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Constant Contact wants to help you succeed! We’re celebrating our professional service programs on the Constant Contact Community this month and you have a chance to try one of the services for free! Learn more.
You’ve designed a great looking email. It’s mobile responsive, complements your website perfectly, has a strong call-to-action, and incorporates all the standard best practices for email marketing. If you say so yourself, your email looks very nice! That’s a great start, but are you getting the results you want? Hopefully the answer is a resounding YES, but if not, keep reading for an overview of how a few of our clients met or exceeded their goals with GREAT email marketing campaigns.
EMAIL MARKETING ENGAGEMENT
Overview A traditional organization has expanded into online ecommerce and has the need to promote their new online shopping experience. They have a two-fold approach, engage directly with the customer and encourage their staff to promote the experience.
Approach Our approach was simple. Design a fun, uplifting, interactive experience for their team members. By including contests to win prizes for the most referrals, special promotion offers and helpful tips to use along the way, their team is fully onboard with promoting their new online shopping experience.
Testimonial “Our CEO was so excited with the results. She just loved that the email was so interactive and fun!”
Overview A consulting firm who provides face-to-face and on-line training has developed an award-winning eLearning training series for employees of large organizations. Their goal is to utilize email marketing to generate leads for sales of the program.
Approach We worked with our client to create a single question ‘poll’ to identify the pains of their audience relative to the training series being promoted. The process was simple. Answer one question and receive a free interactive demo of the actual product. The demo contained enough content to demonstrate how easily their teams would benefit from the training. This was a two-step approach. The first campaign focused fully on the poll, the second touch was included as part of the monthly newsletter.
Using the survey function to create the ‘poll’ enabled us to ask readers to enter their contact information to receive their free demo. We then provided the client with the list of individuals who requested the demo. By following up with these quality leads in a timely fashion, the client was able to move these subscribers right into their sales funnel, all the while receiving valuable input on their clients’ needs.
Results The end result was that 5.1% of those who opened the email requested a free demo and thus entered the sales funnel. The organization was very pleased with the percentage of leads and with the ability to quickly identify and act upon the leads.
Overview We have the opportunity to work with an individual who is truly a thought leader in his industry. The goal is to use email marketing to build the relationship and trust of an engaged community to support future sales of a book.
Approach This approach is unique, but very fitting for this thought leader. All content, every single word, is 100% his perspective and is provided with no strings attached. Every month an article with a unique perspective on life is shared with his audience. When the time comes to promote the book, his audience will know exactly what to expect. They will receive quality, thought-provoking content that will have an impact on how they view life. This client understands the value of first building the relationship with his audience and the value of the soft sell.
Results The testimonial is in the numbers! With a consistent open rate of 43% (73% above industry average) and a click rate (41%) that is five times (500%) the industry average of 8.2%, this client will very likely achieve his goals with the sale of his upcoming book.
These are just a few examples of the many ways to achieve true engagement with your audience. We will share additional client scenarios focused on increased sales, community awareness and branding in an upcoming blog. In the meantime, we’d love to hear what email marketing strategies have worked best with your clients.
Be creative. Be bold. Engage with your Audience!
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Email marketing is so much more than just sending emails to your audience! Email marketing is about building relationships. It’s about engaging with your customers. It’s about helping your customers fulfill their needs. It is about communicating with your audience in a meaningful manner.
There are many ways to communicate your message AND to communicate your message to the right people! Let’s take a look at a few of these.
Regularly communicate to your customers and generate new leads. Email newsletters are perhaps the most common use of email marketing, and for great reason. Email newsletters allow you to stay top-of-mind with your customers, prospects and other interested parties. You have the opportunity to demonstrate your expertise, to share tips, and to offer special incentives or offers that are only available to your audience members who had given you permission to email them. That’s right- permission based email! You ask. They say yes. Now you provide information or offers to make it worth their while to open your email campaigns. With the high-volume of email marketing that we all receive, you need to MAKE IT WORTH THEIR WHILE!
To maximize the impact of sharing the right message with the right audience, you need to segment your list into multiple lists. A targeted message is guaranteed to perform better than a generic offer. There are many analogies to this, such as “Try to please everyone and please no one.” Segmenting your list takes effort, but it is an effort that pays off. Segmenting your list helps to avoid email fatigue within your various segments, as you only email relevant information to EACH segment.
