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9 Creative Ways to Thank Your Customers This Season

Do you feel like you need to slow down and thank your customers? Running a small business involves a hectic, crazy schedule. Each day’s agenda is packed full of multiple responsibilities; staffing and managing employees, customer service, business planning, marketing, cash management, and basic bookkeeping, to name just a few. As we move into this especially thankful time of year, here are a few ideas of ways to reach your customers with a sincere “thanks.”   Don’t Give Gifts This sounds backwards, yes?  I spend most every waking hour at home trying to move things out of my house.  I don’t need things, and I’m guessing I’m a target profile shopper for many small businesses (working mom, middle-aged, non-hoarder, suburban….).  What do I need?  Time.  I need time. What can you give your customers to give them more time?  Wrap it in a “thanks” and you’d have my business forever. Host a Free Learning Event At the local community theatre at which I volunteer, a patron recently tweeted: I contacted her to learn more about her “session.” It is a complimentary event she holds to teach communities about safe social media for their kids. The theatre is going to bring her in to hold this event for the families of students at the theatre. It’s a win-win for all involved. Our invitation will cite, “As a thanks for being part of our community, we have organized this complimentary session…” What a great way to give them something that helps the kids we serve. Don’t Spam Them Quit trying to sell something to customers every single time you interact with them. Spamming customers doesn’t only mean “sending irrelevant stuff” to their email.  It also means “to drown them in content about yourself, versus about them.”  Respect their social media stream and email inbox by only sharing interesting, useful and helpful content. Post only about something you’re selling after you’ve posted three other pieces of content that are helpful or interesting Say It To Their Face Sound too simple?  Maybe it is, yet a simple eyeball-to-eyeball sincere thanks is probably the most effective item on this list. Spotlight Them on Social Media Saying “thanks” doesn’t have to be explicit. A thanks can also appear in the form of highlighting successes of those who are customers and supporters of your business. Curves, International often spotlights members who are working on a special challenge or who have made great achievements in her fitness goals on their page. This also brings their members together and creates community support for that person or effort. At Stageworks Theater in Houston, the actors are not paid, as it is community theatre. The actors are also ticket holders for other shows, and customers of the associated acting academy. Once a show is in rehearsal and ticket sales are in full swing, the theatre posts the head shot of each actor in that show with a brief bio. The actors love it. When tagged, their entire Facebook friends list can see the post [...]

By | 2018-05-07T12:55:12+00:00 November 14th, 2016|Uncategorized|

4 Tips to Get Even Better Facebook Advertising Results    

Are you spending money on social, but would like to get even better Facebook advertising results? If you have launched into the world of social advertising, you have witnessed why it’s so exciting. For literally a fraction of what we spent in the past on print advertising, you can achieve much more affordable, measurable and speedy results with Facebook advertising. Why is Facebook Advertising So Effective for Small Businesses? Facebook has a ton of information that allows it to “know the people” better than you can. You know your business, but Facebook knows the preferences, interests and demographic details of the buyers. Also, Facebook is non-interruptive. A well-created ad feels like part of the stream and is interesting to the reader. Finally, Facebook is very visual, which allows it to compete as a compelling platform more effectively. When people hear information, they're likely to remember only 10% of that information three days later. However, if a relevant image is paired with that same information, people retained 65% of the information three days later. (Source) To ramp up the effectiveness of your Facebook advertising, here are some tips to optimize your results. Know Your Goal To be effective, you should start with the end goal in mind.  Know what is it that you’d like to accomplish with your ad before you do anything.  This will affect how you write the copy, select an image to use, and of course, chose the target demographics that will receive the ad in their streams. Goals could include any of the following: Increase your number of followers. Drive foot traffic to your location. Promote sales. Sell tickets to an event. Get people to your website. Gain market name recognition. Visualize Your Target Knowing to whom you are advertising for this purpose is key. This “to whom” is called a persona. A clean detailed persona is one of the most important things you can do for effective advertising. For example, writing a letter to your mom is very different than writing one to your nephew. This explains why there are so many different “categories” of birthday cards at the drug store. You simply will lose effectiveness if you try to write ads that are for “everybody.” Before you get going, answer some basic questions  about your target profile, such as: Gender: Male or female? Age:  Milennial? Baby boomer? Neighborhood:  Suburbs? High-rise? City? Suburban? Interests: Music? Fashion? Kids? Health? Parents: Does this person have kids? If so, how many? What ages? Misc: What type of car does he/she drive? What are his/her politics?  Educational background? Income? Typical day? The more detailed you are, the more effective you can be with your advertising. Have Something to Offer Once you’ve determined your goals and know to whom you are selling, you need to determine how you’ll motivate these targets to take your desired action.  So think about that audience and what they’ll find interesting or helpful. You may offer them: Interesting “behind the scenes” information to build page likes A coupon to [...]

