Janine Popick, CEO and Founder of VerticalResponse in San Francisco, California, USA, has won multiple Stevie® Awards, most recently for Best Entrepreneur in the 2011 Stevie Awards for Women in Business, and the Gold Stevie for Executive of the Year/Advertising, Marketing & Public Relations in The 2012 American Business Awards. (The entry deadline for the 2012 Stevie Awards for Women in Business, the world's premier awards for women executives, entrepreneurs, and the organizations they run, is August 29. If you can't make the deadline, late entries will be accepted through September 28 with payment of a late fee. Request your entry kit today.) Janine recently spoke at America Means Business, a three day event for entrepreneurs, sponsored by the Stevie Awards. The following is an extract from that presentation:
As a business owner, the last thing you’re probably thinking about as you go through your day is posting to Facebook or tweeting on Twitter. I get it. I’ve been there. But getting started with social media is not that hard or intimidating—really! And if you are already using some form of email marketing, it’s even easier. Here are four tips on how to make the most of your already limited time and to make social media work to grow your business.
1. What to Publish
You’ve probably heard the phrase: Content is king. With social media, content is more important than ever. But who has all this content, and who has the time to create it? Not me, you’re thinking.
Here’s a secret: You already have a ton of content that you can share with your fans and customers. Here are some fresh examples:
- Employee stories
- Photos and videos
- Guides, whitepapers, or notes
- Outside content (content you don’t own but can share)
- Questions and polls
- Great offers
- Press and awards
If you have a blog, this is where all your content should reside because a) you can post your content there and easily link to it in your social media posts, and b) a blog is ever-changing while your website is not. (If you don’t already have a blog yet, this is a key reason to start one.) A blog also gives you search engine optimization (SEO) benefits because search engines like Google love content. The more new content you have about a particular topic or category such as your industry, the more likely it is to appear on the results pages when someone is searching for those words.
The next step is to create a social media content calendar. It can be as simple as a monthly calendar that shows what you plan to post every day throughout the month. You'll want to leave room for spur-of-the-moment posts, of course, but having a plan will keep you organized and focused on the big picture. Don’t forget to designate who will be in charge of writing and/or posting them.
2. How to Increase Reach
The ultimate goal of being on social media is to increase your reach—i.e. the number of people who have the opportunity to be exposed to your company and message—and to increase engagement. There are multiple ways people can engage with you on social media, from someone answering a question, sharing your post or your tweet, or commenting on a post, to liking your Facebook post or Facebook page.
How do you encourage engagement? You can:
- Ask questions
- Share blog posts, events, company news, industry news, videos, and photos
- Thank your customers on their Facebook profiles or send them a tweet for mentioning your company or sharing your content (people love to be acknowledged!)
- Include calls to action with your content
- Use contests and giveaways to incentivize your followers
- Send solo email campaigns encouraging a follow or like (be sure to offer a bonus offer or flash discount)
Just remember: Your posts don’t have to be all about business, and they definitely shouldn’t just be about you. Tap in to your audience’s interests. You can share content about topics that are currently in the news, or a worthy cause, or just something fun. The goal is to catch your readers’ attention and get them to take an action.
3. Get it all to Work Together
Recent research by my marketing technology company VerticalResponse found that businesses that use both email and social media get a 28% higher open rate on their emails than those that don’t use both channels. Here are some easy ways to integrate email, blog content, and social media that will get more people to pay attention:
- Add an email opt-in form to your blog.
- Repurpose blog posts as content for your email newsletters.
- Use email to help build a strong following for your blog.
Get that email address!
- Ask Facebook followers for their email address.
- Have a welcome tab on your Facebook page with a form asking for their email address.
- Tweet “sign up to receive email-only” offers, then link to an opt-in form.
Email and Social Media:
- Post your email to your Facebook page and Twitter feed.
- Include “like us on Facebook” and “follow us on Twitter” buttons in your emails. Most email service providers offer the option to include these.
- Send a solo email asking recipients to follow you on your social networks.
4. Keeping Track
Like any business plan or strategy, when it comes to social media it’s important to see what’s working, what isn’t, and to learn from what you’re doing. Fortunately there are a lot of free or low-cost tools out there. Google Analytics is a great, free tool that tells you how many people visit your website and what they like to click on. Facebook Insights is another free, easy-to-use tool that lets you see which posts are popular, how many people they reach, and other metrics. For Twitter, check out Twitter Counter or TweetDeck.
Social media should not take you away from running your business. Instead, put these timesaving ideas in to action and watch your business grow!
For the full American Means Business Days presentation, download it for free here.
About Janine Popick:
Janine Popick is the CEO and founder of VerticalResponse, a leading provider of self-service email, social media, event marketing, online surveys, and direct mail solutions for businesses and non-profits. She has won the Stevie Award for Best Entrepreneur in the Stevie Awards for Women in Business every year since 2008. Janine recently won the U.S. Small Business Administration award for Small Business Person of the Year and was named a 2012 Small Biz Influencer Champion by Small Biz Trends. Janine brings over 20 years of experience leading direct and Internet marketing programs for some of the biggest brands in technology and entertainment. Follow her on Twitter at @janinepopick.
VerticalResponse Inc. provides a full suite of self-service marketing solutions for small businesses including email marketing, social media marketing, event marketing, online surveys, and direct mail marketing. Its mission is to empower small businesses and non-profit organizations to easily and affordably create, manage, and analyze their own marketing campaigns. Users can benefit from a wide variety of features via a single dashboard, including more than 700 free email-marketing templates; social media management tools to create, schedule, and publish content, and engage with followers; and robust reporting so that they can understand overall marketing success. VerticalResponse is headquartered in San Francisco, California. For more information visit www.verticalresponse.com