags as a way to explore similar posts and becoming more “search-friendly.” Marketing-wise, this means businesses should focus on including more SEO in their captions – smart use of keywords, instead of just trendy hashtags for increased reach and engagement. 

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  1. Reels as a Response to TikTok

Human connection, especially important in times such as these when we have to interact with each other at a distance. With the controversy that TikTok has faced in the past few months, Instagram decided to answer it by facilitating the use of Reels by making it a featured button at the bottom of the app’s homepage. We expect to see more platforms adopting this style of video, including “duet” and response style capabilities.

  1. Hybrid Events

Activities that once we would never dream of hosting online have now become the new norm. Every business has been forced to adapt and make this adjustment, and while it has introduced many difficulties to the usual processes, there are many positive developments to come out of these hybrid events and work environments. 

There are millions of employees all over the world performing their job duties from a remote location, an ability that they never thought possible before COVID-19. 

Try hosting your own virtual event! You have the potential to invite new customers who might otherwise have not been involved or showed up in person, but the virtual aspect makes it much more lowkey and convenient.

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  1. Social Media for Customer Service

Don’t be afraid to use your brand’s social media as a method for customer service. There is something very powerful and special about connecting with your customers via social media platforms. Rather than being a company that simply spits out content, interacting with customers through your accounts gives them a sense of importance and satisfaction. It makes people feel sought out and important, and it will also encourage more interaction from your followers, thus raising the engagement on your social media and giving you the potential to get more eyes on your pages. 

  1. Social Monitoring

It will be easier and more important than ever to incorporate social monitoring into your marketing strategy. There are many benefits to social monitoring, including proactive crisis management, determining your brand’s market positioning, understanding the behavior of your customers, etc. 

As a means of crisis management, social monitoring will allow you to observe the way consumers are reacting to various events in the world, and gauge how you need to respond to these events in order to make the deepest and most lasting connection with your audience. It keeps you from being tone-deaf and saying something that could put your brand in a bad light. Always be aware of what your particular consumer base is saying about current affairs and never take for granted the value of such knowledge can be. 

Social monitoring can also help you understand where your brand is in relation to the market. Listen to the market and to where the demand is, and this will help you locate a particular group of consumers whose needs aren’t being met within the current marketplace. Really listen to what it is that people want/need.

Understanding your target audience’s behavior is essential in order to deliver the best service possible and to prepare for future purchases. If you know your audience well enough, you can predict what their future actions will be, what type of messaging and advertising appeals most to them, and how to turn them into loyal customers.

  1. Voice Search
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Convenience is the name of the game. Make sure your website and social media are optimized for voice search. People are searching the web differently, and video marketing is one of the most affected types of content so far. Voice search is having a big effect on SEO because of the difference in speech patterns versus typed searches. Speech is more colloquial, more free-form, and on the spot, while typing a phrase or question into the Google search bar takes a little more forethought. Most of the time, typed searches involve inadvertently searching keywords or ideas. Voice search is more centered around the thing itself, is often phrased in the form of a question, and is much less rigid or predictable (making SEO more complicated than ever). 

  1.  Video Marketing

With so many people working from home, video content has become more frequent and casual, with glimpses into the life of someone who works at home and what a typical day is like. With the freedom and confidence to make more video content, we are seeing a rise in these more interactive posts that will continue to grow as the months go by. The lack of in-person connections has brought about the desire for continued interaction through social media, and what better way to feel as if you could be hanging out in real-time with someone else than through videos?

Certain platforms, most notably Instagram, are beefing up their video features to encourage users to take advantage of this specific type of media. Instagram has been pushing Reels hard ever since TikTok’s privacy policies were called into question, and Reels has even become the main focus on the homepage of every Instagram user. 

Conclusion

It is clear that the space provided by 2020 has been filled by what people want, and more than ever, the digital world is being dictated by how the general public (and your future audience) is using their time, melding personal behaviors with business opportunities. Luckily, social platforms are fighting hard to evolve to suit the behaviors of the public, which happens to coincide with an opportunity for business.

If 2020 showed us anything, it’s how quickly things can change/are ever-evolving/adaptable. It’s likely that this list doesn’t cover everything we’ll see in 2021, and the best advice we can offer is to stay vigilant, pay attention to how digital platforms are changing and why, and check in on online consumer behaviour regularly.

Interested in how to implement any of these tactics successfully? Request a free consultation with a DCG marketing specialist today!