By | 2018-05-07T12:55:12+00:00 November 7th, 2016|Uncategorized|

The Real Deal about Paying to Promote Content on Facebook

You’ve heard of Facebook Ads and understand the concept, in general.  What are the different approaches and reasons that you should consider paying to promote content? As we publish this article, the current Facebook algorithm  that drives what people see in their personal stream only allows 3-5% of your fans to actually see your post in their stream. For most businesses, this won’t get you the results you’d like. Paid Facebook advertising is affordable and can be tightly targeted. So if you really understand who your ideal customer is, you can achieve some fairly exciting results, for as low as $15 - $25 per ad. It pays off for a small business to learn how to utilize Facebook Ads. There are three different approaches to consider when paying to promote, using Facebook. Before we outline those, let’s review some helpful terms. Social Media Vernacular Review Here is a little of the social media “lingo” for your understanding, before we dive into specifics about paying to promote, to avoid getting lost in the language. Post (noun): A post is a comment, picture, or some type of media placed on your business Facebook wall for fans to read. Post (verb): “To post” is the action of placing these items on your wall. Share (verb): Posting information on your page for your followers. This does not cost you anything. Typically, 3-5% of your followers will see the share. Promote (verb): Paying for a post to reach exponentially more people, including fans, but not limited to those. Most reached will not be followers. Ad: An ad is any type of paid promotion. Paying to Promote #1: Promote Your Page Promote is code word for “pay for broader exposure.” The goal of paying to promote your page is simply to get more likes, thus broadening your audience, and raising the potential to engage with these people. One Facebook ad type is called a “Page Like Ad” whose call to action is simply “Like Page.”  This is a great way to reach people who don’t know you yet, as you can exclude current followers from seeing the ad. Here is what a sample Page Like Ad looks like.   Paying to Promote #2: Promote Hot Content We live in a “help” economy.  To build a highly-engaged fan base, you should think, “What type of information would be helpful to my audience?” And it should, in no way, be information that somehow is an attempt to sell.  It’s an attempt to help. That’s it. You should get useful content only for the purpose of being helpful, interesting and informative to your readers. There are two ways you can share industry content. Share the content. The app makes this easy and it keeps your stream full of useful information. Promote the content.  The next level includes paying to promote that content, as only 3-5% of your fans will see the share. This conquers that issue for as low as $15 to reach over 1,000 people. This helpful content [...]

By | 2018-05-07T12:55:12+00:00 October 30th, 2016|Uncategorized|

8 Small Business Social Media Mistakes

If you're like most entrepreneurs, you worry sometimes about making small business Social Media mistakes. Don't worry. We have a few ideas to help. Are you making small business Social Media mistakes? Getting started on Social Media for your business can be scary. But NOT being there is even scarier. There are resources that you can use and a few ground rules you should consider to ensure that you have a professional, well-managed community. Here are the 8 most common small business social media mistakes and how to avoid them. Not Being on Social Media At All It can be overwhelming. But if you're smart enough and motivated enough to have started your own business, you have what it takes to do this well. Today's consumer expects you to be on the digital highway, and if you're not, it will hurt you, especially if you are selling to consumers directly. If you haven't started, open Facebook and get going now.  (Nervous? We'd be happy to help you at no charge. It's that important.) Underestimating Time, Effort and Resources Building an effective social media presence takes time, effort, and some money. To be effective you must engage with people continually, and communicate highly informative, entertaining and thought-provoking messages to connect.  Each social platform has its own “personality”, voice and constraints.  Start with one platform and build from there. Not Responding to Comments Everyone who takes the time to Comment, Like, or Share deserves a fast and genuine response.  Once the perception takes hold that your company is not interested in engaging with the audience, that’s the beginning of the end. You will be labeled as a company that is interested only in self-promotion, a cardinal sin of social media marketing. Oh, and if you delete negative comments rather than address them?  The negative floodgates will open.  Simply ask the person to inbox or direct message you with details so you can address it with them directly and take the conversation off line. Selling Too Much People aren’t necessarily on social media to be sold.  They come for information, entertainment, and referrals.  In fact, many use social media to escape commercialism. If you make your content all about you it is going to backfire.  Think 80/20 – 80% engaging content geared toward their needs and interests, and 20% about your business, event, special offer, etc. The best way for your community to generate sales is to build relationships, trust, and authenticity… then introduce the idea of doing business together. Not Selling Enough The converse of No. 3 is also a mistake—not attempting to sell through your social media campaign. This amounts to not having a strategy. If you view social media as a way to build credibility and brand awareness, that’s great, but at some point it’s time to turn that credibility and brand awareness into sales. It’s a delicate balance.  Your community will let you know if you’re doing a good job through their reviews, comments, Likes, Shares (and UNliking your page).  If your community starts [...]

