Marketing Tools Reach Wide Audiences

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Social media platforms are becoming the on-ramp to the internet as people linger for hours on end.

Beginning in 2011, the time people spent on Facebook overtook time spent on all other websites, says Jeff Herrmann, CEO and founder of Madison, Michigan & Market.

With more people spending their time on Facebook and other platforms, a business can use them to help its bottom line. But the issue is how to do so successfully?

“It’s important for companies to learn how to get customers off social media and onto their own website,” Herrmann says. “With compelling content, a business can.”

The five businesses interviewed for this story – Madison, Michigan & Market in Youngstown, Actionable Insights in Austintown, Deb Herman Marketing Communications in Beaver Falls, Pa., Cassidy Advertising & Consulting in Warren and Keynote Media Group in Youngstown – emphasize that every business must begin by identifying its audience.

“The first thing a business needs to understand is the who,” the CEO of Actionable Insights, Jason Wood, says. His digital marketing firm helps manage social media accounts.

To start, Actionable Insights compiles a list of people most likely to be interested in the product or service a business sells, Wood says. It builds that list by reviewing transactional data: who has been a customer, market data, niche data and whether that business is selling to consumers or other businesses.

A good platform to build relationships on is LinkedIn because it focuses on the business community. If one sells business-to-business products, this would also be a place to build an audience, Wood says.

Businesses should choose a social media platform based on its audience – because every platform caters to different users.

Facebook is a good platform for marketing because it is “the most successful platform for anyone to use,” Wood says. It has the most middle-aged users and recently millennials began returning to Facebook, he notes.

Once a Facebook business page is set up, that company and its followers can share posts that other users have posted on Facebook. That’s important because the more shares a post gets, the more people it reaches.

A business can boost its own posts and place ads before targeted audiences. “Boosting a post on Facebook gets you more views and impressions. But they’re not targeted in any way, shape or form,” Wood says. Placing a targeted ad is “a much more efficient use of marketing dollars,” he says, because a business can select the audience most likely to respond to a call-to-action or posted ad.

Such an ad on Facebook is known as a “dark post” because it doesn’t show up on a business’ page, only in its targeted audience’s feed. Such ads are inexpensive for the level of targeting they achieve, which makes them the “best deal,” as Herrmann describes them.

Besides targeting an audience, businesses must be smart about content accessible from mobile devices because people increasingly are using them to get on social media.

It’s easy to view Facebook Live videos on mobile devices. Going live succeeds when one sets the behavioral expectations of an audience, Herrmann says. “If you have a live video strategy, it’s like a program to your audience. Let’s say every Friday at 10 a.m. you go live with a segment.”

Topics could be how-to information and tips on how to get the most from using a product. The live videos are assigned priorities on news feeds and surface hours, even days, later for free.

“The trick is it’s not about price promotion or selling pitches,” Herrmann adds. “It’s compelling and interesting content related to their products and services and not just about their products and services.”

A way to appeal to potential customers on social media is to create posts about the customers, advises Deb Herman, owner and president of her agency. “Instead of a business saying, ‘Come eat our oranges,’ say, ‘Hey, if you eat an orange every day you get these vitamins,’ ” she explains. “You give great information to people to help them decide to buy oranges.”

Herman looks at the posts by competitors of her clients to learn how their audience reacts. She then creates something more eye-catching and appealing. Pictures, especially of a person with a happy expression on his face, can do this, she says.

Twitter, similar to Facebook, has targeted advertising and users can share or retweet posts from a business. However, posts on Twitter are limited to 280 characters so its users make up a much younger market. “Twitter is starting to get older demographically as the younger age group that started with it is growing up,” Herman notes.

Snapchat is targeted at a younger demographic and professionals at Cassidy Advertising & Consulting believe it’s moving toward better advertising opportunities. “The business persona on Snapchat is evolving so I think we’ll be seeing more things with our clients on there in the future,” says Laura Berena, president of the marketing and advertising agency.

Pictured: Laura Berena, president and Hailey Cassidy, vice president of Cassidy Advertising & Consulting.

“Snapchat is constantly growing as a social platform,” adds Alexa Morocco, social media administrator at Cassidy. Morocco has found that many companies use Geofilters, which are overlays on a picture or video that tell where a picture was taken or preview what is happening at that site.

Sponsored stories, photos or videos that a business posts on Snapchat are another marketing tool. A food industry business might post photos of its specialties, recipes or videos hoping to keep customers engaged. Snapchat ads are also used as short videos that show up after someone watches items that his friends post.

Businesses that offer products intended to appeal to one’s sense of identity, say clothing or home décor, typically use Instagram and Pinterest. One of Morocco’s clients, a medical business, uses Pinterest to share tips on nutrition, exercise and health.

The biggest mistake a business can make is “not using social media or engaging at all,” Cassidy’s Berena says.

Engaging with customers is important to sustain a good relationship. The business shows it cares about customers getting the most of its services and products.

A business should post new content weekly, Berena adds, “to show that they’re being active and a part of the social media community and giving their customers what they want – Which is a response.”

Engagement consists of responding to comments and questions as quickly as they come in, even when they are less than complimentary, even insulting. “If there are negative comments and someone doesn’t respond to them, it could hurt them versus helping them,” Berena says.

Settings on platforms can be changed to inhibit comments or to alert the business when an engagement occurs.

Regular monitoring of the platforms is crucial, says Richard Hahn, owner of Keynote Media Group. Having a strategy or plan that guides a business when it posts content is important too, he adds.

A human-interest aspect to a post keeps people coming back, Hahn says. For example, one of his client’s posts a video of his granddaughter every week. This promotes his brand and entertains people.

The more relevant content a business posts results in greater awareness of its existence and increases its optimization in Google searches.

“If you don’t have some sort of plan in place, you’re going to be left in the dust – because that’s where everything is headed,” Hahn says. “Anybody without social media pretty much won’t survive anymore.”

Pictured: Jason Wood, CEO of Actionable Insights.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.