You can build your relationships with automated emails. By sending a series of targeted communications to your contacts right to their inbox at the right intervals, you begin to create relationships. You have the opportunity to build trust and show you care by sharing whitepapers, timely information, special discounts, or a series of tips relevant to your audience (event attendees, new customers, donors, etc.). You can even share special birthday and/or anniversary wishes along with a special offer. And the best part? Once the emails are setup, you get to sit back and watch the results!
Customer reviews and referrals grow business! Survey e-mails are easily measurable, drive brand loyalty and boost customer retention rates ... just like that! By developing strategic, analytical survey e-mail campaigns, you can follow up with your customers and gain valuable information to help you grow your business.
Bring in new customers and encourage repeat business with Trackable Coupons! You can share digital, branded coupons with your email list and also share it on your social media so that your subscribers and fans can claim their coupon. You can even offer an incentive for your fans to share the offer and watch your audience grow through the power of social media. You’ll be able to track exactly what’s happening! How many coupons were claimed? How many new customers did you gain? How many times was the coupon shared?
Email Marketing is not Just Email Newsletters
As you can see, email marketing is not just email newsletters. Email marketing includes a variety of ways of communicating with your audience and targeting your message. Well executed email marketing helps increase revenue, grow your customer base and drive brand awareness. A strategic, integrated monthly e-mail plan ensures that you deliver your message to your customers - right where they are.
Email marketing can be a complete marketing campaign. I discussed a few options above, but email marketing can encompass even more! Consider surveys, coupon offers, flyers, auto-responder messaging, donation campaigns, event registration, newsletters, and personalized customer appreciation content as ways to connect with existing and prospective clients. And above all, if you’re used to thinking of email marketing in terms of eblasting your audience, perhaps it’s time to redefine your relationship with email marketing. We can help! Email marketing is about building relationships, not ‘blasting’ your fans. To learn more or to reach out to us for strategical direction, contact us at www.thesmallbizshop.com/emailworks.
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As a business owner who helps small business owners with their online presence and email marketing, I’d like to discuss a too often overlooked detail of making a sale… Customer Service! No matter how much time, money and energy you put into your digital marketing and marketing materials, when you get that call, email, text, or Facebook message from a customer or prospect, be prepared to engage in a positive, professional manner.
Too often, after much investment in a website, SEO, social media and online advertising, businesses and their teams fall short on their initial customer contact. I’ll share a recent personal example. When my husband and I were searching online and found the home we KNEW we wanted to buy, I quickly researched the sponsoring real estate agents, their websites, social media profiles and reviews and then selected the one I thought would be the best fit. Everything about their online presence said ‘friendly, professional, qualified and able to get the job done.’ I was very surprised when the individual answered the phone. It was immediately clear this agent was not a good fit. The person on the ‘other end of the phone’ simply did not align with their online presence. She had no sense of urgency, poor communication skills, and was more interested in selling herself than in selling us the house. I could not wait for the opportunity to tactfully end this call.
I called my second choice in agents and BINGO! She was great. We immediately had a connection. She was friendly, professional, and helpful. We made an offer on the house within hours and were in contract by morning. Her great customer service skills ensured the process was seamless and we now call that house our home.
The first company likely invested more in their online presence, but fell short on a 5-minute customer service call on what was pretty much a guaranteed sale. That mistake cost them commission on a house and future referrals. The second agent nailed the customer service aspect and won the deal. Which agent represents your customer service? If you’re not sure, have a friend ‘shop’ your business and provide objective feedback.
5 Tips to Build a Foundation for Sealing the Deal
Fully understand the personality of your business (professional, fun, helpful, scientific, etc.).
Invest in and build your online presence (website, email marketing, social media, SEO) in a manner that reflects the core personality of your business.
Align your customer service with your online presence. The customer should never feel surprised when they engage with you for the first time.
Have a customer service plan and train your team members so all customers receive a consistent experience.
Never assume that your online presence is all that you need. Great customer service is invaluable.
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It can’t happen to you, right? Not so quick.
