Creating a holistic digital marketing strategy can take months. Effectively executing the strategy after tweaks, minimal fails and multiple learning curves can take up to a year. One stage often omitted from this important plan is monitoring competition. Watching your competitors online holds unparalleled benefits such as identifying market opportunities, connecting with companies you should be cross promoting, back-link insight, social listening and more.
Here are 5 Free Tools to monitor your competition:
- Google Alerts: One of the most underused tools, Google Alerts allows you to monitor the internet for “interesting content”. You can set up alerts for your industry keywords or even for mentions and articles on your competition. Google alerts lets you customize the email reports you receive by how often you’d like the notifications, type of sources, the origin of source, and languages. Use alerts to drive trending content ideas and see how well your competition is doing with PR.
- Facebook Pages: Facebook offers page admins the opportunity to “watch” competitor Facebook pages. To add a competitor page, simply go to your page insights, scroll to the bottom and type in the name of the business you’d like to watch. You can see the company’s follower growth, engagement and even the competitor’s top post from the past week.
- HootSuite: HootSuite is a simple social media publishing tool that also offers numerous in-platform apps to increase the overall user experience. One of the free apps, TrendSpottr enables you to set up multiple “streams” in your HootSuite to watch trending topics, keywords, brand reputation and even identify industry influencers. HootSuite is also an excellent “social listening” tool for when potential customers are unhappy with the competition. Below is an example of great social listening in action. In this instance, I had tweeted dissatisfaction to Xfinity and within minutes received this tweet from their competitor:
- Alexa: Alexa is a brilliant tool that my company uses prior to working with any company to analyze their overall reach. It can also be used to analytically measure competition. You can see how the competitor’s website ranks globally, what keyword searches are driving traffic to the site, which pages generate the highest engagement, and which sites link to the competitor’s site.
- SEM Rush: SEM Rush offers great analytical reporting on all aspects of digital marketing performance. With a free account, you can see how your competition ranks, the keywords that generate high traffic, and even view their AdWords and video ad campaigns.
Once you have all this data at your fingertips, it is time to utilize it wisely by crafting new campaigns. Contact websites that link to your competitors to build new relationships, start focusing on keywords that drive heavy traffic to your competition’s site, avoid social media snafu’s that failed on your competitors’ platforms, and contact your competitor’s dissatisfied customers through social listening.
A couple of years ago, we posted an article on Word of Mouth Marketing http://popdigitalmarketing.com/word-mouth-marketing/. The article explained the new wave of marketing tactics utilizing current “brand fans” through social media.
To reiterate, studies have shown that consumers are 65% more likely to choose a brand based on the recommendation of another customer or employee than buying from a brand based on an ad or company promotion. Customers today rely on trust. They trust other people, like them making every day decisions. They trust people, not companies.
Benefits of an Employee Brand Ambassador Program
Building your brand takes consistency, time and a strong brand strategy. It also takes a strong community of fans. Your employees play a fundamental role in promoting your brand. If your company is listed as the employee’s workplace on Facebook, LinkedIn or other social media platform, each and every time your employee engages in anything, they are representing your company. Once your brand strategy and brand promise have been developed, you must train your employees in what your brand story is. What your company represents. The problem your service or product solves.
Employee Silence is Loud
Your employees have the potential to expand your reach exponentially. Silence speaks volumes. If your employees never endorse your brand, that sends a very clear message to customers. They don’t love it. They do not believe in it. If your employees are engaged in and passionate about promoting your company, they will “sell”. It makes people excited to be a part of something everybody loves. It’s also great for recruitment.
How to Build Your Employee Ambassador Program
- Develop your brand. This is the backbone of your program. You cannot continue until you have this set in stone.
- Train your team. Your entire company must learn, understand and believe in your brand. If they do not, it may signal that you aren’t delivering your brand promise and need to re-evaluate either your brand promise or the process of your services/products.
- Choose an Ambassador Leader. The Ambassador Leader is someone in your company that loves everything about coming to work. They already show their ambassadorship, share your company news online, have a strong following online and are an “influencer” online and off. This person does not need to be in your marketing department and can be at any level of management.