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DCG Team February 17, 2021 0 Comments

Social Media with a Purpose: Our Guide to Content Creation

Coming up with great content for your social media accounts can be overwhelming. This is especially true for those who find it tedious or aren’t sure what types of content to share. Even people who love to create graphics and social media posts can become fatigued by the process of constantly finding new ways to engage their audience.

In this blog, we share tips and strategies for creating valuable content that will engage your followers and help you keep a steady stream of ideas flowing!

 

Determine What You Want to Accomplish with Your Content

It’s important to set goals for your social media strategies. If you are focused mainly on expanding brand awareness, that should influence the type of content you create. Maybe you want to increase conversions? The tone and subject matter of this content will be different than your brand awareness posts. 

That being said, you can aim to achieve multiple goals at once, you just need to establish clear objectives for each post. This will help you stay focused and improve the overall performance of your content.

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Choose Your Tone and Types of Content

You’ll want to decide on the tone of your voice and how you’re going to present yourself on social media. Everything that you post — every piece of content that you put out — will reflect on your business and has the ability to strengthen your brand… or work against it. Do you have established style or brand guidelines? 

There is a wide variety of content that you can (and should) utilize:

> Text

> Infographics

> Article/Blog Links

> Videos

> Polls/Quizzes

> Tips & Tricks

There are plenty of places that you can draw inspiration from:

> Your Team Members

> Market/Industry Research

> Competitor Analyses

> Current Events/Trending Topics

> Keyword Research (Ex. Google Trends)

Keep in mind: social media users of today are interested in genuine and honest content. According to Forbes.com, “Eighty-six percent of people say authenticity matters when deciding what brands they like and support.” If a consumer feels they are being sold to or the success of a product/service is being exaggerated, then they are less likely to complete a purchase. Don’t try to win over customers with flashy or dishonest posts, because they will see right through it. Authenticity in itself is attractive to consumers, and it will draw more people to your brand.

Put Yourself In the Consumer’s Shoes

What would you want to know about a company? What would you want to see on a company’s social media? What would encourage you to do business with them?

If you have any portfolio pieces, it’s important to add them; they will showcase what your business has accomplished. It also gives potential clients the chance to imagine what your products or services could do for them. In other words, it’s physical evidence of your abilities. 

It’s also important to focus on the quality of your posts, which can strongly affect a customer’s opinion of your company. If there are several spelling mistakes in your captions, or if you post grainy, low-quality photos, your audience might see it as a sign that you don’t care about your products or services, even on your own social media.

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Determine How You Will Be Creating Your Content

Do you want to create custom, branded graphics with your company’s colors and font? Do you want to have the ability to edit photos for your posts? Consider what tools you’ll need to create your content, and what programs are best suited for what you want to accomplish. There are many options out there, and if you aren’t sure what you need, it’s a good idea to start with some research so you’ll know what’s available to you

If you would rather outsource your marketing and social media management, many companies can do that for you, including yours truly! We offer social media management, reputation management, paid advertising, and more.

Scheduling Content and Tracking Performance

To keep a clean, consistent feed, we recommend using a calendar (or planner) to schedule your posts ahead of time. The way your content calendar looks is completely up to you, but whatever you choose, make sure it works for you. Also keep in mind that your content pipeline doesn’t have to be set in stone, and it can be beneficial to leave spaces for adjustments and relevant time-bound posts. 

It’s also good to keep up with current events and share something relevant now and then; it provides additional value to your followers, prompts engagement with the community, and bolsters your brand’s personality and values. It’s not possible to know what will happen in the future, so if something comes up that you would like to discuss or share with your audience, feel free to create a spontaneous post. 

At the end of each month, look back at how your posts performed and record that data in a notebook or spreadsheet. It’s important to analyze this data so you can discern what types of content received the most attention, and which ones you could do without as you plan for the next month. It’s necessary to do this evaluation every month because, as your social media grows, and as you gain or lose followers, your content will need to adapt to your audience. Always focus on creating content that is effective and speaks to a customer’s needs. 

Ask yourself these questions: What time of the day are most of my followers active on social media? Which posts did they engage with the most last month? What are my followers’ likes/dislikes? What are their hobbies? The answers to these questions will help you create valuable and attractive content that will enhance the public’s experience with your brand. 

