Archive for ‘General Marketing’

December 1st, 2014

Five Rules of Grammar You Can Ignore (Despite What Your English Teacher Told You)

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One of the nice things about my job is that I receive a lot of free books from well-known marketing authors like Erik Qualman, Dave Kerpen and Lon Safko. Usually, these are shipped to me direct from the publisher in the hopes that I’ll read them and write a review on the 60 Second Marketer. As nice as it is to get the free books, I just don’t have the bandwidth to read each one, let alone write a review.

But a few weeks ago, I received a review copy of Everybody Writes by Ann Handley, who is the Chief Content Officer at MarketingProfs. My intent was to sit down, skim a few pages and then put it up on the shelf with all the other review copies I’ve received in the last year.

So, I grabbed a fresh cup of coffee and started reading a few pages. Then I read a few more pages. And a few more pages.

Before long, I realized that Ann’s book is a must read for any businessperson interested in improving their writing. And that means you.

Her book is packed with useful information and helpful tips that even seasoned writers need to re-visit. Better still, Ann’s book is written in a light, engaging style that makes reading it pure joy.

With that in mind, I thought I’d share a short excerpt from her book that you might find helpful. It’s about five grammar rules that your third grade teacher said never to break, but that Ann Handley says are okay to ignore.

Break Some Grammar Rules. (At Least These Five.)

High school composition classes tend to lump a lot of rules into writing – many of them telling writers what not to do. But you’re not writing to please your teachers anymore. Many of those prohibitions refer to the so-called mistakes that occur naturally in speech. I encourage you to safely and fearlessly break those rules and to make those mistakes in writing – but only when doing so lends greater clarity and readability.

  1. Never start a sentence with and, but, or because. And why not put and, but, or because at the beginning of a sentence? Because Ms. Dolan didn’t like it? That’s the way I heard it, anyway. But now that I’m a grown-up I realize that she was wrong. Why? Because all three can add energy and momentum to a piece. They can keep the action moving from sentence to sentence.
  2. Avoid sentence fragments. It’s perfectly fine to sparingly add sentence fragments for emphasis. At least, sometimes. (Like that.) (And that too.) (And this.)
  3. Never split infinitives. There’s supposedly a rule that says you can’t let anything come between to and its verb. Mignon Fogarty (who runs GrammarGirl.com) says this is an imaginary rule. She writes, “Instead of ‘to boldly go where no one has gone before,’ the Star Trek writers could just [as] easily have written, ‘to go boldly where no one has gone before.” But they didn’t. You, too, can split if you wish. But be careful not to change the meaning or create too much ambiguity, as GrammarGirl notes:

Sometimes when you try to avoid splitting an infinitive you can change the meaning of a sentence. Consider this example:

Steve decided to quickly remove Amy’s cats.

The split infinitive is “to quickly remove,” but if you move the adverb quickly before the infinitive, you could imply that Steve made the decision quickly:

Steve decided quickly to remove Amy’s cats.

  1. Don’t end a sentence with a preposition. It has been said that after an editor changed his sentence so it wouldn’t end with a preposition, Winston Churchill quipped, “This is the kind of impertinence up with which I shall not put.” Awkward. “This is the kind of impertinence I will not put up with,” is perfectly fine. One big unless: “You shouldn’t end a sentence with a preposition when the sentence would mean the same thing if you left off the preposition,” GrammarGirl notes. “That means ‘Where are you at’ is wrong because ‘Where are you?’ means the same thing.
  1. Never write a paragraph that’s a mere one sentence long. In school, I was taught to write paragraphs with no fewer than three sentences and no more than seven. Modern marketing has pretty much choked this one dead, because white space helps online readability tremendously.

But it bears emphasizing: one sentence, set apart, is a great way to make an important point crystal clear.

I’m not kidding.

Everybody Writes, by Ann Handley, is available at fine bookstores everywhere.

Excerpted with permission of the publisher, Wiley, from Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content by Ann Handley. Copyright (c) 2014 by Ann Handley. All rights reserved. This book is available at all bookstores and online booksellers.

Jamie Turner is CEO of the 60 Second Marketer and 60 Second Communications, a marketing communications agency that works with well-known brands around the globe.

