It’s not uncommon to find yourself stumped by the questions your social media manager may be asking during the onboarding process. Some of these things you may have never even entertained the thought of, so why not prepare yourself in advance?
What struggles do you have with social media?
You should be asked this question. While your social media manager (SMM) may already be able to see a few struggles, it’s good to be prepared for this question as some struggles are not so obvious.
What are your specific goals? Do you have a number goal in mind?
Having goals in mind will help your SMM be the best at their job, and it eliminates a guessing game. What are some business objectives you have? The most common business objective is of course to increase sales, but you may want to increase brand awareness, or website traffic. Your SMM will be able to take your business objectives and turn them into social media KPIs.
What platforms do you have already? Which work best?
We do our research when you inquire for our services, and probably know which platforms you already have. Making sure we are all on the same page right from the start is best practice. This includes coming prepared with login credentials for your SMM.
What content has the best engagement?
Not everyone pays attention to the numbers, we get it. It will help the start-up process move a little faster if you already know what content has the best engagement and to remain consistent with content that already works. That being said, we are the professionals. Your content may be doing well on the number side but may be harming your overall goals.
For example, sharing content that is highly popular, but doesn’t align with your brands voice, may get you great numbers but does nothing for actual business objectives. Just think, if you share a trending meme you may get attention, but that could be all. The attention you get could be from people way outside your audience demographic. Therefore they don’t care about your business and wont go past hitting the like button. Trust your SMM; we look past the vanity metrics and see what will help you in the long run and create a strong online presence.
What is your target audience?
As a business owner you know your audience better than anyone, it helps to give the details to your SMM such as your audience’s location, age, interests, lifestyle, etc. During the first month your SMM will spend time researching and learning your audience so they also become familiar with your audience and having a base understanding will speed the process along.
What is your brand’s voice? Does it have a specific opinion?
A major part of having an online presence is to establish your brands identity. Maybe you’re a fun, charismatic company that wants to take the stress out of a stressful business niche. This question can sometimes stump onboarding social media clients, as not every business knows what their brand’s voice is, especially if they have no online presence. Your SMM will work with you to find your businesses voice and tone, as these two things turn your business into a brand. The key here is to stay consistent across all platforms.
Who are some of your competitors? What makes you better?
I’m sure as a business owner you’re aware of your competitors, and what makes your business better than the rest. This is a huge factor in creating a social media strategy. Informing your SMM of your competitors will give your business an advantage. You know the saying, “keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.” Well, your competitors aren’t necessarily your enemies, but it’s good to keep a close eye on what works for them, and what doesn’t. Your competition may not be practicing social listening . . . but you are! Their audience could be asking questions, and getting no response. When people feel heard and valued, they are more likely to trust your brand.
If you find yourself lacking the answers to some of these questions, I encourage you to put some time aside and find the answers even if you aren’t looking to hire a SMM. This is a great way to improve your social media strategy yourself and learn even more about your business. We are always open to answer any questions you may have for us, give us a call.
I’m going to spoil this whole blog by telling you the three reasons you should build your own eCommerce website in this very first sentence: eBay, Etsy, and Amazon. That’s it, there you have it, that’s why you should build your own eCommerce website.
I know what you’re thinking: “Deborah, you’ve gone completely bananas. I couldn’t possibly independently compete with those three!”
Well I hate to break it to you folks, but I went completely bananas years ago. You should know that by now. But that’s completely aside from the point and unrelated to anything I’m saying here. Just let me continue, and stop mentally interrupting me, OK? Thanks.
Even when you list your products on those sites, you are still competing with all of them. But let’s take a closer look.
Of these big three sellers, Amazon.com was founded in 1994. Who even remembers having the internet in 1994? My family had an Apple computer back then, but eventually switched to a PC. I think we got dial-up in 1995:
. . . and then that sweet sound of connection. It wasn’t long before I discovered Amazon.com. It used to be all books, all the time, and soon after, I could also get CDs and DVDs, and better yet, I could soon buy them used from other sellers! I’ll admit, I have Amazon Prime membership in both the USA and Canada. As a buyer, Amazon is pretty great.
But what about as a seller?