By | 2018-05-07T12:55:12+00:00 October 21st, 2016|Uncategorized|

How to Set Up Your Facebook for Marketing to Moms

Congratulations. You’re setting up social media accounts for your business.  If you want to use Facebook for marketing to moms, here are some special considerations for you to attract this generation’s parents to your business. Before we dive into Facebook, specific, configuration, here are a few notes that apply to most social media channels. For all Channels when Marketing to Moms First, a few considerations regarding all social media platforms: Name yourself – Your social channel “name” should meet certain criteria and should ideally be the same across all channels. If you are an outlet of a larger organization, check with your corporate office, as there may be guidelines for this, but make sure that it’s something pronounceable and that it’s as short as possible. No special rules here for marketing to parents, necessarily. Describe your business –  The description of your business should be identical across all platforms, if possible. LinkedIn and Google+ make this easy, yet Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest all have a 160-character limit, which will constrain the description.  Be sure to include the benefits to the children receiving your product or service. Today’s parents look for what the kids will learn at your business. Enter contact information – Don’t make people have to dig for a phone number, email address, street address, or website. Especially in the business of serving children, make yourself very “available.” Also, today’s mom is an “e-mom.”  You’ll definitely be more attractive of an option if you’re available via email and Facebook messenger. Use a professional image – Profile pictures should project a professional image. Logos work great, and also remember that a parent may be showing your page to a kid, so use an image that is attractive to them. Profile pictures should be consistent across your social platforms, although size requirements may differ. Banner – If you’re focusing on kids, create a banner that reflects this. It could be a photo of a class of students, an intimate moment of an instructor working with a child, or kids playing and learning. Get an image that shows that your organization is warm and that kids are learning and happy. Don’t use your personal page to run your business, although you should definitely champion your business there. First of all, it’s just confusing. Also, it’s against Facebook’s Terms of Service to use a personal page with commercial intent. And while only Facebooks calls this out as a requirement, this is a best practice across all platforms. Use your personal page to be “you” and your business page to speak on behalf of the business. Configure Facebook for Marketing to Moms This platform has the greatest number of members with 1.7 billion and growing.  Pay attention strongly to Facebook if you’re marketing to moms. About After you’ve created some of the basic account, on the left hand side of your page, you’ll see an “About” section.  Parents are looking for organizations they trust. A completed “About” section helps build that trust. Edit Page Info – [...]

By | 2018-05-07T12:56:14+00:00 October 19th, 2016|Uncategorized|

How to Configure HOT!Content

Configure HOT!Content If you have already requested your daily dose of free content to share on social media for your business, here are the instructions to help you configure your account effectively. Not yet registered to get your HOT!Content?  Here’s the link. Once registered for HOT!Content, login here to get to your portal. On the login screen, enter the user name and password sent to you when you registered. At the top of the page, select COMMUNITY. On this screen, you’ll see options to add various social accounts. Simply press the + next to each platform to add it. This will allow you to share HOT!Content with this selected platform via one click, from your phone or via your desktop. Any pages for which you are authorized will show as a choice for you to select, and you may select any one of these. (If you don't see one of your pages for which you think you are authorized, check under Settings/General/Page Roles on that fan page to confirm.) For other platforms, you will simply need the user name and password. Included sites are: Facebook Business Pages Twitter LinkedIn Google+ Business Pages YouTube FourSquare Pinterest Yelp That’s it.  You’re done configuring. How To Start Using HOT!Content Each day, you'll receive a daily HOT!Content email with the subject line "Today's HOT!Content."  It takes less than 60 seconds to complete the following steps to add value to your community. -Review the HOT!Content titles in the email. -Read any that may be of interest to your readers. -If you determine that one of the articles does, in fact, qualify to share, you can post it find the POST NOW button at the top right. Selecting that button brings up the following screen.  If you scroll through the page, you’ll see you have the option to personalize this post for each of your platforms, by writing an appropriate introduction. -Select NEXT at the bottom. -Either post now or schedule your post for a future time. Also note that if you select to post to Pinterest, you’ll need to select a board. So get sharing. Ready to take things to the next level?  Here are the five types of content you should be sharing to grow your community.