After moving to a beachside home in Florida just a few weeks before Hurricane Matthew, it came as a surprise when I received an email from my CPA asking if we knew what to do in the event of a hurricane. Yes, I knew we had just moved to hurricane country and that it was currently hurricane season, but this is something we were going to prepare for as soon as we got settled. We weren’t settled yet. So my first response was NO!
My plan was to stay focused on client work. I could not let my clients down. Then I thought about her question a bit more. We were not prepared for boarding a house, a business and evacuating. We weren’t even unpacked yet. Thankfully, she also sent two documents for my reference. One for personal preparedness and the other for business preparedness. Looking at the documents, I knew I had some work to do. Why Emergency Preparedness Matters: It’s easy to think that you don’t need to worry about an emergency pertaining to your business. That’s something that happens to other business owners. Well, I along with many other business owners, can vouch that it can happen to you! Digest the following statistic and think about whether you are willing to risk the future of your business to chance.
"Almost 40 percent of small businesses never reopen their doors following a disaster"
~according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) article Protecting Your Business.
Making the Call to Switch to Emergency Preparedness:
So when do you make the call to put a hold on day-to-day operations as you prepare for an emergency? Much like investing in the stock market, this will vary person to person. How much are you willing to risk? When does the long-term risk of loss to your business outweigh the benefit of completing day-to-day operations? That is a decision you will have to make. Just be sure not to allow short-sightedness to cause you lose sight of your long-term vision. I made the decision to switch my energies to emergency preparedness that day. Once we were prepared and evacuated, I could then resume focusing on client work, knowing that my family was safe and that my business preparedness plans were complete. This would allow us to provide the best service to the most clients and give us the best chance to be quickly up-and-running once the storm had passed.
Communication is Key:
It is important to communicate early with your clients so they can make any necessary changes to their plans. I sent an email to all clients stating that we were implementing our emergency preparedness plan and of the potential impact to their workflow. You’ll find that most, if not all clients, are understanding. You can also utilize your social media platforms to keep your customers updated as to your status. This is the perfect time to put your marketing skills in action! The Results:
We experienced moderately little downtime relative to the scope of the natural disaster and all our clients were aware of and understanding of our situation. Even with loss of power and under mandatory evacuations, we were fully operational within days. We do have the benefit of being a service based business, but with that also comes the necessity to have the appropriate systems in place to maintain operations when your primary systems are not accessible. While we do not have the complications of inventory and/or a large volume of documentation, all businesses would benefit from having their administrative systems in order.
In hind sight, I had been preparing for years for this event, and didn’t realize how prepared I was. In my next blog, Preparing your Business to Weather a Storm or Other Emergency, I’ll share details about some of the steps I took to prepare – both over the years and at the last minute, along with resources you can use to prepare your business for any emergency. In the third part of this blog series, Using Social Media to Communicate with Your Customers during and after an Emergency, I’ll discuss how to use social media and email marketing to keep your customers informed and to draw them back in your doors afterwards. I’ll also address how YOU can help small businesses succeed after an emergency.
Unfortunately, sometimes even with all the preparations, it’s just not enough. Nothing is guaranteed; but with proper planning, together, maybe we can reduce the statistic of businesses not reopening after a disaster. Thinking Points:
Have you thought about the impact to your business in the event of an emergency or disruption?
Is your business prepared for an emergency? This article “4 steps to disaster-proof your business” by CNBC reporter Sarah Whitten offers a start for your high-level emergency preparedness planning.
Stay tuned for our next blog Preparing your Business to Weather a Storm or Other Emergency for resources and plans to help you prepare your business for an emergency.
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Taking Your Business to the Next Level
Red Rover, Red Rover
Remember the favorite childhood game, Red Rover? Two lines of kids faced one another in the elementary school playground. The first side called out, “Red Rover, Red Rover, send Susie right over!” Susie would run at full speed, attempting to break through the linked arms of students on the opposing side. If the link was not strong, it did not hold up under the strain. The same goes for your business. Is your team strong enough to withstand outside stressors? Samples of stressors might include a new competitor, a demand for new services for which you do not have the skillset or expertise, economic factors, the loss of a primary client, or perhaps a large increase in the demand for your business services.
