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Are you getting lots of advice these days on how to increase the reach of your Facebook posts? Isn’t it all so very confusing? Let me sift through which tips work better than others.

THE MUST-DOS

At present, Facebook advertising is the most effective technique to improve the reach of your fan page posts. You might suspect that I’m about to use the phrase “advertising budget” … and that sounds scary. But start with an initial investment of just $5 per post to give your messaging the audience it deserves. If you post 20 times a month, and you plan to promote each post, we’re talking about a monthly budget of $100.

If you feel that your Facebook marketing efforts are worth that relatively small investment, make sure your posts are worth promoting. Don’t make all the posts about “You gotta come to the store today” or  ”Check out our latest deal.” Facebook fans, who are typically on Facebook to be social with others, do not want to be bombarded with your pleas for their business. Use moderation with those types of posts.

To expand your variety of post types, try tapping into the social nature of Facebook by initiating a dialog. Ask your fans to:

  • create a caption or thought bubble for a photo
  • share their thoughts about a current event (for example, chatting about red carpet events like the Academy Awards is great fodder for businesses in the entertainment, fashion, and beauty industries)
  • offer ideas for upcoming products or services

These more socially oriented posts often encourage more engagement, which in turn helps your promoted posts garner more reach.

Sometimes fans need a little incentive to interact with your posts, regardless of how social they are. So give timeline contests a try to occasionally rustle up post likes and comments. Last fall, I needed feedback on future topics for my blog, so I asked my fans — in exchange for a chance to win a copy of a hot, bestselling book on content marketing.

b2b-sierra-tierra-facebook-timeline-contest

This easy-to-implement contest was a small investment to get great feedback, higher engagement, and a doubling of my typical reach numbers.
The onus isn’t entirely on you to come up with fresh ideas. Why not get some inspiration from your competitors? The “Pages to Watch” box allows you to see a list of your competitors each time you log into your fan page. Imagine you own a doughnut shop and run its fan page. You should add competitors to your Pages to Watch box (see the example), check their weekly “likes” growth, and click through to see what types of posts are earning them good engagement (and in most cases, good reach).

Facebook Pages to Watch
THE WAIT-AND-SEES

Hashtags have done wonders to extend reach for businesses on Twitter and Instagram. But to date, Facebook hashtags have done very little to increase the eyeballs on business’ tagged posts. Think about it: when is the last time you’ve searched on a Facebook hashtag?

There’s certainly one big reason why this feature hasn’t taken off on Facebook. The social network has yet to give mobile users any way to search by hashtags. Heck, mobile users can’t even click through on hashtags to see what other posts are similarly tagged.

Facebook made an announcement last week that made many gotta-have-reach marketers giddy. By tagging another Facebook page name in a post, your post will have the potential to show up in the news feeds of that other page’s fans — even if those fans are not YOUR fans. “This means some Page posts that tag other Pages may be seen by new people,” said Facebook’s article on this new feature.

facebooktagging-other-pages-news-feed

Let me separate myself from the “OMG Reach!” marketer posse. I think marketers will overuse tagging to appear in as many other pages’ fans’ news feeds as possible. That’s pretty close to spam in my book. Until Facebook creates a way to moderate abuse of page tagging, I won’t be using this feature on a regular basis. I suggest you hold off as well. Let’s focus on what we know works before we delve into unknown territory.

What’s worked for your business to increase the reach of your Facebook fan page posts? (What hasn’t worked?)


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Do you primarily use Hootsuite for “getting the word out there” to your Facebook and Twitter followers?

Do you also use it for *listening* to the word out there?

Listening is where the social media marketing gold lies. So let me uncover five oft-underused Hootsuite methods for listening to targeted conversations on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

1. Twitter Lists

I’ve long been a fan of Twitter lists to better segment the listening that one does in the Twittersphere. Hootsuite allows you to line these up for easy viewing. In fact, you can have ten of these glorious columns on just one tab!

In this example, I show you three such lists. If you’re an author agent or provide services to writers, you can glean real-time info from your target market here. 