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Time Block Your Creations

As a business owner or main marketing manager, you have more on your plate than just creating social media content, and it can be difficult to keep up without a structured or disciplined approach. Work to schedule the same time each week that you work on content. Give yourself a time frame/limit to push your effectiveness, and ensure content creation does not get forgotten. This technique prevents added stress when you should be focusing on other marketing activities and business initiatives. The DCG team suggests mornings when you are most refreshed, but if you are a night owl, be realistic and do what works for you.  

Tackling Fatigue

Experiencing creative fatigue when building your social media pipeline is very common. Even the most creative and skilled marketers can feel uninspired, or like they’ve hit a wall when they’re coming up with ideas. To combat this, try to think of fatigue as a part of the creative process. Embrace the pause and use it as an opportunity to do research, catch up on all of those articles and blog posts you’ve been meaning to read, look over your analytics, read an insightful book, etc. In other words, give yourself a “brain break”. The more comfortable you become with creating content, the easier it will be to draw upon previous strategies that you know perform well.

Conclusion

According to Influence & CO., “A strategy that you actually take the time to document is essential to your content marketing. Sixty-five percent of the most successful marketers have a documented content marketing strategy, compared to only 14 percent of the least successful marketers.” The content creation process is extremely important, but it is also only half of the journey. You need a solid marketing strategy to lay the foundation of your pipeline and ensure that what you create will ultimately help your brand flourish.

 

Looking for help with content creation or building a content strategy? Reach out to us for a free consultation! 

Learn more about our team of experts here.

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DCG Team November 20, 2020 0 Comments

2020 Social Media Marketing Trends

Every year, the advancement of technology gains more momentum than in years previous, and 2020 will be no exception to the phenomenon. As technology evolves to meet our needs, businesses have to stay ahead of social media marketing trends in order to remain relevant in a time when consumers have the world at their fingertips, and due to Coronavirus, are more online than ever. If a company is merely keeping up with trends, then it has already fallen behind. Therefore, our digital marketing team has compiled a list of the top social media trends to help you and your business make the most of 2020.

1. Continued effort to decrease “vanity metrics”

In 2019, Instagram rolled out a new feature that hides the number of “likes” a user gets on his or her posts, so only individual users are able to see the total number of likes that each of their posts receives. The purpose of this change was to encourage users to focus more on the quality of a post rather than the quantity of likes that it could accumulate. We can expect to see this trend continue throughout the year as social networking companies make an effort to combat the negative effects that social media can have on a person’s self-esteem. 

Although Instagram is currently the only company to start hiding likes, other social media sites are attempting to minimize the emphasis put on likes or follower counts in their own ways. Youtube, for instance, is now abbreviating a channel’s follower count, so rather than seeing 12,050 followers on a Youtuber’s page, the number will simply read 12K. While it is only a small change, it is enough to begin drawing eyes away from follower count and refocusing them on the quality of the content that Youtubers are producing.

2. Video content is taking over

Hubspot conducted a marketing survey and discovered that video is currently the most popular form of media used in content strategy, more so than blogs and infographics (hubspot.net). This trend will continue as more marketers catch on to the success other businesses are having with video content as a primary tactic of their marketing campaigns. Those that haven’t utilized videos to market their products or services should integrate this into their marketing strategy as soon as possible to combat a decrease in sales and customer interest. 

There are certain benefits of video marketing that no other medium can properly produce, especially when it comes to demonstrating a particular product or service. Because the marketplace is saturated with similar companies vying for the same customers’ attention, it is more important than ever to communicate what it is that makes your business unique. That uniqueness can come through in a behind-the-scenes style video, a quick thirty-second clip with your tip of the day, a tour of your home office – the possibilities are endless. And it’s important to remember that not everything has to be a big-budget production with an entire camera crew at your disposal. Customers just want another way to connect with the brands that interest them.

How to become a successful remote worker5 1

3. Ecommerce Tools Galore

Instagram is leading the pack when it comes to new features for users to explore. In March 2019, the platform added more eCommerce tools to the mix, most notably the ability for users to make in-app purchases straight from the brand accounts that they follow without ever having to visit the actual company webpage. This is a game-changing feature because it concentrates the user’s experience of a brand within a single app. Customers can find a product on Instagram, learn more about it on the brand’s account, scroll through pictures, videos, and testimonials within the comment section, add the product to their carts, and pay right on the app. Facebook conducted a survey of 21,000 Instagram users to learn how they use the app and for what purpose and these were the results:

  • 83% said they discover new products/services on IG
  • 81% use the app to research a product/service
  • 80% use it to determine whether they will purchase a product/service

Imagine surveying 100 people on your social media performance, and 80 of them are judging you against your competitors on Instagram. This is a huge group of potential customers that are using the app to determine who they give their business to from the moment your account appears on their screens. It is absolutely worth it to invest time in optimizing the way your brand comes across on this platform. 

