Is Paid Social Media a Necessity?

Is paid social media a necessity?

The question of whether paid social media is now a must comes from the virtual disappearance of the organic reach of posts.

Organic reach – how many people you can reach for free by posting to your business or fan page on Facebook and other social media platforms– has been declining steadily for years now. Facebook’s organic reach, depending on who you believe, is now somewhere between 2-5%. In other words, for every 100 people following your page, only 2-5 get to see your carefully crafted post. It’s not just Facebook. Organic reach and interactions across all social media channels have fallen off substantially.

The free ride is over

A few years ago Facebook made it quite clear that organic reach would become infective, at best. They’ve kept their word. Facebook has begun to increasingly prioritize posts from users’ friends and family. To make room for them in your newsfeed, Facebook is making things even worse for businesses by deemphasizing posts from businesses, brands and content publishers more than ever.

There are several logical reasons for the decline of organic reach. Facebook has offered up a couple and the third we offer up as just plain common sense.

  • There’s just too much content being published on Facebook to show everyone everything. This has made gaining visibility in the News Feed increasingly competitive with a greater degree of difficulty succeeding.
  • Facebook is trying to show people the content their experts feel is most relevant.
  • Marketers, being the cynical bunch we are, tend to think Facebook’s ulterior motive is simply to get more people to start buying ads.

To prove us cynics have a point, Convince and Convert published a chart showing Facebook’s declining organic reach charted against Facebook’s rising stock price during the same period. Would it surprise you to find out that as organic reach plummeted Facebook’s stock price increased a substantial 40% due to increased ad revenue?

These days Facebook feels businesses should look at their Facebook business or fan pages as a way to make paid advertising more effective. From Facebook’s point-of-view, organic reach is in direct conflict with its belief that inundating News Feeds with posts from pages the user likes (along with many others) just isn’t an ideal user experience.

So, can you improve your organic reach on Facebook? Truthfully about all you can do is increase engagement. The goal is to get as much interaction with every post as possible. Here are some of the ways to maximize your reach:

Here are ways to maximize your reach:

  • Ask followers of your other social media business pages to like your Facebook page and return the favor.
  • Encourage readers to engage with your posts when they see them, so they’ll (hopefully) see more of them.
  • Add a “Please like and share” reminder to the end of your posts.

Since social media’s organic reach is going the way of the dinosaur, it’s smart to focus on digital channels you own and control — your website and blog. Spend more resources creating blog posts and long-form content (eBooks, case studies, or videos). These have a shelf life that helps increase your inbound traffic, leads, and customers long-term.

If your budget allows, consider paid posts to share this content to the appropriate social media platforms for additional reach. While knowing how to use paid social media is also important, knowing when to use paid social media is key.

Here’s a checklist of good reasons to invest in paid social media ads:

  • Getting started
    If you are just starting your social media marketing and have a small number of followers, paid traffic is critical. You need an audience for your content or no one will see it or share it.
  • Looking to reach a different audience
    With paid social media, you can target new demographics and reach out to new geographic areas.
  • Improve organic reach
    To supplement your organic reach, you should consider investing in paid posts to get your social media content in front of more of the people who already like and follow you.

What paid social media works?

Social media advertising’s evolution from outdated banner ads to native ads has greatly improved the paid social media advertising experience for both marketers and consumers.

So, where’s the best return on investment? According to an eMarketer study, over 95% of social media managers say Facebook offers the best return on investment, followed by Twitter (63.5%), Instagram (40.1%) and LinkedIn (37.7%). However, keep in mind that which social media platform will work best for your business depends largely on knowing where your social media audience is.

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Facebook Organic Reach Is an Oxymoron

Facebook organic reach is an oxymoron If you feel like your Facebook posts organic reach isn’t what it used to be, you’re right. Facebook has steadily cut back on Pages’ organic reach for years, most notably with brands and most recently with publishers.