Amazon is complicated. Their fees are high. You’ve got a huge amount of competition, including people who buy and bulk, which isn’t great if you’re a smaller business. Not only that, but you are also in direct competition with Amazon itself.
Speaking of competing products, several major brands have refused to sell on Amazon because they don’t police the grey market well enough. One brand even preferred to sell exclusively on Walmart instead. Not to dis Walmart or anything (loyal shopper here), but I kinda think that says something.
Ah yes, the wild west of online sales. Or so it seemed to be back in those first few years. eBay was founded only a year after Amazon, in 1995. It started simple enough. The first sale was a broken laser pointer to a fellow who collected broken laser pointers, who would’ve thought? Initially, listing an item was free, but the founder’s internet services bill got too high, so he had to start charging a listing free, which people found pretty reasonable.
(As an aside, my first year of high school, my school’s principal, Tom Sawyer (yes, that legit was his name, no relation to the real fictional Tom Sawyer, though), was an expert at calling auctions. You know, that really fast-talking thing. Everybody in town would get him to do live auctions. Pretty amazing. eBay should have hired him for . . . something.)
Thousands of people have found success on eBay, but more and more, people have become increasingly frustrated. In the words of one former seller, “eBay sacrifices its sellers to its buyers”. I know that “the customer is always right” is a good general policy, but eBay appears to take this a bit too far. According to this same seller, “eBay ‘insures’ purchases by resolving all disputes in favor of the buyer, and then forcing the seller to cover the costs. Paypal helps them by seizing the seller’s funds.”
So eBay runs on a guilty-until-proven-innocent-system where the seller can almost never prove themselves innocent. It also leaves the seller open to buyer fraud.
eBay can limit your sales very arbitrarily, despite your good record (and bringing in lots of income to eBay itself). An ill-intentioned person can give a seller a bad review, a postal strike causing a delay in shipment, or any other little fluke can lead them to limit how much a seller is allowed to sell. One seller whose whole business. You are subject to eBay’s whims. You may feel like your own boss, but you are at the mercy of buyers and eBay’s poor customer service.
Etsy, the newest to the market. Launched in 2005 on the east coast, it’s the indie girl’s heaven for vintage, handmade, and craft supplies. Yes, I’ve purchased all of the above on there. Etsy has been great for sellers of these things, but in recent years, Etsy’s policies have changed for the negative.
Etsy is no longer friendly to small business, you are literally competing with huge shops in China. It’s sad really — you see someone has designed something creative and lovely, and within a few months, other people are copying that design and it’s all being shipped from China. Sure, maybe it was handmade, but do you really think the worker got fair pay for the work they did?
Not only that, but because of Etsy opening up their policy to this type of business, small business owners have faced lower sales volumes and increased competition due to the sheer volume of shop owners on the site, and it’s not exactly easy to differentiate your own shop from all the rest. You get a name and you get a logo. That’s about it. It’s very difficult to truly build your own brand.
On top of this, Etsy has their own weird SEO algorithms that work completely differently from most ordinary search engines, and at the same time, Etsy items don’t rank well in Google searches. And then there are the fees. They can arbitrarily hike the fees whenever they please, cutting into the profit margin of small businesses as well.
At the end of the day, is it really worth all this trouble?
Who are you really working for?
All three of these platforms make it somewhat easy to list your products in an online shop, but is it really worth it? How does it really benefit you as a business? Perhaps early on it might have been easy for people to search and find your products, but now they’re so over-saturated that it’s difficult for people to find you. You can’t truly build your own brand.
At the end of the day, with having to follow someone else’s ever-changing policies, very little control over how operations are run, and the inability to truly build your own brand while paying someone else fees, it sure sounds a lot like you’re doing a lot of work for someone else. You may have more flexibility than a typical job, but you’ve still got someone bossing you around.
But what else can a small business do?
Gosh, I’m sure glad you asked! The truth is, building your own eCommerce website isn’t that complicated. There are lots of options out there, though our two favourites are WooCommerce and Shopify. The great thing about your own site is you are in charge. You decide what your website will look like, your branding, everything. Nobody will tell you what kind of payments you will take, you get to decide that. You get to decide what shipping options you will offer, and where you will ship.
