Connecting with your Audience

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“People do not buy goods and services. They buy relations, stories and magic.” -Seth Godin

At 219 We specialize in full-service marketing campaigns and marketing management with clear objectives. Besides using social media and internet search tools to tap into your audience, we also use traditional marketing techniques to increase awareness. Press releases, copy for radio or TV announcements, managing and organizing press events, or promoting your business message on our many social networks, 219 can take of all your PR needs.

If you’ve talked about sales you’ve heard the sayings, “it’s not about what you know but about who you know” or “there’s nothing more powerful than word of mouth”. Now that our society is moving from face to face interactions, there is question if this is still the case. The answer is yes. However the strategy has changed.

Word of mouth marketing is the original platform for social media. Most businesses right now are facing the issue of how to create contemporary efforts to create experiences worthy of being passed from person-to-person.

The problem is that for the last few years, marketers have been focused on “collecting” instead of “connecting.” In other words, brands are too caught up in collecting social media fans and they are forgetting to actually connect with them. Having 100 really passionate fans that love your brand or product is exponentially more effective than having 10,000 “fans” who signed up just to win a free iPad from you. The key is finding effective engagement.

Statistics have proven that social media and online marketing are powerful tools to drive business. 81% of U.S. online consumers’ purchase decisions are influenced by their friends’ social media posts versus 78% who are influenced by the posts of the brands they follow on social media. (Market Force)

Many of your potential customers will check you out on Google before they actually pursue your company. We will manage your online reputation and engage with your customers to ensure positive customer service online.

Our connections with local media and advertisement groups will allow your company valuable exposure.

Our services offer options to reach a broad audience. Our relationships with regional and local print as well as broadcast give us strong ties with the community and contacts when we need to deliver a message to the community. Together with our clients, we develop a clear voice paired with a powerful message to deliver to our target outlet, yielding the best results for our clients. This messaging will build meaningful, trustworthy relationships with the public and media alike.

Creating the Consumer Experience Through Social Media

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The past few years have led to a transition in the marketing industry. Detached advertisements are no longer successful. The millennial generation is focused on receiving an experience rather than the product itself. This result has lead to a transition towards an interactive customer experience. Marketers must focus on relevance, context, and effective delivery.

Social media is one platform that is growing in this industry. Consumers feel engaged by social media interaction. The objective of a social media strategy for many businesses is to increase the reach and visibility of their company. The challenge involved with social media, is creating a customized platform.

Find your audience:
It is tempting to follow what is trending in popular culture and jump on whatever platform is being talked about the most. Maximizing your social media use means choosing those platforms and practices that suit your core business strategy. Utilizing analytics can help you discover your target audience. Pages with a larger following can be a great source. Connecting with their page will give you exposure to the following built by that page. Joining group and community pages with similar interests will allow you to reach potential audience members. Location, interest and demographic are key in building your target audience.

Create your platform:
There are several social media sites that may suit your company’s needs. Facebook may be the largest social media platform, but Pinterest, Tumblr, and Instagram have the highest growth rates. Each site has its benefits. If your target audience is an older generation, and followers seem to have a long attention span for content than Facebook may be the best site for you. If you have a younger following who seeks a constant connection than Twitter and Snapchat may be better routes for you to pursue. All social sites provide you with management insights. This information is very valuable as it allows you to see what is most effective for your page. Focus on what is already successful for your company and try to build where you are weak.

Grow your following:
Social media isn’t a place to advertise your products or services 24/7. The key is to engage your followers. Your sites provide a platform for providing your prospects and customers with useful and interesting content. Engaging with them in two-way dialogue is what will drive your success. Keep in mind the 80/20 rule; 80% of your content should be helpful information and the remaining 20% can be of a promotional nature. Showing you are involved with others and in the community is key. Publicize your social presence, show your support to others and the more likely your page is to be given support. Engaging with influencers and the social community can also help boost the following of your page. By linking up with other sites, your page will have more exposure. Another way to keep your audience engaged is by offering contests and promotions for your audience to stay involved. People are attracted to interaction and can from there be led to promotion.

Facebook Debuts Additional Call-To-Action Button

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Call-to-Action button is now available on business pages.

