Facebook Advertising is Annoying—But it doesn’t Have to Be

fb_icon_325x325

I’m just going to say it. I hate paying for advertising on Facebook—hate, Hate, HATE it. As a small business owner, as well as a content marketer strategist for my clients, it’s probably one of my biggest frustrations. And let me just say this, it’s not because I don’t know how to make it work—I do. What irritates me the most is the fact that if you want to have a business page on Facebook, and have an actual audience—then it’s something you simply have to do—and you have to have a budget for it. I know, that stinks because it didn’t always used to be that way.

If you have any knowledge of how Facebook used to work from a business perspective, you are probably well aware of the fact that a recent algorithm update (in the last few months) completely changed the way business posts are organically shown in a user’s newsfeed. Namely, your audience exposure probably took a big hit. So if your company page has 3,000 followers, a status update might be shown to 15 or 20 of those users organically. Why? Because Mark Zuckerberg isn’t a dummy, and he wants his company to generate loads of advertising revenue. In achieving that goal, I commend him, even though my advertising budget has needed to be adjusted for each of the campaigns that I work on.

So ultimately, yes, there are plenty of organic strategies out there when it comes to generating traffic on Facebook—and my company uses the majority of them. However, when it comes to paid advertising, you need to know how to get the most “boost” for your buck. Follow these tips:

  1. Be REALLY specific when creating a targeted audience for your boosted post. It’s better to really focus on who you are trying to connect with instead of being overly broad and appealing to people who aren’t going to like or engage with your page for the long term. For instance, I recently ran a Facebook contest for a client who operates a small boutique men’s clothing store. Instead of sending the ad to every male Facebook user from the age of 18 to 80 in the United States, I made an ad targeted at the potential interests that a customer of this store might have, such as various hip-hop artists, sports figures, celebrities, clothing brands, and TV shows. I did this so the contest ad would show up in the newsfeed of users who would be a potential customer of this store. I also specifically targeted certain “habits” of the potential audience, including credit card users and online shoppers. To make a long story short, the contest worked exactly the way it was supposed to—we had a great turnout, didn’t use all of our intended budget because our initial response numbers were higher than we originally projected, and inspired many visitors to actually comment and share the post—earning them a promo code for their engagement. The number of page likes also went up at the same time, without paying for a promotion campaign to generate more “likes” simply because a new audience was made aware of this store through one boosted post. It was a great success all around.
  2. Test, test, and test again. You wouldn’t continue to spend money on an employee who isn’t doing their job, right? If you’re a smart business owner, the answer is of course no. So treat your Facebook advertising like a salesperson who needs to show results. This requires constant testing and tweaking in order to get it right. For instance, I was setting up an advertising campaign for a client who operates in the home improvement space. I first targeted an audience that I believed would be interested in this company’s services—home improvement, home and garden, as well as some television networks and home improvement personalities that may be “liked” in a Facebook user’s profile. I also targeted some behaviors: bought a new house in the past six months, recent mortgage borrower, credit card user, and the like. With this particular company too, there was a geographic consideration to make—so I targeted the area where they operated. The results? Let me just say, I wasn’t happy. After a day of watching user engagement—or lack thereof—I went back to the drawing board. I eliminated all “interests” related to the audience of that post (even while they may be applicable I had to face facts, my cost per engagement was too high) and kept the focus on consumer behaviors and location. A day later, I was happy to see that my results improved tremendously. The moral of the story here is don’t waste money on an underperforming ad. Test, modify, and change things up—it’s the only way you are going to see if you can get better results.
  3. Spend money on posts that matter. It’s true that it is important to be consistent on Facebook and post regular, high-quality content in order to stay in front of your audience, but not every status update is worthy of a boost. Reserve your advertising spending for high-impact images, important blog posts, special offers where you are looking to move inventory or drive traffic, as well as limited-time offers. Be choosy while being strategic and the boosted post will get results.

I’m sure I could go on as it relates to this topic—and I will in a later post. For the time being, employ these tips on your paid Facebook ad campaigns and be angry at the Gods over at Facebook just a little less.