I don’t know about anybody else, but I’m pretty stubborn and don’t like being told what to do. I’m also a bit of a control freak, so being able to control every aspect of my business (or delegate to people whom I trust) is right up my alley. Both of these platforms offer countless tools to make it easy to do.
How will people find me if I’m not on one of these big sites?
OK, that’s the easy answer, but not the only one. Look at it this way: you’re not just selling stuff, you’re building a brand. Do you have a Facebook page? Instagram? Most of these eCommerce platforms have integrations with both Facebook and Instagram (WooCommerce: Facebook, Instagram; Shopify: online sales channels).
Back to Google though — this year they announced a new feature they are making available on their shopping search results. Currently their Google Shopping search results are all sponsored products, but this spring, in the US, they opened it up so that people could list their products for free (there would still be sponsored listings, a bit like regular search results).
This isn’t available in Canada yet, but one article suggests it will be quite soon for Canada, and another says that it will be global before the end of the year. I find this pretty exciting, as it’s another SEO opportunity for our eCommerce clients. It appears that already there are integrations for WooCommerce and Shopify.
OK, but what about the cost?
I’ll admit, there’s a bigger up-front cost with building a site yourself.
I take that back. Shopify isn’t all that bad, although they have monthly fees, because it is hosted, although the monthly fees might add up, but it comes with everything all-in-one full-meal-deal if that’s what you like. You can pay to have someone set it all up for you, have it match your branding and whatnot, or you can set it up yourself and you’ll probably get by either way. It’s a great option for someone who wants a store. Some pretty big brands use Shopify, including Hasbro, The Economist, Heinz, Crabtree & Evelyn, and Penguin Books.
WooCommerce is my favourite though. It’s a great option if you want a full website, more than just a shop. From what I understand the API is easier to work with, so if you like doing your own coding . . . stuff (sorry, I stick to html and css, disturbingly so), it’s a better option. I like that you can use their official plugins or third party plugins to make it do whatever you darned-well please. Many-a-time a client has asked “but can you make it do this?” and I’ve said “of course we can!” then gone to one of our developers and said “so . . . they asked me if we can make it do this” to be told “weird but . . . I guess so?”
As for cost, WooCommerce itself is free, though if you purchase it with a theme, it sometimes comes with other paid upgrades. There are paid and free plugins you can get for WooCommerce. Your main cost will be building the website, and then the monthly or annual fee of hosting it varies from provider to provider.
I may or may not be the Yes Girl, much to the chagrin of our CEO. (Sorry Kelly.)
Let’s do it!
So now that I’ve given you all the reasons why you really ought to have your own website instead of working for someone else, why don’t you give us a call, send us an email, or contact us through social media and let us help you get your business online! We can offer advice on what platform is best for you, or we can do all the work for you. Whatever level of service you need, we’re here for you.
Most have a good understanding about what common social media platforms offer. Some think the more the better (target as many people on all corners of social media and you’ll reach more potential customers), but with social media this isn’t necessarily the case. The best way to approach social media is to find channels that are the most beneficial to your businesses unique needs. Each platform attracts different age, gender and even industry demographics. Depending on your target audience you want to be present on the platforms your audience is using most often.
This is the best platform to start on for any business, it has the widest range of age demographics, and currently has 2.38 billion active monthly users. This is a great platform to make connections and build community. You can easily share important aspects of your business, and find potential customers. On this platform you want to post videos and curated content. Although if your business is targeting a younger audience, ages 13-17 this age group spends less time on Facebook than 18 and up.
Instagram has quickly become a massive platform, with 1 billion active monthly users. This platform is great for product based businesses, as it is highly visual and just recently released the shopping feature making it even easier for customers to buy your products. Instagram is focused on creativity and building community. If your target demographic is under 35 this is a platform you cannot skip. 63% of users are between the ages of 18 to 34, and to make it even better its virtually an even split between male and female users. On this platform you want to post good quality aesthetically pleasing images and stories, use this platform to become more personal with your customers.
