Category : Blog

Black Friday vs. Cyber Monday: Your Holiday Marketing Plan

The Holiday shopping season has kicked off! Advertising around Black Friday and special on-line deals for Cyber Monday have already hit the airways. The National Retailers Association expects consumer spending to increase by 4.1% over last year and now is the time to take action for your business to have a successful holiday season!

Last year saw a substantial increase in money being spent on-line on Black Friday with foot traffic in-stores down 2%. in 2017, overall dollars spent was up from the previous year. More money was spent on Cyber Monday in 2017 ($6.59 billion) than the $5.3 billion rung in on Black Friday indicates that retailers have to be prepared for both on-line and in-store sales this entire season. Last year, major retailers opted for steady on-line ads throughout the holiday season with spiked spending around Thanksgiving and Christmas on other media outlets.

Holiday Marketing Plan

  1. Have an active on-line ad campaign strategy. Retailers should have a plan mapped from mid-November (pre-holiday sales) to early January (closeout sales). Depending on the size of your operation and where your customers are located, a targeted on-line campaign can help increase website traffic and sale conversions.
  2. Ensure your website is mobile-responsiveMore than 46% of total on-line holiday sales in 2017 was done on mobile devices – so your site has to be prepared for them!
  3. Utilize email to reach your current customers early and often! A holiday email campaign can be an effective tool to drive customers to your website or location. It is also less costly to drive your current customer base than spending money on ads to acquire new customers.
  4. Optimize your social media channels. Ensure that you are encouraging customers to check out your website, highlight sales and specials with enticing social media posts.
  5. Update your website with keywords. Search engines will be crawling websites for terms that shoppers will be “looking” for over 45 days in advance. Update your website terminology, create “teasers” about what’s coming for the holidays and create content that will support your email, social media and ad campaigns.

Need help with a social media strategy for your business? Social Thrive can help you!

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On target marketing message

Is Your Online Marketing Message On-Target?

You have a website.

You have several social media channels you post on.

You have an email list that you send out regular communications to.

But are you reaching the people your business needs to talk to in a way that they connect with?

Who is your target audience?

A well-defined target customer is essential in any marketing activities so make sure you have the follow documented;

  • Demographic details – age, gender, geographic location, work or role, economic traits, education level – focus on the factors that are going to help you hone in on your prospective customer
  • What problems are they facing that you can help solve? Your business offers solutions to your customer issues so have a well-defined 

After you have this defined, communicate it to your entire team and continue to confirm it through customer surveys.

How does your customer consume information?

Knowing the on-line behaviors of your target audience is a part of understanding your ideal customer and will impact where you focus your marketing efforts. You should be using Google Analytics and other means to track how customers heard about you to refine your marketing plan going forward.

Social Media

Based on your customer demographics, you will want to invest in specific social media channels vs. ALL of them. Here are a few things to think about:

Email Marketing

Sending emails to current and prospective customers is still an important part of your overall marketing strategy – even if it results in less action than 10 years ago when our Inbox was less cluttered. Research shows that people still read emails from companies if it is relevant and interesting, so while it may not lead to direct action when you send the email out, it keeps your brand “top of mind” so that people know who to reach out to when you become relevant.

Is your messaging consistent?

Your company has all kinds of digital and printed assets – but do they look like they all come from the same company?

Ensure that your banding remains consistent across platforms (website, social media channels or brochures and business cards) with appropriate logos, naming conventions with cross-links to all of your other platforms. By referencing all of the different ways customers can interact with you, they are given a choice as to how they want to consume information about your products or services.

Marketing messaging is an important part of Social Thrive’s customer strategy and we would love to talk to you about yours!

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Restaurant Social Media Tips

4 Tips for Restaurants and Social Media

Running a restaurant is hard work and using social media to get customers in the door is an important part of your marketing strategy. Besides posting about specials – what else should you be doing on social media if you are in the food business?