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Archive for ‘General Marketing’

November 26th, 2014

The Best Business Advice I Ever Got

Screen Shot 2014-11-26 at 5.58.40 PM I don’t know about you, but I’m always looking for tips and techniques to grow my business.

In order to stay up-to-date on new tips and techniques, I read a lot of books from authors like Steven Covey and Tony Robbins (yes, Tony Robbins, who gets pegged as a motivational guy, but who is actually a super-brilliant businessman).

I also read a lot of blogs (Michael Hyatt, Razor Social, Business Insider, etc.) and newspapers (the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times are my favorites, although I don’t always have a subscription).

Long story short — I have a steady flow of ideas coming my way about how to improve my business and how to improve my personal performance. Many of these ideas are delivered by people who have had massive amounts of success, so I listen to them closely.

But the best piece of business advice I ever got was from my brother, who is not a Wall Street icon or a famous blogger, he’s a very humble guy who goes to church every day and works as a piano technician.

From those humble roots came this game changing business advice, which is deceptive in its simplicity, yet revolutionary in its scope.

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Let me explain.

As you know, software works by taking a line of code, executing that line and then moving on to the next line of code.

The best software has millions of lines of code that continuously build upon one another. The result is that the software runs amazing things like space ships, Google, your smartphone, nuclear power plants and other important stuff.

But if the first line of code is wrong in any of that software, then the whole thing goes kaput.

In other words, no matter how well-written and smart lines 2 through infinity are, if the first line of code is wrong, the it doesn’t matter what the rest of the code says to do — it just doesn’t add up.

Many people in business (myself included) need to examine their first line of code. After all, if your business decisions are made with an errant first line of code, then no matter how good the rest of your business decisions are, they won’t do squat for your business.

Let’s take a look at some flawed first lines of code:

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I’m sure there will be a few people who disagree with my point-of-view that these are flawed first lines of code. After all, don’t all successful businesses put their customers first? (The answer is no.) And don’t businesses always succeed when they have happy employees? (Again, the answer is no.) And shouldn’t you always enter in to agreements that are win/win? (No — There are times where I’ve intentionally been the loser in an agreement in the short run, in order to ultimately have a win/win arrangement in the long run.)

That’s not to say that those lines of code shouldn’t be in your mix, it’s just to say that it shouldn’t be your first line of code.

So, what’s your first line of code?

The answer is going to vary depending on your industry, the company you work for  and the job you’ve been assigned to do. But my first line of code — as the CEO of a marketing communications firm — is this.

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This line of code is so important that I have it written on the white board in my office as a reminder. After all, I’m just like you in that I get distracted, side tracked and unfocused at times.

In fact, I probably suffer from that more than you do, which is why I have my first line of code written on a white board 3 feet from the tip of my nose.

Why is this line of code so important for me? Because if I don’t have a relentless focus on revenue generation for my company, then I don’t have customers or employees to worry about tomorrow.

Remember, there are other lines of code that follow this one — millions, in fact. But the first line of code (for me, anyway) has to start with revenue generation. After all, without revenues, your company doesn’t grow, and if your company isn’t growing, it’s dying.

All this begs the question — what’s your first line of code? What, given your role, is the first thing you should be thinking about as you execute your job?

Let me know in the comments below — it’ll be great to read them!

 

Jamie Turner is the CEO of the 60 Second Marketer and 60 Second Communications, a marketing communications agency that works with national and international brands. He is the co-author of “How to Make Money with Social Media” and “Go Mobile” and is a popular marketing speaker at events, trade shows and corporations around the globe.

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Archive for ‘General Marketing’

November 12th, 2014

Why Bose Should Invest in Fan Conversation, Not Lawyers

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NFL fans suddenly have a lot to say about Bose headphones. Unfortunately for the brand, none of it is going to help them increase sales.

The NFL confirmed last week that Bose would be exercising its right as the league’s “official audio provider” to keep rival headphones out of the picture. From now on, you won’t be seeing your quarterback wear Beats by Dre headphones during any post-game interviews. Instead, the only headphones you’ll see onscreen from a player’s pre-kickoff ritual to 90 minutes after the game, between pre-season training and the Super Bowl, will be Bose.

Not because the players prefer the brand. Because they are contractually forbidden from wearing anything else.