Twitter is the go-to platform for being updated on the latest news and trends, it is fairly fast paced so posting often is key. This is another great platform for sharing interesting information, or contributing to a conversation about your industry. Studies show that tweeting content with visuals does significantly better than without, although other studies show posting your traditional “one liner” tweet is just as good (we’ll leave it up to you to decide for your business on this one.) This platform also tends to have a younger audience 38% user are 18-29. But with that said, still a high number of users age 30-49 are active on Twitter making up for 26% of adult users. Both male and females are active on Twitter so if your business targets one or the other, or both this is a great platform to gain exposure on.
LinkedIn is one of the best platforms for professionals. This channel is best used for business-to-business brands aiming to make interactions with the decision makers of a business. Gender demographics are well balanced here as neither male or females are more active on this platform. Businesses are looking for certain industries or job titles rather than ages or genders. This is a great place to post job openings, update other business owners and professionals on company changes and share professional content. 34% of users between the ages of 18 to 29 and 33% of users between the ages of 30 to 49 are active on LinkedIn.
Pinterest is a platform that is often overlooked as it used to be a community of home makers sharing recipes and DIY projects. While this is still true, the user base is more female dominant on this platform, 50% of new accounts are being made by males. Pinterest should be seen as a search engine more than a social media platform as 2 billion searches are made every month. It’s a great site to direct traffic to your website and gain exposure for blog post, and products. The content on this platform is highly product based, as users on Pinterest are usually searching for a product.
There are so many more platforms you can choose to be active on but these are the biggest ones you want to focus on as they are highly popular. Social media is a great way to reach more people and build rapport with customers. It’s a way to show off your aspects of your business that may otherwise be looked over.
Tip: remember to be social on the accounts you have, respond/leave comments, and share things you find interesting. Whatever your company culture may be let your content also express this same energy to your viewers. Your account can be whatever you want it to be, not just what everyone else in your industry is doing!
Pinterest: An app where women find recipes and DIY projects, right?
Many people see Pinterest as an app women use to find home improvement ideas or recipes, but it has far progressed from when it was first released in 2010. Marketers are using it as a platform to drive more website traffic and increase sales. Pinterest has become a major visual search engine in the past few years. So how can you use it for your business in 2019?
Pinterest is 80% more viral and 3x more effective at generating leads than Twitter
1. Pinterest Drives Heavy Traffic
Pinterest has a hover feature that when clicked it directs users directly to your site, This eliminates the amount of steps people have to take to get to your site. The other benefit is that users can pin pictures directly from your site, increasing your websites visibility.
2. Longer Post Exposure
The average lifespan of a Pinterest post is three and half months, that’s 1,600 times longer than a Facebook post. Pins last forever, meaning that it’s easier for people to search for you and easily find your latest pins. As time goes by and your pin gets shared by other users it continues to spread like wildfire. No need to re-share content and repeat your pin over and over.
3. Excellent SEO Strategy
Use keywords in your description for higher visibility and your target audience to find you easier. Continue to post with those keywords and create boards that are relevant.When a google search is made with that keyword, your pins will show up.
4. Free Marketing From Your Fans
The more your content is pinned the more visibility you gain, just like with any social media, although you don’t need to invest in content marketing, just spend time getting quality images and a good description and your pin is ready to be shared countless times. Users want to be inspired, so inspire them.
5. Engage Easier With Customers
Even though Pinterest is smaller than Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, it is easy to engage with people on this platform. Users are eager to share, they want to send their ideas and dreams with others, so if they like your content they will be eager to share it.
We’d love to hear your Pinterest strategies. Leave us a comment below!
Social Media has been an important part of business for a while now. It’s not going away any time soon and will continue to be a player in business. However, not all social media channels are created equally for business. Each has their place and purpose, especially depending on your businesses industry.
But where do you even start?
Sometimes it can feel like a daunting task looking at all the different platforms and thinking about signing up for, creating accounts for and content for all of these accounts.
The good news is; well you don’t have to do that. Yes, there are many platforms, and yes it would be amazing if you could be active on them all. However it’s not necessary. So let’s take a look at how to figure out what social media platforms are best for your business and how to keep them active.