1 – People will respond to beautiful photos of food

There is a Chinese expression that says you “Eat with your eyes first”, meaning if the food looks appealing, then you are more likely to enjoy it. This means you need quality photos of plating arrangements of your menu offerings to post on social media platforms. Also, what is photographed should be an accurate depiction of what you serve to your customers everyday. NOTHING will upset a customer more than expecting the beautiful dish they saw on your Instagram feed and get a completely different plating.

2 – Remember that Social Media is a SOCIAL platform

Posting on social media is not enough – you need to engage with your customers; responding to comments, celebrate your staff, have your own #hashtag, send followers special offers and repost customer “fan” pictures! These activities will show customers that you care about them – even if they aren’t in your restaurant at that moment.

Engagement also includes responding to reviews – good or bad.It’s always important to respond professionally to negative reviews; this shows that you care about your customer base and value their input. Have a plan for how you respond to comments, messages, reviews and an assigned person to do so in a timely manner.

3 – Capitalize on what is happening in your community

Showing your customers that you are a part of their community can create a sense of loyalty – beyond having a loyalty program! Sponsoring a little league team, cross-marketing with other businesses in your area, and hosting business networking or chamber groups will demonstrate that your place of business is more than just food!

4 – Video will create excitement

Video is how more and more social media users are “consuming” their feeds. Restaurants can capitalize on video by posting content that patrons may not get to see everyday; chefs talking about the food they are prepping before opening, server team meetings tasting / talking about the specials you have planned for the night, bartenders creating something amazing – these are all examples that show the “behind the scenes” of your operation – and followers love it! Posting videos will make customers feel like they are a part of what you do, beyond just eating your food!

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Social Thrive_image

From Drive to Thrive! Boston Social Media Provider Rebrands to Social Thrive and Grows to Full-Service National Digital Agency

From Drive to Thrive! Boston Social Media Provider Rebrands to Social Thrive and Grows to Full-Service National Digital Agency

Boston, Mass. – September 2018– Social Drive, a digital marketing and advertising agency, has revealed its new brand name, Social Thrive. The change celebrates the agency’s record six-year growth and its progression from a social media providerto a full-service online partner. Social Thriveoffers a robust suite of digital services such as SEO services, website design and development, social media marketing, inbound marketing, reputation management, online advertising and paid search for businesses.

“Our new identity reflects our evolution. Social Thrive is more integrated and offers clients greater capabilities with a team that is adaptable to market challenges and collaborates for the best results,” said Social Thrive’s Co-Founder Aubrey Burke. “The new name remains true to our core tenets and prepares us for the future.”

Founded six years ago, Social Thrive serves over 51 active clients and organizations in Greater Boston, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Illinois, New Jersey, and New York. It works with B2B and B2C companies, restaurants, nonprofits, mobile app developers, and commercial and residential real estate developers. The agency maintains a bi-coastal presence with offices in Boston, New York City, and Palo Alto to support clients and business visionaries who are changing how people work and play. Social Thrive’s lengthy team experience includes working with well-known start-ups started by Harvard and MIT grads, plus with news aggregators like AOL and the Huffington Post.

“We’ve built a unique culture that’s both team-oriented and ultra-productive,” said Social Thrive’s Co-Founder Kristine Resendes. “Our agile team has a passion for our industry and offers an unparalleled wealth of knowledge and dedication. Additionally, we will never put our clients in a ticket queue or make them speak to phone prompts. This separates us from our competitors – and for our clients – it is a huge differentiator.” Moving forward, Social Thrive plans to expand its client portfolio and increase its local community relationships.

Established in 2012, Social Thriveis Boston-based online marketing and advertising agency offering a full suite of digital services for companies that desire to makea digital presence with measurable behavior and ROI. Its powerhouse team works with brands nationwide and maintains a Boston office with bureaus in New York and California. Social Thrive’s capabilities, leadership and dynamic personality are available on its website, on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter,Google+, and LinkedIn.

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LinkedIn Branding

Using LinkedIn for Company Branding

LinkedIn is considered the “professional” networking platform that can help you build your business with leads and recruitment (as Social Thrive has stated previously). But did you think of LinkedIn as a branding platform? Probably not.

