8 Tips for a Successful Social Media Plan

social media tips

If you read our Social Media Series, you’ll probably remember a few of the big points made about specific social media channels.  But when it comes to developing your overall social media plan, here are our biggest tips to make sure your strategy is successful:

1. Be Strategic

Small businesses often make the mistake of trying to be everywhere on social media.  If you don’t have a lot of extra time or help, start with three channels and choose them based on your target audience.  If your business is in fashion and apparel, you’ll likely do well on Pinterest; if you’re an accounting firm, you’ll do better on LinkedIn.

2. Create and Share ENGAGING Content

If you have engaging content, you have great content.  Ask questions, make it fun and prompt your audience to interact with your brand.  If your audience shares a similar value to your product, write posts around that value.  For example, USAA provides insurance for service members and veterans, so its audience interacts very well with posts about serving our country and supporting our veterans.

3. Tie Your Plan into Your Business Goals

What do you want to accomplish with your social media plan?  Are you trying to drive more traffic to your website, build your email list or develop brand awareness?  Once you’ve decided on your business goals, you can figure out how to build your social media plan around them.  Make sure to develop specific, measurable goals for success.

4. Measure Results

The only way to know if your social media plan is working is to measure success.  All social media channels—Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest—provide analytics.  Use these metrics to analyze results, then compare them month to month, quarter to quarter and year to year.  You can then tweak your plan based on what works and what doesn’t.

5. Be Responsive

If someone posts to your Facebook page with a question OR complaint, respond to them!  When someone tags you on Twitter, favorite their post.  Let people know you’re paying attention and do it in a timely manner.

6. Schedule and Post Consistently

Not only does scheduling and consistency help with time management, but it also helps to maintain a professional appearance to your audience.  Also, Facebook takes into account how consistently active you are in its algorithm, making this point especially important.

7. Know Your Audience

When you know your audience and why they should be interested in your business, you can tailor your content to cater to them.

8. Don’t Be a Salesperson

Be sure you’re not only focusing on you and your business.  Create content that makes your audience feel welcome and ask yourself “what’s in it for them?”

Do you have a great social media tip to add to the list?  Tell us about it in the comments!

Telling the Story of Your Business

Storytelling

Your story is the essence of your business and it’s important that you tell it.

Stories make your business stand out; they define you and they connect you with individuals.  They explain why you do what you do.

What Should Every Story Have?

Because stories define your business, you want to craft them as best you can.  Every story you tell should do the following:

  1. Be timely. A story that has a current idea will resonate more than one that doesn’t.
  2. Consider the local impact, or the impact on your audience. Your reader won’t care if it doesn’t affect them.
  3. Share something unusual or unique that will pique interest.
  4. Include a cause and effect element that will clearly show what makes your story important.
  5. Evoke emotion. It’s easy for your audience to connect to something that makes them feel emotion.
  6. Feature an individual such as an employee, client, animal, etc. and allow your audience to connect with your business on a personal level.

How to Share Your Story

Since stories are the great connectors of people, you should share them as often as possible and wherever possible.

You should always share your business’s story on your blog or website.  We also highly recommend sharing stories on social media.  Social media loves stories, especially individual ones.  Individual stories add value to your business.  You could include stories from your employees or clients that will demonstrate what your business is all about.  Just remember to get permission before doing this.

You could also share stories in your e-newsletter, if it’s formatted for such things.  If you have a section that features employee highlights or anything similar, this would be the perfect opportunity to share your employees’ stories, for example.  If this isn’t the typical format of your newsletter, though, don’t throw them in there.

TELL US YOUR STORY!

Share your story in the comments below and don’t forget to share it on your website and social media!

Blogging: The Center of Your Content Marketing Universe

Business blogging

Are you wondering if blogging is the right move for your business?  No matter who you are or what your business, if you’re considering the question, the answer is yes!

Here at Shari’s Ink, we believe it’s important to have a blog … period.  A blog builds your search engine optimization (SEO) and online presence, driving traffic to your website.  It should be the cornerstone of your content marketing plan.

If you’re just beginning a business, the idea of starting a blog may seem daunting with everything you’re trying to manage.  If this is the case, wait until you have a steady income and a firm grasp on your schedule before taking on a blog.

How to Manage a Blog

A blog is no different than any other aspect of business.  You need to plan to write and manage it.  Planning will keep you and your blog organized.

  • Post to the blog one to three times per week.
  • Create your editorial calendar with blog topics one month in advance.
  • Write your posts a week in advance.
  • Schedule your posts a couple of days in advance.