So how do you create that strong team or network so your business can withstand these stressors? Let’s first look at one more analogy.
Uh-Oh! Will the Rope Hold? Let’s pretend you and a friend are on a hiking trip of a lifetime (in the Great Smoky Mountains), and you fall off the edge of a cliff and barely manage to hang on with one hand. Your friend has one opportunity to save you. Would you prefer she throw you a lovely powder blue, 7-foot length of single polyester thread or a strong, flexible 7-foot length of rope, woven tightly from the strongest synthetic fibers?
Easy choice, you say? Throw me the strong, flexible rope, the one that will save your life! Then why not apply the same principle to your business by building a strong, interweaved network of individuals and resources to support you and your business. Don’t depend on a single, static thread to keep your business thriving.
Strengthen Your Rope The powder blue thread represents your business when you do not have a strong network in place. It is appealing and useful, but probably not strong enough to withstand the heaviest of strains. Add strength to your business by weaving yourself into a network of resources, including local chambers, professional organizations, public relations and marketing professionals, responsive vendors, business contacts in comparable roles, non-profit representatives, and community leaders and so on. You may also want to include mentors and life coaches as part of your network, and even fitness trainers and nutritionists. Anyone who helps you be at the top of your game.
Always be expanding and strengthening your network of resources. Determine where you have weaknesses in your network and reach out to the appropriate resource. Put a strategy in place for expanding your network. Are you a member of a chamber of commerce or of another professional organization? If not, search for and join an appropriate organization. Do you lack resources or skills in one particular area? Reach out to your network to fill the void. Partner with companies who can help you expand your business. Your network can provide information, support, potential prospects and clients, as well as strategic partners.
So what are you reaching for – the lovely blue thread or the strong, flexible rope?
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The consistency and quality of your content marketing impacts the success of your small business.
Consistent content delivery supports your marketing goals, helps you to build and expand your social networking communities, and communicates a meaningful message relative to your audiences.
Develop and deliver your content with the focus on building relationships. At times, content may be purely informational, while at other times the content will be designed more to drive the audience to action. For your content to make the greatest impact, you need to identify your ideal audience, have meaningful content to share, and put the tools and team in place to share your content consistently.
Consistency is the key to building trust with your audience and potential customers.
How to Be Consistent in Your Content Marketing Delivery 1. Capture your content ideas on a Log.
By capturing your content ideas on a log as they occur to you, you can then group those ideas into themes (i.e. series of blogs), decide the best avenue to promote that content (Blog, Facebook, Video, podcast, etc.), and then divide your content ideas to different team members. You’ll be amazed at the ideas that continue to grow from a single idea…if you only capture it to begin with!
2. Create an Editorial Calendar.
After you have captured your content ideas, work on your Editorial Calendar (see the Annual Marketing Calendar sheet). Think through the entire coming year, or at least the next quarter. For each month, jot down key events for your business. Depending on your type of business, these events might be seasonal holidays, attendance at trade shows, planned sales, or major marketing campaigns. Also, write down marketing activities that will support your major events. As you do this, note related content ideas from your content tracker.
3. Complete the Detailed Content Management Tracker
You’re now ready for the next step; complete the Detailed Content Management Tracker on a monthly or weekly basis. Don’t worry about being too detailed. This can be as simple as noting to yourself to do a blog the first week of the month, a newsletter the second week of the month, 3 Facebook posts a week, 5 Pins and 10 Tweets a week. You can then check items off as you complete them. This will help you to avoid ‘doing all your social media’ on one day and will provide you a simple plan you and your team can refer to. It can also reduce YOUR workload by allowing you to easily delegate and manage tasks to different team members.
Productivity * Consistency * Quality
Using Content Management Forms and Editorial Calendars help you to maximize your productivity, as well as the consistency and quality of your content marketing. They also help you to align your team members (both internal and external) and to facilitate team meetings. Additional benefits include enforcing accountability, planning around vacations and time off, and eliminating last minute stress associated with a lack of planning. That’s something we all can benefit from!
Click to download corresponding content management and editorial calendar forms.
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It’s that wonderful time of year! If you’re a small business owner with a brick and mortar storefront, the holiday season is likely one of your busiest times of the year. If you’re like so many entrepreneurs, you thrive on excitement and activity. So this holiday season, put on your creative hat and have fun with the season.