For more help on setting up an effective Facebook strategy or devising a content marketing campaign that works for your company, contact Grammar Chic today by calling 803-831-7444.

Leave a comment

Filed under Content Marketing, Social Media

Keeping Your E-mails Out of the Spam Folder

iStock_000018350665XSmall

Have you ever received an obviously spammy, advertorial, mass e-mail—crudely written and flagrantly promotional—and taken great relish in moving it from your inbox to your spam folder? It can be fun, even therapeutic, to put spammers in their place like this.

Of course, when it’s your business e-mail that gets put into the spam folder, then it’s a different story.

The truth of the matter is that your e-mail recipients can click on the ‘Spam’ button any time they want to—and the more they do, the more likely it is that your company’s e-mails are going to be blacklisted, which means they’ll begin to automatically show up in spam folders instead of inboxes—effectively killing your e-mail marketing campaign.

That’s not what you want to happen, obviously, but how can you avoid it?

Looking for a Reason

A basic point to keep in mind as you design your marketing e-mails is that, when your e-mails get flagged as spam, that increases the likelihood of them being blacklisted—so if you want to avoid the blacklist, you need to avoid giving your recipients a reason to flag you as spam.

Now, folks who actually signed up for your e-mail newsletter probably aren’t going to flag your e-mails as spam, especially not if you give them an easy way to opt out of your e-mail list should they ever desire to. For “cold” contacts, though, you need to make sure your e-mails are well-written, devoid of typos, and generally come across as professional. Take some time to make sure your e-mails offer something of value—not just a great discount but also some real content, like links to your company blog or to your Pinterest page.

The Problem with Bulk E-mails

The method you use for sending your e-mails is also important. If you simply send a bulk e-mail from Microsoft Office, well, you’re very likely to get yourself on the blacklist. That’s a huge no-no, which is why it’s important to invest in a platform like Constant Contact (what we use at Grammar Chic, Inc.) or Mail Chimp. These platforms provide you with a lot of great tools, templates, and analytics, but the mere fact that they keep your e-mails from automatically being blacklisted is reason enough for the investment.

On a related note: Make sure you have a dedicated e-mail account set up for your e-mail marketing messages. Having responses forwarded to a personal e-mail account is an old spammer’s trick, and it may get you blacklisted.

Staying Off the List

Believe it or not, there is an entire list of words that blacklist services use to classify which e-mails are spam and which aren’t. The list is too expansive and too fluid to be copied here, but you can image some of the kinds of words and phrases that tend to land e-mails in the Spam heap—including:

  • Impersonal subject lines and greetings, i.e., Friend, to whom it may concern, etc.
  • Words associated with multi-tier marketing, including direct marketing.
  • Generic calls to action, like click here or click below.
  • The term notspam.
  • Cheesy marketing buzzwords—once in a lifetime, miracle, one-time-only, pre-approved, get paid, save $, save big money, no investment needed, incredible deal, fast cash, discount, free, f r e e, etc.

Again, if you focus on offering value and substance, rather than framing your e-mails as glorified infomercials, then you’ll probably be alright. As with everything else in online marketing, content quality really is king—so if you need help constructing quality e-mails, we invite you to contact Grammar Chic, Inc. today. Visit http://www.grammarchic.net, or call 803-831-7444.

Leave a comment

Filed under Email Writing

Content Marketing Lessons Learned from U2

-9mXUn2B_400x400

Even if you’ve never in your life cared about the rock band U2, you may well have heard about their latest escapade: Earlier this week, the group—long associated with Apple, at least since appearing in the company’s classic iPod commercials in 2004—showed up at the grand unveiling of the iPhone 6, and they came with a big announcement: They had a new, surprise album ready to release. And release it they did: With one push of a button, Apple boss Tim Cook released the album to the entire iTunes user database.

In other words: If you have an iTunes account, you own the new U2 album—a “gift” from Apple. The album is available for free for a full five weeks, and has automatically downloaded to users’ iTunes libraries. About half a billion people, give or take, now own this new U2 album, making it, by most reckonings, the biggest album launch in history.