LinkedIn recently announced it’s Top 10 Company Pages of 2018 and the winners span different industries, but they all have taken advantage of LinkedIn’s platform to assist them with their branding efforts.

Use of Logos / Branded Imagery

Your company’s page allows you to not only add your logo to the profile picture and background, but you can also add posts or articles using imagery that complements your website or other forms of advertisement. By doing this, your audience make the visual connection with your brand.

Use of Video

You can now embed video into your posts, articles and on your company home page. This is something brands and companies have been clamoring to do for years! Use of video to engage potential clients is now a standard across ALL social media channels (finally!) Keep it brief though as most experts agree that 30 to 60 seconds is the average watch time for on-line social media videos. LinkedIn has not yet started inserting advertising into their videos so you won’t have your message interrupted either.

Publishing Company News

Not all of your potential clients are subscribed to your email list, so posting company news on channels that potential customers will see (besides your website) is important. LinkedIn is also a great way for all of your employees to “share” company news in a professional way to increase your social reach. Again, LinkedIn Top Companies all used the platform successfully to disseminate important news, bringing their audience closer to their mission and messaging. It’s the one channel where it’s OK to boast about your business’ success.

Leveraging Your C-Level Talent

By having your executive team author posts, articles and other content on LinkedIn, your company will have a larger social “reach” in terms of the number of eyes on your brand, but it also showcases your company as a leader in your industry. Great for engaging potential clients but also reaching potential new employees as well!

Showing the culture behind the company

Beyond informative stats and articles, LinkedIn can also be a place where your company showcases your company’s culture, mission and activities “behind the scenes” that support it. Employee volunteer opportunities, donation drives, events, awards or a “day in the life of” show followers what goes on at your company in a human way. It’s also a great way to attract potential employees if they connect with your culture messaging before they even apply for a position.

LinkedIn is positioning itself as a premier networking and recruitment platform so be sure to position your company’s page with a cohesive branding strategy! PS – if you’re not already following Social Thrive’s LinkedIn what are you waiting for?

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Social Media

Customizing Your Message to Your Social Media Audience

Your business has several different social media channels – but that doesn’t mean you should be posting the same content on each of them! Different social media platforms attract a variety of users so you should have individualized strategies for each with how, when and what you post on each.

Instagram

This channel has over 1 billion account users on it and is considered a prime platform to reach 18-30 year olds globally. Since purchasing it in 2012, Facebook has rolled out significant updates to this mobile app to help businesses see demographic data of followers and post performance. This platform is primarily visual with more time being spent by users on their Stories and IGTV function (newly launched long format video function) every day. It has even surpassed Snapchat usage.

Infographic: Instagram Stories Blows Past Snapchat | Statista

So what should you be posting on Instagram for your business? Stories about your company with a look at behind the scenes, employee spotlights or insights into your business culture tend to trend very well in popularity. Stories can be a combination of video and photos shared during working hours, Monday through Friday – one of the busiest times for Instagram traffic.  Don’t forget to add #Hashtags and use Emoji’s wisely in your posts & comments!

Facebook

Facebook has been adopted largely by the 30 to 65+ crowd over the past 5 years giving this platform the largest social media footprint globally with over 2 BILLION users. Many businesses adopted this platform and with the advent of Facebook Business Pages, have great insight into post performance, audience and other key performance indicators. With recent changes to Facebook algorithms, some business are finding it harder to reach their customers with their posts being served to an average of only 2% of their followers.

Video is now favored by Facebook over regular, static posts and it also has a Stories function as well. While FB Stories is not as popular as Instagram’s, any video post will be served up to followers more frequently than other posts within the normal news feed. Facebook is also a great platform to post static announcements and events! Facebook’s event spin off “Local” app is quickly being adopted by businesses to promote webinars, special events or sales with Facebook’s geo-targeting capabilities. Utilize Facebook for important company events, post videos (again behind the scenes or LIVE events are popular), integrate some #Hashtags and again include a few Emojis for best results.