Not surprisingly, Bose’s heavy-handed marketing tactics aren’t sitting well with either of the company’s main target groups: NFL fans and audiophiles.

“Just think of wearing Bose headphones as an NFL player like wearing a McDonald’s visor while [you are) working the drive-through,” wrote one commenter on Endgadget.

“Better sound through marketing,” quipped another on Deadspin.

Ouch.

Bose makes a great product. I have three pairs myself. However as the C.E.O. of a word-of-mouth marketing agency, it pains me to see good brands start bad conversations about themselves. The key to word-of-mouth marketing is getting consumers to share stories about why they love your product or service. There are a few simple steps to making that happen—and not one of them is “use lawyers.”

If you want people, particularly influencers, to share stories about your brand, you need to give them stories that check three boxes. These stories must be interesting, relevant and authentic. Influencers—people who love to tell others about the coolest stuff to buy and do—don’t share stories that they don’t think will be interesting and relevant to their listener. Otherwise they risk boring them and losing their audience (influencers need an audience like football fans need large-screen TVs).

But most important, a shareable brand story must be authentic. “All my friends swear by their Samsung Galaxy.” “My grandmother says that the Bissell Sweeper is the only sure way to get Christmas tree needles out of that rug.” “Every cop I know swears by his Maglight so they must be tough.”

There is nothing authentic about forcing professional athletes to wear your headphones. No audiophile or NFL fan will ever tell his friends to try these headphones because he saw a linebacker switch brands to avoid paying a league fine. Today’s sophisticated consumer knows the difference between an authentic endorsement and a paid-for visual. It’s the former that gains more customers, not the later.

The truly sad part is that Bose has long built its reputation on world-class audio engineering and then having consumers share their experiences with others. Remember those little cards about Bose that the company includes in each case so when someone asks you about your headphones you can share the info with them quickly and get back to what you are doing?

I can’t recall a single celebrity spokesperson who made me want to buy a Bose product but I do know a dozen business travelers and/or musicians who travel more than I do and they all use and talk about Bose so that’s why I bought mine.

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At the heart of Bose’s brand is a very authentic story: “People who really know music will pay more to have the best equipment.” Finding ways to have more conversations with consumers about that story is a better use of resources than taking away players headphones like some kind of elementary school hall monitor.

Better sound through marketing, as the Deadspin commentator put it, that’s the other guy’s game. The biggest knock on Beats by Dre has always been that the sound doesn’t match the hype. Thus Bose is already well positioned to dethrone its competitor—it just has to do what it does best, which is make great headphones, and encourage Bose fans to share with others why they love Bose.

Of course, Beats is currently the 800-pound-gorilla of the headphone world. It owns 61 percent of the over-$100 headphone market, whereas Bose owns just 22 percent, according to market research firm NPD Group. People also used to buy a lot of Reebok Pumps, Chrysler cars and listen to disco. This too shall pass.

Why rely on rule of law when you could rely on referrals from friends, which we all know in the social-media age is far more effective than traditional, top-down marketing? Bose should be using its money to live up to its slogan and encourage others to share what is interesting, relevant and authentic about their product. That is the path to success in today’s market.

Ted Wright is CEO of Fizz, a word-of-mouth marketing firm in Atlanta, Georgia. His book, Fizz: Harness the Power of Word-of-Mouth Marketing to Drive Brand Growth, is now available at fine book sellers nationwide.

 

 

 

Archive for ‘General Marketing’

November 10th, 2014

7 Secret Ingredients of an Impeccable Sales Email

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Email is the first port of call for most sales and marketing teams in the B2B realm owing to its ease of use, comparatively low technology requirements, and the quick turnaround time that it affords.

Whether it is a cold call or a pitch, a follow-up with a lead or nurturing a potential customer, handling an existing customer or offering service to an existing one, email allows marketers to handle each task with élan.

B2C marketing teams are not too far behind in their use of email in their marketing. As a conversion tool, email marketing has proven itself over the years to be highly effective. What’s more, over 52% of all marketers increased their email marketing budgets in 2014.

A recent Email Marketing Benchmarks Study by eMarketer reports that: “The average order value from customers acquired via email is also 17% higher than those acquired from social media channels.”

