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Build Your Brand

    Build Your Brand, Social Media Management

    Here’s Why Engagement Still Trumps Following on Social Media

    A chunk of every morning is spent scouring through job leads and potential clients. The quantity of jobs out there for Freelancers is skyrocketing, but the number of people looking for the promise of gaining huge followings is alarming. It seems to be all anyone cares about anymore. Bloggers boast about how they have found the perfect formula to boost followings on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter. Take a course, study the formula, and reap the rewards. The glitz and instant gratification have us shelling out buckets of money in hopes of a brilliant return on investment. If you don’t have 10K on Instagram, are you doing it all wrong? 

    It’s understandable, so many virtual entrepreneurs are looking to build their brand. They want to work with affiliates, make a passive income, and harvest a glowing reputation. The numbers matter, but do they matter enough to sacrifice genuine and organic interaction with our followers? This is something I struggle with constantly. The need for big followings vs. the benefits of actual engagement. 

    We are spreading ourselves too thin, of that I am sure. 

    Start a Pinterest for blog traffic, grow an Instagram to become an influencer, make connections on Twitter, and start a budding Facebook group. Then manage them all, engage as much as possible, provide enticing shareable content. It’s a job in itself to market across each social channel, so we outsource and hope for the best. This is great for those of us in the SMM field, however, it also leaves us with impossible tasks to complete. We can’t guarantee a following of real substance. We can market our hearts out, but if the content isn’t strong, or the engagement is spotty, followers lose interest…FAST. Think about it like this, if you have a following of 100K on twitter, but your tweets produce zero engagement, how much value is that huge following providing? The light bulbs are starting to go off now, right? You get it.

    Now onto the real challenge, which in most of our cases is this: How do we convince our clients that in the world of brand building that customer engagement trumps big fan followings? Here are a couple of key points to help clients understand why engagement is still king of social media.

    More engagement equals more shares

    Your client wants to sell more product. They see their following growing and the dollar signs light up in their eyes. More followers must be a direct route to more sales, right? Not exactly. If the engagement is lacking, the chances of that following actually seeing your posts is decreased dramatically. The key to more visibility is actually shares. Shares are one of the most important forms of engagement as far as brand visibility. 

    Social algorithms are always changing, it’s almost impossible to keep up with the changes. One thing that stays constant is the consumer sharing content that they enjoy, or find helpful. They share things they want their family, friends, and co-workers to check out. They want it to produce a dialog between themselves and others. This gives you a new angle on your social media marketing plans. Ask yourself “is this something the target consumer would want to share with friends and family.” According to The Associated Press, when Americans encounter news on social media, how much they trust the content is determined less by who creates the news than by who shares it.

    Build better relationships

    Building a good relationship with prospective customers is important because trust is what gravitates them to you vs. the competition. Imagine the edge that you get when you actively engage with customers on a daily basis? Look, there is nothing wrong with using scheduling apps to make sure content is posted at the best times, without having to run your life around it, but that cannot be all the social media that’s done. Let’s use TVC as an example. On our Twitter page as of current, we have 299 followers. In the world of social followings, that doesn’t seem like much. Many of you probably chuckled a bit when you saw it. However, aside from our number of followers, we have incredible engagement. In fact, messages like this show up in the inbox more often than not:

    This client has seen us engaging all over Twitter, they know our name and find value in our work. All because they keep seeing The Virtually Creative pop up. We didn’t even have to search out this client, they came to us. This is what you want, and in turn, this is what your client wants too! They may just not realize it yet. 

    Building relationships without engagement can feel like a constant sales pitch. Your name shows up in the inbox of a customer you have never connected with. They don’t know you from a hole in the wall and immediately they brand you a salesperson and ignore whatever information you are trying to get through. Bah humbug, you think, and we get it.

    Imagine how differently that situation would go if this person recognized your name from recent shares or comment interaction on their tweets. Maybe you are into Tweetchats and they happen to contribute to the same one, every Monday like clockwork. They see your name in their inbox and immediately know who you are and have a good feel for what you do. All of the sudden, the communication gates are opened. That outcome wins every single time.

    A real-time indicator of how your audience responds to your content

    Social algorithms are designed to show relevant content. Facebook, for example, identifies what the audience is into based on the amount they engage. If they do not like your content or it doesn’t resonate with them, it takes 2.5 seconds to hide you from their timeline completely. We have all used the hide from timeline method. It’s the “leave you on read” on social media. That person is still in your follower count but is, in fact, receiving NONE of your content. Womp womp.

    Actively engaging with the audience, finding out what kind of content they respond to, will help you create content that will draw them in instead of pushing them away. Ask questions real time, and be available to engage as the answers roll in. Yes, you can schedule all the posts you want, but you NEED to be available to real-time engage as well. It’s pretty much non-negotiable. 

    Check out how your competitor’s engagement is. What are they doing differently than you to get people talking? Not saying be a copycat, there is way too much of that out there. Use the cues to measure what your ideal customer is actually interested in, and then figure out how to produce content that will capture them. 

    Hopefully, your client is not only open to what you’re saying but is now looking at you like an educated bad ass! Now it’s time to put your plan into action! Engage, engage, engage! 