Haters Gonna Hate

You might think you know what we’re going to say, at this point—that this album launch is in some way a case of exemplary content marketing. That’s true to an extent. U2 has created original, compelling content; has imagined a really attention-grabbing way to promote it; has made the content available for free; has clearly succeeded in building buzz, both on social media and in the offline world; and will likely see this buzz translate into more of their old albums sold and more concert tickets purchased, as new listeners discover the pleasures of U2 through this new album giveaway.

Yet, there is a bit of a cautionary tale here, too. U2 has been on the receiving end of no small amount of snark this week, backlash centered on the release model. Giving away their Songs of Innocence album as an automatic download, some have argued, borders on the creepy; others have said it smacks of desperation. There are even some accusations that U2’s methodology is a violation of iTunes user privacy. (This is, strictly speaking, not really true; you may not receive the album as an automatic download if your privacy settings prohibit such things, so the consumer does have a say in the matter.)

The influential music blog Pitchfork Media describes the release method as “indisputably queasy,” for instance; the review goes on to say that the men in U2 have aligned “with their old friends Apple to insert their new album, Songs of Innocence, into all of our libraries without consent. By updating the old Columbia House Record Club scam to the digital age, U2 and their Cupertino buddies have created a new avenue of opt-out cultural transmission, removing even the miniscule effort it takes to go to a website and click ‘Download.’”

The Importance of Choice

This all illustrates a subtle yet significant component of content marketing: When it’s done right, content marketing is all about conveying your brand’s message without necessarily coming right out and saying it. To put it another way, content marketing should cause consumers to feel like they’ve found your brand—not like you’ve targeted them and hounded them.

That may be part of why people don’t like the U2 album release model: The band and Apple left no room for the consumer to play a part, to feel like he or she contributed to the process. There’s no sense of choice here. It simply feels as though a product has been forced upon us—and while it may seem ungrateful to complain about a free product, it’s nevertheless legitimate to critique the shoehorned nature of this product launch.

The lesson for content marketers, then, may just be this: Don’t try to force anything on your consumers. Let them find their way to you. Give them just enough information that they can make the choice on their own—and yes, perhaps, opt out if they really want to.

To learn more about the intricacies of content marketing, contact Grammar Chic, Inc. today: Call 803-831-7444, or visit http://www.grammarchic.net.

Leave a comment

Filed under Content Marketing

Content Marketing 101: Getting the Most Out of Visual Content

iStock_000021284452XSmall

The old saying tells us that a picture is worth a thousand words—but when it comes to the visual content you deploy on Facebook, Google+, and other social networks, that’s not strictly true. A picture is really worth whatever you put into it. The more effort and strategy you pour into your pictures and infographics, the better return you’re likely to see.

Certainly, all content marketers should be using visual content in their strategies. Study after study confirms that users respond to visual content, that images posted to social networks tend to generate a lot of shares—often more than standalone text updates. This is not particularly surprising: As users quickly scroll through social newsfeeds from their tablets and mobile devices, it makes sense that their attention would gravitate toward colorful, compelling images.

There’s a world of difference between just posting an image and truly optimizing it—getting as much out of it as you possibly can. The Grammar Chic, Inc. team recommends that you keep in mind the following five pointers as you seek to refine your social image strategy.

  1. Rod Stewart famously sang that “every picture tells a story,” but you shouldn’t necessarily make your images tell the entire story; instead, offer some brief text to illuminate the image. Offer a humorous caption, or simply a call to action. You don’t want to write more than a line or two, but text can help provide an image with some content and direction.
  2. Specifically, include a hashtag or two, to ensure that your image is searchable. Tie your images to current trends in the same way you would an all-text update or a hyperlink.
  3. Speaking of links, why not include a quick link to your website or blog in the images you post? If you post a really compelling image, people may share it—and your link will be shared right along with it. Images are excellent vehicles for generating website traffic.
  4. Because images tend to get a fair amount of engagement, experiment with some paid promotions—especially on Facebook. Invest just a little money into a few images and see which ones generate the biggest buzz.
  5. Finally: If you’re not adept at creating your own unique images and infographics, well, the good news is that you don’t have to. Remember that content curating is an important part of the content marketing process.

