The Truth About Automating Social Media Content

The Truth About Automating Social Media Content

Automation has become a huge buzzword in the marketing industry in the past few years. And why wouldn’t it? With people managing more responsibilities in the workplace than ever, it makes sense that marketers are trying to find ways to work smarter, not harder. Personally, I love automating social media content. With some simple planning, it’s easy to pinpoint which holidays you want to run content for or sales/products you want to consistently promote.

BUT.

Automating content doesn’t mean you get to forget about your content completely. You still have work to do.

More and more social media marketers are using automation tools as an excuse to be lazy. Especially when it comes to social media content. Why spend time checking on trending content every day for unique posts, when you scheduled social media content that self publishes daily one month ago?

Social media marketers can also run into issues when they miss trending content, or share inappropriate content that had been previously scheduled when breaking news occurs. Most recently, brands ran into this issue in the United States when George Floyd was murdered in Minnesota and light was being shed on the Black Lives Matter movement. Many businesses (and influencers) were suddenly under fire for posting their regularly scheduled content instead of speaking on racism in America.

For business owners, automation has other dangers. I get it, running a business is A LOT of work. It’s time consuming and posting on social media seems like the least important thing on your to-do list for the day. In that sense, automation has its perks. The problem occurs when businesses use automated content as an excuse to stop checking their social media accounts. After all, you know content is being published…. and that’s the most important part of social media, right? WRONG.

Social media channels like Facebook and Instagram were created to foster connections with your friends and audiences, NOT to recycle the same content over and over again in the hopes that someone will buy your product of service. Engagement is key on social media, and if you’re using automated content on social media as an excuse to stop checking social media or talking to your audience, you are doing it wrong.

I’m a fan of automated content. But I only use it for my own brand accounts and pages, and I only schedule content a week in advance. For my clients, I schedule content DAILY to ensure that the content being shared is timely and relevant to our target audience. In addition to scheduling content, I am constantly monitoring notifications for messages from followers, new comments, etc, so that I can engage quickly and create a dialogue that will build the relationship between the business and the customer – something a simple post cannot do.

If you want to make sure you are spending your time effectively when it comes to managing your social media content and presence, I recommend doing these things:

  1. Schedule evergreen content. Evergreen content is content that doesn’t go out of date. Examples include testimonials, information about services, product highlights, etc. (Note: It is possible to overshare this content on social media, so use sparingly ie weekly or monthly)
  2. Schedule 15 minutes at the end of the day for engagement. Before you sign off for the day, take 15 minutes to go through your engagement notifications. Ideally, you would do this more than once throughout the day, but sometimes things get busy.
  3. Determine what trending holidays you want to post for in advance. Fun holidays like Take Your Dog to Work Day, or National Wine Day are often the same every year. Do your research in advance and include the trending holidays you want to share a post for in your annual content strategy so you know when it’s coming.
  4. Keep a library of content you can use in a pinch. In your downtime, find or create unique content like blog posts or graphics that can be shared when you’re running low on content. I use Google Drive to store my content, but many scheduling programs allow you to save content directly to their program as well.

The takeaway here is that automating doesn’t mean forgetting about it completely. Schedule evergreen content when you can, but don’t forget that the key to building relationships and trust with your followers and potential customers is to present timely, relevant content and engage with your audience. If you’re pressed for time and don’t have the capacity to prioritize keeping up with your social media channels, shoot me an email today and find out how I can help.

Infographic: When Should You Post on Social Media?

Infographic: When Should You Post on Social Media?

By far one of the most common questions clients ask me is “when should I be posting on social media?” While I usually advise clients that they should be posting as often as it feels natural to do so (forced content is not your friend), the time that posts are shared is a bit of a science.

Since social media algorithms favor specific types of content, the time of day that you post can affect your post’s reach, engagement, and click through rate. Today I am sharing some of the best times to post on social media to see the highest reach and engagement. These times vary based on industry and are based on national numbers, so be sure to prioritize testing on your social platforms to pinpoint the time your audience is online.

