What’s Up in Social Media with D: The 12 Days of Digital Marketing (Part 1)

social-media-with-dMore frustration has erupted in the wake of Facebook’s latest reveal that it will cut business Pages’ organic reach even further in the interest of encouraging brands to pay for News Feed space. I continue to be perplexed that any business thinks advertising should be free, and I truly wouldn’t suggest anyone drop their Facebook page. It’s a much better idea to either learn how to use it effectively, or pony up the truly minimal fee to boost your page once in a while. Nonetheless, I’m offering up a digital marketing holiday present – 12 alternatives to Facebook marketing, cleverly—or oddly, depending on your perspective—lined up with the 12 Days of Christmas. For this week’s What’s Up column, I’m summarizing the week’s first three non-Facebook suggestions. You can find the full write-ups on my blog at dcohn.com/blog.

On the first day of digital marketing, D. Cohn said to me, you need a Partridge in a Pear Tree! (a.k.a. A Well Designed, Responsive Website)
Whatever digital marketing strategy you have, it should be designed to drive traffic to your website, where a user can easily find current, accurate information about your business.

Social marketing is about using social traction to build awareness of your organization and promote brand loyalty. In other words, you use social media to lure those curious Partridges to your Pear Tree. But if your Pear Tree is more like an overgrown shrub, the partridges are not going to stay. If there’s not enough fruit there (if they can’t quickly find the information they’re looking for), your partridge is going to look for a more suitable tree. You can have the best social media accounts around, but if your website is shabby you’re not ready for the next 11 days of digital media gifts — so start there. Before putting a lot of time and money into building a social following, make sure your Pear Tree is as inviting as possible.

On the Second Day of Digital Marketing, D. Cohn said to me, Two Turtle Doves make amazing Instagram pics.
If you’ve never used Instagram, it’s a photo/video app for your smartphone that comes with built in editing tools and filters. This lets you easily turn photos and 15 second videos into works of photographic genius. Your pics of the pet turtle doves you got for Christmas have never looked sweeter.

But Instagram also a social platform. Instagram users follow one another and organizations’ accounts as well. An Instagram feed isn’t terribly different from other social media feeds—you will see all the photos and videos posted by the people you’re following. You can Like those images by clicking on the photo or heart icon and adorably, a heart shape appears and turns pink. Ahhh, love.

You can also leave comments on Instagram posts, get a conversation going, and tag other users. You can automatically share your Instagram posts to other social media accounts like Twitter. Hashtags both literal and creative are essential. #TurtleDoves #Sweet #Spoiled #CooingForChristmas

It’s easy to create a business account for Instagram, and the platform has many tips for companies who want to make the most of it. Organizations and companies who want to get in on the Instagram game need to create a strong strategy before venturing in. Think through what subject matter you’ll photograph. The subject matter should be compelling enough that your followers will like and talk about it. If your product or service lends itself to visual marketing, this should be a piece of cake. If not, you may need to get more creative. You’ll also want to plan out a consistent “look” for your photos to brand yourself on Instagram. Tag every photo you post with your brand’s own hashtag. Research hashtags before you claim them. You want to know who else is using the one you want.

Build your following by following accounts yourself. Often they’ll follow back, but there’s no rules about that. For etiquette’s sake, limit yourself to following other brands and people you know personally. You can also hold contests, encouraging followers to take photos on a theme and tag them with your name or hashtag.

Posting every day is a great strategy to get started, but there are no hard rules on Instagram. Don’t forget to cross-promote your account on your website and other social media accounts. And have fun. Instagram isn’t a serious platform, but it can be seriously useful.

Oh, and avoid the “Toaster” filter. Everyone hates that one.

On the third day of Christmas, D. Cohn said to me, claim your Yelp page already.
Yelp isn’t just for restaurants. People look up all kinds of services and suppliers on Yelp.com. You can research automotive help, religious institutions, professional services, medical care, hair salons, and many, many other services as well.

As Yelp’s business page claims, “Yelp is the #1 local/regional website and mobile app,” with “139 million average monthly unique visitors.” That means that people who used to go to their phone book to find goods and services now go to Yelp.com. Who needs a phone book when you have Yelp on your smartphone or tablet?

A Yelp user only has to register to leave a review. So it only makes sense for a business to claim their Yelp page. If you don’t claim your page, your business will likely end up on Yelp anyway, if it isn’t already. Registered Yelp users can create an entry for a business, and the reviews will start flowing in. If you don’t claim the page, you’ll be powerless to control it. But if you do (which is free, but takes some administrative communication with Yelp.com) you suddenly have many more options. Claim the page and you will be able to clarify or correct information, manage the images, the logo, and add a menu or list of services. You can respond to reviews. Take it a step further and pay for Yelp, and you can create targeted Yelp ads and promotions, and prevent competitor ads from showing on your page. You’ll also be able to add slideshows and videos.

One important thing to realize about Yelp is it’s far more effective at securing business than the phone book ever was. The conversion rate is amazing. Yelp says that “82% of users visit Yelp with the intent to purchase from a local business.” Your diners already know they want French hen! Give them what they want, because apparently 89% of those who decide upon a purchase using Yelp do so within a week. Those are nice numbers.

So if you haven’t already done it, head over to Yelp and claim your business’ page or create a new one. Don’t forget to add links to your shiny website and social media accounts as well, and boost your SEO a bit.