- Make the program optional. You only want people participating if they choose to. If it is forced on everyone, it will show. The Ambassador Leader should assemble an Ambassador Team of employees that are excited to be a part of this new program.
- Set expectations. Make sure the program has very clear and easy guidelines. The easier the program is to participate in, the more employees will want to join. If you are using an ambassador management system, provide each participant with a tutorial. If you are not using a system, make sure create your own standard process.
- Don’t write scripts…..but have materials ready. Allow each team member to promote the materials in his or her own words. Again, we want to work off trust. If customers see everyone writing the exact same script, it becomes an ad, not a genuine referral. If you are not using an Ambassador system, you can use google docs to place all the types of content/materials you want promoted, and track employees’ efforts there.
- Lead by example. Don’t expect employees to be passionate about your brand if your top executives are not. The leaders of your company do not necessarily need to participate in the program for rewards, but they absolutely should use the material to promote on across their various networks.
- Measure and Reward. Make sure you have a measuring system set. Hashtags are an excellent tool for measuring. Choose a specific hashtag such as “PopDigitalMarketinglife” and check it on a weekly basis. Your Ambassador Program should provide rewards as well. Rewards must be attainable and set on a short term basis (people like immediate results). Rewards can range from praise and recognition, gift cards, group lunches to elaborate gifts.
In October 2016, Facebook rolled out a brand new option to ask for “recommendations” on your personal feed or in a group. Facebook automatically detects words like “I need a recommendation” or “I am looking for” and converts the post into a distinct “recommendation” post that now includes an active map.
Benefits of the Recommendation Rollout:
- For the everyday Facebook user, the new rollout is a quick and easy way to poll one’s connections for nearby establishments offering the services they are looking for or events to attend. When a friend starts writing the name of the company they want to recommend, Facebook auto fills in the company page and will put a marker on the map above. It also provides quick links to that business page. Facebook is currently saving all this data to use in its next roll out of providing you with a tab of your friends’ current recommendations all in one place.
- This is beneficial to your business because your customers are now able to easily promote your business to active seekers of your services! It also gives your company exposure to everyone else reading or active on the post. Your company is automatically linked, so you do not need to depend on the happy customer to copy and paste any website URLs which is a step often forgotten. Plus, if your Facebook page is set up using a CTA (Call To Action), the new visitors can convert immediately!
Potential Opportunities to Use it in the future:
As more companies build brand ambassador partnerships with happy customers, the new “recommendation tool” can be used as a simple and free tracking method. Once your page is mentioned, you will receive notification on who recommended you. Those insights will be key for rewarding your online referral sources.
Another impending future roll-out is rankings of places that receive recommendations. The more you get, Facebook will measure and eventually rank you in your industry with those numbers.
As we wrap up 2014, now is a prime time to look back at what successes we’ve had at work and where we may have room for improvement. Many business leaders are projecting the next year’s potential growth along with strategies to increase business development. While there are many known general methods to market a business, here is a list of 5 very specific actions you MUST take to stay ahead of the curve in 2015.
5 Specific Marketing Action Steps to Take in 2015:
1. Use Facebook “custom audiences” for ads. Facebook has recently launched a new way to target your ads to your current contact lists. You can import emails or phone numbers in the audience tab in ‘ads manager’. Then when you create the ad, you can choose that custom group to show it to.
Why it works: With Facebook targeting options you can narrow your ads even more by age, location, and interests. This will increase click-through’s substantially as well as provide you with more options such as Facebook offers, deals and more to present to your interested lists that you could not otherwise through email.
2. Build your personal brand on LinkedIn. Since rolling out the ability to post blogs and articles directly on the LinkedIn platform, many savvy leaders have begun to leverage their knowledge and expertise to further their personal and business brand awareness. Make sure your profile is updated and start planning the types of posts you can contribute on the largest business networking social media site.
