Hiring a Social Media Agency – Are You Asking the Right Questions?

Untitled design (9)“Why hire a social media consultant if I can do the job myself?” Most businesses have asked this question at least once because they tend to assume that social media starts and ends at having a Facebook fan page or a Twitter account. Wrong! Friends, believe me, it does not get the job done. Using social media for your business goes beyond that and it is definitely one of the reasons you should consider hiring an agency that gets successful results.

As a small business you’re on a stringent budget already; therefore, every time you bet your cash on something you want to make sure you get the best value for your money. There are some key questions you should ask when hiring a social media marketing agency; I have listed them below. Check and see if your list matches the one I have compiled.

1. Is the agency an active user of social media?

This is one of the most important and critical questions to ask. Is the agency or consultant actually an ACTIVE participant in Social Media? Do your homework! Are they on Twitter? If so, are they consistently tweeting, engaging and is the content relevant? Do they have a Facebook business page with engaging content on it and are they replying to comments received in a timely manner? If they are not listening to their audience, interacting and having a conversation, how can you expect them to lead you to success if they don’t practice what they preach?

2. How well does the agency understand your business?

Given that the agency will be involved in promoting your business to millions of people, it’s safe to say they should be clear about the nature of your business and goals. They should know your business model, your product, the method of production and the solution it provides. The agency must be willing to learn about your business rather than simply bragging about their services.

3. How well do they handle content creation?

Content is the most important piece of your strategy and should be thoroughly examined before choosing a firm. Social media platforms expect you to express messages in a limited number of words so they must be able to get creative while getting the point across. The reality is, people prefer to read brief messages, those they can take in at a glance. Successful marketing programs are built around excellent content. Hence, why one should ask how the agency handles content creation.

The agency should have a proven track record in building appropriate content for diverse platforms. If you come across one who refuses, it would be better to strike them off your list because without good content your business is missing out on a lot. A true professional creates and uses informative, creative and engaging content to spread word about your business in the online marketplace. The only way you can come to know how they work is by asking to see samples of their work.

4. Is the agency up to date on current trends?

This is a very important concern because the social media landscape is continuously changing. What was relatively unknown yesterday has become the new trend today. Therefore, it’s necessary that the agency and its employees keep abreast of the latest trends in social media marketing so that they can help your business capitalize and take advantage of new opportunities.

5. Does the agency have a background in marketing?

The primary objective of hiring a social media agency is marketing, promotion, and sales. The agency should obviously possess knowledge about social media marketing, but ideally they need to understand marketing more holistically. In today’s marketplace, social media is only one piece to the puzzle and if your agency doesn’t understand other marketing channels and how social media integrates with them, well, you’re up the creek without a paddle. Don’t be afraid to ask what made them choose social media marketing as their career. Get to know them.

6. How does the agency measure success – quality or quantity?

Figures are attractive because they objectify results, but numbers in social media marketing can be deceptive. 20,000 followers is a great audience for your business, yet it won’t make a difference if there is no conversion. You should work with a consultant or agency who promises to give deliver relevant, targeted and real followers or fans but beware of those that promise huge numbers in a short amount of time unless they are using ads and campaigns effectively. Why do I mention real? Because, sadly many agencies will purchase fake followers, etc to enhance their presence and in reality it does nothing for you. It does not matter if it is a small group initially, what matters is that they are interested in your business. Do not get swayed by big figures alone. Also, watch out for agencies that use black-hat techniques to get hordes of traffic to your site. This is empty traffic that won’t convert. We call it vanity metrics. They look good but have no real value.

7. Who is going to be our voice?

To put this in simple terms, it implies the person who is going to be in-charge of marketing your business on social media platforms. Is it the owner of a company, an employee or an apprentice? Social media marketing is about being tech savvy, but it also requires some experience. A graduate fresh out of college will not offer the same support as seasoned internet marketers. The person-in-charge should also be a full-time team member of the agency so you can request to speak to the person handling your account as needed.

8. Is it possible to track performance using a program?

The agency should provide you with reports at regular intervals so you can track performance. This is the only way you can track progress and hold them accountable. Most agencies offer monthly reports; be specific about how you define success so the reports can be customized to fit your needs and goals. Ask for a sample report as well as questions such as, how do you measure the effectiveness of each channel and what methods will you use to measure success?

9. How do they manage a crisis?

A bad comment can be damaging to your businesses image because social media sites are viral mediums. A message spreads within minutes. You should inquire about how the agency plans to handle such situations and expect them to have best practices established for such occurrences.

