In 2016, it was clearly the year of social media. However, not all social media channels were proving to be worth the effort as seen in the latest research from Pew Internet. As of December 2016, Facebook ruled the digital wave followed closely by WhatsApp with over 1,590 million and 1,000 million users respectively. Instagram, which is still popular landed well below with 500 million active users. More interestingly, a business targeting the US market would have struggled more if they chose to use Instagram because 80% of Instagram users are not from the U.S. Of US users, there were more women than men using this social media platform.

What does this all mean?

When creating your marketing plan for 2017, social media will still play a critical role in marketing but knowing what social media channel to pour more attention and budget into will affect the results of your marketing strategy.

The key word in social media marketing for this new year is: Messaging.

Marketing is basically communicating the right message to the desired market in a manner that prompts the preferred actions and results.

Creating a Social Messaging Strategy for 2017

  1. Start by reviewing your content from the previous years. Is your content one-track on the same topic or worse yet – duplicated from other websites? You need to look at your content from the point of view of a search engine and visitor. Too much information on the same topic or same content will lead to a drop in interest in your site. For instance if you are selling a product as an affiliate or trader, you might have just copied the product description from the manufacturer without making any changes – this will lump you in with all the other entrepreneurs selling the same product.
  2. Focus on the journey of your visitors or subscribers. For instance, not everyone who goes to your website is looking for a particular product. Some may be in search of DIY answers, repairs, insights, new technology and news, historical data, or prospects on the future of your product. Have content that will address every possible need and demand.
  3. Clearly you will have to engage and use the social media platforms. However, unlike 2016 where there was a trend towards posting and top social media platforms, this year it is predicted that the focus will shift on messaging apps rather than social networking. Last year, WhatsApp shot up to second most popular social media channel with Facebook Messenger, WeChat and Viber following suit. These messaging apps were able to overtake Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn in terms of number of users.

In addition, the use of Over-the-top (OTT) messaging skyrocketed and is estimated to be the preferred choice of more than 2 billion by next year.

  1. Step away from posting content that is even slightly false. The world has become weary of fake or inaccurate news and information. And it has become so much easier to validate any information you post especially among Millennials who relish the idea of investigating further to verify what they read before sharing or “Liking” content.

In 2017, marketing has to focus more on providing a “personal touch” with as much transparency. This means it is not good enough to just post your content on social media; you should be ready to chat and engage with anyone who expresses an interest in your business. Consider using chatbots and augmented reality to enhance your social media marketing – and see the amazing response from users!

A survey given to professional marketers in the United States reveal that in 2017, the most crucial digital marketing investment to seriously consider is a brand website. More than 62% say that having a website is the most effective way to reach your target market although one must not exclude email marketing and the use of social media. This three-prong approach is, by far, a must-have when defining your marketing goals for 2017.

The Unbranding of a Brand Website

There is nothing new about having a brand website. It is a long-term investment that demands time, resources, and fresh dollops of creativity and uniqueness in order to attract your desired market. Probably the main reason why anyone would balk at creating a brand website is the overall cost. In 2017, the trend will be to “uncommercialize” your brand website so you focus more on the soft sell rather than the hard sell. It will still require some investment and possibly a mindset adjustment.

Fortunately, there are ways to build your brand website without spending a fortune or making ghastly unbranding marketing errors. The basics of branding for 2017 include:

  • Branding is constantly evolving, a mental perception others have of your business
  • Effective branding will sell your business as one of the – if not the go-to website – in your respective industry
  • Subtle digital branding affirms your credibility and boosts loyalty

Branding should supply the following answers:

  1. My business is known and appreciated because ______.
  2. People share and talk about my product because _____.
  3. My products can influence the positive actions of others because _____.

Your brand website should be able to establish a connection between you and your customers. If you can do this, you will make it easier to realize your 2017 business goals.

Enhancing your eMail Marketing Plan

Still connecting to the trend of humanizing business in the global market is the new trends in email marketing. Instead of trying to solicit interest and business by sending out digital flyers through the email channel, the idea is to tell a story without misleading or falsely representing your business.

Today, people would rather follow an unknown brand that is truthful and transparent but able to emotionally connect with its visitors than follow a brand that is cold and demanding. Thus, instead of flashy advertising and marketing gimmicks, consider real tones from real people veering away from the strategy of “Buy, buy, buy!”