Only take on what you are able to manage.  If you don’t have the time to run a blog, seriously consider hiring somebody to do it for you.  Don’t have the funds?  Then consider taking on an intern.  An intern would be more than happy to help if you’re providing a valuable learning experience.

How to Grow Your Following

If you want people to read your blog, you have to grow your following.  When no one knows you, no one knows you have content out there.  You need two very important things to grow your blog following:

  1. Good, quality content. Your content needs to be well-written and consistent. Consistency is key when it comes to how often you post and the material you share. This is what will keep people coming back and sharing your content.
  2. Strategy. This includes creating an email list and sharing your posts on social media. You should share on social media as often as you post to the blog.

Always consider your resources, because everything depends on it.  If you don’t have the proper resources, such as time or help, your content and strategy will suffer.

How do YOU make the most of your resources?

How to Hire a GOOD Copywriter for Your Content Marketing

What is a copywriter

Are you starting your own business?  Are you a writer?

If you answered yes to the first question, but no to the second, it might be time to consider contracting a copywriter.  A copywriter can make sure you take the right steps as you start branding your new business.

What Is a Copywriter?

A copywriter can write anything you need when it comes to marketing your business.  For example, a copywriter can help you write your blog, social media posts, whitepapers, brochures, display ads, etc. What makes a professional copywriter so necessary is his or her understanding of “branding.” You want your company’s voice and messaging to remain consistent. That’s what helps set you apart from the competition.

When Should You Hire a Copywriter?

You should most certainly contract a copywriter if you’re launching a new business with a website and…

  1. You’re not a writer. Your website is how you make your first impression. Therefore, you want to make sure it’s done right. Just like you wouldn’t do your own payroll, you shouldn’t attempt to write your own website … or …
  2. You don’t have time. With everything you’re managing as a new business owner, you shouldn’t try to do this yourself. A copywriter will help you manage the things you don’t have time for, like your social media content or company blog.

If you’re first launching a business, we wouldn’t recommend hiring someone directly on staff.  Instead, consider contracting out. When you’re more established and making consistent money, hiring a full-time copywriter might be something to consider. You’ll be looking at a minimum of $40,000 for a good entry-level copywriter and up to $80,000 or more for a senior copywriter with at least 10 years of experience.

Who Should You Hire?

A good copywriter understands voice, brand, presence and how to use these aspects to reach your target audience.  Consistency is very important in the beginning stages of your business; it’s how your customers begin to recognize you.  So, what should you consider when looking to hire a copywriter?

  • Experience. This will determine the quality of writing you get and the price you will have to pay.
  • Style. You want a writer who fits your style. For example, someone who writes about fashion might not be a great fit to write about health insurance.
  • Previous work. Every copywriter, unless they’re just coming out of college, should have a portfolio. Use this to evaluate their voice and quality of writing.
  • Strategy. A copywriter should be more than just creative. He or she also needs to be highly aware of how the audience perceives certain messaging and the best ways to promote that messaging.

If you’re considering hiring a copywriter, feel free to contact Shari’s Ink for a free quote!

Social Media Series Part 5: Facebook

Facebook

It’s the last installment of the Social Media Series and we’ve made it to the second social media king, Facebook!

In today’s world, it’s rare to come across someone who isn’t on Facebook.  It’s an easy way to stay in touch with friends, family and even your favorite businesses or brands.  With a Facebook business page, you can share your company blog, news articles about your business or other content that relates to your business.

The Basics

Face1

  1. You can start a business page by selecting “Create Page” from the drop-down menu in the upper right corner of Facebook’s website.
  2. Choose the option that best describes your endeavor and fill out the information as thoroughly as possible.
  3. You now have a Facebook page for your business!

Face2

Some Practical Facebook Tips

  • Don’t be a salesperson. Remember the 80/20 rule—20 percent of what you post can be about your business while the other 80 percent should be about your audience. You can sell, but be social. That’s the whole point of social media.
  • Know your audience, engage and be relevant. Share content that will start a conversation with your followers.
  • Don’t write novels for all of your posts. The only reason you should ever have a long post is if you’re telling a story.

Using Facebook as Your Business Website

Don’t do it.  We see this all the time—you click a link to a business’s website and it takes you to their Facebook page.  There are many things wrong with this, the most important being that you don’t own your Facebook page; Facebook does.

You should never make your primary website on a site you don’t own because you don’t have control over it.  Instead, use your Facebook page as a platform to reach current or prospective clients and drive traffic to your website.

Is Facebook Right for Your Business?