Social media has an immense potential and can take your business to new heights. When choosing an agency, do your homework and choose wisely to help your small business rise to the top! When you ask the right questions, you make the right decisions. Having the answers allows you to weed out the “fluff” and make sure that the agency understands your business and how their strategy aligns to your business goals.

What questions would you add for a business to ask when looking to hire a Social Media Agency?

 

 

 

 

Savvy Social Tip: Embrace, Forgive and Improve by @ElizabethTraub

Savvy Social TipLong before there was Social Media, my job required me to be very social. Etiquette at cocktail parties, etiquette around the boardroom, etiquette walking the halls of companies I worked with, even etiquette when grabbing a cup of coffee on the run. It’s important to be keeping myself in check as a professional at all times, always representing myself well and those companies I work with in the same manner. I require that of myself and have since learned that what I have done in real time is parallel to who I am online.

It’s important to understand how to navigate Social Media, especially if you are brand new and your offline job never required you to face the public daily.  As I began navigating myself in Social Media, I learned quickly that it came naturally for me. Others began asking me questions, simple questions, and I soon learned what seemed simple to me was quite complex for one just stepping into Social Media. Thus, I developed Savvy Social Tips in an effort to offer a bit of direction for those looking in.

Here is this week’s tip to help direct you in your social experience.

“Embracing yourself, forgiving yourself, improving yourself all works together.” #SavvySocialTip

Being social requires a bit of confidence. If you do not come from this place of confidence naturally, it’s important to grow into this space. I speak publically at conferences, I lead teams and direct. I have this innate confidence that had me singing in a school talent show at the age of 10. Not everyone is wired this way, yet being present in Social Media requires that. Thus I say, that as you embrace who you are in this space, know you are not going to get it right every time and must forgive yourself. In less than 140 characters, I submit that you forgive yourself and keep moving forward, because if you embrace, forgive and move forward, you will improve.

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elizabethElizabeth Traub has spent the past 20 years working as a consultant with business start ups, existing businesses as well as mentoring & coaching both men & women to live in the design of their dreams and passions. She is strategic with ideas that are off the charts. Elizabeth has worked with those who have their dreams and passions scribbled on a napkin through the steps of getting started. This happens with strategics, goal planning, marketing, and training, product design and development, and working to develop Social Media presence and strategies. Elizabeth loves working in platforms in the entertainment industry as well as investor, relations, business development, branding, strategic, retail, website design and development. She continues to work with industry leaders in building of products and services.

Stay In Touch with Elizabeth:

Follow Elizabeth on Twitter @ElizabethTraub
Three things she does in real time now doing online:
Hung Out To Buy www.hungouttobuy.com
Elizabeth Traub Consulting & Design www.elizabethtraub.com
Girlfriends Hub www.girlfriendshub.com

5 Ways To Grow A Brand’s Presence with Video on Social Media

twitter-video

As a brand, it is important we encompass a positive image and unique presence on Social Media to grow and be of value to others. If your brand is new or having issues with doing so, I am here to share information on how your brand can make that happen.

When promoting a positive image and unique presence, a brand needs to keep in mind it’s about connecting with the audience and customers. By doing so, the brand creates a path for customers to build relationships, spread the word and keeps them coming back for more.  One way this is done is to put a face behind who your customers and audience speak and do service with on Social Media. As a consumer on Social Media , this is something I and many others look for to get a better feel and understanding of who we are conversing with but what some look for doesn’t stop there.

The key to keeping the positive image and presence is to be authentic, original and unique in doing so. This is done by enhancing it through the use of video which takes it above and beyond the profile face pictures you find on other brands websites, blogs and Social Media networks. By using video, a brand is giving their audience and consumers a look from the outside in and further deepening the connection. There are several ways to make this happen.

  • Create a short video with enthusiasm from each team member within the brand. No one likes, “Just another boring video” so it’s important to create it with zazz and make it interesting and fun. In this video, state your name, what your position is, and what makes your position fun and enjoyable.
  • Give your audience and consumers a look into the daily life by showing them around your companies work environment in a different video. Put them in your shoes. After all, they are your brand and fuel your success and growth.
  • Create an additional personal video of the person responsible for managing the Twitter account. Basically, the person tweeting and engaging. If more than one individual tweets from the account, make sure each one has a personal video. Tweet the video link at the start of each day or when the account is changing users. Include in the video the person’s name, a relevant greeting and the question, “Is there anything that I can help you with today?”
  • Thank your consumers and audience weekly in a video. Give a shout out to people on Twitter that follow you, people that have liked your brand page on Facebook. Make it personal, show gratitude and let them know they are never forgotten.
  • Post all videos on the brands YouTube account, landing page on Facebook  and Twitter as I discussed above. As far as the team video, post it on the brand’s website as a welcome.