Why it works: When you post quality content on LinkedIn, you position yourself as a thought leader in your industry and build yourself a positive reputation with potential customers or referral sources.
3. Get on Google My Business. Google+ has been slowly creeping up on Facebook as the second largest social networking site since it launched in 2011. Google provides you with the platform to create a personal identity along with a business page, locations for your company and it all gets tied together under Google My Business.
Why it works: Having all these elements updated and posting relevant information to your page can actually help you rank higher!
4. Brand your visuals for Pinterest. Pinterest currently has 70 million users and that number is growing by the minute. People pin articles, blogs, websites, recipes, shopping, lifestyle dreams and work ideas onto their boards, and the one thing they see when searching the site is the visual associated with the content. Make sure that each piece of collateral you produce is branded well and also includes a quick catchy title.
Why it works: By placing your logo on all your visuals, you are expanding your reach to each and every person that searches for that topic on Pinterest. When you place a CTA title on the visual, it will increase the clicks and provide viewers with a sense of motivation to read more.
5. Re-purpose your blogs. Pick 5 of your most popular 2014 blogs and expand on them. Take those blogs and create a “part 2” for each. Or turn one into into a whitepaper or e-book.
Why it works: By re-purposing your successful content that you already know is popular, highly searched for and engageable, you can collect leads and take potential customers further down your funnel.
2015 will bring us many new opportunities to build our audiences and see marketing success. Which of these actions do you plan to implement into your strategy?
If you manage a business page on Facebook, your life just got easier!
Facebook has officially rolled out a new posting feature which allows admins to effortlessly elect if he/she wants to post as the page or as him/herself through a more straightforward means. Way back in the day (yesterday), in order to toggle between the two identities, one had to click on the settings in the upper right hand corner of the whole page and change who you wanted to post as. This was a confusing process for many page managers.
Where to find the new posting settings:
Now, each and every page post has its own spot where you can click and choose if you want to post, comment, share or like as yourself or as your page. You can also choose to comment, like or share as any other page you currently manage. See visual below for reference:
Ways to utilize the new Facebook posting preferences to your benefit:
- You can create momentum on your page posts a lot faster. You can now easily write a post as the page, and quickly switch to your own persona to comment on said post.
- You can connect pages you manage. If you are running multiple Facebook pages for industry related businesses, why not increase both company’s exposure and engagement by commenting on one’s post under the name of the other? This is a sure way to increase the likes of both pages!
- You can comment on posts of pages you do not manage- as any of your pages! Go ahead and bring exposure to your page by posting effortlessly on bigger brands! All you have to do is click on the little gray page flag in the upper right corner of the post and choose the page you want to comment, like or share as. See below for an example.
We have all heard of the wedding day traditions for wearing something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue. Originating from an old English rhyme, the 4 items a bride carries with her is supposed to bring her good luck. Transitioning into today’s digital age, we can actually leverage these 4 elements as a means of remembering some best practice strategies for top notch social media posts!
Post Something Old:
For the bride, something old represents continuity. Psychologically, people prefer to see social media posts they are comfortable with and they can relate to from their past. This creates a sense of safeness. This explains why so many people love the “Throw Back Thursday” picture phenomenon. A great tip: post something exciting about an employee that has been with the company from the beginning to give your prospects a sense of your company’s stability.
Post Something New:
For the bride, something new offers optimism for the future. One the social media spectrum, posting something new positions your company as the thought leaders. When you are the first to post the latest events, products or news in your industry, it is your post that will get widely shared, commented on and “liked”. Furthermore, when you are posting about your company’s news and updates, you are demonstrating your company’s ability to provide top service or products by exposing its growth.
Post Something Borrowed:
For the bride, something borrowed symbolizes borrowed happiness. When it comes to social media, you too should be borrowing happiness and success. There is no need to re-invent the wheel. When you see another company’s digital marketing campaigns working well, borrow their strategy! While it’s always ideal to be the first, it may not always be practical. It is better to be on the right bus, even if you aren’t driving, than to not get on it at all. Tip: borrow a post but put your own unique spin on it by adding a call to action or a different opinion!