Not unlike Twitter, you can’t go wrong using Facebook as a starting point for your social media plan.  Just remember—you shouldn’t get on Facebook to serve only yourself.  Your followers want to know what’s in it for them. If you want to keep them around, it’s your job to share useful and relatable content.

Also keep in mind that Facebook’s algorithm changes a lot, meaning the amount of people who see your posts is very limited.  If you want your page to get noticed, you might want to consider investing in Facebook ads.  This isn’t a complete necessity, just something to consider.

Social Media Series Part 4: Twitter

Twitter

Today we’re talking Twitter, one of the two social media kings, in the next-to-last installment of the Social Media Series.

Unlike our previous platforms, Twitter is about using your words, or 140 characters, effectively.  Twitter does have a visual aspect—you can share images, but your characters matter more than they do on Instagram, Snapchat or Periscope.

The Basics

Twitter1

  1. To create a new tweet, press the feather pen icon at the top of the screen.
  2. You now have 140 characters to say what you need to say, so make them count!
  3. Use hashtags to get your tweet noticed.
  4. Tweet to someone by using their Twitter handle (@ShariLopatin, for instance).
  5. Share a photo by pressing the camera icon.
  6. Press “Tweet” and you’re good to go.

Twitter2

Some Practical Twitter Tips

  • If you’re sharing links, ask teaser questions to get clicks.
  • Be an information forum. Choose who you follow and retweet their information when necessary. You can retweet by pressing the circular arrow icon below your message.
  • Share images! Being visual will help you stand out.
  • If you’re not a non-profit and you’re not promoting a cause as part of your business, don’t use hashtags that are too political or controversial. Keep it professional.

Is Twitter Right for Your Business?

If you’re really unsure where to start your social media strategy, you can never go wrong with Twitter.  Twitter is a great launching point for anyone looking to get their business on social media.

However, if you want to use Twitter to talk about yourself, it’s probably not going to work for you.  When tweeting for your business, don’t make it just about you. Otherwise, nobody will read your tweets.

Only 20 percent of your tweets should be about you or your business, while the other 80 percent should be about your audience.

Your audience wants to know what’s in it for them, and you have to show them why they should care.  To be successful on Twitter, you need to know your audience, adapt to their needs and be able to do so with limited space.  So, ask yourself and really consider, what can I offer my audience in 140 characters or less?

Social Media Series Part 3: Periscope

Periscope

We’ve made it to Part Three of the Social Media Series, and we’re learning more about Periscope!

Of all the social media channels in this series, Periscope is the newest.  It allows you to share live-stream broadcasts with your friends or the public.  It’s easy to use and can seriously improve your social media strategy if you’re in the right business.

Periscope is also rapidly growing in popularity.  According to the Periscope blog, the app, which was launched in May 2015, had more than 10 million users in August with active participation growing each day.  I’m constantly coming across articles and individual recommendations pushing the importance of getting your business on Periscope.

The Basics

Peri1

  1. Click the camera icon (second from the right) at the bottom of the screen.
  2. Write a thoughtful title.
  3. Choose your options. Change your location settings, make your broadcast public or private and choose who can chat and Tweet your broadcast. To get the most engagement, I recommend using your location, going public, opening your chat and sharing on Twitter.*
  4. Press “Start Broadcast” and share your video in real time. All broadcasts are in real time only and remain viewable for 24 hours.

Peri2

Is Periscope Right for Your Business?

Periscope isn’t for everyone.  The time commitment really depends on what you plan to use it for; demonstration broadcasts are going to take more time than small clips.  Also, unlike Instagram and Snapchat, it’s more than just visual—it’s active.

If you’re wondering if Periscope would be a good place to market your business, you should ask yourself these three questions:

  1. Do you teach others or have something to share with the public? Periscope is a great app for expanding your audience by sharing how-to videos and live webinars.
  2. Are you active or do you sell/make a product that encourages an active lifestyle? For example, if you teach yoga or sell mountain bikes, Periscope gives you the opportunity to show how customers are using your product or classes.
  3. Do you spend a lot of time working in the field or with the public? With Periscope, you can share client experiences or broadcast live from your events.

*Periscope doesn’t use hashtags or sort by category, so the easiest way for new followers to find you is to use all of these recommended settings.

Social Media Series Part 2: Snapchat

Snapchat

Welcome back to the Social Media Series!  Today we’re learning about using Snapchat for your business.

In Part One of the series, we talked about choosing the right social media channels for your business and not getting in over your head.  Before diving into Snapchat, let’s make sure it’s the right choice for your business.

Snapchat is a photo-sharing app that allows you to share photos that will delete permanently after viewing.   When I began using Snapchat, I found the app quite intimidating.  I didn’t understand its purpose and was lost by all of its features.  So, I spent some time getting to know the platform a little better.