Facebook is shaping up for the New Year, this time adding changes to benefit Facebook business users. The social media giant is inserting a call-to-action button at the top of businesses’ pages, located to the left of the “Like” and “Message” buttons. The call-to-action for a business page varies based on the business’ goals. Facebook will offer seven options which page admins may choose: fb_button

  • Book Now
  • Shop Now
  • Contact Us
  • Sign Up
  • Play Game
  • Use App
  • Watch Video

These buttons will link users to any destination on or off Facebook, whichever the business may choose. This provides a quick, convenient way for users to contact a business or shop online without having to browse the page for information. Businesses can benefit from this this ease and continue the conversation with a consumer through their website. The button is currently rolling out in the United States and will be available worldwide this year.

Are you taking advantage of the call-to-action button for boosted ads?

The call-to-action button is no foreign feature to Facebook. The new call-to-action button on business pages is building on the call-to-action button for boosted ads that launched last year, which offer users a quick and easy way to act on advertisements from a business page. These call-to-actions help build engagement with current and potential customers and bring in more business than a standard ad alone. Businesses should leverage this feature, which clearly tells the consumer what action you would like him or her to take.  There are five options for the button on the ad:

  • Shop Now
  • Download
  • Book Now
  • Sign Up
  • Learn More

Taking advantage of the call-to-action button ad feature can increase the traffic to your website and an increase in leads and conversions.

New Year, New Facebook Changes

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Facebook changes are coming: Is your small business ready?

The New Year means new changes coming to Facebook, and they may disrupt your social media campaign. These changes specifically affect brands, in order to enhance the users’ experience. Facebook will begin rolling out changes in January in an attempt to do away with overly promoted posts. These promoted post changes stemmed from a recent survey of hundreds of thousands of Facebook users, who said, according to Facebook, that “they wanted to see more stories [on their News Feeds] from friends and Pages they care about, and less promotional content.”

According to Facebook’s data, many users see the content from pages they have liked as “too promotional,” rather than ads. Facebook attributes this to the fact that ads are controlled, so users only see a limited amount and users can hide ads they do not want to see. The same monitoring has not been applied to promoted posts. The social media giant said in its blog post that it’s “bringing new volume and content controls for promotional posts, so people see more of what they want from Pages.” This includes a “mute” button, where users can choose to unfollow a brand or simply see fewer posts.

These are the traits of organic posts that Facebook feels are too promotional:

• Posts that solely push people to buy a product or install an app
• Posts that push people to enter promotions and sweepstakes with no real context
• Posts that reuse the exact same content from ads

Organic reach has been dropping for years. EdgeRank Checker’s research shows that organic reach in 2012 was at 16%, but that number has plummeted in 2014, with organic content reaching only 6.51% of followers.

So how do you get your posts seen?

With organic reach dipping and overly promoted content being weeded out, we believe now is the time to spend some of your advertising budget on promoting your organic posts. But, if you want to reach the most people with your organic post, avoid overtly advertising your products. In addition, avoid promoting contests or apps.

And there’s really no way to avoid it now: If you want to have significant reach, you need to pay to promote your posts. And when you pay more, you reach more. By promoting, or “boosting” your posts, you will increase your reach through important posts like announcements or new products; purchases will grow by taking people to your site with link posts; and you’ll be able to find new customers by targeting new audiences.

Are you ready for the new Facebook changes? Contact us for help designing a social media plan today!

Mobile Marketing: The Emerging Platform

The future of marketing has come and it’s mobile. Mobile marketing has been around for quite some time but now it is becoming more and more mainstream thanks to companies like Facebook and Google. It is marketing that appears on apps that are specifically for a mobile device, like a smart phone. Marketing professor Andreas Kapla defines it as “any marketing activity conducted through a ubiquitous network to which consumers are constantly connected using a personal mobile device.”  It can provide customers time and location sensitive information, and personalized info that promotes services, goods, and ideas that relate to information received from the customers phone. It works by using various apps that have ads exclusively tailored for smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices. The ads are formatted, and customized with the sole intention of creating a responsive marketing campaign that is mobile.