Instagram has become a popular platform to research and purchase products, but it is not the only app that users flock to for more information about a company and what it has to offer. Facebook is a commonplace for customers to learn more about a business, read reviews and browse photos. Money can also be sent or requested through Facebook, and the Marketplace is perfect to buy or sell just about anything in your area, but neither of those features are as sophisticated and formal as the eCommerce tools utilized by Instagram, nor do they reinforce brand identity. They are actions experienced separately from the brand, while Instagram seeks to immerse its users in a single brand from discovery to purchase. If your business has products for purchase but you’re unsure whether you could benefit from this new Instagram feature, consider speaking with social media experts to determine how to get the most of your online presence.

4. Brand outreach as a form of customer service

Companies are recognizing the importance of having genuine interactions with their customers and how it affects the way they spend their money as well as who they spend it with. It is clear that customers love to see brands responding to comments and questions in their social media feed – it confirms that the brand is not only aware of customer concerns but that the company cares enough about its customers to take the time to reach out to them. By engaging with your customers, you build trust, through trust you enhance your brand’s reputation, and with a good brand reputation you can encourage brand loyalty. 

According to an article on Sprout Social, more than half of consumers will increase their spending with a brand that they feel drawn to, and 76% will end up purchasing a product or service from that brand over a competitor. The experience that a customer has with your brand will absolutely determine how that customer interacts with your business in the future, so in 2020 focus on building strong relationships with consumers and lean into the social aspect of social media. 

5. User-Generated Content is more popular than ever 

User-Generated Content, or “UGC”, is akin to “influencer” marketing in that it is content created by an individual showcasing a brand’s product or service, but rather than relying on a few specific users to share their experience with your brand, UGC gives any social media user the chance to essentially advertise your business for you. When you repost User-Generated Content, you are doing two things at once: filling your social media pipeline with little effort on your part, and encouraging other users to share content pertaining to your brand with the hope that they, too, could be featured on your accounts. The simple truth is that the more you engage with your followers, the more your followers engage with you. It’s a win-win.

MC360 Free Advertising User Generated Content Meme

6. Increase in Augmented Reality and Artificial Intelligence adoption

Augmented Reality is yet another tool that fosters consumer engagement and enhances customer experience. One example is GlassesUSA, an online eyeglass store, which uses AR to allow users on their website to “try before you buy,” a feature that involves uploading a picture or turning on the computer’s webcam to let the user virtually try on a pair of glasses. We have seen AR used on a number of platforms, especially apps like Snapchat and Instagram, where users can pick different filters that alter their hair, eye color, face shape, and so on. However, we can expect to see AR play a much bigger role in the way people shop as companies begin to invest more time and money into creating virtual mirrors in which to try their products. 

As consumers shy away from brick and mortar businesses to shop online instead, new demands are being met to attract potential customers who require a little more security before making a purchase. AR aids in the buying process, and Artificial Intelligence is gaining popularity as a tool to give consumers a more well-rounded virtual experience. Whether it is a chatbot that sends updates on a customer’s order, or a program that analyzes customer buying patterns to better recommend products or services in the future, AI is changing the way people interact with businesses online, and the technology becomes more advanced every year. 

Conclusion

The landscape is changing quickly, and business owners can struggle to keep up. It is important to invest in your company and make sure you are being strategic with your efforts. Our team at Dolomites Consulting can help you navigate the ever-changing digital and technological landscape so you can not only keep up with the market but stay ahead of it. Don’t just get a marketing person or team that simply goes through the motions, make sure they take the time to understand your business and look ahead to scale your efforts. 

Get a customized action plan for your business. Contact Us to get started today.