Post Something Blue:
For the bride, something blue stands for purity, love and fidelity. In social media we know that when a customer loves a post they become passionate to spread it. Every once in a while, post something controversial to incite engagement. Nothing attracts more shares and comments then the posts that hit a nerve, good or bad with followers!
Use these 4 tactics in your social media strategy to ascertain your commitment to your followers and with time they will say ‘I Do’ to your services!
One of the first pieces of advice I give to new clients looking to increase engagement on Social Media is to create a monthly content strategy plan. Part of that plan involves creating a weekly tip to offer followers and fans.
The benefits of providing a weekly tip for followers include:
- Positioning your business or brand as a thought leader.
- Opening up dialogue for customers who may have questions about that topic.
- Building trust with your followers and showing your expertise.
- Learning what subjects your customers find popular through shares and likes and then turning them into blogs or e-books.
- Increasing visibility on that subject with search engines (as they crawl and show public status updates with keywords relevant to search terms).
- Keeping followers and fans coming back to your company page in anticipation for that weeks tip. This will in turn increase your post updates showing up in their feed.
4 tips to sharing tips on Social Media:
- Pick a day of the week when your audience is likely online. You can see when they are online through Facebook insights, or timing + (which measures your google + fan activity).
- Create an editorial calendar 6 months out (which is only 24 tips). Create a spreadsheet and include the month, date and time you plan on posting the tips. Add fields for topic, subject and content developer (if you have multiple experts in your company that will be contributing). Then add the field where the actual tip content belongs. The tip itself should be 2-3 sentences at most.
- Hashtag your tip name. Prior to launching your tip strategy come up with a clever name that you can place at the beginning of each tip post. Examples are “Monday Marketing Tip” or “Tuesday Tips With Jon” or “Fridays Health Tips”. Keep it brand and industry appropriate and make sure it is relevant to what your customers would expect to see from you. Then Hashtag it so people can eventually search for and see all the previous tips by clicking on the hashtag. Example: #SocialMediaWeeklyTip.
- Create a visual of the tip. Hubspot launched a very successful 30 day blogging tip in which each day they provided a visual of a tip dealing with blogging. When you post a picture on any Social Media platform you increase the likelihood of the post getting shared and liked. You can also share the tip picture on Instagram and Pinterest!
For advice on launching or re-launching your company’s social media strategy, contact us here.
Facebook has recently made 2 updates that will shake up how you use the Social Networking platform to market your business. And, if strategized correctly, you will see a positive outcome from both these changes!
Change #1 | Facebook Page Manager Tracking
On February 20, 2014, Facebook introduced a new feature to allow Page Administrators to see which of their page managers posted a status update. The update shows under the company name of each post ( see visual below). All admins of the page including moderators, advertisers and insight analysts will see the name of the poster next to the update. It is not visible to the public.
Benefits of Tracking Facebook Mangers’ Posts:
For companies that have multiple managers or content creators on their business page this will help with tracking, metrics and success measurements of each employee.
- You can now track whose content generates the most likes, shares or comments and provide incentives or bonuses based on performance.
- You can utilize this information when training social media interns or entry level employees as a means of providing constructive criticism and suggestions.
- If you outsource your social media to freelancers or a marketing company, you will gain better insight as to who is doing what and when.
- It is an overall means of holding all your digital marketing employees accountable.
Change #2 | Tagging Another Page In A Status:
On February 25, 2014, Facebook began rolling out a new algorithm for page status updates. Going forward, if your page writes a post and tags another page in that post, your post may been shown to the followers of that tagged page. It is worth noting, however that Facebook will only show the posts that are relevant to followers with a history of interacting with that correlated content.
Benefits of Tagging Another Page in your Page Status Update:
- Exposure to the followers of the tagged page, which may have thousands of more fans than yours.
- Creating a give/take relationship with the other brands/pages that have the same target audience. For example, when you tag another page, you are giving them exposure to your fans. Hopefully, they will want to “give back” and promote you as well!