Category : Blog

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filming, video marketing

The Benefits of Video Marketing for Small Businesses: Part 2

We’ve compiled a list of 5 video marketing strategies any small business can leverage to increase their exposure and bottom line.

EXPLAINER VIDEO CONTENT

Educational and “How To” videos allow you, as a product or service provider, to demonstrate your knowledge by showing consumers how your product will solve their problem, and how to use it. This offers a whole new layer of value when consumers consider investing in your business. The second-best thing to an in-person tutorial is a video demonstration. Think about how often people search YouTube for instructions on how to use a product or program. Showcasing your expertise in the form of video will keep customers coming back for more and will encourage them to commit to your product, knowing that they will have access to the material they need to use it.

BEHIND THE SCENES

Who doesn’t love a little behind the scenes action? Whether you give a sneak peek into your work culture or you’re demonstrating the processes behind creating the products that your consumers have grown to know and love… there is no denying that people appreciate getting the inside scoop.

A huge part of video marketing is the ability to humanize your brand. Who is behind the products or services? How can consumers relate to the company? No matter what size your business is, relatability is a huge factor in any stage of the buying cycle, but particularly for those that are smaller. The smaller your company is, the more competitive the market will be.

The more competition you face, the more important it is for you to establish who you are and why you’re their best choice.

CUSTOMER TESTIMONIALS

The proof is in the pudding! Not all video content has to come directly from the brand. Your customers should be your biggest advocates. With the influx of product reviews online, consumers inherently search for real feedback before making a purchase. Rather than feeding insight through the mouths of your company representatives, why not hand them what they are looking for?

Invite your consumers to create videos about their experience with your company. With the right incentive in place, young consumers will be more than willing to submit user-generated reviews on your behalf that you can later regurgitate on your own channels. Video testimonials are far more effective and authentic than written.

BROADCAST LIVE EVENTS

Streaming live events or conversations through social media platforms such as Instagram’s IGTV and Facebook Live is a fun way to increase visibility and promote conversation. It may even trigger a little FOMO, which isn’t a bad thing if your goal is to increase attendance at future functions.

Live broadcasts are becoming a critical driving factor in establishing digital brand awareness. Businesses are given a unique (and free!) advantage by offering a content experience to a deeply captive audience. One billion people use Instagram each month; 95% of U.S. Instagrammers use YouTube, and 91% use Facebook. This creates endless opportunities to cross-promote and tease videos across platforms.

PRODUCTS IN ACTION

What better way to persuade potential buyers than by showing them your products in use? Consumers appreciate creativity, especially in the form of inspiration and hacks. While describing why and how one might benefit from your business is effective, showing the various ways a product can be used, worn, or incorporated into their daily lives will get your customers saying, “hmm, why didn’t I think of that?”

If you’ve yet to incorporate video into your marketing strategy, the time is now! Always be sure to include a clear call-to-action to increase your leads and conversions.

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Filming, video marketing

The Benefits of Video Marketing for Small Businesses

Video marketing is one of the most effective ways to engage your audience. It’s one thing to tell consumers how you can serve them; it’s another to show them. The 2019 digital marketing landscape shows that 87% of businesses are using video as a promotional tool, and 83% of marketers say that video gives them a good ROI. With numbers like those, there is no denying that this visual marketing strategy is on the rise.

If your business has considered using video to market your products or services but has not yet made a move, you may be missing out on an enormous growth opportunity, both in staying relevant and in increasing sales.

Here are five compelling reasons you should incorporate video into your marketing strategy:

1. Consumers WANT Video. It’s simple: if you want to stand out, you need to give the people what they want. These days, consumers prefer video over written content. In fact, 87% of consumers want to see more videos from brands in 2019. Videos are easy to consume, especially in an age when 81% of Americans own smartphones, and 75% of all video plays are on mobile devices. Stay current and aware of where the traffic is, and your viewership will flourish.

2. Boosted Online Presence. YouTube, the second largest search engine in the world, has 2 billion monthly users who watch 250 million hours of videos on their TVs daily. This is a 39% increase in under a year. Videos are favored by Google and thus increase search engine rankings and visibility. And Google owns YouTube, so videos are a significant factor in where you land in the SERPs. The longer someone views your content, the more search engines will trust that your website is trustworthy and valuable.