Sources:

Instagram Launches ‘Checkout on Instagram’ to Facilitate In-App

ShoppingSocial Media Trends for 2020 and Beyond

Insider Drift Conversational Marketing

#BrandsGetReal: What consumers want from brands in a divided society

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DCG Team April 21, 2020 0 Comments

Marketing During a Crisis

As we navigate through uncertain times, many questions run through the minds of not only the nation, but communities around the globe. Cities, states, and countries continue to escalate restrictions, slowing down operations and marketing to a crawl worldwide. We continue to watch the news and social media for updates on the Coronavirus and its impact in order to determine the best course of action for ourselves, our families, and our businesses. No matter where you stand in the political climate or the concern spectrum, there is a widespread need for many businesses and entrepreneurs to continue making strategic decisions on how to best move forward with marketing their business. 

So, how should you market during this crisis or recession? Where do you start?

Here is a quick guide on marketing strategy during emergencies:


1.Pause and evaluate your current marketing efforts. What do you have scheduled or on autopilot on various platforms and mediums? Do you have ads running or email campaigns scheduled to go out? Identify all queues and put a stop to them immediately if it makes sense to do so. It will be much better to delay communication from your brand to evaluate and update it, rather than risk the interest, trust, or even respect of your follower base due to messaging that is not relevant, tone deaf, or in bad taste

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2. Update your customers and followers on what your business is doing. Yes, we see news about it everywhere, but it’s important to let your customers know what to expect during the foreseeable future. Make sure you update your Google listing, website, and social media pages with adjusted changes (i.e. hours and closures). If you are able to assist those in need, be sure to have clear information on how customers or community members can take advantage of your products or services. Even if you are unsure of how you will move forward long term, acknowledging the circumstance and informing your followers with updates goes a long way in keeping your brand relevant

3. Be real and genuine in your efforts. Address your employees, teammates, and consumers with a caring message. No matter what industry or vertical in which you operate, nor the size of your company, people’s lives are being affected. Almost 89% of American consumers say that they are loyal to brands that share their values, so it’s wise to emphasize your core values in your messaging and how you will be handling what the future holds. Communicating empathy reinforces qualities that are human, and offers a chance to reinforce an emotional connection with your audience. Messaging using “we”, “us”, and “together” shows solidarity with your company culture and gives a positive message of resilience.

“A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.”

– Seth Godin

4. Know your audience to understand and predict consumer behavior. We are seeing first-hand how individuals and groups act in crisis and uncertain situations. A lack of trust in media and news outlets, combined with an overload of information sources, causes confusion, fear, and distrust that drives people to act in ways they normally may not. Economic uncertainty drastically changes financial and buying practices for everyone.

Understanding your audience and their decision-making process allows you to create a strategic marketing plan that aligns with what is most important to them. Focus more on how you can help your consumers and what problems you can solve more-so than simply what your company does. Something like, “Got your hands full? Eliminate the stress of planning meals by ordering online!” will speak to your restaurant audience more than, “We are open and deliver”. Communicate what consumers could miss out on if they wait, let them know about how a product could be helpful during stressful times, and let them know you’ll be there for them whenever they are ready.  Use this time to lay a foundation to build brand loyalty as the economy improves.

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5. Look for other creative ways to connect as consumer values and attitudes shift. If your company hasn’t modernized yet, it’s crucial that you do so now. Adopting videos, webinars, and video chat in communications will allow you to keep connected and top of mind. Find unique ways to reach out with a personal touch like handwritten notes to top clients. Send big supporters a private message on social media and let them know you are there for them. Think about parts of your experience that you can share to relate to your consumers. Our social media feeds will continue to be saturated with stressful information. Sharing a bit of humor on your feed can stand out to your followers and reinforce a positive sentiment, loyalty, and conversions when the time is right. Creating engaging content like polls and asking consumers to share photos is a good example of ways to connect. 

6. Stay focused and update your goals accordingly. While operations are slow, you will naturally have more time for other things. It can be a golden opportunity to PLAN! Make sure you are still paying attention to how you’re spending your time, even with adjusting habits to accommodate work-from-home dynamics. Think critically about projections. The business landscape will shift dramatically, but that doesn’t mean opportunities don’t exist. As competitors cut back, there may be opportunities to take advantage of lower marketing costs to increase market share. 

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Make sure your operations are ready to handle increased interactions digitally. Make sure your website is optimized to be found on google. Take advantage of organic social media tactics to grow and connect with your audience, and provide a high level of customer service. And when you see a good story, pass it along.

If you are looking for customized recommendations for your business, our MC360 team is here to help. Contact us to get started today, or click here to read more on our strategy consulting services. 

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Kathryn Donadio March 28, 2020 0 Comments