Holiday marketing really can be a lot of fun. The more authentic you are in your preparations, the more you genuinely enjoy this time of year, and the more gratitude you have for your customers, the more your customers will feel your excitement and your genuine appreciation. And this means they will be more attracted to and more likely to buy from your business.
Below are 13 ways to get creative, to reach out and engage, to encourage sales, and to even give back this holiday season. So let’s get started!
Holiday Hashtags. Go ahead, sprinkle a few hash tags in your social media posts to help spread your message. Some best bets include #ShopSmall, #SmallBusinessSaturday, #BlackFriday, #CyberMonday, #Celebration, #StockingStuffers, #HolidaySavings, #UniqueGifts. You can also create your own.
Celebrate with an Openhouse! Host a Holiday Celebration at your storefront that is open to all your customers. Create a festive atmosphere, offer light refreshments, promote in-store specials and maybe even see if Santa or one of his helpers can make an appearance.
Treat Your Best Customers. Host a Special Holiday Pre-Sale event for your best customers. Set aside a couple hours outside of your normal store hours and invite your best customers to a VIP shopping experience. Be sure to be fully staffed and to offer special hors d oeuvres and drinks.
Create a Unique Hashtag for each Holiday Event. If you’re having a Celebrate the Season event and will be offering cocoa and cookies and a great sale, use the same unique hashtag across all your marketing platforms: print ads, flyers, newsletter, signs, coupons and across social media. This allows your customers to join in the conversation and ties all the hoopla about your event together. Sample: #HoHoHoBusinessName
Expand your Year-round Marketing Reach. For small businesses, 40% or more of their annual revenue may be recognized during the holiday season. By planning ahead, you can use the holidays to grow your email marketing list so you can stay in touch all year long. The simplest way? Ask. Let your customers know you’ll be periodically offering great specials and introducing new products throughout the year. If they’d like to be notified of these instore events, all they have to do is signup for your newsletter. As a special bonus, you can offer your customers a little something special, such as an extra discount or a little gift for signing up by setting up an auto-responder that sends new subscribers a welcome email with a special coupon just for signing up.
Make a Statement. Decorate your Storefront window to draw attention to YOUR store. How can you engage and attract new customers? Your options are endless: bold and colorful, fun, glitzy, a functioning train set, let your imagination be your guide. We hid a miniature elf in a different location in our Christmas village in our window display last year and gave gift cards to the first person to post on our Facebook page where the elf was hiding that day. It was a lot of fun.
Tis the Season for Giving. Donate a percent of proceeds during a specific day’s sales, collect donations for a cause, and/or set a space for your favorite nonprofit organization to meet and greet your customers to raise awareness of their organization.
Register for Small Business Saturday and utilize the marketing tools provided. Small Business Saturday is November 28th. Every small business should participate in this great day! Click here to get started.
Create a Community Day. Get together with other small businesses in your community and sponsor a special shopping day. Incorporate goodies, crafts or face painting for kids, or even a cookie walk where each store provides a different cookie and drink. Be creative and use email marketing and social media to market the day. Contact your local media for additional coverage.
Host a Contest. If you’re feeling creative, host a contest and utilize social media to spread the word. Have your shoppers name your window display, guess how many holiday M&Ms are in the jar, or post what’s ‘missing’ or ‘wrong’ in your display. Remember that idea of a unique hashtag? Now’s the perfect time to create your own hashtag and use it.
Gifts for the Shopper. Even though just about every shopper who walks through your doors during the holiday season might be ‘shopping for someone else,’ chances are they might also be more than willing to indulge in a little something extra for themselves… with a little nudge. Think about what products you offer that equate to relaxation and other self-gifting items. A little acknowledgement that the shopper deserves a little gift too can go a long way.
Pick-a-discount. Put up a tree with ornaments that have either a dollar amount of savings or a percent off. Allow each customer to select one ornament when they are getting ready to checkout. This is a great idea for a special sales event.
Make it Easy for Your Customers. Create one or more great baskets that your customers can ‘grab-and-go.’ Make your baskets unique. Take it a step further and offer custom baskets. Have a base price for the basket and offer 5-10% off for all the ‘fillings’ when they purchase over a certain dollar amount. It’s unique, it’s custom and the customer feels like they’re getting a bargain and giving a unique, personal gift.