3. Brand Awareness and Understanding. Videos can attract potential buyers that you weren’t reaching before and can help them understand what your products and services are all about. Visual representations allow consumers to recognize your business and keep you top-of-mind when someone is in the market for what you have to offer. This is especially useful when you are launching a new service or product, or when your product requires instructions for use.

4. Increased Conversions and Sales. Establishing brand awareness and understanding can lead directly to an increase in your conversion rate and sales. The more people know about your products and services, and the more they understand how they can benefit from them, the better your odds are of witnessing an influx of customers. More sales equal a better overall return on investment.

5. Illustrates Personality and Authenticity. Video gives you something that written content does not: the chance to put a face to the name. The more your customers recognize and trust you, the more likely they will be to become long-term buyers. Your audience will appreciate the opportunity to get to know your business on a more personal level, which, in turn, will establish a connection to your brand.

Ready to get started with video marketing? Check out our Benefits of Video Marketing Blog: Part 2 post for five strategies you can implement today!

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2019 trends

Social Media Marketing Trends in 2019

Depending on how you look at it, social media marketing (SMM) has been evolving for more than 20 years. Ever since the 1997 launch of the very first social media site, Six Degrees, marketers have considered how (or if) they can use platforms to engage target audiences. For the first decade, SMM was primarily organic, as marketers tried to connect the way we do with personal friends. It still works to a degree, if done correctly, but in the last 10 years paid advertising has taken hold and continues to grow.

Yes, SMM presents opportunities for brands and businesses, but also tough challenges. The many platforms evolve independently, with changing algorithms, technologies, audience behaviors and preferences, and the occasional government regulation. That pace can be head-spinning, at times occurring abruptly or within a short span of months

Of the many resources that help us understand the SMM landscape, one of the most insightful is the 2019 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, directed by Michael Stelzner, co-founder of Social Media Examiner. The longest-running study of its kind, this 11thannual edition surveys how more than 4,800 marketers worldwide—representing all industry sectors and organizational sizes—currently use or plan to use social media.

The 2019 report is available to download, and we’d like to share here some of the interesting trends that it reveals, as discussed by Michael Stelzner on the Social Media Marketing Talk Show…

Facebook is trending down for the first time in five years. In 2013, Facebook was the most important marketing channel for 52% of survey participants, steadily rising to 67% in 2018 before slipping back to 61% this year. Why? Stelzner suggests that almost all organic activity is being repressed, perhaps in response to Facebook’s privacy and politics concerns of the last few years. According to 77% of survey participants, the platform is getting more complicated and providing diminishing returns on the effort.

Instagram continues to grow. In 2015, only 2% of marketers said it was their single most important marketing platform. Since then it has climbed respectively to 4%, 7%, 10% and now 14%, earning a rank only slightly above LinkedIn. Moreover, 69% plan to increase their use of Instagram. Marketers are especially interested in the popular Stories feature (reportedly, 100 million are consumed each day). Yet they are also still learning that Stories require well-planned, consistent, attention-getting content. Time will tell whether organic content continues to be effective on Instagram, or whether algorithms shift, pushing marketers to rely increasingly on paid content, as they have on Facebook.

Live video is weak, and will remain so without planning and investment. Much like Stories, the effective use of Facebook’s live video requires significant resources, time and patience to realize a return on investment. Meanwhile, the algorithms appear to be repressing the content. No surprise then that only 35% of survey participants use it, and 44% want nothing to do with it. Conversely, Stelzner notes, low utilization rates may create opportunities for those who can do it the right way.

Interest in Messenger bots is fading. Facebook launched Messenger’s chatbot feature in 2016 and by 2018, 70% of the survey pool wanted to learn more about them. This year, just 14% actually use them, 45% care to learn more, and 53% have no plans to use Messenger bots. As it turns out, the programming them is quite complicated, and marketers still question whether their audiences seek or expect meaningful engagement with bots, at least with current AI technology.

Diversification is critical.Some businesses may do well by marketing on just one or two social media platforms, but that is becoming increasingly difficult, especially on Facebook. Stelzner says the future there about privacy and groups, as exposure and reach become harder for those who don’t invest heavily. Thus, as they have since long before the dawn of social media, marketers must continue to innovate, strategize and discover the channels where they can best engage and serve their target audience.