Email marketing is easy to measure and analyze, which makes it unparalleled in its ability to help us understand where sales are coming from. And email marketing makes sense for both the B2C world and the B2B world. After all, the final readers in both cases are individuals so the effect of media channels on them ought to be similar.

What follows are 7 secrets you can use in your email marketing to ensure you get the most bang for your buck.

  1. Get inside the mind of your prospective customers

An email campaign is only as good as the research that goes into it.

In a B2B scenario, study your client’s business inside out. Understand what their pain points are, what their victories were, what they are currently working on. All of these will help you get a sense of what to offer to the client and be more relevant to their immediate needs.

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A B2C campaign needs to send targeted communications to its users based on the wealth of big data that they have at their disposal. An email campaign promoting women’s running shoes to a male athlete is a waste of time and effort. Worse, it tells the user that you have no clue about their real needs, prompting them to ignore future communications that you send them.

Track users across different interfaces and loop data back into personalized emails.

Whether online or in physical stores, you can track user behavior and profiles to deep levels these days. Click tracking, browsing behavior or actual purchases tell you a lot about each individual user.

Use this information in creating personalized emails for your customers. After all, studies show that relevant, personalized communication results in higher conversions.

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Source: Monetate
  1. Use a real person’s name in the “from” field to increase opens by 33%

It pains me every time I receive email from excitingoffers-noreply@some-site-on-behalf-of-some-other.com. If your subscribers don’t see the name of your site, app, or CEO (best) in the Sender field of your email, why should they waste time in opening it? If at all it chances to beat their spam filters, it probably won’t even register in their minds.

Customers tend to not bother opening emails that they think are from unknown people or brands they have never interacted with. According to a study by Marketing Sherpa:

“A ’from name’ test showed a 33% increase in Open Rates, by using a person’s name and not a brand. But it also resulted in a 150% increase in Unsubscribes.”

Use your CEO’s name if she is a recognizable personality, for the ‘From’ field in your emails. Go with your brand name if that is more recognizable. A trusted, known name is always a better deal than random unknown email ‘From’ names.

While marketing agencies like Distilled (Will Critchlow), QuickSprout (Neil Patel) and WordStream (Larry Kim) put this practice to good use, it’s a great sight to see a major brand like Ralph Lauren building connections in this way.

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Imagine opening your inbox and seeing a direct mail from the CEO you adore, of a brand you love and use!

  1. Make sure your content is scintilating

You might get the subject line spot on and make a customer curious enough to open your email. But if your content is not worthwhile, it will ensure future emails from your brand don’t get opened.

Equip your B2C emails with a strong headline that clearly communicates the gist of the email. The content of the email should have a clear offer, pricing information (if appropriate to the stage of communication) and an unmissable, unambiguous Call to Action.

A B2B email should begin with a strong opening line that makes a connection with the reader instead of wasting the opening line on boring self-introductions that the user couldn’t care less about.

  1. Offer the user something special to entice them to read

82.4 billion B2C and 100.5 billion B2B emails are sent every single day. An average user is inundated with an avalanche of unsolicited and spammy emails on a daily basis.

If you want your communication to stand out, offer the user something special, something that would prompt them to look forward to hearing more from you.

This can be in the form of valuable information like research studies, infographics or whitepapers. It could even be really attractive deals and monetary enticements like discounts, freebies, referral bonus, extra loyalty points, and so on.

  1. Create a sense of urgency with time-bound offers

However great an offer maybe, unless there’s an end-date to it, no customer is pushed to whip out their wallets right away.

This email from TigerDirect has the right combination of a strong headline, an offer that creates a real sense of urgency, and a call to action button that it is loud and clear.

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To make sure your email communication inspires action immediately, create time-bound offers while clearly spelling out when the offer expires. Similar tactics like ‘Limited stock’ offers or special deals for the ‘first 50 customers’ make users want to capitalize on the opportunity while it lasts.

  1. Increase your reach by including social sharing buttons

A truly great sales email inspires users to share it with friends and family who have similar interests. Nudge them to do this by including social sharing buttons alongside each key piece of information. It could be a tweetable quote, a tempting offer shareable on Facebook, or a cute image they can’t resist pinning.

Another great way to ensure visibility to users above and beyond your mailing list is to include a prominent ‘forward to friends’ button on your email.