By | 2018-05-07T12:56:14+00:00 October 17th, 2016|Uncategorized|

The Five Types of Social Media Content You Should Be Posting

Using social media content to attract customers takes a simple, but purposeful, formula. When you plan out your posting, think about five different types of social media content to post.  These include: Industry Expert Content – to be helpful and show that you know your “stuff” Unique or Local Updates - to build community Personal Updates – to build community Product-Based Promotions – by providing all of the above, you have earned the right to promote your products or services Promote Ads or Content Using Facebook Posts - not really a different type of content, but a different way to distribute the four above. Let’s dive into a little about each of these types of content. All of these will help you build your community by being interesting, educational and informative. Industry Expert Content Post about appealing topics for your audience, but not necessarily promoting your products/services. Free HOT!Content is the easiest way to populate this category. Provide your readers with information about your industry that shows you know what’s happening and that you can guide them.  For marketing to moms, or parents, this may look like: Parenting 411: Homework Tricks 25 DIY Furniture Hacks You Should Start Right Now This Year's Hottest Hair Trends Looking for a resource to get industry content customized to you for free, each day?  Get free Hot!Content for your industry here. Unique or Local Updates Share posts that brag or highlight things happening in your exact locale, or very narrow market segment. These would look like: New Tollway Set to Open Next Friday 4 Must Attend Events this Weekend Cy-Hope Resale Shop Opens off Barker Cypress Rd. Personal Updates Local and personal updates help build community and include items that aren’t selling something, but are making your audience increase familiarity with the organization, the neighborhood, its people and goals. It could involve: introducing a new face, thanking volunteers who worked on a project, giving a “here’s what’s happening now” post, a “congratulations” to a staff member or customer, or even a “pardon our mess while we renovate the north bathroom” post with a photo of what is happening. It should feel personal, and little “behind the scenes.” Product-Based Promotions At the end of the day, we’re trying to sell something, right? All of the work above is what gives you “permission” to sell to your community. Schedule daily posts that promote some type of “call to action.” Tell your community what you want them to do.   This may be things such as: Get registered for… Get your tickets to…. Customer appreciate day is …. Storytime is…. Guidelines: Stay consistent – and it’s ok to schedule ahead. Keep the tone upbeat and fun. Use images. To be most effective, try to mix all four of the types of content, industry expert content, local updates, personal updates, and product-based promotions. To put your fabulous mix of content to work, the final super-power that you should utilize is social media advertising. Promote Ads or Content Using Facebook Ads With Facebook’s new algorithm, only 3-6% of [...]