Need help identifying when your audience is online? Shoot me a message today to schedule your FREE 30 minute consultation.https://maggielasley.com/contact/

The Social Media Trend You NEED to Take Advantage of

The Social Media Trend You NEED to Take Advantage of

Share your opinions and educate your followers.

That’s it. That’s the trend. Sound too good to be true? Educating followers has been more challenging for brands than you might think! Internet trolls are lurking everywhere on social media these days, so it can be really tough for some brands to see value in opening themselves up to negative engagement by voicing an opinion others may not share.

The good news is that people following the pet industry on social are craving dialogue about potentially controversial subjects in hopes to find others (people and businesses alike) whose beliefs and opinions align with their own.

We’re deep into the #furbaby movement, and cultural changes have impacted the pet industry in a big way. Social media users that are active followers of the pet industry on social media are also active followers of the pet industry itself, and they pay attention to the rising trends the industry creates.

While they’re paying attention, they’re also initiating an important conversations among themselves, and business owners in the pet industry. If you’ve been on Instagram, I’m sure you’ve seen topics such as leash laws, raw feeding, and training tools (e-collars) floating around.

Here’s a fun fact: 44% of pet owning millennials see their pets as children. Those pet owners prioritize the well-being of their pets like never before, researching the best nutrition, healthcare, and accessories for their pets. Naturally, that research leads to conversations – especially on Instagram.

I’ve already mentioned a few current hot topics within the Pet IG community, but there are several others, and as a pet industry professional, I can guarantee you have expert knowledge in regards to at least one of them. Don’t shy away from sharing that knowledge!

Use what you know to educate your community on social media and start a conversation with your followers. You may be a R+ Trainer who strongly opposes corrective tools like prong collars or e-collars. Or maybe you’re a veterinarian that thinks people are spaying/neutering their pets too early – whoever you are and whatever you do in the pet industry, there is a topic you can discuss with your audience.

Don’t shy away from sharing your opinion just because people may disagree. The pet community on social media is largely looking for experts, just like you, to share your insight so that they can feel better about the decisions they make for their pets. You may get people who disagree, and that’s okay! Those people may not be your people, but for every one person who disagrees with your opinion, there are several others who respect your opinion – potentially converting into paying clients.

What hot topic in the pet industry would you address on your social media platforms?

Setting Better Business Goals in 2020

Setting Better Business Goals in 2020

January, 2020. A time to start fresh, plan your year, and set resolutions to get healthy, spend time with family, etc etc. Personal resolutions are all the rage in the New Year, but what about resolutions for your business? Well, if you’re doing it right, you set resolutions for your business every year. These resolutions are your business goals.

Ideally, these are a collection of thoughtfully developed micro goals that result in successfully achieving a large macro goal. But more often than not when I ask clients what their goals are, their responses go like this:

“I want to increase sales.”

“I want to make more money.”

“I want to grow my audience.”

These are NOT good goals for your business. This year, I am challenging you to change your mindset around your business goals so that you can think in terms of simple steps that you can take throughout the year so that you can meet your defined, achievable macro goal by 2021. To do that, let’s take a look at how you can define a clear goal for your business TODAY.

Know The Ins and Outs of Your Business

First thing’s first. Take some time today to reacquaint yourself with the inner workings of your business. Determine what worked last year, what didn’t, and where your main opportunities for growth are.