Typetec encourages users to forward the email to their friends using a prominently placed button in a contrasting color at the top right of the email.

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  1. Increase open rates 50% by using triggered emails

Remarketing company SaleCycle estimates that abandoned shopping carts will cost $3 trillion in online sales in 2014. But there’s a simple and extremely effective way of bringing back customers who ditched your site – triggered emails sent within hours of shopping cart abandonment.

Triggered emails are those you send out based on the behavior or profile data of your site visitors or customers. According to the Epsilon Email Trends and Benchmarks Study 2013, open rates for triggered emails stand at about 50%, while CTRs are around 10% (double that of business-as-usual emails).

In fact, SaleCycle found that such triggered emails for abandoned shopping carts yield revenues ranging from $15.23 (fashion & lifestyle category) to $ 1.48 (food & drink category) per email sent out.

Nordstrom keeps it simple and classy. Their cart abandonment email shows an image of the abandoned item and offers a prominent click through link directing the user to the product page to complete the transaction.

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An effective triggered email for abandoned shopping carts should be extremely personalized with the user’s name, details of the product left behind in the cart, a link and images of the product left behind and a clear call to action encouraging users to retrieve the abandoned cart before it expires. Abandoned cart emails are usually sent out in sets of 2 to 3 emails, with the next set of emails containing a small incentive like a discount or free shipping to entice an immediate purchase.

There’s still room for early adopters in this space. Adopt an integrated email tool like GetResponse’s auto-responder to configure triggers that make sense to your brand, schedule your message cycles, and template out what you want to say in each of them.

Closing Thoughts

Break down your brand’s marketing lifecycle and device-specific email communication strategies using the secrets mentioned above as the foundation for your plans. Once you have the overall direction chalked out and the routes planned, it’s only a matter of following the signs and driving through to your final destination. Here’s to many happy journeys ahead!

Rohan Ayyar works for E2M, a premium digital marketing firm specializing in content strategy, web analytics and conversion rate optimization for startups. His posts are featured on major online marketing blogs such as Moz, Search Engine Journal and Social Media Today. Rohan hangs out round the clock on Twitter @searchrook – hit him up any time for a quick chat.

Archive for ‘General Marketing’

November 9th, 2014

How to Measure the Effectiveness of Your Social Media Campaign

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Going social is perhaps the best thing that can happen to your business – you get instant access to millions of visitors so that all you have to do is create and deliver an effective business message. Social media marketing is growing increasingly popular, and rightly so. If done correctly, it can do wonders for your business.

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Measuring the Effectiveness:

But how do you know if your social media strategy is effective? How do you measure it’s success? Well, here are a few pointers to help you out:

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  1. Check Engagement of Fans:

While the number of fans can be a measure of your marketing success, a more accurate measure would be how much your fans are interacting with your page/profile – number of likes, shares, retweets and pokes can be an indication of how effective your campaign is.

The logic is simple. The more your fans engage with your brand, the more interested they’re in your business, and the more likely they will be to buy your products.

  1. Check Traffic To Your Website:

The primary aim of any social medial marketing campaign is to send traffic to your website. So check your statistics (through Google Analytics) to see how much of your traffic is coming from social platforms, and is there any increase since the time you’ve intensified your social campaigns.

At times, it may so happen that you get truckloads of traffic, but your website is not ready to handle it. So get your website ready first. You could opt for cloud hosting as it is flexible enough to handle sudden spikes in traffic.

  1. Check Conversions:

Getting traffic is great, but what if they’re useless to you? The next thing to do is to check if your visitors are taking the desired action. I say desired action because the aim of the marketing campaign may not always be to make a sale. It could also be to make them download an e-book, participate in a contest, or even subscribe to a newsletter. Whatever the aim may be, you’ll need to check that it is being achieved.

If you social media marketing campaign is getting you ample traffic but most of the visitors are bouncing off your website, then it can’t be called a successful campaign.

Choosing the Right Platform:

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There are many things that contribute to the success of any social media marketing campaign, but the most important one is the choice of the platform. Every social media platform has its own features and attracts a certain kind of audience, so if you want to succeed you need to know what suits your business the best.