LinkedIn

Considered the “professional” virtual networking platform. LinkedIn is a great source for B2B business building and recruitment. LinkedIn was purchased by MicroSoft in 2016 and has since made several other acquisitions to become an important recruitment tool in the business world. So what should you be doing on LinkedIn?

On your personal page, you should be reaching out to new connections on a regular basis to grow your network. Giving and asking for skill endorsements as well as recommendations are important to increase your profile’s credibility. Additionally, posting articles and news feed items that your connections like or comment on raises your profile’s visibility.

On your Company page, posting articles will again raise the profile of your page. Ask people to follow it via your personal page and monitor the insights available on the company page. What are people liking / commenting on? Continue to serve up content that will attract more followers. Making it a mix of other content sources and original content (like from your website’s blog!) will again help your company’s overall SEO.

Google+

When coming up with a marketing strategy, working to boost your company’s social media profile and boosting your company’s website SEO can be accomplished by utilizing Google+. Who uses Google+ still? Well, there are some die-hard communities that still utilize this platform, like Social Media Professionals, but when Google looks for search results for your query, it likes to look at its own properties first – like Google+ and Google My Business. By posting on Google+, your content is going to be picked up on relevant searches before other external sources. The content doesn’t have to be different from items you are posting on other social media platforms either – you just need to post it!

Bottom line is, a majority of Americans are now engaging on-line everyday with one or more social media platforms. Having a specific strategy to reach your specific audience is crucial in today’s busy Social Media realm. Reach out to Social Thrive today to get started on your social media strategy plan!

 

 

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Blog Writing

5 Important Tips in Writing Your Company Blog

Writing a blog for your company is now considered an important factor in helping customers find you.

How? People turn to the web to help them solve problems. You will want to create blog entries that will help solve your potential customer’s issues, but also help with search engine optimization (SEO) to bring you to the customer with their search query.  Here are the 5 items to keep in mind when writing:

1 – Go for Quality vs. Quantity: Before changes in search engine algorithms, writing frequent blog posts would increase the likelihood of your website being served up on internet searches. Today, Google and other major engines are rewarding content generators on the quality of the information being produced and its relevancy to what people are searching for. Whatever posting schedule you come up with (monthly or bi-weekly for instance) stick with it so your readers know what to expect and when, as consistency is important in keeping your website visible with your readers.

2 – Timely and Relevant: Writing about topics that your readership views as important (and valuable enough to share) is also critical to getting your blog noticed. It will also establish your area of expertise and been seen as a credible source of information. Brainstorm a list of items that are relevant to your customers and then look at what are “hot topics” going on in your industry or the larger marketplace that could impact your customers – then blog about it!

3 – Keep Your Audience in Mind: Search engines look at overall length, how hard or easy it is to read, type of language used and how many times you use the keyword in the post to help in relevancy ranking. While long format postings tend to do better with search engines, put yourself in your reader’s shoes; Are they super busy? Then be brief or utilize bullets to make your key points visible. Do they want in-depth explanations and technical details? Then make it longer. Writing for them will help you reach your ideal client.

4 – Continue to evaluate what is working: Look at what posts got comments, likes / shares, links or clicks through to your contact form. Conversion from information seeker to customer is an important ROI of your website’s performance, so monitoring and measuring it on an on-going basis is important.

5 – Integrate your blog into your larger marketing strategy: Include your blog in your social media strategy by posting it in your different channels, use relevant posts in printed materials for prospective customers and use your blog to announce company events or information.

Need some help with your company’s blog? Contact Social Thrive about how we can help you come up with a plan!

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B2B

B2B Challenges

Business-to-Business companies have many of the same challenges Business-to-Consumer entities do; Establishing a brand, staying ahead of the marketplace and customer loyalty are key to successful B2B operators.

Establishing Your Brand

B2B companies have to overcome the normal obstacles of establishing a brand and creating a market for themselves without many of the advantages of other “consumer brand” companies have. Companies don’t know that they need your product or service. Not only do you have to establish what you do and why you do it, but you have to appeal to other businesses as to how it will benefit from them. Do most companies recognize new technology or market innovations that will benefit their business? Not necessarily. Successful B2B companies, like Salesforce, appeal to businesses on the basis of fueling growth. Creating strong messaging and successful case studies around why your company will help another’s business is the key to carving out your market share.