  • Conduct a SWOT Analysis. If you aren’t already familiar, your SWOT analysis is an analysis of your businesses Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. If you have a leadership team, or trusted individuals that are familiar with the ins and outs of your business, ask them to do the same. As the owner of your business, your opinions may differ from team members. Asking someone on your team to conduct a SWOT analysis may shed some light on things you may not be aware of yet.
  • Run an internal audit. After you’ve run a SWOT analysis and evaluated it, run an internal audit and crunch some numbers. This step will help you determine what tools lent a hand to your strengths, and what tools contributed to your weaknesses. If you didn’t have a system for analytics or goals in place for 2019, take a look at social tools like Facebook Insights (assuming you have a social presence) to get some insight in regards to your social performance as a starting point and shoot me an email to discuss different options for tracking your goals in 2020.
  • Analyze individual performance in 2019. What did you do, personally, to help grow your business in 2019? What worked, and what didn’t? How can you utilize your time in 2020 more effectively to scale your business? These are all questions you need to ask yourself to determine how you can play an effective, and efficient role in growing your company in the New Year. Also consider how much you WANT to do in your business in 2020. As a small business owner, my guess is you currently play a huge role in everything relating to your business. Maybe you’d like to scale back to spend more time with your family, or maybe your passion lies in the client/customer facing side of your business and not the internal side of your company. If that’s the case, it may be time to consider if you have the capacity to hire a team member to delegate some of the business items you don’t enjoy as much.

Do a Market Analysis

This is one step I’m sure you’ve done before, even if you don’t realize it. Business owners are always keeping one eye on their competitors and what tactics they utilize in their marketing and business efforts. Look at the list below, and take some time to identify these key points to determine the state of your market/industry currently.

  • Who are your current competitors?
  • What is their price point?
  • Where are they selling?
  • What content are they sharing?
  • How is their content performing?

Brainstorm your new goals

This is the fun part! Brainstorming is a mental technique that allows you to develop ideas without judgement. It can be tricky for some people, especially if it’s not something you do often. One way to brainstorm that I’ve found to be challenging, but effective is to write one idea for a goal on a piece of paper every minute, for as many minutes as you set aside for the exercise. (Keep in mind, this is essentially a brain dump, and not every goal you jot on paper is going to work for you and your business.) After that time is up, look at all the ideas you wrote down and build them out. Here’s an example:

Say that you wrote “Increase sales” on a piece of paper during the exercise. Now look at internal audit you conducted in step two to see what your business did in sales during 2019 – say you did $100k in sales. Maybe you decide your goal for 2020 is $200k in sales. Now, ask yourself these three things:

  • Is that goal realistic? Based on your internal audit, SWOT analysis, and personal audit, is doubling your sales in 2020 a realistic goal to set? If you answer yes, proceed to the next question.
  • Is your goal too broad? Your goal will likely be broad if you are thinking of goals in terms of one year – so break your goals down to quarterly, and then break them into monthly goals. These will be your micro goals that will allow you to determine how close you are to achieving that $200k sales goal throughout the year.
  • Is this a measurable goal? Once you’ve determined what micro goals you are going to track to gauge whether you’re on track to meet your macro or annual goal, you will need to determine if your goal is measurable, and what tools you are going to use to track your success. This is typically where marketing comes in for business owners. A marketing strategy and built out tactics will provide you with measurable ways to monitor your goals on a monthly, quarterly, and annual basis.

If you’ve worked through those three questions and found a refined, measurable goal for your business that excites you, then congratulations, you’ve established a goal for your business in 2020. Now you have a clear direction for the year when determining what actions your business takes in the New Year and whether those actions make sense in terms of meeting your Macro goal at the end of 2020.

Now what?

Now that you’ve established your goal for the year it’s time to determine what tools you need to help you achieve your macro (and micro) goals. Build out your business plan for the year and start taking action! Click here to get started.

How I Got My Client a Free Feature on a Large Social Account

How I Got My Client a Free Feature on a Large Social Account

This week one of my client’s reached a new milestone in their social media strategy – they were featured on an account with over 450,000 followers FOR FREE! This is a huge win for us, it’s something my client has been trying to do since before we began working together and we were able to accomplish her goal together in just TWO DAYS. Keep on reading to find out how we were able to accomplish her goal.

We had relevant, quality content.

Props to my client for keeping her goal in mind and jumping at the opportunity to take a great photo while out on a walk that we could use to post on our social media accounts. She sent me two photo options, and we chose the best one to share.

We paired the image with a quick, snappy caption that played on the holiday season to make our post relevant to our followers (and to the large account) and utilized relevant hashtags with both large and small followings to ensure our post was seen.