So how do you make sure that you choose right? Here are a few factors you should consider:

  1. Know Your Audience:

The demographics of your audience plays an important role in choosing the platform. For instance, take a look at the chart below:

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The survey takes into consideration the 5 most popular social platforms to show you the demographics of its users. As you can see, in terms of gender, Pinterest is more popular with women while LinkedIn is more popular with men (I have ignored Facebook numbers here as it’s high for all criteria due to sheer high volume of users). Likewise you can do a study of all the criteria, and then decide which platform fits the demographics of your target customer the best.

  1. Know Your Content:

When you’re on social media, you promote your business through content. So the type of content you create will determine the platform you choose. For instance:

  • Images: If most of your content comprises of images, then image-sharing platforms like Instagram, Pinterest and Tumblr are ideal for you.
  • Videos: If creating awesome videos is your specialty, then you should go for video networks like YouTube, Vimeo and Vine.
  • Posts: If you’re looking at writing engaging posts for your target audience, you should go for Facebook, Twitter or just plain blogging.
  1. Know What You Want:

Do you want to improve SEO? Do you want more people to walk into your store? Do you want to target smaller niches instead of the social giants mentioned above? Do want to make connections with other businesses? Knowing what you want will decide what social platform fits best.

For instance, if you want SEO, then its Google+; if you want walk-ins then you’ll have to join location-based networks like Yelp and FourSquare; if you want smaller niches, then the perfect place to start is Reddit; and lastly, LinkedIn will help you make those vital business connections.

The Top 5 Social Media Platforms:

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Still not too sure? To help you out, here are the top 5 social media platforms and when you should choose them:

  1. Facebook:

Facebook is huge, and this gives you exposure to a much wider audience than any other platform. It is a great platform for sharing interesting posts, pictures and videos that will help the audience connect and engage with your brand better. If that’s what you’re looking for, then go for it.

But there are 2 things that you should keep in mind: First, Facebook is mainly used to connect with friends and family, so it may not (always) be the right place for an out and out promotion campaign. And second, it’s sheer size exposes you to a lot of competition – the newsfeed is perpetually crowded and your message may get lost in all that noise.

  1. Twitter:

Twitter serves to the younger crowd (often referred to as information junkies), and comprises of both men and women. It’s best for those businesses that want to reach out to their audience through announcements, queries and news.

Apart from the character limit (140 characters per tweet), Twitter can be a challenge to those brands that are not equipped to promptly respond to the statements and queries of it’s fans. Twitter is more “in the moment” hang out place so you need to be on your toes.

  1. LinkedIn:

Like I mentioned above, LinkedIn is great for building connections. In addition, you can also establish yourself as an authority in your niche by participating in groups and discussions and giving out expert advice.

Since LinkedIn is not very visual (as compared to the others), it suits best for businesses that offer services rather than products.

  1. YouTube:

If you can create interesting videos that will engage the audience, then you can opt for YouTube. The best part about this channel is that it also has it’s own video-editing software so that you can edit your videos without any hassle.

The biggest drawback here is severe competition. Every day, millions of videos are getting posted on YouTube, out of which at least a few thousands will be similar to what you’re going to publish. So it becomes a difficult job to promote it in a way that it goes viral.

  1. Pinterest:

Pinterest works great for those businesses that can showcase themselves through visuals. So if you have a lot of visuals, or are creative enough to create interesting visuals, you can sign up with Pinterest.

However, one thing to keep in mind here is that the platform mainly caters to women and categories like food and DIY are the most popular.

In Conclusion:

At times, you may come across a situation where you want to use videos as well as images as a part of your content marketing strategy. So you may have to sign up for more than one social platform. That’s no problem at all. In fact, for best results, it is recommended that you promote your business on at least 3-4 social platforms. This ensures that you reach out to a wider audience.

However, do not take on what you can’t handle. Social media marketing is a rigorous process wherein you need to post regular updates and monitor your profiles regularly so that you can respond to comments and queries in a timely manner. So it makes no sense if you sign up for 10 accounts, but fail to keep up with the maintenance of all the 10 profiles. Take on less, and give it your best shot. That way, you’re more likely to succeed.

Have any other inputs you’d like to share? Feel free to comment!

Author Sofia Brooks About the Author: Sofia Brooks is a subject matter expert at IX Web Hosting, and her expertise lies in digital marketing. You can find her at Twitter and Google+