Try to count how much time you spend on your phone. If you’re like us you use it while you’re waiting in line at the coffee shop, while you wait for a doctors appointment and while you’re bored at work. You could be playing games, on your favorite social networking site or reading the news on your news app. The chances are you have seen countless ads for various products. Companies are becoming more aggressive with their mobile marketing precisely because of how much time people spend on their phones. Facebook alone has over 470 million monthly active mobile app users. An additional 134 million users simply use the mobile web to get their Facebook fix. These numbers are from 2013 and they don’t even include other social networking apps like Twitter and Instagram. A study conducted in the US during December 2013 by The Nielsen Company showed that people use their mobile devices about 34 hours a month. That is about 7 hours more than the 27 hours per month spent on the Internet. These numbers show that more and more people are spending more and more time on their mobile devices. Being able to market to such a huge audience on a continually growing marketing platform is the reason why your company should start thinking about mobile marketing.

Social Media in 2014

The focus of social media in 2014 will be to become more integrated into essential business activities. With the IPO’s of the largest social media channels coming and going, they will continue to find new ways to monetize, which means additional ways for small businesses to reach out to their customer base.

Social Media as a Sales Tool

Social Media has always been looked at as a sales tool, however there are three key advances in the last 12 months that are causing social media to get a much harder look for increased spending by CMO’s.

The first is the integration into enterprise level CRM’s for use directly with sales agents. CRM’s are now coming equipped with social (mostly LinkedIn) integration showing the connection to the leads. Also with one click, seeing the browsing history and allowing you to send them a message in an informal way through a site like LinkedIn. It is also more affordable using cloud solutions to small businesses than they were in the past. This level of integration however, pushed social media deeper into the business processes and forces the marketing and sales departments to become closer to a cooperative unit.

Second is that these networks are working for the shareholder now and not the end-user. Sure they will say that they are only worried about the users (Zuckerberg), but the fact remains that if they are not keeping shareholders happy they will fade away. Companies that large need money; they have to monetize. No more Twitter founders saying they do not care about monetizing users. Twitter for example, has greatly increased their sponsored tweets and is integrating re-marketing into their platform ad programs. This by default, will allow more advertising opportunities for small business owners.

Third, with these additional lanes of digital advertising, pay-per-click advertising (PPC), the cost-per-click (CPC) has been driven down to a point where you can use growth hacking tactics to optimize your customer acquisition costs lower than ever. With big data being neatly organized in new platforms at much lower costs than in the past, there is no way possible to get a better customer acquisition cost than there is using social media PPC and growth hacking tweaks over a 6 month period, outside of maybe free PR from local media outlets.

social-circles-vertSocial Media for SEO

Google+ (G+) launched a social network. They now own 2 of the top 3 social networks. They have integrated this network into their search and video social platforms to a point where it cannot be ignored. Like when Google said running PPC would not affect your ranking, (our research showed otherwise) they say that all social media activity affects Search Engine Optimization (SEO), but not Google+ any more than the others. However, many experts have seen dramatic increases when they started engaging publicly on G+, not posting on G+, but actually engaging as in +1’ing, sharing and commenting on G+ updates.

Google is right though, that good social indicators do help SEO and that is all the more reason to have a solid social media plan when you are working on your overall marketing. As a matter of fact, research done at the end of 2013 shows that over 90% of marketing professionals are planning to increase spending on digital advertising in 2014, with 40% planning to significantly increase it.

Social Video

Video has always been huge, but engagement rates are through the roof since Facebook started auto playing videos embedded in the newsfeeds. With the increase in promoted posts directly in the newsfeed you can use a good PPC campaign and a compelling offer through video to get massive results for your product or service.

Ensure that the video is professionally done. This is a very key point. Unprofessional video will actually cause a negative effect. However unprofessional does not mean high budget.  Hand-held cellphone videos will work as long as the audio is clear and the message is upbeat. Like the singing of your only child, you might think your videos are amazing. Get feedback from others just to be sure (Make sure they are honest with you!).

Do not forget about the Fringe

Not everyone can be in the top 5 social media platforms, however it does not mean that it isn’t a viable way to market your business. I call these networks the fringe networks. They get a good amount of traffic, and if the user base fits your demographic, it can be very lucrative.