Three Twitter Lists on a Hootsuite Dashboard

 

2. Klout

Klout is a standalone product that measures a social media user’s influence — or “klout.” Some people believe the algorithm is flawed, but Klout has remained the most widely used tool for measuring social influence.A Twitter List on Hootsuite Sorted by Klout Score

If you’re looking for influential people to engage with in your niche, you can use Klout’s filtering system in Hootsuite. (Note that this feature is only available to users with paid plans like Pro or Enterprise.)

Remember that big screenshot I had above with three streams (Hootsuite’s word for columns)? Let’s say that today I wanted to hone in specifically on cookbook authors. And not just any cookbook author. I want an author who posts regularly to a decent social media following — in other words, someone with a good Klout score.

Klout scores range from 0 to 100. In my “cookbooks with Klout” experiment, I sought authors with a score of 56 or higher. So I dragged Hootsuite’s slide bar to 56 and kaboom! Hootsuite eliminated everyone in that stream with scores under 56. And as you can see in this example, it also assigned a Klout number to each of the remaining tweeters in my stream.  This will help me get a better sense of the more popular tweeters in the cookbook author space.

 

3. New Followers
Taking stock of new Twitter followers often falls in the wake of other social media activities like tweeting and responding. But why ignore these new followers — who could very well be great sources of listening and engagement for your business?

New Twitter Followers as a Hootsuite Stream

To keep on top of this recent group of Twitter visitors, use Hootsuite’s “New Followers” column. You’ll then have access to a running stream of what these people are tweeting about. If you find someone provides interesting content with her tweets, you may wish to follow her back and/or add her to a Twitter list. This is a much more sustainable tactic than sending a “Thanks for following me!” direct message.

 

4. Apps

The ability to use apps on Hootsuite makes this a true social media dashboard.YouTube Subscriber Stream on Hootsuite You know how the dashboard on your car can tell you about your oil level, your miles per hour, and your mileage — all at a glance? The same idea applies to Hootsuite. This tool allows you to easily monitor Twitter as well as Instagram, YouTube, Mailchimp, WordPress, and Foursquare, among 80+ other apps.

I’m one of those “social media marketing ladies” who thinks that YouTube is a social media channel and not a storage closet for videos. By monitoring the YouTube channels I subscribe to, I’m better able to keep up with the YouTube creators that I enjoy watching. (Have YOU ever seen a boring Gary Vaynerchuk video?)

I also use a few paid apps on Hootsuite. For example, I conduct a good deal of Instagram research and have found Statigram a great tool to help me find what I’m looking for there — well worth the $4.99 a month.

 

 

5. Facebook Hashtags

I love the potential of Facebook hashtags, but shiver at how Facebook has rolled them out. Did you know that we are eight months into having hashtags on Facebook — but we still can’t click through them on mobile devices?

That’s why Hootsuite on my desktop is handy. I’m able to track Facebook and find out what’s being said publicly about a particular hashtag.

If I were an accountant in February, I might want to see what Facebook users are saying about #taxtime. Perhaps I could help those people struggling with getting their returns in good order and on time?

Facebook Hashtag Stream on Hootsuite

 

Which of these features might you start using on Hootsuite?

(Disclosure: I’ve been a Certified Hootsuite Professional since 2011. I use tons of other social media management tools, but love sharing what I know about Hootsuite.)


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Having your business on Instagram isn’t just a matter of getting an account and sharing photos with your followers. A sound Instagram strategy should also include encouraging your customers to share their photos of your business with their followers.

Why is incorporating customer photos important for your Instagram marketing strategy? When a customer posts an image of your product to her followers, she’s giving a peer-to-peer recommendation. This exposure is infinitely more valuable to a potential customer than any photo you might post. It makes sense when you think about it: when you buy a book on Amazon, which descriptions do you take more to heart — the synopsis provided by the book publisher or the user reviews?

You can’t (or shouldn’t) buy this kind of word-of-mouth marketing. But you should invest in ways to encourage others to share photos of your business in action.

If you have a storefront, provide opportunities for customers to what I call “snap and share.”

I love what Ann Taylor LOFT has done. It must’ve noticed that customers snapped Instagram selfies (self-portraits) while in the dressing room trying on new clothes. So it set up these signs in the changing rooms to encourage ladies to “snap and share” with their social media connections.