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podcast marketing

Podcasting as a Marketing Tool

As marketing trends evolve and businesses adapt to customer demands, industry leaders are looking for new ways to reach and engage their target audience. While social media, content marketing, PPC, and B2B are all promotional strategies companies should continue to employ, it may be time to think outside the box.

If you want your business to stand out against a saturated market, consider implementing alternative marketing tools, like podcasting. Podcasting is unique way to access a captive audience, increase leads and conversions, and establish brand awareness. It’s also growing; ad spending is predicted to reach $534 million by 2020, up from $43 million in 2010. You do the math!

Not convinced? Here are six reasons podcasting may be an ideal addition to your company’s marketing strategy:

RELATIONSHIP BUILDING & AWARENESS

Marketing is nothing without relationships. While podcasts don’t allow conversation between consumer and provider, listeners are able to get to know the speaker on a more personal level. It establishes a sense of connection and trust and helps demonstrate a company’s authenticity. It’s one thing to write about why your business is a customer’s best option; it’s another to show it. By the time your show is over, listeners will feel like they know you and will want to be associated with your brand.

CONVENIENT FOR CONSUMERS

Think of all the people who commute to and from work each day. Now consider all the people who own smartphones. Audio content is a simple, hands-free form of education and entertainment. It allows small businesses to tap into a market that few others have access to. For example, if you drive to work, you may tune into the radio. If you take a train, you may see several print advertisements on the subway walls and maybe a few video commercials, but not much else. You are left with your thoughts or your headphones. Podcasts are an easy way for consumers to maximize their time without having to carry anything extra.

THEY’RE HIGHLY ENGAGING

In many cases, audio is easier to consume than text, making listeners pay closer attention and for longer periods. As of June 2019, 80% of podcast consumers listen to all or most of each episode, and tune into to an average of seven shows per week.

Additionally, when someone subscribes to a podcast, they don’t have to be targeted any further like they may with PPC advertisements. In most cases, their smartphone will automatically download or sync itself to any new episodes that are published, making it easy for marketers to reach former listeners. If you continue to produce quality content, your consumers will keep listening.

MORE CUSTOMERS AND CONVERSIONS

Targeting an untouched market allows companies to attain customers they may not have otherwise reached. While podcasting is still relatively new, there is an enormous demographic looking for new shows to tune into, and your show could be the first time they’re learning about your business.

The more awareness you build, the more conversions you will see. A clear and relevant CTA at the end of your episode will increase traffic and help customers stay in touch, or access whatever you choose to promote.

THEY’RE STILL UNIQUE

While podcasting is growing, most companies will face little competition. This marketing tool allows businesses to establish themselves as authority figures in their industry, particularly when they’re among the first to present themselves to listeners. Because it is a vocal platform, you as the provider can demonstrate why you and your company are their best option. Set yourselves apart!

THEY’RE AFFORDABLE & EASY TO PRODUCE

Podcast equipment and software are inexpensive, making this marketing method accessible to almost any budget. With a microphone and an editing program, just about anyone can create the content they need. A plus? You don’t have to have a strict script or plan; if you have a basic topic and structure to follow, you can talk with your guest and see what comes out of it. In fact, this relaxed conversational style is what many consumers prefer.

Podcasts are easily integrated into any existing digital marketing plan. Whether you are trying to sell products or services, are looking to grow your email list, or are simply focused on lead generation, this powerful marketing tool can take your business to the next level.

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Google

6 Reasons Why Your Business Needs Google My Business

When Google announced the planned shut-down of Google+ last year, few in the social media landscape were surprised. With pesky bug problems and low usage by both individuals and organizations, the platform simply wasn’t sustainable.

But such is not the case for its commerce-friendly cousin, Google My Business. In fact, aside from a company’s own website, its Google My Business profile (may be the most valuable piece of online real estate to manage.