Have fun! There’s so much energy in the air during the holiday season. More and more people are in good spirits and sharing their goodwill. But individuals also feel the stress of the holidays. Do your part to make their time in your store special. Be extra kind. Be sure to have enough staff – you may need some extra hands on board. Make sure your staff is well trained and accommodating. If your team is having to put in extra time, remember that they are spending time away from their families. Be appreciative, and if possible, share some of your holiday fortune.
Wishing you a wonderful holiday season. We’d love to hear of your holiday successes. #HolidaySuccess
If you’d like help with your holiday email marketing, let us help you get started. Contact us today.
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How often have you been tempted by the promise of a new app or plugin, a new product, or exciting new features on one of the many social platforms? Whether you were guaranteed to find new leads, drive hordes of people to your website or to simplify your life, chances are you've purchased a program or downloaded an app that did not live up to its promise.
The Fear of Missing Out
As Americans, we tend to think that more is more. We often want to jump on downloading the latest cool new app or get involved with a hot new social media network because we’re afraid we’ll miss out on something if we don’t. This fear of missing out on the latest and the greatest trends can do us more harm than good. We can end up over-burdened with digital clutter that we can’t manage. For example, there’s dozens of apps dedicated to helping you manage your tasks and to-do lists. These productivity apps can keep you spinning your wheels in non-productivity. Think about it: for each app you download, you have to figure out how to manage it. You have another password to manage. And, there’s the learning curve of actually figuring out how to operate the darn thing. On top of that, you have to make sure that you regularly update the app in order to be certain that it’s functioning properly. Whew. That’s a lot to deal with, especially when you have 10, 20, 30 or even more apps to maintain. Maybe your computer and smartphone have ample memory to accommodate that clutter, but does your “mental RAM” have enough room? Your attention and memory are precious commodities. Don’t dissipate them with needless junk in your online life. Unless you have a full marketing team to manage and learn all these apps, you likely can use that time and energy for other aspects of your business, or perhaps even for a little rest and relaxation for yourself! Despite our inclinations to go for “more is more!” – what’s true is that when it comes to your online life and the amount of apps you allow to take your attention, less is actually more.
The Benefits of Simplifying Your Online Life
Too often, small business owners lose focus of the purpose of social media 'networking' - that's right, networking. Networking is not about showing off the newest gadgets, tricks or shiny objects. Networking is about building relationships. By simplifying your online life, you not only alleviate much unnecessary stress, but you can more easily develop relationships with your customers and prospects because you have more time and energy to devote to them. By focusing on a few primary channels, you are able to highlight your genuine self and build trust and long-term relationships that lead to paying customers. And yes, sometimes it's ok to learn some of the new bells and whistles... when you limit yourself to just a few apps.
A Simpler Online Path for Sustained Success
Managing a consistent email marketing campaign while ENGAGING with your audience via a few social media platforms will save you time, money and stress AND yield better results than jumping at every shiny new app or feature. Blogging and applying basic SEO are two additional activities that can help to showcase your skills/products and to drive traffic to your site. Beyond that, think twice before you jump on the bandwagon. Depending on your industry, your target audience and the size of your business, you might not need anything beyond the basics.
Remember, keep it simple and keep it genuine. Sometimes less truly is more.