Instagram Selfie Photo Promotion at Ann Taylor Loft

So that LOFT can easily find these photos, it requests that these selfies use the hashtag #haveamoment. By monitoring this hashtag, LOFT can gather market feedback on its latest apparel.

Whole Foods Market used to be incredibly adverse to customers taking photos in its stores. But as mobile image sharing proliferated, its photo-taking policies did a 180. These days I can’t go two aisles without seeing a reminder from Whole Foods to “share your pics with us.”

To make photo sharing fun, my local Whole Foods Market installed this put-your-head-through structure next to the dining tables where families take a break from shopping to eat pizza on whole wheat crust or a 9-pack of avocado sushi (our family’s favorite). Note that the peek-a-boo hole is about 4 feet tall — clearly designed for a caretaker to take a photo of her child and share it with her friends.

Whole Foods Market Instagram Photo Opportunity

Marshall’s recently provided incentive for customers to snap and share in its stores, as seen in this “Check U Out” photo.

Marshalls Instagram Selfie Opportunity and Contest

The stores’ marketers plan to monitor the hashtag #fabfound on Instagram, Twitter, and G-d help them, Facebook and give $50 to the best mobile Ansel Adams.

You need not have a storefront to prod users to snap and share.  Consider these variants.

  • Does your business do a lot of live events? If so, post signs similar to what you’ve seen in this article at your event booth.
  • If you’re a public speaker, tell your audience that you relish real-time photo taking. (Before I begin my talks, I tell audiences that “I have a perfect face for Twitter. So snap away.”)
  • Incorporate snap and share-type messaging in your product design. That reminder will prod a user to take a photo of your product, whether it is an energy drink or an academic textbook, while it is on top of a customer’s mind.

In what ways does your business encourage customers and clients to snap and share photos about your business? What are some methods you might try in the near future?

 Photo credits: Cover from Canva; all others from my Flickr account


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Have you been “doing all the right things” on Facebook but continue to see a frighteningly sharp drop in results for your business? Then let us examine the following: Do the reach, demographics, and vibe of Facebook mesh well with your business — or does another social platform jive better?

Are Your Posts Reaching All Your Fans?
Not all your fans see your Facebook posts. It’s not just because your fans aren’t logged into Facebook. It’s because Facebook doesn’t release fan page posts to all of your fans. For years, approximately 16 percent of your total number of fans saw your posts. Since early December, the number has dropped even lower — we’re talking a single-digit percentage.

These days, my posts reach fewer than 10 percent of the fans on my social media marketing fan page. So to make that percentage higher, I do just what Facebook wants me to do: I pay them to promote my posts to a larger swath of my fans. I choose posts that I know fans want to see and I pay a few dollars for what Facebook Ads Manager calls “page post engagement.” That means likes, comments, shares, and clicks.

I like the results I get from my ads. If you’re not ready to engage in Facebook advertising, however, you might want to find another channel to market your business. But I set you on your way with a gentle warning — within the next two years, all major social channels will apply pressure on you to advertise on their otherwise free platforms.

Consider This Facebook Advertising Question

Is Your Ideal Customer on Facebook?
Who is your ideal buyer persona? Can that person be found on Facebook on a daily basis?

Let’s get specific here. Is your ideal customer a younger adult, of color, and/or an urban dweller? Pew Research in 2013 has suggested that this buyer persona has an increasing affinity toward Twitter and Instagram.

Is your marketing aimed toward women aged 25-45? Pinterest has a stronghold on this demographic, especially those interested in design, food and drink, health, and home decor.

The 55+ demographic continues to flourish on Facebook. If that’s your audience, you might want to stick with your fan page.

Consider This Buyer Persona Question

Why Are You on Social Media?
Especially at the start of the new year, it’s always helpful to reflect on your goals. Pull a James Stockdale and ask yourself: Who am I? What am I doing here?

