Get high-profile media mentions… even if you don’t have a PR budget

highprofilementions

Reuters. The Wall Street Journal. Forbes. Inc.

A media mention in one of these mainstream publications can really boost your bottom-line. A lot of entrepreneurs think those key media interactions only come through a PR professional. If you’re one of those, you’re missing out.

There are powerful media channels available to you that don’t come with the price tag of a professional agency. These channels connect you directly with journalists who need experts for stories they’re working on – and many of these services are free.

A Simple Process

  • You subscribe to the service by providing your email address. (You may be asked to select topics you’re interested in along with providing your email.)
  • At least once a day, you receive email queries from reporters.
  • Take a moment to review them and then respond to questions that are relevant to your area of expertise.

Even if the reporter doesn’t need your input this time, there could be an opportunity in the future. At least you’ve gotten your name in front of them.

Don’t gloss over queries that aren’t right for you. Think of clients, partners and anyone else who might be a good fit for the article. Share the request with them. It’ll build goodwill. And their appreciation may result in business or referrals down the road.

Seven Platforms to Consider

If you’ve got a PR agency on retainer, they may already be monitoring these channels on your behalf.  Work with them before you respond to anything to avoid overlaps.

But if you’re a small business without a big PR budget, you will want to add these DIY options to your arsenal.

Using Social Media to build epic buzz for your next event

buildbuzz

 

You’ve got an awesome event coming up, and you want a lot of buzz around it.

You’ve heard that social media is the way to do that, but when you tried it before, your efforts fizzled.

What gives? Is social media an overhyped event marketing tool?

No way!

Social media is a fantastic way to market events. You’ve just got to do it right.

Here’s how.

First, make sure you’re doing all the usual stuff:

  • Create a Facebook event.
  • Have a unique, event-specific hashtag. (Research it to ensure it hasn’t been used before and can’t be co-opted for use in a bad way.)
  • Give attendees the option to tweet after they register. (Write a tweet for them — with a call to action, like “click to tweet.”)
  • Share collateral and photos for the event on all your social platforms.

Then, take it to the next level:

  • Before the event, interview the speakers or attendees and post on all your social media platforms. Ask the interviewees to post on their platforms, too. These don’t have to be long, drawn-out journalistic stories. In fact, it’s better if they’re quick and informal. They should be interesting and even funny to encourage more sharing.
  • During the event, give people a reason to take photos and share, share, share. Rent giant funky furniture (lips couch, anyone??) for attendees to climb on and pose in. Have a box of fun photo props available by the step-and-repeat. Come up with an unusual display for your product that inspires people to take pics.
  • Give a sneak peak behind the scenes by sharing snippets of video using Periscope or Meerkat.
  • After the event, put any presentations up on SlideShare and release them once a day to keep people engaged. No presentations? No problem! You can do the same thing with photos. Create a PowerPoint of pics grouped by a theme. For example, Day 1, Day 2… Or, Fab Food broken out by breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. Save it as a slideshow and upload.

Have you had success marketing your events on social media? Share your tips in the comments.

Or, if you need help developing a social media event marketing plan, let’s talk!

What every small business should know about social media advertising

whateverybizshouldknowaboutsocialmediaadvertising

There’s no mistaking this trend line.

The number of businesses paying for Facebook advertising surged by an astounding 50% last year as brands turn to paid placement to better compete on the world’s most-popular social channel, according to Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg in an interview with CBS This Morning.

Facebook advertising has become increasing popular for a number of reasons. For one thing, it has given small businesses a cost-effective way to connect with new customers and stay in touch with existing ones. Instead of spending thousands of dollars on a billboard, they are paying tens of dollars to reach thousands of targeted viewers.

The trend is also tied to a Facebook algorithm that is making it more and more difficult for businesses to attract viewers for free. Paid placement has become a rite of passage for businesses wanting to gain credibility online.

So how effective is advertising? According to Sandberg, Facebook has connected more than a billion people globally to at least one small business.

But it’s not just Facebook that’s drawing more advertising dollars. A Content Marketing Institute report reveals that an increasing number of marketers are incorporating a paid model for promoting and distributing content on a variety of social platforms, including LinkedIn, Twitter and other social channels. The Institute reports that 74% of marketers are using social media advertisements this year, up from 60% last year.

So why are promoted posts and social ads so popular? Because they work – without breaking the bank.

Increased Targeting and Control

Business owners now have control over ads in a way they never had before. Social media advertising is highly targeted, unlike ads in a newspaper or on television. Businesses can now narrow their audience by location, age, gender and interests until they’re reaching only those people who are most likely to buy their products. Not only that, but they can track conversion rates, giving businesses some valuable intelligence for tweaking ad spend and social strategy.

