Social Media Tips for the Holiday Season

Last month, we hosted the inaugural Social Media Happy Hour at Oliver's Wine Bar in Red Wing. It was awesome, and it turns out that talking about social media while drinking wine and eating amazing food makes it all the more fun.  We'll be having more of these kinds of events starting in January.

The Holidays are a perfect time to ramp up your social media efforts. Here is a pdf of the slides from the event. Please let us know if you have any questions or need help with your social media or other marketing efforts. 

Happy Holidays!

Download Social Media Tips for the Holiday Season PDF here:

Local Social Media Rock Stars

Photo from Kenyon (Mn) Police Department's Facebook Post

Photo from Kenyon (Mn) Police Department's Facebook Post

If you think you have to be a big business with a big marketing department and budget to be awesome at using social media, you are wrong.

Check out this Facebook post:

 

Bill Hanisch from Hanisch Bakery and Coffee Shop in Red Wing, MN and Chief Sjolander from the Kenyon (MN) Police Department in Kenyon, MN have thousands of Facebook followers. The Bakery has over 14,000 and the Chief has over 28,000.

How have they built such an amazing following, you ask? From what I can tell, it's two things: One, telling great stories and two, being totally authentic.

It's a winning combination in social media.

So how are you telling the story of your business and the people you serve? Are you doing it authentically, or are you worried about what people will think? Are you worried about being "on brand" or looking "professional"?

I've read hundreds of blogs from social media experts that will tell you all sorts of "best practices"...but I would guess neither of these two guys has ever read any of that sort of thing. They just post what feels right to them and it works.

What could you post today that will tell a story authentically???

The Power of Story for Local Business

It's Superbowl Sunday (ok, not really...but stay with me here...) and 50% of the people huddled around the television watching the big game don't give a darn who wins. They are there for the commercials. So why are the Superbowl commercials so much better during the game? 

Besides the fact that there are no prescription drug commercials that go on and on about side effects, these commercials all tell a story. 

For example, close your eyes (but read this first, of course!) and imagine a lush green pasture where the cutest baby Clydesdale romps and plays with his yellow lab puppy friend. When someone adopts the puppy, the Clydesdale rallies all the other horses to stop the vehicle from leaving. The horse and puppy frolick in the horse pasture and, we presume, will live happily ever after. 

The commercial is for beer, people. Beer. Not horses, puppies, lush green pastures. It's a company that sells beer by using classic storytelling techniques. 

And they work. That beer ad scored huge with viewers. It's no surprise that storytelling works as we've been doing it for thousands of years. Storytelling evokes a strong neurological response in our brains, and we produce the stress hormone cortisol during intense moments of story which allows us to actually focus. And the cute-animal releasing hormone oxytocin is also released, and this makes us feel empathy and connection. Weave a happy ending into our stories, and our brains release dopamine, a hormone that makes us feel hopeful and optimistic.

The implication for businesses is huge. Get storytelling right, and you'll be way ahead of the game. For local businesses, there are ample stories to tell...yours, your clients, and your strategic partners. 

Look at your website and see, what stories do you tell in words and pictures? If you have a blog, how often are you talking at people vs. telling a story to explain your teaching?

And how about your social media...how often are you telling stories on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, among others? 

Need help telling your story? Let us know. We can help you connect with your customers in ways you never imagined.

(photo from http://money.cnn.com/2014/01/15/news/companies/anheuser-busch-super-bowl-ad/)

Unleash The Power of Social Media to Grow Your Local Business

 Is social media a valuable tool for local business? Is it worth the time investment? How do you measure the ROI? What will it do for my business?

Those are a few of the questions so many of my local business clients ask. We’ve heard it from all the experts, and there’s little doubt it’s true: local businesses need to be on social media. But, how does a local business approach the online world of likes, shares, favorites, and re-Tweets?  Let’s start by looking at some of the numbers associated with social media.

According to a study completed by Pew Research Center, in October of 2015, nearly two-thirds of adults were on social media. So, we know there are a ton of people on there. But how do social media users want to interact with businesses online? A survey conducted by Yodle in 2015 (http://www.yodle.com/company/press-releases/yodle-survey) tells us that more and more people are using the social media as we used the phone book 10 and 15 years ago. In Yodle’s survey, 75 out of every 100 people polled said they use the internet and social media to find or research a business.

Yodle’s survey also revealed that three out of every four people surveyed thought either online reviews for businesses were expected or that reviews gave local businesses a competitive advantage.

The data makes a compelling argument for what we already know to be true—local businesses need to have an online presence to engage a larger customer base in a way that is relevant to user behavior. So, how do you put your business on social media in a way that works for you and a local audience, without wasting time and money?

An incredible thing about local audiences on social media is that these audiences like to support their community by supporting area businesses. How is their social media use supporting local business? Think about what you see from your friends on Facebook. Have you seen a picture of someone’s dinner with a tag that shows which restaurant they are sitting in? Have you ever seen when someone has posted a check-in to a local venue? If you’ve seen it, then there are many other people who have as well.

While social media can eat someone’s time pretty quickly, local businesses have an advantage—you have an advantage. Why’s that? Because you have an audience eager to spread your message for you. As a local business, you don’t have to spend 10 hours on social media, marketing your little heart out. You can spend a few minutes a day publishing a post, showing your latest stock or creation or a behind-the-scenes look.

As a local business, you can provide a level of customization to your audience’s’ experience that online or big box stores can’t. For example, if you see that there will be a parade next Tuesday at noon, you can take to social media to let your customers know that the parade route is just down the block and to stop in for a cupcake after (or to cool down, or use the potty, or browse while they wait for traffic to disperse, etc.).   

So, how do you get customers to engage with your business on social media? By being exactly what you are—a local business—on social media.

How do you measure the success of your social media efforts? First, decide what you’d like to accomplish. Think about social media as part of the big picture. You may not have sales directly from Facebook or Twitter, but instead you may be driving foot traffic to your store which eventually results in higher sales. By being present on any given platform, you are raising awareness of your brand.

Is there only one right way to spread brand awareness and build a following on social media? Is there only one measurement of success? With any marketing campaign or strategy, the way to ensure it is worth your time and money is to make sure that above all else, your strategy aligns with your business values and goals. Only you can define exactly what you want to accomplish with social media for your business because it has to work for you in a way that flows with the rest of your business. Whether that goal is to bring in more foot traffic, book more appointments, or gain as many online reviews as possible is up to you. Your goals should be steering your strategy for social media, though, including which platform to choose.

The bottom line—social media is a great place to engage with people on neutral ground, where you both get to be yourselves and connect on a level that’s deeper than the typical customer-client connection.