Ultimately, some well-placed, well-contextualized, and properly promoted images can transform your content marketing campaign. To learn more, contact the Grammar Chic, Inc. team today: Visit http://www.grammarchic.net, or call 803-831-7444.

Leave a comment

Filed under Content Marketing

Is Your Emotional Status Compromising Your Job Search?

iStock_000016004829XSmall (2)

At Grammar Chic, Inc., we’ve helped countless jobseekers refine their resumes and cover letters, utilizing the precise wording and specific formatting needed to win the attention of recruiters. Obviously, we’re nothing if not passionate about the importance of a good resume. With that said, we have no trouble admitting that your career prospects are about more than just words on a page. They’re about more than your skills, achievements, and past opportunities.

In a very real way, your career advancement can be aided—or compromised—by your emotional state. If your mind or your heart aren’t in the right place, it’s going to be evident to hiring managers and HR bosses. They’ll sense that, even though you may look like a perfect fit on paper, there’s something holding you back from total investment in the process—and because total investment is what they’re after, they’ll simply move on to the next qualified applicant.

So what are some of the ways in which your emotions might be hindering your career progress? Consider the following four scenarios:

  • You’ve become discouraged by the process. Let’s be honest: Searching for a new job can be grueling. It’s easy to become wearied by it, and to feel discouraged by the process. Unfortunately, your feelings of discouragement can come through in your job interview; hiring managers need candidates who don’t just have the right skill sets, but also have positive attitudes and boundless energy. That’s what makes it vital to do something to prevent total discouragement—to enlist the help of your friends and family members to support you and keep your spirits as high as possible.
  • You’re trapped in a terrible job and just want to escape. To be sure, there’s nothing wrong with doing everything you can to get out of a bad work situation. However, if your only interest is in escaping your current job—if you’re not actively, positively interested in this potential new employer—recruiters will know it. It will be obvious that you don’t care about the company per se, but rather just need a way out of your current gig. If you are looking to escape a bad job, make sure you take time to research new employers and to cultivate some passion for what they do.
  • You don’t actually wish to leave your current job. Some jobseekers look for new work just as leverage to negotiate a better salary at their current gig. Again, there’s nothing necessarily wrong with that, but a lack of active interest in your potential new gig will come through in the job interview. Learn about the company, and at the very least try to fake a sincere interest in it.
  • You’re unsure about your career. Do you feel like you may wish to change careers within the next year or two? Then looking for work along your current career track may prove tricky. Make sure you have a clear sense of what you want to do and what you want to be; indecision will be perceptible to recruiters!

We’re not suggesting, by the way, that you can simply flip a switch and change your emotional state—and if you’re dealing with any of these issues, working through them can be tough. However, just being aware of your emotions, and trying to get a better handle on your feelings and motives, can be a big help to you in your job search.

To learn more about job search dos and don’ts, we invite you to contact us today. Call 803-831-7444, or visit http://www.grammarchic.net.

Leave a comment

Filed under Resume Writing

3 Things to Cut from Your Company Homepage Right Now

iStock_000017003347XSmall

They say that less is more—and when it comes to your company’s homepage, that can often be the case. The front page of your website establishes the first impression that most clients and potential clients will have of your brand. It ultimately determines whether your leads become sales, your visitors turn into paying customers—or whether they simply navigate off the page and forget about you altogether, unimpressed by what they saw. As such, it’s important to have content on your home page that helps your brand to shine. At the same time, it’s important to delete anything that diminishes your brand’s appeal.

The Grammar Chic team visits an awful lot of business websites, and many of them are quite good—but some have elements that are likely doing more harm than good. Three of these damaging elements are especially common—and if any of them currently mar your own business website, then we recommend you ditch them immediately.