We shared the post with our audience.

By posting the photo we wanted to be featured during a time frame when our audience was most active. We also leveraged the tag feature to share our post with local accounts to help increase our organic reach and bump up our engagement.

We shared our post with the large account.

But not just on social media. While we did tag the account (and their sister account) in our photo, I also did just a bit of research to find out who managed the account. I tagged them in the photo as well, and emailed the photo to the customer service account. Because large accounts get so inundated with tagged content, most of which is usually irrelevant to their account, it’s easy for tags to get missed so multiple points of contact is crucial when it comes to guaranteeing that your post gets seen.

What were the results?

In the first 24 hours, our featured post got over 17,000 likes and a good amount of comments from individuals living in Grand Rapids – that is awesome for a national account like the one we were featured on. That combined with our own post’s performance has helped us increase awareness exponentially in just a matter of two days and no ad budget to speak of.

Now what?

Now that our post was successfully featured, it’s up to us to leverage that feature in a way that is beneficial for us. That means I’ll be hopping on that featured image and returning comments to everyone who commented on that post and lives locally. We’ll also come up with a brief MMP (mini marketing plan) to drive some of this new traffic to the website and monitor performance through Google Analytics.

Do you have a goal to be featured on a large account or to amp up your social presence in 2020? Click here to connect with me and explore some fun opportunities!

4 Common Misconceptions About Social Media

4 Common Misconceptions About Social Media

By now it’s no secret that social media is a powerful tool. But there are tons of myths floating around about how to best use social media as a part of your marketing mix. Below I outlined just a couple of common misconceptions about social media for you to consider as you develop your marketing strategy in 2020.

You should prioritize likes and engagement to track ROI.

No, no, and no. Likes and engagement (comments and shares) are considered vanity metrics. They seem impressive to your followers, but really, they don’t mean much unless your main social media goal is to create a space for open dialogue with your existing followers.

I’ve had many clients in the past put too much emphasis on getting likes and comments on their social posts, and ultimately most ended up unhappy because they realized those metrics don’t convert to sales.

Establish valuable and measurable KPI’s that can help drive your sales and encourage growth in your business (clicks to the website, e-mail signups, and profile visits are all considered measurable KPI’s that can have direct impact on sales).

Social media is free.

Social media platforms are tools that are free to create, but that doesn’t mean they are free. When you consider the time and resources it takes to keep your social media content relevant and new for your followers (not to mention a budget to run ads), you will definitely need to plan on investing at some point.

You need to be on every platform to make the most of social media.

Before you start trying to use Tik Tok for your business know this: you can do anything, but not everything. And you certainly can’t do everything well. Fortunately, to reach your target audience you don’t need to. Your social media marketing strategy will be infinitely more effective when you focus your attention and energy on the platforms your target market lives on.

Social media is too time consuming.

If you fail to plan, social media can be VERY time consuming. But when you have a marketing strategy in place, utilize a content calendar, and set aside a few minutes throughout the day to engage with your followers, managing your social media content can be accomplished without much struggle.

That being said, managing social media is not everyone’s cup of tea. If you don’t enjoy spending a lot of time on social media, it may be worth your while to invest in contracting a professional to help manage your social media channels.

Ultimately the main thing to remember when utilizing social media is that it’s a tool meant to serve you and your business. Put it to work in a way that best suites your needs to make it an effective part of your marketing strategy.

Not Seeing Results From Your Marketing Efforts? This Could Be Why!

Not Seeing Results From Your Marketing Efforts? This Could Be Why!

It can be frustrating when you invest a lot of time and money into your marketing strategy, only to yield minimal results. In my years working at an agency, I met with countless prospective clients who turned to our company after several marketing strategies failed. They were frustrated and skeptical about how beneficial good marketing could be for their business.

After these prospective clients made the decision to work with us, I dug deep into market research and their current business analytics. More often than not, their promotional tactics were not directly responsible for their lack of results. Their audience was.