The Basics

Snap1

  1. The app opens in camera view. Take a photo by pressing the circle at the bottom of the screen.
  2. The next screen gives you several options. In the bottom left corner, you can choose your Snap’s lifespan (up to 10 seconds), save the photo to your phone and add the Snap to your Story, allowing your friends to view it as many times as they want for 24 hours.
  3. In the top right corner, you can add emojis, text and you can even draw on the photo.
  4. Swipe right to add filters.
  5. Press the arrow at the bottom right to choose who to send your Snap to.

Snap2

Is Snapchat Right for Your Business?

Snapchat is really popular with young people.  If you have a product or service that targets a younger generation, Snapchat could be a great social media channel for your business.

However, keep in mind that Snapchat requires a serious time commitment.  You should generally ask yourself the same questions that we previously posed with Instagram.  Consider the commitment and these questions before taking on Snapchat:

  1. Does your product or service have a visual component? If so, you could share product demonstrations, customer experiences, or your lifestyle.
  2. How often do you take part in community events or work in the field? Share Snaps from these moments to engage your followers.
  3. Can you tie your Snaps into your brand to drive traffic to your website? Share relevant content that your followers can relate to.

Social Media Series Part 1: Instagram

Instagram

Welcome to the Social Media Series!  We’re here to help you decide which social media channels are best for your business.

The biggest mistake small businesses make in social media marketing is thinking they need to be everywhere.  Although social media seems like a harmless investment, it’s a serious time commitment.  If you don’t have the funds to hire a social media manager, we recommend starting with no more than three platforms.

Instagram happens to be my favorite social media platform.  I absolutely love it.  In fact, I don’t know a lot of people who don’t.  It’s a great visual way to share small pieces of your life and brand yourself or your business at the same time.

My favorite thing about Instagram?  It’s extremely user-friendly and easy to use on your smartphone.

The Basics

Insta1

  1. Take a photo.
  2. Choose a filter and edit.
  3. Write a caption and include any hashtags.
  4. Share! It’s that easy.

Insta2

What Users Like on Instagram

I spend a lot of time on Instagram, so I know what I like to see in photos as a user.

  • Bright, well-styled photos.  Dark photos just aren’t pleasing to the eye.
  • People, not just product.  We want to see people using your products.
  • Thoughtful and engaging captions.  Engage your users to get more likes and followers.

A Word on Hashtags

I read someone’s opinion on Instagram hashtags; he thought they looked desperate and clunky.  Personally, I don’t mind seeing a few hashtags as a user—they can be fun.  However, too many in one caption can grow annoying.  Try putting hashtags in the comments if you don’t want them to interfere with your content.  This way, you can hide your hashtags and still reach a wider audience.

Is Instagram Right for Your Business?

Instagram is an entirely visual platform and was not made to be “clickable” content.  This is the key point in determining if Instagram is the right channel for your business.  Ask yourself these three questions when making the decision to use Instagram for your business:

  1. Does my business offer a visual product (i.e. apparel) or service (i.e. photography)?
  2. Does my business generate a lot of public relations? In other words, do you work in the field or engage in the community a lot?
  3. Can you tie your Instagram posts into your brand, thus driving traffic to your website?

Meet Our First Intern, Siena Youngblood!

Siena

Hello! I’m Siena, intern at Shari’s Ink!

In May 2014, I graduated from Indiana State University with a degree in English. Just a couple of months later, I moved to Phoenix to gain new experiences and widen my horizons. Since moving here, I’ve been working as a server and focusing on myself, including my personal interests, to find a future career that I can be passionate about.

When I came across Shari’s job post for an internship with Shari’s Ink: Copywriting & Creative Services, I became excited at the prospect of learning more about a field in which I have always been interested.

I love to write and create content and I’ve become increasingly interested in social media marketing. I’m so grateful and delighted to have been given the opportunity to work with Shari and gain some awesome skills that will help develop my future career.

Fun facts about me!

  • Of all the places I have traveled, my favorite is Florence, Italy.
  • I have a 17-pound cat, and his name is Fella.
  • I drink so much coffee that I’m fairly certain I’m immune to caffeine.

When I’m not at my job or working on internship tasks, I keep myself busy with some personal side projects. I plan to start my own blog soon and I love to travel, so I spend a lot of time planning my next road trip or European adventure!

I hope to eventually create a career path that will let me practice all of my passions and I know I’m one step closer with this amazing opportunity under my belt. I look forward to sharing my creative content with all of you in the following months. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I will! Until next time …