  1. Your life story.

We say this frequently, but it’s most assuredly pertinent here: The content on your website really isn’t about you. Not even the content on your About Us page. No, the content on your website should be all about the reader, and what benefits he or she derives from doing business with you. When John Smith visits your business website, he should come away from it with a good sense of what’s in it for him to pick up the phone and call you, or click over to your e-store to order a product. He should be able to envision himself benefitting from your company’s offerings.

Yet, far too many businesses use their home page to outline their entire history, or to provide a personal narrative from the business owner. These things can have their place on the About Us page, perhaps, but your homepage needs to be quick, to the point, and value-focused. You only have a few seconds to form that positive first impression, so focus on consumer benefits.

  1. Buzzwords.

We’ve written about this before, as well, but meaningless marketing buzzwords can really turn off your readers. Your company website should have a voice of its own, communicating whatever it is that makes your business special. Clichés and jargon are only going to detract from that.

  1. Prices.

There is an ongoing debate about whether it’s smart to have all your pricing online, and we’re not saying it doesn’t have its place. Many companies do benefit from having pricing online. It doesn’t always work out well to have it on your homepage, though. It can be a turnoff to some, who might otherwise have dug deeper into your site to learn more about the company. If you do choose to include pricing, put it somewhere other than the homepage.

What would you add to our list? What elements never have a place on a company homepage? Tell us in the comments section—or reach out to us directly: Call 803-831-7444, or visit http://www.grammarchic.net today.

1 Comment

Filed under Web Content

From the Grammar Chic Mailbag, Part II

mailbag

We’re at it again: Checking our inbox, dipping into the mailbag, and scouring our Facebook comments for inquiries submitted by you, our readers, colleagues, clients, and fans. Our aim here is the same as last time: To provide some answers to questions we commonly receive. With no further preamble, then…

Dear Grammar Chic: We use our company Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ accounts to post regular updates—just like you always tell us to!—and to share interesting articles and how-tos that pertain to our industry. In addition to our educational/informative content, though, we also like to post behind-the-scenes photos of company parties and events, as well as snapshots of our daily office happenings. Is this a good idea—or should we tone it down some?

We’re asked this a lot, and the answer requires some balance. On the one hand, there is nothing wrong with posting some behind-the-scenes photos or videos, taken at company parties or simply in your front office or employee break room. It humanizes your business, and helps it come across as less faceless and corporate. In other words, it helps your customers relate to you better.

As with most anything else, though, there is such a thing as too much. While your customers may like to see these behind-the-scenes snapshots every now and then, they likely don’t care nearly enough to see them every single day. What’s more, eventually, it starts to give the impression that you don’t actually do any work—that you’re always just partying and then posting party pictures to Facebook! Moderation is key.

Hello, Grammar Chic team. I’m on the fence about this whole “ content marketing” thing. It makes sense in theory, but how do I know it will provide me with a good ROI?

The question of ROI is one of the oldest and most common objections to content marketing. Candidly, the only way to prove ROI is just to do it, to start your content marketing strategy and measure the results. If you’ve never done any content marketing before then you have no baseline to reference; what you need to do is set goals—say, increased website traffic—and then launch your content marketing efforts, keeping tabs on your analytics as you go. You’ll likely see some forward momentum toward reaching your goals—but remember, you won’t see results over night. This isn’t necessarily the answer you want, but it does take time and commitment to see the content marketing ROI you need.

I’d like to hire Grammar Chic, Inc. to handle my content marketing—but I’m a little concerned it will take up a lot of my time. Is that true?

Not really, no. We will need some time to speak with you at the beginning of the process, to get a feel for what your content marketing goals are. There is definitely some client involvement, especially in the early days, but once the campaign is underway, we can make things are hands-off as you’d like it to be. We can work fairly autonomously, if you’d like us to, or we can keep you in the loop at every phase. It’s totally up to you.

If you have any further questions, not answered here, we invite you to share them with us in the comments section; or, simply call us directly at 803-831-7444. You can also find us on the Web at http://www.grammarchic.net.

Leave a comment

Filed under Content Marketing