Read that again. Their audience was the reason a lot of their marketing efforts were failing. That’s because a lot of businesses today fail to understand the difference between their target market and their perceived audience.

Now, whether or not everyone in your market is a 25 year old female is not going to make a huge difference in the success of your campaign, but marketing to the correct generation, or what stage of life they are in, certainly can.

Here’s an example from a past client: Say you are a housing development trying to sell houses 20 minutes from the city, at $350k for a 2 bedroom home. Are you going to sell those homes to first time homebuyers that currently live in the city? Not likely. And investing your marketing dollars into messaging geared towards that market could be deadly for your business.

Your target market is a defined group of people that are likely to benefit or be interested in the product or service you offer. This group is established after conducting market research and can actually be very different from your perceived audience.

The reason a lot of marketing strategies ultimately fail is because a perceived audience (often identified by the owner as their ideal audience) does not match the true target market (maybe not the audience you want, but that audience you have). Fortunately, identifying your target market can be a relatively simple fix that is incredibly effective when considering your next marketing strategy.

Do you want to learn more about correctly identifying your target market? Set up your FREE 60 minute consultation with me today!

One Step You Can Take Right Now To Improve Your Social Media Presence

One Step You Can Take Right Now To Improve Your Social Media Presence

Having a social media presence in 2019 is unavoidable. With over 335 million users on Twitter, 1 billion users on Instagram, and 2.23 billion users on Facebook, there is no denying your audience is scrolling through these social apps on a daily basis. But with so much competition on social media, getting your content to stand out can be a daunting and overwhelming task.

So many businesses see brands with large followings posting on social media and strive to replicate their online presence to “get more followers.” We can chat about why getting more followers is not an ideal goal for businesses later, but today I want to talk to you about how you can take the first step to improving your social presence in a way that is absolutely organic for your business and will set you apart from your competition.

Are you ready?

Pick one thing to focus on, perfect, and share it daily with your audience. For example, the idea of posting a quality photo, consistent with the feed on my dog’s Instagram account (yep, I’m one of those people) daily was just too much. Between working a full time job, spending time with my friends and family, and working on my side hustle, I didn’t really have the time, or the desire, to post a curated image every single day.

But I did have time to post stories. Quick snapshots and videos of life with a rambunctious pup were easier to take at random than it was to set aside hours upon hours to take and share photos in my feed every single week.

By sharing 3-8 stories per day, I actually increased my account’s overall reach AND engaged with new accounts by utilizing stickers, sharing candid content, and asking questions. More people engage with me in my stories than they do on my posts because that is where I focused my energy and dedicated my time.

My “brand” recognition comes from my stories, not my posts, and that is A OK.

Eventually I will work on curating my content, but for now I am dead set on perfecting my presence in stories and maintaining the relationships that come from that because that is where I see value.

Maybe you want to use stories more, maybe you want to engage with new accounts, or maybe you really love curated content and your feed is your top priority. That’s great! The important thing is to focus your attention on that one priority and perfect it before moving on to the next step in making your social presence more like those big accounts.

It’s true that you reap what you sow, so why not plant one seed and nurture it to perfection before planting other seeds – instead of planting many seeds at once and putting in the minimum amount of effort to get those seeds to grow?

What one thing are you going to focus on to amplify your brand on social media?

Case Study: Boosting Engagement on Social

Case Study: Boosting Engagement on Social

If you own a small business, the likelihood that you’re familiar with Small Business Saturday already is pretty high. On the Saturday following Black Friday, individuals are encouraged to support small, locally owned business in their area by shopping in their stores.

While sales are by and large the most popular way to take advantage of Small Business Saturday, when you offer a service rather than physical products, it can be tricky to find ways to take advantage of the widely publicized holiday.

This year, I worked with a local business to create a campaign for Small Business Saturday that would promote the brand as a whole rather than a sale or product. Keep reading to learn what I did, and what the results were!