By using video, the brand is raising their profile, promoting a positive image and enhancing brand value for others. This connects the brand with their customers and audience in a unique way and shows them the brand has took the time to create it for them. Basically saying, we care about and value our audience and consumers. I understand this might be time consuming but by investing in this time it is sure to create a remarkable ROI as many customers are looking for this type of aspect in a brand and sharing what the brand is doing.

So is your brand ready to enhance their image and presence by being unique, authentic and make a lasting impression through the use of video?

 

A Small Budget for Social Media Marketing

social media marketing budgetYou’ve heard it before and you’ll hear it again: your business needs to be actively engaged on social media if you want to thrive in today’s marketplace. That’s great for major corporations with big budgets and plenty of resources, but what do you do if you’re a small business with limited resources and limited time? The good news about social media marketing is that you can achieve a lot without spending too much. But there are also many pitfalls you can fall into that will end up costing you valuable time and money if you’re not careful.

Tools You Can Use For Free

One of the major advantages of social media marketing is that most of the tools are free to use. Anyone can have a Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or Google+ account provided they have an email address. There are also social media management tools like HootSuite that provide a basic package for free or a premium package for a low monthly fee. This means that anyone can get into the social media game for next to nothing.

Don’t Waste Your Time

The main problem with social media, however, is not the cost of the tools, but the time it takes to use them. This is where your business will have to seriously consider if certain social networks are worth being a part of or not. Take Twitter, for example. If you don’t have the time to tweet multiple times a day, then Twitter might not be for you. Social media users expect to see a fresh flow of content that is being continually updated, and failing to provide them with that can have a negative impact on your brand.

Can You Afford to Hire a Contractor?

Many businesses with limited resources will hire independent contractors to handle all of their social media for them. This is a great way to ensure that you have an effective social media presence even if you don’t have the resources to handle it yourself. But when hiring contractors, you can easily end up spending upwards of $10,000 a month to keep up a blog, a Twitter account, a YouTube account, a Facebook account, and more. Is this really something that your business can afford?

Don’t Spread Yourself Too Thin

Instead of trying to keep up a dozen different social media accounts when you don’t really have the time or the budget to do so, it may be best to figure out which areas you want to focus on and do those well. Consider which demographics you want to reach. Find out which social media tools they use most and do an awesome job of representing your brand across those platforms.

Social media marketing can be fun and it can be effective, but if you’re doing it wrong it can also be a colossal waste of time. And as with many other areas of marketing, going after a niche market means that you can often see a higher return coming from a smaller investment.

8 Steps to Building a Perfect Ecommerce Site

Tips-for-E-Commerce-Website-DevelopmentIf you wish to succeed at selling through your ecommerce site, you need to begin on a firm footing. You’ve got a ton of competition out there and price SHOULD NOT be your only differentiator. If it is you’re leaving a lot of money on the table and missing out on massive amounts of customers. Presented here are the eight essential steps you need to take in order to build the perfect ecommerce website, maximize traffic, and drive more conversions.

  1. Plan your approach and base it on detailed information on standard best practices. This will allow you to not only get the execution right fast but will also give you ideas to introduce elements that can make your website get noticed.  Mapping out a plan based on essential requirements (products, images, shopping cart, SEO optimization) and features that you’d like to have (forum, affiliate program, auctions) will also allow you to stay focused on priorities.

  2. Choice of ecommerce platform and site template, or custom design, matters. If you plan to first test the waters, you’ll do just fine with WordPress. You can set up a fully functional ecommerce website using WordPress, there are plugins for data feed downloads, SEO, integrated shopping cart, different payment gateways, and much more. In fact, I only use WordPress because it’s so easy to use and flexible. For elaborate businesses, there are e-commerce platforms that you can compare for features and budget. Platforms include Shopify, Volusion, FoxyCart, Magento, Izzonet, and others.

  3. Incorporate SEO optimization techniques from the very beginning. These include doing the necessary keyword research to determine what your potential customers are searching for and then incorporating what you’ve learned into title tags and page copy as well as using canonical URLs, alt tags for images, considering site loading speed, implementing sitemaps, and 301 redirects where appropriate.

  4. Work on building a social media presence in order to reach out to prospects, build relationship and promote your business. Social media icons should be easily viewable on your ecommerce website. Look up other sites for examples of eye-catching icons and smart use of space. Use social logins to increase engagement rates, improve user experience, and enhance the ability for your customers to become brand advocates.