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Many small business owners become unsatisfied with their results from social media marketing and just give up; thus missing out on a potential gold mine of publicity and customers. Unfortunately, they often give up too early in the game and without fully recognizing the impact. The key to social media success for small business owners is to show up as the unique, funny, and loveable human being that you truly are, with consistency and with commitment. Half-hearted participation in social media is far worse than no participation at all. A few scattered posts just broadcasts to the world that as a business, you’re okay with doing things half-heartedly. Obviously, that’s a branding message that no one wants to send. The real key to amazing social media success is to figure out where your target audience hangs out online, and to learn to love to hang out there too. If you find time to be a challenge, calendar fifteen minutes a few times a week until you build the habit. This process of learning to love something that isn’t at first in your comfort zone can take time, especially if you’re not from the “social media generation.” Just remember: if it’s possible to learn to love exercising or eating broccoli, it’s also possible to learn to love hanging out on social media. You might even find that you come to love it! And of course, the only way for you to really love your social media time is if you show up as you, not as some imaginary cardboard “professional” representation of your business. How else can you truly be engaging? A good way to think about this is to imagine that in your social media time, you’re at a cocktail networking party. Some of the people there you know well, some you don’t. In this kind of social situation, you know it’s important to speak respectfully, but it’s equally important to have fun. As long as you’re following the rules of basic consideration and compassion for the people you’re addressing in your social media posting and commenting, you’ll be “professional” enough. So keep your eye on the prize: go where your audience is, hang out there consistently and learn to love it. Show up as yourself – and you’ll give your audience plenty to love and a reason to come back. They’ll look forward to seeing posts from you, as your posts will stand out as genuine. Result? They’ll think affectionately about your brand and therefore be much more inclined to buy from YOU and to tell others about your services. So if you really want to succeed at social media, you have to be in it to win it!
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People always and only share things that help them express their identity. Understanding this is the biggest key to inspiring people to share your stuff (articles, pictures, memes, videos) on social media.
I’ll say it again because it’s just so basically, fundamentally, crucially true: people always – and I mean always, without exception – share whatever they feel best helps them express their identity.
It's a little harsh but it's true: no one wants your brand’s identity or your businesses’ message…. unless that person already feels so identified with your brand or product or service that talking about how much she loves it helps others to understand who she is. Why should your audience share your content?
The more you think about social sharing from your audiences’ and potential customers’ point of view, the more you understand that they might “Like” your businesses’ posts – they might even comment on those posts – but there’s no way that a member of your audience will share your post (and thus extend your reach and make your content go viral) unless she feels that sharing it helps her to express something meaningful and worthwhile about herself.
The examples that I’ll give here are specifically inspired by Facebook (since it’s the big behemoth and thus the lingua franca of social media marketing), but if you consider these for a moment, you’ll find that the same principles will apply equally to every other existing form of social media – Twitter, Instagram, etc.
Let's Explore How to Create Social Media Content that Your Audience Will Want to Share
I find that it helps first to understand that every post that a person makes, or shares, on social media contains both an underlying statement of her identity and an underlying request for validation of her identity from others. Understanding these underlying currents in relationship to your audience will help you have a better handle on how to inspire people to share your brand's content on social media.
Let’s consider some samples of things people often want to express about themselves. Do any of these samples resonate with you? As you read the samples, think about what statements of identity and validation members of your audience are likely to experience. How can you help them express their identity through your posts?
In these samples, the first statement, in blue, is the underlying statement of identity and the second sentence, in italics, is the underlying request for validation of identity from others.
Identity: I am helpful and in-the-know!
Validation: Let me tell you about cool upcoming events, discounts, neat stuff, aren’t you grateful I did?
Identity: My life is busy / fulfilling / tiring and I’m angry / grateful / sad!
Validation: Listen to me tell you a story about my day, doesn’t it strike a chord with you too?
Identity: I have a great sense of humor!
Validation: Check out this funny YouTube clip or this LOLCat picture, isn’t it hilarious?
Identity: I care about important causes!
Validation: See this political meme I’m sharing, isn’t it moving?
Identity: I have excellent taste in music and an intense inner emotional life!
Validation: Listen to this music video or song I’m sharing, don’t you enjoy it, too?
Identity: I am thoughtful and deep!
Validation: Check out this in-depth article about a subject I care about, isn’t it interesting?
Identity: I celebrate the beauty in my life!
Validation: Check out these pictures of my beautiful friends, family, lunch, birdhouse, aren’t they worth attention and admiration?
Will sharing your content gain your audience validation with their friends?
Now consider this: in order to make certain that your brand's content is shared, all you have to do is make sure that the content resonates with an underlying statement of identity that people want to make, and that it has a high chance of winning for them the kind of validation that they want from their friends and associates.
In future articles, I'll explore examples and case studies of just how you can make this work for your business' social media marketing. In the meantime, get thinking about how you can create content that resonates with the identity that your potential customers want to project and that will give them the kind of social validation that they desire.
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