The Campaign

The plan of attack for this Small Business Saturday campaign was relatively straightforward. By running a Like, Comment, Share contest on both Facebook and Instagram we could instantly reach new prospective clients with every single person who opted to share our content and comment on it. By running the campaign for a short period (two days), we anticipated creating a strong sense of urgency for our followers, encouraging them to take immediate action. We continued the elevating the overall campaign strategy when we chose the prize package – branded gear for people and their dogs.

The prize package ensured that even after the campaign was over, we would be reaching new people whenever our winners wore their gear out in public.

What Were The Campaign Goals?

The goals of this campaign were clear and simple: Effectively give a boost to our organic reach and engagement on the business’s Facebook and Instagram pages. There was no hard number or percentage in mind, we were simply trying to give ourselves a boost on social during a typically slow period of engagement. We chose to focus on reach and engagement for the sole purpose of increasing the likelihood we’d be discovered by new audiences – aka friends of people who followed our accounts.

The Results

Not only did this campaign exceed client expectations in the first few hours of publishing, within 24 hours it became the post with the 2nd highest amount of overall reach and total engagement for all of 2019 on Instagram, and the fifth most popular post this year that converted to website clicks (only outranked by blog posts that were shared throughout Q2 and Q3) on Instagram!

On Facebook, we also saw great success, reaching 1,193 people organically and maintaining our overall engagement rate of 8% (the average engagement rate across all industries is only 3.91% as reported by Sprout). We had less comments on Facebook than we did on Instagram, BUT we had more shares, ultimately increasing our reach and increasing awareness among potential clients.

From an analytic stand point, this campaign could not have gone any better given the time parameter of a one day holiday like Small Business Saturday. More importantly, the client was thrilled with the results!

Do you want to amplify your organic reach and overall engagement on social media in 2020? Shoot me an email today and let’s discuss social media management for your business!

Instagram Hacks to Master Before 2020

Instagram Hacks to Master Before 2020

With a broad user base, maintaining your presence on Instagram is essential to connecting with your target audience. If you are planning to elevate your business on Instagram next year, keep reading and learn some of the easiest (and most powerful) things you should be doing on Instagram to get ahead of your competition and reach new customers.

Content is still King

This phrase is over used for a reason – because it’s true! In order to grow your Instagram followers and build a quality audience (meaning real people and potential customers) you MUST give them a reason to follow you. Yes, your pictures are going to be the first thing they see, and they may like the picture, but will it make them comment or send you a message? Probably not.

When people choose to engage with an account on social media, it’s usually because of the compelling copy the accompanies the photo. Drive your engagement and build your following by giving your audience a way to connect with your business on a deeper level simply by asking a question. I like to do this in the first sentence of a post so that they can see the question immediately without tapping to read the entire post.

Use Hashtags

They’re there for a reason, I promise. Using thoughtful and relevant hashtags is a great way to reach new audiences to build your following. The problem with hashtags is that most people choose to use the ones that have massive followings, making it impossible that your content will appear in that hashtag feed.

Do your research when choosing hashtags, and mix it up. 75-80% of the hashtags you use should have a small to medium following to ensure that your content is reaching people.

(Want to learn more about utilizing a hashtag strategy? Click here!)

Utilize Stories

Instagram stories are an incredible tool that are often under utilized by small businesses. Stories can not only reach new people on their own (500 million people watch IG Stories per day), but they can also increase your post reach.

Use Instagram Stories to share information about upcoming events, sales, and behind the scenes info that will ultimately connect you with your audience and give them a reason to check out your feed or website to learn more about the products or services you provide.

Engage, Engage, Engage!

There is no way around this one. Practically speaking, the goal of these social apps is to get you to spend as much time as possible on their platform. And they know that your goal is likely more followers. This means that in order for you to get more followers, you must spend more time on the app. Dedicate time every day to reaching out to new accounts via comments, direct messages, and stories to help expand your reach organically and grow your following.

When considering the role Instagram will play in your social media marketing strategy, take these tips to heart and be sure that you have the time and resources to commit to building your audience with qualified accounts and potential clients.

Were these quick tips helpful? Dive deeper into growing your Instagram following and master your social media strategy today!