Back in the good old days of 2012, Facebook started restricting the organic reach of content published from brand pages. At first, it was to about 16%. In December 2013, another round of changes reduced Facebook organic reach even more. According to Social@Ogilvy, Facebook organic reach dropped to 6% or less in 2014. Now in the first half of 2016, the number of people seeing the average post published on a publisher’s Facebook Page has been cut in half again, according to SocialFlow.

Facebook organic reach graph

The ability to build communities of Facebook fans, maintain contact and encourage engagement by publishing content to fans’ News Feeds was originally a crucially important part of Facebook’s appeal to marketers. Note we said “was”, because Facebook organic reach is going, going, gone. This change effectively completely cancels out the efforts of brands to build up their fan bases, with the understanding they would be able to reach a large number of these fans without having to pay.

In a sales deck obtained by Ad Age, Facebook plainly stated, “We expect organic distribution of an individual page’s posts to gradually decline over time.” In other words, Facebook organic reach is now an oxymoron. The main reason to acquire fans isn’t to build a free distribution channel for content; it’s to make your Facebook purchased ads work better. The free ride for brands is over and Facebook should now be moved into the paid advertising column in your marketing budget.

The main reason to acquire fans is no longer to build a free distribution channel for content; now it’s to make your Facebook paid posts or ads work better. The free ride for brands has come to an end and Facebook should now be in the paid advertising column in your marketing budget.

Going forward, for Facebook to be effective paid advertising will be needed to jump-start the life of a post.  You’ll be investing in paid posts in the hope that they will gather enough likes and social capital to earn the right to be shown for free.

Central to social media’s value to businesses was the concept that if brands interact with consumers with engaging content in the right context, they can reap benefits in the form of greater exposure and incremental reach, for free.  Do Facebook’s changes mean that vision of social media for business is dying? Probably. Cutting organic reach and forcing brands to pay seems to move social media in the direction of more traditional media models. Any business counting on Facebook organic reach as part of their marketing plan should reevaluate whether their investment of resources is still justifiable.

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Marketing Plan: What Is It?

marketing plan

Marketing is all about letting people know about the products or services you offer, their benefits and persuading people to buy or use them. Marketing communicates a consistent message to your ideal customers. To do this effectively, you’re going to need a marketing plan and marketing strategies.

What Does a Marketing Plan Do?

A marketing plan is a step-by-step guide for your company’s success. Done properly, your marketing plan will be the roadmap you follow to attract new customers and improve the success of your business.

To put together an effective marketing plan, you have to assess your company from top to bottom and make sure all the pieces are working together in the best way. A business owner must be familiar with the business’s customer base, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of the business’s competitors. These factors and others are identified in a well-prepared marketing plan.

Why do I need a marketing plan

Why Do I Need A Marketing Plan?

If you want your business to grow, you’ll need a marketing plan and strategies to get you there. Creating a marketing plan makes you think through and capture in writing your business goals and the steps needed to implement strategies to achieve your marketing objectives.

Small business owners often include their marketing plan as part of their overall business plan. Some include parts of the marketing plan in various sections of their business plan, while others attach the entire marketing plan as an appendix to their business plan.

What’s in a Marketing Plan?

A well thought out, comprehensive marketing plan should include:

  • An in-depth understanding of your brand’s status and story
  • A realistic assessment of your businesses’ strengths & weaknesses – what you do well, as well as what you could be doing better
  • The competitive environment (including industry research, trends and more)
  • An assessment of your competition – both local and national
  • Comprehensive knowledge of the consumer and the demand for the product or service
  • Detailed, realistic, attainable goals
  • Specific strategies designed to achieve your goal
  • Marketing tactics that will be used to implement your strategies
  • Detailed budget
  • Performance Measurement & Analysis

How to Create a Marketing Plan

A marketing plan should ideally cover a 12-month timeframe. This makes it easier to budget and manage the plan. Allow a month or two to develop your marketing plan, even if it’s only a few pages long.

Developing the plan is the time consuming “heavy lifting” of marketing. While executing the plan can have its challenges, planning – deciding what strategies to use and how to implement them – is marketing’s biggest challenge.

How Do You Use Your Marketing Plan?