Ability to Showcase a Corporate Persona

Brands today are expected to engage with their customers in a more personal way that speaks to their corporate culture. Social media advertising is informal. It’s less stuffy than traditional media. With opportunities such as sponsored hashtags, businesses can be part of their customers’ conversations. They can also provide businesses with a unique opportunity to give customers behind-the-scenes glimpses at their company, showcasing fun moments and sharing personal tidbits about the staff.

Affordability for Small Business

Social media advertising outshines traditional advertising in yet another way: small investments add up over time. For as little as $5, social ads get a business’ content in front of more eyeballs than any other advertising option. Plus, advertisers can test their creative assets and messaging to see what works before upping their spending.

Bottom line: As you map out your marketing strategy for the rest of 2016 and beyond, put some serious thought into using social media advertising to accelerate your customer recruitment and retention efforts. In the online marketing world, where an increasing number of consumers are relying on peer recommendations to make buying decisions, it can make the difference between outpacing your competition and falling behind.

{ Originally published on Social5.com. Social5 is the social social-media company whose team of experts helps small businesses save time and grow their online presence. }

Elisabeth Daniels is a veteran social media marketer and strategist, whose experience crosses both the public and private sectors. She now serves asSocial5’s online marketing guru.

5 ways to attract customers and build loyalty through email marketing

emailmarketing

What’s not to love about email? It’s easy. It’s inexpensive. And it’s personal. Plus, people like it. (Did you know that 77% of customers* would rather get marketing materials through email than any other way?)

There’s another benefit of email, one that’s critical to the success of your business. Email marketing, when done properly, is one of the best methods for bringing in customers – and turning them into your devoted fans.

Here’s how to do it.

  1. Roll Out the Welcome Mat – When someone makes a purchase or signs up for your newsletter, a warm welcome starts the relationship off right. Be friendly and inviting, and let them know you appreciate their interaction with you.
  2. Stay in Touch – Are you using email just to sell? Stop. Connect with the people on your list by providing value. Send a “getting started” checklist. Invite them to an online class or webinar. Share something funny or uplifting. Send out a promo code or run a fun contest. Deliver value in your messages; you want it to be worthwhile for them to read it. And always be subtle in your selling.
  3. Make Them Part of the Club – Email is great for catering to your existing customers. Sending them one-of-a-kind promotions and discounts makes them feel like they’re part of a special club. Be sure that the email software you use allows for the segmentation of offers based on whether they’re prospects or clients, or based on which products they’ve purchased. Add any extra details you may have – like birthdays, names of loved ones or types of businesses – to customize your messages and stand out from the competition.
  4. Spread the Knowledge – A simple method for ensuring your messages get opened and read? Give away your best secrets. Divulge your top tips and tricks. Share the inside scoop on how you accomplish things. When you do this, your customers and prospects will be excited to see communication from you in their inboxes. You’ll build a bank of goodwill, and you’ll get your branding in front of more eyes at the same time.
  5. Keep Them Happy – It might not seem like email is a good choice for customer service. Will the message will get lost in the ether, never to receive a response? That’s an easy problem to fix. Rule Number One: Be responsive and timely. Let people know you’ve gotten their message and that you’re working on the issue and keep them updated, even if you don’t yet have a resolution. And ditch the canned, formal responses. Be candid and real, letting your company’s personality shine through. Show the human side of your business. And, of course, take care of their concerns as quickly and thoroughly as possible.

When you’re strategic with your email marketing, instead of turning people off, you’ll have customers and prospects alike clamoring for what you offer – now and in the future.

* Thanks to Marketing Land and Marketo for the statistics used in this blog.

Originally published on Social5.com. Social5 is the social social-media company whose team of experts helps small businesses save time and grow their online presence. }

Elisabeth Daniels is a veteran social media marketer and strategist, whose experience crosses both the public and private sectors. She now serves as Social5’s online marketing guru.

Twitter Tactics: 5 ways to attract a flock of followers

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Has Twitter left you dazed and confused? Are you perplexed by how to engage with potential customers in 140 characters?

We’ve got 5 strategies that you can implement right away to add a heap of high-quality followers to your Twitter account.

1. Keep the “Pro” in Your Profile – Make sure your Twitter profile and bio is professional. Include the pertinent details of who you are and what you do. But keep it short, and don’t sell. Your profile picture should be a good-quality close-up of you by yourself.

2. React and Respond – Twitter is all about conversations. Reacting and responding is critical. Review your account daily for mentions. “Like” any retweets you get and say thank-you. Contribute to any discussions you’re mentioned in.  Answer questions and follow up on comments or complaints in a timely fashion.