If your business does not have a Google My Business account, or if you only lightly use one, here are six reasons why you should up your game:

  1. GET FOUND. If someone is searching for your company online, what’s the first thing they do? Google it, right? With an active Google My Business account, your “Business Profile” (as Google calls it) appears to the right of the search results on a desktop browser window, or at the very top of a mobile screen, providing a quick link to your website and a whole lot more (read on).  BONUS: Your Business Profile also helps you get found on the map, automatically identifying your location (or locations) on Google Maps, and providing directions with a click of the mouse.
  2. ENSURE ACCURACY. Your Business Profile puts you in control of what users see in the search results. In addition to your web address and location, you can specify phone numbers, operating hours, the services you offer (organized by sections, descriptions and prices), and more.  BONUS: This takes pressure off of your SEO and tagging efforts, and ultimately improves your rating on the search engine.
  3. SHARE CONTENT. Similar to other social media platforms, Google My Business allows you to share photos, videos and posts, showing what makes your business unique and increasing the appeal for viewers to follow your business.  BONUS: Understanding the business value of other platforms, Google My Business allows links to your Facebook, Twitter, LiinkedIn and other profiles.
  4. ATTRACT AND ENGAGE CUSTOMERS. In addition to shared content, your Business Profile offers places for customers to book services, write reviews, ask questions (which you can answer for all viewers to see), and send direct messages. Each chance to directly engage customers increases their trust and your growth potential.  BONUS: Google My Business also allows you to share special offers with your followers. Talk about incentive!
  5. GET INSIGHTS. The Google My Business dashboard includes some of the best features of Google Analytics, including website and search performance, how viewers search for your business (by query phrases as well as through direct, discovery or branded methods), and what actions they take upon finding you (website visits, direction requests or phone calls).  BONUS: Google My Business also shows what other businesses similar to yours are posting, helping you to keep an eye on best practices and the competition.
  6. IT’S FREE! There is no cost to establishing a Business Profile, which you can access both on a desktop browser and the Google My Business app. Google’s only requirement is that your business must have some level of in-person interaction with customers, and not be 100% online.

Here at Social Thrive, we take great care and pride in managing Business Profiles for our clients, knowing how important it is to their success. (To see a few examples, search for Arsenal Yards, The Royal Belmont, Back Deck, or Thomas Interior Painting). We’re also happy to provide free audits and recommendations for businesses who have yet to make the most of the opportunity.

But if you want to get started on your own right away, our friends over at Hubspot offer a great step-by-step guide for creating a Google My Business listing.

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white papers business writing

White Papers and Your Business

White papers can help promote and grow your business if well written and used correctly.

First, what is a White Paper? According to Wikipedia:

“A white paper is an authoritative report or guide that informs readers concisely about a complex issue and presents the issuing body’s philosophy on the matter. It is meant to help readers understand an issue, solve a problem, or make a decision.”

In business, white papers are typically marketing or sales tools used to help educate, persuade or showcase specific products or solutions one company can provide another. White papers can also be used to generate sales for organizations when used as a “lead magnet” on social media, your company website or through targeted web advertising. Beyond these basic guidelines, there are no real rules around what a “white paper” should be called, contain or formatted. There are several options around presenting the information your company may want to provide and CoSchedule has a great how-to guide on White Papers that can also help you break down how to present your information:

White Paper or other format options from CoSchedule

If you don’t have the talent or bandwidth to create your own white paper, then there are plenty of other companies and contractors out there to help you.

Here are three important tips to keep in mind when authoring a white paper for your business:

Know what your potential customer is looking for

What keywords are your target audience typing into search engines that your company can help with? This is the primary question to answer when generating any content that will be housed on the web – from your website, to social media topics, to white papers. If you are going to help a customer solve a problem they are having – then be sure to title your offering with the terms they are searching for.

Your white paper should address the issue your potential customer is looking for in a factual, non-sales way while establishing your businesses expertise on this topic.

Have a strategy for the white paper

Now that you have written one, how are you going to utilize and promote your white paper (or case study or guide or whatever you want to call it) to help your business grow? Develop a strategy to promote it’s content around your website, social media feeds, blog postings, company newsletter or any other marketing and sales channel that will help reach your potential customer.

After someone has requested your white paper, establish a follow-up plan of who and how you are going to reach out to them with emails, newsletters or phone calls.

Provide Content in Exchange for Information

Grow your potential customer database and gain insight into who your potential audience is by asking specific demographic information as a part of receiving the information you are going to share (name, company, title, revenue etc). This will continue to help refine or reinforce who your customer base is for the white paper you have written.

With today’s technology, any business can write and utilize a white paper to help grow their business. Contact Social Thrive today to see how we can help you put your next white paper to work for your company.

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black friday shoping cyber monday marketing

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. Here’s how you can prepare your business with a plan for the holidays.

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 having solid demographic information paired with what your customer is challenged with will help you hone your messaging to reach your potential audience.

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 Inboxes were 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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