  5. Your ecommerce website design should allocate visibility to the different elements based on their importance. Product images and descriptions invariably get prime real estate. Drop-down menus, search, shopping cart, newsletter signup box, discount coupons, brand logo, payment system, special deals, etc all need to be prioritized and placement determined. Of these, most elements automatically select themselves for a position above the fold.

  6. A smooth single-page checkout with a hassle-free payment system creates a very favorable impression. Conversely, glitches in checking out such as the page refreshing and not going anywhere, a slow loading page, difference in amount billed as shown on the product page and payment page, etc can lead to abandoned shopping carts. The payment system should be configurable, scalable, work with different internationally accepted payment methods, and inspire trust.

  7. Mobile traffic is set to grow at an exponential rate.  Your ecommerce site should be optimized for mobile phone and load quickly. Logins and purchases should be easy and the layout should adapt to the smaller screens while maintaining a great user experience.

  8. Commerce, whether in the real world or online, has to be data driven. Analytics deliver a wealth of actionable metrics for you to study and take necessary action to refine content and process. With ecommerce, accurate and timely analytics is crucial so you can quickly and easily measure business metrics such as top referring sites, your best converting sources, most viewed products, flaws in your sales funnel, top performing keywords, etc. Understanding this info and having it organized in a way that allows you to make better decisions faster is your key to consistent improvement and a healthy bottom line.

If you’re just getting started be sure to select a cool brandable name that’s memorable and then work to implement the above-mentioned points to ensure that you hit the ground running. Some aspects, such as SEO, analytics, and social media, are an ongoing process. Keep at it, become a student of the game and you’ll definitely see progress and find willing buyers. This is a contact sport so get out there and start hustling!

How To Develop Personality For Your Brand

personality_1When we all meet someone the personality they entail says a lot about what kind of person they are. The same holds true for a brand. It is very important as a brand to have personality. The reason this is true is because when people are looking to connect with a brand they look for an aspect about the brand that makes them feel comfortable and want to build a relationship with. Basically, your brands personality is whats perceived by others meaning your audience and consumers.

When developing the personality of your brand ask yourself a couple questions that will aid you in developing the right one that will encompass a positive impact.

  • Who am I? What kind of results do I want to see?
  • Is my brand one that everyone wants to connect with or am I trying to target a specific audience?
  • Does my personality fit my brand identity and is it strong enough to make a lasting impression?
  • How do I want to be perceived by my customers and audience?
  • Does my personality define me?
  • If my brand were human what would be my characteristics?

Once you develop your brand personality, the marketing strategy aspect of your brand becomes somewhat easier to create. Make sure all departments of your brand are working together as a team and agree as a team to make this happen. I have seen many brands fail when trying to develop a personality because they fail to work as a team which leads to a lot of chaos, disagreement and disaster.

So sit down with all departments of your brand and ask each other, “Are we being perceived in a way that makes us successful?” During the meeting with all departments, be sure to develop a set of social media guidelines or principles to help guide employees when carrying out tasks and communicating “as the brand”. If your brand is not being perceived as being successful take into consideration what I have talked about and start developing the visual personification your brand deserves. After all, personality can say a thousand words about who we are as brand.

How To Make Working From Home Successful

Having the ability to work from home is a dream that is shared by many who have ever gotten stuck in morning traffic or had to commute for over an hour to and from the office. For people who have taken their first freelance job or have been allowed by their company to start telecommuting, the transition can be a difficult one. The hardest aspect to get used to when working from home is being productive while remaining in the home environment. Thankfully, there are steps you can take to help ease into your new work life and make working from home successful.

Working-from-Home

Treat Your Home Job like an Office Job

Working from home is great, but it does take a while to get used to. Usually when you’re at home you’re automatically in a relaxed state, having just gotten back in from a long day of work. This will work against you for the first few weeks of working from home, but you can counteract this effect by setting yourself a strict work schedule to adhere to. Another trick is to wake up at the same time you would normally wake up to commute to work; if your mind is used to having an hour or two between waking up and starting to work then you may need to give it the same amount of time before you can really be productive at your home office.

Remember to Take Regular Breaks

One of the greatest perks of working from home is that you can take as many breaks as you would like and at any time of the day. This can become a bad habit if you’re not careful, but it can also be very refreshing and can keep you focused throughout the workday. Taking a quick walk for some fresh air can clear your mind and help relieve any strain your eyes might be feeling from staring at your computer screen all day.