Technology Changes

Technology has also fueled innovation at a dizzying pace. It is difficult to keep up with the latest trends or new competitors to the marketplace. Consistently evaluate your offerings to stay relevant: Assess competitors, stay current with industry trends and evaluate customer demands.

Customer Retention

Working with your current customers to retain them is also key to making your B2B business more successful than most. The costs involved in retaining a customer is 5 to 6 times less than finding a new one, according to Fred Reichheld of Bain & Company. By retaining current customers and using them to talk about successes in working together, you will attract new customers.

 

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Social Media Policy

Social Media Policy: What Every Employer Should Give Their Employees

Using social media to promote your company is an important part of doing business today. Outlining the rules of engagement for your employees on social media channels to protect your brand and reputation within a policy guideline is also a business necessity.

A Social Media Policy doesn’t have to be a detailed document, as demonstrated by the adidas group, but it should include guidelines around your company’s official accounts and how employees should conduct themselves on their personal accounts.

Rules Around Your Company’s Official Social Media Accounts

  • Specify who is responsible for managing posting and interactions on your company’s official social media accounts. This could include customer service departments, HR, IT and public-facing executives.
  • Give specifics about how employees can share important company news and what they can share. Utilizing your employees to spread your company’s messaging on social media is a great way of increasing your web presence. 
  • Specify what company logo images should be used by employees. This will keep the look of your social media presence consistent.
  • Remind employees of the usage of stock images and how to obtain permission prior to use on the internet.

Employee Personal Account Conduct

  • Define what behaviors will result in disciplinary action. Without specifying what activities are prohibited, your company may not be able to fire an employee for misconduct.
  • Give employees a course of action if an issue arises with an interaction – do they call HR? Or Marketing?
  • Remind them that company issued technology are the property of the company as is all information and usage on those devices, including social media sites or apps.
  • Outline potential security risks associated with using social media platforms along with best practices to avoid potential virus infection or security breaches. Again, give employees next steps on whom to contact should they detect any issues.

Social media platforms are constantly evolving.  Your policy should be continually assessed and updated annually. Additionally, there are different laws globally governing what companies can or can’t do around monitoring or enforcing policies with employee social media usage or monitoring. You will need to consult with your legal department on what applies to your company’s operations.

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Open SIgn

Where Do Your Customers Come From?

Where do your customers come from?  If you answer this question with anecdotal evidence and not hard numbers, then it’s time to start looking at ways to track the answer.

Why is monitoring your traffic sources so important? Assessing your on-going advertising is key in ensuring your business is spending marketing money where it contributes the most revenue growth.

What are the different ways to find out how your customers found you?

  • Ask at time of sale – “How did you hear about us?” should be a part of your checkout process and RECORD their answer! This can be in-person or through the electronic form they complete on your website. Train your sales staff to include this question in their customer service dialogue. Make recording the answer as simple as possible, like a tally sheet at the register or, for a website, a single drop-down menu or check box to ensure you get an answer!
  • Survey – Send a quick inquiry to your current or former customer list with an incentive for them to complete (like a coupon good for their next visit!) to get the answers you need AND drive traffic back to you.
  • Google Analytics – Anyone with a website should have Google Analytics set-up to see what sites are referring traffic to yours. Is it social media sites?, organic searches? or links from other websites? Google will tell you just about everything.
  • Coded Advertising – If you do a direct mailing, print or media advertisement (such as social media, TV or Radio) with an offer, then have a code on it to track how many people respond by utilizing that unique code or link.
  • Tracked Phone Calls – If you have customers calling, tracking where they got your number from is often a forgotten piece of the puzzle. Phone call tracking systems can record how customers found your website (paid search, free search, social media, referral sites etc.) by giving them a unique number to call and many integrate with Google Analytics to give you timely conversion information.

All of these different ways of measuring where your customer traffic is coming from will help you spend marketing money effectively and keep tabs on your customer base.