With Instagram’s acquisition by Facebook (and the increased awareness of the bottom line that being owned by a public company brings), they are working on ways to bring ads to the stream, which will include video and still images. The word is that these ads are VERY effective, even though the comments might suggest otherwise.

Soundcloud, a music sharing site for independent artists is actually #4 on the list of platforms, but is a very good place to market your business, if it fits the demographic. If your customers are in their teens or early 20’s, you can hit your demographic very effectively using this platform. Since they are audio ads, they will stand out like a sore thumb. Pandora is also a great ad platform. They allow highly targeted ads based on listening preferences and location, which can be perfect for your business.

We cannot forget about social platforms from other countries, most of these platforms were monetized from the beginning and their users are accustomed to seeing ads so it is not a negative to the advertiser. In most cases, the rates are super cheap and they are far less strict than our US based platforms are. Conversions on these sites are much lower if you are selling a tangible product, but if it is digital or a service, you can do really well in this area.

219 Group Monthly Reports: Decoded

Each month we send out monthly reports to our clients. With that report we provide an executive summary with highlights of the month, a recap of the work 219 Group accomplished on behalf of our client, the plan for the upcoming month, and what it all means. Knowing the meanings of the words we use is important so you can get the most out of the report and understand our plan for your business or brand. Here’s a list of some of the key terms we use often and what they mean:

Rankings: This tab is where you can view where your site ranks in search engines. It’s a third party assessment that displays where your site lands in searches for the particular keyword on the left.

Analytics: This tab is where you can view the analytics of your site like how many hits your site received, the average time spent on the site, the average amount of page views, etc. It also has the percentage of organic traffic, referral traffic and direct traffic.

Organic traffic: Traffic from search engines searches — a user typed in a search term and your site was listed among the results that they clicked on

Referral visits: Traffic that comes from another site. In other words, a link to your site has been placed on another web page or site, people clicked on, it and landed on your site

Direct traffic: This means visitors typed in your web address directly into their browser to reach your site

Backlinks: This tab shows you the other sites that have a link to your website

Social: On this tab you’ll see the social networks we’re using regularly for your brand. You can see the content we’ve posted, how many followers you have on each network, and your engagement level.

As always, if you have any questions about the reports or want more information reach out to your account manager and they’ll get back to you as quickly as possible.

How to Spend Your Time on Linkedin: Beginners

Is your Linkedin Profile up to date?

It should be.

As you probably know, Linkedin is a professional place to connect with people; friends, colleagues, professional acquaintances, and more. It’s a place for people to see what you do, how you do it, and when you did it. Staying up to date on your profile is important because it keeps you professionally relevant and demonstrates your interest and knowledge of your field.

If you feel overwhelmed with the social networking site, here are the key areas I recommend spending some time developing.

Current Position:
If you feel overwhelmed putting in your past work experience, okay. At least have your current position and job description up to date so people can see what you currently do.

Summary:
The summary should be some brief information about yourself, the skills you have, etc. Make this inclusive of your professional skill set, rather than just your current position. Keep in short and sweet – 3-4 sentences maximum.   

Make connections:
Did you meet a new person at a party? Run into an old friend at a restaurant? Look them up on Linked in. I recently went on a trip abroad and met two people randomly on a tour. We all clicked, we Facebook friend requested, took pictures together… but I was also sure to connect with them on Linkedin as well.

Every once in a while you can also use the “People You May Know” area on Linkedin, which generates a list of people that you may know. Connect as often as you can.

Recommendations:
Ask for recommendations after you’ve worked with someone for a while. Don’t be shy. Linkedin is the place to do it. Also, recommend people that you’ve worked with that you think are worth it. Be careful with recommendations, of course, but if you’ve had a positive working relationship and experience with someone, write a quick recommendation. The more your write, the more you’re likely to have written for you; it’s a two-way street.

Take 15-20 minutes per day or every other day logging into Linkedin, working on your profile, updating the information, making connections, and endorsing skills. The more you put in the more you’ll get out of it. You’ll stay relevant among others in your field, connect with potential employers, and have access to professional development tools.  Next time we’ll get into posting and joining groups, but start with these first and you’ll familiarize yourself with Linkedin, making it easier and easier to use.