Let Your Family and Friends Know That You Are Still ‘At Work’

Unfortunately, working from home still comes with the same stigma it always has. Most people feel that if you can make your own schedule then you are your own boss. In most cases, this is not true and even if you are your own boss you still have work that needs to get done. The best thing to do is sit down with your family and friends and explain to them that working from home does not mean that you are free to run errands, take time off of work to pick up the kids or do any number of chores that you might do when you are not working. Although working from home gives you more freedom regarding how you can spend your work time, this doesn’t mean that you’re not at a real job and getting your family and friends to understand that is important.

Going from working a regular job to working from your own home is not an easy switch to make, especially with the amount of distractions around the house. With a strict work schedule and the understanding of friends and family members, you shouldn’t have any problems becoming extremely productive in your new work environment and making it a success.

How Do You View, Define and Use Social Media?

Hand holding a Social Media 3d Sphere

As we all know every individual views, defines and uses social media in many different ways. I have created a unique and fun way to see how you view, define and use each network. Below, you will find twelve sentences in which you fill in the blank with your answer. I look forward to your responses. Have fun!

1. The most important thing to remember about Twitter is ______.

2. Facebook is good for ______.

3. I see Instagram as _______.

4. The most common mistake on Linkedin is _______.

5. In the next 5 years, I predict Social Media will ______.

6. The most positive result I have seen from Social Media is ______.

7. I use Social Media to _______.

8. The network I use most is _______ because _______.

9. I consider Google Plus to be _______.

10. Pinterest is a great way to _______.

11. My tip to someone using Social Media for the first time is _______.

12. When it comes to Politics and Religion on Social Media, I ______. 

How an individual or business views, defines and uses social media is determined by their reason for adapting to the many networks and how well they invest their time and utilize each. Feel free to pick one or more sentences and in a comment convey your response. As we begin to read the answers of others, we will give more meaning to the different kinds of business we each work in, thus how answers differ.


Tuesday Tip: Social Media With Frosty

Does Social Media give you the Chills? Using Social Media for the first time can leave you standing still and feeling all alone in the cold.

As an individual or business, grasping the concept of Social Media does not have to be frightful. It can benefit your business in many ways. It is a resource to learn, find a career, share valuable information, grow a community and a brand. With so many platforms available, it can be overwhelming to learn each one at the same time.

Frosty is here to say, this is okay. Start with one network that is the most inviting to you. The people on the network can even answer your questions or you can do your own research online. The resources are right at your finger tips. All you have to do is warm up to the idea of positive results, get involved and your results will follow you according to the efforts you put into them. Welcome Social Media with open arms, dedication and consistency.

10 Tips For Networking Success

Networking events have been a big part of the business and social scene for as long as anyone can remember. When attending an event, it is imperative to encompass the goal of helping others first which is old cliché that is often left at the door. When headed to your next event, keep in mind you want to have earned the right, honor, privilege, and respect to be able to meet with them again.

The key component to keep in mind when attending a social or business event is to not sell yourself. Instead, make it the opportunity to build a relationship.

1. Leave your troubles or problems at the door. Enter with a smile, be energetic, positive and outgoing.

2. When entering the networking event, you should thank the host then move on to finding someone new to introduce yourself to. This will help keep you in the right frame of mind as to why you’re attending.

3. When you meet someone for the first time, use it as an opportunity to get to know them. Don’t try to sell them anything. Rather, begin to establish a relationship by giving them your entire focus and listening.

4. Think ahead and always have a plan when attending. It keeps you on task, makes it easier to stay focused and achieve your expected outcome.

5. When giving a person your card, personalize it by hand writing your cell or personal email number on it. This will cause the recipient to feel that they are receiving something special.

6. When a person is talking to you, be sure to look directly at them. Giving a person your full attention with your eyes will encourage them to share more.

7. Start a conversation with someone who is standing by themselves. They’ll be happy to have someone to talk to them and, as a result, will many times open up with valuable information. Avoid approaching two people who are talking.

8. During the course of a conversation, use the other person’s first name two or three times. People always like to hear their own name and it will help you to remember it when the discussion is over.

9. As a way of demonstrating your networking skills, introduce each new person you meet to at least one other person. Be the one that gives, connects and is resourceful.

10. Follow up with a handwritten “Thank You” card to those you had direct contact with and include something from the discussion. This shows how well you were listening and that you are interested in building a lasting relationship.

A networking event is not a time to see how many business cards you can acquire or how popular you can become. Rather, it is a time to develop a few relationships that have potential in growing your business.