    Bonus time! 

    The Virtually Creative is jumping on to the TweetChat train! Every Thursday night at 7:00 ET join in the discussion using the hashtag #VCreativeChat.

    What are your thoughts on engagement vs. following in the social world? Share below in the comments!







    Build Your Brand

    How to use storytelling to build your brand

    When you think marketing, social media, email campaigns, and events are probably the first things that come to mind.  You have read post after post about the best things to post for engagement, but how often do you use storytelling to help successfully brand your business?

    Facts and figures are helpful, but did you know that in recent studies 92% of consumers said that they retain information better in the form of a story?

    We are creatives, storytelling is in our blood.

    Implementing it into your marketing technique, however, can seem overwhelming at first. How can you guarantee that your story will be enough to drive clients to you and produce the results you want? 

    The fact of the matter is that stories help a consumer connect with you on more than just a business level.  They will remember you, they will remember your brand name, and even if they don’t need you now, you have planted a valuable seed in their psyche. That in a nutshell the first step to nurturing a lucrative relationship, right?

    The answer is YES, but you knew that!

    You don’t have to be a seasoned wordsmith to put together a good story capable of driving traffic and sales. You just need a point of view and a great baseline.  There is no one who can tell the story of your brand better than you, it’s your baby and it deserves a great backstory.

    I’ve compiled a list of some great angles to work your storytelling into the branding of your company.  You can, and SHOULD apply them to your blogging, social media marketing, and advertising techniques as well.  Give the consumer no choice but to relate to your brand.  With so many people out there doing similar things, you need YOUR stories to help you stand out!

    1. An example of exemplary problem solving

    As a business owner, I am sure that not a day goes by where you are not facing some sort of problem for someone.  You go above and beyond, work well beyond normal business hours, and go out of your way to show your customers/audience that your customer service is feet above the other guy.  The chances of you having a great story that showcases that are high. Talk about it! Give an example of a time your brand has skyrocketed over expectations.

    The story should be focused on the customer, and how their needs were taken care of, but be careful that it doesn’t have to be a pat on the back for yourself.  You don’t need to stress that you were the hero in this story, let the reader draw their own conclusion.  They don’t want to read a post about how awesome you are, they want to read about how awesome the experience for the customer was.  Their opinion of you will be reflective of that.

    I read an article the other day on Help Scout, that gave examples of 8 companies with exceptional customer service.  Each example is a testimonial of a time when exemplary customer service was given and it is all told through stories from consumers.  It’s worth a look, especially if you are wondering how storytelling can really leave a lasting impression.

    1. How your business came to be

    Is there anyone who doesn’t love a good rags-to-riches story?  Seriously, I read them constantly.  I love to see how talented entrepreneurs took the seed of their dream and grew it into an empire.  It’s inspiring, encouraging, and riveting. You have a story behind what brought you to do what you do, tell it.

    When talking about TVC, I always begin with where I started.  The steps that ignited the fire in my soul to help virtual entrepreneurs.  From the darkest of times to where I stand today, I have been blessed to make a huge impact doing this.  My readers can relate, and so they want to read more.

    Make a timeline of your business, starting with the first moment it became more than just a thought in the back of your mind. I guarantee you have an amazing story there just waiting to be told! Did tagging along with your aunt to yard sales every Saturday inspire your love of upcycling old furniture? Maybe your Dad spent your childhood teaching you about tech, pushing you towards your love of web design. That’s a story your readers want to hear! Consumers want to connect with you on a higher level, give them the opportunity to do so!

    1. How your brand is different

    You are likely in competition with many other similar products or services.  Defining what makes you different is a crucial key to winning over consumers. Using storytelling to show what makes your brand unique is a great way to grab the attention of consumers that are swaying between you and a similar service from someone else.

    An example: You are a Virtual Assistant who specializes in video production and editing. How can you use storytelling to define what makes you different, while showcasing your skills? This is where your best out of the box thinking comes into play. How about a “day in the life” video to show consumers what goes into delivering them the best services possible. Another idea would be a video compilation of client testimonials, showing the consumer how much you truly care about you’re their needs being met.

    Set yourself apart. Offer more conducive hours to your busy clients, provide incredible customer service, and always go the extra mile. You don’t need to showboat every step you take, let the story speak for itself.

    1. A thank you to your client base/customers

    Customers and clients are the heart of any business, and they want to feel like they are the most important part of your day! Again, there are hundreds of people out there offering the same services as you, standing out is the only way to get ahead.  What better way to stand out than being known for unmatched customer appreciation!

    The idea of spotlighting great customers, through stories of their own business ventures or accomplishments will set you apart from those who just provide customer testimonials. Show you are invested in the long-term happiness of your client. The idea of a customer spotlight on your social media channels, or as a feature on your blog not only benefits you but gives the client/customer more exposure. They won’t forget that you gave them that opportunity, and they will prove that with brand loyalty. Brand loyalty is earned, not given!

    There are so many ways to integrate storytelling into building your brand. What’s your favorite memory of a time storytelling has worked positively for your brand?