There are many platforms but generally here are the major ones:
First, take a look at who your demographic is? Who is your client/customer? Do you service other businesses? Maybe a platform like LinkedIn and Twitter are a better place to spend your efforts connecting to other business people and building those relationships. Do you sell a product or service for a younger demographic? You are more likely to find them on Snapchat or Instagram. Do you sell craft supplies, fashion items or nearly anything you ship worldwide? Pinterest might be the place you put your time and energy.
Once you have defined your demographic and where they might be hanging out then you can start to develop a plan around building that platform. Find content related to your business or your client and start to post. Post often (3-7 times a week) but not too often (3-7 times a day!). You can share your own blog posts, ones you love, photos or memes.
Most importantly BE SOCIAL! Social media is about being social. Post things, but also engage with the people around you. Like and comment and have conversations on other peoples content as well. Did you read a funny meme someone shared and it actually made you laugh a bit out loud? Let them know! Was an article or blog post shared that you found great information in? Share your views on the topic.
Once you feel like you have got a good handle on a platform or that it’s performing well/has a decent following, then you can work on tackling another platform. This helps prevent a little bit of the burn out from social media channels and the overwhelm!
I remember when Pinterest was created in the spring of 2010. I remember because my mom had found it sooner than most of her friends. At the time, my mom thought of it as her secret great idea place. Where she could find gift ideas, “pin” recipes, checkout DIY projects and beautiful pictures of places she would like to visit.
When she would tell her friends about the app she would explain to them like it was a literal bulletin board. Saying that you could grab ideas from anywhere and “pin” them to your own boards for later reference.
I realize now that I haven’t thought of Pinterest as a bulletin board in a very long time. I think that’s because it has grown to be so much more. The virtual bulletin board of 2010 has morphed into what I would call a never-ending magazine.
Pinterest is popular for a few reasons, one of those is due to the personalization. I follow people and companies who pin similar styles and interests so I can see their take on styles we share opinions about. Not only do the people I follow show me pins I may potentially like but when I pin anything, Pinterest will also show me pins similar to that one so I may find even more websites, photos, products, that would appeal to me.
Influence is a huge player in the Pinterest game. Everyone is influencing each other. You and your pins are always reaching someone. There is a huge cycle of pinning and influencing, pinning and influencing… Not only do individuals have the ability to go through this cycle, but companies and their products can as well.
I also use my Pinterest account as a wishlist. This means I seek out brands and products that I would like. I can show them to my friends and family, asking for these things for Christmas. I can refer to the boards of my friends to know what they would like as gifts also.
Pinterest users are mostly women and I’d say that 90% of the pins on Pinterest are products.
In short, Pinterest is an amazing place for target marketing.
What is more powerful than a woman who loves a product? A group of women who love a product.
Have you ever heard a group of ladies discuss a product they love? The enthusiasm and eagerness they posses is energetic enough to get others who have never heard of the product excited as well. In a nutshell, that is what Pinterest is. People excited over products. Effecting each other as they repin.
Pinterest is like an affiliate system but the affiliates don’t know they are branding for you, you don’t need to pay them, and their reviews are honest. What more could a company want?
If you have a website that links to your Pinterest account, I hope that you are keeping it active, as it is definitely worth it. It does take a lot of time and effort though. You need a constant supply of beautiful pictures or videos and compelling captions that will draw in people to click through to your website. I would would even suggest that you keep the Pinterest account as active as you would keep your Instagram account.
I follow a few clothing brands on Pinterest. They always have beautiful pictures and they add them to their many boards regularly. I gush over their stunning photos and repin them. Not only are they influencing me but my followers as well.
Maybe your pins are getting repined, but you aren’t seeing an immediate increase in sales. If that is the case, I’d be sure that people can clearly see what the image is focusing on. Help them believe that they could own the product too. The scenery around the featured item needs to look beautiful of course, but not so far from reality that the average consumer doesn’t stop to picture themselves owning your product.
A balance between an aesthetically pleasing picture, an image which clearly displays your product, reality and consumer craving fantasy needs to be met in order to win over the pinners through your pins. Give the pinners a reason to purchase.
Pinterest can be the connect between a consumer’s fantasy and reality.
200 million monthly users is a lot of consumers. Is your brand out there for us to find?