If you’ve built a robust Website with arresting images and wish to drive traffic there, consider using the visual platform Pinterest which affords users a number of referral traffic opportunities. Yes, Pinterest might be a new-to-you platform with a natural learning curve. But once you’re in the swing of things, you’ll need to spend no more than 10 minutes per day on the social network. Learn how this one small business owner has gotten tons of traffic from Pinterest “without really trying.”

Are you trying to give fans in-the-moment, behind-the-scenes access to your business? Instagram users love the immediacy of mobile photographs.

If you still haven’t figured out why you’re using social media, don’t be too quick to go elsewhere. Take the time first to assess the needs of your business and how social marketing can best help you meet those needs.

Headline Photo Credit: Flickr CC / janbommes


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In 2013, social media channels offered a buffet of great new features for online marketers. Which of these did you use to get more social media engagement and ROI this year?

1. One Channel (YouTube)

In March, YouTube unveiled the “One Channel” layout for its users. With the new look and feel, businesses now have more opportunities to drive Website traffic and increase channel subscriptions.

Rainbow Loom — a brand that was mentioned oh, at least 10,000 times in my house this year — has a huge YouTube presence with over 128,000 channel subscribers. Its banner calls viewers to visit its Website where looming products of all sorts are for sale. In the channel’s featured video, the Rainbow Loom creator’s daughters explain to non-subscribers how the loom works. Once convinced that the Loom is the must-have craft of the year, viewers are asked to subscribe to the channel with a clickable button.

Rainbow Loom YouTube One Channel

2. Rich Pins (Pinterest)

Many skeptics who brushed off Pinterest as “a place where chicks go to get recipes” soon saw the channel’s inherent ability to drive Web traffic and sales. This perception shift occurred in part due to Pinterest’s May rollout of Rich Pins, a tool that helps businesses further convert interested pinners into purchasing pinners.

Pinch Gallery, an eclectic craft store in Northampton, Massachusetts, uses Rich Pins to give valuable purchasing information to pinners interested in their curated crafts — including whether a desired product, like this Questlove mug, is in stock.

Pinch Gallery Rich Pinterest Pin of Questlove Mug

3. Timeline Contests (Facebook)

For years, businesses took two approaches to running Facebook contests. They either ran contests on an often clunky (and costly) third-party platform — or they threw caution (or ignorance) to the wind and ran contests directly on their timeline. Although “Like this post to win a gift card!” and “Post a photo and be entered to win an iPad!” contests have been a staple of many brands’ promotional strategies for years — they were verboten by Facebook until the loosening of its promotional guidelines this September.

The newly allowed timeline contests don’t offer the marketing perks of say, collecting email addresses, but these promotions make it easier for brands to conjure up spur-of-the-moment engagement or fun. I used a Facebook timeline contest to get quick feedback from my fans on what social media marketing topics they’d like me to cover in my upcoming blog posts.

4. Twitter Advertising

On November 7, Twitter went public. To prove it will bring in money to investors, it made gargantuan strides this year to entice businesses to advertise on its platform. It improved ad functionality to include lead generation cards and greater targeting precision. Marketo, a marketing automation software company, used this “Twitter card” to gather email leads in exchange for an ebook on email marketing tips.

Advertisers are also given special access to follower and tweet analysis in addition to the ability to schedule tweets directly from Twitter.

5. Facebook Advertising

Facebook continues to prove to investors how it can remain financially stable. By reworking its Ads Manager platform to speak in the language of the most tech-elusive fan page admin, it has become infinitely easier to use.

This attempt at greater accessibility has fortuitous, if not intentional, timing. On December 5, Facebook warned businesses that it will share posts with fewer and fewer of a page’s fans — yes, that means a drop in organic, unpaid reach. The remedy? In Facebook’s own words: “Page owners should continue using the most effective strategy to reach the right people: a combination of engaging Page posts and advertising to promote your message more broadly.”

6. Instagram Direct 

Instagram always seems to do something major as each year winds down. Last December, it announced its much maligned and quickly reversed terms of service. This holiday season, Instagram launched something that met with much better cheer — Instagram Direct, a way for Instagram users to privately message each other. This presents businesses with a great opportunity to provide better customer service and court Instagram influencers.

Which of these breakthroughs have you tried for your business?

Which ones are you itching to try in 2014?


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