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3 Unconventional Ways to Engage Social Media Fans

Social Sonar - Saturday, December 29, 2012

We often talk about growing your fan base, but how can you  do this without running contests or paying for advertisements? You want to increase conversation, but you don't want to repeat the same tactics until they grow ineffective. Here are three outside-the-box ideas that can help you engage and grow your Facebook fan base.

  • 1. Crowdsource

  • Jeff Howe coined this phrase in 2006. He described the idea as "new pool of cheap labor: everyday people using their spare cycles to create content, solve problems, even do corporate R & D.”
Basically, crowdsourcing is asking your fans to offer suggestions on how to solve or address an issue. It’s a perfect method to obtain information from your target audience while making them feel they have a say in how your business is run. 

This might be simply asking them to vote on a specific product or category. For example, if you own a clothing store and have two dresses that are identical, but are different in color, you can ask your fans to vote between the two. Whichever color gets the most votes will be carried in the store. 

  • 2. Spotlight Your Employees

  • Your brand isn't just about products. It helps your followers build a relationshop with your business if they can get to know who is helping run it. Adding this personal touch brings approachability to your brand
  • Remember that good customer service can help create positive buzz. Who better to highlight than the people directly in contact with your customers? Acknowledging an employee can also help your brand get exposure to their friends and friends of friends. 
Try spotlighting an employee once a month, or even bi-monthly if your company is large. You may see resulting growth in your Facebook fan and Twitter followers. You'll likely also find your employees feel more appreciated.

  • 3. Reveal New Products or Services

  • Fans love to know the latest and greatest for your business. Showing off upcoming or unusual products or services can help give your company a boost in sales. You can start off by teasing your fans. "Tomorrow we'll show off something new and exciting. Come back at noon to see our newest addition."
You can show off a small portion of the product photo and say something like, "Once this photo gets to 50 likes, we’ll show you the rest." Get them excited for what's fresh. 

You don't have to be a big department store or name brand to use any of these innovative ideas. Whether your business is big or small, you need to engage and build a relationship with your fans.

3 Reasons to Start a Loyalty Program

Social Sonar - Thursday, December 13, 2012
Frequent Shopper Stamp

Many shoppers belong to several loyalty programs that allow them to acquire points, money, or merchandise. Big chain stores have been implementing this easy marketing tool to establish customer retention. Small business might assume that these programs will cost too much to implement and maintain, but their benefits can be greatly underestimated. Here are some reasons why you should kick off 2013 with a loyalty program.

1. Return Customers

If a shopper knows they are building up for incentives, they'll go out of their way to support your establishment. It's nice to think that if you get 10 cups of tea, you'll get one free. Chances are the customers who enroll or take part in the loyalty program know that they frequent your business and would benefit from the program. Its an easy sell.

2. Easy Implementation

You don't need to make your loyalty program complex. It can be as simple as stamping a card and having the customer fill out a form with her name, email address, and birth date. Or you can create a program where cards are swiped or scanned and allow for points to accumulate. Your choice is just a matter of budget and time.

3. Targeted Marketing Efforts

If you have a special promotion, or maybe even an event, you'll be able to communicate with the right audience. Maintaining a marketing database will ensure you are talking to consumers who already love your brand. You'll have a successful return on your invest because you will be speaking to the right people.

How Can Podcast Help Your Business

Social Sonar - Thursday, November 15, 2012
iPod wearing earbuds
Podcasts are audio content that allows your consumer to listen at their convenience. The benefits of podcasting for small companies and business are greatly underestimated. Even bigger corporations don't take advantage of providing podcasts. Perhaps you should consider creating downloadable podcasts for your consumers.

Podcasts allow you to reach new and potential consumers. They also allow you to express your expertise and personality. Listening to a business owner, especially a small business owner, can intensify the passion of loyal followers.
The beauty of technology is that it allows you to target the people you need to reach. "You can send fresh and compelling messages out to target audiences," says Michael Neumeier, principal of the Arketi Group, a small-business marketing consultancy in Atlanta. “You can use it to start delivering educational content to a narrowly focused list of people. Even if it’s only 50 people, if it’s the right 50 people, it’ll do wonders for your startup.”
Podcasting can help you become a leader and expert to your consumers. If your business is clothing, you should talk about the latest trends, fashion shows, or designers. If you own a wine shop, consider giving wine tips or food-pairing advice. In today's fast-paced world, catching a shopper's attention can be difficult. It’s easy for users to download audio content to their smart phones and listen to your advice on the go.
The fact that you're creating audio content instead of just adding words to a webpage means that your business will be seen as innovative. It gives you the kind of buzz that's harder to obtain. Allowing your content to be shareable and available can put you at the top of leaderboard.

Designing A Call To Action

Social Sonar - Wednesday, August 08, 2012

A Call-To-Action (CTA) is a key lead generation element and should be included in your marketing, including through e-mail, social media updates, etc. While your personal desire for the end result of each CTA to be a purchase through your company, you cannot always expect this. Hubspot recently published three major steps you can take to "improve your calls-to-action and optimize them for maximum conversions." Here, we discuss mastering the design of a CTA.

Master the Design of Compelling Calls-To-Action

  1. Size Matters: Make It Big. Your end goal is to attract attention so make your button large. You want it to stand out so it is easy to find.
  2. Spacial Effect: Despite what was said above, often less is more. Make it simple and don't crowd the text. Jacob Gube from SmashingMagazine says, "[t]he more white space there is in between a call-to-action button versus a surrounding element, the less connected they are." Reduce the white space around your CTA and/or fill the background of your CTA with warm colors, which appear closer to the viewer.
  3. Placement: Place the CTA button "above the fold" so that viewers don't have to scroll to find it. An Eyetrack III study suggests that the best placement is the top, left position.
  4. Contrast: Make your CTA stand out by choosing a color that contrasts with the background of the website.
  5. Interactive Effects: Popular calls-to-action include interactive effects, such as changing when a person hovers their mouse. You can also include drop shadow, text and button bevels or gradient colors.
  6. Try Unconventional Shapes: Many a CTA will have the standard rectangular box. There's nothing that says you can't make yours more interesting by adding rounded corners. Some consumers regard square boxes as ads and often avoid them.
  7. Create a Sense of Direction: You may bring more attention by having an arrow point at your CTA. HubSpot also uses a picture of a human looking AT their CTA to draw more attention.
  8. Multiple Calls-To-Action: If you have multiple CTA buttons, decide which is most important and make that your largest. You can use different colors to differentiate between them or place them side by side with the first button being your most important.
  9. Focus on Text, Not Graphics: As copywriter, Dean Rieck says, "People looking for information are looking for text, not pictures." Make sure you have clear and specific wording. You may include graphics but they should not be the focus.

By following the steps above, you are on your way to creating an effective call-to-action for your business. Have you created a successful CTA before? Tell us about it!

CTA button