Focus on the value rather than the quick sale.

Social Media in 2017

This year will be the year of personalized content.  This will require the intense use of analytics and profiling to get the marketing mix right. Businesses with a defined market (doctors, architects, mothers, students) will have an easier time finding the perfect content compared to businesses that cater to a wider spectrum. However, with good organization, personalized content is very manageable.

At the same time, there is a move towards more interactive content which should help tremendously in building brand awareness.

Marketing in 2017 should also include venture into virtual reality or the 360 degree video. Using one of the GoPro cameras (or its equivalent) makes it easier for small to medium business owners to improve their content with quality videos.

Finally, Livestreaming has taken a life of its own as more and more people are using it to market their brand. This option makes it easier to “tell your story.”

If you are planning your marketing for 2017, do consider these ideas and add them to your goals for the year. These are certain to help you develop deeper relationships with existing customers and expand your customer base by offering value over the typical hard sell.

megaphone“Who got the biggest pay hike last season?”

“The 5 teams that look to make it to the Magic 5!”

Sports organizations like the NBA and the NFL are amazing in creating off-season hype. They do this to keep fans talking about the teams and always in the news. It works and it is a strategy that you can use quite easily with your business – albeit on a less expensive scale.

No, you don’t have to pay anyone to put you in the news. You can create posts that can go viral. You can set trends and stir up excitement for your upcoming season. There are many ways to generate leads and improve on your subscriber base. Here are some ideas that might interest you:

Offer off season discounts

There are many shoppers that like to buy off season. They wait for the sales after the holidays to grab what they can – cheap – even if they don’t need it. They are experienced enough to know that they will need it in the future and when that happens, it might be more expensive.

From another angle, there are products that go on massive discount sales during special holidays.  According to fatwallet.com American consumers buy around 36 million mattresses a year but mattresses are cheapest on Memorial Day sales. You can also entice shoppers to buy off season products by offering discounts on these special holidays because shoppers are on the look-out for these discounts.

Offer Early Bird Offers

Early bird ticket offers are tricky marketing campaigns but when they work, they work beautifully. It is important for early bird offers to be:

  • Enticing
  • Reasonable
  • On a limited offer only

This is the kind of deal that sell because of impulsive buying decisions. If you keep using it, it loses its appeal.

Stalk your Competitors – but in an ethical manner

If you have the time, check out what your competitors are up to. They may have something on the website that could give you an inkling as to what their direction will be in the new season. You should also look up new technology and apps that can help you improve operations and marketing. There is always something new that catches the interest of the Internet public – find out what it is and how you can incorporate it neatly with your business.

Finally, make adjustments to your product. For instance, if your product has something to do with education and it’s summer or holiday break, a different angle like short courses or tie-up with other companies might be a new product you can offer.

 

 

 

Negative reviews sound ominous but do you realize that bad reviews do not necessarily reflect the way you do business but can be used to improve your product/services? The fact is negative reviews are not that difficult to handle – but without a doubt, they have to be addressed. Here’s why:

  • Over 83% of consumers prefer to trust reviews than personal recommendations
  • If a consumer likes how he or she was treated, a review will be given willingly
  • Majority of buyers check reviews first before spending, however, if the reviews were posted over 3 months ago, buyers lose interest and consider the reviews irrelevant
  • Over 50% trust star ratings

First of all, never argue or challenge the person. Reviews are about emotions and feelings; personal experiences and negative reviews are often done impulsively or in anger or frustration. It would achieve nothing to start a debate. Do not take it personally. Learn to look at all reviews objectively.

  • Allow emotions to cool down but do make an effort to reply as graciously as possible.
  • Have standard replies to negative reviews such as “I am sorry to hear about your experience. Allow me to look into the incident and get back to you as soon as possible.”

Second, accept that you’re not alone. Every business receives negative reviews. The successful entrepreneur knows how to handle it with diplomacy while the hot-headed business owner ends up losing customers.

Third, do find out more about what happened and make it a point to get back to the customer with a more knowledgeable response. If your employee was at fault, admit it and offer a special freebie for the inconvenience. If you are not in a position yet to give away freebies or discounts, then the best you can do is give your sincere apologies.