3. Love the ListTwitter lists are curated groups of Twitter users. They allow you to put the people you follow into specific categories.  They also save you time by making it easier to find important tweets. Beyond the organizational benefits, lists are a powerful way to connect with influencers since they receive a notification that they have been added to one of your lists. Lists can be public or private, and most of them will be public. However, you may want to create a private list for competitors or clients.

4. Chat It Out – Usually an hour-long, a Twitter chat brings like-minded people together to talk about a common interest at a set time using a designated hashtag. Contributors can follow and participate in the conversation with the hashtag. Chats are a powerful way to connect to your customers, build brand loyalty, obtain valuable feedback and increase your social following. To find chats to participate in, check out theGoogle Twitter Chat Schedule or TweetReports Twitter Chat Schedule. Use the chats you’ve participated in to develop best practices for your own chats.

5. Picture This – Visual content is more shareable than text by itself. The more your content is shared, the more exposure you get, which increases your followers. To make sure your images are properly sized for Twitter, use a free tool like Canva or Pablo.

It takes work to build an engaged following, but with these tips, it can be done easily and effectively.

Originally published on Social5.com. Social5 is the social social-media company whose team of experts helps small businesses save time and grow their online presence. }

Elisabeth Daniels is a veteran social media marketer and strategist, whose experience crosses both the public and private sectors. She now serves as Social5’s online marketing guru.

My two favorite photo-editing apps

photo editing, photo editing apps, apps, iPhone, Camera+, Instagram, filters, clarify, photography, iPhoneography, pics, pictures, best apps
I love using my phone for photos. I have a fancy DSLR camera that takes awesome pics, but it’s big and bulky and kind of intrusive to whip out at times. So, I end up relying a lot on my phone. It’s easy and convenient. There are tons of apps out there to funky up your photos or improve them, and I use quite a few. But my two favorites for quick edits are Camera+ and Instagram.

Camera+ has been around since it came out for the iPhone in 2010, and it’s been super popular ever since. Its range of features and controls are pretty mind boggling. but my absolute favorite feature so far is the Clarity function. It crisps up any photo, making a so-so snap seem almost perfectly detailed. There are a host of other ways to enhance your photos with Camera+, and you have a lot of control over most of the changes. I am still exploring everything this amazing app can do. If you’re using an iPhone for your pics, you need this $1.99 app.

photo editing, photo editing apps, apps, iPhone, Camera+, Instagram, filters, clarify, photography, iPhoneography, pics, pictures, best apps
Original picture of Meeko, our Rat Terrier, taken with an iPhone 5S
photo editing, photo editing apps, apps, iPhone, Camera+, Instagram, filters, clarify, photography, iPhoneography, pics, pictures, best apps
Clarity in Camera+

It’s really obvious in this picture how much the Clarity function can sharpen the details on a photo as well as enhancing the color. You can practically feel the strands of Meeko’s fur, and the blanket looks so soft and cushy. Sometimes the Clarity function goes a little too far, so I don’t always use it. But it’s often just what I need to make photo pop.

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I used to use Instagram exclusively for the filters. I didn’t add any captions or check out other people’s stuff. Now I do, and Instagram has become a great community for me. I really like the dialogue that happens and the inspiring photos that are shared all day long. I still, though, really love the filters. The latest version of Instagram offers a lot more control and flexibility than it first did. Now just click on the wrench icon to adjust the brightness, contrast, and color temperature and saturation of your pic. And you can now easily adjust the level of the adjustments so you can easily fine tune. I particularly like to combine a filter with tilt shift to create a dreamier image or focus on certain area of my shot.

photo editing, photo editing apps, apps, iPhone, Camera+, Instagram, filters, clarify, photography, iPhoneography, pics, pictures, best apps
Rise Filter and Tilt Shift in Instagram

Like I mentioned before, I definitely use a lot of other apps, but these two are my go-to tools to get nice looking pics on the fly.

Kale Mixed Berry Smoothie

KaleMixedBerrySmoothie2 The other day, I found the Lipstick & Berries on Instagram, and I was smitten. Ashley’s pictures are gorgeous, and everything she eats is so healthy and vibrant. I feel more energetic and nourished just looking at her stuff! So today when I went shopping, I was inspired to pick up fresh fruit, unsweetened almond milk, Medjool dates and curly kale – to whip up a smoothie. I’d never tried sweetening with dates before. They worked great! I might not ever use anything else.

Be sure to blend this thoroughly, or you’ll have bits of kale and chunks of dates at the bottom of the glass – which is not necessarily a bad thing.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup frozen mixed berries (or fresh berries and ice)
  • 2 handfuls of curly kale
  • 2-4 Medjool dates, pitted (or other sweetener of choice)
  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or other non-dairy milk)

KaleMixedBerrySmoothie3 Directions:

  • Blend together until smooth.

KaleMixedBerrySmoothie1