HGTV Suggests Using American Flag as a Table Cloth; Angers Fans

HGTV Suggests Using American Flag as a Table Cloth; Angers Fans

Recently HGTV posted ideas for 4th of July decorations and suggested using an American flag as a table cloth or runner. Needless to say more than a handful of people have written on HGTV’s Facebook page and other social networks voicing their disappointment with the home and garden television channel, magazine and the entire brand. While using the flag in this way is indeed directly against standard flag etiquette, we’re more interested with the lack of response so far by HGTV.

We would suggest they take the page down immediately and replace it with a holder that says something like: HGTV has removed this content. Statement coming shortly.
This way they buy themselves some time without looking like they’re doing nothing. They can regroup, consult their legal team, draft a response and issue it properly. This same message needs to be carried across their social networks and they should be responding to each comment individually to say they’ve removed the post and will be issuing a statement soon.
When it comes to social media (and digital) blunders, we never recommend complete silence. We’ll be watching for what unfolds and if HGTV makes a statement and will update this post accordingly.

What would you recommend they do?

UPDATE: HGTV has removed the entry. This is the placeholder currently reached:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

UPDATE: HGTV issues apology. Posted on their Facebook page:
“HGTV Fans, regarding the recent article that appeared on our website…This was a regrettable use of our flag and it never should have happened. We sincerely apologize and have removed the post from our website. We want to assure our fans that HGTV is proud of the American flag and everything it symbolizes for our people.” [Click here for link]

 

How to Claim & Set Up Social Media Sites

How to claim & set up social media assets for your business or brand:

Often times when we start working with a client, a business or a brand they’re social media assets are in various stages of completion. They’re focused on running and operating the day-to-day of the business. That’s where our team can help. Setting up these account correctly not only maximizes their presence and impact, but they serve as a very important place people can find important information about your business.

Google local:
If you have a local business, you should establish or claim your Google local account. There you can list your hours of operation, address, phone number, website and other information. If there’s already page that exists for your business, visit it and scroll down towards the bottom.  Find the box that says:  is this your business? Manage this page and click on it. If you are not already signed into your gmail account, it will ask you to do so and walk you through the steps to claim the page, make edits, add images, and respond to reviews. In order to prove your connection to the business it may ask you to verify by phone, mailed postcard or email. This is the page that Google will show first, so ensuring its contents are correct is important. Plus, it’s EASY and FREE!! Can’t beat that.

Yelp page:
Yelp is a local review site where customers and clients can post about their experiences. It’s important to have access to your business’ page so you can respond to the reviews here, either positive or negative. When you’re on your Yelp business page, you can scroll down to the red box that says Claim your Buisness.  Once there it will walk you through setting up a user name and password and verifying. There’s three basic steps: creating a business account, confirming your connection to the business, and then accessing your Yelp Business Account.

Facebook business or brand page:
Unfortunately, Facebook doesn’t allow you to “claim” or verify pages that may already hold your business name or desired customized url. You can start a new page by visiting Facebook.com and clicking on “Create a Page” at the bottom of the log in screen. You have to have a certain number of fans or “likes” before you can create a customized Facebook url. There are ways of doing this immediately though with agency help. If you’re interested in this, contact us today. You also want to make sure the page contents and descriptions are optimized properly to work with you search engine optimization strategy.

Twitter business or brand account:
Twitter falls under the same category as Facebook. If the account already exists,  it belongs to someone else. Open a new account or convert an old account you may already have by changing the Twitter handle (Yes!! You can do that).

Youtube:
Your Youtube channel will be connected to your Google+ and Gmail account. Login with your Gmail credentials and then visit http://youtube.com.  Once there it may ask for your password again. Click on the Advanced Account Settings and look under Channel Settings. Click on Create Custom URL. Click here to read about optimizing your Youtube content for SEO.

Even if you don’t do anything with these accounts right away, it’s important to claim them, set the customized url, and have access to the accounts. Graphics and search engine optimized content are also very important parts of setting up and claiming these accounts. 219 Group offers a social media package that includes set up and graphics on all sites. Often times it’s easier to work on getting your new business up and running while we set up you digital assets and provide you access and logins.  Contact us today if you’re interested in this service.

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