By | 2018-05-07T12:56:14+00:00 October 13th, 2016|Uncategorized|

11 Killer Ways to Get More Social Followers

You want to get more social followers for your business, build stark raving fans, drive more leads and increase revenues. Who doesn't? Here are eleven secrets to get more social followers. Post the articles: Sounds basic...and it is. Each day, I receive content that I think my community will like. I sift through those and select a daily piece of interesting info to share. (Here is a free content source for you!) Share a work/life balance tip: Your social media followers want to know you’re a real person with similar struggles that they have. Note this when you share that type of content. (Example: Maybe you're posting a list of some type...say, "Especially #2!" Then you raise curiosity to see what #2 is.) Ask a question with the post: People are more apt to answer a question, than to randomly comment on a post. If somebody posts a photo and asks you a question, such as, "Which is your favorite?" regarding a list you post, people are more likely to click through, read and have a comment. Be a genius.  Attract customers and prospects by showing how smart you are, sharing info that is about the industry, relevant and, well...HOT.  Posting educational articles for your industry and target audience makes you a more relevant partner for customers and helps keep you in tune with your target persona. Tie the post to real people or events at your facility: Bring the post home with a comment about a person on your staff or an event happening. Commenting, "Ms. Shayna wouldn't approve of this article, would she?" would certainly raise comments, especially if Shayna is popular! Staff comments: Encourage your employees to comment on the posts on your page. Often, people are reluctant to comment, as they don’t know the human behind the post; but, if their specific contact at your company comments, this often will get them to join the conversation. Caption this: Did you find an image associated with one of your pieces of content particularly compelling? Ask your fans to caption it! Faux number the post as a "tip:" Periodically post article using a random numbered tip to increase engagement. This is true whether or not the tip is part of an actual numbered series, so feel free to have fun with the numbers. Call out your favorite part of the article: If you post a list of any type,  say, “Especially #5 for moms, right?!” This makes people curious about the content, encouraging them to click through and comment. Host a Q&A: If a controversial or especially deep topic comes about on your content stream, consider hosting a live question and answer post with your fans and your staff about the topic. Weekly reboot: Each week, repost the post that brought you the most engagement. There are various ways to get content, but in my volunteer work, I use HOT!Content to build our theatre’s social community. As a HOT!Content customer, I receive five industry-specific articles each day via and have seen our followers grow. If you have other ways that [...]

By | 2018-05-07T12:56:14+00:00 October 7th, 2016|Uncategorized|

What is Hot Content?

HOT!Content makes your social streams work. Are you wondering whether social media marketing is right for your business, but you don’t have the time and expertise to get started? Engage121 developed a daily dose of hot content, named HOT!Content, just for you. Social media success starts with finding and posting articles that are interesting, entertaining, and informative. Sounds hard, right? And do you really have the time? HOT!Content provides you everything you need to get started in social media: 1. A daily email containing 5 articles ready for you to post; 2. A one-click system that posts articles to your Facebook page and Twitter account; and 3. Most importantly, an easy way to promote your posts to build your community. Best of all - it’s FREE! Simply request your own personalized HOT!Content here.

By | 2018-05-07T12:56:14+00:00 October 5th, 2016|Uncategorized|

Good Community Managers Know How to Boost Organic Social Traffic

It wasn’t so very long ago that a business needed only 3 things to ensure a robust social media presence: a posting platform, an intern to research your content, and an internet connection. Those days are long gone and these days, after Facebook algorithm changes, only 3-5% of your community will actually see what you post.  That's why knowing how to boost organic social traffic is so important for you and your business. While it’s clear that the only way to be seen completely is to pay for the privilege, there are adjustments you can make to your content strategy to gain a marginal improvement in your organic reach.  It starts by finding an expert Social Media Community Manager. The following changes, implemented by a savvy Community Manager, along with a modest social media advertising budget, will make sure your message appears to all of your community, and your best local prospects. First, we recommend you find a social media expert to review what topics are trending, in real time, across all of your social platforms.  By taking this approach they will help ensure you’re plugged in to what’s being talked about, and improve your chances of your posts getting a higher score for relevancy.  They will also help keep you from falling into the most common “default” kind of posts – those that are all about you. Why is this important?  Facebook’s algorithm penalizes over-promotion by reducing how often a business’s posts appear in their community members’ news feeds. Another factor is the newsfeed and notification settings that Facebook users can apply. Your community members can choose to “Get notified” when you post and “See first” in their newsfeed and, when they do so, your reach is improved. Also consider your post types.  Facebook’s News Feed algorithm analyzes the type of posts that individual users tend to like. Users that often interact with photo posts are more likely to see more photo posts in the News Feed, and users that tend to click more on links will see more posts with links.  A good Social Media Community Manager will review where you’re getting the most engagement and adjust accordingly while maintaining a good mix to engage the whole community. Finally, a great Social Media Community Manager knows how to create conversations with your community.  It starts with great content they know will resonate with your target audience and that they will want to engage with.  That engagement is facilitated by asking questions like “what’s your favorite” or “Pro or Con?”  Trivia questions, relevant to your business, can also be highly engaging. (Facebook also publishes a lot of good information on the basics of community management -- click here to see an overview.) In conclusion:  While you will still need to spend money on paid promotions to maximize your reach, a great Community Manager will know how to put these organic tactics and strategies in place, to maximize the results of your advertising dollars and boost organic social traffic. Do [...]

By | 2018-05-07T12:56:14+00:00 April 18th, 2016|Uncategorized|