When you’ve completed your marketing plan, don’t file it and forget it!  During your hectic daily routine, it’s often next to impossible to focus your attention on the big picture and really think about your business. Our advice: do it anyway!

Refer to your marketing plan at least quarterly (monthly is even better).  Since only constant in business is change, be prepared to make mid-course corrections or changes to your plan. It will help you stay on track and achieve your marketing goals.

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What is Mobile First?

What is mobile First?

Mobile first is a design philosophy that focuses on the responsive mobile design of a website or app, rather than the desktop or laptop version.

Why Mobile First?

Websites used to be built with the desktop computer in mind. Mobile sites were just an afterthought. Then smartphones improved, most people bought one, connectivity grew, and data plans expanded.

As a result, mobile usage is growing every day and will continue to grow over the next few years. In fact, Google has officially confirmed that more searches now take place on smartphones than on desktops, laptops and tablets combined.

Google’s Mobile First Indexing

Because of the increase in mobile use, Google has started to focus on “mobile first indexing“. This looks at mobile content to decide how to rank its results, regardless of whether the user is on desktop or mobile. The bottom line is if your website is not mobile-friendly it will impact how you appear for all searches (including desktops/laptops).

This is why all marketers need to think mobile first when it comes to websites and all other digital communications. Websites need to be updated to be responsive with:

  • Simple, intuitive navigation
  • Easily clickable links — by either a finger tap or a mouse click
  • Optimized text readability (not too small, but not too large either)
  • Images need to scale automatically or get dynamically replaced by larger or smaller images and icons, as needed.

When you design for mobile first, there’s a lot less screen space to work with. This means you’ll need to do without many of the cool design elements and extras you’d include if you were designing for a larger screen.

With mobile first design, you need to focus on what’s most important on a mobile screen — functionality. The consensus among designers who’ve worked mobile first is the design process is more practical. When you design for mobile first, you don’t have to decide what desktop design elements to remove.

Most users now demand the kind of quality mobile experience we’ve described. They also expect a similarly smooth experience on desktops. Making this happen demands careful thought and planning, but the end result is a better website, better search rankings and more satisfied users.

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Google Search Console – A Primer

Google Search Console - A PrimerGoogle Search Console is a free service made available by Google that helps you monitor and maintain your site’s presence in Google Search results.

You don’t have to sign up for Search Console for your site to be included in Google’s search results, but the tool helps you understand how Google views your site and helps you optimize its performance in search results.

Google Search Console provides a great deal of information about your website and it’s visitors. Here’s a short list of some of the useful info available:

  • Make sure Google can access your content
  • Monitor and resolve malware or spam issues so your site stays clean
  • How many are visiting your site and how they got there
  • Are more visitors to your website on a mobile device or desktop/laptop computer
  • Which pages on your site see the most traffic?
  • Which queries caused your site to appear in search results?
  • Which queries bring the most traffic to your site?
  • Which sites are linking to your website?
  • Is your mobile site performing well for visitors searching on mobile?
  • Google Search Console notifies you immediately about site errors, broken pages and any issues concerning site indexing.

Formerly Known As Google Webmaster Tools

If the name “Google Webmaster Tools” sounds familiar, that’s because it’s the old name for Google Search Console. The Google Webmasters Tools name gave the inaccurate impression that it was directed mainly for webmasters. Since it became a valuable resource for so many different types of people other than webmasters—marketing professionals, SEOs, designers, business owners, and app developers among others— in May of 2015 Google changed the name to be more inclusive of its diverse group of users.

Differences between Google Analytics and Google Search Console

While Google Analytics may seem quite similar to Google Search Console, their approach to the information varies a lot. Google Analytics provides a detailed insight into your website traffic flow, traffic volume and focuses on users who are actually visiting your website. Google Search Console provides more internal information and search traffic data.

To get the most out of the information provided by Search Console and Analytics, you can and should link both accounts together. Having these two tools linked integrates the data from both sources providing you with additional reports you’re only able to access by linking them.

A Google account is required to sign up for Google Search Console. If you don’t already have one, you can create one here.